Wednesday, December 29, 2004

New Year's Resolutions

I don't know how many of you are in the habit of making New Year's resolutions at the end of the year. I like to call them GOALS. Anyway, I've got a few goals for 2005 and I'd be interested in hearing some of yours. Here are some of my goals for 2005:

1. Read a collection of poetry a week.
2. Cut the amount of time I'm on the computer.
3. Eat healthier foods.
4. Be a better teacher.
5. Become a more disciplined writer.
6. Become a better listener.
7. Be better about keeping in touch (Courtesy of Rigoberto)
8. Be more open-minded (Courtesy of Barbara Jane Reyes)

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Sleepy . . .

. . . but I can't sleep. I'm in one of those weird waking states where my body is fatigued, but my brain is hyper-active. It sort of feels like I'm over-caffeinated, but I know it's not caffeine.

In truth, I'm a bit stressed, but I'll get over it after Thursday.

Travel was not so bad. I'd been following the awful incidences of air-travel this past weekend, but fortunately I didn't suffer any of those problems. I must say that in my years of travelling, I've learned not to check bags.

Anyway, currently sitting in a hotel room. The hotel provides free internet service. Yay!

By the way, I received only one of the items on my wish list: brown shoes.

Aside from brown shoes, I got underwear, undershirts, and socks. I get underwear, undershirts, and socks every year from my mother. She's trying to drop me a hint about something . . . I'm not sure what, exactly.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Papatya's here!

I added my buddy, Papatya's blog to the blog list.

Good to see you, Pops!

Thursday, December 23, 2004

A day with a car

Watch out, Boise, Idaho! I'm coming at you like a mad dog!

Yes, that's right . . . I get to use my dad's pick-up truck today. How's that for regressing back to high school?

Ahhhh . . . the cars I have known.

Our family car used to be a lime-green Ford Pinto back in the 70's. After that, we got a station wagon with faux wood panels on the sides. Our longest-running love affairs with automobiles were with the Toyota Camrys.

But . . . I never drove any of those cars.

The first car I owned was a used Ford Tempo G/L. It was the most gutless thing on the road. I swear it'd idle in the most awful places . . . on highways, going up hills . . . After that I spent a lot of time in my dad's HONKING HUGE sky-blue Ford pick-up. In the wilds of Oregon (Or-Eh-Gun) we all drove pick-ups. We frequently went trout fishing in the Hells Canyon area.

Anyway, now I've got dad's pick-up for the day. I think I'm going to go fetch my some ciggs, bust out a brew, turn the dial to some honky-tonk, and sit on the pick-up bed in a folding chair checking out the girls coming out of the bowling alley with their ultra high bangs. So sexy.

Kidding . . . though there are people that actually do that in Ontario, OR.


Tuesday, December 21, 2004

X-mas Licks

Some polar bears at the San Diego zoo got an early Christmas present. Yum!

My break so far . . .

I've been feasting on home-cooked Filipino food since the 14th. Yum yum. I've basically had Adobo and Sinigang for a straight week and I'm not tired of it yet.

I also think I've gained the obligatory holiday weight. I haven't been exercising as I normally do, but you know what . . . it's the holidays.

Let's see . . . I still can't sleep in. Try as I might, I wake up right between 7 and 8 AM, no matter what time I go to sleep at night. When I wake up, the folks are already out of the house, so I leisurely drink my coffee, watch highlights of Sportscenter, and then proceed to read a bit.

I'm in the midst of finishing up Richard Hugo's Triggering Town. Very yummy read. He sounds like he was a generous teacher.

Aside from reading, I've been watching and re-watching my Return of the King Extended Version DVD's. I've watched all the appendices (roughly 6 hours of documentary) and I'm going through the movie for a second time, this time with the Actors' commentary.

If you thought Barbara Jane was a geek . . . *cough*

Friday, December 17, 2004

To qwell boredom

I have decided to create a list of things I want for Christmas but may never get.

1. G5 Tower Computer (HA! Unlikely!)
2. 40GB iPod (Must save save save. Meantime, will use damaged iPod)
3. "With the Lights Out" Nirvana Boxed Set
4. Poetry Books (Lots and lots and lots)
5. An Xbox or a Playstation2 (Verboten. I will become a crusty, baggy-eyed couch potato if I get one of these. Still doesn't mean I can't WANT one though)
6. Brown shoes (I really don't own any nice ones. All my shoes are black)
7. A nice polar fleece
8. A photographic memory (Working on this currently. Will have the results after lead into gold project is completed)
9. A trip to Europe (May actually manage this one for the summer)
10. All my bills to be paid (The gift that keeps on giving, friends)


So . . . I'm bored. I'm very very bored. It's my first week back in the town of my youth. Good old Ontario, Oregon. Something must be said about a place that is within MALHEUR county.

Anyway, I'm stuck here without a car and you need wheels around this place. When I was in high-school, we'd all get together to drive out to Boise, ID. So basically, we'd go from a small hick town to a bigger hick town (in defense of Boise, ID, it's pretty hip now. Still doesn't solve the problem of not having a car).

I think the other thing we did was bowl. We'd bowl EVERY weekend. Trouble now is my bowling buddies all live in Portland, OR.

Still, other times a friend of mine would have the keys to one of the many Mormon centers and we'd gain access to the basketball court. That'd basically kill a few hours too.

So it seems I'm out of luck for the time being. Many of my friends are married or living elsewhere and I don't have a car. *sigh* I guess I have to write POEMS then. Hrmph.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Free at last!

So today's the last "official" day of the semester apart from finals week. I have the good fortune of not having to meet on finals week, so I'm technically finished with the Fall 2004 semester as of 12:30PM.

The weekend's looking pretty full, though. I've got two dinners to attend and a goodbye party for a friend who teaches at Hamilton.

Anyway my Christmas break isn't really going to be a break at all. I'll be going to the dreaded MLA conference where I'll be surrounded by dust-soaked tweed and leather elbow pads (apologies to anyone who actually dresses this way). I'll also have the opportunity to observe people in the humanities acting inhumane. I'm generalizing, of course. I'm just cranky because I have to leave Oregon early for the conference and I haven't seen my mom and dad since the summer.

I've also got a plan to write during the Christmas break. Two weeks in boring old Ontario, OR, will definitely keep me propped in front of my laptop writing poems about cow-pie chucking. By the way, I've somehow convinced Meredith that the Jackalope is an actual animal.


Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

I am a geek.

Yes, I am a geek. Meredith taught me how to use Excel to compute my grades and I got REALLY excited. Not sexually excited, just extremely happy. So then I created other spreadsheets . . . one to compute how much I spent on book contests, one to track all my submissions. I spent a few hours creating spreadsheets of my classes and my writing portfolio.

When I was younger, my preference during play time was to fiddle with the computer instead of going outside with the neighborhood kids. Not much has really changed. I'm into all sorts of gadgetry. If it bleeps, clicks, buzzes, or hums, I'll want it. Hours, perhaps years, were spent in front of my Commodore 64 computer. That same side of me wants an Xbox or a Playstation 2. The reason why I don't go out and purchase one is that I know it'd be career-suicide. I'd never leave the house, never work, never eat. . . It's bad enough with the computer games I have installed on my Mac.

In other gadgetry news, I broke my iPod the other day while working out at the gym and it was like losing a fluffy dog. It was really strange. It was on my arm-band (another gadget), playing a track by Erland Oye. I leaned back into one of those fancy-schmancy Cybex work out machines, heard a *CLUNK* and felt the iPod on my armband shudder. The iPod didn't skip, but when I looked at it, I saw that the LCD screen had a discernable tear so that I couldn't read any of the text. I powered it off, then I powered it back on and still the LCD was broken. Heartbroken, I immediately went to a computer repair center after my half-hearted workout. The repair center called me a couple days later with bad news. The repair bill for the thing would be $300!!! That's about the cost of the darn thing in the first place.

So now I'm sans my favorite gadget and I'm yearning for another one. I do know how to calculate grades with Excel, though. At least that's something.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Big news in pinoy poetry

I'm a little late in blogging this. If you haven't heard already, Patrick Rosal was the winner of the Asian American Writers' Workshop Members' Choice Awards for his fantastic book, Uprock Headspin Scramble and Dive. If you've never heard him read, you've never heard thunder.

In other news, Sarah Gambito's book, Matadora has just been released. I read it in manuscript form and it knocked my socks off. I'll be watching for the mail. . .

Finally, I neglected to wish Joseph Legaspi a happy birthday. So . . . Happy Birthday, buddy! I'm sorry I'm such a heel. Good things in the mail will come . . . after I get paid. ;-)

Monday, December 06, 2004

Thursday, December 02, 2004

I promised you a Christmas Tree

And I'll deliver . . . soon. Just discovered that there's a whole swatch of tree lights that are dimmed, so I'm going to have to fiddle with the bulbs a bit.

Anyway, it's snowing up here in Utica now. It's also dreadfully cold. The good thing about the cold at this time of year is that it forces me to stay indoors and be productive. I've cranked out grades on several revisions by students and I've finalized all the lesson plans in my classes. Things are settling down for the last push. Next week I'll have another stack of papers, portfolios, etc., but I won't feel as pressured as a normally do during the school year proper.

Once the semester's done, it's back to the writing desk for me. I've been juggling all sorts of advice, but I always fall back on locking myself in my room, reading voraciously, and assigning exercises for myself. Adrian Matejka called me up on Tuesday to light a fire under my butt. I guess my problem is that I've been "grade-comp-papers-mode" for the better bit of four months. I need to retrain my brain and I've got a little time to do it. I've also decided that I'm not going to wait for moments of inspiration. Usually I write poems in a series. I start one and I can't stop writing poems related to that series until I've used up the subject. Epic tradition? I don't know. My process is just painstaking.

When I was a biology student, way back when, I would write all my notes in long hand and then transcribe them in print. It was sick. I don't know how many organic chemistry formulas I wrote and rewrote. They're too numerous to count. Ask me now what I remember about O-chem and I can tell you about the teacher's Horn-rimmed glasses and tight polo t-shirts he'd wear. I could also tell you about camping out in the LMU cubicles nights before O-chem tests. But I can't tell you a damn thing about O-chem and I even TA'd the stupid class.

The point is, I'm a meticulous person. I've got too many stupid rituals to get myself to the writing table and I need to cut 'em back.

Here's one ritual that preceeds going to the writing table:

"Clean the house"

This is the ultimate in writerly procrastination. And I can assure you that without fail, before I engage in any writing activity, you'll see me vacuuming, mopping, scrubbing toilets, and scouring shower tiles. Papers need to be off the desk. Books need to be re-filed. Again, I refer back to my days as a young scientist studying for exams . . . nights before tests, I'd clean my entire apartment/dorm. My roommates loved it because they never cleaned a damn thing.

Years later, I've come to realize that my mother has the same habits. She'll clean an entire house before conferences, etc.. Only now, cleaning the house is fun for her. I don't think that cleaning house will ever be fun for me, but I still have to do it in order to commit pen to paper.

Poets, before you think about calling me to clean your houses, this cleaning ritual only works for my own domicle. It doesn't work for yard work or washing cars either. It's all about clearing my space . . . making my space sacred for my own writing.

I do have one habit that almost always supersedes my cleaning the house.

"Video Games"

I know what you're wondering. . . you're wondering, "What, is Oliver twelve?" I'm sorry, but I've been playing video games ever since I was eight. It's part of who I am. It relaxes me. It was so reassuring to hear that Adrian Matejka also plays video games and they also interfere with getting into writing rituals. I'm so glad I'm not the only one.

There've been times I was tempted to erase all the games off my computer hard drive, but I tell you, after teaching for six hours, my brain can't focus on my own writing, nor can my brain relax.

*sigh* I apologize for making you listen to me and all my excuses. I guess the first step is admitting you have a problem.

Ok, so I admit it. I'm a procrastinator. My name is Oliver de la Paz and I procrastinate.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree . . .

Meredith and I purchased our Christmas Tree.

Driving around town with the thing on the hood of my truck was a bit nerve wracking. I was certain that at some point it'd blow away. Anyway, it had been raining for most of the day today, so the tree was quite damp.

Trees don't look all that glorious when their bound up with twine and heaped on top of a vehicle driving around gray Utica.

But after we got the thing up the stairs, dried off, and untied it sprung to life.

You'll get pictures in its full glory when I get my camera back from school.

Meantime, sleep off the tryptophan, friends.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Odd Couple

Holy Cheese Sandwich!!

This Cheese Sandwich has garnered a lot of attention in the news media today.

I suppose it's a relic that's up there with things like the left pinky finger print of Jesus on my car windshield, the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, or the Tablecloth of Turin.

Monday, November 22, 2004

The Big Push

It's the week of Thanksgiving vacation and in academia, it's the time when classes are gearing up for the big push into the final home stretch.

This past week I had a barrage of things to correct and hand back to my students. Fortunately, I had the foresight to have all the major products come due last week so that I can have an actual break during Thanksgiving.

Here's what I intend to do:

1. Finish The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time

2. Watch lots of football

3. Cook a huge vat of garlic mashed potatos to bring to a Turkey Day party

4. Calculate some student grades (so it's not so overwhelming come the end of the semester)

5. Watch many movies, including Ray, Alfie, Alexsander, and other films with names in the titles.

6. Sleep. Sleep lots.

7. Organize my bookshelf

8. Organize my CD cases

9. Organize my life

Thursday, November 18, 2004

National Book Award winners announced


I must admit that I haven't read any of the books on this list. Have you?

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Hump day, but my week so far.

1. Graded 38 fiction portfolios. Some of the highlights include several portfolios with significant amounts of mising material and dialogue like "Oh, baby." "Hi." "Hi."

2. Corrected 32 written summaries, some of which were written about the wrong essay (hmmmmmmm).

3. Missed Daniel Tobin's reading at Hamilton.

4. Ate Meredith's pork roast two nights in a row.

5. Walked Jake twelve times. Covered him up with a blanket seven times.

6. Made fliers for Thom Ward and Phil Memmer reading.

7. Told student activities that they better post the fliers soon after passing their office and seeing them still in a pile a day later.

8. Thought about playing video games for thirty-six hours altogether.

9. Read short chapters out of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime

10. Took Digital photographs of approximately six pieces of art.

11. Accepted three CD's full of more art.

12. Took out garbage and recycling.

13. Went to the gym three times since Sunday.

14. Picked up an old barbeque grill.

15. Prepped for my Wednesday night Creative Writing class.

16. Made copies of a guide to acting.

17. Escorted Thom Ward and Phil Memmer through campus.

18. Read an introduction I prepared for Thom and Phil during the reading.

19. Took Thom and Phil to a Thai restaurant (if you've read my earlier post, not only do we have Vietnamese food in Utica, but we have Thai as well).

20. Raced back to campus for a Division meeting (which I missed).

21. Raced back to the Dean of Faculty's office for another meeting (which I barely caught)

22. Ran Jake for the thirteenth time.

23. Picked up poop.

24. Signed up 38 students for individual conferences to be held Thursday, Friday, Monday, Tuesday.

25. And I also aught classes . . . one of the topics was reality television. I want to become a reality tv celebrity these days.

And . . . it's only Wednesday.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

It's Getting Cold!!!

It's about 20 degrees outside right now. I'm wearing four layers of clothing, drinking coffee, and curling up into a small ball as I grade the last set of my creative writing fiction (friction) portfolios.

I'm trying not to procrastinate, but . . . I hate grading at this point in the semester (hell, I hate grading, period). There's so much football on television. . . and I've got so many books I want to read.

Just received The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime and I want to spend all day reading. I've also got Rita Dove's new book, American Smooth.

I think the books will keep me warmer than the portfolios. Yes?

Friday, November 12, 2004

Most humorous thing I've read while grading portfolios . . .

This one's a direct quote from a fiction portfolio by a student in my Introduction to Creative Writing Class:

"This style of writing, for one, makes it very easy to read. If I wanted to become a writer and wanted to make the most amount of money, ie, appealing to the greatest number of readers, then this would be an ideal style to write with because everyone is able to read it and still get that there is more to it than what is written."

. . .

help me.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Cold and sleepy . . .

I took Jake out about an hour ago so he could fulfill his duties as a dog. Anyway, it's snowing. I'm not happy. It's the first of many snows. So many things left to do, too. I have to get my car winterized. . . I have to get thermal underwear. . . buy hot cocoa. *sigh*

Speaking of freezing . . . I saw this website with a map of the state-by-state % of votes for each candidate.

I'm still in shock. A colleague of mine was seen wearing a black arm band as she taught her classes.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

I'm on a blogging roll!

Just thought I'd mention that The Incredibles is GREAT!!!!!!

I'm going to see it again! Also, there's a very exciting trailer for Star Wars Episode III. I know there are other geeks out there. I hear your heart racing at the mention of SW III. :-D Anyway, everyone in the theatre applauded after the trailer. BUZZZ BUZZZ BUZZZ!!!

Seriously scary factoid

Courtesy of Nick Carbo.

Sorry I've been away, but . . .

I'm swamped at the moment. I've got a set of essays coming in (33) plus about ten revisions. In addition to those papers, I've got about 30 portfolios for my creative writing class. I'm also bumming about 11/3.

Anyway, in better news:

Kundiman & Verlaine


an evening of words & libation, celebrating
Pinoy Poetics, a groundbreaking anthology
of Filipino-American poetry

with readings by contributors:

Oliver de la Paz
Paolo Javier
Joseph O. Legaspi

Wednesday, November 10
110 Rivington St.
(b/w Ludlow & Essex Sts., Manhattan's Lower East Side)

$5 suggested donation
Doors open at 5:30pm, readings at 6:45pm
Open bar, 6-7pm
Sponsored by Grey Goose Vodka & Gekkeikan Sake

For more information on Pinoy Poetics, please visit the following website:


Kundiman is a non-profit organization committed to the discovery and cultivation of emerging Asian-American poets. Through instruction and collaboration programs with established Asian-American poets, Kundiman hopes to advance the quality of the work of Asian-American writers. Through literature, we aim to celebrate and promote evidence of strong and positive Asian-American culture and identity.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Chomping noodles and chomping at the bit to vote.

Last night Meredith and I had Pho at Pho Mekong here in Utica with some friends from Hamilton College and Colgate College. (Yes, we have a Vietnamese restaurant in Utica). As always, with academics, talks turned to politics. We talked about the Red Sox first. Celeste Friend, a philosophy professor over at Hamilton is a devout Sox fan and saw symbolism in their victory over St. Louis. We talked about throwing a parade after victory. Because we're in a particularly red area of New York, we decided that that would be moderately dangerous, given that it's hunting season in Upstate New York. We plan on wearing loud colors . . . perhaps flourescent red.

We also talked about the strangest field trips we've ever had. How these two things came about in our conversations, I'll never know. Celeste talked about going to Plymouth Rock and watching the reenactors. Meredith talked about going to Civil War battle grounds. Jennifer, a Sociologist at Hamilton, talked about having inmates speak at her high school. We then talked about the differences between a "Shank" and a "Shiv." I'm not sure if there IS a difference. They're both stabby things. When I was young, we went to the birds of prey refuge center in Boise and we also went to see pigs get slaughtered.

Pho Mekong serves several shakes as desserts and I tried the avocado shake. Yes, it sounds weird, but it's excellent. It tastes a lot like green tea ice cream. Most everyone else ordered mango shakes. They apparently had durian shakes. I don't know if any of you have ever experienced durian fruit, but it smells like poo poo. Anyway, while we were drinking our shakes, we talked about swear words. Meredith was talking about the rules of language and how we place our swear words. We say things like "No F*#king way" and "Big F*#king deal." But we don't say "F*#king no way" or "F*#king big deal."

I don't see what the big f*#king deal is. It just sounds better one way than the other. Lots of things sound better one way than the other. . . Take President John F. Kerry, for example. That sounds a lot better to me than President George W. Bush. The World Champion Boston Red Sox sounds pretty good to me too. If you were to tell me that George won New York, I'd say "No F*#king way."

Monday, November 01, 2004

Halloween Costumes on the Subway

The AAWW reading was fun. Victoria Chang made an appearance! She and Todd came all the way out from the West Coast to hang with the East Coast posse. Anyway, the event was well attended and warm feelings were all around. Aimee, in true pinay fasion, had all the Filipino writers in attendance stand on the AAWW stage and pose for a picture. Watch her blog. ;-)

After, we all went to a bar called BLUE. Someone got a Rum and Coke that cost $10. Ouch. Beers were $6 a bottle. All complaining aside, the company was glorious. Pat Rosal was his luminous self, as was Paolo Javier. Joseph Legaspi wore his hot red pants and Sarah Gambito wore her tiger coat. Tina Chang and Jen Chang (not related) were as lovely as ever . . . We ate potstickers, fried calamari, and pizza. I watched Leslie Ann drink this bizarre milky alcohol . . . Meredith crawled underneath the table . . . Purvi had a Korean dish from a restaurant nearby . . . the night was strange. Everyone went dancing after the bar, but Mere and I were pooped. We didn't get much sleep on Friday because we had visted Meredith's friends Bram and Barbara Jean up in Rhinebeck and spent the night tossing and turning on a too-soft futon while the loud radiator kept ticking. We had gotten up very early on the Saturday morning and we drove down to Brooklyn, burning a good bit of our day. Anyway, Pat, Sarah, Joseph, Aimee, and the rest of the crew went dancing. We parted company.

After the BLUE bar, Meredith and I wandered over to the subway. A man in a banana costume greeted us as we boarded the train. He seemed to be completely naked except for his tennis shoes and his banana costume. Our fellow subway passengers were amused. I think mercury was in retrograde because we kept missing our stop while a cadre of costumed folks boarded and exited the subway. A sheik escorted a mutant ninja turtle. Tin tin wandered in with Mario. A character by the name of Flora Fandango sat in an adjacent seat. It was a strange but wonderful night.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Working like a dog . . .

I've been working on stacks and stacks of student papers this week, so the blog's been on the back burner. I've also been staying up late watching the World Series. I'm glad it's over! Now I can get on with my life and become a full-time football fan. Anyway, I'll be in New York City this weekend, hanging out with fellow bloggers, Aimee Nez and Patrick Rosal. Check it out! The event's listed below.

7:00 PM
Asian American poetry: The Next Generation
The Asian American Writers' Workshop
16 West 32nd Street, Suite 10A
New York, New York 10001
$5 suggested donation
Victoria Chang, editor of Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation (U. of Illinois Press) and an exciting lineup of emerging poets including Jennifer Chang, Tina Chang, Oliver de la Paz, Timothy Liu, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Adrienne Su, Monica Youn and Suji Kwock Kim. Part of Intimacy & Geography: The National Asian American Poetry Initiative, funded by The Ford Foundation. Book signing and reception to follow.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Kundiman's new look!

Kundiman's got a hot new look. Check it out! I can't tell you enough about this fantastic organization. Sarah Gambito, Joseph Legaspi . . . miracle workers. Give 'em your support, folks!

Fall Classic, indeed!

Here's Boston Red Sox ace, Curt Schilling. It's not hard to understand why fair-weather fans like myself return to the old game once the leaves start changing their hue when the weather is not so fair. I spurned baseball when I was a thirteen, having been plunked by too many fast pitches in Babe Ruth little league. I was the type of batter who'd come up to bat with his eyes closed . . . I was that scared of the baseball. Even so, watching the playoffs on television transports me back to the days when I was even younger . . . eight or so. The ball didn't scare me then . . . losing did.

Last night's Game 6 had it's own brand of poetry, a type of Epic if you will, spanning from 1918 to present day. No team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to tie a series up. And yet, the Red Sox did that very thing on the powerful right arm of a pitcher who was hobbling around on one-leg for the better part of four hours. Schilling's performance was brave, his ankle clearly bleeding through his sock . . .. That was a clear symbol for someone such as myself who fishes for symbolism in almost everything.

I had the opportunity to see the Yankees take on the Red Sox last summer with my mother and father. It was their first baseball game. Mike Mussina and Pedro Martinez were facing each other. Hell of a game. It was hot in Yankee Stadium. We were sitting next to a bunch of Red Sox fans who howled the entire game. My parents were thrilled . . . not with the game, but with the fandom. The Red Sox lost in the ninth inning, but the contest between the NY/Boston fans continued well after the game was over, down the stairs, the exit ramps, the streets, and into the subways. There were no fights, but there were several near-fights. There were lively conversations about the game people had just witnessed. My father was particularly tickled about the game. We all came out of the subway and got to our hotel, quite burned from the afternoon sun. My father had a clear line that divided the top of his forehead from the bottom of his forehead from where his baseball cap had been. My mother kept smearing him with an ointment, but she couldn't wipe the grin off his face. We had all seen 55,000 people rapt with passion and shared in that passion for three hours. If you don't understand baseball or sports, surely you understand that one thing.

So when I watched the little bit of blood trickle out from Schilling's sock as he left the game in the seventh inning, I knew that the place to be on this Tuesday night was out at Yankee Stadium, mist from the moisture adding to the already chilling 46 and cooling temperature. There were still more innings to go and I was ready for them.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Band Geek Reborn!

Yes, that's Tommy Lee, former drummer of Motley Crue.

Lee is in Lincoln filming an NBC-TV reality show for which he is taking classes at Nebraska, including chemistry and the history of rock and roll.

Can you imagine having him as a student in your class?! Talk about major distraction . . .

Monday, October 18, 2004

from "Poetry and Abstract Thought" by Paul Valery

" . . . Poetry is an art of language. But language is a practical creation. It may be observed that in all communication between men, certainty comes only from practical acts and from the verification which practical acts give us. I ask you for a light. You give me a light: you have understood me.

But in asking me for a light, you were able to speak those few unimportant words with a certain intonation, a certain tone of voice, a certain inflection, a certain languor or briskness perceptible to me. I have understood your words, since without even thinking I handed you what you asked for--a light. But the matter does not end there. The strange thing: the sound and as it were the features of your little sentence come back to me, echo within me, as though they were pleased to be there, I, too, like to hear myself repeat this little phrase, which has almost lost its meaning, which has stopped being of use, and which can go on living, though with quite another life. It has acquired value; and has acquired it at the expense of its finite significance. It has created the need to be heard again . . . Here we are on the very threshold of the poetic state. This tiny experience will help us to the discovery of more than one truth."

--Paul Valery, Oxford University, 1939

Sunday, October 17, 2004

"Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him Horatio . . . "

Yup. Tragedy. The good news is that John von Bergen agreed to help us patch the poor man together. I'd rather trust the repairs to a sculptor than put the thing back together with Elmer's Glue.

Faux-din sans tete

Faux-din sans tête
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
However . . . when we were driving home, we heard a loud clanging noise coming from the back of the car. Because I drive a truck, we decided to assist a friend with his furniture. His furniture apparently rammed into the sculpture, severing the poor man's head.

Une autre image avec la tete

Une autre image avec la tête
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Many people bid on this Faux-Rodin.

But Meredith won the day and got it for a steal.

Image avec la tete

Image avec la tête
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Ah, the spoils of the CHAIRity Auction! As #146, Meredith successfully bid on this lovely Faux-Rodin sculpture made from terra-cotta. It looks bronze, doesn't it? Well . . . there's a story to be told. . .

Saturday, October 16, 2004

"You've put me in an uncomfortable position, sir."

It's Saturday and Jake, Meredith, and I have been tucked away in our office. It's the only room with a space heater which has been making all of us drowsy. I'm particularly drowsy because my knee's sore. Sprained it early in the week climbing up a mountain and then stupidly going to the gym to "stretch it out." So now it's swollen like Jake's eyes in the photo here. Also, tonight's the night of the Sculpture Space CHAIRity Auction. Got lots to do, so the knee probably won't be getting much rest. I'm going to be a salesperson this evening. . . "Yes, sir, those are limited edition sculptures. It's one of 30. Please buy them all." Anyway, it should be fun. Much drinking and revelry to be had, but for the time being, I might sprawl out on Jake's blanket and nap.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Oliver, who is the "You" in your poems?

1. If "You" = "Me" then you are a narcissist with major sexual issues. Oliver, you're compensating for something that has happened in your childhood that you don't want to directly address. Why is that? I mean, come on! You're an attractive guy.

2. If "You"="God" then you are yearning to return to the Roman Catholic church. You are tired of confessing to people that you are a "Mediterranean Catholic" and that you only go on Easter, Christmas, or when you're guilted into going with mom.

3. If "You"="A Lover" then you are one hot dude. See #1.

4. If "You" = "The Reader" then you are trying to get to #3 by writing poetry. That, my boy, doesn't always work. You'll be better off speed-dating at the Hotel Utica on Valentine's Day.

5. If "You" = "Death" you should go to church and start writing poems that relate to #2.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Got no time to read the Classics?

Then read the ultra condensed Book A Minute versions! I just read the Lord of the Rings series in condensed form before meeting students for conferences. *giggle*

Monday, October 11, 2004

Author photo that never made the cut

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Not my best feature.

A view from a moving train

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.

"Me n' Mariam" or "Weekends Without Television"

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
This past Saturday while all of you were watching college football games (Aimee), Meredith, Mariam, and I took a ride on the Adirondack Scenic Railroad. The leaves are at peak colors in the Adirondack National Forest.

Anyway, Mariam is a Somali Bantu refugee. She had never ridden on a train before, so she was extremely excited. Meredith is Mariam's mentor in a program that's sponsored by the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Writing on the fly . . . flying to write

It's October and that's roughly the middle of my semestral calendar. It's at about this point in time when I should be adjusting to the rhythms of academia. But I haven't. Many things are on my plate. Many hats are on my hat rack waiting to be rotated into use.

Sally Keith, a fab poet, came by to give a reading down here in Utica and we had a long chit-chat about writing, jobs, living as a writer. First off, she doesn't have a television . . . or at least, she doesn't watch television unless it's to watc movies or something. I've known many artists/writers who have no television. How many of you turn off the tube and keep it off? Meredith and I have a MEGA television perched in a pine-shrine at the corner of our living room. When we get home from our long days of teaching, we kick off our shoes and veg in front of the screen. But Sally's chat with me is making me think that I need to re-think that ritual. Trouble is, I love TV. Particularly SportsCenter in the morning. I watched the VP debates last night, despite Meredith's groans. Earlier, I had watched In a Fix on TLC. When I lived in Gettysburg, PA, a ritual of mine was waking up on Saturday mornings and watching This Old House. I don't know if you consider what I watch to be crap. I don't know myself. All I know is after I'm done teaching, advising, going to meetings, grading . . . I'm dead tired. But I also know, that's a perfect time to be doing something active.

That leads me to this idea of writing. I'm usually multi-tasking all day. Not only am I preparing my classes, but I'm also doing things behind the scenes in terms of the cultural programing at my school. I'm basically at school from Monday to Friday. When I'm not in school, I'm doing things for school. So when do I write? I had thought to make a rigid writing schedule which had me waking up early in the mornings everyday. That failed miserably. I wasn't getting enough sleep. I knew this because my left eye-lid would twitch all day when I did this schedule. I then thought to write exclusively during the weekends. That bombed too, as soon as the papers started pouring in.

So now, I'm looking for an end to excuses. I'm designating one day a week. That's all, but I need to hold myself to that day. What do you fellow multi-taskers do? Do you designate a few hours each day? Do you designate a particular day? Do you resign yourself to not working until you have a holiday break or something? Give me some ideas.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Jake and the Deer!!!

Jake and the Deer!!!
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.

Old Forge

Old Forge
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
As I said earlier, Meredith and I went up to Old Forge. Here's a picture of the lake and the leaves turning.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Ok, here's the quiz

Alright, as I mentioned earlier, I give quizzes in my creative writing class. The scores were low for both sections of creative writing. I went over all this material in class AND I even repeated some questions from an earlier quiz. Here's the quiz. I'll post the answers later.

1. Answer the following questions about this particular form.
a. Which verse form has the following rhyme scheme: abab cdcd efef gg

b. What are the last two lines of this form called?

2. Scan the following lines and provide the correct name for the rhythm and meter.

Playing his Beethoven


3. Scan the following lines and provide the correct name for the rhythm and meter.

Double, double, toil and trouble;

Fire burn; and, cauldron bubble.

4. Define "Typography" and explain its use in poetry

5. Give me an example of onomatopoeia in a line.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


To my dear friend Sue Allspaw Pomeroy. Brilliant poet and new dog owner. ;-)

Mini Plug

Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation

Saturday, October 30, 7 PM

Victoria Chang, editor of Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation (U of Illinois Press) and an exciting lineup of young / emerging poets including Jennifer Chang, Tina Chang, Oliver de la Paz, Timothy Liu, Aimee Nezhykumatahil, Adrienne Su, Monica Youn and Suji Kwock Kim. Part of Intimacy & Geography: The National Asian American Poetry Initiative, funded by The Ford Foundation. Book signing and reception to follow.

$5 suggested donation
@ the Workshop
The Asian American Writers' Workshop
16 West 32nd Street, Suite 10A
New York, NY 10001
212.494.0061 tel

Monday, September 27, 2004

Please welcome . . .

Paul Guest to the blogosphere!

Manuscript Submission Season!

Or MeSS!!!

"Furious Lullaby," my second manuscript, has been on the contest cycle for about a year and a half. In that time, I've spent over $500.00 on contest fees alone. So if you can imagine including postage, photo copying fees, envelopes, etc., it wouldn't be shocking if you spent close to $1000 per contest year. That's a lot of dough! That's three 40GB iPods! That's a quick trip to Europe (if you live cheaply)! That's a full set of luggage!

Anyway, it's about time to send your manuscripts out, folks. Especially if those journal subscriptions you get by entering a contest are starting to expire.

Since graduate school, I've had a separate savings account designated just for publishing enterprises. So, from that account I draw out the money to pay for stuff like this.

Also . . . I think you can write off all this stuff in your taxes if you keep receipts . . . right? Does anyone know? I'm pretty sure you can if your profession is "Writer" or "Education," but I better leave that for the CPA's.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

When procrastination is a good thing . . .

I spent the morning playing video games and watching football pre-game shows. How cool is that? Meanwhile, on my desk there are 35 composition essays that need to be graded. (For those of you who don't know, in addition to teaching creative writing courses, I teach two composition courses as well. That's right. I'm in the trenches.) They'll need to get done soon because this week, I'm bringing Sally Keith down from Rochester for a reading at Utica. So there's a lot of micromanaging that needs doing.

I watched part of the Eagles/Lions game and then Meredith and I decided to go up to Old Forge, NY, with Jake. It was gorgeous. As soon as I get my digital camera connected, I'll post some pictures. The leaves are changing color. It's about 1/2 peak right now, so there's still some green around, but the reds, yellow, and oranges are starting to take over.

When I got back, I called Evelina Galang. No answer on both her phones. I hope she's okay, what with Hurricane Jeanne and all. Nick Carbo and Denise Duhamel are down in Hollywood, FL, and that's pretty close to Miami. Papatya Bucak's also down there. . . so I'm worried. Lots of love heading down that way.


To Bino Realuyo!

Welcome to the Blogosphere!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Wireless and my multitasking ways

I bought an Airport Express with Airtunes recently because I'm a nerd. I have to say that this thing's incredible and I'm hooked on wireless. Yesterday evening, I commented on poems, had the television on, and read blogs all at the same time. My cable modem's on the other end of the house, so it was a great thrill to be connected to the internet. Will this gadget help my poetry? Definitely not, but it'll allow me to listen to Bjork's Medulla on itunes while I play with the dog in the living room. :-D

Speaking of Bjork, Meredith and I listened to her while we played LIFE. It was all very eerie with Bjork's gutteral chants and resonant choral melodies reverberating through the apartment while I pushed my tiny representation of myself through the twisted maze of the board. I ended up a millionaire, having won a Pulitzer, a Nobel, and being the discoverer of the cure for the common cold. Sadly, in my real life I have not been feted, honored, or even paid. And if I had in fact, found the cure for the common cold, I wouldn't be suffering from it now.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

You give quizzes?? For poetry??!!!

The answer is yes. I do. And sadly, my students don't fare so well. They're simple questions, really. "In the space below, write an example of alliteration." Or "In the following metaphor, which is the tenor and which is the vehicle?: ". . . the green jungle of our sleep."

Out of 25 total points, the lowest score was . . . well, it was low. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I'm trying to do my part, folks. But it's an uphill battle. The next student that calls a stanza a PARAGRAPH will incur my wrath.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Still coughing

I'm still coughing. Blah. Only now I'm not having coughing fits that wake me up in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for poor Meredith. She's currently going through the same bout with the cold. Alas, we are a sickly crew.

Spent yesterday watching football again. It's such a guilty pleasure. A.J. Feeley was a kid who used to play for my high school alma mater. I remember him when he was a scrawny kid who was the waterboy for our varsity football team. Poor guy got harrassed and harangued all evening! I tell you, I'm glad I'm a poet. There's no tackling in poetry, though I've seen a few workshops where folks were on the verge of coming to blows.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Do you hear that howling wind?

That, my friends, is the collective heartbroken sigh from all the boys (and some girls) in the literary world upon hearing that poet, babe, and ultra sweetie, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, is getting married.

Congrats to Aimee and the D man!

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

I'm siiiiiiiiiiiick.

I used to say that when I was a kid, pitched at just the right frequency to gel my mother's nerves. I'm actually sick at the moment. It's an early cold season here in Utica. The weather's changing. It's warm during the day and chilly at night. All the undergrads are inoculating each other in their dorm rooms. . . picking their noses and wiping them on doorknobs, desks, podiums. I'll bet one of my students infected my coffee mug while I wasn't looking. I knew I'd be getting sick this weekend. It was only a matter of time. I've been having a bit of trouble sleeping because I've been adjusting to a new teaching schedule which has me teaching 8:30AM classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with a 6:30-9:20PM class squeezed between on Wednesday. Anyway, I just got back from teaching a night class and my throat feels like I swallowed a hairbrush. It's hard to be taken seriously when you're giving feedback on someone's poem and your voice cracks in and out.

So I'm nursing my throat by drinking a combination of Echinacea tea, honey, and lemon. I regret being the son of a pragmatic woman, sometimes. I never got to experience a bizarre home remedy for a cold. Any of you have weird home remedies? Just curious.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Happy Birthday to Sarah Gambito!

Everybody . . . do the Hamster Dance!!

Torx Screwdriver, size 8.

I got an Airport card for Meredith's G4 Powerbook yesterday. I'm already on a mini-wireless network, using an Airport Express Base Station (love, love, love). I needed to remove the base of the computer in order to install the card. Anyway, I flipped over her laptop to install the card and lo . . . eight tiny screws with a star shaped impression. I'd never seen that type of impression on a screw-head before. I tried to unscrew the base using a precision flathead screwdriver. That didn't work, and I was bending the screwdriver head. After several trips up and down stairs to retrieve and return tools to my toolbox, I realized that I needed help. I looked at the Apple solutions webpage and it said that I needed an Torx Screwdriver, Size 8. At this point, I hadn't run Jake (the dog) yet, so I suited him up and plopped him in the car. It was a beautiful sunny day . . . slightly warm. With the windows lowered, we hit Home Depot first. I looked up and down the tool aisle and found a set of Torx screwdrivers, but the smallest size they had was a Size 10. I asked for help and a guy named Raoul sidled up to me, wearing his orange Home Depot smock. Together we looked up and down the aisle for the illusive Torx 8. We looked at all manner of combo screwdriver packs, tool kits, drill bits, etc. Finally, he turned to me and said, "Man, we don't have it."

I was dejected and Jake was in the car panting. Jake and I then set off to a smaller hardware store called Hallak's. The minute I walked in, a young man at the cash register asked if he could help me. I asked him about the Torx 8 and immediately he said, "We don't carry it. Go to an automotive store."

So, I jumped back into the car with Jake and we drove to Checker Auto Parts. I went to the tool section and found a Torx set, but none of them were marked with sizes. A fellow at the front desk asked if he could help me. Together, we looked up and down the aisle for the Torx 8. He finally turned to me and said, "Have you tried Home Depot?"

I hopped in my car. Poor Jake was panting and tired. His eyes were droopy. I decided to go home. When we got home, Jake drank eagerly from his water dish as I went back upstairs to retrieve the toolbox. I pulled out a precision flat head screwdriver that I had previously used in a failed attempt. This time, I pushed down a bit harder, turned a bit slower, and watched the screws from the bottom of Meredith's laptop, lift from the case. The Airport card was installed successfully.

The moral of this story? You don't need a stinkin' Torx screwdriver for nuthin'.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

I'm such a guy guy.

Sunday's football day. I basically spent the entire afternoon grading papers in front of the television. I caught a glimpse of the Giants vs. Eagles. I also watched a little bit of the Redskins vs. Tampa Bay. I also watched the men's US Open tennis final. I don't particularly like Roger Federer, but man, does he have a pretty game. I flat out hate Lleyton Hewitt, so I'm glad he lost.

Right now Meredith's washing dishes while I watch the Broncos vs. KC. :-) I tell you, this has been a GOOD Sunday.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

The new G4 computer!

Well, got my old G4 Tower back this morning, complete with a brand new hard drive. The drive's twice the size as my old one at 120GB. Sadly, though, they couldn't save my data. So at the moment, I'm re-installing software. *sigh*

Ah well, so much for this afternoon!

Friday, September 10, 2004

The battle against abstractions: Round 2

I've noticed that when my students switch from writing poetry to the fiction unit, they feel more compelled to describe and provide detail when they write stories than when they write poems.

My first thought is that they see poems as compressed language. Because of that compression, they need to use shorthand (abstraction), in order to say what they want to say.

My second thought is that they view poetry as closely in league with philosophy. A poem is about ideas first and not about image.

Finally, as was stated in the previous post, the abstract language will allow the readers to interpret the poem in whatever way that reader wishes. It's the idea that the poem allows the writer AND the reader freedom. However, the reader is empowered in this model and ultimately, it's the reader who's writing the poem, it seems.

So . . . what to do? More in a few. I've got to teach in ten minutes. ;-)

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Kundiman Retreat Photo

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
For those of you who are curious, here's a big photo with all Kundiman 2004 participants. Marilyn Chin's in the front. You'll be able to spot Rick Barot and David Mura somewhere in there. Daisy Rodriguez is to the far right. You'll see the Pornstar and the luscious Sarah Gambito in there somewhere as well.

The battle against abstractions: Round 1

We were talking about images in my beginning creative writing class today. I started talking about abstract nouns like love, hate, justice, etc.. I compared these to nouns I like that are more concrete. Well, the students didn't like to hear what I had to say about abstract nouns. One particular student flat-out disagreed with me. *sigh* It's the same battle I have every year. What is it with abstract nouns, anyway? Why are they so appealing to the younger writer? Of course, I'm pretty sure that it's because folks are not quite equipped with the tools they need to go beyond their reliance on these abstractions and that it's a matter of time and exposure to work, but it's always a divisive point. It's the big speed bump that slows down the progress of a creative writing class as a collective.

More on this later.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Sometimes it's better to be ignorant . . .

. . . when it comes to computers. This weekend I ran a diagnostic test on my G4 tower, since I noticed it had been running slower than usual. I've had the computer since early 2001 and it's been a fantastic help. Anyway, I ran the diagnostic using the disk utilities that come with the computer and I discovered that my Hard Drive was "FAILING" in red letters. I started to freak. I backed up all my teaching files and all my poems. I burned those to disk. I e-mailed copies of my manuscript to myself. I dragged file copies to another hard drive. Basically, I did everything the techies tell you to do. So, I checked online to see what one does when a hard drive begins to fail and it said that I need to replace the hard drive. :-( ACK! I'm worried about the cost. I'm also wondering if the parts will be available for the computer because it's an older model of G4 and the technology in drives, etc. has advanced. Basically, knowing all this stuff has created money anxiety. I don't know if I can 1) afford a new hard drive and 2) afford a new computer. Additionally, I need a computer for teaching, printing, writing, . . . writing you guys. *sigh* Maybe this is just the excuse I need to shell out some cash for a G5. . . :-) I've always wanted one of those.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

We never did this in Sunday school!

And frankly, I feel cheated. Aimee, Barbara Jane, Patrick, Jon, Joseph, Sarah, and myself have gotten into this silly biblical conversation. We're basically embarking on this collaborative project with a religious theme. . . Anyway, wouldn't it be fun to do one of these projects? This one's courtesy of Patrick.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

This one's for Aimee Nez

That's right. It's a 41mm tall "Queen" Hello Kitty worth about $95k.

ACK! Barabara!

Sounds like a dish or an island, doesn't it? Well I fixed the spelling. Sorry, Barb, my warrior queen.

The beginning of the school year

It's the start of the new semester. I had to wake up very early this morning . . . 6:30AM early. Anyway, I've always dreaded the coming of the new semester, but once it starts up, I get into a good solid rhythm of writing, reading, grading, and exercising. I think I need the structure.

In fact, it was rather hard generating work this Summer in what was a relatively structureless season. But now, with the onset of these early morning classes and full schedules, I'm making more time to read, write, and think about poetry.

I had my first class this morning. It was in Introduction to Poetry course. I get a lot of students returning to my classes which is both good and bad. On the one hand it makes it easier to remember the names. On the other hand, you can't reissue the same old assignments. So I'll have to put away my crusty old assignments and generate some new ones. This of course will make me a better person, right?


Monday, August 30, 2004

Interesting article

On Pop Matters. I'm one of those CD snobs, you know. I have to have the latest hip CD, but you know . . . people are writing singles and not complete albums nowadays.

I think one other band out there who should get some recognition for making complete albums is The Roots. I love Phrenology and The Tipping Point. A lot of the more fringier Rap groups are making complete albums with a narrative arc versus the pre-fabricated made for radio types.

Grats to two sisters and a bro.

Congratulations to Ate M. Evelina Galang for winning the AWP Award Series in the Novel.

Also congrats to Aimee Nezhukumatathil and Patrick Rosal for the honor of being finalists in the 7th annual Asian American Literary Awards.

Friday, August 27, 2004

It's here! It's here!

At last! The Moroccan rug Meredith and I purchased in Fez arrived today, courtesy of the United States Postal Service. There was a lot of hucksterism when we were there in May, so we were a bit concerned that the rug wouldn't arrive.

Anyway, it's a beautiful piece! Let me try to figure out how to post pictures and I'll show you one.

School days, school days.

I'm still not ready to start the semester. I've got my course materials ready and all that, but I'm not emotionally prepared to hop into the classroom just yet. If only there was another month of summer. What I really should be doing is trying to write, you know? Instead, I've been sucked in to watching the Olympics. I've actually been watching it on Canadian television. They broadcasters on that network had a very interesting perspective on the US Men's basketball team. During the win, one of the commentators suggested lamented a lot of the antics by the Americans on the court. Certainly, it's a perception that's following US citizens in other facets of international interactions.

Anyway, got my contributor copies of North American Review. Barbara Jane's got a poem it. It's VERY cool.

I'll probably go see Supersize Me with Mere tonight. Though what I really want to see is Hero, with Jet Li.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Some fat to chew on . . .

Victoria Chang wrote a response to the managing editor of Fence regarding a poem by Alicia Ostricker. I'm not going to summarize the statements, since I've kindly posted a link with both Victoria's and Eduardo's thorough discussion of the drama.

Anyway, this brings up a very interesting discussion about writers/artists of color and the use of stereotypical images. Ultimately the trouble with language is that there is so much history invested in a particular position's ability to speak. Representations of "Otherness" no matter how artistically or aesthetically accurate are inevitably problematic when generated by a person/group who is gazing.

I do want to add one tidbit to this discussion, though, and that is the idea that this is not only a debate about ethnicity, but we must add that it's also a generational issue. Ostriker's valuable book, Stealing the Language, might be considered, by some, to be dated in its feminist position. But of course, depending on who you are, the issues in that book are still very contemporary.

I'm going to refer back to what Eduardo said, because that's the crux of my position as well. Eduardo elegantly stated that " . . . this poem doesn't problematize the body of colonial literature: creative work written by a member of the dominant culture about a subaltern culture. The images of Mexican field workers or studious Asians in Ostriker's poem are dangerous because these images are yoked with specific intellectual & emotional abilities. Mexican immigrants=field workers=coarse intelligence=base morals=primitive culture." He also said that "if the Ostriker poem would've been written by a writer of color [he] probably wouldn't be objecting to its stereotypical images. This troubles [him]".

So what are we to do as artists, knowing that there is so much force behind the images we create? Knowing this, wouldn't it offer us a wider canvas when we are more judicious with the language we use? Or is this a limitation of an artist's range of possible subject matter? Does this create self-censorship?

Inevitably, the value of Ostriker's poem for my community is that it gets us talking about ourselves as artists. It's problematic to me, but it really makes me think about what I'm doing as a writer. I'm still troubled, but it's good to know that I'm not the only one.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Added some friends

Updated the linky links. You'll see our good friend Eduardo Corral and Victoria Chang added to the list. Welcome welcome!

Monday, August 23, 2004

Here it comes again . . .

Yes, it's time for the start of the Fall semester once again. Meredith and I just got back from Oregon this weekend and already I've got a ton of work to do. As soon as we got back, we called Morocco. While I was over there in May, I purchased a Moroccan area rug. It's a gorgeous thing . . . you can flip it over and it'll have a different design. Anyway, with the move and all, it's been a headache coordinating everything. The bottom line is that I paid a lot of money for something that is not in my possession at the moment. The rug dealer reassured Meredith (she's the fluent French speaker) that the rug will be at our place by the end of the month. So cross your fingers.

By the way, have you guys seen Napoleon Dynamite? YOU MUST. That is all.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Home, Home on the Range

Meredith and I are off to Ontario, Oregon to visit my folks. She really wants to go inner-tubing down the Boise River, so I'll see what I can do. Outside of that, the temperature in Boise, ID, is slated to be in the 100's the whole time we're there! Yikes! I'm bringing my swim trunks and packing nothing but shorts.

By the way, our dear friend Pat Rosal has added links to his blogsite! Huzzah!

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

KUDOS Ate Evelina!

You'll be hearing more about this soon, but FYI . . . her novel has found a publisher! More details to follow. Congratulations to you, Ate. Well deserved after many years of hard hard work.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Saturday, Saturday

It's the last official day of the Kundiman retreat after a great many successes and a nice heap of stress. Here's a summary of some interesting things that happened during the retreat so far:

1. Marilyn Chin referring to Joseph's physique and couture as being "pornstar-like".

2. Seventeen fellows, three staff members, and four faculty members getting lost in a caravan through the streets of Charlottesville.

3. Gabbing until 3AM with David Mura over some Maker's while snacking on rice crackers and goldfish.

4. A gala reading with the editor of the new Norton Anthology of American Poetry in the house.

5. Mystery meals at the UVA dining hall . . . and then going up for seconds.

6. Several fellows falling in love with Jon Pineda, the patron poet of Margaret.

7. Bushra gushing about the Athletic Center's hot tub.

8. Chi's seven-year-old daughter's obsession with kitties and bunnies.

9. Ishle singing like a goddess.

10. Renee getting hit-on by a bar patron on her birthday.

11. Late night gossip sessions outside of Newcomb Hall after the gala.

12. Bizarre cheerleading drinking games at the Jabberwocky.

13. Getting lost on the way to Cabell Hall.

14. Cardinals.

15. Learning that Margaret at one time was a go-go dancer at a gay men's bar.

16. Rick Barot's Gray Goose and Tonic.

17. Copy card craziness.

18. Sarah's fun and glittery T-shirts.

19. Grande Marinier in the dorm rooms at midnight.

20. Junno bearing a striking resemblance to an Asian James Dean.

21. "Hey Kid/Listen to your uncle."


23. Jon Pineda and Ron Villanueva jamming in my dorm room.

24. Impromptu poems at the Biltmore Grill.

25. David Mura thinking Sarah was cutting Joseph's steak for him.

26. 3AM sing alongs at the picnic table.

27. Group massage!

28. Ching-In's strange obsession with Rick Barot . . .

29. Rick Barot's triangles . . . schemes of making triangle T-shirts.

30. The Babe's of Asian American Poetry calendar idea.

31. My new identity as Papa de la Paz.

32. Stephen's pepper-spray narrative.

33. Again, Stephen . . . first on the list for the cafeteria.

34. Marilyn referring to all the male fellows as dudes.

35. Kenneth.

36. Hyper-air-conditioned dorm rooms.

37. Co-ed bathrooms between Gildersleeve and McGuffy.

38. "Keep your gold"

39. Four-hour workshops with Rick Barot.

40. Six-hour workshops with Ishle Yi Park!

41. The game of "Find Marilyn Chin" for mentorship Saturday.

42. US Air losing David Mura's luggage.

43. Marilyn's flight delayed until 3AM on the first night.

44. Ngoc Luu's poem at the gala.

45. Purvi . . . how she couldn't stop laughing at Stephen's Haiku.

46. Bushra and her campus map.

47. Hyoejin's sweet vehicle.

48. E-3.

49. Key-swapping . . . it's not what you think, right Sarah?

50. Talking constantly about Harold and Kumar going to White Castle.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Joseph to my right, Sarah to my left . . .

I'm sitting in a computer lab on the campus of the University of Virginia at the moment. Sarah Gambito and Joseph Legaspi are with me, furiously clicking away at the keyboard. At the moment, they're giving me a lot of crap . . . teasing, you know.

We met Carolyn Micklem today. She's the executive director of Cave Canem. We gossiped over Southern food and many spirits. Joseph, of course, had two hurricanes (lush . . . j/k).

Anyway, we've been having a great time planning out this first Kundiman retreat. It's a lot of work and Sarah and Joseph have done an AMAZING job with it. We've got eighteen Asian American poets who'll be coming tomorrow for the workshops. I'll keep you all posted.

In the meantime, I'll try to stay cool. You do the same, okay?

Friday, July 30, 2004

Dear, Dear You,

In my keeping away from you, I've grown fondly tired of the mess I've made.

I've disassembled four bookcases. They were corrupted to the core. They are leering in a heap. I cannot eat them at the moment, although it may make me a stronger person . . . and don't I want to be happy?

All the condiments in the house have found their way into my eyesight. Mustard, ketchup, mayo, ranch, ranch, salsa. They are multi-hued saline drips.

I need an IV now.

My electrolytes are imbalanced and my head is spinning among my wreck.

I remember Coach made us drink Gatorade until we puked. He said, "Son, puking gets all the bad stuff out." I was convinced it was all the running up and down stairs bound in Saran wrap.

Many of us were puking, just to fit in. I told my mom about the puking and she reprimanded me. She said she hated the word "puke" and decided to cross it off my vocabulary. So then I stopped saying it and referred to it as "The Big P."

The conversion has made my life much more difficult. Now, in the moment when I am nauseous and feel "The Big P" coming on, it takes me just a little bit longer to alert others, including myself. It is syllabically challenged.

My house makes me feel electrolytically challenged. I've been climbing up and down stairs all day, sans Saran wrap.

Dear, dear you, this move has made me a challenged person. But as I said earlier, isn't all this, in the end, going to make me a better person? Isn't my keeping away from you going to tighten our belts? Won't we grin soon? Won't we blink?

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Dear You,

I'm sorry I have neglected to write to you. There are stars here whose matters are more pressing than my own, probably because of their own gravity.

The magnets against my steel file cabinet have impressed upon me some secret: the yellow of the room I just painted is code for a childhood fault.

The brown of the living room turns blue at sunset. We did not paint the room blue, though some things seek their own form.

I've turned up the hallway rug and found the chemicals of a previous cat.

The basement is awash with the run-off of Summer rain. We've had to save many boxes of poetry. Some of you would mistake this as character building. It is not. Paper is sacred. Being sacred, we cannot put them to our mouths . . . though I had a dog, once, with a fondness for Phillip Levine.

Dear You, I'm sorry for losing track of time, as I am losing track of my many books. I am in a room with boxes, all of them talking to me at once. So forgive me if I cannot hear you.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Weekend Parties and the Boilermaker

Well, the weekend came and went. I had a wonderful time and met some cool people from Hamilton College. But before I get ahead of myself, this past weekend was the weekend of the Boilermaker Race. I . . . slept through the whole thing, but I did hear military jets do a fly-by at the end.

Anyway, I'm in the process of THINKING about packing up. I'm moving at the end of the month into a new 2-family house. I hate moving and it's been hot. So if I'm away from y'all for a prolonged amount of time, you'll know why.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Things have gotten strange

I think this is a project doomed to fail. Apparently at the Siracha zoo, wild animals and domestic animals are taught to live together harmoniously from an early age in order to boost the number of visitors to the zoo.

It's good to see that the tiger is sleeping peacfully . . . but note the piglet. I highly doubt that piggy's going to sleep tonight.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Post 4th, Rainfall, Underworld

Well, Joseph Legaspi came and went. I hope he had a genuinely good time. There's not really a whole lot of stuff to do in my neck of the woods. His plan was to get out of New York City and certainly he achieved that goal when he came to visit. We talked poetry and Kundiman business. The Asian American Writers' Retreat is looking to be a wonderful event. Hopefully it won't be to muggy/hot in Virginia.

Last night it rained. I don't know if that dampened the spirits of the July 4th party-goers. We were too far out of range to see any fireworks from Meredith's deck in Remsen. Instead, Joseph and I watched the Radiohead DVD, "Meeting People is Easy". I made a quiche to dispose of some left-over veggies and some extra eggs. Unfortunately I used a graham cracker pie crust for the quiche, so it tasted strange. I should've skipped the crust. At least the quiche was good with Tabasco sauce.

After the quiche debacle, I plopped in "Underworld", my latest Netflix adventure. It's a truly awful film. I fell asleep right in the middle after several moans and groans about the bad acting. There better not be a sequel.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

A Visitor from the City

Joseph Legaspi's coming to visit me for the weekend. He stated that he had two requests: 1) Visit Target, 2) BBQ. I hope to meet all of these requests, quite possibly in the first day. Anyway, he couldn't have picked a more perfect weekend to come visit. The weather in the Mohawk Valley has been pleasantly warm and breezy. Supposedly there'll be fireworks this evening, but I'm not sure where they'll be and I'm not sure if we'll be able to see them from Remsen.

In other news, I saw "Spiderman 2" in the new Marquee Theatre last night. Prior to that, we went to Voss's hotdog stand. Apparently Voss's is a 50-year-old hotdog stand. I ordered a Chili-dog and a Mexi-dog done "All the Way". They were REALLY good. It's a shame that hot dogs are so terrible for you. When I was about four-years-old, I went through a phase where I'd eat nothing but hot dogs and Pringles until I overheard a news report that said the franks were hazerdous to your health. After, I appropriately told my mother that I had eaten four hot dogs and asked her if I was going to die. Anyway, if you're in the Utica area and want to pay me a visit, I'll take you to Voss's.

As for the movie and the movie theatre . . . thumbs up. The interior of the theatre looks cheaply made. Cinder block and cement line all the hallways. Cheap and gaudily bright carpet adorn the floors. Some brightly painted stars skirt the cavernous opening with a brightly lit and long concession stand. As the three of us entered, we saw an overhead projector playing trailers for the up and coming shows. "Spiderman 2" was playing on four of the twelve screens. Of course, I ordered a popcorn and a soda because I can't watch movies without popcorn. In fact, the whole experience of movie-watching is banal without having some for of salty/sweet snack at your fingertips. Anyway, when we got into the appropriate theatre, we could see that it seated around two-hundred people. Our worry was that because of the size of the complex from the outside, the actual screens would be tiny. This was not the case. The screen was slightly concave and relatively large. The stadium seats reached far back towards the wall with a partition sectioning off the area right below the projection window so that no one could put on a shadow-puppet show in the middle of the film. Dark curtains draped the sides to buffer the other theatres from the very loud sound system. If you're not a fan of loud action films, go to the other cinemas because the speakers were extremely crisp. Also, given that the film playing was an action film with a lot of screeching, crashing, and banging, you're liable to leave the theatre with slight deafness or ringing in your ears. I know Marijean's teeth ached after the film. Needless to say, I'm happy with the theatre overall. I saw that they were also showing "Farenheit 9/11" on another screen, so I think there's hope that more serious film buffs will have a better selection in the upcoming months.

Now, as far as "Spiderman 2" is concerned, I enjoyed it. I thought the characters were nice and round. Part of that, I believe, is due to Michael Chabon's involvement in the screen writing process. I also thought that Doctor Octopus was a superbe villain. I won't say anymore. I'm sure you'll hear about the film for quite some time.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Rain and Brando

It rained all last night which made Jake, the German Shorthair Pointer, sleep soundly. We watched "Mystic River" last night on DVD. It's one of my three Netflix movies this week. It actually kept me awake last night. Let's see, I went to bed around 1:00AM, and then I woke up around 3:30AM thinking about the families in the movie, the couple-relationships in the movie, and that Lady Macbeth-like speech by Laura Linney towards the end. Jake was unfazed by all of this.

When I woke, I found out that Marlon Brando had passed away in Los Angeles at the age of 80. Brando always reminded my of my Uncle Amador in the Philippines. In fact, Uncle Amador looks like him physically, in speech, and in mannerism. There was always something about Brando's eyes that the camera loved. In the "Godfather", the fact that you can't see his eyes in a number of key scenes makes the character of Don Corleone so much more menacing. And in "Apocalypse Now", it's the fact that Col. Kurtz's eyes are so clear during his moment of epiphany . . . He was such a wonderful actor.

Marlon Brando 1924-2004

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Remsen, ah Remsen

I'm dog-sitting for Meredith out in Remsen. Anyway, before that, I had Just finished driving Meredith down to the airport. We had been singing old Journey and Def Leppard songs. Nostalgia is a frightening thing. "Faithfully" and "Don't Stop Believing" were the two songs of choice. I did my rendition of Neil Schon's whining guitar in "Faithfully". . . . it sounded something like meow-meow-meow-meow. Needless to say, it was a bad but funny rendition.

We also talked a bit about why there aren't any big corporate businesses in Utica. As much as I resent them, I understand that we seem to think they are associated with healthy growth for a community. One of the things that I thought of was the fact that this region is heavily unionized. It would follow that corporations who are trying to make a profit would try to forego situating themselves in an area where the labor is unionized. This is a bad thing. As much as I like having the selection that comes with entities like Border, Barnes and Noble, etc., they hurt union workers. I remember the Mill area during my days at Arizona State University. I liked the Mill because it had one-of-a-kind shops like Changing Hands Bookstore, independent coffee houses, independent shops. This past year Papatya, Sue, and myself drove by the Mill area and it's been transformed into a strip mall. Very disconcerting.

I've been filled with socio-economic programing for the past few weeks. There was a documentary on LINK TV a few days ago tracing the development of a disease entited "Affluenza". Prior to that, another Michael Moore was on the air at IFC, called "The Big One". It's interesting to see the development of this consumer environment . . .

My mind's still coming around to processing all these things. More later.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Dear Sarah

The cover art for the talented and glittery poet, Sarah Gambito, is on the Alice James Books website:

Isn't that the sauciest thing you've ever seen? You go, Sarah! For those of you who aren't familiar with her work, check out this, this, and this.

Her work's so jazzy . . .

Parapalegic Chihuahua

There's something that must be said about Willy, the parapalegic Chihuahua in the picture here:

I guess the folks are calling him "Wheely-Willy," which is cute/appropriate.

And here's a news brief from yesterday:


Tue Jun 29, 4:39 PM ET

MACON, Ga. - A teenager dressed as pizza mascot Chuck E. Cheese was pelted with pizza and threatened with a beating by an angry parent who said the mascot wasn't paying enough attention to her child, police said. Macon police reported that the 17-year-old female employee was dressed as the character, a gray cartoon-like rodent with large front teeth, when a 31-year-old Macon woman threw a piece of pizza at her Sunday afternoon.The report stated that the mother then threatened to "whip" the girl when she changed out of costume. No charges were filed in the incident, so the name of the mother and employee were not released by police.

Information from: The Macon Telegraph

Anyway, I think we all wanted to have our birthdays hosted at Chuck E. Cheese when we were younger, right? To tell you the truth, though, the mascots freaked me out.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Book Arts, Yuppies, and Reads

I just signed up for a Book Making class at the Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute. I've always wanted to take a book making class after seeing the fantastic pieces that Karla Elling created down at Arizona State University. So . . . I'm enrolled. It should be a hoot.

I've been thinking about what a colleague of mine, David Habbel, said about the impact/significance of poets in cities. He said he read an article about how you can determine the health of a city by its resident poet population. I want to get my hands on that article. We all know, from a previous article, that poets have shortened life-spans. So I suppose that cities would thrive if 1) they attracted more poets and 2) they kept their poets alive.

One of the ways to keep poets in an area is to create eclectic food establishments. Well . . . Outback Steakhouse just opened along a strip of Commercial Drive. That's the major thoroughfare with the mall, Barnes & Noble, and other businesses. I know. It's not eclectic. It's yuppie food. But hear me out. . .. Restaurants such as TGIF's, Outback, and Applebees attract yuppies. Yuppies bring money to communities. Communities which have money will also develop arts enclaves.

Maybe it's wishful thinking. I don't know. Still, the recent urban development in the area is interesting for what is still considered an economically depressed area.

In other news, I've been reading Gaston Bachelard's "The Poetics of Reverie." Actually, I should say re-reading, because I read it a long time ago in graduate school, but I needed something to kick me off the couch. Monsieur Bachelard certainly has. I've also been reading Edward P. Jones's new novel, "The Known World," and I've found it to be pretty harrowing. In between, I've been picking up some poetry collections: "Winter Stars," "Spar," "The Branch Will Not Break," "The Only World," just to fill the brain up.

Summer makes the television a very seductive entity. I've become addicted to TLC and "What Not to Wear." Meredith and I wait for Wednesdays and Fridays when it aires. I'm normally not a TV-head, but hey, it's summer. . . . Tuesday's a good TV day, too.

Egad, but I should read and I should do some writing, eh? In fact, I think I'm procrastinating with this blogging thing. Off I go.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Tim Henmen, Young Poets, and Political Films

Hey y'all.

Spent the morning watching Wimbledon and drinking coffee. Quite a fine morning. Anyway, sent a few quick e-mails to my friends, Aimee Nez, and Joseph Legaspi. Other than that, I've been gearing up to go to the gym, but I've been procrastinating. Ah! Summer!

For those of you in Academia, you probably know that we all reach a point in the Summer when we start counting the weeks until we start back up with the Fall semester. Well, reached that point last week. It was jarring. I was thinking about all the writing I needed to get done, all the editing, etc. I've been reading Barbara Jane Reyes' manuscript and it's pretty intense! If you're reading, Barb, it's going to be a few more weeks before you get comments. Sorry, sweetie.

Anyway, I'm also reading Camille Dungy's manuscript. I have to say that there are some some fantastic poetry manuscripts out there!

Well, I best get back to "working" on some poems. Or maybe I'll go to the gym. We'll see.

By the way, I wonder how many of you have already seen Farenheit 9/11? I saw it last night with Meredith. It was quite an event. I don't know if many of you are familiar with Utica and the Mohawk Valley, but it's what I'd call a Post-Industrial town. Anyway, it was incredible to see so many people come into town to see a documentary. I'm still thinking about the film and about a lot of things.

I've got a Sub-Committee Meeting today for Sculpture Space. I'll let y'all know what we decide. We're going to be talking about things regarding the CHAIRity auction that's held anually up here in October.