Saturday, March 31, 2007

I ws leaning toward Hillary, but I actually really like this poem Obama wrote when he was nineteen. Thanks to Catherine Daly for posting the link to it on the Poetics List:


Under water grottos, caverns

Filled with apes

That eat figs.

Stepping on the figs

That the apes

Eat, they crunch.

The apes howl, bare

Their fangs, dance,

Tumble in the

Rushing water,

Musty, wet pelts

Glistening in the blue.

You know, just a little more torque and this poem would rock. It even strikes me as slightly homoerotic.

I wonder, has Hillary ever tried her hand at writing poetry?

Thursday, March 29, 2007


I have reserved the blog name, "Cyber-shtetl," but I'm not sure yet for what purpose. Would any other secular Jewish poets like to have a group blog? I know, I know, as if there's not already enough to pay attention to. Anyway.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

aziza sahra saidi

Shimmies, isolations, tassels -- that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

Friday, March 23, 2007

To be artistically active among interested peers

To be artistically active among interested peers, some of whom would collaborate, agreeing to engage in preposterous and highly idiosyncratic processes of composition together -- to be able to play so vigorously, deliberately, and concertedly, while we intuited and dreamed and reasoned argued and distorted among ourselves the terms and values for the choices and excitement we participated in -- this experience realized a dream gestated in childhood, born in adolescence, and now found active in an everyday life no longer academic.

Steve Benson, in The Grand Piano Vol II, p. 30

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


I totally spelled hors d'oeuvres wrong in my book party announcement.

I am a fool, after all!

Wrong Face

There's something wrong with
my face (other than my drunken

Russian souvenir shop balalaika,
a 'zippy zither') – Remember

the time your chemistry caught fire?
And then there was something

about a tarantula having baby
rainbow suspenders worn by Mork

or an extra nose tattooed on your face
next to your real nose. Ha!... Monkey Face!

Bathed in any pumpkin seeds lately?
Frickin' Komodo Dragons -- like a particularly

bucolic avant-folk experiment.
Researchers have devised what they call

the "still face experiment" to see
what happens when interactions are

disrupted. The seagulls look at the
chicken-thing bobbing in the water.

The birds all look like seagulls or
cormorants in the artificial sky:

Blood Blood and Black Lace Blood
The Exorcist The Experiment The Eye Face

Whats new seagull face? WOOOOOOOAHHH
yah. Really? So what's the truth

behind the seagull face? wings catchycolours
action seagull experiment flare practice …

Is it all a science experiment? A dream?
A supernatural pocket in the universe

with a tentacle face and in possession
of a lot of people's souls?

Baby Jesus and I rode over to my new
rehearsal space, his features are composed of

people's moms naked yeah I remember
the pop rocks tale, the Alka-Seltzer/seagull

experiment, and the bloody mary story.
Secondly, I have a sneaking suspicion

that the monkey face didn't stay put.
I also have a monkey face (I am famous for it) --

so realistic if you get too close.
The star of all the wildlife films is me.

Really? So what's the truth behind the
seagull face? My innocent look, baby duckling []

none [] hedgehog [] snail [] piranha []
seagull [] newt [] pigeon. The FACE experiment

was conducted on a moderately fertile
Night Of The Seagulls with strands falling

onto my face -- I think this might be
an experiment with "alternative distribution

systems" of gentle lavender vomit.
Like a baby seagull, our robots rely

on a sense of normalcy. O Analogy Police,
I will not lick my human's face.

I can swear to you that the seagulls were
vultures, expecting some statistical regularity

in their experiences. An object in the shape
of a face changes into a separate seagull face

the heat is coming off the sidewalk in waves
and you see that there's something wrong

with my face—like it's a jigsaw puzzle
not put together right. There's something wrong

with my monitor. There's something wrong
with my script, and I can't figure out what!

There's something wrong with my throat.
I can't swallow properly and my voice

is hard and rough. There's something wrong
with my ears. What if there's something wrong

with my puzzle? How do I send you
the picture for the puzzle?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Questions that occurred to me on a first reading of The Grand Piano

Are collectivities interesting because, as they are networks, energy can move along their grids?

Does the book feel a little like a soap opera?

Aren’t all autobiographies soap operas?

Is it lubricious enough?

Aren’t they awfully “invested” in “writing well?” Ought we to be more so?

(“they”? “we”?)

Doesn’t everyone enact a fantasy of themselves?

Do the names roll out like a scroll of (a part of) my own youth, sort of?

Doesn’t Ted Pearson write a little like, I don’t know, John Ruskin?

Doesn’t Lyn’s section sound a little like a testimonial?

Did Tom really have an experience with a transsexual?

Isn’t everyone in love with Carla?

Why is Barry the only one to mention clothing? Isn’t his section the wittiest?

Is the situation at Berkeley Ron describes replicable? I mean in the near future?

Why did Juliana make a fuss? Wasn’t Ron’s mention of the black woman his father was having an affair with a narratively necessary descriptive marker? And wasn’t Kit’s mention of “an African-American Marxist intellectual and auto mechanic with a daughter named Erica” not particularly eroticized – except insofar as he’s someone’s lover (and aren’t most ((happy)) people?)? Is the fact that the daughter named Erica significant? Is she Erica Hunt? Isn’t that generationally impossible? Or maybe the mechanic was older? Does every detail in a narrative have to be relevant? Why are we made uncomfortable by possibly irrelevant details?

Why was it hard for Bob to posit love as a term in a discussion of writing? Why does he seem so anxious?

Don't they seem to mention their children a lot? Is having children really so fulfilling or is it something the species/the state brainwashes us into believing so it can sustain itself? Is that too nihilistic of a thing to even say? Was it a mistake for me not to have children?

Have “we” (not “they”) overcome modernism? Does modernism require overcoming?

Why is this book so expensive? Isn’t it wrapped in brown paper? Is it sustainable? Doesn't it fit nicely into a coat pocket?

Didn’t I go to the Grand Piano in 1977 after walking ten miles for the whales through Golden Gate Park (not for a poetry reading) when I was thirteen wearing kung fu shoes which were all the rage then and getting blisters with my friend Caitlin who later became estranged from me and died of complications related to a brain aneurysm she had had many years before?

Aren’t there still a lot of questions to ask?

Am I looking forward to the next installment? Hell yeah!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Sugoi, na

Jen Scappetone mentioned this tonight at the Bay Poetics Reading at the Zinc Bar:

a subversive homophonic translation of Kimi Ga Yo (the Japanese National Anthem) into English!How could I not have know about this?

Japanese protesting their national anthem are satirizing the song by secretly turning its lyrics into English words, according to a Japanese newspaper.

The Sankei Shimbun reported on Monday that the satirical song has been spread as a new sabotage weapon of protest among groups that object to hanging the national flag or singing the national anthem, the Kimigayo.

The English parody of the anthem, titled ``Kiss Me,'' takes the syllables of each word of the Japanese original and turns them into phonetically similar English words.

Due to the phonetic similarity, it is hard to detect whether a person is singing the original Kimigayo or the parody. Many teachers and students, who think the anthem arouses nationalism and militarism, sing the latter one at school entrance or graduation ceremonies, the newspaper said.

For example, the first verse of the national anthem ``Kimigayo wa'' becomes ``Kiss me girl, your old one,'' in reference to ``comfort women'' _ women who were forced into sexual slavery during World War II.

The original anthem wishes Japanese Emperor a thousand years' of happy reign. But the satirized version implies that a girl who met a former comfort woman sympathizes with the woman and wants the truth revealed.

The lyrics are ``Kiss me girl, your old one. Till you're near, it is years till you're near. Sounds of the dead will she know? She wants all told, now retained, for cold caves know the moon's seeing the mad and dead.''

except, try as I might, I can't get the lyrics to fit the melody. They must be truncating the words to fit the song?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Sabah - zennuba -1956

Nadia Jamal dancing fifties style. I also found a wonderful source for bellydance videos:

My costume is coming along nicely.

Thinking about Suzanne’s recent post at Stephanie’s blog about shyness. It must be excruciating to be truly shy. I think I may be shy, in a way, but I have managed my shyness by morphing it into an extreme and parodic form of self-consciousness. Pure shyness strikes me as a form of hostility in that shy people seem only to be thinking of their own anxiety and discomfort instead of focusing on what their interlocutor might be experiencing. They block the two-way flows of energy between communicators, and to me, this is a kind of hostility. I tell this to my shy students, and sometimes they overcome the worst of their shyness by focusing on the other, sometimes not. I do try to be a model of not-shyness for them so that they can feel freer to communicate. I think I try to do this for the writing community as well, but it’s less easy to measure my effectiveness in that area.

What I do experience that is something like shyness is the horrible sensation, sometimes, of practically seeing my words come out of my mouth and hang there like leaden speech balloons. In an ugly void, where everyone’s staring. Somewhere (maybe quoted in a book review? recently?) I read a passage of fiction that described this phenomenon very cogently. I guess that writers in particular are prone to this syndrome; and I remember never feeling that way so much as in the Bay Area in the 80s. There was something almost pleasurable about that hyper-consciousness, but it was also stultifying. It’s fine to be self-conscious when I say things that come out winsome and snappy, because then I can be charmed by what’s in the balloons, but sometimes, especially when I’m in the midst of some rhetorical battle (not, perhaps, my strongest mode), the statements that come out of me seem wooden, wrong, and other.

Is my extreme self-consciousness in fact a kind of “false consciousness” (a phrase I was reminded of reading a review of abook on poverty in the Times today, in which a woman rationalizes her extreme poverty and alcoholism by saying that she must have committed some grave sins in previous lives)? Am I deceiving myself that I am reclaiming roses and ruffles, and that because everything I do is steeped in performative irony I am not buying into received notions of womanhood? That my parade of images of myself is not in fact a true narcissism but rather a going-to-extremes of self-consciousness in order to work through it, as an aspiring Buddhist might lose himself in alcohol and promiscuity on the way to enlightenment? Aw, hell.

Friday, March 16, 2007


Look everyone! It's a cryptozoo!


According to Jerry Pinto, author of Helen: The Life and Times of an H-Bomb [yes, Gary and I tend to read the same books],

[C]abaret was born on 18 November 1881, when Rudolphe Salis opened his 'Chat Noir', a cabaret artistique, on Montmartre, Paris. His intention: "We will satirize political events, enlighten mankind, confront it with its stupidity, cure those creeps of their ill-temper..' The original purpose of cabaret, therefore, was to shock the middle class (epater les bourgeois[sic]). It was more than a bunch of ladies showing off their frilly pantalettes or lack thereof."(103)

According to Helen, quoted on the same page, "cabaret doesn't mean just wriggling your body as people think -- it's narration in dance."


What do you think of the new design? I realize there's more decoration than content here, but what can I say.

War, Erotics, and Felines

The press release for Carolee Schneemann's new exhibition, "Remains to Be Seen", at CEPA gallery in Buffalo, states that it "features three central issues; War, Erotics, and Felines." War, Erotics, and Felines!


Sighted this morning (in the sleet): snowdrops.

Sighted last night: an albino cockroach!

Mood: irascible, nearly violent, full of schadenfreude (PMS!)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Symptoms of chromophobia:

Your fear of colors can result in the following symptoms:
breathlessness, dizziness, dry mouth, excessive sweating, nausea, feeling sick, shaking, heart palpitations, inability to speak or think clearly, a fear of dying, becoming mad or losing control or a full blown anxiety attack.

You are not the only one to suffer from chromophobia. Most sufferers are surprised to learn that they are far from alone in this surprisingly common, although often unspoken, phobia.

Monday, March 12, 2007


I swear I'm such a seven-year-old crossdresser.
Yes, craft does matter: sequins, archive-quality glue, tiny crepe-paper sakura, scissors, tracing paper, needle-nose pliers, craypas, etc.

Thursday, March 08, 2007



Roof Books invites you

to celebrate the publication of


by Nada Gordon

on Sunday, April 1, 2007

from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

at 300 Bowery (between Houston and Bleecker)


but more importantly

H'ORS D'OEUVRES will be served
as well as a variety of BEVERAGES

festive and/or foolish attire encouraged

Monday, March 05, 2007

(a Katie-like entry)

On the F train this evening, a black woman in her 40s or 50s shaking convulsively and preaching in a Caribbean accent. She wore all white and a white turban. Her faux Louis Vuitton white bag with multicolored emblems took up a sideways row of seats while she stood in front of a visibly furious couple (Jewish, I believe) intoning GOD GOD GOD SATAN SATAN GOD, FORGIVE THESE SINNERS, etc etc. She wasn't quite in glossolalia mode, but she might as well have been. I thought that someone should come and put a cape around her as if she were James Brown.

I noticed that most of those she was preaching to appeared to be Jewish or Muslim (but of course, who knows).

Once we got to Smith and 9th, the couple she was brandishing her fists and words at tried calling 911 on their cell phones to report her, but to no avail -- she headed to other end of the train and got off at 4th Avenue.

I really wanted to turn to the pretty young orthodox Jewish girls sitting next to me with their straightened hair, heavy stockings, and multiple shopping bags from exclusive stores, and say "thin line between religion and mental illness, hmm?" But instead I just said "it's going to get much colder this week."

What are you gonna do?
"children with facial differences"
Doesn't everyone -- on some irrational, Ptolemaic level -- think that their own constellation of influences is or should be everyone else's constellation of influences?

This is a big problem!
My items are perfect for costumes, Lolita, French maid, square dance, adult sissy baby, sissy girls, cross dressers, drag queens, Halloween, cosplay, rockabilly, Mardi Gras, fetish, 50’s style, pageants, pouf bunnies, cancan, anime girls, rave, club, pretty boy, big cuties, fantasy.
I tried in two browsers to leave a comment on Ron's blog re: torque but it just wouldn't go through. Maybe he's blocked me? Am I such a troublemaker? Anyway, here's my two yen:

I was a bit thrown by the meth mention, too, until I un-torqued the sentence a little. At any rate, that would have been an interesting powder in the word salad.

Why don't more poets under 40 employ much torque (it makes me glad I'm 43 -- just made it under the torquing wire!)? A very good question. I wonder, are they afraid of it? Do they feel its usefulness has been played out? Do they find it boring?

I don't know if it's because Coolidge, Seaton, et al were like mother's milk to me, but for me it's an essential quality to the poeticization (i.e. the calling of attention to itself) of language. I wouldn't say it's necessarily a modern device, either. Milton strikes me as quite torqued, as does Donne. Maybe I am conflating "torque" and "complexity"? Even Byron seems torqued in that the sense in the lines must be twisted around to accommodate the witty rhymes.

If a poet doesn't torque (v.) it makes me feel that they take grammar for granted, that they haven't really thought about how to stretch, pummel, rip, dysraph, glue, knead, decorate, and deform it -- and that kinda bores me! I want to see maximum attention at the microstructural level, not just a bunch of plain statements sitting there on the page like hard-boiled eggs.
Awkwardness is endearing; gracefulness*, not so much.

(Gracefulness differs from grace, right?)

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Scooters, vacation, fall.
The idea that one shouldn't like language poetry because it is weird or amusing but rather because it opens out rippling utopias of new ways of thinking seems to me incredibly recondite. It spells out L=E=I=S=U=R=E.

See Aragon on novelty, below.
Sniff the chicken.

See if it's OK.
The problem with hero worship is that everyone, including one's heroes, is basically phony. I don't see how anyone can't or won't recognize that.
Flarf is primarily a wild party, and that is what so many people seem to have a hard time with. I don't mean by that description to denigrate its function in the slightest.
I am not interested in the hillbilly/ white trash aspect or strain of flarf. It might make me laugh sometimes, but I am basically not interested in it. It doesn't even sound exotic to me.

I think that flarf in many senses has devolved from its initial Schwitters-ish/ Hugo Ball-esque, Tourette's-y sonic impulsion. Everything has to devolve. But that makes me a little sad.

I'm as guilty of using "plain statement" in a poem as anyone.

Too Interesting

An artist is someone who has reconciled herself to the fact that life is too interesting. This is why austerity is an anti-artistic impulse, and is not interesting.
There are no "good" flarfeurs; we are all baaaaaaad. As hell. Yeah momma!

Friday, March 02, 2007

More from Louis Aragon's Treatise on Style:

Humor is of the opinion that where there is a solution there is no humor.


Humor is the negative condition of poetry, which perhaps is ambiguous but which means that in order for there to be poetry humor must first get rid of antipoetry, and suddenly a spool of thread takes on the life of humor. And so, if you are a poet, you make a pretty woman with it, or the rippling of the water in the singing coral. Humor is the sine qua non of poetry, that is what I am saying in a roundabout way.


Literary images are in fact the vehicles of humor, and by proportional reciprocity, humor is what gives an image its force. Compare two images taken at random and you will be reduced to dust. Which also explains the way they age, for humor is assigned to an image only for a short time, and as soon as it has remounted its motorcycle, the wall begins to crumble. This is the basis of the idea of poetic novelty, about which there has recently been so much commotion. And rightly so. The neighbors complained; they are pains in the ass, we will not go back to our tired-out metaphors, we will not slip into the shoes of habit. We want to hear a catapultic language, one that will make the ceiling cave in and the earth tremble. Poetry is by nature stormy, and every image should produce a cataclysm. Let it burn! The thermogenic cotton of the poem.