Monday, September 30, 2013

Sad poems for dirty lovers

I'm having a rough day. I don't usually turn to poetry when I'm sad; I'm more of the "watch bad movies and eat candy" type. But today I feel like looking for solace in poetry, even if it's only in the "misery loves company" sense. So: here are some words from poets who seem sad and dark like me today. (I usually hate nature imagery but apparently I like nature when I'm sad? Poems with fish in them are usually melancholy.)

The people are always pilgrims. This is the worst gutter medicine
I've ever taken. I hope it's working
All primitive types gamble away their very circuitry.
But I'm not going to give myself up to anyone but the death fish.

Oh your eyes are flashing again, you terrifying bugger. Maybe I'm going to give it up to you.
You don't want me to do right; or climb the ladder to the money couple
You don't even have decipherable wishes.

- from "Living on Brackish Water" by Alice Notley

In winter my loved one retires,
a fish among fishes, and dumb.
Slave to the waters she ripples
with her fins' gentle motion within,
I stand on the bank and look down
till ice floes drive me away,
her dipping and turning hidden...

It is fog land I have seen,
It is fog heart I have eaten.

- from "Fog Land" by Ingeborg Bachmann

Although the lilac is long dead, the bees still seek its entrance.
In vain, the chilled and resurgent bees.
It's not so much the lilac they want
As subtraction of lilac,
                                            some sumptuous, idyllic door
Unlatching to them its inner and sumptuous rooms.

- from "Saturday Afternoon" by Charles Wright

Night is such a furled feminine thing
around the muscles
of horses, the nettles in their fetlocks,
it is nothing
but the night before and the night after,
only starrier,
uglier. I try to shake them from it, take
their pain away,
they're dirty, I think, I'll make them clean.
It goes cold
again as horsetails lash the air; shadows
in the heart of the field, flooding it, and I flee.
All night long
I see the violent iron frowns of horseshoes.
Someday this pasture
will be pavement. See the barbed wire?
See the weeds?
Once I had a breath I did not breathe.

- from "Slowly, Slowly, Horses" by Julianne Buchsbaum

I saw how the night came,
Came striding like the color of the heavy hemlocks.
I felt afraid.
And I remembered the cry of the peacocks.

- from "Domination of Black" by Wallace Stevens

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Should we let people like David Gilmour hang by their own nooses?

It's been a great week for satire that's not satire. First there was the "essay" on Thought Catalog AKA Dumb Catalog AKA Troll Genius: "Being Privileged Is Not A Choice, So Stop Hating Me For It" (nothing else to say about that, it's perfect and complete unto itself like the best Onion headlines). Now we've got a Canadian lit prof telling us he doesn't teach books by women or the Chinese. Ironically (?) he's the author of a novel called A Perfect Night to Go to China.

The only woman on these shelves is in the picture frame

It's been suggested that publishing these ridiculous remarks is an act of subversive exposure, as in, let 'em hang by their own nooses. I suppose that's a valid argument; I once quoted Feynman on women without comment. (I do think quoting published material is different from being the original publisher.) But after consideration, I don't think this argument really works. The internet is already a wide-open platform for people to express their ignorant, hateful opinions. Do these jerks need more space and encouragement?

I once abandoned a pet project of keeping a running count of the number of male versus female authors named on a blog called Recommended Reading. These questionnaires are basically like course syllabi -- authors name the writers they most admire, emulate, and recommend. Many of the people interviewed do not mention a single woman author, or mention one woman for every ten men. See, for example, Jimmy Chen. (He does, to his credit, recommend a list of Japanese authors, but note that he's Asian; the only authors on the site I ever saw recommend more women than men were women.) Or Timothy Gager. Or Ryan Ridge (one woman, 22 men). Is this blog letting people hang by their own nooses? No, it's doing what 99% of the Internet does every day: reinforcing our pervasive subconscious gender bias. In the case of Recommended Reading, the reinforcement is subtle; it goes without mention. The only thing different in David Gilmour's case is that Gilmour is conscious of his bias (but, of course, he thinks it's justified).

Most of the people in my Twitter timeline have supremely sensitive sexism-dar, but are most of the people who visit the Random House Canada site going to feel the same way? Are they going to read Gilmour's words and think "Wow, they really exposed this guy for the racist, sexist asshole he is?" I doubt it. My guess is most readers will be nodding in agreement, pleased to have their own views reflected back at them, per usual. The irony will be lost on them. So why give him the platform?*

*Unless he gets fired. Then the joke's on me.

UPDATE: Gilmour's followup interview brought great joy into my life. It is hilarious. It's almost all worth it.

Monday, September 23, 2013

I, too, like it: On "good TV"

Time to do a little tweet-expanding again. These are from last night, when I caught some people live-tweeting the Emmys (Emmies?).

Only one person "wrote in" to disagree with me, and he said he didn't want to argue, so, OK, don't argue. But here's the thing: It's fine to "like TV" (see above) but can we at least agree that TV is about as profit-driven as you can get while still kinda sorta qualifying as art? THB, I don't think of TV as "an artform" any more than I think of cars as an artform. TBH part 2, I kind of prefer trash TV to "good TV" because good TV works too well. I become attached to and obsessed with fake people to an upsetting degree. (I'm still mad about Matthew & Mary ... and don't get me started on Cuddy & House.) It's different from movies or books because shows last weeks/months/years as opposed to 2-3 hours or 200-700 pages; I'm less likely to feel betrayed by a book because it's written by one person, not an evolving team of people subservient to network and advertiser demands; plus if a book starts to betray me I just stop reading it, but once I'm addicted to a show I feel compelled to finish it even though I hate it. And all the while I'm being forced to watch fake people use Windows tablets and buy Jimmy Choos.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Kind of an Ozma vibe, right?

You guys remember that movie Return to Oz?

It's weird -- I thought Ozma was so beautiful, and now she just looks like a little girl. But those empathetic eyes! Such beauteous pity she had. Anyway, I look a little like Ozma in this picture, right? Am I in crazytown?


My best friend from high school, her first email address was Promise you. I need to email her like, right now.

Monday, September 16, 2013

A few things

Kathy and I have new poems on the Internet, two at Banango Street (both ekprastics: "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" and "After a Photo by Vivian Maier") and a suite of five at Nailed ("Some Notes on" the Weird/Snobbery/Loss plus two whiskey poems). The Notes poems are from our new chapbook.

Kathy, my longtime friend and collaboratrix, recently joined Twitter, and this weekend penned this tweet which was RT'ed over 1600 times:
I've been tweeting the wrong things!

This a.m., she tweeted a link to an NYT Q&A with Earl Sweatshirt, who has interesting thoughts about Twitter and poetry:

While you were in Samoa, your whereabouts were pieced together by fans and bloggers. Did it make you worry about how much information is available online?
One day I hope to not have a Twitter, to be sick enough that I don’t have to use the Internet. But since we came up online, I have to be online. Twitter is a real addiction, like the color of it, the process of it. 
Your parents gave you the middle name Neruda after Pablo Neruda. You can see why people are curious. 
Yeah, it just happens to be that people like to associate poetry and rap music. I think that idea is kind of corny. I think rap music is rap music. I mean, are there heavy writing aspects of it? Absolutely. In a sense is it poetry? Yeah. I’ve heard that so much, growing up in a house with poetry. But I think people like to use that as a shortcut for who’s good and who’s not. It’s like the word “lyrical” — “lyrical” is the worst word in the entire world. 
So it’s not a shocking concept that rap could be poetry.
It’s actually so familiar that it’s annoying

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Susan Sontag hates Christopher Lydon, Camille Paglia hates Susan Sontag

John sent me these incredibly amusing videos last night. (He's been reading the Library of America Sontag and doing research for a piece.) First watch this:

Then watch this (being "being smug about her smugness," as John put it):

"I am the Sontag of the '90s," says Camille Paglia. Says Sontag: "Who is Camille Paglia?"

I met Christopher Lydon once. He emceed the Mass Poetry Festival the year I sort of "opened" for Patricia Smith and Mark Doty. Christopher Lydon was incredibly nice to me, said "That was great!" after my reading and told me "I'd like to interview you." I had no idea who he was. On the drive home John said, shocked and amazed, "Christopher Lydon wants to interview you?!" I said "Who's Christopher Lydon?" (Patricia Smith and Mark Doty were both very rude to me, by the way. Lydon never called.)

Whether or not Susan Sontag actually knew who Camille Paglia was, I love the idea of strategic ignorance. (Who is Mark Doty?)

Who is the person in your field that you'd get the most political mileage out of ignorance of their existence?

Friday, September 13, 2013

New Chapbook: The Kind of Beauty that Has Nowhere to Go

The Kind of Beauty that Has Nowhere to Go, a collaborative chapbook that I cowrote with Kathleen Rooney, is now available for purchase from Hyacinth Girl Press. Look how pretty it is!

My friend Katie Caron is responsible for the awesome cover art. It's just $6! You can buy it here.

You can read some sample poems from the chapbook at The Collagist and Hobart. And here's one more:


Beware of people whose motto is “No regrets.” They are violent innocents. Ravaged by love.

I want a point of view that isn’t mine to tell me that what I did wasn’t wrong. And permission to be sorry for the outcome, but not the event.

If you can’t feel remorse, you may be a sociopath. This isn’t all bad. If you feel called to live your life like a dirty free-for-all, you can.

They say it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, but you make me wish I’d never been born.

Guilt is associated with the sound of bells tolling; remorse, the sound of wind through trees.

I would never say I’m sorry in a dream. However, I might set my most regrettable moments in the sky like a starry galaxy, and try to detect a pattern.

To show more remorse, lower your eyes. To show less, fix them up and ahead like an equestrian statue. In general, be blue-eyed and statuesque.

Don’t even try to tell me that swans mate for life. Do swans seem normal to you?

You may be sorry now, but you’ll be even sorrier if you get tear stains all over those satin sheets.

I was working my way up to an apology when a songbird lit upon my shoulder. Something in his tune made cruel jilting sound sweet. If my present self is the sum of my past actions, how can I be sorry?

Remorse smells like tallow soap and agony, but you can never wash it off. It does get fainter over time, like an exceptionally tenacious perfume.

To express remorse you must compose a detailed account of whatever offense you committed. Choose your font wisely; serifs are more emotive.

Thanks for the sympathy, but “buyer’s remorse” doesn’t really compare. Unless what you bought was from Satan.

We name our daughters by the traits we hope they’ll possess; she chose to name hers Rue.

The mental compartment where I store my remorse is the haunted garret in a mansion full of otherwise pleasant rooms.

Some people say there are five languages of apology.

I’m sorry you feel that way.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Girl Post. NSFB. You Were Warned.

Excuse me for five minutes while I pretend to be a beauty blogger.

I really love xoVain, the beauty offshoot of Jane Pratt's xoJane. They have this saucy, insouciant, "WGAF" approach to beauty that is so fun and Friday, and frequently on late Friday afternoons you will find me catching up on xoVain. (I especially love the copycat beauty tutorials, like this stunning Audrey Hepburn copycat look or, more ridiculously but equally fabulously, this one inspired by Ursula the damn Sea Witch!) This is how I ran across this post yesterday: "I'm That Hot Virgin You All Hate (Well, My Hair Is)." This woman's premise is basically "I've never dyed my hair and it's crazy-perfect and everyone loves it and if you stop fighting your hair's 'natural texture' you too will be as gorgeous as me. (Also, use henna and only eat avocados.)"

To my utter amusement, everyone in the comments was like, "Uhhhh NO." I actually read all the comments twice because they were so funny to me. Some highlights:
Yeah... I've never done anything to mine, it's roughly the same color as the author's... I'm gonna posit that either her hair is extremely sensitive to sunlight or that's not natural amounts of sun-induced lightening... 
I live in Phx, have waist-length hair, get a ton of sun and my ends are not eleventy-shades different from my roots.... 
Me thinks the lady doth protest too much?
I don't really know what this article says apart from 'my hair won the genetic lottery'. Good for you? No one can deny that you have really, really nice hair...
i try not to say too many mean things around here 'cause what's the point but this? this gets a solid ugh minus. 
the tone was smug and awful (if it was tongue in cheek it did NOT come off that way), there wasn't actually any useful information in it and it was super shamey/judgy of other people's hair practices. i even agree that people should leave their hair the fuck alone and i still hated it!
I've never dyed my hair and like ... uh. I feel like I've been shamed. This is such an annoying article.
Congratulations? I guess?
.........wut. It's kinda hard to see what you're hair actually looks like in the pictures you inserted which is...kind of strange since you're pretty obsessed. Also, is hating hot virgins a thing??
And my personal favorite, though not all that original:
Wait... I'm confused? Do you or don't you think you have great hair?
All the cattiness seems completely justified because the article WAS smug and judgy (smudgy?) and usually the comments on xoVain are nothing but "Could you BE any hotter?!"

Anyway, I bring this up because I've recently been pretty into what's happening with my hair. I actually do have "virgin hair" in the sense that I have never dyed it, not even temporarily with that stuff from the '90s that washed out after eight shampoos, or with lemon juice or Sun In or whatever. But I've never wanted to dye it because my hair is a good color: dirty blond with red tones and natural highlights. My mom, dad, and brother were all blond as kids but their hair turned brown in their early teen years. I too went through a hair transformation around age 12, but it went from being stick straight to naturally wavy, and stayed blond (though it's not as blond as it was when I was tiny, it's been pretty stable in color for the past 20 years). 

When my hair was straight, I always wanted it to be curly. It was so straight it was hard to get it to hold a curl, but for special occasions my mom would put it up in hot rollers or, on two very special occasions, pin curls that I slept in. That made for the most awesome huge disco hair ever. Other times she would braid it while damp, which turned into crimpy waves that were straight at the very tops and bottoms, a look I think sucks. 

So basically, I got lucky when my hair turned wavy -- except that it took me literally decades to figure out how to get it to look the way I wanted it to look. Here are the issues:
  1. My hair takes a long time to dry. It's very fine, but there's a lot of it, and it holds a lot of water. It's dry and sunny here in Denver so it dries faster, but I lived in damp climates from the ages of 18 to 31, and I didn't always want it let it air-dry after it got wet. But...
  2. My hair straightens very easily with a hairdryer; I don't have to use products or a brush or work at it, the heat just turns it straight. So if I don't let my hair air dry, it's not going to be wavy unless it gets wet again (i.e. from rain or extreme humidity). 
  3. I usually like to shower at night (because I exercise after work, not before), but going to bed with wet hair generally does not work out well. And even if it has time to dry before sleepy time...
  4. When my hair air-dries with no product, it looks decent the first day, but shitty after I sleep on it because most of the wave comes out and it gets all flat and blah.
So given the givens, how am I supposed to embrace my "natural hair texture" blah blah? Here's how! I figured it out! This could work for you if you happen to have almost exactly the same type of hair that I have!

  1. Get some shaggy layers cut into your hair because they help bring out the wave.
  2. Experiment with different shampoos. Lately I'm liking the newish Bumble & Bumble Surf Shampoo (I never spend this much on shampoo but John actually bought this; too bad I used most of it but whatever, he uses all my shower shit) or the L'Oreal sulfate-free ones. One of them smells like rosemary, mmm
  3. Focus shampoo at the roots, conditioner at the ends. Don't put them both everywhere. If you don't care about your hair being soft you can skip conditioner entirely and this makes it extra wavy. If you do use conditioner (without it, my hair gets staticky in Denver), go for a lightish one, maybe a volumizing formula. 
  4. THIS IS THE REAL KEY: MOUSSE! A while back I saw a spread in In Style or something about how mousse is the shit and we need to bring back mousse. The article said that if you put mousse in your hair while it's damp and then don't touch it until it's dry, you get awesome princess hair. This is the truth. Scrunch the mousse into your hair while it's damp (not sopping wet) and then hands off. The lame part is that it takes 3-4 hours for my hair to dry entirely and in the meantime it looks really stupid, but once it's dry, the waves are great. You just need to break them up with your fingers a little because they can get slightly crunchy in spots, but it shakes out. For maximum waviness I like the kind of mousse that starts as liquid and turns into foam when you pump the nozzle, versus the shaving cream type. I don't know why, it just works better with my hair.
  5. Don't wash your hair every day. The mousse helps the waves hold so it looks good on the second and sometimes even the third day. If I shower on the second day, I'll usually just get it wet and condition again and start the whole process over, without the additional shampoo. If I don't shower, dry shampoo amps up the volume. Hairspray or salt spray can also help revive it, or just getting it a little bit damp with your hands and floofing it up a bit, as necessary. 
Yeah, so, at some point I'll probably get bored and cut it into a bob again and then be annoyed because it looks great the day I leave the salon and is a pain in the ass ever after, since my bobs require blowdrying and never look right in the back. But for now, I am pretty pleased with my "natural" hair texture. (Goes without saying that there's no such thing as natural beauty, etc.) 

Because pics-or-it-didn't-happen, here's what it looks like after 2.5 days (I last washed it on Thursday evening):

I made a stupid face so as to seem less #vain. Is it working? Here's the non-stupid-face version, which shows the hair more but also my scar more (whatever):

Anything resembling a true ringlet has been wiped out, but the mousse gives it nice, messy, matte bedhead texture. I put some hairspray in it yesterday, but there's no new product in it today. Here's the TEXTURE CLOSE-UP:

Uh, it looks sort of damaged here but it isn't really, just messy. No split ends, I promise! 

Here's the more flattering left-side shot, but with weird green lighting. Am I standing in a refrigerator? 

As long a we're faux-beauty-blogging, here's all the crap on my face, in order of application from top to bottom (should be left to right but I couldn't get this to rotate):

Worth noting:
  • The fat beige pencil-looking thing is concealer in a stick. It's great! I normally hate concealers, I feel like they never blend well on my dry skin. This blends and disappears. 
  • The blush is a Tarte stain. They make the best cheek stains. It's on sale for $10 at Sephora right now.
  • The Color Tattoo shade is Tough as Taupe. 
  • Two mascaras! Clump Crusher for the first layer; then Voluminous on the top outer halves only, because it's really gunky and inky. 
  • I just bought the lip thing (creamy pencil that dries matte) and wanted to try it. Bit much for a Saturday afternoon, yeah.
That was fun. Enough poetry, let's talk about hair. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Negative words that give me positive feelings

Seems like bad things get a lot of the good words:

  • Debacle
  • Debris
  • Devastate 
  • Destroy
  • Destitution
  • Catastrophe
  • Calamity
  • Annihilate 
  • Pillory
  • Misery
  • Lambaste
  • Crippling
  • Harrowing
  • Slain
  • Smite
  • Bereft
  • Perish
  • Banish├ęd 
  • Perfidious 
  • Flotsam
  • Jetsam
  • Wreck
  • Ruin
Man, I love all these words. Even just plain old to suffer. To admit that I suffer gives me a frisson. Maybe it's by design, to ease the pain of existence.