Thursday 29 April 2010

National Poetry Month comes to a close

and there's no way I'll have 30 poems completed. I have, however, written more than I would have otherwise, and played around with form more than I have in a while, so I'm grateful for the poem a day exercise for those benefits. Others?

Tuesday 27 April 2010

This blog is now being archived by the British Library

How cool is that?

A hundred great opening sentences

of novels, as collected by American Book Review, can be read here. If there are any you consider missing, I'd be grateful if you posted them as a comment on this post--I'd be delighted to read them.

Monday 26 April 2010

Boston Review's choice microreviews

Two poets I'm fond of are warmly reviewed in the current Boston Review, one of my favourite magazines: Lytton Smith, for his first collection, The All-Purpose Magical Tent (Nightboat Books), and Sophie Robinson, for her first collection, a (Les Figues), both published last year. Congratulations to both!

Sunday 25 April 2010

i.m. Alan Sillitoe, 1928-2010

The Guardian's thoughtful obituary is here. I don't know what more to say except I'm saddened.

Mary Ann Samyn's Beauty Breaks In (New Issues, 2009)

Ave Maria polishes the background, while I tidy up out front.

Want to enjoy some majesty? Come on by, rain or snow, any evening.

last lines of "An Ambiguity"

In the hollow, the hollow was everything.
We oohed and aahed appropriately.
We learned sandstone versus limestone versus
what might have been.


What we liked best was anticipation,
which was fortunate since that was what we got.


I like my emptiness with a bit of elbow room.
You like yours with a convenient hatch.

from "Content / Content"

Another dazzling finale
and then I get to choose the braver way.

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
are the questions.


Remembering is such a thrill
the rain does it all day long.

from "Her Sun Was Blue, Her Tree Was Green,
Her Line Was Very Straight"

For heaven's sake, don't worry. It's just Wal-Mart: paintbrushes and paint, some talent and a little hey why not.

from "I Want You to Scream It"

Thank goodness for tomorrow, which held today, squirming a little
but secretly loving it.

the last stanza of "In the Countryside of The"

Will I always be lonely in towns with small-time civic pride?

At least I've done a good job not filling the nothingness
with more of the same.

I consider the berries on the ivy: each one a little entrance
or exit.

My strength I learned a long time ago.

end of "It's Been a Lovely October Thus Far"

My mother wants to know, am I in town?

Infinite Crisis #5.

I'm temper, underneath.
I'm pacing all the way through.

from "Riskier Still"

Little by little is one way to row a boat. Mine is blue and white
and very very sleepy.

Yours I cannot say. But I'm betting on the unimaginable,
and the painfully obvious.

last stanzas of "Smack-dab"

How will you know me dressed as I am
in rhetoric and light?

last stanza of "Suppose We Make That Assumption"

In real life, I hold up one hand to show my city.
On the map, Michigan leaned a little drunk. Tipsy mitten.


Feeling is active, I now realize.
Meaning lags behind, like thunder.


Intuition tells me I'm fine.

I've not exceeded the day's maximum
dose of anything.
A song I like repeats in my mind.

from "Tuesday Progress Report"

Two calm thoughts in a row. Personal best.


I'm a sensible nonsensical girl, not the other way around.

Mostly, I defer to you.

In a fit of wisdom, you chose me.
What more can I say?

beginning and ending of "When You Reach an Obstacle"

Beauty Breaks In is available with free worldwide shipping at The Book Depository.

Friday 23 April 2010

i.m. Australian poet Peter Porter, 1929-2010

Here is the obituary from The Guardian. I only met him once, at a lovely reading he gave in Bath Spa's poetry reading series, and found him to be as relaxed and amiable as he was intelligent; a delightful conversationalist.

Thursday 22 April 2010

National Poetry Month continues

I'm behind, but determined to make 30 in 30. Here's the draft of a poem from the 20th.

Taken down a few days later, as usual.

Wednesday 21 April 2010

Britain's best independent bookstores

As it begins with Mr B's in Bath and ends with the Poetry Bookshop in Hay-on-Wye, I'm pleased to refer you to The Telegraph's article on Britain's best independents. I'm also wondering, of course, what stores the author missed and hope some readers will fill me in.

Monday 19 April 2010

The Whitney Museum of American Art, third and final selection

Here's my last selection from the work I saw at the Whitney Museum early this month.

Tauba Auerbach's work from the exhibition has to be seen in person to be fully appreciated, as the Whitney's description makes clear (I hope). If you click on the painting beside the description so as to enlarge it, you'll appreciate how much her paintings look like real fabric. You can see more of her work on her website.

Lesley Vance's paintings suggest layers in intriguing relationships that render their still lives a greater sense of intimacy. Here are a couple images: "Untitled (12) (2009)"; "Untitled (21) (2009)".

The last artist I want to mention is photographer Stephanie Sinclair, who took photographs of Afghan women who set themselves on fire. The series, titled "Self-Immolation in Afghanistan: A Cry for Help," is intimate and moving. You can see it on the artist's website here.

Friday 16 April 2010

Obama's good work 3: Homosexuals' rights

"President Obama has asked the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a rule that would prevent hospitals from denying visitation privileges to gay and lesbian partners."--CNN (read more)

I'd be glad to receive more examples of Obama's good work since he took office--feel free to post in comments or backchannel your message to carrie dot etter at gmail dot com.

Infinite Difference as "an active and decisive intervention"

Richard Owens comments on the anthology and its possible roles on his blog, Damn the Caesars.

Thursday 15 April 2010

More happiness of the Normal variety, 13 April 2010

Click to enlarge any picture.

Matt and his little sister Sara

Josslyn--what a face!

Josslyn and Sara

Where is she going?

Sara on the crocodile seesaw I bought the kids about ten years ago--
the best thirty dollars I've ever spent

Far more mischievous than she looks!

Monday 12 April 2010

A day in the life--Saturday, 10 April in Normal, Illinois

A day with many of my nieces and nephews. Click on any picture to enlarge it.

Austin, Brandon and Matthew

Andrew--always in motion

Sara and Austin

Lindsey and Kaylee

Alex, Justin and Mario (admittedly neither a niece nor nephew)

Sunday 11 April 2010

Katie Ford's Colosseum (Graywolf, 2008)

I've been awed by the work of a poet new to me, Katie Ford, whose second collection, Colosseum, I came across in New York. Here are some choice passages.

If it is as Socrates says,
that locusts were human
until they heard the song of the world
and, so captured, forgot
to eat and drink and died--

and if it's true the gods
took pity on the dead
enough to resurrect them
into ashen singing things--

then, so too, our songs

will have to be plagues.

last stanzas of "Beirut"

I threw tarps over a life
and never could they reach--

still hastily I gathered
tarps more rare by the hour

in the city of nothing to spare.

from "Rarely"


eats what there is. It is
biblical: sit at the table of another
country, you must eat
what is set before you

They didn't know they were in another country
until they were left living.

from "Fish Market"

We were hardly vessels
what we took in could not be

and so we spat it out as dogs spit out
the wretched fish the only meat

the opening stanzas of "Vessel"

for when there is no storm
there is this stormed body

to keep alive in its solitary room
outside of which the snow is falling

one of us at a time.

the last lines of "Snow"

Look at the belief I can't live by, how it didn't follow
but was here before me like the fields of tall, planted cane

where anything can be hidden. I think this is
what we get when we ask to be saved:
a land where everything grows, and there are many killings.

the last lines of "What We Get"

All the films we saw there, their reels melting, the rows
where lovers went because they knew
or didn't know, it doesn't matter,
that watching the same story
could make them closer.

from "Coliseum Theater"

I listened to hymns and asked so much of them they quieted
like a body that withers when it feels itself
clung to.


Evidence being that which screams its moment--
one need not even look.

from "Raised Voice"

and when those who populate your life return
to their curtained rooms and lie down without you,
you are alone, you
are quarry.

from "Colosseum"

As for the tarpan it shall be for you.
A reckoning so slow you aren't even frightened.

the last stanza of "Earth"

The Book Depository has Colosseum for a discounted price with free worldwide shipping.

Friday 9 April 2010

The Whitney Museum of American Art, second selection

A few more artists whose work intrigued me:

Aurel Schmidt's intriguing painting addressing consumerism and masculinity. There's a larger image of the work on her wiki

Kate Gilmore's (feminist) video performance. Read about it on her page at the Whitney and view it here. Other films are available on her website.

Moving on to the abstract, there are Suzan Frecon's paintings. There's an apt review of a 2005 exhibition on the New York Times website.

I'll post a final selection in a few days.

Thursday 8 April 2010

Barbara Guest's Miniatures and Other Poems (Wesleyan UP, 2002)

NB: Often the spacing here is not consistent with the spacing in the book. If you're enticed by these passages, please read it yourself.

Earth has gala momentum.

"Shabby Boat"

In the past we listened to photographs. They heard our voice speak. Alice, active. What had been distance was memory.


The old camera refused to penetrate the unknown. Its heart was soft, unreliable.

from "Photographs"

Sound lays the structure. Sound leaks into the future.

last line of "Sound and Structure"

Opened the entrance door,

and make-believe arrived with a doll on its surface


Lived not for pleasure, to hear the cry

in a small coil
of ice.

And heard through the oak panel—,

amazing to listen to speech by way of adulthood.

To articulate velvet,

without noise or spectacle


the sorrow of falling

into an historical position


Lived not for pleasure, to hear the harp-like
cry in a coil,

to live in an eccentric balloon.

from "Pathos"

An attempt to get beyond the arrangement,

the vibration of a peculiar touch.


A hint of what was going to be.

Covering and uncovering necessary.

Self pouring out of cloudedness.

from "Blurred Edge"

Advanced Book Exchange has a handful of secondhand copies of Miniatures for sale at good prices.

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Catherine Wagner's Macular Hole (Fence, 2004)

It's hard to excerpt from these poems as many work holistically; that is, individual passages often gain resonance because of their placement and so don't convey that power standing alone. Nonetheless, here's a sample.

I'm not stupidly assailed by moonlight
I'm an example, an experimental

Attempt to assess how a kid of my talents
Responds when she's given the life that I was

I'm the control and experiment bothly
you'll never get a result out of me


I'm total I'm all I'm absorbed in this meatcake
If I did all I could you'd shut up/be glad

Like fingers of a hand we all act as one
and aren't always needed, aren't needed as all

from "I'm total I'm all I'm absorbed in this meatcake"

Sleep for a long time and a thrust of activity: log rolling, fall off a skyscraper,
phenomenologues, cigarettes, korn, seeding herpes lip to lip.
Why LSD in the seventies, why coke in the eighties,
why Ecstasy in the nineties, why Ritalin.
To bolster the wandering mind; to bolster the wandering heart
to bolster the glamor; to glamor the wander.
The glamorous self and its story: no can do.

last 7 of 9 lines of "The divinity of man"

A day like a thing on a fork it arrives

from "A bash, and I wanna look good"

I call on creatures
Living in the sky today
I adjure you
Emerge and dive your wings and bodies
Prevail across the scary light
Cavernous several light

from "Song: Scary several light"

The prisoner is time, or my sense of it.
A great suction fattens
on my trés rich hours.


He can have vines because I can't drink wine
while I'm breastfeeding.
Tyrant. Asleep and saying huu,
fantastic waxen kicking
figurine, like a kick in the head, little
fat bag, a good drug
I see more of the
him in.

from "Perfect love"

Why was I writing so
much? Because I was impressed, & saddled up & ridden.

from "Imitating"

It's like we'll be together forever
so why should we talk. It's like parents.

As looking at yellow mountains
against blue sky. They're flaming
and it is your eyes.

last two stanzas of "Resume, face"

Macular Hole can be purchased from The Book Depository, with free worldwide shipping.

Saturday 3 April 2010

A few artists from the Whitney, part 1

Today I visited the Whitney Museum of American Art and encountered the work of numerous artists previously unknown to me. I thought I'd mention here those whose art interested me most, in several sets.

Then Robert Williams' paintings combining techniques of comic books, surrealism, etc.

Thursday 1 April 2010

And so National Poetry Month begins

and fortuitously, I'm off to New York City, a place that makes me feel keenly alive. Five poems in five days in Manhattan? Let's go!