Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bullet the blog sky

* I wrote a guest post for HTML Giant: "No one would ever say that." Here's an excerpt:
Some poets think the way they talk, others don’t. What’s important to me is not whether a poet can translate his/her thoughts into plain speech, but whether his/her thoughts are interesting in the first place. [...] Another question is whether plainspokenness necessarily entails accessibility, and vice versa. Are there irrational or nonsensical poems, or poems with broken/complex syntax, that are nonetheless considered easily accessible? (Nursery rhymes come to mind.) Are there superficially plainspoken poems that are actually difficult or intimidating?

* Do you interpret your placement in a print journal as an indication of how good they thought your poem or story was, relative to the others? Simplistic as this is, I always do. Last is also a solid placement, since some people read shit backwards (I often do). I finally got the new PANK, and I think it's the first time I've ever been first (sharing the spot with Kathy in this case). Booyah!

* Dang, I wish Martin would blog more often. Or at least post shit this long in installments. This is pop journalism at its best. Rolling Stone should be half this interesting. (I haven't even heard the song he's talking about.)

* I have no feelings whatsoever about St. Patrick's Day. I actually worked from home yesterday so no one would try to pressure me to get beer-drunk on a Wednesday. The Faux Irish could care less about gluten intolerance. (I know the expression should be "couldn't care less," but it doesn't sound as good, logic aside.)

* This pre-Vernal equinox spring weather is the bomb. It's giving me March Madness! Is that a good thing? Or is it like a rash? I don't watch sports.


  1. 1. I like plain speech that is smart and more sophisticated than it looks.
    2. I hate print journals. Nobody reads them. A lot of placements are alphabetical, though, so I like having a B name. I come relatively quickly, most the time before somebody has to read all that crap that comes after me. I also like reading first because the later readers have to deal with phenomenon that just happened before them.
    3. I wish Martin would blog more often but use less words. That thing was ultra dope, but way too long for work reading.
    4. I dislike St. Patrick's day. Anna's mom, who grew up in Dublin, always said it was the worst day of the year because schools would close and everybody was drunk, but the kids had nowhere to go. They had to hang out with their drunk parents.
    5. March Madness costs American companies something like 18 billion in lost productivity. CBS is actually streaming the games so workers can watch from their cubes. But yeah, that is a good rash.

  2. I think a lot of early Simic is intimidating in its plain spokeness. A twist on the familiar is the best way to make one feel uncomfortable.

    The HTMLGIANT post has kept me thinking and turning and thinking and kept me from leaving to go record shopping, which is what I do with my March Madness. My wallet thanks you.

  3. DB: I like your comment more than my post.

    1. Me too.
    2. You said "I come relatively quickly." (Me too?)
    3. Me too. I fear many will start to scroll and immediately enter TLDR mode.
    4. Wow.
    5. Wow.

    BF: You're welcome!

  4. i'm all for things that cost american corporations productivity :)

  5. (I hate poemy word choices, like "stone" over "rock")

    No offense, but I don't think you can make a generalization like that. Sometimes word choice has nothing at all to do with poemishness but subtle nuances (is that redundant?) in meaning that might escape the reader but makes a world of difference to the poet.

    I'm not sure this is relevant but I was a geology major once and one of my professors would insist that rocks were for studying while stones were only good for throwing.

  6. (Of course people read print journals!)

    I too read the placement tea leaves. Why am I buried in the middle? Why am I at the end? Why do birds suddenly appear? What does it all mean?

    As an editor, I know that every story and poem and whatever has to go somewhere and I try to create some kind of... flow, some kind of rhythm and balance in terms of form and subject matter and tone. Editors love all their babies equally but yes, there are favorites. Everyone has favorites but we do try to intersperse those favorites throughout the issue to maintain momentum.

    Your and Kathleen's poems were very near and dear to my heart and I thought they would kick down the door of the issue in just the right way. I thought they would say, "Motherfuckers, you're going to want to read all of this because the whole issue is this fucking good."

  7. There's no way to talk without making generalizations. (Too many hedges get in the way.) Not every single use of the word "stone" is poemy, sure, but a lot of them are. Too many of them. Way more than uses of "rock" are. That's what I'm arguing.

  8. You heard it from the editor herself...we were the best!

    JK. But thanks, Roxane!!!

  9. Well, I would have realized you were not generalizing had I read the blog post carefully. (Must stop multi-tasking.) You were arguing against the arbitrary selection of poemy-sounding words for the sake of making poems more poemy. (Did I get it?)

  10. Regarding #2--oh no, I had never even considered the possibility that authors are arranged according to goodness! One more thing to freak us! I generally end up in the middle, due to a tragic L name. And I've been smack next to William Logan several times, which always frightens me, because of Criticism.

  11. Years back I saw a mention of some psychological study that found that when people are shown a randomly arranged list of items (names, foods, cities, animals, whatever else), they tend to remember the items toward the beginning and end of the list better than they remember the ones in the middle.

    That seems consistent with what I've found with my own memory. I enjoy appearing near the beginning or near the end of a poetry magazine, I guess I slightly prefer it to being somewhere in the middle. Though it's not something I spend much time thinking about.

    When I'm reading in a group reading with a large number of readers (such as an open mike or some other large event), I like reading near the beginning (but not as the very first reader). When I've gone to open mike readings I've tried to show up somewhat early so I might have some choice about when I read, and my favorite spot is about third or fourth in the list. I've found that if it's much later than that (especially if the reading is somewhere where people are drinking alcohol), people's attention starts to wander after about the sixth reader or so, and doesn't usually get any better as the evening goes on.

    Yeah, it's a jungle out there...

    Regarding rock vs. stone, clearly either one of them can be effective in a poem, depending on what the poem needs wherever the word turns up.

    (Stone has longer lower rounder sounds, a slower heavier weight. Rock has sharper edges, a quicker lighter sound. Rock is harder than stone. Stone is heavier than rock. Stone is cold or warm; rock is cool or hot.)

    Word verification is "paroparh". I nominate it for new poem form for 2010.

  12. I'm kind of irritated that everyone (especially at HTML Giant, rather than here) is focusing on the rock vs. stone thing. That was not the point of the post. I don't understand all the comments to the effect of "I don't believe in making rules." No one proposed any rules. I expected some engagement with the questions at the end of the post, which had nothing to do with rocks or stones.

    Sorry to be grouchy. Blogging is so trying sometimes!!!!!!!