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    Friday, January 28, 2005

    The rooms we fill-even fleetingly

    New poetry series is in the works. It's going to be a series of poems entitled the rooms we fill, but not the rooms we always fill on a regular basis, instead those temporary rooms that you inhabit when you leave town with someone you love, or the rooms you share with a stranger in a bar bathroom. It's that sort of space. Are you intrigued? I am very excited about it. It will be a good break from the endless chipping away at me thesis. Can you hear it becoming fine tuned? I just hear it breaking and bending.

    Thursday, January 27, 2005

    Free Will-Capricorn

    Free Will Horoscope-CAPRICORN

    "Believing" in God is like "believing" in the taste of a peach without ever having tasted an actual peach. But what if I told you that you could actually commune with the Divine Wow through up-close, personal encounters that are as vivid and palpable as eating a peach? It's a distinct possibility for you in the coming weeks, Capricorn. The best way to increase your chances of having this heart-to-heart intimacy with Supreme Magic is, first, to want it very badly, and second, to unleash generous expressions of love as often as possible."

    hmmmmm. does this mean Supreme Magic is beyond my grasp. I mean generous expressions of love is asking a bit much... Couldn't we say minimal, some, a few expressions of love. That's much more realistic.

    Words & Women-the muse factor-what a double standard

    I find this article in The New York Times to be interesting. Interesting because the focus is all about men and their sex appeal no matter their age or physical appearance. What about literary women? Aren't we considered attractive and sexy because of what we write (and I'm not talking sex books) rather than what we look like? Case in point: I do have an interesting story, much like the one mentioned in this article, about a friend developing a crush on Joan Didion after reading A Book of Common Prayer. When I mentioned to him that she was like 70 or so, he went seeking out her other books and I swear just bought one based on her very sexy, alluring author photo. It then became I have a crush on the Joan Didion of 1963. Although, I do have to say his initial gut reaction was one of an almost rock-star-crush calibor just based on her words. Ah, if only Joan Didion was younger.... Of course, I predict that this particular friend once he gets a book deal will be privy to exactly this type of muse double standard. His prose is so fantastic that women will be lined up around the block just to get a look at him. I suggest he not post an author photo, leave the women guessing.

    I'm glad this writer took the time to step up and point out the strange double standard that alas even exists among writers.

    ESSAY; You Can't Get a Man With a Pen
    Published: December 19, 2004, Sunday

    Correction Appended

    DURING my first year at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, a few of us were sitting around one afternoon when several of my male classmates announced -- with far less irony than you'd imagine -- that they had become writers in order to attract women. I believe the word they used was ''babes,'' as in, I'm in it for the babes. A few years later, my friend Jeremy told me he was waiting until his first novel was published to try finding a girlfriend; it would be, he felt confident, a lot easier then.
    These remarks -- I should note here that, in spite of my name, I am female -- left me feeling less offended than baffled: yes, I realize that Norman Mailer persuaded six separate women to marry him, but for the rest of us, writing a book as a means of finding either love or sex seems to me about as efficient as the also-popular idea of writing a book to get rich. And yet I have to concede that, as anyone who has earned an M.F.A. or attended a writing conference already knows, a surprising number of those over-the-top rumors about writers and their torrid affairs are actually true. If books aren't aphrodisiacs, then what else can account for a guest opening the coat closet at a post-reading party a few years ago in Greensboro, N.C., to find Mr. Very Famous 60-Something Poet and a young blonde, with whom he was not, apparently, discussing ''Ode on a Grecian Urn.''

    I, too, have had my moments as a groupie, though they've been comparatively G-rated. In the late 1990's, after reading David Foster Wallace's essay collection, ''A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again,'' I concluded that Wallace and I were soul mates, sharers of the same neurotic, despairing mirth. When I went to hear him read at the Boston Public Library, I planned to take a seat in the front row, and I presumed that based on my facial expressions alone, Wallace would understand our connection. Instead, as I fought for a seat nowhere near the front, I looked in disbelief at the crowd. Who were all these other people, and what were they doing on my date with David Foster Wallace?

    The thing about groupie stories, and this is especially true of the salacious ones, is that they always seem to feature men in the starring roles. What I've been wondering lately is, has any woman writer -- ever, anywhere -- had a groupie? Does, say, Barbara Kingsolver get phone numbers after the bookstore closes? Do 20-year-old boys throw their boxer shorts at Toni Morrison? And finally, if women do indeed have groupies, might I acquire some for myself?

    Based on conversations with editors, booksellers and fellow writers, I've come to believe women can have groupies, or at least there are plenty of female writers who strike the fancy of male readers. The catch is that typically these women fall into one -- or both -- of two categories: either the woman is very attractive or she writes a lot about sex. In the first category are, from the 70's, Jayne Anne Phillips; from the 80's, Susan Minot; from the 90's, Donna Tartt; and, most recently, Jhumpa Lahiri, Zadie Smith and Nell Freudenberger. The more sexed-up category includes writers from Erica Jong to Amy Sohn.

    These are skilled writers, and some I admire greatly, but I'm pretty sure that their talent isn't the only reason men have a thing for them. Basically, I'm not convinced that female writers can transcend their hotness, that they can elicit lust based on literary prowess alone -- not because they're women, that is, but because they're writers. In an exception that proves the rule, my friend Antoine read the works of a well-known novelist and critic and developed ''the most epic crush of all time'' on her. ''Something about her prose made me think that she was of such companionable intelligence that I felt deeply attracted to her, whoever she might be,'' he said. Or at least he felt that way until he saw her picture and realized she's in her 70's, 40 years his senior. Of course, that's about the same age difference as that between a much-lauded male novelist I know of and the dewy-eyed students he dates in the New York program where he teaches.

    Groupie inequity applies not only to age but also to self-presentation. Jim Behrle, who has directed events at three independent bookstores in Boston and now works part time at BookCourt in Brooklyn, told me: ''There's something charming and forgivable about the slacker rock star literary guy who shows up in his AC/DC shirt and hasn't washed in a couple days. But I don't think women can pull that off as easily.'' Behrle explained that the slobby-cool aesthetic was pioneered by, among others, my own beloved David Foster Wallace, and is now practiced by cult favorites like the novelist Jonathan Safran Foer. In fact, the casual mien of these writers pales in comparison with that of the forefather of contemporary slovenliness, Charles Bukowski, who in his poem ''The Great Slob'' celebrates his fondness for hanging out in a stained undershirt and belching. Of himself and his paramours, he writes, ''I really loved myself, I / really loved my slob- / self, and / they seemed to also.'' To look at old photos of Bukowski is to know that what the ladies loved must have been his mind.

    Behrle, who has orchestrated readings by hundreds of writers, agreed to offer tips in my own quest to acquire groupies. Don't get a facial tattoo until after the reading tour, he advised, and don't publicly admit to having a boyfriend. ''There has to be the illusion of availability,'' he said. ''No one wants to hear that you're in a happy relationship -- fake break up with him right before you go on tour.'' Above all, use a come-hither author photo; any doubts about the power of this publicity tool were put to rest by the movie ''The Orchid Thief,'' in which the screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, played by Nicolas Cage, demonstrates a particularly self-gratifying type of ardor toward the author photo of Susan Orlean, played by Meryl Streep. Behrle himself recalled a British writer whose photograph made him ''fall to my knees, howl and surrender'' -- but he also cautioned that ''nine out of nine authors look better in their photo than in real life.''

    As it happens, it's too late for me. Last spring a co-worker at the school where I teach part time took the photograph that will appear on my novel's jacket, and I'm afraid the picture suggests less ''Let's have a drink after the reading'' and more ''Ninth graders, your 'Macbeth' papers are due on Friday.'' Besides, the truth is that I kind of admire the Bukowski tack. I mean, where's the victory in getting people to love you because you're cute? Put on lipstick and a short skirt and, hell, you can get hit on without even going to the trouble of writing a book. But if I can show up for readings belching and reeking, arranging myself in unbecoming positions, and still manage to win adulation? Now that would be equality.

    Published: 12 - 19 - 2004 , Late Edition - Final , Section 7 , Column 1 , Page 35

    Correction: January 9, 2005, Sunday

    An essay on Dec. 19 about literary groupies supplied an incorrect title for the movie based on Susan Orlean's book ''The Orchid Thief.'' It is ''Adaptation,'' not ''The Orchid Thief.''

    Friday, January 21, 2005

    Mail. Mail. Mail. Mail

    This has been a very literary week for mail & purchases & borrowing. I had Monday off so John and I went to Green Apple to spend away our gift certificates from Christmas. We both did well using them up quite nicely. I only went .54 cents over. I bought:

    The Beginner by Lyn Hejinian
    Macular Hole by Catherine Wagner
    Collected Plays by Lorca

    In the mail:
    The New Yorker
    Skid by Dean Young
    Notebook. Knife. Mentholatum. by Simone Muench

    by Noah Eli Gordon

    I'm still waiting for Plots by Claudia Rankine, The Commandrine and Other by Joyelle McSweeney, and The Chicago Review. A nice reading list for sure. I have one more week before school starts I've got plenty to keep me busy.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2005

    Definitive, you

    Definitive, you

    Words smack with careful treading
    the construct of—
    a + b = c is a definitive one.
    inventive not to you or I but to the masses.

    suspended. Drawn out upon the weight
    of little blackbird shoulders whose
    wings will glide through the air—
    outstretched on possibilities.

    chances, not hard
    pressed. Safely alight on the
    hinge that weather is lucrative
    not fixed. Safely one carries an
    umbrella. Small in size, easily

    As insides remain-
    never seeing shirt sleeves but beat
    deeply underneath winter layers.

    Formatting is all a mess. html is a pain...

    Friday, January 14, 2005

    Arcade Fire-All Covers, all acoustic set!

    Last night I attended a private acoustic concert by the Arcade Fire. There are about 8 or so of 'em crowded onto this little stage around a bunch of mics. They looked like they were having so much fun. They played:

    1. The Cure, Just like Heaven
    2. Bruce Springstein, Dancing in the Dark
    3. Cyndi Lauper, Girls Just Wanta Have Fun
    4. Talking Heads, This Must be the Place
    5. Ian Curtis, Love will Tear us Apart

    The girl in that band is so amazing. Her voice is amazingly pure. I was blown away by how talented they were and how well they played together. They genuinely had fun up there. What with all of the instrument swapping and interchanging singers was simply everything a band should be. At least 4 different band members sang. Go and see the Arcade Fire.

    Friday, January 07, 2005

    The New Yorkers laxidascal take on the Tsunami in Kalapet

    Upon reading the New Yorker this morning while eating breakfast, I was a bit taken a back by an article on the Tsunami from a reporter that lives in the region. It seems as if we're not the only ones that feel the tsunami victims are far away. In fact, people living just miles from where the tsunami hit are feeling that same way. The reporter who lives in Auroville which is right outside a main French provincial town called Pondicherry, heard of the tsunami over the internet. He then proceeds to describe the towns reaction as non existent. People went on when their lives as if the greatest tragedy of our time hadn't just occurred. This, to me, seems odd to point out. Odder still is his report, in a very laxidascal way that this region is receiving more food than necessary, that aid efforts are being thrown out because they are receiving rice every 50 minutes, while in India relief efforts haven't even begun. I certainly don't want to read about the gross misuse of aid relief efforts by a reporter that seems haphazardly reporting these things from his lush home a few miles from the devastation. Do something besides write a very disturbing article. I might be feeling over sensitive this morning. You be the judge.

    Tuesday, January 04, 2005

    Is having a personal blog selfish?

    I've always said that personal blogs are rather silly and self centered if they aren't on the web to serve a purpose. I mean, a purpose is sort of what we're all after so why shouldn't our blogs be after the same. I already belong to 2 online blogs, that are more communities with purposes. The first, is my friend blog-created for the sole purpose of reconnecting the scattered nature of friendships, and the second is a book blog where we read and discuss various books picked out by members. This blog-Less than Casual-is more about me, but more specifically about poetry. Poetry in general. The blog community appears to be popping up everywhere with more and more poetry blogs that serve as a way to tether us all together. Or at least enable the sense that people do still care about poetry.
  • Occasional Work & 7 Walks from the Office for Soft Architecture,Lisa Robertson
  • Observatory Mansions, Edward Carey
  • Siste Viator,Sarah Manguso
  • Point and Line, Thalia Field
  • 1913,issue 2
  • JetSetReady
  • Book Blog
  • Kid Sorrow
  • 14 Hills
  • Other Voices 2008 Younger Poets Anthology
  • Poe25{cent}em
  • sidebrow
  • eleven eleven {11 11}
  • New San Francisco Writing
  • Canwehaveourballback?
  • 42opus
  • Identity Theory
  • TellTaleHeart
  • Bri's Hub
  • Broke Robot
  • Musings from the God of Cities
  • Dinosaur Comics
  • Strong Bad
  • Rejected
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