Wednesday, December 16, 2009


“’More than a crime against language or a betrayal of the reader, the rejection of meter is an act of self-castration by the author.’”

- Joseph Brodsky, as quoted by J. Kates in an essay on translation at the back of the anthology In the Grip of Strange Thoughts: Russian poetry in a new era.

I’ve tried. I’ve tried to say something in response to this. It’s one of the awfulest statements of poetics I have ever read. I try again. I erase everything. Based on the above I suspect Brodsky has never written a word worth reading.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

what $10 & a poem got me

I went to the Small Press Distribution open house today. I bought a book for a poem. Then I bought ten more for a dollar apiece. I wrote about all that on LuvSet.

But since I write about books on this blog, this is where I’ll tell you what I got.

For a poem:
The Geography of Home: California’s poetry of place, edited by Christopher Buckley & Gary Young

Each for a dollar:
The Androgyne Journal, by James Broughton
An Inn Near Kyoto: writing by American women abroad, edited by Kathleen Coskran & C.W. Truesdale
Stories in the Stepmother Tongue, edited by Josip Novakovich & Robert Shapard
The Notebooks of David Ignatow, edited by Ralph J. Mills, Jr
Sound Off, poetry by Spencer Selby
Island People, a novel by Coleman Dowell
Three Vietnamese Poets, edited & translated by Linh Dinh
The Talking of Hands: unpublished writing by New Rivers Press authors, edited by Robert Alexander, Mark Vinz, & C.W. Truesdale
The Stuttering of Wings, poetry by Sheila E. Murphy
Bite to Eat Place: an anthology of contemporary food poetry and poetic prose, edited by Andrea Andolph, Donald L. Vallis & Anne F. Walker

Friday, December 04, 2009

“a terrible Chinese”

Paisley Rekdal has a mother of Chinese heritage and a father of Scandinavian. As with many multiracial people, new meets frequently try (& fail) to name her ethnicity. Rekdal spent a year abroad, teaching English in Korea. At the end of her trip she traveled in China. Though as a child she heard her grandparents speaking Cantonese, she never spoke it herself. On her trip she finds herself speaking in a muddle of English/Cantonese/Mandarin/Korean:

“[T]he language … bubbles up out of me. Guttural or singing, a swift collection of monosyllables I recognize as the roots of the Korean I’ve been studying, this language comes to me faster and more instinctively than I would have dreamed. But my rising and falling is more Cantonese than Mandarin; I am speaking a terrible Chinese triggered in a brain part only now unearthed, taught or reconstructed by these faceless teachers. Like a resuscitated grudge this language oozes and seethes from my throat with impoliteness and anger. No one can really understand me – I can barely understand myself – but somehow the Chinese pretend to believe what I am saying is Chinese. ‘Where are you from?’ they ask, and a few even look surprised to hear it’s America.”

source: The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee: observations on not fitting in by Paisley Rekdal