Well, I’m directing my posts for the time being towards writers and those interested in literature and writing. My tiny audience, after all, is mostly in the MFA program with me, so I can only assume these websites will interest them. There are a lot of great (and free) publications and resources on the internet, and I keep finding new ones all of the time. While updating my links section on my new blog, I found a few that I’m going to be posting about sooner or later. The first is Here Comes Everybody: Writers on Writing, a large collection of interviews done over the past few years with contemporary writers. Some of the more recognizable authors interviewed here include:

  • Dan Beachy-Quick
  • Sarah Manguso
  • D.A. Powell
  • G.C. Waldrep
  • Ron Silliman
  • C.D. Wright
  • David Shapiro
  • David Baker
  • Rae Armantrout
  • K. Silem Mohammad
  • Robert Creeley, “Onward.”
  • Gabriel Gudding
  • Mairead Byrne
  • Paul Hoover

That’s a relatively short list for all that’s offered, and I’m sure there’s names of great authors that I’ve overlooked or I’m just unfamiliar with. So check it out. I personally find interviews with poets very inspirational, or at the least thought provoking. The short list of links to some of the interviewee’s blogs (on the left hand side) is worth browsing through too.

In the works: my short review of Mairead Byrne’s pdf book, SOS Poetry, available and free for all to download off of UBU Editions’ website (see the links to the right).

I found this great site today while clicking around that you might want to check out. It’s going in my links when I’m done here. Not only does it have a great list of North American lit magazines (with descriptions and links), both print and online, but it even has hundreds of reviews of different issues. Sycamore Review’s latest issue is up there (got a good review, too). I have yet to go to the book review section, so I’m not sure what’s going on there, but the list of contests, organized by submission deadline, is damn impressive.

If you’re interested in becoming a contributing reviewer, and you’re interested in free review copies of mags or books, they’re looking for people to apply. I love the internet.

tophead.jpgFor all of the MiPOesias fans out there (and I wonder if there are any reading my blog), “Put your hands up / in the atmosphere” for the new David Trinidad Edition. I’m not sure how long it’s been up, but I just started browsing through it a week ago. Good stuff! No subscription! The lines I quoted from above are from Graeme Bezanson’s group of poems, one of the Eclogues.

Seriously, if you haven’t checked this online poetry journal out yet, do it now. All their previous editions are up in their archives, each one edited by a different guest editor and with a different theme / aesthetic in mind. I’m constantly impressed.

Other favorites from this issue:

Leanne Averbach
Brandy Homan
Charles Jensen
Erica Kaufman
Michael Lally
Richard Meier
Maureen Owen
Ronald Palmer
Jennifer Watman


I’ve set up a new blog with WordPress for posting on the Markov Chaining process I use to write poems. It’s called Mindless Carnage & Wonder At Death, and it’s at http://mindlesswonder.wordpress.com/. It will be a place for me to display the full process I use as well as wonder about the poetics of it. I’m also hoping for it to be a place where other users (or beta testers, I suppose) can get info and give their feedback on the program, too. Once I get my brother’s permission (which will hopefully be secured this afternoon) I am planning to post the python script and installation instructions for the program on the new blog too, for those of y’all interested in using it. I’m going to make some screenshots in a minute so you can see what it is (it’s a command line program, so it’s not very exciting).

So, this blog is going to remain what it is, a place for my political and literary links and ramblings.

wboriginal.gifIn solidarity with Dave, and in hopes of choosing an enjoyable and easy read, I have picked up Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys. Something to pick me up out of the emotional hole that Blood Meridian dug for me. Fifty pages in and I have to agree with Brian Beglin: the book is better than the movie. And all of the sappiness and romanticization of writing programs aside, the movie was damn good.

I guess its better for one reason: everything is written through Grady Tripp’s perspective. Tripp gets to drift in and out at will and he gets as many opportunities to fill in his history as he likes. And Michael Douglas’ outstanding performance of him was what makes me watch the movie again from time to time.

So, Chabon is good in my book so far.

As for the other books… My Life is still going good, though I’ve only be reading a poem every other day or so. Genesis has become exhausting, what with its hundreds of short entries. It has some great moments, though. Along with Howard Zinn, Eduardo Galeano remains a favorite historian / political writer.

There was a sentence in My Life that really hit me the other day. I’ve been meaning to blog about it, and now that Theresa has blogged about her desire to rediscover some of the more meaningful things of adolescence that have been pushed aside over the years, it’s come back to mind. I have to set it up with some of the surrounding sentences, to give you a sense of what the context created by the style of these poems is like:

The pair of stunted, ancient apricot trees yielded ancient, stunted apricots. What was the meaning hung from that depend. The sweet aftertaste of artichokes. The lobes of autobiography. Even a minor misadventure, a bumped fender or a newsstand without newspapers, can “ruin the entire day,” but a child cries and laughs without rift. The sky droops straight down. I lapse, hypnotized by the flux and reflux of the waves.(from “Like plump birds along the shore,” pp. 27-8)

There is a solidity, an inertia to mood that gets heavier and harder to shake off as an adult. In December last year, I was walking around campus. I had just become so used to my surroundings that I could ignore them almost completely and still get around fine. It occurred to me, though, that this “freedom,” I suppose you could call it, was not necessarily a good thing. It did allow me to withdraw into my thoughts, to not be distracted by concerns of location as I moved from one place I knew to another place I knew. My eyes and feet knew what to do without my mind needing to intervene. But then, just being absorbed in one’s thoughts is another form of distraction…

I’ve drifted off topic. Maybe. What I was getting at is that one can still look at those buildings and streets and trees and such that one has seen a hundred times or more and NOT be automatically inclined to be indifferent toward them. The first time you see something and the third time are different mostly because of expectations that have been learned, but we all know that expectations do not hold up all the time. Functional, yes, but hardly the foundation of any experiential understanding of reality.

So I look at the things around me every once in a while. They exist, as much as that can be said about anything. They have a continuity, whether it is a seemingly frozen continuity, like a building, or a continuity of action or habit, like a car, or a person, that you expect to keep doing certain things at specific places or types of place. When I have to wait for a bus, or I just have nothing to do, I like to watch this continuity, this inertia. I’m more aware of my presence in relation to the presences around me.

I always did like to watch things. Maybe that’s something I want to get back to from my adolescence. I hope any of this makes sense to anyone other than me. Maybe it doesn’t.

Thomas Briggs, Avatar #1

So much free time! I’m coming to grips with it now. The schedule is becoming less wasteful of my time, though at the same time, time is disappearing much more easily. I’ve gone back to random blog searching, to scour for source material for the Markov Chain program. I’ve decided to start keeping these “Random Blogs of Note” in a bookmark folder so I can keep track of them for future use.I’m revamping my approach to the Mchain writing process with two separate approaches (possibly combinable at some point, who knows). One is to be more selective of what is input by entering only text that has been digested by me in one form or another. I guess I am saying that I should have read and thought about something in the individual texts that I am putting in, so as to create some resonances with the output.

The other approach is to keep a running log of freewriting sessions and use that as input. I’m shooting for an average length per entry of one half of a page, single-spaced, for now. I’m a bit rusty, it seems.

For your amusement (and my records), here is my Random Blogs of Note bookmark folder. Of course, I do not necessarily agree with the sentiments expressed in these blogs. I actually disagree with quite a few of them, which is probably the reason for their inclusion, as they give rise to as clear aversion in me that warrants exploration. Most are more or less harmless.

Random Blogs of Note

View from the Front Desk
The 4th Avenue Blues
Paranoid Pedestrian Ponderings: You have a happiness level of: 92%
Process Junkie
Heal The Land With Spiritual Warfare
I have a vagina and I’m not afraid to use it.
MY WAR (Iraq war blog, just published a book based on the blog. Check the archives)
Destiny and her pet chance

Spamish Blogs

And here is a spamish blogs (bizarre, probably generated by a program). These blogs come up often in random blog searches, and in some ways resemble the output of the Markov chain program I use, though with different input. I should post a running journal of the complete process of the writing of a poem with the mchain program sometime, including the imput, output, and various drafts.

Slut Suzie (warning: adult content)

Weird, huh. Is there an aesthetic possible with these? And what is it? What is the effect of reading this kind of prose? I’ll look around for better examples.

burn_oil.jpgI just read this lovely article / speech from The Nation, “Words in a Time of War” by Mark Danner, linked on Silliman’s Blog. Here’s a quotation from the first page:

I give you my favorite quotation from the Bush Administration, put forward by the proverbial “unnamed Administration official” [Karl Rove, as later revealed] and published in the New York Times magazine by the fine journalist Ron Suskind in October 2004. Here, in Suskind’s recounting, is what that “unnamed Administration official” told him:

“The aide said that guys like me were ‘in what we call the reality-based community,’ which he defined as people who ‘believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.’ I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ‘That’s not the way the world really works anymore,’ he continued. ‘We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality– judiciously, as you will–we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…. and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'”

I must admit to you that I love that quotation; indeed, with your permission, I would like hereby to nominate it for inscription over the door of the Rhetoric Department, akin to Dante’s welcome above the gates of Hell, “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.”

Might be a bit “biased” for my Rhetoric & Composition students (he does slam GWB repeatedly), but maybe they should look at that quote and wonder what it means that those in power, “history’s actors,” act from such a skewed perspective; and maybe consider their status as students that are just joining the “reality-based community.” There is this quote too, a couple of paragraphs down:

This [attitude] is, after all, old hat to you [graduates of Rhetoric]; the line of thinking you imbibe with your daily study, for it is present in striking fashion in Foucault and many other intellectual titans of these last decades–though even they might have been nonplussed to find it so crisply expressed by a finely tailored man sitting in the White House. Though we in the “reality-based community” may just now be discovering it, you have known for years the presiding truth of our age, which is that the object has become subject and we have a fanatical follower of Foucault in the Oval Office. Graduates, let me say it plainly and incontrovertibly: George W. Bush is the first Rhetoric-Major President.

I’m still chewing on that one.

wideman.jpgHere’s a slight update on the reading list from the previous post. I have the time to get down to reading from my own library now that summer is kicking in.

I just finished Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. It’s great, but depressing as hell. I had a similar albeit compressed reaction to Apocalypse Now!. Well worth the emotional anguish.

Now I’m reading Genesis, Part I of the Memory of Fire trilogy by Eduardo Galeano, a healthy mix of history, fiction and myth spanning the entire recorded history of the Americas. I also recommend his book Upside Down.

I’m still hacking my way through Lyn Hejinian’s My Life, too. Dense, beautiful prose poems from the 1980’s. I don’t know why, but they remind me of Mindy for some reason. I would recommend it.

Upcoming: John Edgar Wideman’s (photographed above) Homewood Books [Damballah, Hiding Place, and Sent for You Yesterday]. If you haven’t read anything by him, you really should. He came to the U of I five years ago and gave a reading that I don’t believe will ever be topped for me. Amazing, spellbinding prose.

And coming up, Overlord by Jorie Graham, Spring Comes to Chicago by Campbell McGrath, and possibly Russell Banks’ Continental Drift.

passport.jpgMy public has responded, and they do need me! It’s good to be needed, oh yes.

Haven’t written a word down since the semester ended. No blogging. No essays. No poetry. I’m taking a break. My antibiotics have finished, and I do feel better, but I’m still not sure that whatever it is that has been causing the sinus infections is really gone yet. So I’ve started yoga again, I’ve returned to my meditation practice, and I’m exercising semi-daily. Relax! Blood pressure, you goin’ down!

K is gone to St. Lucia for the summer. I’m back in Polo. I’m in need of some cash now that I’ve paid for my passport. I’m trying to get a job, or two. If I can, I’d like to get money for rent and (listen up, Dave) a plane ticket to St. Lucia. The laptop is gonna haveta wait. If anybody has been trying to call me, by the way, I do not get any service in Polo and environs. I’ll get back in touch whenever I go somewhere that gets service, so please leave a message.

The summer reading schedule has begun. I’m reading now: Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy, My Life by Lyn Hejinian, and Eduardo Galeano’s Genisis (Part I of the Memory of Fire trilogy). Coming up: Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, Dimensions by Jacques Vallee, and Campbell McGrath’s Spring Comes to Chicago. We’ll see if I get around to Allen Ginsberg or George Oppen’s collections of their complete poetry at all this summer. We’ll see.


Via Digg labs, this Guardian article by Naomi Wolf. Excerpt:

It is a mistake to think that early in a fascist shift you see the profile of barbed wire against the sky. In the early days, things look normal on the surface; peasants were celebrating harvest festivals in Calabria in 1922; people were shopping and going to the movies in Berlin in 1931. Early on, as WH Auden put it, the horror is always elsewhere – while someone is being tortured, children are skating, ships are sailing: “dogs go on with their doggy life … How everything turns away/ Quite leisurely from the disaster.”

Don’t look at me, I didn’t say anything. It was her.