Friday 22 February 2008

Yet in the world

It's in the world and available directly from Leafe Press. The publisher's splendid description of it is here.

Monday 18 February 2008

Forthcoming Readings & Courses

This Saturday night, 23 February, I am reading with Wendy Mulford at The Poetry School's new offices, 81-83 Lambeth Walk, London. The reading begins at six p.m., and the door fee is four pounds.

On 3 June will be the launch for All That Mighty Heart: London Poems at Swedenborg Hall, near Holborn, London. I'll provide more details as I have them.

On 14 June I'll be running a workshop on "Prose Poetry and Place" at The Kingcombe Centre in Dorset--a beautiful, relaxed location. The fee is an unusually low twenty pounds including lunch, as a subsidy is paying part of the cost. For further details or to register, contact The Poetry School.

On 16 and 17 July I'll be running a two-day seminar on the prose poem for The Poetry School. London.

On 22 July I'll be reading in Chicago at the Hyde Park Arts Center.

Friday 15 February 2008

Another mass gun-killing in Illinois

I was startled to learn of another university killing, and that at Northern Illinois University, where my mother went. What is it with these killings of the young by the young, Columbine, Virginia Tech, NIU? To my knowledge, they've all been in mid-sized towns (Columbine, CO, twenty-five thousand; Blacksburg, VA, approximately forty thousand; DeKalb, IL, forty-two thousand), places that seemed, like my own hometown actually, busy and thriving but relatively safe. That is, these aren't urban centers, and the victims are generally white. I'm unsure what to think.

Wednesday 13 February 2008

In honour of Valentine's Day, a few lines from Ashbery

It seemed our separate
lives could continue separately for themselves and shine like a single star.
I never knew such happiness. I never knew such happiness could exist.
Not that the dark world was removed or brightened, but
each thing in it was slightly enlarged, and in so seeming became its
true cameo self, a liquid thing, to be held in the hollow
of the hand like a bird.

John Ashbery, Flow Chart

Tuesday 12 February 2008

Kate Bingham and Kate Clanchy Read in Bath on Valentine's Day

Poets Kate Bingham and Kate Clanchy will be reading on the Stand Up Poetry reading series hosted by Bath Spa University. The event will be held at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institute at 8 p.m.

Sunday 10 February 2008

A few photos from my visit to New York. Part 2: Midtown

Times Square

A few pictures from the last Bath Spa dinner in New York at Beacon Restaurant

Eric and Tessa Hadley, Tim Middleton

Joe Liardet and Yu Yan Chen

As if that weren't enough fun, on a few nights after dinner Tim and Joe Liardet and I went to El Centro for margaritas.

Have I mentioned how delicious those margaritas were?

Saturday 9 February 2008

A few photos from my visit to New York. Part 1: Staying at Lytton's in Washington Heights

Lytton at work in his flat

The view of Washington Heights from my window (well, my window while I was staying there)

Me and Lytton, January '08

Friday 8 February 2008

Yet emerges!

I'm pleased to say that Yet has returned from the printer and I should be receiving my copies early next week. Alan Baker's moving description of it is here. I'll be launching it in London at my reading with Wendy Mulford at The Poetry School's new location, 81-83 Lambeth Walk, SE11 6DX; it's at 6 p.m. on 23 February. Given the limited space, reservations are recommended and can be made on 0845 223 5274 or via; you can pay for your ticket on the door (four pounds each).

I'm also in conversation with Mr B's Emporium in Bath about a launch there in March or April; details will appear here once the event's confirmed and scheduled.


Thursday 7 February 2008

AWP, Day 3 of 3

Day 3 had some wondrous moments. The first occurred as I was heading to the conference Saturday morning. I stepped into the elevator on the 12th floor, where I was staying, and it stopped first at floor 9. Asking "Going down?" was my undergraduate mentor, Stephen Yenser, whom I hadn't seen in years and had just been speaking of the night before. Hello, hello! Unfortunately, he was off to the airport, so we only had a few minutes, but it was a delight nonetheless.

I didn't make it to a panel or reading on the last day, as I was manning the Bath Spa stall from 12:30-1:30 and 3:30-5:30, with a meeting at 11:45 and several crucial stops to make at the bookfair. I could have squeezed one event in, I can see, but then I felt so exhausted it seemed impossible--I felt that between 1:30 and 3:30 I had both to have lunch and respond to some important emails, too.

I don't want to mention all the people I talked to (some of it might sound like name-dropping). So I'll note two new publications/presses I became acquainted with that day, that I hope to know better. The publication is A Public Space, a strong new journal published by a former editor of The Paris Review. Lytton introduced me to it while I was staying with him, and one of the editors happened to visit the Bath Spa stall while I was there. The press is Les Figues, a new experimental press in L.A. (well, new to me). Director Teresa Carmody's advocacy of her authors and her programme impressed me.

I think I feel sufficiently sated that I could go two years before returning, as it was between the Austin and New York AWPs, but I can't miss Chicago. Thus I am already planning two proposals: one for a panel on "Writing Masculinity"; one for a reading from the UK women's avant garde poetries anthology I'm editing.

AWP Day 1 addendum--the tribute to Russell Edson

I forgot to relate one of my favourite events of the AWP--the tribute to Russell Edson, generally regarded as America's foremost prose poet. The audience numbered two hundred (I'm guessing), and Charles Simic, Robert Bly, and James Tate all spoke of their introduction to and appreciation of Edson's work. Then Edson read--and read. He asked when the event was supposed to end and kept asking how long he had left; he was simply going to fill the time. What made it drag the more was that Bly began and continued to encourage applause after every individual piece. Some of the poems Edson read were: "The Philosophers," "The Way Things Are," "The Dog's Dinner," "A Large Thing," "Vignette," "The Wound," "The Shop," "The Family Monkey," "Things," "The Hemorrhoid Epidemic," "On the Eating of Mice," "A Fall," "Ape," "The Tunnel," "Balls," "A Secret Graveyard," "A Song of Likelihoods," and "Monkey Gas." It was a delight to hear Edson's well-paced, deadpan readings; hopefully there are various recordings of his readings, for posterity.

Tuesday 5 February 2008

AWP, Day 2 Panels (1 February '08)

On Friday, 1 February, I attended two outstanding panels. The first was the Graywolf Press reading. Ron Carlson was first and read a refreshingly straightforward excerpt from his book, Ron Carlson Writes a Story, tracing the development of a single story in minute detail. I doubt I'll forget his joke about why not to use one's name in a title, as his acquaintances have teased him by remarking on his actions thus: "Ron Carlson Gets His Mail," etc. The youngish Benjamin Percy read next from the title story of his collection, Refresh Refresh. I'm keen to buy and read the whole, as the excerpt was masterful and completely engaging. The works by Terese Svoboda (Black Glasses Like Clark Kent: A GI's Secret from Post-War Japan) and Tracy K. Smith ("Like a god, I believe in nothing") were also strong, yet the highlight for me was Mary Jo Bang's reading from her outstanding new book, Elegy (focused on the death of her son at age 37), and from a new collection in progress, The Bride of E. Reading Elegy over the time of the conference, I copied 5 1/2 pages of quotations into my journal--there were so many strong passages. Here are a few:

Memory is deeply not alive; it's a mock-up
And this renders it hateful. Yet, it is not a fiction,
Is a truth, indeed a sad and monstrous truth.
I was assigned to you, together we were
A beautiful and melancholic picture.
This last picture is the realization
Of the overwhelming moment
In which the acute eye perceives you as a now
That is over. A now that is now fixed
In the swept past.

(from "September Is")

The lights close their stupid white eyes
On the cruel inaccuracy of an end that was meant
To happen much later but didn't. It happened soon
After when the held danger broke like light

On water churning over someone going under.

(from "The Watch")

How changed we are.
Otherwise no longer exists.
There is only stasis, continually
Granting ceremony to the moment.

(from "Evidence")

The second panel of my day (at other times I was manning the Bath Spa stall at the bookfair) was "Crafting an Eco-Poetics," with Forrest Gander, Cecilia Vicuña, Jonathan Skinner, Marcella Durand, and Rochelle Tobias. The panoply of perspectives was impressive. Gander began with an impressive overview of the state of eco-poetics, then Rochelle Tobias delivered her intriguing paper, "Aster Disaster: The Nature of Names," looking at how the name of the flower aster affected its use in poetry. Next Marcelle Durand addressed the issue of "false colour views," the common use of astronomical photography that is distorted or "massaged" in some way, to demonstrate a particular scientific understanding, to differentiate among an object's features, to create a more attractive image, etc.

In his paper "Thoughts on Things: Poetics of the Third Landscape," Jonathan Skinner defined the third landscape as that landscape which is neither cultivated nor preserved; he usefully discussed instances in Peter Larkin's Leaves of Field, James Thomas Stevens's "A Half-Breed's Guide to the Use of Native Plants," and Maggie O'Sullivan's "Starlings." At the end, time running out,
Vicuña essentially provided an overview of the panel by presenting a kind of poem of phrases from different papers, starting with Skinner's and working back; it was a poem that could not be understood rightly, I suspect, without wide use of textual formatting to indicate how she used her voice, from whisper to patter to hoarse enunciation to the evocation of a little girl's voice--and more. An unexpected, fitting conclusion. I'm eager to learn more about eco-poetics, particularly in how it has emerged and developed in the US and UK--reading recommendations on this subject are most welcome.