Thursday, December 31, 2009

Pearblossom Hwy., 11-18 April, 1986, #2

And that brings us to the end of 2009 (otherwise known as today and soon to be known as yesterday and then last year).

It's been an interesting year. I feel like I became a blogger. I certainly feel like a blogger after discovering yesterday that PBH crossed the 10,000 visit threshold in 2009. That comes out to about 27 unique visits a day, exclusive of the googlebot, which seems to visit at least that often.

The top ten countries were:

U.S. (7962)
Canada (874)
U.K. (307)
France (72)
Australia (67)
Germany (63)
Japan (50)
Spain (45)
India (39)
Italy (38)

In the U.S., the top ten states were:

New York (2,235)
North Carolina (1,313)
California (936)
Connecticut (577)
Oregon (298)
Kentucky (253)
Texas (231)
Massachussetts (183)
Colorado (181)
Pennsylvania (170)

Top Ten Cities:

Buffalo, NY (1,264)
Tarboro, NC (1,204)
New Haven, CT (536)
New York, NY (510)
Winnipeg, MB (493)
San Francisco, CA (237)
Portland, OR (195)
Lockhart, TX (150)
Washington, DC (142)
Alameda, TX (122)

The number of followers has increased from 6 to about 357, thanks to the Networked Blogs application on Facebook.

Aimless Reading has spawned at least one imitation project, and several others have mentioned their desire to embark on similar projects.

Sadly, I seem to have lost readers since the first half of the year. My numbers peaked in January and then again in May, but they have been on the decline ever since. Perhaps it is a coincidence, but I note that Ron Silliman listed the blog in his link list at least once a month in the first half of the year, but a lot less often in the second half of the year. Silliman's influence in the blogosphere could be measured pretty clearly by tracking the number of hits that arrive at sites like mine in the days after he links to them. I would say I get between three and five times as many. So, thanks Ron (and please keep linking!).

Also thanks to Gary Sullivan for early and avid support of the Aimless Reading Project. Gary used to write a lot of comments until he got caught doing this at work. I know he is still out there, though.

And thanks to Richard Deming for being the literary outlaw that he is and for telling all of his friends about my blog.

And thanks to all my other regular readers.

And big thanks to everyone who links to PBH.

And lastly thanks to David Hockney, whose photo collage "Pearblossom Highway 11-18 April 1986 #2" (pictured) gave the misspelled title to this blog. I think my dyslexic eyes flipped the "b" and the "l" when I first read the name. It must be a common mistake, because it took quite a lot of searching to discover the real one -- it's written incorrectly all over the internet.

And that's all she wrote.

Happy New Year all and see you in 2010

(otherwise known as tomorrow).

Aimless Reading: The F's, Part 11.1 (Robert Fitterman)


Metropolis 15-29
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Fitterman, Robert
Metropolis 15-29


I think Rob may have sent this to me in anticipation of his reading in Buffalo a few years back. I can't quite remember. I may have bought it online or at Talking Leaves. I remember mostly having to search for the first volume and that the other two were much easier to come by. Anyhow...

I finally did meet the well dressed poet from New York a few years after having seen him. It was in 2005. I read with Christian Bök at the Bowery Poetry Club in, I think, January 2005 (see link to the right for the recording of my reading at PennSound).

Lori and I had spent the past month in Guatemala and had a quite a struggle getting home due to an air traffic controller strike that began the morning we were supposed to leave. We ended up staying an extra two or three nights, which meant that I arrived in the B'lo on Friday night for a reading in NYC on Saturday afternoon. I managed to get a flight out the next morning and to arrive in time to read.

It was a packed house and a great audience and I had a grand old time, as I recall. Afterward, I was invited to dinner with Christian, Dan Machlin, Serena Jost, Rob Fitterman, Kim Rosenfield, Monica de la Torre (and her partner, whose name I forget -- sorry!), and Kenny Goldsmith. Rob chose a French place called something like The Country Kitchen, where we had a spectacular (and expensive!) french/Moroccan meal.

I remember I sat next to Monica and across from Kenny, who was wearing an outrageous fur (or fur-looking) coat. My main recollection is of talking to Kenny about a movie I'd seen called, "Owning Mahoney," starring Philip Seymour Hoffman as a gambling-addicted banker who sinks deeper and deeper into his gambling problem. I thought it was one of the most accurate representations of addiction I'd ever seen put on film.

I think I remember this because it was one of those rare times when I recommend something to someone and then they actually go out and see it. I remember getting a note from Kenny several months later saying how much he liked the film.

There are several excerpted sections from Metropolis 15-29 at the DC Poetry Anthology Website.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Aimless Reading: The F's, Part 11 (Robert Fitterman)


Metropolis 1-15
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Fitterman, Robert
Metropolis 1-15


Purchased online at Apollinaire's BookShoppe/BookThug. When Rob came to read in Buffalo a few years back, he sent along copies of the latter two books in this cycle, but this, the first, was out of print. After a bit of searching, I discovered Jay Millar's Apollinaire's BookShoppe, which has the wonderful tagline, "selling the books that no one wants to buy." I guess I was happy find a couple of my old chapbooks for sale there -- and a little shocked that they were going for twenty to twenty five dollars each! Sadly, they prove the rule and not the exception to the tagline, having languished there lo these many years.

I think I knew who Rob Fitterman was a long time before I ever met him. I remember once being at a reading somewhere in New York, back when I still lived there in the mid-nineties, where a friend, I think it was Dan Machlin, pointed to Rob, who was standing outside in the street, and said he admired his clothing, which comment was followed by another comment from Dan's partner, Serena Jost, to the effect that Rob was always smartly dressed. I think it was another 8-10 years before I actually met Rob, during all of which time he existed in my mind only as a well-dressed poet in New York.

You can read Metropolis 8 online here:

http://xcp.bfn.org/metropolis8.html

New Poems at GlitterPony


Glitter Pony
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
From editors:

Dear Friend,

The new issue of GlitterPony Mag is out and we are excited for you to read it.

Issue 9 features these fantastic poets:

Brad Flis
Brian Foley
Rachel B. Glaser
Michael Kelleher
Hoa Nguyen
Lisa Olstein
Heather Overby
Cassandra Smith
Michelle Taransky
Brennen Wysong
Elisabeth Workman
Lesley Yalen

The artwork for issue 9 was designed by a supertalented fellow named Tristan Benedict-Hall. You can see his work over at
amysteryincommon.com

Please head on over to glitterponymag.com to read some seriously great poems.

Thanks & Happy Holidays!

Jon and Natalie

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Aimless Reading: The F's, Part 10.4 (Allen Fisher)


Stepping Out
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Fisher, Allen
Stepping Out


Last Allen Fisher book. Purchased at Talking Leaves Books in 1998.

I have a few other vague memories associated with Allen Fisher's visit. I remember Pierre Joris came to the class for Allen's talk. I guess they were old friends. I think Pierre was taking Allen down to Albany for a reading and talk there. I remember one of them telling a story about something that happened in London involving a urinal. I can't for the life of me recall the rest of the story. I remember I had just self-published my first chapbook, The Necessary Elephant, and that I handed a copy to Pierre and told him I had just bought is translation of of Atemwende by by Paul Celan. I remember allen sent me a thank you card. It was a tri-fold with a black and white image of one of his paintings. I kept it on my book shelf for a long time. At some point a put sticky-tacky on it and hung it on the wall of my office. This was at an apartment on Ashland Avenue. I think after that it ended up in a bag full of postcards that used to use for writing exercises in the high schools. I think it is still in that bag. I think the stick-tacky is still stuck to it.

from Stepping Out

Rims of Distinction: 1

Dynamic marking cuts through the fill-up
A spin shifts telescoped
A bounce of shapes and procedures
Recur at an analytical level
Taking away glistening surfaces
Mirror canon matched by translucence
The simplicity of affection
Searching superimposed planes
What counts unexpected.

Aimless Reading: The F's, Part 10.3 (Allen Fisher)


Unpolished Mirrors
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Fisher, Allen
Unpolished Mirrors


Purchased at Talking Leaves Books in 1998. I am trying to remember now if I wrote and delivered an introduction to Allen Fisher's reading in Buffalo. I have a vague memory of having written something about his presentation of London in the "place" series, of which this is the concluding volume. Now it's coming back to me -- I did write an introduction.

In fact, I think it was the first introduction I ever wrote and I remember feeling very nervous and very proud of myself and feeling like it was a big deal and that I took it very seriously. I went to the Poetry Collection at UB and read everything he'd written or published that they possessed. I remember being especially taken with his early small press work from the 1970s, like the short-lived "Edible Press," on which all poems were published on edible objects. I think I included it in the introduction. I have a memory of having made clear to the audience that I had said "Edible" and not "Oedipal."

from Unpolished Mirrors

The Artist's Preface

I am in the garden of a coming English Revolution
   rid of the pole
      the tethering
without loss of homeostasis
   wanting strength enough to hold Goodness before
      any malignity or genetic fate

I have come to increase my liberation
   through the dynamegalopolis innovate let
      Urthona rise from the ruiness Walls

Aimless Reading: The F's, Part 10.2 (Allen Fisher)

Fisher, Allen
Dispossession and Cure


Purchased at Talking Leaves Books.

I am trying to remember if I remember anything else about Allen Fisher's visit in 1998. The only thing I remember is that we wandered around the neighborhood I lived in at the time, Allentown, in whose name Allen took great pleasure. At one point, he asked me to take a photo of him standing beneath a street sign that read, "Allen St."

from Dispossession and Cure

excerpt from "Disk"

A man in an orange flying-suit crossed an arena carrying a large disk of clear acrylic with perpendicular sides. Polarised light projected through the material made clear that the perfect shape of the form was made possible by extreme tensions. A completely civilised art. On the screen an action replay, a multi-coloured moure pattern, Dropping the disk into nitrogen and projecting the light again showed the disk freed of tensions, but misshapen.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Aimless Reading: The F's, Part 10.1 (Allen Fisher)


Breadboard
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Fisher, Allen
Breadboard


I am on a roll today, I guess. Or I just have nothing to do, what with being off of work and there being 4 or 5 new inches of snow on the ground. Anyhow, I bought this at Talking Leaves Books for the aforementioned course taught by Charles Bernstein back in the winter of 1998.

I had just bought a car, having realized how difficult it was to get around in Buffalo without one When Charles asked someone to volunteer to pick up Allen in Toronto, I eagerly volunteered. He had given a reading the night before and was staying at the apartment of Steve McCaffery and Karen Mac Cormack. I think it may have been the first time I had been to Toronto. I remember getting a little lost because the street signs were all too small and because instead of being on the near corner as you approached, they were on the far corner, making them doubly hard to read and ensuring that by the time you did read them it would already be too late to make the turn.

I eventually made it and, after some tea and a quick tour of Steve's massive book collection, took Allen with me back to Buffalo. We got hit with a massive snow storm on the QEW. To top it off, I somehow got a flat tire. Having just bought the car, and never having owned one myself before, I was a bit vexed as I tried to figure out how to change the tire. I didn't know if I even had a spare or a jack to make the change. Turns out I did, but that was only the beginning of our problems.

I took out the wrench and tried to undo the nuts that held the tire in place, but they just started spinning, as if they had been loosened by some prankster beforehand. Allen and I stood on the side of the empty highway in the freezing cold and the drifting snow and the howling winds trying to figure out what to do. None of the few cars that passed bothered to stop and offer help, so we were left to ponder how, if the nuts were all loose, the tire could even remain on the car.

(This will all be the beginning of a bad joke some day. How many poets does it take to change a tire? etc.)

Finally, Allen removed a glove and touched the nuts with his bare fingers and said, They're not real. They're plastic. It was then we realized that the nuts we'd been trying to remove were actually decorative parts of the hubcap, which we had failed to notice. We quickly, now with numb hands, popped off the hubcap, changed the tire and drove through the blizzard back to Buffalo.

from Breadboard

excerpt of "Buzzard Glide"

All the while I feel my fit
my joy stand upside down for it.
And still the farther off from her
Dear Sight I am, the readier
As she emerges from the frottage she
projects that which sees itself in him
from the patterns on the spat-on wall.

Aimless Reading: The F's, Part 10 (Allen Fisher)


HOOKS
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Fisher, Allen
HOOKS
place 32
taken out of place


Purchased in January 1998 at Talking Leaves Books. I bought this, along with five other books by Allen Fisher, for a course with Charles Bernstein called "Prose and Its Discontents." I remember being very frustrated because one of the assigned books, Theory of Prose, by Viktor Shklovski, was not available -- I think it had gone out of print. Somehow Taylor Brady had gotten a copy of it, but I think he was the only person in the class who had it. I was jealous.

Allen Fisher gave a lecture in the class on R. B. Kitaj called, "Recurrence and the Grand Theme in the Art of R. B. Kitaj." I remember there was a slide show and that he spoke of several different paintings by Kitaj. I remember he spent a good amount of time talking about the symbols in "If Not, Not," which is a sort of apocalyptic painting with a the gate of a concentration camp burning at the top.

I remember Charles commenting on the "Olsonian" character of Allen Fisher's poems after his reading. I think he read from this sequence, which applies to London strategies similar to those Olson applies to Gloucester in the Maxiumus Poems.

from HOOKS, place 32, out of place

Pope Barberini had the birds killed in the
Vatican gardens because they disturbed him

saying Galileo would infringe the right of
God to run the universe by miracle rather
than by natural law

Aimless Reading: The F's, Part 9 (Jennifer Firestone)


Holiday
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Firestone, Jennifer
Holiday


Not sure where I got this one. I don't know the author or her work and, sadly, I have not read the book. I know I didn't buy it and I am pretty sure no one ever gave it to me. I am guessing it was sent as a review copy by the publisher. It is autographed, not inscribed.

Here's a random excerpt:

Hide
under its bridge
run for the capital R
swim in its belly
it stands tall
beckons
so do
gold walls
marble finger
airplane
solace is where
I'm asking the
question
row in Romance
crack open
let red shell
dry

Aimless Reading: The F's, Part 8.2 (Norman Finkelstein)

Finkelstein, Norman
Lyrical Interference


The last of three books (inscribed) given to me by the author when I visited Cincinnati last February. My brain is not really awake yet, so I'll just post an excerpt this morning.

from Lyrical Intereference

Postscript to the essay "Pressing for the End"

Once I thought that our most sublime moments, the moments when we are most in touch with ourselves and all that has produced us, could be rendered into art when, out of our desire, we gave ourselves up wholly to the "voice of language itself." But there is another voice we must sometimes heed, and that voice never utters a word. We speak, and in speaking create endless models of discourse that echo back at us and bid us respond. One great model, the model of Messianic discourse that through both art and religion was once heard so plainly, is now so distant from us that it returns only as silence. Sometimes it bears down upon us, and we rush to welcome it, receive it with open arms. And in the extremity of its embrace we too fall silent.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Aimless Reading: The F's, Part 8.1 (Norman Finkelstein)


Passing Over
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Finkelstein, Norman
Passing Over


Given to me (inscribed) by the author when I visited Cincinnati last February. I remember that the reading I gave was a fun one. It took place in some kind of an athletics department lounge on the campus of Xavier U. There were only about 6 or 7 people there -- Norman & Alice Finkelstein, Tyrone Williams, Dana Ward (who I met for the first time), and I think two students. One of the students, a young man, wanted to talk about "The God Poem" after I read. He was definitely a young person in search of something and as such I felt a great sympathy for him. We ended up having a long, very sincere discussion about belief in God and so forth. I kind of wish all readings would end up in long sincere discussion about something -- wouldn't that be nice?

After the reading, all of the non-students went out to a bar, where we talked about poetry mostly. Dana and I got to talking about chapbooks and how they are often considered subsidiary to the perfect bound book, how people consider them stepping stones to "real" books, he said, thus diminishing the value of the chapbook, both as container of poems and as art object. He explained that he was trying to use his own press (Cy Press) to counter that -- he said he wanted to publish works that were written as chapbooks, and which stood alone as complete, autonomous works on a par with perfect bound books.

The next morning before I left, Norman and Tyrone took me to breakfast at an old time Cincy diner called Sugar and Spice. Large murals depeicting stacks of pancakes and bacon and eggs and waffles and cups of coffee covered then walls. They looked like they had been done in the forties. You could barely find a table it was so crowded. Norman ate a Cincinnati German favorite called goetta, which is a combination of ground meats and oats. I can't remember if I tried it or not.

from Passing Over

This
then that
the this and that together

Bitter-
sweet
like all of his commandments

In doubt
east
like all around the table.

Words
remain
after all else is consumed.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Aimless Reading: The F's, Part 8 (Norman Finkelstein)

Finkelstein, Norman
Powers: Tracks Volume Three

Given to me (inscribed) by the author, along with two other books, when I read at Xavier University in Cincinnati last February. I had been invited to read there by my friend, Tyrone Williams, who it happened had a class the night I arrived. Norman and his wife, Alice, graciously agreed to entertain me my first night in town. They took me to a hip new Mexican place called "Nada," which was managed by one of Norman's former students. The food was delish -- we even got to try some new dishes they were considering putting on the menu. I also got to drive in Norman's Toyota Prius -- I had never been in a Prius before and I kept thinking the car had stopped running because it didn't make any sound at all!

from Powers: Tracks Volume Three

The myth a record
of translation or transgression

A scandal among the scribes
translating the myth

Recording the transgressions
of the schools and parties

Here the record
is broken and lost.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Aimless Reading: The F's, Part 7 (Annie Finch)


Calendars
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Finch, Annie
Calendars


Given to me by the author on visit to Maine in July of 2007.

Lori's GMC Jimmy, a hulking behemoth of an SUV that she used for work, was dying a painful and expensive death in the spring of 2007. Almost on a whim, we drove to a dealership in Grand Island, NY and traded it in for a pile of debt and a used Honda Element. We almost immediately got a yen to take it on the road and within a few weeks drove out to Maine to visit Jonathan Skinner and Isabelle Pelissier, who'd moved there a year earlier so Jonathan could take up his teaching post at Bates College.

I think we spent 4 or 5 days there, maybe less, I can't quite recall. One night Jonathan Jonathan invites all of the poets living nearby over for a meal. Annie Finch and her partner, whose name I forget, was there, and Gary Lawless and Beth Leonard, owners of Gulf of Maine Books Brunswick, and Jim Koller and his wife, Maggie (Brown, I think, is her last name, forgive me for forgetting again).

We had a fine meal and talked about poetry all night long. I remember Annie said she was getting ready to go away for the month of August in order to write in some secluded place with little connection to the outside world.

I am not sure what it was about this particular trip, but it caused a very strong feeling in me that we needed to leave the place we were living. About half way between Maine and Buffalo, I blurted out to Lori that we had to sell our house, which we had rehabbed for three years and had been living in for five. I wasn't sure if that meant we needed to leave Buffalo or not, but I knew for sure that we needed to sell our house in Black Rock.

Immediately upon our return we called the real estate agent, who told us to wait until after Labor Day -- about 5 weeks -- before putting it on the Market. In the intervening days, all kinds of horrible things began to happen.

The house two doors down -- in which lived a family of Iragis from Basra, who had left to escape the war, and whose 18-year-old son had been accidentally murdered at a party six months before-- burned to the ground.

Someone broke out the window of the house across the street. It was replaced by a board.

There was a drive by shooting on the block directly behind our house.

To top it off, there was much talk in the papers about opening a group home for level three sex offenders right down the street.

All of this before the house went up for sale!

Our answer to all of this was to get in the Element and spend a month driving around the country, doing a few readings out west in support of my then-new book, hoping the house would sell while we were gone. It didn't, and we spent the next four months in agony, convinced that it would not sell, or that if it did, we would lose our shirts on it. Neither happened. We broke even and moved to an apartment and then to a new house in a different neighborhood nine months later.

So far so good.

from Calendars

Landing Under Water, I See Roots

All the things we hide in water
hoping we won't see them go–
(forests growing under water
press against the ones we know)–

and they might have gone on growing
and they might now breathe above
everything I speak of sowing
(everything I try to love).

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Aimless Reading: The F's, Part 6 (Vincent Ferrini)


know fish
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Ferrini, Vincent
know fish


I think this was another of my finds in the former Just Buffalo library. I recently discovered a copy of Ferrini's selected poems that didn't go out in the sale.

I never got to meet Vincent Ferrini before he passed away a couple of years ago, even though I'd made a couple of visits to Gloucester, MA over the years. Through the OlsonNow project, I've made friends with his nephew, Henry, who made the film Polis Is This, about Charles Olson. He also has a film about Henry, called Poem in Action, which I haven't seen.

Damn! I just broke the spine trying to open the book. I guess it is pretty fragile.

from Know Fish

An Island Credo

         the inauguration poem

Gloucester is my Celestial
home
is it yours?

We have a great unrealized Love
for the City, trust it-
voices in the clouds are heard

An ornery fiber girds us
fishy angles, blood music
& cracked binnacles

A round horizon of water
our diadem
mind the undersea Tree

We get out of this untamed rock
what springs
collective singulars

Where to?
Not the ugly conquests
navigations inward

to the Celestial Materials
the selves of the self
where the City is!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Aimless Reading: The F's, Part 5 (Raymond Federman)

Federman, Raymond
My Body In Nine Parts


Given to me by Geoffrey Gatza, who published the book on Blazevox books, after a tribute reading to the author last year. (Correction: the book was published by Starcherone Books in Buffalo. Thanks to Geoff for pointing it out).

Raymond Federman passed away this fall. He taught in Buffalo for decades. I only ever met him one time. It was when I first started working at Just Buffalo. Ted Pearson, my predecessor on the job, had organized a series of readings before he left that I took over. One of the readings in the first series was by Federman and Leslie Fiedler. I don't think Fiedler lived much longer after that. It was also the only time I ever met him.

My clearest memory is of Federman reading a story about a character named "Federman." His narrator never used pronouns, so every sentence ran something like this: Federman trips on the curb and falls down. Federman, why are you so clumsy, Federman asks himself...and so on. Now imagine a silver-haired, puckish figure with a heavy French accent and you can get an idea of the comic effect of all this. It was one of the funnier readings I've seen.

from My Body In Nine Parts

As for the big toe, well that's another store. That one is tough. Tough and arrogant. He's a loner. He thinks he is superior just because he is bigger than the others. Not because he is more beautiful, or has a better shape, on the contrary, he's ugly as hell, deformed and puffy. Bigness is his thing. So, he bitches all the time when I cut his nail, which always grows longer than the other nails. That big toe irritates me. He mocks me. He curses me, uses obscene language, when I hold him tight with two fingers to clip his ugly nail. That big toe has a nail as ugly as the toe. Impossible to describe the ugliness of that nail. It has no definite shape or texture. The only thing one can say about it is that it has an obnoxious color, yellowish like a rotten egg. Last night, as I was approaching that big toe with my favorite nail-clippers, he said to me, in a very sneering argumentative voice, Federman why the fuck don't you buy yourself a better Bistoquet? The piece of shit you're using hurts me.

That's exactly what he said. And he used the French word, Bistoquet.

By the way, all my toes are bilingual, like me.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Aimless Reading: The F's, Part 4 (Dan Featherson)

Featherston, Dan
The Clock Maker's Memoir


I can't remember if I got this book from the author or from the publisher or whether it was a gift or a purchase. In, I think, February, 2008, I went to a reading/book launch in New York at Thom Donovan's apartment in the East Village. I was kind of swept up in seeing old friends and acquaintances and so forth, so much so that I get dizzy trying to remember it all.

Jonathan Skinner was there and and Joel Kuszai and Kyle Schlesinger, along with other old time Buffalo poetics people like Kristen Prevallet. The reading took place during the NYC AWP conference, and it was at night. People were gathered in chairs in the living room and around a table in a kitchen. Several people, who shall remain nameless, were very, very drunk.

I think I went to three or four readings that day, including a marathon small press reading at the Bowery Poets Club. I also may have gone to a party at Rob Fitterman and Kim Rosenfield's place. That may have been the next night, though. I remember meeting a whole bunch of people from LA at that party. I think I met Hoa Nguyen there, too. I remember having a nice conversation with her and another with Matias Viegener and another with Stan Apps before rushing out the door to another event, which I am pretty sure was Dan Featherson's reading, then rushing out from that reading to the Bowery reading, or maybe it was the other way around.

I think at some point that same night, I wound up with Jonathan Skinner, but it's all a blur. The result was that I got good and sick when I returned to Buffalo and ended up missing work for the second time in two months.

So naturally I signed up to go to the next AWP in Denver in April.

from The Clock Maker's Memoir

Objects of Time


sinking bowl: breathing water
sundial: moving shadows
candle: reading books
ashes: wasting objects
crystal: vibrating space
door: perpetual motion
automaton: telling stories
monastery: a length of prayer
gravity: falling objects
tides: the movement of water:
death: the movement of war

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Aimless Reading: The F's, Part 3.5 (William Faulkner)


Go Down, Moses
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Faulkner, William
Go Down, Moses


I am pretty sure this one also came from the book room at LaSalle academy. Funny -- I am sure I have read every story in this collection, but I don't think I ever read them in this copy of the book. It's slightly water damaged -- not too severely, but enough that the paper feels a little warped. You can just see a water mark on the edge. I don't think I damaged the book, but who knows?

Ok, three quick entries in one day -- I guess I am searching for something to write about. Haven't really found it yet. Farewell, William Faulkner, farewell.

Aimless Reading: The F's, Part 3.4 (William Faulkner)


Light In August
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Faulkner, William
Light In August


I did read this book, but I don't recall where I bought it. It says it was once the property of the Board of Education of the City of New York and it has a library sticker on the inside front cover. It was never checked out.

The form reads:

Name of School.........................................................

Keep this book covered at all times; if any pages become loose or torn, repair them at once.

When you return the book be sure to get your student applicant form.

Fill out in ink, on first unoccupied line, the information called for.


(and then a grid below for checking out the book)

Maybe I am the only person ever to read this book. I'll bet there are a lot of books in libraries around the world that were put on the shelf and never read. I was reading a scene from Paul Auster's most recent book the other night in which one of the characters works as a student page in the library at Columbia University. At one point, a librarian scolds him for mis-shelving a book, saying that a mistake like that can make a book disappear for 15-20 years -- or forever.

Gosh, I am suddenly making myself feel melancholy.

from Light in August

SITTING beside the road, watching the wagon mount the hill toward her, Lena thinks, ‘I have come from Alabama: a fur piece. All the way from Alabama a-walking. A fur piece.’ Thinking although I have not been quite a month on the road I am already in Mississippi, further from home than I have ever been before. I am now further from Doane’s Mill than I have been since I was twelve years old.

Aimless Reading: The F's, Part 3.3 (William Faulkner)

Faulkner, William
Intruder in the Dust


I think this title came into my hands via the student book depository at LaSalle academy in NYC, where I taught English from 1992-4. The school had stacks and stacks of books that were once used in classrooms, all of which sat in a store room gathering dust (and intruders like me!). No titles there existed in quantities large enough for a whole class, so I plucked the ones I wanted to read out of the stacks and brought them home with me.

This one remains unread. Not sure why I didn't read it -- I think at the time I was so busy trying to read all of the books I had heard of that I put the lesser known titles to the side. The plan was to return to them once I felt I was sufficiently "well read" to bother. I still don't feel sufficiently well read, I guess.

from Intruder in the Dust

IT WAS JUST NOON that Sunday morning when the sheriff reached the jail with Lucas Beauchamp though the whole town (the whole county too for that matter) had known since the night before that Lucas had killed a white man.

He was there, waiting. He was the first one, standing lounging trying to look occupied or atleast innocent, under the shed in front of the closed blacksmith’s shop across the street from the jail where his uncle would be less likely to see him if or rather when he crossed the Square toward the post office for the eleven o’clock mail.

Because he knew Lucas Beauchamp too—as well that is as any white person knew him.Better than any maybe unless it was Carothers Edmonds on whose place Lucas lived seventeen miles from town, because he had eaten a meal in Lucas’ house. It was in the earlywinter four years ago; he had been only twelve then and it had happened this way: Edmonds was a friend of his uncle; they had been in school at the same time at the State University,where his uncle had gone after he came back from Harvard and Heidelberg to learn enoughlaw to get himself chosen County Attorney, and the day before Edmonds had come in to town see his uncle on some county business and had stayed the night with them and at supperthat evening Edmonds had said to him:

‘Come out home with me tomorrow and go rabbit hunting:’ and then to his mother: ‘I’llsend him back in tomorrow afternoon. I’ll send a boy along with him while he’s out with his gun:’ and then to him again: ‘He’s got a good dog.’

Friday, December 18, 2009

Aimless Reading: The F's, Part 3.2 (William Faulkner)


Absalom, Absalom
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Faulkner, William
Absalom, Absalom!


I bought this at Talking Leaves...Books, I think. It was a gift for Lori, who was reading through Faulkner a few years ago. It was one of those selfish gifts, through whose purchase I thought I might finally get around to reading a book I had intended to read for years. I think I have read the first page a thousand times, but I have never gotten to the second one. I can't explain why this is, as I have read 4 or 5 other Faulkner novels and loved them all. Someday.

Reading it again, I think that maybe I find the language a little suffocating, especially the piling on of adjectives in repetitive rhythmic patterns -- "long still hot weary dead" or "dim hot airless" or "dry vivid gusty" -- there's something, I don't know, affected, in these constructions, that gets on my nerves.

Here's the page I have read from Absalom, Absalom!:

From a little after two oclock until almost sundown of the long still hot weary dead September afternoon they sat in what Miss Coldfield still called the office because her father had called it that-a dim hot airless room with the blinds all closed and fastened for forty-three summers because when she was a girl someone had believed that light and moving air carried heat and that dark was always cooler, and which (as the sun shone fuller and fuller on that side of the house) became latticed with yellow slashes full of dust motes which Quentin thought of as being flecks of the dead old dried paint itself blown inward from the scaling blinds as wind might have blown them. There was a wistaria vine blooming for the second time that summer on a wooden trellis before one window, into which sparrows came now and then in random gusts, making a dry vivid dusty sound before going away: and opposite Quentin, Miss Coldfield in the eternal black which she had worn for forty-three years now, whether for sister, father, or nothusband none knew, sitting so bolt upright in the straight hard chair that was so tall for her that her legs hung straight and rigid as if she had iron shinbones and ankles, clear of the floor with that air of impotent and static rage like children's feet, and talking in that grim haggard amazed voice until at last listening would renege and hearing-sense self-confound and the long-dead object of her impotent yet indomitable frustration would appear, as though by outraged recapitulation evoked, quiet inattentive and harmless, out of the biding and dreamy and victorious dust.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Aimless Reading: The F's, Part 3.1 (William Faulkner)

Faulkner, William
The Sound and the Fury


Not sure where or when I bought this. It is in terrible shape: the cover has already come loose and there is no way the dry, crackly glue of the binding will withstand another attempt to read it. I am not even sure that this is the copy I read. I have a memory of reading a copy with a white or off-white cover and no cover image. I may have lost or given the original away and then replaced it with this. I am pretty sure I bought it in New York City, but that's just deductive reasoning -- I am pretty sure I didn't buy it in Buffalo, which more or less leaves New York or maybe DC, though I generally didn't start buying books until I had left home, so the latter is unlikely.

From The Sound and the Fury

When the shadow of the sash appeared on the curtains it was between seven and eight o' clock and then I was in time again, hearing the watch. It was Grandfather's and when Father gave it to me he said I give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire; it's rather excruciating-ly apt that you will use it to gain the reducto absurdum of all human experience which can fit your individual needs no better than it fitted his or his father's. I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all your breath trying to conquer it. Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Aimless Reading: The F's, Part 3 (William Faulkner)


As I Lay Dying
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Faulkner, William
As I Lay Dying


Not sure where or when I bought this book. I read it in college, though I am sure I never read it in a class. I don't know if this is the copy I read back then or if I bought it later to have a copy of my own. It contains underlining toward the back of the book, but it is not mine. Alas.

I remember that me & my friends who had read the book found the one sentence chapter by Vardaman endlessly entertaining. It reads thus:

My mother is a fish.

It became kind of joke among us to blurt this sentence out in the middle of a group at a party, apropos of nothing, and then to repeat it a hundred times in funny voices until we burst out laughing.

In fact, now that think of it, I was part of the joke before I had actually read the book on my own. I remember being surprised when I did read it on my own to discover that though the words were idiotic and were spoken by a character who was more or less an idiot, they made a certain kind of sense in the context of the narrative as a whole.

Not that I any longer remember what sense they made. But they did make sense. Of that I am sure.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Aimless Reading: The F's, Part 2 (Michael Farrell)


ode ode
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Farrell, Michael
ode ode


Given (or sent, I think) by the author upon (or following, if sent) his visit to Buffalo in, I think 2003 or 4. Inscribed to me. No relation to Dan, so far as I know.

I can't quite remember how I came into contact with MIchael -- maybe a friend of a friend or something. Anyhow, this was his first published book, I think, and he was very excited about it. So excited, I recall, that he came to the U.S. from Australia and toured around doing readings for several months. Before coming to Buffalo he contacted me, looking for a place to stay, so we put him up in the guest room at our house on Dearborn St.

I remember that at the time was struggling to put together my first collection of poems. I had written a lot in the previous five years, but could not figure out how it might all fit together into a collection. I remember Michael being very sympathetic and offering kind words and advice. I remember he also sent an email offering to read the manuscript and to offer suggestions. Something between inertia and pride kept me from sending it, but within the next six months I did figure it out and managed to put something together.

If you read the latest issue of ecopoetics, the whole first section is a selection of Australian poetry, edited by Michael, who I think also met Jonathan Skinner on that same visit.

from Codas

-

heres a filmmaker with a provo
cative way with the medium of
course & us playing the piano with no
tions of the 60s and the future
because of course time doesnt
just move forward not even the
past & its like a collective
cry from all our hearts when
we see the flickering rags &
bones that meant so much to
previous generations & we can
only look & wonder if lights an
adequate form of love the wea
ther really belongs to the cha
racters through different reels
lives its all any of us have if
we can make a climate our own
we can stand outside everything
like woody allens heathcliff be
witching the passersby with a tra
velling funk or scaring them off

Monday, December 14, 2009

Aimless Reading: One Year In


Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
The Aimless Reading Project began a year ago today. Its impetus was combination of boredom and the feeling of needing something to write about on a regular basis for my blog. Having at the time just re-shelved my books, which had been in boxes for a over a year, I was happy to see them all again and thought it might be a nice way to get reacquainted. I think when I began, my intention was simply to catalog the books with a brief entry on each, but I very quickly discovered that each book evoked its own set of unique memories and so felt compelled to write see and say what I found along the way.

My enthusiasm for the project waxes and wanes, depending on which books I am writing about, various external factors, etc., but I feel like it has so far been valuable for me to catalog these memories, if for no other reason than to have them written down.

On the other hand, I have also become acutely aware of how much of what I remember is manufactured in the re-telling. I was reading an article the other day about just this phenomenon. A group of people were asked in the days following the Challenger explosion to recall where they were and what they were doing at the time of the event. Their answers were recorded and then the same group of people were asked the same set of questions a year later. Not only were all of their answers completely different, but all of the respondents insisted that their second answers more accurately represented the events than the ones from a year earlier.

I have noticed that same phenomenon often in the writing of these entries. I begin to tell a story I recall and then realize as I am telling it that it is, to some degree, a fabrication, or rather, a work in progress. Memories seem to me now to be forever in flux, accumulating and/or losing significance as time passes. The re-telling of each one likely serves some purpose or need I have in the present and is not only colored, but shaped (narratively) to meet that need.

There is also the question of audience. The performance of these memories is shaped by the fact that I expect them to be read by others. I have tried to be as honest as I can in each one, but I sometimes fail in that regard for fear of how what is said might be perceived. It is when I have been most honest, however, that I receive the most interesting responses, so I try to keep it so.

Looking back to December 14, 2008, I am shocked to discover that I wrote 8 entries on the first day. My output has slowed to about 1 per day, which I think is pretty good. I'd hate for this to end too quickly. We just began the F's, and have covered about twenty percent of my books (397 to date), which means I should be doing this for another 3-4 years. Hopefully everyone will stick around!

Anyhow, thanks to all for riding on the Pearlblossom Highway.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Aimless Reading: The F's, Part 1 (Dan Farrell)


Last Instance
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Farrell, Dan
Last Instance


Not sure where I bought this, possibly at Rust Belt Books. Dan Farrell is another Vancouver poet who, like Jeff Derksen, was on the tips of everybody's tongues when I arrived in Buffalo in the late 90's, and who, unfortunately, like Jeff Derksen, I haven't heard much about in several years.

He came to Buffalo in 1998 or so and read at cornershop, which was a hub of activity for a couple of years. I remember very vividly hearing him read the last poem in this book, "366, 1996." In the poem, one of the structural elements is the repetition of the names of the days of the week, interspersed with other narrative and non-narrative information. It sounded great out loud, as I recall.

I met Dan one other time, in New York, I think, at Double Happiness, when I read there in 1999 with Jonathan Skinner and Eleni Stecopoulos.

From 366, 1996

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, going into the woods, Sunday, Monday, typical trees, Tuesday, typical grass traces, Wednesday, Thursday, typical excitations, Friday, typical regional sounds, Saturday, Sunday, why slow rather than slowest, Monday, clouded height, Tuesday, some same ground, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, left and possible, Sunday, right and possible, Monday, Tuesday, could what there is not to be believed be asked, Wednesday, Thursday...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Aimless Reading: The E's: Stats



Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
The E's

15 Authors
29 Volumes
29 titles

Aimless Reading: The E's, Part 15 (Roland and Francoise Etienne)

Etienne, Roland and Francoise
The Search For Ancient Greece


I love these compact little Abrams art books. I can't remember where or when I bought this or even if I read it. I went through a period about 11-12 years ago where I was reading a lot about classical civilization, even at one point trying to teach myself Greek out of a book (I did learn the alphabet, which has come in handy a few times). Flipping through, it seems to be a history, not so much of Greek art, but of the construction of the concept of Greek Civilization as an artistically valuable one in need of excavation, examination, and so on. Maybe I'll read it (again?).

Well, that's it for the E's. Only 15 authors. By far the smallest letter in the alphabet. For those keeping track: Monday, December 14 will be the one year anniversary of the Aimless Reading Project!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Aimless Reading: The E's, Part 14 (Clayton Eshleman)


Under World Arrest
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Eshleman, Clayton
Under World Arrest


Given to me by the author in 2003 upon a visit to Buffalo. Inscribed: "To Mike and Lori, in their new home." At the time, Lori and I had just bought our first house in the Black Rock neighborhood in Buffalo. We were about two blocks from Robert and Penelope Creeley's firehouse. They were only there a few months more before they moved to Providence, where he'd just taken a job at Brown.

Before he left, he had set up three readings for the fall that he asked me to take care of for him in his absence: Alan Loney, Tomaz Salamun, and Clayton Eshleman. We set up a talk for Clayton on Charles Olson at the Poetry Collection at the university and a reading for him at Just Buffalo.

I met Eshleman one other time about 5 years earlier, when Charles Bernstein brought him. I think there were two meals -- one was at an italian place in Williamsville and another down the street at a fancy french restaurant. For some reason, I was at both.

At the former, I remember at one point Clayton looked across the table at me and asked , "What's your vision?" He seemed to like asking penetrating questions like that. I think I said, "20/20." I don't remember if he laughed. At another point, we got to talking about religion and I told him I was trying to forget my religious upbringing. He told me that I should not do that, that it forms the basis of who I am and that later in life, regardless of my beliefs, it would become important to my writing. Guess what? He was right.

Sad, to say, I can now use the phrase, "later in life," to refer to my own.

from Under World Arrest

ON SUNLIT GARAGE FRONT
fluttermounting pigeon shadows
and in the shadows
      female outlines,
La Roche-de-Lalinde, 11,000 B.C.E.

    Most ancient women,
       the egg still to be laid
gripped in their protruding butts.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Aimless Reading: The E's, Part 13.1 (Erasmus)

Erasmus
The Essential Erasmus


I bought this several years later, I know not where, maybe at Oracle Junction books in Kenmore (near Buffalo). It does contain The Praise of Folly, which I did read, though I read little else from this volume.

from The Praise of Folly

ORATION: An Oration of Feigned Matter, spoken by Folly in her own Person

AT WHAT RATE soever the world talks of me (for I am not ignorant what ill report Folly has got, even among the most foolish), yet that I am that she, that only she, whose deity recreates both gods and men, even this is a sufficient argument, that I no sooner stepped up to speak to this full assembly than all your faces put on a kind of new and unwonted pleasantness. So suddenly have you cleared your brows, and with so frolic and hearty a laughter given me your applause, that in truth as many of you as I behold on every side of me seem to me no less than Homer's gods drunk with nectar and nepenthe; whereas before, you sat as lumpish and pensive as if you had come from consulting an oracle. And as it usually happens when the sun begins to show his beams, or when after a sharp winter the spring breathes afresh on the earth, all things immediately get a new face, new color, and recover as it were a certain kind of youth again: in like manner, by but beholding me you have in an instant gotten another kind of countenance; and so what the otherwise great rhetoricians with their tedious and long-studied orations can hardly effect, to wit, to remove the trouble of the mind, I have done it at once with my single look.

Aimless Reading: The E's, Part 13 (Erasmus)


Ten Colloquies
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Erasmus
Ten Colloquies


I think I bought this at 7th St. Books. I brought it home, then realized the essay I wanted to read, The Praise of Folly, was not in it. I kept it anyway, though I have never read it.

from The Shipwreck

Ant. You tell dreadful Stories: is this going to Sea? God forbid that ever any such Thing should come into my Mind.

Adol. That which I have related, is but a Diversion, in Comparison to what you’ll hear presently.

Ant. I have heard Calamities enough already, my Flesh trembles to hear you relate them, as if I were in Danger myself.

Adol. But Dangers that are past, are pleasant to be thought on.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Aimless Reading: The E's, Part 12.2 (Elaine Equi)


Ripple Effect
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Equi, Elaine
Ripple Effect


This was sent by the publisher as a review copy.

Alas, no review.

I did bring Elaine and husband/poet Jerome Sala for a reading last year. We spent a lot of time listening to funny/kitschy stuff on my iPod, like Derek and Clive Live (Dudley Moore and Peter Cook) and also a set of Jazz Hipster Poems about colors by a guy named Ken Nordine. We also drove around Buffalo and Niagara Falls looking for interesting candy that Elaine could photograph for a series of photos she was working on. A month or so after they left town, we received a packet of postcards in the mail, each one an image of candy from various places in NY and Buffalo and possibly other cities.

from Ripple Effect

Maria Callas

Canaries faint
when caged
by the
metallic ardor
of your voice

filing its way
through the bars

as if
you intended
to pluck
the unfinished song

from their lungs
and devour it.

There is still
a touch of
the ancient myths

about you
though classically trained
as wild-eyed and tragic

to the opulence
of opera
you bring

a harsh
elemental reality:

vinegar stored
in an oak casket,

salt poured
on an enemy's wounds.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Aimless Reading: The E's, Part 12.1 (Elaine Equi)


Voice-Over
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Equi, Elaine
Voice-Over


I was going to say I bought this at Talking Leaves...Books, but then a St. Mark's Book Shop bookmark fell out of the book. This could mean I bought it there, but it could also mean that I used the bookmark of one store, even though I bought it at the other, in which case I have no idea where I bought it. I did buy it. Of that, I am almost certain.

I brought Elaine to Buffalo for a reading, I recall, probably in 1998. She came by herself, and read at Hallwalls with Ted Pearson, who'd held my job before me. I remember driving her up to Niagara falls. I took her to the Criminals Hall of Fame Wax Museum, where we looked at wax figures of Charles Manson and John Dillnger and John Wayne Gacy.

We ate prime rib at a cheap family restaurant next door. The dollar was very strong at the time and we were both thrilled about the discount we got when we figured in the exchange rate -- 6 dollar steaks!

At that time, I still smoked like a chimney, and I remember Elaine asked me for a cigarette, which she never lit. She held it all night long, occasionally putting it into her mouth, but mostly holding it between her fingers. I think she said it helped her resist the temptation.

from Voice-Over

Spirit Photography
Where do we reside--

in our beer commercials
or somewhere outside of them?

Culture's mirrors
are all one way,

but if the soul
were photographed
would it really be
so predictably vague
and out of focus?

Look, there is the ghost
of a hand,

a family of shadows
stepping out of the sea.

Romantics--

where there is only smoke
we all find someone we know.

Yet the clearly visible
is more mysterious by far.

Our own breasts, arms,
legs, mouths--

unrecognizable
bodies

we can no longer see.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Aimless Reading: The E's, Part 12 (Elaine Equi)


Decoy
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Equi, Elaine
Decoy


I probably bought this at St. Mark's Books, but I am not sure. In the year before I left the city (1996-7), I was thinking about applying to MFA programs and so decided I needed to take some writing workshops in order to get recommendations to go in with my applications.

Many of my friends had studied with Ann Lauterbach at CUNY Grad Center and were raving about her, but that seemed like a long way to travel (I had a hard time going north of 14th St. for anything!). I had also heard from several of them that they had taken a class or two with Elaine Equi, who also taught at the New School, which happened to be within walking distance of my apartment.

I signed up for her master class in poetry, which meant I had to apply to get in. I think it was the first time I had ever handed my poetry to someone and received an acceptance. I remember there were about 20 people in the class and that we would sit in a circle. Our text book was the recently released Norton Anthology of Postmodern Poetry. Each week, one of us would choose a poem from the anthology and talk about it with the class -- that is, read it aloud and discuss what we liked about that poem.

This was followed by discussion of student work. I remember Elaine being a very gentle teacher who sought out the positive aspects in everyone's work. I was used to the very harsh critical medicine that I and my writing group friends had administered to each other in our past writing sessions, so I was never quite sure how to respond to the positive reinforcement. I think over time though, it helped me temper, somewhat, my own critical pronouncements about other people's work, especially when someone wanted constructive criticism. I am a Scorpio, after all, so couching my feelings about something can be difficult.

I remember reading people like Joseph Ceravolo and Ted Berrigan and Rae Armantrout for the first time in that class. I was also taking a workshop with Eileen Myles on a different day of the week. Eventually, I got recommendations from both, neither of which I ever used. The reason I never used them is because both encouraged me to come to Buffalo, where I still had a deferred admission from a couple years earlier. I called and asked if I could still use it and they said yes and so off I went (and here I am).

from Decoy

This Is Not A Poem


the poem exists
always and only
in the mind
of the reader

and these words
can never be more than
arrows, breadcrumbs

a map of abbreviations
however crude or elaborate

the poem comes into being
as the writer reads
and the reader anticipates

one can fill every inch
with writing and still
be no closer to the poem

as it lies there
a liar with a beautiful voice
that is often mistaken for silence

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Aimless Reading: The E's, Part 11.1 (Theodore Enslin)


Re-Sounding
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Enslin, Theodore
Re-Sounding


I think I bought this at Talking Leaves around the same time I bought the previous book by Enslin. I may have bought this one first. I seem to remember that Nine was quite expensive and that at the time I was sort of broke, so it is possible I may have bought this first because it was cheaper than the other.

Anyhow, I think I spent my share of Enslin memories yesterday. The only other detail of our visit that I remember vividly is that he told us some of the things he had done in Maine to make a living over the years, like carving walking sticks for people (?!) and cultivating blueberries to cover the property taxes on his farm. Those Mainers, boy, they're tough.

from Re-Sounding

I have always had the time for simple dreaming
dreams not simple    in themselves
their wonder deep within the work of many days
but from that working    time to rest from it
no time that any other told me what to do
rewards in payment scant    and yet
reward in dreaming    what I did not do
but what was done    that I might sense it
I'd not leave it    living in that moment
what my friends have styled a job of work.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Aimless Reading: The E's, Part 11 (Theodore Enslin)


Nine
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Enslin, Theodore
Nine


I bought this at Talking Leaves...Books in 2004 after returning from the Poetry of the 40's Conference in Orono, Maine.

Ted Enslin was one of the featured poets of the conference, being of the generation that began writing in the 40's and also being a resident of the state of Maine. I recall that on the first night of the conference he participated in a round table discussion about Louis Zukofsky that also featured Robert Creeley, Mark Scroggins, Barret Watten, Lyn Hejinian and Bob Perelman.

Enslin told of studying music with Nadia Boulanger, who eventually told him to give up music in favor of writing. He complied, eventually seeking out Conrad Aiken as a mentor. Aiken, he said, taught him only how to drink. He then discovered Zukofsky and began sending him his poems, which eventually developed into a kind of correspondence course in poetry. Not a bad way to learn, I suppose.

On the second to last day of the conference, Jonathan Skinner suggested that Matthew Cooperman and I skip out of the conference to go visit Ted at his farm in rural Maine, a suggestion to which we happily agreed. We drove up the coast about an hour and then inland slightly to arrive a ways down a very secluded road at his house, which is about 250 years old, if not older.

Ted came downstairs and welcomed us and we all sat in his living room talking about poetry and so forth. He then took us out for a walk and showed us his property. As we walked toward the woods he pointed to a small house, which he said was his wife's potting shed. Further on into the woods we came upon a clearing, in which were planted, quite a ways apart from one another, 8-10 different varieties of young trees. He explained that this was a kind of literary arbor he had been cultivating, meaning that each variety of tree was chosen because it had made an appearance in some literary work that was important to him -- for example, he had planted a lotus blossom in honor of William Carlos Williams.

Deeper into the woods he brought us to a little A-frame house, which was where he wrote. Inside resembled a loft, with a small kitchen and living room on the first floor and a desk and office in the loft area above. I remember he had a vast collection of classical music CD's and hundreds of books on the shelves, including, as I recall, the entire set of Samuel Pepys' diaries. Jonathan was very impressed by this and asked if Ted had read them all. "Oh, yes, of course," he said.

Up in his loft he showed us where he wrote at a little desk by the window. The loft was crammed with old steamer trunks. We asked what they contained and he told us they were all filled with manuscripts, most of them unpublished. Given how much he has published in his life, which is a lot to say the least, it was astonishing to see physical evidence of at least an equal quantity of writing lying dormant in his home.

I think we went back to the house after that. I remember it was raining and everything was very green and wet and that there were lots of mosquitoes buzzing in humid summer air. I think we briefly met his wife before heading back to the conference.

On the last day of the conference, at least I think it was the last day, Ted returned and gave one of the featured readings. This book was just out and I believe he read from it. His work bears the mark of his musical studies and is a great pleasure to hear read aloud.


1

Mindful mindful of quality
the quality of moritura of need
of the need to die that all dying
dying out of the need the need
to die the quality of moritura
of quality moritura in dying
need to of need in the mores
that all is mortal is mortaly
wounded the mind is a wound mindful
mindful quality quality of dying
die into moritura a quality of
moritura mortal the dying mores
of need of the would of needing to die
in the wound in the quality of dying
the need to need in the dying
the moritura of quality of need
to enter the dying dying in need
in the entering mindful mindful
dying
dying