Well, I haven’t been very good about reviewing, reading, or even writing poems this national poetry month. I would blame it on the work (programming) project I spent sixty or seventy hours on (in the last two weeks), but that would really just be an excuse.

I have lots of crazy stuff happening. I suppose I haven’t mentioned this here, but I have a show in the fringe festival this year. It’s a showcase for unicycling routines, bits from nationals mostly, and I’m just the producer (not much chance I’ll decide to put together a bit for it, but I do have some ideas if it comes down to that). I already have some real world-class talent signed up, (including my sister), and feel confident that it’s going to be a great show.

I’m going to a fringe festival workshop tomorrow where (among other things) we’re going to learn about “promoting your fringe show”.

Last night I went to a midnight showing of the Hitchhiker’s Guide movie, and I thought it was nothing short of phenomenal. They got it very close to the feel of the book, and I think for a lot of people, (myself included), that was the most important thing. The visuals were also exceptional, and I think anyone who thought they didn’t do a good job with the Vogons is seriously on crack.

Anyway, it far exceeded my expectations.

Tonight laura and I watched another excellent movie, Primer, which had been on my list before this, but was coincidentally mentioned in a recent Wired article about George Lucas. (Coincidence because I happened to have read it today.) Supposedly it was filmed on a seven thousand dollar budget. Quite inspirational. Helps that it was also a pretty amazing movie.

Nate and I want to make something. I have to come up with an idea first, and then we need a camera, and then we need a script, and finally, we need to get off our asses…

I spent time this afternoon in a coffee shop installing and configuring SVN on my laptop. It’s a versioning system (simmilar to CVS if you’re familliar with it) and I’ve started using it to keep track of changes in my writing. It’s basically just a backup for files like my various journals that don’t change all that much (other than adding new matterial), but it’ll save me from keeping umpteen-dozen coppies of files around when I’m actually editing short stories and stuff.

Schnauss in da house!

Forgive me if I am overly excited right now. I just discovered that one of my favorite artists is going to be in town next saturday. Ulrich Schnauss. The two albums I’ve heard of his are magnificent. Absolute genius-level techno. That entire genre of music doens’t translate all that well to performance, but I don’t care, I’m just excited to see him, and the merch table!

PS… oh yeah, and I don’t think I’m going to review a poem tonight. I just spent the last four hours doing my taxes. I picked up my copy of Octavio Paz’s collected poems, but only halfheartedly read a few poems before deciding to turn to fiction for the evening. There was one called Certainty that I found pretty interesting. No really good metaphors or imagry, but I like the idea quite a bit. See you on the flipside.

chosing a poem

Here’s how I’m doing this, chosing.
Flipping pages at random
until I find one that resonates.

But what book?
Whose pages, lines, words?
Neruda? Oliver? Paz?

As I scoop the cat litter,
I think of them all at once
then each in turn.
They are like friends from different parts of my life–
faceless, I know them.

We need cat food and the cats will go without until tomorrow.

Oliver wins.
I open New and Selected Poems,
beginning at the beginning.
(So much for random.)
One poem in, I’m enchanted.

Second poem,
I think about going back to the first,
but the third… is more… I think… me.

When Death Comes
On page ten–cross reference the index–
This poem is four years old
or less!

But it is imageless, or nearly so,
and the emotion is not the same on second read.

So I continue,
nevermind “an iceburg between the shoulder blades”,
I continue.

So much nature in Oliver. So many poems later,
I return to the beginning of the book.

Rain still patters on my rooftop even though
I normally don’t go for multi-page poems.
It starts on page three with
lightning, “When it hit the tree, her body/opened forever.”

And then prisoners escape, and her father stands
next to the grave of his brother.
His stanza is powerful, then
the teacher’s birthday, then
the fifth stanza, two lines,
“I have heard this music before,/saith the body.”

The body. Saith.
So non-colloquial. So uncharacteristic.
I cringe, remember,
how I had first thought this her early work,
on first read.
But less than four years old!
Well past her pulitzer.

Maybe she knows a thing or two.

And the poem ends on page seven
after drowning in images and images and images
after I remember thinking
the snake is a cleche in poetry.
The conclusion:
“He begins to bleed through/like satin.”
It floors me.
And I’m spent.

book review instead

I just finished Woken Furies, by Richard Morgan. I always write a bit about each book I finish in a journal I keep for that purpose, and tonight was no different. But rather than scrounge for some poem to review before I head off to bed, I thought I’d just post some of my book review instead.

If you can paint your main character a serial killer, and still have your audience (me) rejoicing when he wins, well, then you can write the shit out of this book. Morgan does bloody, gory, plot-twisting far-future alien thriller like nobody I’ve ever read before. There are quite a few grey areas in my head, some of the fight scenes get a bit muddled at times, and the situation with the minimints, the DeComs, those are underdeveloped, in my opinion, but overall we get a crystal clear picture of all the important stuff in the book–especially Kovaks. And Kovaks is quite interesting. It’s great, because you have what is almost a perfect prism through which to view the story… as an Envoy, he has perfect recall, he sees everything in his peripheral vision, and can call up past memories unbidden when they’re relevent to the plot via a heightened (trained) sense of intuition that isn’t even nearly as hokey as it sounds when I write it. But get this… he isn’t a superman-perfect clone. He’s got his past looming in this novel even more so than the other two, and it rears its ugly head quite a bit before we get to the end.

I’m going to stop my paste-orgy there because I don’t want to add any spoilers, but let it suffice to say that I enjoyed this book at least as much as the other two, while thinking at the same time it had a few more flaws than either of the other two did. I have this half-baked idea that I should write the auther to discuss some of them, but I’m a chickenshit when it comes to that kind of thing. I always seem to convince myself that it means less to me than it does, so I don’t do it. Or maybe it really doesn’t mean all that much to me, (I may have already convinced myself,) and it’s more effort than it’s worth.

Also, I love Morgan’s plot twists. He’s great at them.

national poetry month

April is National Poetry Month, I discovered, looking at the poetry shelves this weekend at my local used bookstores with my friend tiki (whose birthday it was, incidentally, yesterday). I am going to attempt to write mini-reviews of a poem a day for the remainder of the month to celebrate.

For the first poem, I’ve chosen Chicago, by kent foreman.

I found this poem in the only book of poetry I purchased when I discovered it was national poetry month at the bookstores this weekend, The Spoken Word Revolution, an anthology of spoken word that also includes a CD. Unfortunately, Chicago is not one of the poems read on the CD, but it was the first to really strike me in the book. How could I not like a poem that begins with the lines, “Because I am a patriot, I love this bitch,/You dig?/This sprawling, bawdy breathtaking witch/This pig,”?

Spoken word poetry is both worse and sometimes better because of its colloquial nature–the language that even read “sounds” spoken. This poem does that particularly well, keeping up a sporadic irregular rhyme in the middle of a conversational tone. I admire the lack of indent structure, the visual flow of the poem as it meanders down the page, sometimes sharply returning to the left margin, sometimes flowing gracefuly back and forth. Some of my other favorite lines: “I know her for a great American Janus/’Cause, once, I was a ghetto urchin/Playing in her anus” and “My God, in spring,/Chicago balls the populace.”

Perhaps the only disappointing part of the poem for me is the ending, and I don’t mean in a cleched “sad it’s over” kind of way. The idea, interjected in the last few lines, is that the narrator loves chicago, but he’s leaving. Before that, the poem was basicaly an Ode, and I think I liked it better when I thought it was. I probably would have preferred the author leave off the last three lines, and end with the lines just before… calling back to that great opening, with “This is The Truth!/I love this faithless bitch/That robbed me of my youth”.

All in all, this was a great poem.

As a side note, if I keep this up, which I hope to, I will only be reviewing what I think are great poems. You dig?

alice in Wonderland on DVD

There are just a rediculous number of versions of alice in wonderland out there, and it was revealed last night at family dinner that my sister has never seen any of them. The disney animated one seems to be the most common, it was made back in 1951. But when I thought about it, the one that I remember seeing first was the one with Sammy Davis Jr. as the caterpillar. That one was made for TV in 1985, and as far as I can tell was never released on DVD!!! I’m semi-tempted to rent the SIX versions that netflix has on stock to watch and compare, but I’m affraid none of them would live up to the one I’m remembering…

organic responsibilities

I went for a run today. OK, yesterday now. I ran halfway to Jasmine Deli for lunch, and walked slowly back, still breathing hard fifteen minutes later, eating my mock duck sandwich.

It’s only five or six blocks to Jasmine Deli. I’m so out of shape it’s sad. My muscles in my shins hurt like hell. I feel pathetic.

I’ve decided I’m going to try and run more often. Maybe even once a day, or every other day. I’d like to say I’ll start working out too, but I tried that a year or so ago and didn’t keep it up.

The flesh is weak… I feel like my mind is weaker still.

“Oh what force on earth could be weaker than the feeble strength of one?”