Saturday, July 28, 2007

five used & two new

five used

Karen Brown’s Mexico 2006

I picked this one up at Half Price Books because Brown lists two itineraries that I’ve been contemplating. A trip via rail through Copper Canyon (Barrancas de Cobre) and a visit to the lagoons on the Sea of Cortez where the gray whales give birth.

Ceremonies by Essex Hemphill

This was on the 25c sale shelf the Friends of the Library maintains. I remember Hemphill from the poetic documentary Tongues Untied and I’ve long been curious to read more.

Shark’s Tooth by Marc Elihu Hofstadter

I saw this at Black Oak. I read Marc’s two other books. Poetry.

Ploughshares Spring 2007

This was also on the Friends shelf.

Indian Days of the Long Agoby Edward S. Curtis

Another Friends item. Curtis is mainly known for his 19th C. photographs of Indians (sometimes staged). This little book has a lot of photos and drawings. I couldn’t pass it up.

two new

America: a prophecy by Sparrow

Sparrow is great. I saw this new at Analog Books. Or was it Signal? I forget. That bookstore up on Euclid. Come in the door and there’s the stack of the new Harry Potter book. Somehow I think I will be able to survive the wait.

580 Split, the literary magazine of Mills College in nearby Oakland.

I oughta send ‘em stuff. Deadline is October 1st.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I skip the long ones too

Tim Donnelly writes good poems. He also performs them very well, at ease before an audience. He doesn’t write a lot so when I heard him read last Saturday (7/14), several months since I last heard him read, more than half the poems were familiar to me. Yet they were still fresh. Of one Tim said afterward, “In all the times I’ve read that poem, this was the first time I’ve gotten a laugh.” A poem likening orgasm to a sugar egg with a diorama inside of a naked bunny wedding? Got no laugh?

I picked up Tim’s self-published chapbook, I skip the long ones too. “You already have that,” he said. He’s right. So I’m offering it up here. You want it? I’ll mail it to you. (If you would prefer not to leave your address in comments you can email me – lovesettlement[at]

As additional enticement here’s a Donnelly poem:

I flunked the trial separation
lost my identification
lost identity
in a soft sweat museum
my body scooped dead as a bowl
not other fish but the sea I’m scared
of you are no piranha I
am no shark
the part where we give ourselves
every hand is a mouth in the shower

UPDATE: The giveaway is spoken for. However, if you want to give me your contact info I’d happily pass it on to Tim.

Friday, July 20, 2007

reading in Alameda

I gave a featured reading Saturday night (7/14). First time in years. Tim Donnelly, the poet friend I made shortly after moving to Berkeley, asked me to join him at the Frank Bette Center for the Arts. I debuted sections from the long manuscript, Autobiography of a Book, and got praises for it. There was a rack of books by locals so I bought one from Patricia Edith, The Commute: an extended poem in xxvi parts, which seems to be based on her daily commute to San Francisco. She signed it, “May you write long things forever.”

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Don Emblen, publisher

Got a letter yesterday from Don Emblen. He offered to produce a chapbook for me on the letterpress in his garage so a few months back I sent him a manuscript. “Sorry about the delay in getting to your sampler. Don’t be dismayed, just be patient. At least that’s the advice I give myself … I’ve been working for a year now on a Collected Works volume, going through all extant poems I’ve written and am appalled by the masses of manuscripts going back to the early 1940’s.”

Don includes a copy of his The Reader’s Rejoinder a monthly response to books. How Dare I Read! Looks like it’s as much a response to correspondents, quoting from letters sent to him from Cotati, Carmel, Santa Rosa, and Eagle Creek in Oregon.

Don gives the thumbs down to The Last Days of Pompeii, a 19th Century novel by “Sir Edward George Earl Lytton Bulwer Lytton”. Don was “sufficiently seduced by [the] gorgeous reproductions of classic artwork to buy a used but still elegant edition … Just as the volcanic rain of fire and rock from Vesuvius destroyed Pompeii in 79 A.D., the egregious faults in Bulwer’s writing reduced his novel to a litter of worn, Byronic phrases.” Don says he’d heard it was bad. He can now pass on his agreement. Don was perplexed to read “an introductory essay by Edgar Johnson, a respected literary scholar,” in which Johnson acknowledges the novel’s many flaws but claims it “’triumphs over all its deficiencies.’” Deficiencies, yes; triumph, no.

Wasn’t a bad writing contest named after Bulwer Lytton?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

more Norse

From Harold Norse’s Memoirs of a Bastard Angel:

marriage: two deluded individuals vow to deceive each other till truth do them part.

Other bloggers have written about attending the Norse reading. Michael Petrelis even has pictures. I snagged one for this post.

renegadepathos posts one of the poems Norse read, “I am not a man”. Middle of the poem Norse said, “’And it goes on like that for a while.’ He made to turn the page to another poem, until we all cried out ‘Keep reading it!’ So he continued.”

Monday, July 16, 2007

Harold Norse

I went to see Harold Norse read Sunday (7/15) at the Beat Museum in San Francisco. First time I’ve been to the Beat Museum. My friend Tim calls it a tourist trap. The museum is upstairs. It’s less than half the size of the gift shop at street level. The major artifact is one of Allen Ginsberg’s organs, which is about 2/3 the size of an upright piano. Most of the exhibits are big photo blow-ups with captions. A couple cases filled with books by the Beats and books about them, including racy paperbacks from the 50s: she found her kicks among the denizens of the Beat underground

I bought Harold Norse’s Memoirs of a Bastard Angel last December. It’s been sitting by the bed since. When I heard Norse would be reading to celebrate his 91st birthday I figured I ought to go. I brought along Memoirs, beginning it on the BART train. I had just read Edward Field’s memoir, The Man Who Would Marry Susan Sontag, and Field doesn’t mention Norse. The two had friends in common. They are near the same age (Field is eight years younger). Both are gay, Jewish, New York natives. Both are poets. You’d think they’d have an inkling of each other. Of course, a memoir is not a methodical chronicle of everything. Most of life ends up left out. I haven’t finished Norse’s book yet (Field is not listed in the index), but I can say it’s better written. Not saying I didn’t enjoy the Field memoir.

Harold Norse read from his collected poems, In the Hub of the Fiery Force. He has a deep, resonant voice, which would have carried well without a microphone. Norse would hold the book up and say, “It’s a big book, isn’t it? More than 600 pages. Lot of poems in it.” He seems to be having trouble with his short term memory. He would introduce a poem, read a line or two from it, which would lead him to make some other remark, then he would return to the poem, reintroduce it with the same words he had just used and read it from the beginning. More than once he was uncertain whether he’d yet read it. “Yes, you did!” chorused the audience. Or in one case: “No, no. You haven’t. Read it!”

I got my copy of Memoirs signed after the reading. Actually, I thought Norse had already left and was getting ready to leave myself when I saw him sitting at a table near the cash register. “I’m tired,” he said, “so I’m just going to write my name. Is that OK?” But when he’d finished with his name he looked up and asked if I wanted him to add my name. I did, so he did.

Harold Norse is living in an assisted care facility and the friend who had brought him to the reading encouraged us to make contact. He even had a hand-out. I will quote from it.

“Harold’s ability to stay strong and healthy is [greatly helped by] outside contact … Please make an effort to reach out to him … Remember that being 91 is no walk in the park.”

Harold Norse
Hayes Valley Care
601 Laguna St, Room 13
San Francisco CA 94102

I am going to send him a card. My thanks to Todd Swindell for the contact info.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

what’s new

Friday I don’t start work until two. I had a 15% coupon for Half Price Books and I thought I’d swing by there on the way. Get lunch downtown. Half Price had a batch of 2006 guidebooks including ones for Disney World in Florida. I’ve been contemplating a trip in December, which is supposed to be the quietest time of year (though, it seems, there is no time of year when you are not assured of lines on the big rides). It’s a childhood dream thing. I also want to drive over to the so-called Space Coast and visit the NASA launch sites, maybe even “have lunch with an astronaut.”

I also stopped by Comic Relief. After flipping through new stuff I checked out the small press shelves and decided on the newest issue of Fuff, a comic created & published by Jeffrey Lewis. It’s a mix of autobiographical and fantastic stories. Lewis likes words and crowds the panels with them. At Jeffrey Lewis’ website I followed a link to a video for "Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror", a song (& video) that shortly had my jaw dropping – likes words? this boy challenges that old FedEx spokesman for spilling. The lyrics are witty, yearning, ironic, and dare you to pay attention. I enjoyed Fuff and will get what earlier issues Comic Relief has on the shelf, but I’m also going to look around for Lewis’ music.