Writing Is Wrought

the proper way to light a pipe
     "I am an artisan. I need to work with my hands. I would like to carve my novel in a piece of wood."
          - Georges Joseph Christian Simenon


Walled In

Thoreau moments after losing his mustache in the woods.

     "It is a ridiculous demand which England and America make, that you shall speak so they can understand you."
          - Thoreau (in Walden) offering a comment on (the intelligence of) his readership.


The Singing Truth

Cuetzpaltzin after having his poems misunderstood by Cortes.

He goes his way singing, offering flowers
And his words ring down
Like jade and quetzal plumes
Is this what pleases the Giver of Life
Is that the only truth on Earth?

          - Ayocuan Cuetzpaltzin (Nahuatl poet, 15th century)
     The tlamatinime people of precolonial Mexico suggested that immutable truth is by its nature beyond human experience. Their philosophers believed that, because we are mortal, we cannot know Truth. If we cannot grasp eternity, then we cannot grasp eternal truth.
     The passage above is a kind of poetics solution to this riddle. We cannot know truth, but we can sing the things around us. And through singing gain access to truth.
     The poet continues:

          From whence come the flowers that enrapture man
          The songs that intoxicate, the lovely songs?
          Only from the innermost part of heaven.

     Through art we access grace, or other, or truth. Perhaps this seems obvious, or cliche now. But it strikes me that this was a realization of an early 15th century poet from subtropical north america, one of millions doomed by the fast approach of material Europe.


Poet as Chicken

     "The man who has fed the chicken every day throughout its life, one day wrings its neck instead, showing that more refined views as to the uniformity of nature would have been useful to the chicken."
          -Bertrand Russel


Issue VI Now Available!

Arreguin's The Bull Got Into the Flower Garden

     Issue VI is now available via this website (see "Buy a Copy" button), with work by Jeff Encke, Annie Chou, Greg Bachar, Nadine Maestas, Fred Sasaki, Rachel Kessler, Greg Bem, Marissa F. Baum, and Simone Sachs. Art by Alfredo Arreguin.
     Please buy a copy! All proceeds go to the next issue of struggling literary magazines based in Seattle that rhyme with 'crazed goy.' You're gonna love it!


Neglection Slip

Ms. Rich
     When Adrienne Rich was editing The Best American Poetry (1996), she chose a couple poets who she could not locate. She mentioned them in her introduction, even though - without their permission -  she had no choice but to leave them out of the anthology. When the book came out, at least one of them wrote back, upset by seeing her name in the introduction, yet not being included in the anthology.
     Rich responded:
     "A poem often becomes a kind of commodity in the competitive literary world of curriculum vitae, though I deplore the fact. I would be very sorry if either this mischance, or your numerous recognitions, were to get between you and the life of poetry, which is an art, not a competition, an art demanding self-discipline and apprenticeship, often through very unencouraging circumstances, for stakes which have nothing to do with the market."


Meaning as Poverty

What Sontag means by having her photograph taken in a doorway is that... what she is trying to say is... Oh! and by wearing her hair down, well that is obviously a nod toward... And the leather jacket! Anyone can see that by rocking the leather jacket she is making a statement about... 
     "Interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art. Even more, it is the revenge of the intellect upon the world. To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world - in order to set up a shadow world of 'meanings'."
     - Sontag (from "Against Interpretation," which is required reading!)



Phoebe Annie Oakley Mozee

     Just thought you'd like to see how happy Annie Oakley could be.


singing and dancing and talking about it too

Rodin's Poet and Critic.
     Here are a few quotes from A.R. Ammons re critics and art making. They are taken from his introduction to The Best American Poetry 1994. The entire introduction is worth reading yes.

     "There is no reason ever in the world for the critic and poet to be at odds, and for the following reason: the primary motion of the poet is to put things together and touch a source that feels like life, at times even more powerful than life. It is a synthesis of analogies and associations that promotes, in the best hands, and even when disjunctive, a sense of renewed vitality. That is what one feels. That is a fact whether noticed by poet or critic. The critic makes another kind of synthesis; his or her synthesis comes as a result of what can be added up after taking things apart. What is added up, as in dissertations and works of critical discourse, is thought to be subtler and finer than the work that gave rise to it. But that cannot be, because the two modes of thought, the creative and the analytical, are not comparable; they are apples and oranges."

     "Thousands of papers may be written about Rodin and many of them may know more about Rodin than Rodin did but they will not resemble sculpture. Rodin made the sculpture. No one else did."

     "We will dance and sing. Sometime later we will talk about singing and dancing, and in that effort, we will need all the help we can get from the critics or anyone else."


Poetry's Dead And Jazz Ain't Cool

Jazz may not be cool, but that pink tie is.
     Here's a link to Nicholas Payton's blog and his poem on why jazz ain't cool: necrophilia. Some of his thoughts can be applied to poetry as well ... right?


Dead Letter Text

     "The logos of a bad writer throws words together in no order at all, perhaps beginning at the point where it should end and wholly ignorant of organic sequence. You can enter this logos at any point and find it saying the same thing. Once it is written down it continues to say that same thing forever over and over within itself, over and over in time. As communication, such a text is a dead letter."
     Anne Carson (in Eros the Bittersweet)


Baudelaire's Doggie Bag

Baudelaire with dog hidden in shirt.
     Here's Baudelaire's "The Dog and the Scent Bottle"

     Come here, my dear, good, beautiful doggie, and smell this excellent perfume from the best perfumer of Paris.
     And the dog, wagging his tail, which I believe is that poor creature's way of laughing and smiling, came up and put his nose to the uncorked bottle. Then, suddenly, backed away in terror, barking at me reproachfully.
     "Ah miserable dog, if I'd offered you a bag of shit you would have sniffed at it with delight and perhaps devoured it. In this you're like the public, which should never be offered delicate perfumes that infuriate them, but only carefully selected garbage."


Lips or roots?

whose lips as fat as roots
     "I love the world of wind and foliage / I can't distinguish lips from roots"


Lizard Eyes

Still with eyes.
"I came into this world with eyes / And I'll leave without them."


Love Lavished

The thick smear of a blue spot.
     "The true sexuality in literature - sex as a positive aesthetic quality - lies not in any scene and subject nor in the mere appearance of a vulgar word, not in the thick smear of a blue spot, but in the consequences on the page of love well made - made to the medium which is the writer's own, for he - for she - has only these little shapes and sounds to work with, the same saliva surrounds them all, every word is equally a squiggle or a noise, an abstract designation and a crowd of meanings as randomly connected by time and use as a child connects his tinkertoys. On this basis, not a single thing will distinguish 'fuck' from 'frais du bois'; 'blue' and 'triangle' are equally abstract; and what counts is not which lascivious sights your loins can tie to your thoughts like Lucky is to Pozzo, but love lavished on speech of any kind, regardless of content and intention."
     - William Gass


The Flesh made Gass.

Where's William? (Hint: Gass)
    "It's not the word made flesh we want in writing, in poetry and fiction, but the flesh made word."
          -William H. Gass.


Mr. Ed.

Who knows why or should
     "How can the poem and the stink and the grating noise - the quality of light, the tone, the habit and the dream - be set down alive?"
          - Steinbeck

     Steinbeck goes on to answer this question in his introduction to Cannery Row. But what good are answers? (If you're curious, find it in the Bantam edition [1947]). We all have to all of us be grateful for the question.
     Of course the book itself, Cannery Row, is an attempt to answer the question. What isn't?

     ... Incidentally, Steinbeck waxes Steinian in the same edition when he dedicates the book (without punctuation):

                 Ed Ricketts
                 who knows why or should


Douglas Miller's Ars

     Here's a link to PageBoy contributor Douglas Miller's Ars Poetica (warning: brief nudity [hands], viewer discretion is advised):


The Thoroughly Dead

The Thoroughly Dead
     "The trouble with most people is that they are thoroughly dead and do not want to be resuscitated."
          -Daisetz Suzuki


Serious Humor

The, um, frosting on the cake. aka 'Looking Inwardly Serious.'

     "If it is with outer seriousness, it must be with inner humor. If it is with outer humor, it must be with inner seriousness. Neither one alone without the other under it will do."
          -Robert Frost.
     But then again, either one alone with the other over it will do as well. As will one or both with the other under it, or over it. And neither one not alone without the other under (or over) it. Any of these is fine ... seriously.


The Ungood and the Unbad

Nietzsche, moments after God shouted "Nietzsche is dead!"
     "...because in our time Nietzsche shouted 'God is dead' there are no generally accepted values, no universally valid systems, no publicly meaningful hierarchies. Without them all experience becomes equally serious or equally ludicrous."
         -Robert Corrigan in Comedy; Meaning and Form.
     One might add equally 'good' or equally 'bad,' in that there is no longer one accepted perspective to judge these things by. This is, of course, both a good and a bad thing. In relation to poetry, this is why nothing is no damn good nomore and everything is often always bad. And if you think otherwise well then you're right too!



Sartre seeing against himself.
     Sartre says (among other things) "I think against myself." By this he attempts to avoid falling into patterns, stasis, sterility. He is trying to outthink himself, to be larger than himself, or to be alive in himself.
     If you apply the same approach to writing, you get "I write against myself." If you are suspicious of that which comes easily, too easily, you might arrive at something outside yourself, larger than yourself. You might. You might not, but you might.
     It's recognizable at readings when a poet/writer is comfortable writing in some certain way. The poems are difficult to distinguish from each other, difficult to distinguish from the poems he/she read at their last reading, or perhaps they've been reading the same poems at successive readings, for successive (gulp) years even. Not only is this a creative bog for the writer, but it's also a wriggling morass for an audience, who can't possibly be expected to be surprised by the same thing again and again and again ad nauseum.
    Or, as Frost says: "No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader."


Interview Re Issue V

Magritte's little known painting, Thinking Moustache.

     The venerable documentarian Paul E. Nelson has graciously posted an interview with myself and Sierra Nelson re the magazine. You may find it here: Yellow Snow.


Stranger Review

     Reading PageBoy might make your face do this! It might transport you to exotic climes (or wherever he is)! So loosen your tie, and put on a pair of (special-spy-issue-unscrambling) sun glasses and read child read!
     If you're still unsure, you can find Mr. Constant's review here: Please Amy, Use Lube.


Oh Beautiful Useless

Gautier: Beautiful or Ugly?
     "Only that which serves no end is beautiful; everything useful is ugly."
          - Theophile Gautier.