Monday, January 24, 2005

oh man, has it been 20 yrs already? the Sacramento Bee published this story about the 20 yr anniversary of the movie The Breakfast Club. 20 yrs ago I was 17 and just learning to read, I mean read seriously, and make my attempt at writing, at the time, fiction. well, a little fiction. I was not so influenced by sci-fi writers, tho I read a lot of them at the time, but horror writers. I dunno, there was/is something mystical in a good scare, even metaphysical about the threats of the unknown that still appeals to me. and somehow, I can't explain it quite, but reading Lovecraft opened the way toward poetry.

however, John Hughes's movie The Breakfast Club is a decent film, I've seen it oh I dunno how many times. but it is not the quintessential teen flick as reported today in the Bee. too many stereotypes, too much youthful angst: pity poor me, my parents just don't understand. James Dean did it better 30 yrs before when the word teenager was just starting to be used as a kind of pop psychological jargon for the malady of being young.

no, for me the teen flick, other than a goofy summer movie like Meatballs starring the wonderful Bill Murray, is Fast Times at Ridgemont High, a film based on a series of articles written by Cameron Crowe and published in Rolling Stone. now that is a flick. it has everything, even the goofy high of being young, carefree and stupid. no angst that I can directly pinpoint at least. but there ain't no stereotypes. yes, I know what you are gonna say, what about Sean Penn's character Jeff Spicoli, isn't he a stereotype? naw, cuz I've never met a person like Spicoli. until after the movie that is, then every stoner wanted to surf and talk just like him. and the film got what Hughes's flick lacks: a deep sense of the absurd. such as Judge Reinhold's character wanting to break up with his girlfriend but panicks instead when she beats him to it, and suddenly he can't live without her. that is realism. and we've all had a teacher that acted and looked like Mr Hand.

so what does it all mean. nothing except I recall watching The Breakfast Club after smoking a couple of bowls, feeling a bit charged from the experience, but going home to reread Orwell and rent, again, Fast Times at Ridgemont High. I just can't help but trip on how quickly 20 yrs done gone by.

Monday, January 17, 2005

I've spent a couple of delightful hrs at UBU this past weekend. really, the time done vanished. especially good are the sound poems of Bob Cobbing located here. Cobbing is a poet I've known from just a few of his visual poems published in a couple of anthologies of experimental writing from the U.K., such as the new british poetry (ed. by Gillian Allnutt, Fred D'Aguiar, Ken Edwards and Eric Mottram, Paladin: 1988). this book was indispensable to me for in it I discovered writers as diverse as cris cheek, Tom Raworth, Barry MacSweeney, Bill Griffiths, Geraldine Monk, Tom Pickard and so many more.

Cobbing's poems were the only vispo found in its pages. and they were the first I've ever read. when I found the anthology I was trying to define myself, an apprentice poet, against the writers who were my mentors at the time: Berryman, Hart Crane, Robert Creeley, a bit of e.e. cummings, Rilke etc. etc. at the time I couldn't care less for vispo. how do you read this stuff?. over time, my arrogance subsided and I've come to greatly admire vispo and sound poetry. Crag Hill, whose interview can be found at Tom Beckett's new blog, was very generous when he sent me an issue of Score featuring the work of Canadian visual poet jwcurry when I was searching for his work. I'm still learning vispo and sound poetries. the web is fertile ground for our varied poetries. I've discovered them, and I am in love. no shit about it. and now how do I define myself as a poet? with this: ? I'm still that beginner, for I'm always still making discoveries and falling in love.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

been feeling like my skin has been flayed and my naked nerve endings are twitching in the cold winter air. some days are like that, when a car horn can make me jump near outta my skin. the walk to work, the need to work for my, and my family, bread tightens these pressures. ah, but such is living, that we often must do what we can to get going.

so it is with humility that I read Zimbabwean poet Julius Chingono's diary. Chingono works as an explosives contractor, and what keeps him sane, I suppose, is a sense of the absurd. in other words, a hell of a sense of humor. that is one of life's necessities. that and to try to live life at a slant, I muse.

anyway, as the great John Wieners said in an interview about the political tensions in his time, nay our time: Yes. Lyricism is still a quality of a political career.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Green Fuzzy Slippers
For Mark Young

Upon an attempt to parse the lectures of theoretical physicist Richard Feynman about the instability of matter

That there is so much space between atoms it is a wonder how objects like a table, a pair of shoes, common dirt or big boulders keep from flying apart

That there was a colleague who habitually wore large green fuzzy slippers at home and in the lab for fear of slipping through the gaps and having nothing soft to cushion the fall

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

really enjoyed Nick Piombino's piece posted at fait accompli about his days working as a taxi driver. which kinda reinforces an opinion I have that perhaps driving a cab is maybe the most ideal occupation for a writer in general, but a poet in particular. you have no boss, you move relatively freely and you meet all kinds of people each with unique speech patterns and habits. don't know. just a thought, really. there ain't no ideal way to earn one's bread whether you be a poet or no.

however, recently my mother-in-law was amused by a cab ride where the driver was a poet. do you mind if I recite a poem, he asked her. not at all, she said. and so he did, then they spoke of topics that listed toward the light in autumn in California, so-called stewardship by crummy politicians of its land, and so forth. but when my mother-in-law told me of her encounter with the taxi driving poet, I asked for his name. um, can't remember, she told me. then she began to sing a bit from an old Johnny Cash tune and went to the rest of her day.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

the mind staggers in the face of such horror at the devastation in South Asia caused by the tsunami. like everyone I've seen the photos and video images of the rampaging seas and I'm humbled by our relative puniness compared to the mighty earth. much as our collective human being, particularly the current administration, who might think that because we can send a few individuals out of earth's atmosphere, or dam our rivers, we can control nature. but we can't, and such knowledge, for me at least, fills me with humility, wonder and awe. the numbers of dead in South Asia is horrible. it is a disaster of biblical proportions. but I am in wonder and awe, the furor and mystery French poet Rene Char called during his time as a leader of the French Resistance during WWII, of the earth's, the natural world's, awesome power.

so I turn to Char for comfort. I also think of Alex Gildzen's meditations on deaths past and present. we live and die on this earth, our only one. we cannot control the natural world but we certainly can control the violence we inflict upon ourselves, especially this idiotic war in Iraq. there people are dying because of, what? we should be ashamed.

Long Live. . .

This country is but a wish of the spirit, a counter-sepulcher

In my county, tender proofs of spring and badly dressed birds are preferred to far-off goals.

Truth waits for dawn beside a candle. Window glass is neglected. To the watchful, what does it matter?

In my country, we don't question a man deeply moved.

There is no malignant shadow on the capsized boat.

A cool hello is unknown in my country.

We borrow only what can be returned increased.

There are leaves, many leaves, on the trees of my country. The branches are free to bear no fruits.

We don't believe in the good faith of the victor.

In my country, we say thank you.

Rene Char

(tr. Mary Ann Caws. New Directions, 1992).