Tuesday, September 27, 2011

There is light in darkness, you just have to find it.

“There is light in darkness, you just have to find it.” 

-- bell hooks

Eve's Sestina for Adam -- Lucy Anderton

Eve's Sestina for Adam
Lucy Anderton

I wanted the blood from the lip you'd bite
open for me. I wanted the soft back
of your knee that glowed like an otter's eye,
the flag of hair you'd throw out through the wild
sky, singing praises to Him through the air.
Clearly put, I was not born to be one

more pretty poppy in that garden. One
more handful of fruit just for you to bite,
a patch of dirt where you could plant your heirs.
I was a song you had to put your back
into. The first born fairy. Artless, wild
and bare. And I wanted more than my eye


Artist = Lim Heng Swee

Love is an action -- bell hooks

Love is an action. 
-- bell hooks

Sunday, September 25, 2011

siken's reckless prayer

"you've discovered something you 
don't even have a name for."

Saturday, September 24, 2011

the soil turns with its vocabulary



It’s not words we need tonight, but the antidote
to what has already been said. Yes, there’s a man
sitting lakeside in an idling car. Yes, there’s
a slug crossing a road in the rain, and a drugstore
where people sway like tropical leaves—in a wind
that thinks of antibacterial soap and condoms,
a two liter of coke. Yes, my father is dying
and the soil turns with its vocabulary
of beetles, its glistening, diamond vowels. Yes,
any face is a temporary face, and God knows
enough about when the mangoes must turn red,
when the garbage man must wake in the dark.
Here. There. A bowl left out in the rain. We fill it
with so many thoughts. As if afraid to merely live
in love. As if even this fear belonged to us.

Sam Taylor

Friday, September 23, 2011

Poetry & Texting -- Carol Ann Duffy

"The poem is a form of texting ... it's the original text," says Carol Ann Duffy. "It's a perfecting of a feeling in language – it's a way of saying more with less, just as texting is. We've got to realise that the Facebook generation is the future – and, oddly enough, poetry is the perfect form for them. It's a kind of time capsule – it allows feelings and ideas to travel big distances in a very condensed form."


heavenly body speaks for



The job is taxing clanking on the bars we all agree we need some new work boots and yet and more over we need a new outlook Sir it is one hundred degrees in here and the air is obscene as well as our knees hurt where our heavenly body speaks to us and nothing Sir to scratch our dreams on the wall with and there Sir is another rape another fucking suicide goes underreported and guards scream bust your head if you buck and some of us live Sir in San Francisco where the smells are all kind brown and blue musk that in our dreams fuses railroad a chain of events Sir that lead here and suppose us dead and deserving we all agree we have families we hurt in real life we step out of line we talk shit eat watermelon on Independence Day as well as find our handcuffs birdcalls women or booze until the sun goes down our feet bar after bar Sir as the clanking renews itself as we take lint from the laundry room to cot with us we all agree as we ink we blot out we meld we murder we assemble for chow with each clanking bar our heavenly body speaks of.


We’re human beings, my son, almost birds, public heroes and secrets


Roberto Bolaño (1953-2003)

Listen carefully, my son: bombs were falling
over Mexico City
but no one even noticed.
The air carried poison through
the streets and open windows.
You’d just finished eating and were watching
cartoons on TV.
I was reading in the bedroom next door
when I realized we were going to die.
Despite the dizziness and nausea I dragged myself
to the kitchen and found you on the floor.
We hugged. You asked what was happening
and I didn’t tell you we were on death’s program
but instead that we were going on a journey,
one more, together, and that you shouldn’t be afraid.
When it left, death didn’t even
close our eyes.
What are we? you asked a week or year later,
ants, bees, wrong numbers
in the big rotten soup of chance?
We’re human beings, my son, almost birds,
public heroes and secrets.


Jeanette Winterson, The PowerBook

 Oh, Jeanette Winterson. I remember reading three or four of her books for a class I took in college: "How Writing Is Written." Eye-opening, really: her perspective or vision is sharp and slightly off-kilter. There's brilliance there: contained but not, as she writes, containable.

All I Want Is You

Every spot I've laid my head has been temporary -- I've known this. Every year, I pack my things -- sometimes neat and tight in a suitcase & sometimes half-hazard and without organization. I am constantly moving. At camp, I only half-unpack. In New Orleans, I unpacked but then left half of my things in boxes because I knew summer would come. 

This year, I move in with my best friend of 16 years. We're headed to Brighton, and if it goes well, there's the possibility that it could be more than a year. I may sublet the place during the summer but could still leave things. I might work on the business of building a life. 

I bumped this song all summer.


Thursday, September 22, 2011


Does anyone have a FFFFound Invite? 

I've been in love with the website for SO long & would love to register....

Never Give Up

Are you lurking? Are you reading? 
Day 1 of Session 3 at Camp: rain from the moment we wake. It pours and pours. My hair's frizzing, my staff t-shirt is drenched, and I am doing my best to smile at each parent and child I greet. 

We swim every single day, and there was hesitation about what to do on this first day. We always swim. We always conduct swim tests. 

I'm old-school. I was raised with the notion, "camp will always run." My role models pushed me when I needed to be pushed. They threw my cautious 19-year-old self into the deep-end & it worked because I knew they'd save me if I drowned. It worked because I respected them enough and cared for the kids to make just about anything work. 

My poor staff: we told them all to come down dressed to swim. The swim tests would happen. Camp would run. 
I knew I had an amazing staff all summer -- hard-working, positive, and loyal -- but they proved it to me on days when things were hard but we lifted one another up. That Free Swim was one of my favorites of the summer. People dove into the water -- staff, kids, teens. We literally danced in the rain. From Day 1, you could feel that sense of family. We are a never-ending web of tight knots.


Avoid Dilution

"Caring passionately about something isn't against nature, and it isn't against human nature. It's what we're here to do.”  -- Annie Dillard

When I was in middle and high school, I often felt like I had to hide the fire inside of me. Intellectual curiosity, sadly, didn't seem a priority of my peers. To express love or to ask for a better world wasn't the norm. I spent too many idle years working retail jobs in a town run dry. I spent too many hours in a high school where students sat in lines and listened to teachers. I spent too many hours hiding my interests.

I could have gone to a State school, seen high school folks, & become a high school English teacher.
I could have gone to community college and saved SO MUCH MONEY -- hello, free ride.
I could have stayed in New York.

Instead, I stumbled my way to a small liberal arts school in Roanoke, Virginia: Hollins University.

The first year was overwhelming: surrounded with intelligent and creative women. I swear, that dining hall was as much a classroom as any other. Harder, too, because friends will push you to the edge of the cliff and ask you the toughest questions.

Hollins taught me many important lessons. One of the most important was to claim my passions, to feel deeply and understand why, and to act.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Annie Dillard: A Good Life

“There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by.”  -- Annie Dillard

Monday, September 19, 2011

Laura Kasischke & Tunnels Galore


Like silent naked monks huddled
around an old tree stump, having
spun themselves in the night
out of thought and nothingness—

And God so pleased with their silence
He grants them teeth and tongues.

Like us.

How long have you been gone?
A child’s hot tears on my bare arms.

-- Laura Kasischke

Review of Skirt Full of Black -- Sun Yung Shin

Skirt Full of BlackSun Yung Shin

What happens in a world where language fails us?  Sun Yung Shin’s poetry collection, Skirt Full of Black, fills in the gaps between language and between the past and present by crafting poems that dip from many pots. Shin’s eye is a critical one: This poet is definitely conscious of the social ramifications of not only her poems but also of different cultures’ practices, the news, traditions, and faerie tales. The poems in this collection are like a collage: there are different voices, material, and subject matter. What unites the pieces of these poems is their critical gaze: nothing escape’s this poet’s eye. The world seems open for the taking and for examination. 

From the beginning, Shin’s intentions are loud and clear: the first poem, “Macro-Altaic,” takes on assimilation and “the color of death, Western clothing.” This poem maps the collection’s journey, and its attempts to make sense of what is lost between languages and what is lost at the cost of assimilation. In this first poem, Shin writes: “Date on the red book from Korea, year prior to birth, folk tales, year of gestation, folk tales, year a maternal body with double interior.” Time is marked in Korea’s color – red – and the past is referenced, as is the feminine and its misrepresentation. Shin’s work in this collection is focused around the “double interior” of language: Through a collage of perspective, the poems address what is missing, neglected, and/or oppressed.
And yet, with all the differences between English and Korean, there are still boundaries. In the collection’s first poem, Shin addresses this: “…not easy to draw boundaries in any language between what is a word and what is not a word and Korean is no exception.” What is and what is not are two dichotomies that exist in each language. This idea aligns to what is implied about each culture’s treatment of women: they are told what they can and can not be. She writes in “Flower I, Stamen and Pollen”:

Even the knot of her shadow reckoned him starlet, sparrow, hummingbird.
Her youngest older brother. His devotion was positively medieval.
Sanctified. Gilt. He had made a deaf rope of roots and her mute mouth
stained abundant with the prophecy of berries. A replica of paradise. Their
mother’s womb he scraped clean. Red-empty-red. Her favorite lineage.

Women are protected only to be used as a vessel, for their womb. The poem is as gruesome in its imagery as Grimm faerie tales. However, instead of the old faerie tales that were used to warn women against leaving or disobeying their parents or husbands, this faerie tale is a feminist response to a life of oppression, a life of control.

The major accomplishment of this poetry collection is the collection’s fifth section, “Vestibulary.” Here, Shin takes the Korean language (hangul and the old Romanization) and creates poems inspired by the traditional meanings, sounds, and associations of this language. Language is notoriously biased, notoriously linked to the patriarchy (historically made for men by men), but Shin takes this language on and gives each character, a story, a new life.

Women and their ethnicity are recurring subject matters: Shin gives women their voices and throws a spotlight on the generalizations of ethnic groups. Sometimes these spotlights seem to drown out their subjects. Like someone screaming from a rooftop, the reader can sometimes nod their head with frustration and mouth, “I get it; I get it.” Shin is at her best when she attacks subjects in a creative fashion and through metaphor.

It is in this section that Shin that her politics and poetics learn how to work off of one another make sweet music together. It is here where the collection’s ideas come together and coalesce. “Vestibulary” is a true accomplishment: part dictionary, part critique, part association, and a blending of perspective and culture, this piece of the collection is strong because it touches on many things at once. Here, Korean culture can meet Western culture. Here, what can not be explained by one language can be explained through their combination.
The pieces of “Vestibulary” touch not only on the literally meaning of the Korean language but also its look. Many of the poems take on the shape or allude to the shape of the Korean characters. For example, “kiyek,” is a poem based on a Korean character that looks very much like an upside-down “L” (and looks something like this: ┐). Here, Shin writes:
stained raw your lover’s knee,


scythe, raw grain;

late, wet harvest;

half-chair in silhouette.
The poem’s language alludes not only to Korean culture and the tug-of-war relationship between English and Korean (i.e. “the half-chair in silhouette”), but the poem’s spacing and line-length links strongly to the character’s look: its shape and the thickness of its line.
Forever in limbo, Shin makes sense of the world through purposeful collision. English and Korean come together without losing their individuality. That’s not to say that this collection doesn’t explore the multitude of issues involved when two cultures not only compete for standing but oppress its members. The poems in this piece are loud with their discussion of
What one language can express, another can not, and Shin asks for more language, another language to speak for things that are unspeakable. In “Half the Business,” she writes:
We should all have two languages, one of our childhood, and one of our
God, let those two be the same.
No more songs about bureaucrats, armies, a confetti of human hair.
Shin asks for a language that can shrug off the confines of the patriarchy, a history of misogyny. Additionally, Shin seems tired of what has been said again and again in the same languages. The poem continues with “Every woman a scholar dissecting her own body, eating her own words / until the end of words.” Here, language again is linked to the oppression of women. To study language, to be scholar, one must “eat her own words,” one must see the limits of language. This love-hate relationship is one that is key to the poems in this collection, key to Shin’s plight. A poet may love language, but as a woman, language is as oppressive as anything else in the world. As someone balancing two languages – Korean and English – the struggle is even more complex.
Shin’s poetry collection is a revolving door of perspective. Like a skilled juggler, Shin flips the coins again and again to peer in on the reflections, the differences and the similarities. What is a poet to do when language fails her gender, her ethnicity? This poet takes the languages that have failed in the past and combines them. The resulting collage of perspective and language tackles its subject matter head on. Though the subject matter of these poems is loud and ablaze with a critical eye, the poems do not lack in sound play or form. Shin marries her poetics and politics, and the resulting poems will challenge a reader’s ear and assumptions. Language may have its limitations or its issues redemption is possible.

Review = Galatea Resurrects