Thursday, April 28, 2011

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 62 (Lewis Mumford)

The City in History by Michael_Kelleher
The City in History, a photo by Michael_Kelleher on Flickr.

Mumford, Lewis
The City in History

Purchased at Talking Leaves…Books.

I can remember eyeing this book on the shelf at Talking Leaves for a long time before I bought it. It stood on a shelf just high enough that I had to crane my neck ever so slightly to look up to it. It's title captured my imagination immediately, as I was thinking quite a bit about Olson and "The Polis" at the time. Eventually, I did buy it, possibly as I was writing my dissertation. I read about a quarter of it, but put it down and have been meaning to get back to it now for about 10 years. Sigh. One of these days.

from The City in History

Many cities, many existing educational institutions and political organizations have already made their commitment to Post-historic man. This obedient creature will have no need for the city: what was once a city will shrink to the dimensions of an underground control center, for in the interests of control and automatism all other attributes of like will be forfeited. Before the majority of mankind drifts into accepting this prospect, lured by little promises of 'pneumatic bliss' that obscure the total threat, it will be well to take a fresh look at man's historic development as shaped and molded by the city. To get a sufficient perspective upon the immediate tasks of the moment, I purpose to go back to the beginning of the city. We need a new image of order, which shall include the organic and personal, and eventual embrace all the offices and functions of man. Only if we can project that image shall we be able to find a new form for the city.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 61.1 (Harryette Mullen)

Muse & Drudge by Michael_Kelleher
Muse & Drudge, a photo by Michael_Kelleher on Flickr.
Mullen, Harryette
Muse & Drudge

Purchased at Talking Leaves…Books. Inscribed by the author:


It's been good to meet
And talk in Buffalo!

-Harryette Mullen

Harryette came to read during my first year in the Poetics Program. I remember going to dinner with her at an Indian restaurant that used to be on Elmwood Avenue. Surprisingly, only two or three students actually came to dinner. I remember it being myself, Nick Lawrence, and maybe one other person -- Taylor Brady, perhaps? Brent Cunningham? I can't recall.

I remember talking to her about how she composed this book, which is essentially an eighty-page poem written in quatrains. She said she wrote it one quatrain at a time, each composed discretely.
I remember also reading the poem and being amazed at both the musicality and the wit. It's a pretty astounding achievement. One of my favorite books of the nineties, for sure!
from Muse & Drudge

the royal yellow sovereign
a fragile grass stained widow
black veins hammered gold
folded hands applaud above a budding

flat back green and easy
stacked for salt meat seasoning
some fat on that rack
might make her more tasty

a frayed on way slave's
sassy fast sashay
fastens her smashing essay
sad to say yes unless

your only tongue turns
me loose excuse my french
native speakers opening act
a tight clench in the dark theater

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 61.1 (Harryette Mullen)

S*PeRM**K*T by Michael_Kelleher
S*PeRM**K*T, a photo by Michael_Kelleher on Flickr.

Mullen, Haryette

Purchased at Talking Leaves…Books.

As much as I admire Harryette Mullen's poetry (this much, he says, spreading his arms as wide as possible), including the work in this book, I have to say that this is one of my least favorite book titles of all time.

Not out of any prudery or such, but because I don't think it works either as a comment or as a joke, it feels like a forced discovery, especially given that there is no "I" in "Supermarket." (Hey, now there's a book title: "There's No "I" in Supermarket!") If there were an I, I still don't think it would be a very good joke, but at least the Scrabble lover in me would be satisfied that the word discovered was in fact buried in the original.

I suppose you could argue that I am over-interpreting the material and that the title is actually S/Perm/K/T. Well, okay, but what the hell does that mean? I don't take any pleasure in the game of determining what the title of the book is in this instance.


I love to be challenged by the complexity, ambiguity and difficulty of language. It is why I read and write. But I also want a little better payoff for the work I am doing and I don't feel the title of this book gives it to me.

"Supermarket" would have been a great title.

from S*PeRM**K*T

Lines assemble gutter and margin. Outside and in, they straighten a place. Organize a stand. Shelve space. Square footage. Align your list or listlessness. Pushing oddly evening aisle catches the tail of an eye. Displays the cherished share. Individually wrapped singles, frozen divorced compartments, six-pack widows express themselves while women wait in family ways, all bulging baskets, squirming young. More in line incites the eyes. Bold names label familiar type faces. Her hand scanning throwaway lines.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 61 (Harryette Mullen)

Trimmings by Michael_Kelleher
Trimmings, a photo by Michael_Kelleher on Flickr.

Mullen, Haryette

I think I got this through a project I worked on called The Al Poulin Project.

I got the job through James Sherry and worked on it for two years beginning in 1997. I was funded by the NY State Council on the Arts and the idea was to help get a wider distribution within the state of the work published by independent presses.

I spent a year researching public libraries across the state and then putting together a set of sample boxes of work from each press, which were shipped along with catalogs and order forms to all of the public library systems.

This entry came from Lee Ann Brown's Tender Buttons. All the other books from this project used to have a little sticker on them marking them as coming from the project, so I must have grabbed one that didn't have the sticker. I seem to remember giving it away.

from Trimmings

Becoming, for a song. A belt becomes such a small waist. Snakes around her, wrapping. Add waist to any figure, subtract, divide. Accessories multiply a look. Just the thing, a handy belt suggests embrace. Sucks her in. She buckles. Smiles, tighter. Quick to spot a bulge below the belt.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 60.3 (Daniel Rodríguez Mujica)

Bailarina Privada by Michael_Kelleher
Bailarina Privada, a photo by Michael_Kelleher on Flickr.

Muxica, Daniel
Bailarina privada

Given to me by the author. Includes a compact disc.

Daniel Muxica is a pseudonym of Daniel Rodríguez Mujica. 'Mujica' is pronounced mu-HEE-ka, while 'Muxica' would be mu-SHE-ka. I think I remember him telling me, or figuring out for myself, that this second spelling was chosen because it sounds a bit like 'música,' which is pronounced MU-see-ka. The accent is slightly different, but I guess it would make sense in this instance since the book is concerned with poetry and dance.

Given the book's title ("Private Dancer" in English), I've always wondered if the leg on the cover belonged to Tina Turner. It certainly looks like the ubiquitous limb of the mid-eighties Tina.

Oh, man! I just googled Daniel Muxica and found out he died two years ago of a heart attack at the age of 59. What a bummer. According to Wikipedia, 'Daniel Muxica' was the name by which he was most commonly known, despite having published so many books under his real name. Sigh.

Here's the notice of his death, which includes a little poetry:

Friday, April 22, 2011

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 60.2 (Daniel Rodríguez Mujica)

Mujica, Daniel Rodríguez
EX LIBRIS, el elogio de la dispersión

Given to me by the author in Havana in 2001.

I keep looking at the author photos on Mujica's books trying to remember what he looked like, but they all seem to have been from the 80s, and I met him in the early 00s. The guy I remember had shoulder-length salt-and-pepper hair and a beard. I'd guess he was in his fifties. He was short, slightly paunchy, wore a panama hat with his shirt untucked. Mostly, he looked like a guy on vacation.

At a party in the apartment of Reina Maria Rodríguez in Havana after the conference, we had a long conversation, during which he kept asking me where I'd learned my Spanish. He was trying to figure out what country I learned the language in and couldn't quite place it. Even though my grammar and vocabulary are far from perfect, I have a pretty convincing accent, which makes people think my Spanish is better than it really is.

I never noticed before that this book was published by XUL editions. I remember when I lived in NYC and worked at the Segue foundation that Roof Books put out an anthology of avant-garde Argentinian poetry from the 80s called The Xul Reader, a compendium of poets who published in a magazine by that name.

It always made me think of that scene in "Ghostbusters" where Bill Murray confronts Sigourney Weaver, who has been transformed into a goddess of the underworld. He calls out her name, "Dana?" Weaver, who looks like a psychedelic Bride of Frankenstein, responds in a deep, masculine, monster voice, "There is no Dana. There is only Xul."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 60.1 (Daniel Rodríguez Mujica)

Mujica, Daniel Rodríguez
Pentesilea, La vírgula y algunos otros poemas

Given to me by the author in Havana on January 10, 2001. Inscribed.

I am trying to figure out what the title means. "Pentesilea" was the queen of the Amazons, so that is pretty straightforward. "Vírgula," on the other hand, is a little strange. It can mean "a small stick," "a slender line" or "a kind of bacteria that leads to cholera."

I am also not sure whether the capitalization of "la" before it indicates that it is a poem separate from "Pentesilea" or if it is simply modifying it, as in: "Pentesilea, the stick." That seems a little odd. It could be, Pentesilea, The Stick and some other poems, indicating that there are two title poems. I guess I could open the book and see…

I am correct. There is a poem called "Pentesilea" and another called "La vírgula."

Doing an image search for "vírgula" I get pictures of busty, scantily clad women and images of quotation marks and apostrophes. On the word reference site, I get zilch in English, only the Spanish definition, which I listed above, and only then by looking it up in the RAE dictionary, which means it is not necessarily a common word.

Anyhow…off to work.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 60 (Daniel Rodríguez Mujica)

Mujica, Daniel Rodríguez
El libro de las traducciones

Given to me by the author in Havana in 2001. Have ten years gone by since I was in Cuba? Wow. I guess so.

Daniel Mujica (or Muxica, as he sometimes spells it) is an Argentine poet and publisher. For a while I had a subscription to his literary magazine, Los rollos del mal muerto, one of my all time favorite titles.

"Rollos del mall muerto" is a pun on the phrase "Rollos del mar muerto," which means "Dead Sea Scrolls." Changing 'mar' to 'mal' (evil) makes it "The Evil Dead Scrolls." A man after my own heart.

The magazine was actually printed on rolled sheets and sent wrapped in a corrugated cardboard cover. It was a pain in the ass to read and also to put back in the tube when you were done, but I loved the idea!

from El libro de las traducciones

hablar gritar te lo dije vieja de mierda treinta años antes este segundo lo advertí grietas justifican el próximo silencio los labios la mano empieza a caer hace treinta años desde el golpe anterior al golpe anterior

Quick translation by me:

to speak to scream I told you you old shit thirty years before this second I warned you screams justify the next silence the lips the hand begins to fall thirty years before the blow before the blow before

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 59.4 (Jennifer Moxley)

The Middle Room by Michael_Kelleher
The Middle Room, a photo by Michael_Kelleher on Flickr.

Moxley, Jennifer
The Middle Room

Purchased online.

As I mentioned yesterday, I had the idea a couple of years back to work more explicitly autobiographical information into my work, so I started looking for books by contemporary avant-garde poets who did just that. I wasn't interested in learning to write confessional verse, mind you, just looking for ideas about how I might make use of personal information in my poetry. I read Juliana Spahr's amazing The Transformation and also Eleni Sikelianos' The Book of Jon.

The third book I read, at least partly, was The Middle Room. This book differs from those two in that it is actually an autobiography -- a highly artificial, elaborately constructed, autobiography, but an autobiography nonetheless. According to my bookmark, which is a folded photograph of Canadian poets Kemeny Babineau, Rob Read and John Barlow, I got as far as page 118 (out of 633).

In the photo the three poets stand in a field at the edge of a forest. Rob is in the foreground looking directly into the lens, a slightly perplexed look on his face. John stands behind and slightly to the left of him, in profile, staring off into the distance with a big smile on his face. He is wearing a red t-shirt. Kemeny, bearded and smiling, his one visible arm akimbo, stands behind John looking towards the camera. Someone has photoshopped the initials of each poet somewhere on their person: Rob on the collar of his t-shirt, John on his left elbow, like a tattoo. Kemeny on the front of his white t-shirt. On the back of the photo, in black and white sans serif font, it says: First The Photo, Then The Band.

Anyhow, I did start working more autobiographical details into my poems that year, but I think the real result of all this interest in autobiography became this blog, which I started the following winter. The two have worked together in interesting ways, as my poems have grown longer, more autobiographical, more narratively driven.

from The Middle Room (Page 118)

Though I was not fully conscious of it at the time, the literary group of Chuck, Helena, and myself, with the now most propitious addition of Steve, had already drawn peripheral notice from several English PhD students, all of whom were secretly poets. Although my stepfather Clyde, who had earned his degree on the GI bill, had affrighted my brothers with ghastly dissertation tales--having to retype five hundred pages when it was discovered his margins were off by a quarter of an inch!-- to me the culture of graduate school was still very foreign.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 59.3 (Jennifer Moxley)

The Line by Michael_Kelleher
The Line, a photo by Michael_Kelleher on Flickr.
Moxley, Jennifer
The Line

I am not sure where I bought this -- probably at Talking Leaves…Books. I remember why I bought it, though. I think it was three, maybe four, summers ago. I had just finished reading The Transformation, by Julian Spahr and I had this idea that I wanted to make use of more autobiographical information in my poems, so I began looking around for other contemporary poets working with autobiographical information.

I had a memory of having read about Jennifer's autobiography, The Middle Room, on Silliman's blog.

I had a memory of having read about some new prose poems by Jennifer on Silliman's blog.

These two memories combined to form a sentence in my mind that went something like this: Jennifer Moxley has written a book of autobiographical prose poems.

So I went out looking for Jennifer Moxley's autobiographical prose poems and ended up buying The Line, which contains only the prose poem half of the equation. Not that I minded -- I love Jennifer's poetry -- but it wasn't exactly what I was looking for.

I eventually discovered my error and ordered The Middle Room.

from The LIne

The State

However much we wish it so, everything does not change in a moment. The sedative present, tugging, sucking, and many voiced, timelessly freights the mind. There will be no more marking of days. Under your right arm, a memory crutch, under your left, the future, a failure kicked out upon waking. But as punishment you can still dream. A nursing infant, the birds you have killed, a hill so steep your ascent of it leaves your lover straggling beneath you. Each night in houses you can never go back to you leave your promise behind.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 59.3 (Jennifer Moxley)

Clampdown by Michael_Kelleher
Clampdown, a photo by Michael_Kelleher on Flickr.

Moxley, Jennifer

Sent to me by the publisher.

Sorry for the scattered delivery entries over the past few days. We had the finale of the Babel season on Friday, plus I caught a cold, plus I had to finish the marketing materials for next season's series, plus we found out the sex of our baby (it's a girl), plus we are preparing our house for sale plus looking for a new one, etc.

This might be the norm for some time to come. I am trying to figure out how to handle the move in terms of the blog. At the moment, my plan is to figure out how long it will be before my books can come out of boxes and then pack enough away in a special place to get through that time period.

Another possibility is that I will take photos of, say, a hundred books on a single day, and just work my way through them. This would be easier in terms of the move, but it would make excerpting more difficult in most cases, though I suppose most people don't read the blog for the excerpts. Feel free to tell me otherwise.

Anyhow, this is one of the many things I am thinking about as we move into this next phase of our lives.

from Clampdown

Here's a link to Jennifer reading three poems from this collection at the Nation:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 59.2 (Jennifer Moxley)

Moxley, Jennifer
The Sense Record and other poems

Purchased, I think, at Talking Leaves Books. I believe there are two editions of this book from two separate presses, this, from Edge Books, being the first.

Jennifer came to Buffalo a few years ago and read in one of the Poetics Program series. I think she read with Fred Wah. I remember going to the Allentown Hardware bar after the reading and talking to both of them.

I have a recollection of writing something about Jennifer for Artvoice. Maybe a review or an email interview. If I did, I cannot find it online. Either I am making this up or it exists, along with several of the articles I wrote for the paper, in a kind of pre-website limbo. Many of the interview and reviews I wrote back in the day are now online, but an equal number are not.


I wrote a capsule review of Often Capital in Artvoice, which I just re-discovered on my computer. It mentions this The Sense Record in the review because Often Capital, her third book, actually predates both her first and second books in terms of dates of composition.

See, I am not making things up.

Here's a recording of Jennifer reading, "On This Side Nothing," from The Sense Record and other poems:

Monday, April 11, 2011

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 59.1 (Jennifer Moxley)

Often Capital by Michael_Kelleher
Often Capital, a photo by Michael_Kelleher on Flickr.

Moxley, Jennifer
Often Capital

Sent to me by the publisher.

I am looking at a stack of six Jennifer Moxley books and wondering how they all accumulated so quickly. I am sure I bought each of them on different occasions, yet I only bought the first one five or six years ago.

Suddenly, there was a stack.

It's a nice stack. Books of different colors, different widths, from different presses. Lots of variation. The same could be said of the poems, which is one reason I like them.

from Often Capital

from Enlightenment Evidence

open field, the privilege to limp across desire

no simple anchorage works when exile is a state of

time past, the wasterly girlhood can call me from your

ways entreating lover and I shall pettily dream as

Rosa limped without a country your solution-less must be

my homeland now since eyeward I befall the open field

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 59 (Jennifer Moxley)

Imagination Verses by Michael_Kelleher
Imagination Verses, a photo by Michael_Kelleher on Flickr.

Moxley, Jennifer
Imagination Verses

I am not sure where I bought this one.

I have a vague recollection of buying it online. I feel like it may have been a part of a purchase that included several books by poets who are more or less my contemporaries. This would have occurred after I'd told myself I was reading too much theory and needed to get back to reading poetry, an event that occurred at least once a semester and resulted in the purchased of five or ten poetry books at a pop.

That said, I also have a memory of having heard Jennifer's name when I still lived in New York, and of having looked for it at St. Mark's Book's, and then of having sat on a rolling step-stool in the back corner between the poetry island and the fiction shelves and reading her preface to the collection. I read the preface but not the poems.

I read the poems much later, after I'd bought the book.

from Imagination Verses

From A Distance I Can See

You have a lovely and familiar gravity,

and like in the apartment of my youthful reveries

each time I walk into you my city-bound Greyhound

rolls through the rain drenched streets,

a lightscape full of traffic and wondrous people

lies ahead, once you've caught view they shall demand

the tapering of all your beautiful fingers,

they shall tell your eyes to stop shooting such glances

for they are blocking your lips from seeming

red as they are, and what of gentle memory,

it frames your face and returns home devastated

to inform me of such boundaries shifting

that in them as in you, my dreams shall rest just dreams,

the rain drenched city of adulthood, vanish in advances.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 58 (Anna Moschovakis)

Moschovakis, Anna
I Have Not Been Able To Get Through To Everyone

I think this was sent to me by the publisher. Or possibly by the author. Or possibly from the author via the publisher.

I can't remember when I first met Anna. It may have been when I read at the Zinc bar with Matvei Yankelevich and Ammiel Alcalay in around 2005. God, It's been a long time since I've read in New York. Anna, Matvei and Genya Turovskaya stayed with us in, I think, 2006 or 7, when I brought the three editors of UDP up to Buffalo for a reading.

They read at Big Orbit gallery. It was winter. The heater had to be turned off during the reading because it was so loud you couldn't hear the readers. This made it very cold, so cold you could see the poets' breath as they read. I remember we left a ladder standing open behind the podium, a sort of prop. During Genya's reading, a cat, unseen by the reader, climbed quietly up the ladder, rung by rung, until it reach the top, where it sat, hovering over the proceedings. Everyone giggled.

I seem to run into Anna about once a year somewhere. I saw her at AWP in Denver last year and the year before that she was back in Buffalo for a Small Press conference. I remember sitting next to her during a roundtable during which David Hadbawnik was propounding on Jack Spicer's theory that poetry should stay local. I made a comment about there being a need for an audience and that poetry could be both global and local. I remember seeing Anna out of the corner of my eye nod in agreement.

from I Have Not Been Able To Get Through To Everyone


I can't remember what it is I'm supposed to be doing.
I can't think of anything but lists I've made, lists I've broken
the spirit of. It's always a fine time for breaking
things, like plastic forks and poetic trends.
It's a damn good morning to imitate the world.
But I can't remember what imitation is
or the difference between it and flattery
or an adage and an aphorism.
I'd better go back to school
he said, performing a gesture to alterity.
I can't remember if alterity
has negative connotations
or is just another way of kicking
myself out the door. I'd like to try being
a man for once. I'd like to wear chaps and have it
be obscene instead of pornographi. I can never remember
what I think of pornography when it isn't in my
face. I wish I could be inanimate,
banged-up and appreciated
for all my surface qualities
without ethics getting in the way. I seem to remember
being ethical. I seem to act along some kind of line
albeit a kinky one. I wonder when kinky became
pornographic and whether that aspect is
subtractable. I don't remember my grammar
rules. I don't think English is very good
for a certain kind of inventioning. I gather
some readers don't like being
confronted with the language in every word.
I want to be a word. I would be abstract
with an inscrutable ending.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 57.2 (Toni Morrison)

Beloved by Michael_Kelleher
Beloved, a photo by Michael_Kelleher on Flickr.

Morrison, Toni

This copy belongs to Lori.

The mystery surrounding the inscription in yesterday's book (Jazz) has been solved. I wrote an email to three of the Mulhollands, who all confirmed that the handwriting belonged to their mother. Tom wrote that the due date was probably written for me when I borrowed the book. As in: please return my book by 7/23/93. I felt a little pang of guilt over never having returned it, especially since Edie is no longer with us.

Late in high school, Tom and I became fast friends and soon thereafter he introduced me to his large, Irish-Catholic family (there were seven, including his parents). I remember the first time I met them all at their 41st St. home in Washington. Everyone was sitting around a table in the kitchen or the dining room -- I think the dining room. There were always people at the house, and they were always sitting around one of those tables. Children, grandchildren, friends, cousins, uncles, neighbors.

They asked me if I wanted a cup of coffee. I said yes.

Tim, the eldest, asked, Cream and Sugar?

Both, I said.

Clean spoon or dirty?

I froze, not knowing what to say. Before I could get a word out, the whole family erupted in laughter. I was treated like a part of the clan from then on.

(Two Corrections: First, Tim is the second oldest -- I forgot about Mary Kate. Second, either before or after Tim asked me whether I wanted a clean or dirty spoon, Michelle Mulholland leaned in and asked, So, you are into artificial stimulants, eh? I remember feeling like, Wow, did Tommy tell these people about my drug habit?)

The Mulhollands were a kind of second family to me during high school. Not that I came from a broken home or anything, but it was not always filled with happiness. Our family life was pervaded by a sense that we should be bettering ourselves and that happiness was to be distrusted because it might lull us into a state of complacency over our aspirations, the effect of which was that I always felt I was being judged against those aspirations. And I was always falling short.

Edie Mulholland was that rare person who was openly, effusively, generously and, I believe, genuinely happy. When I think about her, I remember her happiness most clearly. She was happy with her family, her kids, her life. She was happy for everyone around her, and her happiness made everyone around her feel happy. Once she decided you were one her team, you could feel safe that she would never judge you. She made me feel so good that I used to go over to the house just to see her -- even if Tom wasn’t home!

When I’d arrive, she’d ask if I wanted coffee and I’d say yes and she’d tell me to go put on a pot and I would and then we’d light up cigarettes and talk in the kitchen. I used to like smoking with her. I don’t think our smoking together was important to her in and of itself. It was important to me, however, because it made me feel grown up to be able to smoke openly in front of an adult. That was pretty much all I wanted as a teenager -- to be treated like an adult. And that was how she treated me.

I quit smoking for a couple of years during college, but she kept on smoking. Then she quit right around the time that I started again. Eventually, we both quit for good. I don’t miss smoking, but I do miss smoking with Edie.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 57.1 (Toni Morrison)

Jazz by Michael_Kelleher
Jazz, a photo by Michael_Kelleher on Flickr.

Morrison, Toni

Hmm. Not sure where I got this. I remember reading it when it came out, but something tells me this is not my copy. I have this vague recollection of losing or giving away or selling my copy. Now, interestingly, there is an inscription written in neat cursive with a black felt tip pen on the inner flap. It reads as follows:

Due Date 7/23/9

I have known one Edie in my life. Edie Mulholland. She was the mother of my high school friend, Tom. I know for certain that I have one book in my library acquired from the Mulholland library -- The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats, which they gave me in college.

I guess there is a possibility that someone in the Mulholland clan gave me this book. I am going to have to look into the matter.

from Jazz

Sth, I know that woman. She used to live with a flock of birds on Lenox Avenue. Know her husband, too. He fell for an eighteen-year-old girl with one of those deepdown, spooky loves that made him so sad and happy he shot her just to keep the feeling going. When the woman, her name is Violet, went to the funeral to see the girl and to cut her dead face they threw her to the floor and out of the church. She ran, then, through all that snow, and when she got back to her apartment she took the birds from their cages and set them out the windows to freeze or fly, including the parrot that said, "I love you."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 57 (Toni Morrison)

The Bluest Eye by Michael_Kelleher
The Bluest Eye, a photo by Michael_Kelleher on Flickr.

Morrison, Toni
The Bluest Eye

I am pretty sure that this was my high school English class text book. I can't remember when I read it. Early in high school, I think. Freshman or sophomore year. It may have been summer reading between the two years. I know I read part of it, but I can't say for certain that I read all of it.

I rarely read entire books at that time and I don't recall ever returning to the book in later years when I began to read more seriously. Either way, that makes it one of the older books in my library -- or one of the longest personally owned by me, anyhow. It must have been with me since 1983 or so.

It is also possible that this is not my copy, but my brother Chris's. He went to the same school, had most of the same teachers, and actually read most of the books he was assigned. I think the more likely scenario is that it was mine and that he inherited from me before I stole it back from him later on.

Makes for a better ending, anyhow.

from The Bluest Eye

Nuns go by as quiet as lust, and drunken men and sober eyes sing in the lobby of the Greek hotel. Rosemary Villanucci, our next-door friend who lives above her father's cafe, sits in a 1939 Buick eating bread and butter. She rolls down the window to tell my sister Frieda and me that we can't come in. We stare at her, wanting her bread, but more than that wanting to poke the arrogance out of her eyes and smash the pride of ownership that curls her chewing mouth. When she comes out of the car we will beat her up, make red marks on her white skin, and she will cry and ask us do we want her to pull her pants down. We will say no. We don't know what we should feel or do if she does, but whenever she asks us, we know she is offering us something precious and that our own pride must be asserted by refusing to accept.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 56.3 (Laura Moriarty)

Rondeaux by Michael_Kelleher
Rondeaux, a photo by Michael_Kelleher on Flickr.

Moriarty, Laura

I am pretty sure, though not one hundred percent, that I acquired this in New York.

I have a memory of seeing Laura Moriarty read with, I think, Melanie Nielsen, at the Segue Series, which at the time was run out of a space on 8th St, between Avenues B and C, in New York. This would have been in 1996 or 1997. I am almost sure this is true.

If it is true, then I feel there is a good chance I took the book off the shelves of the Segue Foundation when I worked there during that time.

It might also be true that I bought it at the reading. This is unlikely, as I had so little money at the time I never bought books at readings, especially if I could get them for free.

There is also an outside possibility that I am imagining all of this and that I bought it along with the other three Moriarty books I own at Talking Leaves...Books when Laura came to Buffalo.

O, the uncertainty of it all!

from Rondeaux

Each page a day
Each rectangle outlined
On the sky there is movement
We are under it it is raining
These days remembering back
Streets meeting already writing
As if divided I write you and see
Each page handing it over directly
You at the same time in a speech
Making writing into life
Paper in hair and eyes
Mixed with the general storm
Inundated with each other
Each page says anything

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 56.2 (Laura Moriarty)

Like Roads by Michael_Kelleher
Like Roads, a photo by Michael_Kelleher on Flickr.

Moriarty, Laura
Like Roads

Purchased at Talking Leaves...Books.

Crazy with home improvement this morning, thus we cut to the excerpt!

from Like Roads

L'Amour Fou (Translation)

(then like reeds not hair)
The hypnotic behavior

Attributed to a character
Being figured out

Interrupting the air
Forms a caption to an enclosed

Like taking with a straw
"Beyond this fine curtain of sun"

The air of a suggestion
As transparent as her clothes

The man's look a man is said to have
A traditional drowned Venus

The perversion of writing on a woman
Fondly remembered here

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 56.1 (Laura Moriarty)

L'Archiviste by Michael_Kelleher
L'Archiviste, a photo by Michael_Kelleher on Flickr.

Moriarty, Laura

Purchased at Talking Leaves...Books during the same author visit to Buffalo mentioned yesterday.

Unfortunately, the cover has a slight tear in it. I can't quite tell, but it may go as deep as the spine. It almost looks as if it got pressed against the side of a box and folded during one of our many moves. The white cover paper is also starting to yellow a tad.

I saw Laura last year at AWP. I'd put together a panel of poets who work as arts administrators and I stupidly didn't think to invite her -- she's the deputy director of Small Press Distribution, so she'd have been perfect.

Thankfully, she attended and had lots of interesting things to add to the conversation.

from L'Archiviste

The difference between strength and power is that one is generous. One is present. One assumes the other one. There is no conflict. There is no point left out.

A natural event happens slowly like a landscape. It was like waltzing with an ecologist who used to be a mystic. Ot it was better than that. Like being made of flesh and blood. We share our sense of arrangement.

We call it up in ourselves.

We sing our heads off.

We are congruent with the story that is happening there. Fresh characters arrive like children. We are a monograph, an autograph. We have an identity. A logo.

It doesn't begin or end. It needs to be fleshed out conceived written thought. Something goes away. Something made from what is left is not imaginary or real. The past is not a story. The idea is access. Everything that happens to us is history. The rest is waiting.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 56 (Laura Moriarty)

Symmetry by Michael_Kelleher
Symmetry, a photo by Michael_Kelleher on Flickr.

Moriarty, Laura

Purchased at Talking Leaves...Books.

I bought three of the four books I own by Laura Moriarty in Buffalo when she visited in, I think, 1997 -- it may have been 1998. Either way, it was my first year in the poetics program.

I remember hanging out with Laura at Taylor Brady's apartment in Allentown. I don't remember much of what we talked about, but I remember a funny quip Laura made about Charles Bernstein.

We got to talking about how Charles seemed to know everyone in the literary world and Laura said that if we ever discovered poets on Mars we'd soon find out that Charles had been corresponding with them for years.

from Symmetry

The Muse

The familiar paraphernalia

Forced into the role of silent collaborator

The psyche at stake

We are in business together

The buildings melt into the sky

You sing to distract me

Your reason is not mine

Is mine