Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I remember seeing Star Wars for the first time,
but it wasn't like seeing Breathless for the first time.
I was breathless when I watched Raging Bull for the first time,
but I was a raging bull when I watched Clueless for the first time.
I was clueless when I watched 8 1/2 for the first time.
I was 8 1/2 when I watched Snow White for the first time.
I was snow white when I saw Halloween for the first time.
It was Halloween when I watched High Noon for the first time.
I remember seeing King Kong for the first time.
It was in The Apartment that I saw The Searchers for the first time.
In Modern Times, a Taxi Driver should consider The Graduate and
go Singin' In the Rain On the Waterfront with The African Queen,
instead of this route I took classes with a Psycho from Chinatown on The Grapes of Wrath. Someday I'll be An American in Paris but for now
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? Rocky and The Wild Bunch
rode in on The Streetcar Named Desire to fill their Jaws
with The Best Years of Our Lives.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Clearly, It's Not So Clear

Ashbery is the most well-known poet in recent memory. How he achieved this is somewhat of a mystery, however. His poetry is indecipherable.

In 1977 Ashbery had recently won the National Book Award, the National Book Critics’ Circle Award, and the Pulitzer Prize for his collection, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. Like his cohort in the New York school, Ashbery is given to painterly abstraction and to appropriations of the language of everyday life. His poetry is famously difficult; as he then wrote, “It isn’t absolutely clear.” Here's my review of the Vermont Notebook.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

This Sunday @ Myopic Books

Myopic Books in Chicago -- Sundays at 7:00 / 1564 N. Milwaukee Avenue,
2nd Floor

Sunday, October 28 - Arpine Konyalian GRENIER & Gene TANTA

Born in Timisoara, Romania in 1974, Gene TANTA immigrated to Chicago in 1984 with family. He earned his MFA in Poetry from the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 2000. He translates contemporary Romanian poetry and makes visual art with found materials. Mr. Tanta's Publications include: Epoch, Ploughshares, Circumference Magazine, Exquisite Corpse, Watchword, Columbia Poetry Review, and Saints of Hysteria: A Half-Century of Collaborative American Poetry (two poems with Reginald Shepherd). Currently, he is a PhD student in Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee where he is also the Art Editor for Cream City Review.

Arpine Konyalian GRENIER holds graduate degrees from the American University of Beirut and the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts, Bard College, New York. Her work has appeared in How2, Columbia Poetry Review, Sulfur, The Iowa Review, Phoebe, Fence, Big Bridge, Milk and elsewhere, including several anthologies. She has repeatedly been chosen finalist for the National Poetry Series and the Greg Grummer Award, has two published volumes of poetry, and a chapbook is forthcoming from NeOpp Pepper Press.

Myopic Books is one of Chicago's largest used bookstores and a cat lives there and they don't allow cell phones.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


As a Chicago transplant, I’m still acclimating. Especially during these brief autumn moments, which usually seem much more like winter than they should—or as I remember Ohio autumns, which had some longevity. Fall (in Chicago) is no longer the time for reflection that it used to seem to be. There’s simply too much going on. Tonight for example there are more poetry readings going on around town than I’ve ever seen in my six or so years of living here. The Chicago staple--Around the Coyote Arts Fest--is winding down tonight with readings and exhibitions. Jesse Seldess is appearing in the Red Rover reading series, Chuck Stebelton is reading tonight, and Noah Eli Gordon and Joshua Marie Wilkinson are reading at
Myopic Books tonight at 7:00.

If that isn't enough, next weekend there will be a mammoth reading as the publication of the new anthology, THE CITY VISIBLE: Chicago Poetry for the New Century, will be celebrated on October 20th at 7:00 p.m. at 3617 W Belle Plaine Ave, Chicago, IL. (Gethsemane Evangelical Church—yes, in the church).

The readers will include:
Nick Twemlow – Robyn Schiff – Johanny Vázquez Paz – Joel Felix – Peter O’Leary – Garin Cycholl – Chris Glomski – Simone Muench – Cynthia Bond – Kristy Odelius – Lina Vitkauskas – Larry Sawyer – William Allegrezza – Jorge Sanchez – Tony Trigilio – Jennifer Karmin – Ray Bianchi – Kerri Sonnenberg – Eric Elshtain

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Here's an interesting article about Dylan's poetics of voice.


This article seeks to examine the literary pleasures derived from Bob Dylan’s songs, paying special attention to how Dylan’s poetical texts are performed and rhythmically rewritten by his voice, as well as the ways in which Dylan uses the songs to “write himself” through the creation of numerous and competing personae. Close reading of the lyrics, this article argues, must therefore be supplemented by a “poetics of the voice” and a detailed analysis of the theatricality of his “games of masks.” While a stylistic approach to the lyrics reveals a thrust towards writerly openness and new poetical idioms that fuse oral traditions with high poetry, the aesthetic and semantic uses Dylan makes of his voice are equally sophisticated. A study of Dylan’s “masks” will show that the artist uses archetypal poetic identities (prophet, trickster, man of sorrow, and so on) as fictional figurations of himself offered to the audience.

"Their monument sticks like a fishbone
in the city's throat."

I've never dug Robert Lowell's poetry but I found myself thinking of his line from "For the Union Dead" while in Washington DC last week. Lowell's patrician imagery and metaphor has always rubbed me the wrong way, but there are a few lines from his poetry that really work and resonate with me. I also caught myself thinking of Langston Hughes and the famous meeting between Hughes and Vachel Lindsay at the Wardman Park Hotel in DC where Hughes was employed at the time (which makes me think of when Jean Michel Basquiat entered the restaurant where Warhol was eating to try to sell him his "ignorant art" postcards).

Plus thinking of Hughes (being from Lincoln, Illinois) seemed logical because the ghost of Lincoln looms large in our nation's capital. I've always thought Hughes to be truer than Whitman to the cadence of America.

Here's a pic from the "Haunted Washington" walking tour I took, which was kewl. The ghost of Dolly Madison is scheduled to appear again on the porch pictured in the photo above sometime soon.