Posts Tagged ‘poets’

Smoking dope with the poets

I started reading Black Beauty to Moomin tonight. I remebered it as a sweet, intense horse book with a few sad parts. My grandma read it to me when I was about 4 years old and I certainly re-read it many times – though not as an adult. I was a little bit in love with Ginger.

Well, wow. So far, it’s kind of scary. Beauty, or “Darkie” as he is called in youth,
given lessons by his mother in how to obey and please a master, and how to be a good horse.

My master often drove me in double harness with my mother, because she was steady and could teach me how to go better than a strange horse. She told me the better I behaved the better I should be treated, and that it was wisest always to do my best to please my master; “but,” said she, “there are a great many kinds of men; there are good thoughtful men like our master, that any horse may be proud to serve; and there are bad, cruel men, who never ought to have a horse or dog to call their own. Besides, there are a great many foolish men, vain, ignorant, and careless, who never trouble themselves to think; these spoil more horses than all, just for want of sense; they don’t mean it, but they do it for all that. I hope you will fall into good hands; but a horse never knows who may buy him, or who may drive him; it is all a chance for us; but still I say, do your best wherever it is, and keep up your good name.


Darkie describes in detail (and with acceptance) the process of being broken in. It’s absolutely chilling.

Do you suppose Anna Sewell was just talking about animal rights, or is she commenting here on women’s status, on slavery, on the status of workers? I was overcome with suspicion. It seems an intensely radical book.

I’m sure she was completely sincere about animal rights but no one could write this book and not be also thinking about people!

Sewell’s Wikipedia entry contained this totally fascinating sentence, about the middle of her life,

While seeking to improve her health at European spas, Sewell encountered various writers, artists, and philosophers, to which her previous background had not exposed her.

That could mean ANYTHING.

I’m going to have to read Dark Horse, a recent biography of Sewell, to find out a little more about her life!

Travel journal from a working holiday

I woke up in such pain. My arms could barely move and walking wasn’t good either. Zond-7 massaged my neck and shoulder and right arm, I had coffee, stretched a lot, waited for anti-inflammatories to kick in, and now I can make a fist and can type and behave normally.

That’s always a scary feeling!

All the curb-hopping is taking its toll.

useful apology sign

Consider that even to go the 3 blocks to Old Street which seem so trivial on paper or on legs, I must curb-hop about 20 times. Each driveway or alleyway has its difficulties. I’ll count today, and take some photos.

Yesterday I tagged along and worked from the ORG office which is itself embedded in Venda’s offices. Had a drink with a bunch of them and talked sf and cyberpunk and hardware & mass production with G. We had unexciting dinner in Hoxton Square (could not get in to the nice place recommended by A.’s giant FAQ of the neighborhood) and on the way back passed a super fancy barbershop. Perhaps Zond-7 will become Highly Groomed today. We have discussed the way that there is a Hoxton Haircut much as there is a Mission Hipster beard-groomed-look, and their finer points of difference.

I’d like to work somewhat minimal hours and go to the British Museum, and play catch-up tomorrow. tonight is a comedy show which has a bunch of Zond-7’s friends. Will I last out the day without collapsing or resorting to Vicodin and booze?

We haven’t really had any “holiday” yet – aside from a day or two of sleeping for 12 hours. It’s really ridiculous! But my work doesn’t end, and then I have to do at least minimal blogging of my life or I feel perturbingly out of control of reality. Zond-7 is also working and has to write and practice and give like 20 gajillion talks and on top of that just like I have to lie down a lot he has to sleep extra or he just stops functioning after a few days. We have similiar patterns in that we can work like dogs and push ourselves for about a 3-4 day limit and get an insane amount of things done and feel really good about ourselves and then we just fall over half-dead. Anyway, I feel a slight pang of regret that I won’t do at least a few touristy things while I’m over here.

As long as I hit the British Museum for half a day… though I could happily spend a week in there… and I’d like to spend another afternoon in the library with my feminist newspapers and Cuban poets… and I’d like to go work out of C.’s office and scan his bookshelves for my Bookshelf Analysis of Projected Contents of Brain.

Meanwhile I continue to enjoy the hell out of living in someone else’s house instead of a hotel.

Every time I walk up the stairs (UGH STAIRS but good for me) I see a new painting or poster on the wall. I try to see them all every time, but each time there’s one I haven’t noticed before!

I also really love the feeling of getting familiar with the immediate neighborhood. I know where the big cracks in the sidewalk are, and how the men yell at each other macho-ly on the tennis court in the little square, the sounds of the trucks and people going by with the wheels of their wheely suitcase things bumping along, where to buy juice and coffee, the different routes to walk to different places… A week is nearly long enough to develop pleasant habits.

The other night coming back rather late we were walking behind an older couple who were hand in hand, and somewhat hunched over. I thought touchingly of how sweet they were and wondered if I would someday be old and lovingly supported by and supporting someone as we wandered homeward late at night. I was trying to make up bits of their lives as we continued down the block in the dark. As we both turned around the corner of Ashe Square (Ashe Garden? something like that) my illusion was partially destroyed as the hunched-over woman burst into a sort of rollicking song, boozily slurring, like some total cockney-movie cliche, swaying on her little high heels, straightening up from under her old-lady sweater. “Lips like cherries….” the song got louder and louder in rude defiant enjoyment of life & drunkenness. The man threw her arm down and began to cuss her out loudly – walking ahead – also drunk as hell. I think he might have said something even more amazing than the song along the lines of “Awww, shurrup, ya ol’ bat!” From hilarity to being slightly appalled and madly curious about what if anything would happen I moved back to feeling sentimental about the old couple, trying not to outpace them so that i could hear the words to the song. Zond-7 said he knew the song but has forgotten what it was.

The mildest of adventures in London

Already I’ve lost track of the days but I didn’t want to forget lying on the leather couch in the trendy-empty bar looking out the window at some blue sky and the brick building across the narrow lane. The bricks were sooty gold with red-brick stripes and the outline of what seemed to be a ghost building underneath. The window and door frames, dark green, strangely the same color paint as the bar’s interior metal beams. I thought about the history of the building, and what it would be like to maintain it now as a facilities person or trying to run cable through it. I wondered why there were doors in a row on every story leading out into the street. Did there used to be a hallway? Zond-7 came back from ordering at the bar and said no – it was a factory and look up higher, there’s a winch. For winching out the finished websites perhaps since that’s what they make now, in the factories. We made up silly things, like the ftp man doing his rounds. “Bring out your files! Bring out your files! Uploads for downloads!” The telnetster in traditional garb, mostly superseded by the ssh man in his dapper uniform and neat-brimmed hat. Sad, really.

Later we figured out why that bar (so nice – called Cantaloupe) was empty – there are like 50 other trendy-ass bars but with patios and on hoxton square just a couple of blocks away. Not that that should matter since every ratty bar and pub is crowded here even on a Tuesday night.

street angel

We spent a whole extra day recovering and working from bed, only venturing a few blocks from the flat to grab some food. I have the very-local geography down, now, and know where to buy food and how to go find a taxi and the tube station and what other directions might be good to explore.

I am really enjoying c. and a.’s flat in every way. It’s so cute and perfect and cosy! I did my conference call from the hammock. The next door kids are cute as hell and it cheers me to hear them playing. I enjoy their art and funny kitschy stuff… and how cleverly they store all their crap… their million-page FAQ about their house and office and neighborhood, and their lovely gleaming red espresso machine (kitchenaid) and let’s not even go into how nice I think the damned washlet is. hahahah! Washlet!! I’m not super in love with having a million stairs, but on the other hand I can take my time, treat it as physical therapy, and it’s probably good for me. I’m trying to think what I can do in return or what would be nice to leave them… stock them up with nice groceries… nice coffee etc. And in general I have good “letting people crash at my place” karma so really the thing to do is to keep passing that on.

Observation, people in Britain do not say Hello or anything at all to strangers on the street. They take this so far that they don’t even look at you in the face, which makes it damned hard to tell which way to barrel forward in your speedy wheelchair.

fruit at night

Today I left Zond-7 sweating over his deadline while I ran off to the British Library for a couple of hours. I felt like I had to break a little barrier of going places by myself. Thought about taking the Old St. tube to St. Pancras or King’s Cross or whatever but then realized it was a bit late, I was tired, screw it, it would then become all about sweatily going through miles of tunnels and ramps and being ill natured at railway employees’ passive aggressive “help”. So, a taxi.

London taxis are AWESOME! I said this before, but here it is again. If you are in a wheelchair and have money to spend like water then just take taxis everywhere. All the black cabs are mega-accessible. The back doors slide open like a van, a ramp comes out, there are hand rails, seats swivel and fold down if you need that, and the back seat is huge with a big empty wheelchair-holding space.The taxis stop for me! They don’t fuss or freak out too much. A little bit, but not bad at all. I don’t need the ramp and I can pull my chair up into the taxi, without having to take it apart or fold it up.

London taxi access

You see what I mean about mild adventures. Hey you’re on your own in a strange city! What will you do! OH I KNOW I’LL TAKE A TAXI TO THE LIBRARY. Okay! Yes! In fact, that is what I always do!

Then I wander around and take photos of graffiti and street art and bricks and manhole covers.

The British Library (the giant new brick building) has very good wheelchair access. I especially appreciated the signs, big, high up, frequent, and very clear, pointing me to ramps and elevators.

Revolution Revolution

So at the library I got my reading pass. They get you to line up and ask if you have ID and details of what you want to see. They don’t really care what you want to see and you don’t have to prove anything to them about your research project; they just want to know that you know that there’s a specific thing in the library that they own, that you want to look at! So they ask “Do you have something written down or printed out” … but mostly to rule out the people who should go to the public library to check out a mystery novel or look something up in the encyclopedia or whatever. I had jotted down the names of a couple of poets and began to open my notebook and they waved me through. If you don’t have “details written down” then they shunt you over to some computers where you can look in the catalogue and come up with a list of books. After this queue I filled out a web form (nicely accessible computer with huge monitor and huge font) and then waited till my number was called. A few questions later and a photo… now I have a nifty 1- month card! So I will be looking at a bunch of books by (and about) Emilia Bernal, and some suffragist newspapers and I might also look for women’s newspapers from 1830s France as I suspect they might be in there and it will give me a thrill.

I figured out by scouting it out physically that it will be easy to take the tube there and then harder to get back (because of having to come up the Old Street ramp) so it’ll be better to take a taxi back.

After a bit more work at “home” we went out to an indian restaurant on brick lane. I took a lot of photos of great street art.

It’s exhausting to wheel up and down all those curbs. they are oftn very low but even an inch up and down is tiring. My hands hurt like hell. Also… holy hell… bricks and cobblestones are hell on my back, it’s like the vibrations from “Wages of Fear“.

In the library as there wasn’t enough time left to order any books, I went to exhibits. There was a great exhibit of chinese, korean, & japanese color wood block printing on the 2nd floor. I wrote down a bunch of them to look up later. A lot of the bird ones I wished I could show Minnie. Here are my notes

– Ten Bamboo Studio 1634
– Soken Sekisatsu 1768 Hojakuchu “Dazzling simplicity in … prints”
– a literary and artistic gathering 1839 chikutenzan
400 artists and writers with names. i sat there a while and counted the women. there were 22. many facing each other or sitting in groups, not isolated from each other
– shin kawazu (..awase) 1820 New Poetry Competition of Frogs nifty anthology/collaboration
– kawa… bumpo = awesome
– The gifts of the seas umi no sachi 1762 mica used in ink for prints for fishy sheen!
– kimpaen’s picture album 1820 (bumpo, same guy) Kimpaen gafu. Birds birds birds!!!
– Wang Cheo pictures of foreign things 1998 made me think of “woolgathering”

chocolate for women, right?

Then saw huge Ramayana exhibit which made me think of talking with Neha (nehavish) about Surpanakha (who i did not find in the exhibit though i didn’t see all of it and she is perhaps not in every version) but mostly in this exhibit I was excited to see books written on palm leaves. One of those things I’ve often read about and wondered what it is really like… it is like thin flat fan blades about the size of an 8 inch ruler, with 2 holes drilled in rolodex style, polished smooth maybe with some varnish or sizing, and very small delicate writing.

Swooned at lovely book binding, maps, illuminated manuscripts exhibit. I thought of how lucky i felt when i worked at the geology library and dennis let me look at the super rare illustrated books he kept back in his office. amazing french books with taxonomy & botanical illustrations & fossils… The book that blew me away today and got me to tears was a persian one from 1610 ad , Anvar-i Suhayli which is a version of Kalila & Dimna / Pancatantra. written by Husayn … v…. Kashifi (can’t read my own handwriting!) for Prince Salim who became the emperor Jahangir. Now anyone who has bothered to read this for the last N years knows I’m obsessed with the Pancatantra and all its derivatives!

This might sound very exciting but consider that most of my time in London so far has been spent within a 3-block radius of this bed where I am lying 90% of the time peacefully Computing the same as I would anywhere else in the world, in the midst of a small mountain of used kleenexes and allergy meds, reporting intermittently that my legs and knees and back and hands hurt like hell and that I need more chocolate.


Thoughts on the geography & economics of cyberspace from the Brussels airport

I noted the shapes of houses as soon as we crossed from France to Belgium. Houses even built alone in the middle of a field go straight up in a narrow box shape, like a brick stood on end, and a pointy roof, as if built into an invisible row of narrow box townhouses crammed together. I wondered if they had been in a row over the years and fire, age, or war destroyed the others? Or is it the function of laws and the accepted size of a single plot of land and house footprint? Or style detached now from any of those things so that if you built a house in the middle of a field, it would be that obelisk shape like a slice of cake standing alone?

I noted in my 4am haze on the way to the airport that there were not many billboards. Our notions of wasted space, bare space, unused, *needing* colonization and exploitation. Once you start painting “Chew Mailpouch” on the side of barns and slotting tiny ads into parking meters, every informationless space is an opportunity. Our rush to ad-driven web is such a colonization. We don’t put ads in the margins of books – but we do in magazines, which are replacing the book. Cyberspace was thought of by Gibson & Sterling early on as a sort of cave that paralleled our reality but underneath it or outside of it, using stuff it internally knew to build models of corporations, people, geographies, wealth and power. Relationships were not modelled that I can think of, other than as the flow of money – or were they modelled as information flow as well? But when I look at the world I am seeing it with *missing information*, missing overlays as in Spook Country or Stross’s Halting State, with not just facts and advertisements but game systems and fiction, enhancements to objects and thus to geography. Already I notice that my own geography differs from other people in that (as Zond-7 and I just did) I head for a power outlet or a wifi hot spot, rather than a chair and a window. We compete with other little technocratic foraminifera for the most mineral-rich spot in our ocean, detecting currents invisible or unimportant to our fellow travellers.

As I consider information-rich areas as somehow attractive or nutritious I think of windows again, or televisions, or paintings and art.

The “wasteland” idea I was talking about in my last post: we invent the idea of wasteland or uncolonized space, as with Patagonia or Antarctica or “The West” or Mars, areas that are occupied in one way or another but that by circumscription of language can be made empty. I was thinking of this as I looked at the cultivated fields next to the strips of land (waste land) alongside the railway (and that exists also along highways) and wondered that it is not under cultivation. That ecological niche costs too much to exploit, it has a particular transaction cost and the economy is such that it is not “worth it” to produce goods from the strips of land. Then i thought of the fire prevention goats in my county, a flock of goats which is herded from area to area to eat the underbrush in dry weather, entire fields of thorns, weeds, tall bristly grasses. In an area where people keep goats in order to survive, the roadside and “vacant” area weeds would be a hot commodity. In ours, the county actually pays someone to feed their goats. The roadside could grow hay mowed and sold, or it could be mowed and composted (which perhaps it already is). The amount of things that it is less expensive to *throw away* than to use boggles my mind and seems inherently wrong. So I looked at the side of the road and thought “why isn’t it being used?” and then realized that no — the weeds provide seeds to birds, habitat for insects, unpaved surface for rain to return filtered to groundwater reserves, and other benefits I can’t think or or see and which in fact drive me crazy when I see pointlessly concreted-over areas next to streams, where there could be useful weeds. When I was 17 or 18 I used to glue or wheat-paste little posters with poetry and stories on them onto parking meters, bus stops, bathroom stalls, or any places where people seemed to be waiting or liminal or stuck, as “OccuPations of Uninhabited Space” , OPUS for short, named after Takver’s mobiles in The Left Hand of Darkness, as an attempt to counteract the information colonization by advertisements with a different kind of information — the encrypted information, the steganography of fiction and poetry. My colonizations were invasive, were graffiti, were wrong, in a way that paid advertisements were not. Easy construction of web pages have made more space, more territory, for all of our information-emitting habits, our billboards to the future, our overlay of stories. I knew the instant I saw Mosaic for the first time that there would be enormous attention grabbing flashing colored advertisements not just colonizing the screen space of our machines but the internal landscape of our attention. A certain kind of space would be created in us that was not there before, for the organization and absorption of information.

Thus, the way it is “wrong” or colonialist/imperialist to look at the Patagonian landscape or a small town by quiet river and seeing it as empty and unused, full of potential, or misused, unfertilized (coded female and in need of impregnation) because not full of industry, mills, factories, garbage dumps, bustling workers and trains and tourists — in that same way I would question our assumption that “the Internet” is an empty space with infinite ecological niches waiting (yearning!) to be discovered and exploited. What we are seeing as “the Internet” while obviously a real thing is also an idea and a geography. I thought of the roadside weeds, the in-theory-valuable growing power or living-space of the land by the train tracks, and the way that pay-for-recycling created paying work for people collecting cans and bottles from trash, and speculated that “there should be” a movement to find and expose and create infrastructures for people to step in and use tech tools to create entire economic niches. A way to use web tools to lower the transaction costs, for those flocks of goats or the opportunity to publish books on the seat backs of buses. I thought of, and the site that lets people register the fruit trees in their suburban yards, to get rid of a surplus of plums, lemons, apricots. There *are* many such niches. But is this approach doing harm in some way? We might say of course not as “the Internet” does not have previous inhabitants to be damaged or ecosystems destroyed but it is the potential I wonder about and what avenues become narrowed as we barrel down these particular highways. For example, everyone wants to publish a book. They have photocopiers, they have paper and pens, why don’t they publish it in the sense of making it public by pasting it up on the wall somewhere public? It is not just the ambition of making it big and “publishing” 50,000 copies of that book because of the ways poets jockey and shark for their little 200-run letterpress hoo-ha dumpster-fillers or space-taker-uppers unread on their friends’ shelves. It is also because of property rights; it would be illegal for me to paste up my novel’s pages on the wall of the train station, even though it wouldn’t be particularly offensive, it might entertain people waiting in line, it might be aesthetically just as pleasing or unpleasing as the bare wall. As we colonize our vacant planet of Internet we have to watch out for the pressures that then make every space owned, even potential space (consider domain names).

Okay. I’m ready for my overlay implants now.

Onward to Budapest!

Fixing sidewalks, and a day of poetry

pleo nuzzling olpc
Originally uploaded by Liz.

Moomin and I woke up late but I am superefficient in the morning and I got him to choir on time, laying out his clothes for him to get dressed before he got out of bed into the cold to eat his cereal. I drove him the 2 blocks to school, not able to deal with the thought of my cold fingers on the wheelchair rims at 7:30 in the morning.

Then I worked for a bit just to fix a few little problems. I will do Real Job ™ work more seriously tomorrow. Today was for me.

I got all fired up over Caltrans and the ADA and started this Flickr group, “Inaccessible!”.

A blog for photos of inaccessible places and spaces. Ever been frustrated at lack of wheelchair access, insane potholes in the sidewalk, stairs, badly configured bathrooms too small for wheelchairs, badly placed handrails, elevator buttons too high for you to reach? Snap a photo, label the place as clearly as possible, and explain why it is a barrier.

My hope is that this group will be useful to building owners and people who want to make their environment more accessible. It also helps those of us with disabilities to express our frustration and to record daily encounters with barriers to access. Documenting the problems may also help us to follow through and try to get those problems fixed by the people responsible for them.

and wrote this: Caltrans evades responsibility for sidewalk ramps.

And then olivia_circe came over and we worked for NINE AND A HALF HOURS on organizing and submitting my poetry and translations to journals. I am so grateful. It is a huge weight off my mind to know that I’m plowing through all that built up work of 10 years or so. (The years before that, I mostly don’t like the poems enough any more to send them out.)

I’m learning from this that it is hard work to send out stuff. It is not just some mental block I have or some self destructive, self sabotaging impulse. It’s a lot of work! Two fairly smart efficient people spent almost 20 person-hours just now to get that shit together! And it is only the very tip of the iceberg.

We are putting all the information into my private wiki. First there is finding places that I want to send stuff to. Then figuring out what to send. Then looking up guidelines and reformatting and putting together the work according to those guidelines. Then often a bio for me and if it’s a translation, for the original author. Then on top of that they often want an introduction written, or something about the translation process. THEN… a cover letter. (Which I keep as short and to the point as I can with no sucking-up or bullshit in it.) Then email in whatever file format they want or print and snail mail. So, a lot of work. We sent 6 submissions out, queried 5 other places, and set up framework for a lot of other stuff. I have been dumping originals and translations into an author page, and then olivia_circe has been going in and gardening out the individual poems into their own pages. Then, lists of journals and guidelines and deadlines, interlinks, a master list of submissions (or as I now like to call them after one feminist journal’s explanations of the evils of submission, “offerings”), pages on individual authors, sample query and cover letters, ALL THAT.

So, if it took us 20 hours to do 6 submissions it is no wonder I have barely done 4 or 5 submissions a year.

It feels so good and right to be doing this!

I am astonished as I see the enormous pile of work that I have done, and that I get no real-world respect or credit for having done and that almost no one sees. Holy crap. I need to get it out there. Seriously, people.

Plus, olivia_circe is fun to hang out with.

I picked up Moomin and looked at his schoolwork, got him a snack, etc. We talked about his Math-athon and about Abraham Lincoln, he read some Spiderman DVD comics, and went outside for a while. I fed him and Nukie pizza while they did whatever it is they do in his back yard in the half-torn-down and gutted garage building and their piles of rocks and treasure.

Then I went off into mad poety talk over here for National Poetry Month’s beginning and wrote a bit about one of my favorite poets that I’ve been translating for a while. I wrote about why I like him and his work and why I feel a certain kinship and understanding.

Moomin and I wrote some emails together to family and then I read him more of Farmer Boy, we looked at the globe and talked about geography and history and politics and travel, railroads, race, Native Americans, the early U.S., and so on. I will say more about that tomorrow but for now I need to STOP TYPING.

I walked well most of the day, but towards the end began to squeak and freeze up every time I had to go from sitting to standing or vice versa. By 8pm I could not walk much any more and I am back in the wheelchair in the house. But, am doing just fine. I will go to work in the morning tomorrow and then come home to rest. Zond-7’s nephew who has moved here without a lot of support or backup or anything, needs a place to stay for a bit and he called me today to ask if he can stay here. It would work out well for me not to be alone all week and he is a lovely house guest and does not make work for me and sweetly offers to do errands.

Okay, bath and and a book and bed. I don’t have any April Fool things planned. My head is just in another sort of space at the moment.

To do list, with rewards

Originally uploaded by Liz.

An online-friend who translated a long obscure poem I also translated is coming tomorrow! I’m excited to have someone to work with. We read each others’ versions of this poem and thought they would be improved by a mashup. So I think tomorrow will be lovely.

Charge, full speed ahead, damn the torpedoes, never mind maneuvers go straight at ’em. My leg hurts a little but as usual in the morning I’m fired up, cheerful, and ready for action. Here’s what I’ll do today!

– clear out work inbox
– Wash sheets
– make bread (in bread machine, takes 10 min)
– show up at work 11am – 1pm
– go home, rest
– get out my translation project and give it a good 3 hours
– Clean my office (lick and promise)
– clear off the desk (cheat by stacking the papers)
– pick up Moomin and help him with homework
– obtain yogurt, eggs, pizza, carrots, parm. cheese, mozzerella, basil, tomatoes (get Rook to do this?)
– fold all the laundry (can be left for night)
– do a little more work at night so i am caught up and can slack off on Wednesday

I have no idea if me and the Other Translator will get along, but surely so. I spent a couple of years obsessing on this poet (J. de I.) and more time getting into the context of poetry in the early 20th century and the interconnections she had with other poets (mostly poets in Argentina, Spain, and France, but elsewhere in the Americas). Nobody else I’ve ever met particularly cares about this unfashionable poet. The Other Translator’s online work (her own poetry, I mean) is good, by which I mean that unlike most poetry it doesn’t make me want to barf or slap someone upside the head. That doesn’t mean we’ll be instant best friends and I don’t expect that, but it is one of my dreams to do good writerly collaborations with other people, and I think doing that with another poet is one of the nicest things possible. When I did with Yehudit it was like being in the poet-insanity of “flow” for days — intimate creativity. I hope she is a hard worker and likes to concentrate and that she will GO THERE.

The poem itself is dorky and lovely at the same time. It is J. de I. at her most high-falutin’ in her late-modernista-romanatic-gushing style, in fact her style of 1924 or 1930 but written more like 1969; a little preciously overwrought and frenchified in a long prose poem that I think is very Andre-Gide-ish. So if you picture someone who has been publishing since 1918, and put them in 1969, and she’s surveying her life as an artist, and trying to describe it in an extended conceit that she is on an island alone, shipwrecked… It is “uncool” in all the ways you might think but I love it.

So far instead of doing any of these things I have gossiped online with my sister and blogged all this. Still, I’m infused with happy confidence.


Return of the ulcer; productivity!

Apparently I have taken far too much Celebrex and my stomach/gastritis/ulcer problems are back. For the last 3 days I ‘ve been taking Prilosec and laying off the NSAIDs. I just ate lunch with some excitement thinking the pain was gone, but it hit me hard just now… so… I have to quickly shift onto some sort of very mild diet, and remember not to eat very small quantities even if I’m hungry…

Meanwhile, I’m filing papers, throwing away huge stacks of paper stuffed into grocery bags, and shovelling whatever’s left over into a heroic attempt upon the file cabinet. Past half-assed organizations, excavated, collect in the drawers, so I have about 5 different “bills” files and several “medical” from different years; all were in different drawers or stacks or shoved sideways into the zine bookshelf in the closet. I’m not weeding closely, so far. Just gathering like-meets-like.

My new top categories are “official” for all the official papers, in the top drawer.

Then 2 drawers of my own junk, which is as follows:

* ALTA, BlogHer, Gaming, Potlatch, SWSW, WisCon
* cards, addresses, letters
* flyers, stickers, postcards, brochures that are nifty
Grad school
* official papers, junk, my own papers, other people’s papers, teaching
Job info
* a scrapheap of hiring documents and old resumes
* a million different folders, to evolve into my own poems, drafts, other people’s poems, presses, contracts
* a bunch of research for my anthologies, biographical info on poets I like, xeroxed things, other projects
* my translations, drafts, stuff i want to translate, papers about translation
* my small press
* my old press with all its zines; some letters are here; manuscripts/xeroxable originals
* many boxes and tubs of old zines and letters are in the shed! ack! no room

(bottom drawer)
* unfiled (huge)
* Milo papers
* maps
* warranties and manuals for things going back 15 years

There is a foot-high stack of papers left to go! I’ve thrown *so much* away!

After that stack is filed away I could either
– go through the whole cabinet in a final pass to weed and consolidate
– go through the closet shelves of zines also to weed, and organize
– move the bookshelves around to put the bed on the other side of the room and make more room
– go through the 2 giant shelves of my project binders and figure out wtf is going on there

This is going to help my whole life to get this stuff under control, and let me know where all my projects are, and where to find things! I’ll dig up projects that are 80% done that I have forgotten all about! I’ll find whole completed manuscripts I’ve also forgotten, and talks from 2001 that are super awesome, and the drafts of essays that I might still like, and letters unanswered that will fill me with pleasant melancholy.

The realm of goodness: Maureen Owen

Meanwhile I’m reading the good books too, and the great. Maureen Owen’s Amelia Earheart! ZOMG! I would put it together with airplane and feminism poems that i know and have translated, in a big anthology. Here is some mad poet speak for the middle of the night for you all.

I get so mad at Maureen Owen.

The other day I was at hazelbroom’s house while she was giving Zond-7 a massage and in between sitting at the sunny kitchen table with city backyard noises outside and her partner’s paintings half finished through the doorway into the laundry room, I must have gone to pee about 6 times from all the coffee and chai and water and massage. And in the bathroom was one of my favorite poetry books, Living in the Open, and I thought about how many years it took me from high school onward… I read it in maybe 1986? 87? to get beyond writing under that shadow though often it was only a few lines or a feeling of stolidity and stompy earnestness and jangledy language-loving. I do still take many lines to heart, like “living open to love in the leafy flesh”. Who couldn’t like that! No matter if it and other great things are embedded in peanut butter and middle class hippie crystal garden mystique.

I only found Owen’s poetry last year and had the deafening realization that I was writing in Owen’s shadow and didn’t know it. And I don’t mind, really… While I minded horribly about not being able to get out from the echo of Piercy, which fascinated and yet often repulsed me — unnatural to all that is rambling & inchoate. It is like the moments of greatness that Judy Grahn gets to. I love them so. I love them fiercely! But then I’m like NO FUCK NO don’t take that wrong turn! Get outta proseville! Get your head out of your ass! The finality of my final lines were what people liked in their piercyishness and yet they were FALSE and I knew it. I know about 1993 I was working like mad to get out of that precious little box, but I got out.

Anyway, all hail the lovely lines of AE and the grandness, the rambling, her words float over the page and mind, the total unfalseness, fucking FREEDOM, and the deep engagement in imaginary spaces. Nothing namby pamby humdrum coffee table in THAT noise. No little wrapup hmmMMMmmm moment neatening that package with a tightass doubleknot of meaning nailed home to obviousoland. I wish I knew where she was.

I meant to say I get so mad at her for being so fucking awesome of a writer.

At best Wanda Coleman gets there but not the rambling – more with a laser-dense tapestry of confusion and noise. Diane Wakoski is awfully good but does not float free. I read her and go with it, and then want to pull out a bigass sword and cut her chains. I love poetry best that unanchors me, unanchors language. & most of all doesn’t do what i expect it to and must hover on the edge of sense and jump like bounding on other planets, like low gravity.

Maureen is the best when she’s at her best. I get high on that stuff.

Plus just hearing her on a recording going STAND UP! in a young-ish voice is another kind of high.

Poets that good fill me with hope and relief.

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The speed of things

Yesterday I went to the Wiki meetup & met a bunch of new people and talked a little bit with friends I already knew. I ended up at a long expensive dinnery thing but didn’t mind.. and had more beer than I meant (ordered 3 oz. tasting glass; got giant glass instead, and it was tasty). I ended up staying at zond-7’s and felt a bit guilty for not driving back to Rook and Moomin as I said I was going to… But I was so zonked. And then in the middle of the night had a classic OMG I SUCK anxiety moment which usually drives me to blog, but instead I merely babbled to Zond-7 who patted me and issued useful platitudes (as I explained would be useful) and he even more usefully pointed out that I was having a regular emotional reaction to being really tired and hurting, like “free floating anxiety” and was hunting for something to attach it to, some reason. That was so clearly true, and I think I’ve told him the same thing other nights but he says it better; and it worked to make me just sigh and wait and go to sleep. Sometimes when I’m that tired I am so sick of being in my own head.

This morning I felt awesome, my leg didn’t hurt too much, sucked down some coffee, thought about poetry and computery things and politics and feminism and life in my usual vague mix. I ended up incoherently babbling to Zond-7 about the wonders of Monique Wittig and feminist plots that involve double consciousness and going insane and multiple universes, unreliable narrators, the Inferno, how it was all about valencia street, and I was beginning to branch out into Inanna’s descent and Woman on the Edge of Time, etc. (Payback for the rather intense day-long lessons in the history of javascript.) But meanwhile was also absurdly happy to be driving, parking, walking, looking at buildings and the morning and people walking to places purposefully, holding hands, the automatic motions of locking my car, ordering juice at the sidewalk juice bar, and everything was full of sunlight. It all was very ordinary in the most beautiful way. But at the same time, that quality of things happening too fast, time going a bit too fast, when I want to savour it; a problem increasingly as I get older. He was eating bits off a giant hunk of bread from the valencia whole foods, and gave me a particular almost sly scruffy look as he told the story of ben franklin sleeping behind his printing press and eating a loaf of bread. I had read him a day or so aga a bit from Diane Wakoski about poets and integrity, that 100 dollars, a bit from Greed that I mean to write about on another blog. There we were in the car, looking at each other all oblique and telepathic, thinking about those things in the early morning light.

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Access and wheelchairs in Beijing

Wow, this sort of article is exactly what I was looking for! And here it is! A personal story of what it is like to be a traveller using a wheelchair in Beijing. As long as I have a reasonably accessible hotel, I’ll be fine. And, if I go into it with out a big agenda of seeing-many-tourist-things, that will also make it way more fun. I would probably try to go to the Summer Palace, but aside from that, will just go to the conference, and write, and talk with people, and I’m sure it will be fantastic. Thanks for the writeup, Rosemary!

Now, to write to everyone I know who might know interesting Chinese bloggers, or poetry translators, or science fiction writers… I met some really nice guys at the last translation conference. Ideally, I would find some poets and bloggers and translators! It’s short notice, but through ALTA I am sure I can get some introductions… The other thing that occurs to me is that there are likely to be plenty of south american music industry people at this conference and it might be interesting to talk with them and to get their info since I could blog about their artists if they have an interesting online presence.

The advice about what kind of taxis have room for a folding wheelchair is perfect. This is far too pessimistic… I can handle uneven sidewalks, and just take taxis instead of trains, or mostly plan to not go a lot of places that need taxis. But, I am also pretty sure that this is too optimistic and that I will encounter the same sorts of things I normally do here, and that Rosemary mentions, i.e. buildings that are, in theory, accessible, but that in practice, have a lot of barriers like locked wheelchair lifts and no one who knows where they keep the key! So, I have low expectations, and anything that works out will be a bonus.

I see that Beijing is hosting the Paralympics, so, it occurs to me that I could get some sort of quick consultant work doing a report on accessibility for particular areas or destinations. Or I might pitch an article to disability sites or magazines on the experience, since there will be a lot of travellers with disabilities going to Beijing for the Paralympics.

Likely the flight will semi-destroy me, but my plan is to take a ton of muscle relaxants for it and sleep as much as I can manage. And to plan for a day afterwards to just lie around on painkillers in the hotel, if I need to. I would like to *not* come back with my leg and back worse off than before, but even if I do, I’m sure it will be okay and I will arrange it so that my being more crippled will not all fall on Rook…

Okay, I’m off to do more homework on this!

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