Thursday, May 05, 2005

The Chinese (American) Notebook

Ron Silliman muses today on the phenomenon of scribbling into a notebook while listening to another poet read: "the trifecta of literary environments, the best possible context in which to produce work."

I've found this to be the case as well, on some occasions. Though usually what results for me is a weird work in which the reader's words get collaged with my own: that was the case with my poem on Robert Creeley, which I posted here recently.

But I never saw the listener-scribbling-in-a-notebook phenomenon more evident than at Silliman's reading in July '03 at 21 Grand in Oakland. At one point I recall looking down my row and seeing nearly everyone in it with their head bent over a notepad.

To be fair, there was some element of journalistic competition going on: nearly all the notetakers were bloggers who raced home to file reading reports. But I was curious to look back and see what it was I'd written down. So here, more or less verbatim, is what I wrote in my notebook that night:

VOG--Voice of God         He looks just like his web site

Viagra Falls
Language Poetry an exercise in nostalgia-->SF poems

The ease w/which a spouse strips naked

why men don't put the seat up

women's clothing

aftertaste of honey mustard pretzel lingers in my beard

Planet of the Apps


In Philly a sleeveless shirt is called a wife-beater

This is CNN

"Data Quest"

Pubic hair caught between 2 teeth
World in which Strom Thurmond outlives Kathy Acker

Ovid among the Scythians

I woke with a tenderness above the cheekbone


Poet be like cod--looking at KK

tooth extraction

Who listens? Who hears?

"Final Form"
Silence of the looms

How will I know when I don't make a mistake?

finite words in a life--one hoards them

the joy of doubt

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