Tuesday, September 30, 2003

At least the Yankees lost. A Snow Belt Series?
Okay, I am going to watch. Yikes!
Ten minutes to Cubs-Braves, Game 1. Do I watch? It's a little like watching your best friend making his acting debut. You love the guy, but deep down you're really afraid he'll make a total ass of himself, looking right at you the whole time saying "how'm I doing?" with his eyebrows.
See, before this didn't bother me so much because I could always go to campus and hook up to the network. But since the University of Chicago hates me and won't give me an email account (heck, even my library card didn't work yesterday) I'm marooned in slowberspace.
Monkey load time at current connection speed: 226.356 seconds. Grrrr.
If I don't get DSL I will never be able to read another Jim Side again. Stupid dial-up.
A squeaking & hissing radiator is a sound I haven't heard since my sophomore year in college (or before, really), but there they go. Over the weekend the temperature dropped about 20 degrees--it was a "brisk" 45 degrees this morning when I drove Robin to campus, warming up to the mid-50s but now cooling again. Plunging my arm down where no human hand has gone in a year (hint: roll sweater sleeve down, not up) to see if I can turn the knob and nudge a little more steam out of that sucker.

Monday, September 29, 2003

My computer steadfastly refuses to recognize our relocation to the Central Time Zone. It continues to insist that "Seattle is a city in the current time zone." Wishful thinking. I don't even drink coffee.
Woo-hoo! Notley and Jarnot back-to-back!

Not to mention this Strand fellow, who I hear is a nice dresser.

Poem Present:
Readings and Lectures for 2003-2004
University of Chicago

Thursday, October 16: Reading (Classics 10: 5:30pm)
Friday, October 17: "A Case from the Annals of Translation" (Classics
10: 1:00 pm)

Thursday, October 30 : Reading (Classics 10: 5:30pm)
Friday, October 31: "Restatement of Trysts" (Wieboldt 408: 1:00 pm)

Monday, November 10: Reading (Classics 10: 5:30pm)
Tuesday, November 11: "My Lines" (Wieboldt 408: 4:30pm)

Thursday, February 12: Reading (Classics 10: 5:30pm)
Friday, February 13 : "The Opening of the Field" (Wieboldt 408: 1:00pm)

Thursday, March 11: Reading (Classics 10: 5:30pm)

Thursday, April 1 : Reading (Classics 10 : 5:30pm)
Friday, April 2: Presentation (Classics 10: 1:00pm)

Thursday, May 6: Reading (Classics 10: 5:30pm)
Friday, May 7: Lecture (Wieboldt 408: 1:00 pm)

Thursday, May 27: Reading (Classics 10: 5:30pm)

nb: If you don't know where you're going,
Classics and Weiboldt are best accessed
from 59th Street just east of Ellis.

* * * * * * * * *
5801 South Kenwood Avenue
Chicago IL 60637
Two potted citrus trees now live in our chilly sunroom. The first, a lemon tree, is named Woodstock. The second, a lime tree, is, of course, named Kasey.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Hey North Shore...

William Fuller
will be reading from Sadly (Flood Editions, 2003)

at The Bookstall, 811 Elm Street, Winnetka
Wednesday, October 1st, 7:30 pm

For more information
call 847-446-8880

Flood Editions
PO Box 3865
Chicago IL 60654-0865

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Now that the tube map is back up...

Elephant & Castle [22]

These gallons are reaching
their limit, high-

shelving in the
circular rain.

The quays all point
one way, back

in toward the
snapped-to chain.

Tottering won’t be
here for long, if

you call that would.
More damp, more

clapping high-hat
lampreys waiting

in that three-ring cross
tell us nothing but

what’s nationally known:
pick two, pick three

and let the barker’s low-
rent dollhouse winch

in some eastern lane.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Hey you! Stop whatever it is you're doing and go read Ron Silliman on Del Ray Cross! He's an optimist, he's a love poet, he's the future of poetry!

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Stephanie asks if anybody's yet talked about the way Combo doesn't give each poem its own page but just launches unceremoniously into the next one as soon as the last one's done. I.e. no "white space."

Oh, yes, your high school English teacher always told you the white space was really, really important. Usually, though, what it's meant to be is "classy," serious, like giving you time to pause and reflect upon the profundity of what you've just read. Running right on to the next poem is a mark of the amateur anthology--like those vanity-press things where they're trying to cram in as many poems as possible into the alloted pages so they can make as many people as possible buy the thing.

If so, well, hail amateurism. The effect in Combo is more giddy and breathless. What? stop to think? forget it, we got another kick-ass poem breathing down this one's neck. It keeps the poem from taking itself too seriously, which seems at least from the one issue I've read to be a vital part of the aesthetic. Breaks the frame around the artifact, or something. Keep it coming.

Monday, September 22, 2003

Thanks to Robin, the tube map is rightside-up again. This train is for Cockfosters.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Felix: A Series of New Writing
October 13, 2003. 4:30 p.m.
Department of Special Collections
Memorial Library ~ UW Madison.

Felix: A Series of New Writing brings focus to the world of small publishing, and particularly independent or "little" literary magazines. The new series is devoted to providing a venue for new literary works by young writers.

The debut event of Felix: A Series of New Writing showcases three independent poetry journals from the coast of Lake Michigan. The poets and editors of these magazines will read from their work and join in a discussion about "little" magazines and their role in American letters.

Jesse Seldess is the editor of the Chicago journal Antennae, which publishes new works of poetry and music. His most recent poetry is featured in the journals Kiosk, First Intensity and Crayon, among others. Seldess is co-curator of the Discrete Series, a venue for the performance of new poetry and music. Antennae has recently featured the work of important writers such as Lyn Hejinian, Ron Silliman and Leslie Scalapino, as well as younger poets including Patrick Durgin and K. Silem Mohammed.

Kerri Sonnenberg lives in Chicago and edits the poetry journal Conundrum. Sonnenberg has recently published poems in the journals Bird Dog and Chase Park, and has work forthcoming in PomPom and !Factorial. She is co-curator of the Discrete Series, a venue for new poetry and music. Conundrum has recently published new poetry by Joan Retallak, Rosmarie Waldrop and Rodrigo Toscano, among others.

Stacy Szymaszek is co-editor (with Drew Kunz) of the Milwaukee poetry journal Traverse. Two chapbooks are forthcoming in 2004, including her serial poem Some Mariners (EtherDome Press) and Mutual Aid (Gong Press). Her latest poetry is forthcoming in the journals Aufgabe, 26 and LVNG. Szymaszek is Literary Program Manager at Woodland Pattern Book Center and curator of the Redletter Reading Series. The forthcoming issue of Traverse pays homage to Robert Duncan and will include new work by Peter O'Leary, Susan Thackrey and others.

A small exhibit of poetry magazines from the 1950s to 1980s will accompany the reading. This is a rare opportunity to explore the shifting world of literary magazines and their place in literary history. Please feel free to forward this message to classes or colleagues who may be interested.

Felix is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be provided following the event.

Felix is sponsored by the Friends of the UW Libraries and kindly supported by the staff of the Department of Special Collections.

Friday, September 19, 2003

I really have to get a new template.
There was a weird floaty spot in the middle of my screen and I thought I'd been staring at it too long. Then I realized that the sun was hitting the back of my laptop in just such a way that it was passing through the translucent Apple logo on the front, producing a faint reversed-apple glow in the middle of my screen, growing and waning depending on the angle of light. Hail, o ye gods of design.
Although I guess I'm a South Sider now so I'm supposed to be a Sox fan. Which is exactly why they're blowing it.
Those damn Cubs are doing this late-September-contending thing just to torment me. Aren't they.

Welcome home, kiddo. We're about to win our first pennant in 58 years...oops...just kidding.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Yes, but: "Miz-ur-ee" or "Miz-ur-uh"?

Peter Jennings says the latter. But he's Canadian.
Please, please, please do not pronounce the final s in "Illinois." Lincoln rotates slowly in his grave.
My fellow Illinoisans: Catch Kent Johnson live tomorrow night in Bloomington!

[Wish I could go...but two hours away...so tired...must write cover letters...]

Washington St. Studio Readings and Gallery 305 Art Openings

All events take place at
Brian Collier Studio / Gallery 305
Washington Square East Building
***Corner of McLean and Washington***
(entrance on McLean)
Bloomington, IL 61701


Friday, September 19, 2003

5-8pm Gallery 305 Opening: "Reliquary," by Frank Miller

Award-winning photographer Frank Miller has shown his work in the United States and abroad. He is currently based in Portland, OR. Trained as a photojournalist, Miller also developed interests in surrealism early in his career; much of his imagery perches on strange boundaries somewhere between here and there, the familiar and the unknown, reality and otherworldliness. In these between-scapes, Miller explores alienation, loss, humor, and desire. Portfolios of past work, including three based on Miller's years of working in Japan, can be seen at http://www.photocommando.com/.

8pm Washington St. Studio Reading: Kent Johnson

Kent Johnson is a poet, translator, and editor. He has exercised those functions in relation to a number of poetry collections, including A Nation of Poets: Writings from the Poetry Workshops of Nicaragua; Beneath a Single Moon: Buddhism in Contemporary American Poetry; Have You Seen a Red Curtain in My Weary Chamber: Selected Writings of Tomas Borge Martinez; Third Wave: The New Russian Poetry; Doubled Flowering: From the Notebooks of Araki Yasusada; Dear Lacan: An Analysis in Correspondence; The Miseries of Poetry: Traductions from the Greek; Immanent Visitor: Selected Poems of Jaime Saenz; and the forthcoming books Epigramititis: 101 Living American Poets; Also, with My Throat! , I Shall Swallow Ten Thousand Swords: Araki Yasusada's Letters in English; The Night (Jaime Saenz); and Language Poets in Leningrad: Post-poems and Elegies, 1998-2003. He lives and teaches in Freeport, Illinois.
I am so out of it I don't even know who most of the people on this week's crush list are.
Anybody read that Dave Eggers story in the New Yorker? I have no idea which issue it was, since we got a whole bunch of them forwarded in a single lump. It's typical Eggers fare--young male protagonist who's really just the blank numb reactor to an emotional trauma (in this case, attempted suicide) displaced onto someone else. The end of the thing actually had some promise--a grotesque and visceral, if not entirely original, image of skinning a cow and wearing its face as a mask--but Eggers blew it with a little too much self-consciousness, a penultimate and unnecessary "fucking" to show you just how emotionally heavy this really was. Grrr.
Trying hard to get my brain back on: this is really the first morning I've gotten up and sat down at my computer first thing to work.

Still getting my bearings in this space. The London tube map that was hanging up in my office, right over my desk, is now in here but not on the wall yet; it's at my right, on its side, leaning against a bookcase. I found looking at it had a meditative quality, since it wasn't a representation of anything but allowed me to imagine and calculate travel in an abstract way--almost as pure transit between words. It's a little bit more difficult when I have to hold my head at a 90-degree angle to see it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Alas, Billy.
I feel less bad about the blog than about my left-behind poetry swappers, who had their first post-Tim swap over the weekend but were nice enough to ask me for a poem and discussed it and then emailed me comments about it. I sent them pretty much the only thing I've written in the past month, which I've been thinking about renaming "Nebraska Vortex Sutra." Unless that's already taken.

Jennifer and Del commiserated--it was like being there, they said, without actually having to go there. Poor Nebraska.

But Stephanie really caught me out. "TIM," she said. "Give up the goods."

Oops. Right. There are no goods to give up. I didn't really eat in Misty's Restaurant or give a big ol' "wahoo" at the football stadium. The poem was really about not having experienced Nebraska--we were moving through as fast as we could and stopping for nothing. So while technically I was there, there was no there there. No, that's not right--I was there but only in a nowhere that passed through the middle of there, which is pretty much the experience of driving down any interstate. The poem's own private/public Nebraska bears little resemblance to the "real thing," being stitched together from highway signs and commercial language.

If I were being generous to myself I'd say that was the point--it's a poem about the failure or lack of experience, seeing what you can piece together out of those empty signifiers. If I'm not being generous I'd say I was just lazy.

Susanna (hi Susanna): "Suits" was a typo for "suites." Let it stand.

But everybody liked "wahoo" and was spooked by the seventh seal. And somebody, I won't name names, learned Nebraska was a state.
Many apologies to my blog and the faithful few who read it for my neglect over the past few weeks. It's literally only today that I've chiseled something like a work space out of the stuff still unpacking itself in the study--this isn't even a proper desk, really, but a dining room table that we thought might work better. It seemed like a good idea at the time. It probably will prove to be one. We'll see.

I'd been hoping to do something yesterday, but then they put up the MLA job list and...egads.
ChicagoPoetry tells me it's a big night: I have to choose between Marvin Bell and the first-ever poetry reading by Billy Corgan. Um. Do I give up my rock-star parking space on the street?

Monday, September 15, 2003

Something has happened over the past few days which I did not think possible so soon: I am beginning to feel at home here.

It certainly can't hurt that most of the boxes are gone, furniture is more or less in its rightful place, and the air mattress on the floor has been swapped for a real one (still on the floor). But really I think it's that Chicago is starting to wrap me up in its big brawny arms.

I haven't quite known what to do with my feeling of homecoming that isn't really homecoming--coming to Chicago felt disturbingly like regressing, like when I go home to my parents' house and spend five days straight sitting on the couch watching TV, and yet the city itself was a strange blank to me, the big unknown looming over the suburban horizon.

Over the past few days, though, I've come to feel that this is the best of both worlds. I know the area well enough that I can, say, drive around without getting lost--I can take a hometown boy's pride in knowing what all the expressways (note, Californians, not "freeways") are called, how to navigate around downtown, how to zip up to the North Shore and back again in a single bound. But at the same time I can experience the pleasures of exploring a new city; my local friends are helping me with one of the best things about going to a new place, which is learning the utterly weird names of neighborhoods. Sure, I knew Wrigleyville and the Loop when I was a kid. Hyde Park, even. But Bucktown, Pilsen, Logan Square...these are all new fetishes, names to conjure with.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

It wasn't until I went to Boston for college that I realized that TV "prime time" was an hour later everywhere else and why the "eleven o'clock news" never made any sense to me. Those decadent East and West Coasters--eating dinner at 7 instead of 6, staying up until 11:30 rather than 10:30. My Midwestern sensibilities were shocked to the core. But now when I come home I always miss all my shows because I tune in an hour too late.
My time zone has now been changed to: "America/Chicago."

Well. It was on "America/Los Angeles" before, which is hardly right either.
Oh, goodness. Should I change my time zone? I guess I have to accept the inevitable.
Though I am far away, I am glad that there is still an Oakland in which I am on the current reading shelf.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Hey Li--thanks for the welcome! I'm south, you're north--but we'll meet in the middle somewhere.
An exhausting day of unpacking. It's hot and everybody is cranky, even the dogs; Jackie (Robin's mom's dog) barks at Terra every time she picks up a toy. We'd tried to settle the situation by giving them each one, but now Jackie barks any time Terra picks up either. They've also become competitive eaters: Terra ate both her food and Jackie's yesterday, but Jackie retaliated today. Last time I saw her she was in the middle of the living room chewing on a Dixie cup.

Books, books, too many books. The horrors of filling all the shelves and then realizing that there are still many more boxes to go. The added horror of caving in to double-stacking on the shelves. Shudder.

Our stove's broken but we have a microwave, so at least I was able to serve up some hot food: lasagna and eggplant parmesan on actual plates, plastic containers surreptitiously disposed of.
Insert "Unpacking My Library" quote here.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Still feeling a bit like I'm laying low here in Chicago--haven't called any of my friends here, kind of skulking around the edges of the U of Chicago campus like I really don't belong there, which I don't.

Made my first inroads toward legitimacy today, though: we dropped into the library to get me a "partner" library card: no picture, just featureless plastic with a barcode. But they won't give me an email account. Damn.

I'm sitting now on our one piece of sittable furniture, which is a kick-ass chair that flips over into a stepladder; the computer is sitting on a game table, which I used last night to beat myself twice at chess and once at checkers.

I think this is the best room in the apartment--it sort of juts out to form a corner of the building and so has three sets of windows in it, there's a kind of alcove where I'm sitting right now and the sun is coming right in through the trees and people even walk by on the street occasionally--yes, it's not California, people walk.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Misty's Restaurant
Lincoln, Nebraska, 8/30/03

Right next to the camping there's a half-mile
Downtown, east on the ninth street over,
Exit 101B. Another quarter-mile
West and you can see the seventh
Seal breaking the speed limit. It's a
65-40 minimum split
Between the country inn and its suits, a fair
Field of fire at the state fair. Park
Your car in Nebraska, a university
For the corn that's not in a museum or zoo:
Waverley 6, Omaha 52.
Settle in to that little salt creek; get control
Of your litter of puppies for the next two miles
At least. But the brothers of Sigma Chi Fraternity
Want no abbot at their sports complex,
Free to mount any old wahoo or truck.
Now blogging to you from the middle of a different empty floor...

The phone service finally got turned on last night, before which I was having this floaty feeling of total (ha) disconnection--all these things I felt I needed to do but was sure I couldn't if I couldn't make a phone call, get online, whatever.

The furniture won't arrive until Friday so for the moment we're roughing it in our own apartment, the dog skidding and scrabbling across the hardwood floors. There are exactly three soft places in the apartment--her bed, our air mattress, and the welcome mat, and she rotates between them.

Chicago greeted us with two solid days of rain, but the weather has turned gorgeous today. Walking outside actually feels like September, like a real fall--sunny and moist but with just enough cool in the air to hint at winter, thick foliage everywhere, side streets nearly dark at midday.

We made the trip a day faster than we thought we would, stopping in Reno, Salt Lake City, and Kearney, Nebraska, where I stole a few online minutes in our room at the Best Western. The whole thing, to be honest, is a bit of a blur, as we were emphasizing speed rather than scenery, what with the trunk crammed with stuff and the stuff in the back seat threatening to topple on the dog, who was a model of canine patience, resting her nose on the armrest to get max air conditioning.

I think I lost about a buck on video poker at the Holiday Inn's casino in Reno, which was filled with middle-aged men with '70s mustaches and an Indian wedding party. In Salt Lake City we got to see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearse and then sprinted across endless deserted downtown blocks to beat closing time at what turned out to be a delicious veggie-friendly dinner at a place called the Oasis Cafe, lots of blond wood and a health-food bookstore attached. We ate outside a McDonald's in Laramie, Wyoming in a stiff 50-degree wind so we could take the dog and avoid the football crowds. At the last rest stop in Wyoming local volunteers offered us free cookies and coffee, a trend continued all the way through Nebraska and Iowa. Robin took solace from road food at a Dairy Queen in Grinnell, Iowa. And despite dire warnings about on-street parking, we found a spot right in front of our building when we arrived.