Saturday, February 19, 2005

a good interview of one of my favorite poets Michael Farrell here. would like to read a longer, fuller piece on Farrell. that he is one of the more formally inventive writers, taking off in directions suggested by Frank O'Hara and G. Stein for example, and that he is an incredibly prolific poet generates the living energy. some of his poems sample other lines from works of differing writers and song lyrics, a technique that reminds me of a good DJ. check out these poems here for examples of his samples, so to speak. his book ode ode (Salt 2002) is a rich array of fantastic writing. I got a frisson of excitement and recognition when rereading portions of Farrell's book a few weeks ago when I discovered that the poet sampled a few quotes from an oral biography of novelist/filmmaker Ed Wood, Jr. a book I'd been reading too. it was something I'd missed upon first reading, but I'd just been thumbing thru the Wood book again at the same time rereading Farrell and found the symmetry between him and me. so that I find Farrell's poems are a/buzz with so many connections between hi- and lo-cultures, that his lines hum with the electricity of a fully-lived life: the living(s) of a poet.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

when I first really began to read the poetry of Thom Gunn I checked out the hardcover edition of The Passages of Joy from the university library. I don't recall how I found his work but like Crag Hill in his post on Gunn I thought he was a "mainstream" poet, and by mainstream I mean he was published by FSG and Faber and Faber, and he wrote mainly in meter and rhyme.

but there is nothing mainstream about him at all. I would hazard to guess that Gunn, from his appearance, to his choice of giving up a tenured position in Berkeley's English Department so he wouldn't have to attend meetings, or his subject matter, or the fact that his syllabic poems transitioned the way toward free verse poetry (tho now that I think about it that practice was fairly common among poets of his generation), or that he championed writers as diverse as Mina Loy and Robert Duncan is in his own stream. I admit it, I had fallen in love with him as a poet and a man. no shit.

what clinched it was the beautiful drawing of Gunn I saw after I read the poems in Joy. yes, somehow I didn't look at the back of the book until after reading it in one gulp on a hot, sunny day stationed in my office at the university recycling center, a job I had when I was an undergraduate. that book became a favorite of mine and I photocopied the drawing and hung it up above my desk at home. I'm not sure where it is now, the drawing, but I know it is dated 1981, and that Gunn looks like a very young man, tho he was in his early 50s. he has an earring in his left ear and a panther inked on his right forearm. and his expression is both of happiness, yes happiness, and curious vigor. I was head over heels that moment on.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

working on the thought that perhaps poems can be criticism as well. of course they can, surely, but I've in mind certain kinds of criticisms, such as film criticism. is that too far out for poetry? I should think not but at the moment I am working on a series of poems based on old stag films, or my idea of old stag films, the kind that used to be bought from an ad in the back of "adult" magazines. 8MM reels strung on little projectors and screened using a wall or the back of a door. and the poems are developing into investigations of desire, rather than the films. tho I'm still at work on them and largely dissatisfied with my texts. but the idea of a series of poems that function as film criticism is pretty attractive to me right now. for now the poems have taken off in their own directions. I can hear the poems laughing right now: you don't know us, man. keep doing, and maybe you might get one right.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

today promises to be a lazy sorta day. hope so at any rate, the weather couldn't be much better: clear, blue sky and the temp. hovering between the high 60s, low 70s F. the month of February can be counted on to give at least a few days of teasingly spring-like weather before it greys up again for another month or two. then it gets hot! real hot, hotter than the surface of the sun, it seems. so hot that ice cream melts on the way home from the grocery store. I kid you not. the summer is hotter than blazes. it's brutal. summer light is fluorescent and the air is electric with cricket buzz.

which always reminds me of the movies. I grew up at the drive-ins, and my part of California back in the '70s and '80s was thick with them. in fact, there were over a dozen or so when I was growing up and begging my parents to take me and my brothers every weekend. and because it was cheap entertainment they often obliged us. but now there is only The Sacramento 6 Drive-In open. and that is slated to close any day. a bummer because the drive-in was not about watching flicks, tho we did do that at times, but an atmosphere to be indulge in. the air redolent of beer and popcorn, the tinny soundtrack from the window speaker, car tires crunching gravel, the playground equipment beside the snack bar, and best of all the intermission shorts. cartoons and live action sequences advertising the treats awaiting theater-goers at the snack bar. those commercials were so much a part of summer that now I'll buy crappy movies on DVD if the producers of the discs even make the hint of a promise of drive-in intermission shorts as a bonus.

ah but nostalgia is a bitch of a beast. but why not, indeed. if Proust can be transported by bread dipped in tea then I certainly can be transported at the sight of our last, lonely drive-in. and let me not forget about the films. I did watch them, and at the Sac 6 I would watch all the screens I could just by turning my head around. and then make up the plots to go along with the soundless projected images. these images became part of my consciousness. I fell in love with them, the films, and nothing beats watching b movies with the window open on a lazy spring-like day.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

I spend most of my time with Anna and Nicholas so whatever fugitive moments I get to myself I read a bit. it is difficult to hold a book, or journal, and hold a baby at the same time. even so, I've taken to the habit of scribbling in my notebook rather than writing directly on the computer. which is a problem cuz I've the worst handwriting imaginable. I'm sure those who've tried to read it have scratched their heads in wonder and disgust.

but there is a sensuality to be had between fingers, pen and paper. which I've forgotten because since the late '90s I've mostly composed directly on computer, which does afford pleasures of its own. no doubt my writing is influenced by whatever methods I use in the physical act of it. writing in longhand seems to be more labor intensive, sort of like manual labor, because it is, for me, a slower process. and the medium of paper possesses a kind of formalism, by which I mean that in writing on paper rather than a computer screen there are restrictions by how much text can be written because of the limited space of the paper and the blocky letters of my handwriting. sorta like the restrictions of writing in form for the inventions of writing happen when there are difficulties to be met.