Monday, October 23, 2006

The Dark Unmarked Waters

Just read on Josh's blog that Deborah Tall has died. The journal she led, Seneca Review, was the first publication I remember reading and thinking: "Wow. I wish I wrote like that." Of course, this was before I'd learned to experiment with my own style but still, fifteen years later, I've never produced anything I thought fit or merited inclusion in that journal. It's a home for the lyric essay, which is a fascinating form for me, having been trained repeatedly in the classical and technical essay. This post takes its title from one of Deborah's poems.

Had another of those moments recently where I mined an unpleasant memory for a poem idea. I'm actually pleased with the final product, but my internal editor is all over me to burn the thing before [subject person who would not appreciate the publicity] finds out what I've written. As is usual, the "real" portion of the memory is the rough diamond at the center of a highly fictionalized setting, but I don't think [subject person] would consider that appropriate mitigation. It's the old question: how to reach the larger audience and not chase away the local one. Or is this a question that only I ask?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Food For Thought

Just got word that Diane Lockward's second full-length book is out. You may have heard her read at this year's Dodge Festival. She's quite a generous spirit, good for poetry on a number of levels, and an old friend of the Spoken Word Series. And I'm not just saying that in case I run into her at our local Shop-Rite...

Visit Diane's website or the Wind Publications site for more about What Feeds Us. Here's a sample, but you'll have to visit the book's page for more...

An Average Day for an Average Liar
The average person tells thirteen lies each day.
—Dr. Georgia Witkin

One, on a day much like any other, I awake with alarm
clock blaring, turn to you, and say, "Your face
is no longer imprinted on my heart."

Two, I aim a dart to the groin, say I’ve taken a paramour.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


A poet and blogger I respect a great deal has joined the blogosphere in a completely anonymous way and requested that the new blog reference in a recent email not be linked to the poet's name. The email included references to why the blog is important to have, and not important to link to a specific name. Interesting stuff. Can't share it with you, though.

But it makes me think out what this little space is for. Here are some reasons I keep Cosmic Liverwurst alive:
  • It forces me to consider my own writing from time to time, as I strive for weekly update at minimum.
  • It provides an artistic reference to the artists I recruit to read in the Spoken Word Series in Hoboken - gives them a chance to know my aesthetics as another input into their decision to participate or not. This is the primary reason I'm not anonymous here.
  • Since I carry the title of Artist in Residence at The Center for the Performing Arts at DeBaun Auditorium, I feel it appropriate to have a live, albeit slow-moving, contribution to the art I practice.
  • My mom likes it.

This blog also allows me (in my own mind, anyway) to participate at some level in a world of artists far superior to myself, from whom I learn every time I log into Blogger. You'll find those artists listed to your right. They generally have actual writing projects and service to advertise, but they're on my list because they're insightful and interesting, and their writings contain qualities I aspire to have in my own.

If you're here to learn my personal politics, you'll be disappointed - they don't inform my writing much. Since my kids, my theater and music background, my technical education, and my 35-year roller-coaster relationship with Los Mets actually influence my writing a great deal, those will show up from time to time.

So that's why I'm here. In case you were wondering.



Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Getting Dodge-y

Yes, they eventually posted the Dodge schedule. Yes, I did get there. No, I haven't anywhere near enough time to properly do it justice. That will come in pieces as I find time to rediscover my notes.

  • Anne Waldman: "Larger than Life" is an understatement. Truly thoughtful of questions during her "On Poetry" talk. Seemed genuinely pleased to hear that poetry continues at Stevens, where she once taught.
  • Sekou Sundiata: This man has some pipes. Specifically and emphatically said: I'm not a spoken word artist, I'm a poet." and made clear the difference. Didn't get to hear him with his band, which is a great loss for me. The CD is terrific, though.
  • Andrew Motion: Exudes humility like perspiration. Amplified by his London countryside accent, reads his formal verse in a way that creates the structure in your ear - a little stilted at the line breaks, but not enough to distract you from listening. If he wasn't genuinely grateful that I knew a little about his internet project before his reading, I'm the worst judge of people ever. Almost popped with excitement when talking about Bob Dylan.
  • Coleman Barks: You can tell the grandfather poems from the Rumi, but you cannot distinguish the levels of joy in his presentation. Just when you think The Paul Winter Consort has become a little predictable, Barks turns to them and says "How about a little circus music?"
  • Linda Pastan: Kept saying she'd "rather read poems than talk about making them", but spoke eloquently about the details of their construction. Two very interesting exercises: one she read a poem in third person, then in first person, and led a 6 minute discussion about which was better - the other, she read a Justice poem with a small stanza at the start, in the middle, and at the end to see where "it wanted to be". Great stuff.
  • Jorie Graham: I could not physically write fast enough to keep up with everything she was saying that was noteworthy. Talked for a long time (it was a panel discussion), but not much of it was wasted.

Other notes:

  • Too many terrific poets scheduled opposite each other at the ONE festival poets slot. I have generally loved the way the last several schedules have been laid out, but this didn't work for me. Mr. Haba, if you happen to be reading this, give us more opportunity to hear these "other" poets - some of them are more interesting than your features.
  • It was brutally cold in the morning inside the big top and uncomfortably warm in the afternoon (in spots in the path of the stage lights aimed at the audience). This may be why no one enforced the "no coffee in the tent" rule in the mornings.
  • Return to Waterloo Village seemed appreciated by most, and I have to say I did think things were laid out pretty well this year.
  • You could get a near-raw hamburger and a vegan chili at the same stand. Three cheers for that!
  • I took an hour off during the Saturday afternoon features. As much as I enjoy Lucille Clifton, I may have gotten more from that walk along the canal. You have to leave time for the words sink in, too.

It'll take me a month to sort through everything I want to process from my notebook. As the flotsam strikes me, so shall it appear here.