Friday, January 29, 2010

Stretched Out in the Current

As with any small town budding metropolis, much of the watershed is concrete. I read in the paper that 43% of the Meridian corridor is parking lot. And we’re a conservative bunch. By this I mean we like our land, our land conservation. We don’t shop like you do. While we’re the 8th largest “city” (having lived in Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and having spent much time in New York I have a hard time with this term here) in the state, we’re the 35th biggest spenders. We’re tentative consumers, and most of us are leaning toward sustainability in our own ways. Carol and I have a dozen fruit trees that bear much more than we can eat. I can look out my front window and see the neighbor’s chickens scuttling across the little road. I’m generalizing. We have a Wal-Mart too that I’m sure does good business. We have our mall on the other side of the freeway that caused our city center to cave substantially. What was once Macy’s hasn’t held anything since. That was before my time. From the street I like to look at the dormant escalators and imagine what the second floor looks like.

I’ve lived a lot of places bent on paving land, but this is the only place I’ve ever been where broken concrete sits in all the water. Much of the bay is lined with it, like parking lots have tried and failed to cover over these bits of nature too. All the waterways are lined with it, the bay, the creeks and streams. Maybe we’re just reusing? Getting spent concrete to keep erosion in check. Even in the “nice” park, the one where everyone takes their parents when they’re in town has these broken bits. And broken sheets of masoned brick as well. Rows and rows of it that I can’t tell whether they were street once or buildings.

This morning I walked the dog downtown, the same walk I always do. On Cornwall we cross the creek going into town, the little bridge that blends into the road. The creek sits between an office building full of insurance and lawyers with a gym I used to go to in the basement and an antique store painted a gaudy golden yellow that clashes with the sky no matter what the sky looks like. This pocket always smells like bleach and sweat, like the gym has leaked outside. It’s assaultive really. I know we’re becoming a city because there’s been a shopping cart for some time tipped sideways, half in half out of the water, casting strange eddies downstream of it. Today there were two. And what I thought was a body was only a sleeping bag caught on a low-slung branch and all stretched out in the current.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

News flash from RMP

Rose Metal Press recently announced that We Know What We Are by Mary Hamilton was selected by Dinty W. Moore as the winner of their Fourth Annual Short Short Chapbook contest. In excellent company, my ss ms was among the finalists.


Elizabeth Colen for Dear Mother Monster, Dear Daughter Mistake
John Jodzio for Do Not Touch Me Not Now Not Ever
Tim Jones-Yelvington for Evan's House and the Other Boys who Live There
Mary Miller for Paper and Tassels

And semi-finalists:

James Tadd Adcox for A Miracle of Some Sort
Spencer Dew for Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres
Roxane Gay for Things to Know about Career Girls
Tiff Holland for Wrapping Kevin
Thisbe Nissen for Etiquette
Cami Park for The Sun Has Packed So Many Suitcases

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Insult to Genetic Researchers

…I took the pie home with me and ate it with my mouth gaping, painfully aware I was not a moose and would never be a moose, but I had loved you in such an eerie and unnatural way. (from “Peek-a-Moose”)

I didn’t love this book the way I normally love Mary Ruefle, though (of course) I enjoyed it. It was kind of like combining Mary Ruefle with Borges and some clever contemporary poet boy (I haven’t decided which). Her (first?) book of “prose,” from Wave Books, The Most of It was published in 2008.

Poets are so coarsely bred they believe in force-feeding, arranged marriages, predestined outbursts. (from “A Half-Sketched Head”)

I’m not sure what this means, but I like it. Especially the part about predestined outbursts. Yes, we do decide we’re going to explode upon the world.

My job, as far back as I can remember, was to look forward to being happy. (from “The Diary”)

I’ve always been determined to be “happy” now. To most people (and to me) this includes to a great measure not working, not having a j-o-b. Since being abandoned by my family early on, I did poverty. I decided that I could do poverty very well. By poverty maybe I mean budgeting. Regardless, for a long time I was very poor. From that time I decided never to work full time if I didn’t have to. Though just combining work-work with the work of writing, and with visual work, I almost always put in what would be considered “a lot of overtime” each week. Not working so much allows me to be something of a workaholic.

That said, I also like movies. And cocktails. Long walks with the dog and playing Scrabble.

Reading I don’t consider work or leisure. I’m not sure what I consider it. To say it’s breathing seems overused.

How many books have I read? Only one – just as anyone who is literate has read only one book, or, to be precise, is in the process of reading the one book they will complete in their lifetime. That book is the particular sum of every book they have ever read, written in the particular order in which those books were read. The book is never the same, for no two persons have ever read exactly the same books in exactly the same order. There is a great difference between The Secret of Larkspur Lane followed by Anna Karenina and Anna Karenina followed by The Secret of Larkspur Lane. And if What One Can Do With a Chafing Dish happens to fall between … as opposed to Don Quixote … well, I don’t mean to insult the genetic researchers, but I have a hunch that if no two people are alike, this is why. (from “A Half-Sketched Head”)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I don't really mind getting a rejection on a manuscript withdrawn from a competition five months ago.

This was my only rejection so far this year. That said, I have very little out, as I'm working on a heavy ms revision and am refusing myself other tasks until I get my head under and get it done.

This also means no blogging, even though I have things to say about the friend who did not save my life, crow instability, invisibility, and getting at the word of God by nuns neglecting orphaned infants.

Friday, January 1, 2010

2009, A Good Year For Reading

What I read last year:

1. The Puppet and the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity – Slavoj Zizek
2. The Capital of Solitude – Gregory Orfalea
3. The Automatic Message, the Magnetic Fields, the Immaculate Conception (Atlas Anti-Classics) – Andre Breton, Philippe Soupault, Paul Eluard
4. Bad Alchemy – Dionisio Martinez
5. Singing from the Well – Reinaldo Arenas
6. Dreamtigers (El Hacedor) – Jorge Luis Borges
7. Live Nude Girl: My Life as an Object – Kathleen Rooney
8. Only This Blue – Betsy Warland
9. In the Devil’s Territory – Kyle Minor
10. The End of Rude Handles – Jen Tynes
11. Last Evenings on Earth – Roberto Bolano
12. Earth in the Attic – Fady Joudah
13. --------FEB---------Too Close to the Falls – Christine Gildenour
14. The Art of the Poetic Line – James Longenbach
15. Names on the Land – George Stewart
16. A Humument – Tom Phillips
17. In the Land of the Free – Geoffrey Forsyth
18. Bloodroot – Betsy Warland
19. Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami
20. --------MARCH--------The Bride Minaret – Heather Derr-Smith
21. Blessing of the Animals – Brenda Miller
22. Meteoric Flowers – Elizabeth Willis
23. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Diaz
24. The Massacre at El Mozote – Mark Danner
25. Becoming Abigail – Chris Abani
26. Airport – Emily Kendal Frey
27. The Doorbells of Florence – Andrew Losowsky
28. This In Which – George Oppen
29. Pain Fantasy – Jason Bredle
30. Eva Hesse Drawing – Catherin de Zegher, ed.
31. Falsework – Gary Geddes
32. Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees: a life of Contemporary Artist Robert Irwin – Lawrence Weschler
33. Areas of Fog – Joseph Massey
34. Travel – Yuichi Yokoyama
35. ----------APRIL----------Nada – Carman Laforet
36. In the Mode of Disappearance – Jonathan Weinert
37. Dark Thirty – Santee Frazier
38. Blood Dazzler – Patricia Smith
39. Quadrifariam – Frank Samperi
40. The Man Without Qualities (Part One) – Robert Musil
41. Undersleep – Julie Doxsee
42. The Glass Castle – Jeannette Walls
43. ---------MAY---------Wetlands – Charlotte Roche
44. Annie John – Jamaica Kincaid
45. Voice of Ice – Atla Ifland
46. All the Day’s Sad Stories – Tina May Hall
47. The Boy with the Thorn in his Side: A Memoir – Keith Fleming
48. We Are All Suspects Now: Untold Stories from Immigrant Communities after 9/11 – Tram Nguyen
49. Antidotes for an Alibi – Amy King
50. Dark Blue Suit – Peter Bacho
51. Fox – Adrienne Rich
52. Recycle Suburbia – Dan Nowak
53. Carnage in the Love Trees – Richard Greenfield
54. Denny Smith – Robert Gluck
55. Remnants of Hannah – Dara Weir
56. Body Language – Mark Cunningham
57. ---------JUNE---------In a Bear’s Eye – Yannick Murphy
58. Women as Lovers – Elfriede Jelinek
59. Don Juan in the Village – Jane DeLynn
60. Helene Cixous Live Theory – Ian Blyth & Susan Sellers
61. This is Water – David Foster Wallace
62. After – Nancy Pagh
63. Signed, Mata Hari – Yannick Murphy
64. The Devil’s Highway – Luis Alberto Urrea
65. The Letters of Allen Ginsberg – ed. Bill Morgan
66. ----------JULY----------Black Leapt In – Chris Forhan
67. Milestones – Marina Tsvetaeva
68. Prairie Fever – Mary Biddinger
69. Nets – Jen Bervin
70. Dutch Painting – R.H. Fuchs
71. When Poetry Ruled the Streets: the French May Events of 1968 – Andrew Feenberg and Jim Freedman
72. Heironymus Bosch – Walter S. Gibson
73. Some of the Dead are Still Breathing – Charles Bowden
74. Stone – Osip Mandelstam
75. Self-Portrait with Crayon – Allison Benis White
76. The All-Purpose Magical Tent – Lytton Smith
77. ----------AUGUST----------The Passion of Michel Foucault – James Miller
78. Self-Portrait – Brian Johnson
79. Ohio Violence – Alison Stine
80. Finding Water, Holding Stone – Jim Bertolino
81. The Air Lost in Breathing – Simone Muench
82. Legend of Light – Bob Hicok
83. The Savage Detectives – Roberto Bolano
84. Bardo – Suzanne Paola
85. A Personal Anthology – Jorge Luis Borges
86. Belligerence – Andrei Codrescu
87. The End is the Beginning – Matt Briggs
88. ---------SEPTEMBER---------Torch Lake – Brian Johnson
89. Auspices – Cid Corman
90. Names Above Houses – Oliver de la Paz
91. Plight – Cid Corman
92. Livingdying – Cid Corman
93. The Heart that Lies Outside the Body – Stephanie Lenox
94. Scary, No Scary – Zachary Schomburg
95. The Painted Bird – Jerzy Kosinski
96. Crush – Richard Siken
97. Furious Lullaby – Oliver de la Paz
98. Fup: A Modern Fable – Jim Dodge
99. Madonna anno domini – Joshua Clover
100. The Feminine and the Sacred – Catherine Clement and Julia Kristeva
101. How Some People Like Their Eggs – Sean Lovelace
102. Lust & Cashmere – A.E. Simms
103. Almond Blossoms and Beyond – Mahmoud Darwish
104. The Continental Caper – Sally Alatalo
105. A Beginning on the Short Story: Notes – William Carlos Williams
106. The Bomb – Makodo Oda
107. “A” 1-12 – Louis Zukofsky
108.------------OCTOBER------------Conspiracy – Anthony Summers
109.Quiet Days in Clichy – Henry Miller
110. The Pinch Runner Memorandum – Kenzaburo Oe
111. Internal West – Priscilla Becker
112. Amulet – Roberto Bolano
113. Ties That Bind – Sarah Schulman
114. Say You’re One of Them – Uwem Akpan
115. 40 Watts – C.D. Wright
116. Boris by the Sea – Matvei Yankelevich
117. Transgender History – Susan Stryker
118. Lamp of Letters – Katharine Whitcomb
119. Stars of the Night Commute – Ana Bozicevic
120. Rhapsody of the Naked Immigrants – Elena Georgiou
121. To Engineer is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design – Henry Petroski
122. ----------NOVEMBER----------By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept – Elizabeth Smart
123. In the Architecture of Bone – Alan Semerdjian
124. Winter Season – Toni Bentley
125. The Anthologist – Nicholson Baker
126. American Husband – Kary Wayson
127. Tree of Smoke – Denis Johnson
128. Timbuktu – Paul Auster
129. American Romances: Essays – Rebecca Brown
130. Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers – Arundhati Roy
131. Rimbaud: The Double Life of a Rebel – Edmund White
132. The Brother Swimming Beneath Me – Brent Goodman
133. The Bitter Withy – Donald Revell
134. The Bomb: A New History – Stephen M. Younger
135. Bold Spirit: Helga Estby’s Forgotten Walk Across Victorian America – Linda Lawrence Hunt
136. Take It – Joshua Beckman
137. Where I Stay – Andrew Zornoza
138. ----------DECEMBER----------Anthem – Ayn Rand
139. Parabola – Lily Hoang
140. Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? – Lorrie Moore
141. Lost Alphabet – Lisa Olstein
142. For You, For You I am Trilling These Songs – Kathleen Rooney
143. Summer Crossing – Truman Capote
144. Dark Would (missing person) – Liz Waldner
145. To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life – Herve Guibert
146. Household Words – Joan Silber
147. Golden Days – Carolyn See
148. Source – Mark Doty
149. The Curtain of Trees – Alberto Rios
150. Radio Crackling, Radio Gone – Lisa Olstein