Crazy busy this past week. Students have come to my office almost every day of the week so I haven't gotten a lot of work done.
Everyone seems to be worried about graduate schools these days. ***
My truck's in the shop getting both fender's repaired. For now, I'm driving a sleek black Hyundai Sonata rental car with an auxiliary plug for my iPod and XM satellite radio. Insurance is paying for the car, so no worries. ***
In other busy buzzness (yeah, lame), I'm trying to figure out the schedules for my various Midwest trips. On January 19th, I'll be reading in St. Louis for the River Styx Reading Series and I might be heading over to SIU Carbondale for a reading . . . it's still in the works.
I'll also be going to AWP in Chicago from February 11th-15th where I've got two panels and a book signing.
Finally, at the end of March, I'll be the Eddice B. Barber Visiting Writer at the University of Minnesota at Mankato. It should be fun! I may try to swing over to New York before the residency with Meredith and L..
Overall, I'm getting tired just thinking about my winter schedule and I'm worried that I'll be missing too many classes--not that my students would mind.
The book, 1000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die has me going back into my CD catalog. It's really cool to see some of those old albums in that volume. Additionally, I've been introduced to some new work.
Back catalog-wise, I've revisited De La Soul's THREE FEET HIGH AND RISING, which was ground breaking. All those skits, those fillers, and the exquisite sampling (for which there were many lawsuits).
Finally, there's a reissue out now of Iggy Pop and the Stooges' Raw Power. This version's actually mixed by Iggy and NOT by David Bowie. It's interesting to see hear the differences. The Bowie version sounds overproduced. This reissue sounds . . . well, raw--maybe truer to the punk movement.
*** So, in the spirit of 1000 Recordings, I'm remember five "old school" poems that pushed me towards writing poetry as a calling. There are a lot of recent work that sets my pulse, but I'm just thinking about the poems that stayed with me even before I got my MFA.
These five are just off the top of my head and NOT in any order, plus reasons why:
Li-Young Lee's "The Gift." I was a social worker when I first read this collection, dealing with a schizophrenic in an assisted living program. The patient would take long, medical-induced naps and I would spend hours reading while he slept. ROSE was the one book I kept rereading and "The Gift" in particular, was the poem I kept returning to. It's hard for me to articulate the relevance of my reading this poem and the hours I spent working in the assisted living program, but strangely they fit for me because both things, at the time, seemed ultimately important.
Galway Kinnell's "Little Sleep's-Head Sprouting Hair in the Moonlight." Maybe because I'm a new father and this poem is, to me, about fear and about blessing. Anyway, I bought THE BOOK OF NIGHTMARES for my very first advanced poetry workshop when I was an undergrad. There were a bunch of grad students in that class at LMU. My good friend Joseph Legaspi was in that class as well as Kristen Tracy. It was Gail Wronsky's Graduate level workshop and I was a sophomore in the class. Somehow I got into the class because I had entered the campus poetry contest and took second place (Joseph took first). Because of the award, I decided to try my hand at poetry and . . . well, Galway's book and especially the poem stuck with me.
Sylvia Plath's "Mary's Song." Because today I can still remember the opening stanza--"The Sunday lamb cracks in its fat/ the fat/ sacrifices its opacity. I read this poem as an undergrad and I can confidently say that this is the poem that awakened the notion of sound as a unifying impulse in the written word.
James Wright's "A Blessing." Gosh darnit, he knows how to end a poem and to write with such economy.
Robert Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays." Talk about economy--he's immediately rhetorical with "Sundays too . . ." and the repetition of "What did I know" towards the end of the poem. My goodness, how seemingly effortless it was for him to get to a point of hard, bare-faced ambivalence.
Just came back from a grant-writing workshop. I've been to a few of them in my past. This one was quite good. It was run by Artist Trust of Washington, and I hope they do more workshops. It was also VERY good to see some students there. Even though they're not eligible for grants, this is stuff they need to know and stuff I never got when I was an undergrad.
Today, I will attempt to convince several twenty-somethings that formal poetry is not only "good for you" but that it's possible to write a "kick-ass" pantoum.
I know this. You, dear reader, know this.
Going to a grant-writing workshop this Saturday. Frankly, I suck at writing grants and I need help.
As I mentioned on Facebook, I'll be spending a lot of time in the Midwest this coming winter (what's considered Midwest, by the way? Is Chicago Midwest?) I'll have stops in St. Louis, possibly Edwardsville, IL, Chicago, and Mankato, MN. That's not one trip . . . that's several different trips spread out over three months. Yeesh.
Now that I'm a dad, these trips are getting harder and harder to take. But take them, I must.
Yes, that's L's Halloween costume, sans the feet from his pjs.
I mentioned that I was down in San Francisco for a wedding. It was a gorgeous affair. So many couples were getting married that day and shouts of joy echoed through the halls. Later, we partied. There was much to eat and drink.
I'm reading 1000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die. I'm a sucker for big lists. What I like about this particular book is that in addition to the selected recording, Tom Moon also offers additional catalogue selections and then other artists who you might be interested in.
I've heard a lot of the rock/electronica/hip-hop/ and jazz collections. I'm really awful with the classical, country, and world music collections. Guess I'm not as well-rounded as I thought I was.
Teaching forms to undergrads isn't so bad . . . it's the workshopping that's difficult.
So, on top of having a cold and feeling generally lousy, I got rear-ended today with L. in the car. But not only did I get rear-ended, I rear-ended the car in front of me. I was stopped at the stoplight in a 4-way intersection when I got plowed into by a lady in an oldsmobile. Her front end's mashed up. My rear and front are a bit dinged--the front end got the worst of it with the imprint of a pick-up's hitching pole imprinted into my fender. The car's still drivable and no one was hurt, but what a pain in the ass. L. was screaming his head off after the impact, but he wasn't hurt. Just scared. Again, we're okay. Everyone's okay.
At least it's Wednesday. That means the week's half way through.
All that said, I need to pack for a trip to SF on Thursday. We're heading out to celebrate Mere's sister's wedding. Unfortunately we won't be in SF for long . . . in and out rather quickly and heavily scheduled. For those of you in the Bay Area, this is me waving to you.
I'm sitting in my home office glancing over my shoulder as I type this. L is in the co-sleeper fitfully sleeping. He'll doze for about 15 minutes, wake up crying, and then fall asleep again with assistance. So it's a little tough to do things around here during my "morning shift."
I've got this poem idea in my head and I've already got a title, but I ain't got time to deal with it. So I had to write out the title and save it on my hard drive, lest it float away into the ether.
Hold. The child awakens.
Okay, now that he's back asleep. Hi again.
Mornings are cold these days. I woke up and I could see my breath in the bedroom, so I suppose I need to turn up the heater (don't worry, kiddo's actually very warm). The leaves are turning colors here and I've got to find some time to clean off my roof and the gutters.
Fall is my favorite time of year. I tend to overheat. It might be hormonal. Anyway, I love Fall because I can wear just the right amount of clothing. I'm not a fan of shorts for daily wear. I'm a pants and sweaters kind of guy.
My parents have been looking for a house near us for the better part of four months. There are plenty of houses around here, what with the crappy market, but they can't seem to agree on what they want. It's driving me a little nuts. They actually put in bids for two houses (not at the same time) and they retracted both times. I feel for the realtor. Really, I do.
The weekend starts after I teach my classes today. Whew. It's been fairly busy, but I'm at that point in the quarter where I've got a bit of a rhythm with my classes and my schedule. That's always a good and comfortable thing. I know poor Mere is WAY busier than I am, so I feel guilty. If it's any consolation to her, I haven't been writing jack since I sent out my work. I've got a couple of essays I need to finish up. Maybe I can get to 'em this weekend.
I didn't like the Town Hall style debate. I thought it was fairly boring and a bit over-moderated as opposed to the prior debate which was under moderated. I kept hearing stump speeches and no actual . . . well, debate. Still, I do think Obama won the round. McCain looked rather old and seemed to have trouble walking as he entered the arena. And if I hear "My friends" one more time . . .
overwhelmed these days. We're in the 3rd week of the quarter and poems are coming and going across my desk. I'm getting a lot of students visiting during my office hours to talk to me about their futures, grad school programs, etc., and in the meantime I've got poems to send out and grants to apply for--one of which I need to rewrite tonight.
Oh yeah, and then I have to be a fully attentive dad. I swear I'm getting so forgetful these days. I've been leaving things. I've been misplacing keys, wallets, etc.. And for those of you who know me, I'm usually quite together . . . anal, in fact.
Today, so that I could take a shower, I moved the exer-saucer into the bathroom. It's fine because L. loves his exer-saucer and he giggles while I'm doing my thing, so it's all good.
I've been quiet for a spell 'cause I've had visitors, but there are many things I've been chewing on for the past few days.
*** There are several reasons why Trickle-Down economics don't work. The idea that we provide benefits to the rich/wealthy suppliers and that their good fortune will "trickle-down" to the middle-class or the poor--it'll only work if there is no corruption at the top. What we so often see is the rich/wealthy selling to each other or providing each other benefits to keep each other on top.
Now, apply the theory of trickle-down economics to the arts . . .
Concerning Gov. Palin, and the debate . . . I'm a bit upset with Gwen Ifill. It seems to me that in some ways she allowed Palin to skirt the issues she was supposed to address in her allotted time. Rather, there was a lot dancing, highlighting, and bullet-pointing without any substance.
What's wrong with sounding "Professorial"? Personally, I want to elect someone who's smarter than me. Further, I don't want to be "best buddies" with my elected official. I want someone who can run a country and not someone who's my peer.
In lighter news, I'll be heading down to San Francisco for my Sister-in-law's wedding. Alas, I won't have time to mingle. We get into SFO at 10:30PM, the wedding's Friday, and then we had back home on Saturday. Maybe I can loiter in SF some other time.