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Thursday, August 30, 2012

OuLiPo for You, Li Po

Okay, this is OuLiPo for anyone, not just for Li Po, and it can be found at the blog We Who are About to Die, five links to using OuLiPo restraints in your own writing.

A particularly fun one is an online N+7 generator. N+7 is a technique in which nouns in a text are replaced by the noun that occurs 7 noun-entries later in the dictionary than where the original noun can be found. But which dictionary to use? And what exactly counts as a noun? All these concerns are eliminated by using the N+7 generator, made by OuLiPo-ist Jean Lescure. Just type in, or cut and paste, your text and let the generator make all the calls for you.

Check out the others at the blog link above.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Visual Poetry in Argentina

This was posted on Facebook by expat poet Taylor Mignon. Other than what you see above, I have no information and don't know what this is about, but it looks so interesting, I just had to share.

Create Creativity

Daniel Coyle has explored talent hotbeds, localities from which a disproportionate percentage of superstar athletes, musicians, artists, or scholars come from. In "The Talent Myth: How to Maximize Your Creative Potential" published in the UK Independent Blog, Coyle lists the ways that you can reach more creative potential:

1) Stare.
2) Steal.
3) Be stupid.
4) Be spartan.
5) Distinguish hard skills from soft skills.
6) Honor hard skills.
7) Disregard prodigy claims.
8) Choose the best mentor.

Good reminders of what we can do to master the skills we love.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Time of Useful Consciousness

At age 92 (93?), Lawrence Ferlinghetti is coming out with a new book of epic poetry chronicling "American consciousness." It's called Time of Useful Consciousness, which is an aeronautical term meaning the time between oxygen loss and the moment a pilot becomes unconscious due to that deprivation, the last chance the pilot has to save himself. Ferlinghetti uses this as a metaphor for the ecological condition of the earth and our response (or lack of ) to that.

Ferlinghetti is interviewed by Michael Silverblatt at KCRW's Bookworm show. Enjoy hearing from this legend.

Friday, August 24, 2012

L'Esperance at the Asian Art Museum

Mari L'Esperance reads her poem "Anju, from the Far World, after seven paintings by Fukuyo Matsui. The reading was at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum.

Tracery, what a ghostly word, and such a pleasure to say. Thanks for sharing this poem, Mari!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Black & White

At the blog Little Brown Pen, Evan Robertson has illustrated in black-and-white some of his favorite quotes he has underlined in books throughout the years. Wonderful!

And prints available on Etsy as well. See below for two examples:

Original Illustration, Virginia Woolf quotation - Fine Art Prints - Art Posters - Literature inspired art - Dorm decor

Original Illustration, Spinoza quotation - Fine Art Prints - Art Posters - Literature inspired art - Dorm decor

Here's hoping they put out a book of all of these, as I can't choose!!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Beware What You Read

I recently finished reading Madness, Rack, and Honey by Mary Ruefle (essays), and instead of saying something inconsequential about this fathomless book, I will put a few quotes below. But I do want to say this one thing: this book was so perfectly written that when I finished I felt there was no reason for me to ever write again.

I also recently read Katherine Larson's Radial Symmetry (poems, winner of the Yale Younger Poet Series Prize this year, or maybe last). I had been looking forward to reading this book for awhile, and after I got it, I let it sit on my shelf for a month just to further anticipate reading it. And this book is technically brilliant: Larson moves from image to image without explanation, and the mystery of the connection fills the void. Her descriptions are immaculate. But I was deeply disappointed by this book. One reason was my own fault: I had expected more science in it, and I am wild about science imagery in poetry. The other disappointment for me was the sense of privilege (I recently heard on a broadcast that it's a privilege to use the word privilege, a kind of hypocrisy, and I agree, so my reaction is deeply flawed but still was my visceral reaction) from which the voice of the book speaks, the privilege of a well-educated well-traveled person that puts the reader at a distance the reader doesn't deserve. [And this reaction comes from someone with more education than was probably good for me and a travel history that, while largely based in Asia, is still not unimpressive.] But I felt the poet's preciousness in her rich experiences (which I don't blame her for having (the experiences, not the preciousness) and probably, truth be told, envy her), and I did not like that sense of preciousness. But I suspect that was a first reaction and that in further readings of this book (for I know I will read it again to see what I can absorb of her flawless imagery) I will not have this reaction. It is an early and immature one.

Nonetheless, here's what I find remarkable. Reading Larson's book makes me want to write, immediately. To pick up my pen and try myself at the craft, despite her level of craft being so much above my own. While reading Ruefle's book made me satisfied that I did not need to write again as she had already done it all (though this did not frustrate me, but freed me). A writer needs to be so careful about what she reads!

Okay, as promised, excerpts from Madness, Rack and Honey:

"Keats said only one thing was necessary to write good poetry: a feeling for light and shade. I like that he had the sense to call it one thing, and not two things." p. 38

"...I should have said a very different thing; I should have said, "It is also the nature of poetry to determine or affirm one's relations to the incomprehensible condition of existence." I say "existence" because it is different than identity. I say "determine or affirm" because there is an option here: the great sculptor Giacometti once said, "I do not know whether I work in order to make something or in order to know why I cannot make what I would like to make." Perhaps when one makes something one affirms, and when one tries to make and knows they cannot (another kind of making) one determines. One determines that they cannot, one determines this by endlessly attempting." p. 132

"...wasted time cannot be be filled, or changed into another habit; it is a necessary void of fomentaion." from p. 136, about the amount of wasted time it takes to write poetry

"An asylum is a benevolent institution affording shelter and protection to some class of the afflicted. It is also an insane place, full of shouts and cries an cries and whispers. An asylum is a place of hopeless suffering and endless misunderstanding, a place of restriction and desperation. I like the word asylum. Poetry is an asylum to me. Do you know what insanity is? Insanity is "doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results." That's writing poetry, but hey, it's also getting out of bed every morning. The argument over madness can be reduced to this: madness is excluded from thought vs. madness is "one case of thought (within thought)" (Derrida). The whole history of poetry could ensue from such a discussion. I don't want to have it." p. 305-6

Making It as a Writer: Ann Slater

Ex-pat in Japan Ann Tashi Slater writes about "Making It as a Writer" for the Huffington Post, with her experience of how living abroad has helped her with that realization.

By the way, this is a new blog series that Ann will be doing, so keep your eyes open for future installments.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Barnett's New Book

I loved Catherine Barnett's debut book Into Perfects Spheres Such Holes are Pierced. I'm glad to hear her second book The Game of Boxes is coming out soon (marvelous geometrical titles, huh?). Read three of her new poems here, at the Santa Cruz Good Times blog.

How to Write a Poem

The How-To Issue hosts poet Catherine Pond on "How to Write a Poem." While the ideas are not new, it's good to be reminded. And so forcefully.

And here's info about the How-To Issue, taken from their "About" page:

The How-To Issue was born out of frustration with The New York Times Book Review’s 2012 How-To Issue. We’re here to post or reblog any sort of how-to pieces (reviews, comics, drawings, lists…) by women writers.
The original call for submissions is here; click here to send your piece to The How-To Issue’s hostess, @mollytempleton. There is no longer a deadline; just keep the pieces coming, and I’ll keep posting them. I will reply to all submissions, but it’s going to take a little more time than I initially expected. Please be patient! Thank you!


Be sure to click on the link about how this blog got started (the frustration with the NYTBR)--worth reading!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

17 Random Quotes about Writing/Poetry

465. Only half of writing is saying what you mean. The other half is preventing people from reading what they expected you to mean.     ~James Richardson, from Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays

Writing a poem is one of the ways to love the world. ~Stephen Dobyns

…discussing the ideas of Helene Cixous about writing, we know that language itself “remembers,” as she says, what we do not remember.      ~Reginald Gibbons, On Rhyme, APR, Nov./Dec. 2006

…that poets are those to whom the difficulty of writing gives ideas, not those from whom it takes them away.    ~Reginald Gibbons, On Rhyme, APR, Nov./Dec. 2006

But there is no such thing as a perfectly adequate poem, because a poem into which some strange and surprising excellence has not entered, a poem that is not in some inexplicable way beyond the will of the poet, is not a poem.    ~ Christian Wiman, Poetry, Dec. 2006

A poem is a machine for remembering itself.     ~Don Paterson, Strong Words

Anyone who begins a sentence "as a poet I" is probably not a poet. It's like calling yourself a saint." ~Michael Longley

Poetry is philosophy's sister, the one that wears makeup.  ~Jennifer Grotz

He who knows a hundred poems sounds like a hundred poems; he who knows a thousand poems sounds like himself.    ~Chinese proverb

Sound is precious, sense can be beat into shape.   ~Rita Ann Higgins

Milton, on the other hand, was right when he said that poetry should be simple—as Paradise Lost is simple—but this simplicity must be arrived at by a very devious route or it will not be poetry.  ~Burns Singer

All one's inventions are true, you can be sure of that. Poetry is as exact a science as geometry.    ~Gustav Flaubert

There's nothing more embarrassing than being a poet, really.   ~Elizabeth Bishop

Energy within the poet goes into the poem, but then must go from the poem to a reader or listener. There has to be this transfer of energy.   ~Muriel Rukeyser
A poem is an empty suitcase that you can never quit emptying.    ~Kay Ryan
The reason we go to poetry is not for wisdom, but for the dismantling of wisdom.  ~Jacques La├žan

I've no ambitions or desires. / My being a poet isn't an ambition. / It's my way of being alone.  ~Fernando Pessoa

The flawed moon
acts on the truth, and makes
an autumn of tentative
You lived, but somewhere else,
your presence touched others, ring upon ring,
and changed. Did you think
I would not change?

The black moon
turns away, its work done. A tenderness,
unspoken autumn.
We are faithful
only to the imagination. What the

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Midsummer Malaise

What's happening to me now happens sometimes, maybe twice a year. I just get hit with a deep sense of malaise, no desire to do anything, not even things I enjoy. It doesn't seem to be a function of weather or season; it can happen anytime. Summer vacation when the kids are home, though, seems an especially bad time. Though when I have to work isn't prime time-out time either, though I can generally get through on autopilot.

I used to power through these times. Just push through. And the sense of weariness and malaise would last 5 days to a week. Then one time I just gave into it. Did nothing but lie about (this was pre-kids), and the feeling passed after two days. And I realized that giving myself the permission to be fallow was a better solution. Or a quicker one, anyway.

Which isn't to say I'm doing nothing. Everybody is getting fed and the laundry is up-to-date, and I took my kids to a museum yesterday and worked on a paper I'm writing for an hour yesterday and will put in another hour today. But I also just laid on my bed and enjoyed the breeze coming from the mountainside behind us and listened to the cicadas. Twice. Last night and again this morning. My husband asked me if I was sick, as I never sit down (or lie down) except to work on the computer. No, not sick, just....listening.

So what do you do when the doldrums hit you?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Linguistic Diversity in Japan

I'm working on a paper (for my applied linguistics course) about the Ainu language in Hokkaido, and I happened to run across this blog posting by someone called Hashi at the blog Tofuku. This post is called "Japan's OTHER Languages" and it highlights 8 languages found in Japan. There's even a link to a man speaking Miyako. Enjoy!

JWC 2012 Lineup

The Japan Writers Conference 2012 (Kyoto) announces its lineup. Presentation summaries and bios here. I'll definitely be going to hear such local luminaries as Juliet Winters Carpenter, David Gilbey, Kris Kosaka, Xu Xi, and so many others! (Leza Lowitz, Suzanne Kamata, Ann Slater, Holly Thompson, Leah Ann Sullivan, Kiyoko Ogawa, Jane Joritz-Nakagawa, Alex Shishin, and even more!)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Good Stuff Online

Some interesting stuff I've found recently online:

1) Leigh Stein gives advice on how to give readings in public.

2) Anne Sexton's daughters remember their mother in painful detail at Third Coast International.

79 Best

Poets & Writers 79 best books for writers here.