Saturday, September 26, 2009

We've Reached the Bottom; It is a Long, Deep Trench

Experts predict that the penultimate catastrophe will occur at approximately 7:15 p.m. Thursday night, when the social networking tool Twitter will be used to communicate a series of ideas so banal they will instantaneously negate the three centuries of the Renaissance.

"The sciences, the arts, the humanities—all aspects of society as a whole will reach their respective low-points in just a matter of days," said anthropologist Robert Davidson, gesturing toward a nearby line graph illustrating western society's collapse. "We've been charting this cultural descent for generations now, from the advent of New Wave music, to the rise of scientific creationism, right through to the trampling death of several Wal-Mart greeters on the morning after Thanksgiving. Everything has been leading up to this Friday."

According to the panel, the final event will occur at 3:32 p.m., when a tourist, believing the impressive structure to be a giant mall, will enter Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art, and, not finding what he is looking for, ask where "the damn Radio Shack is supposed to be."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Daniel Nester Sets Out for the Poetry Wilderness

My thanks to C. Dale Young for posting this link to Daniel Nester's very funny article in The Morning News about his reasons for leaving the poetry megaplex of NYC. On his site, Nester says he took his title from an essay by Joan Didion which appears in her 1968 book, Slouching Towards Bethlehem. I suspect she was cribbing from the poet Robert Graves' memoir about his experiences in WWI.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Progress Notes

I have been working on an edit of my novel manuscript, and then today wrote another 2,700 words. I am over 280 pages and yes, I do think the manuscript is publishable. In fact, in my humble opinion, it's pretty darn good, though I suppose someone else will be the ultimate judge of that.

Back to the salt mines in the morning. I am glad that I didn't waste any time watching the Detroit Lions today, who were spanked at home by Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings, 27-13. If anyone is still counting, that's 19 losses in a row for Detroit.


The drawing is Vuelo Aguila (1954) by the Mexican artist Alfredo Zalce (1908-2003).

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Daisy Fried on Franz Wright's "Wheeling Motel"

Friday, September 18, 2009


I went to to Holland last night to go to the Gregory Orr reading, walked through downtown alone and thought about everything and just could not do it.

Drove home and went to sleep.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Gregory Orr Reading Tonight

The poet Gregory Orr is reading tonight at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, as part of the Jack Ridl Visitng Writers Series. The reading is at 7:00 P.M. at the Knickerbocker Theatre.

Orr has published nine collections of poetry and a highly acclaimed collection of essays, Poetry as Survival (University of Georgia Press, 2002). His most recent collection is How Beautiful the Beloved (Copper Canyon Press, 2009). Orr has received many awards and fellowships, including an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, two NEA Fellowships, and a Rockefeller Fellowship at the Institute for the Study of Culture and Violence.

Gregory Orr teaches at the University of Virginia, where he founded the MFA Program in Writing in 1975, and also teaches in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Jack Ridl's "Losing Season"

"Losing Season isn't just a great book of poetry, for it is much more than that––it is more like the Great American Novel we have long hoped would grace our literary landscape."

-Richard Jones

This gorgeous book is just out from CavanKerry Press. I have heard Jack Ridl read poems from collection–––which was many years in the making––and they are wonderful. Losing Season tells the story of a town, a coach, and a basketball team that is perpetually on the cusp of winning a game––of turning things around––and cannot quite bring themselves to do it. If Spoon River High School went into overtime––and lost at the buzzer––Jack Ridl would be there to chronicle it.

Jack Ridl is a professor emeritus from Hope College and knows what he is writing about––poetry-wise and basketball-wise. His father C. G. "Buzz" Ridl was a highly regarded (and winning) basketball coach at Westminster College and at the University of Pittsburgh, where he coached the team into the NCAA's Final Four.

Poems from Losing Season have appeared in Chelsea, Passages North, The New York Quarterly, Ploughshares, Yarrow, and many other literary magazines and anthologies.

Don't miss this one!

Thought for the Day

"...Every word she writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the.'"

-Mary McCarthy on Lillian Hellman.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Shock Notre Dame!

Michigan 38

Notre Dame 34



Next day note: And last night, Ohio State lost to Southern Cal.

If the Lions beat the Saints this afternoon, I will have had a football weekend in heaven.

Shock the World!

Or at least, the State of Michigan. Central Michigan University beats Michigan State University in football, 29-27.

Just wait until Monday, when I get to rub this in to the MSU Extension people who work in my building.

Because I went to the University of Michigan, frustrating and amazing the MSU Extension people with a pointed comment or two; a bit of witty repartee, will be such a simple thing.

Perhaps such pettiness is beneath me.


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Current State


Monday, September 07, 2009

What I Did on My Summer Vacation


Saturday, September 05, 2009

A Book We Will Be Reading

"Yet somehow Nicholson Baker has written a novel about poetry that’s actually about poetry — and that is also startlingly perceptive and ardent, both as a work of fiction and as a representation of the kind of thinking that poetry readers do. “The Anthologist” is the story of Paul Chowder, a semi-successful, middle-aged American poet trying and mostly failing to write the introduction to an anthology called “Only Rhyme.” As in most Baker novels, not much happens. Chowder sits in his workplace/barn and thinks; he shampoos the dog; he goes blueberry picking; he installs flooring for a neighbor; he pines for his former girlfriend Roz, who left him after getting fed up with his procrastination; he acquires a couple of finger injuries; he gives a reading; and finally, he sits on a panel on rhyme in Switzerland, at which he . . . well, again, it’s a Baker denouement, so not much happens, at least in terms of gunfights or ninjas."


"Rhyme and Unreason" by David Orr, a Review of Nicholson Baker's The Anthologist (Simon & Schuster, 2009), The New York Times Book Review, September 1, 2009.

Gout, What is it Good For?

Absolutely nothing--say it again.

Good God, Ya'll.

Here's a depiction of the artist at work. It my case, it was two pastrami sandwiches and an anchovy pizza that did me in. Bad stuff for someone with gout.

So it's my own fault, I suppose. Which doesn't mean I can't limp around feeling sorry for myself.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Knockin' Around the Yard

We thought someone was knocking at our door.

No; it was a female Pileated Woodpecker sampling the delectable treats in our yard.

Although such sightings mean nothing, I always take them a sign of good luck.

Note: I did not take this photo, but trust me, I heard--and saw--the bird.

Questions of Marketing

I have often read about how clever Amazon is with its purchasing records---how the company has programs that can predict what you might be interested in buying based upon your history as a customer.

Given my purchasing record, why would the gurus at Amazon think I want to order an advance copy of Dan Brown's new book, The Lost Symbol?

I have nothing against Dan Brown--other than that his books are, you know, blasphemy and stuff and he's pro'lly going to burn in the 7th Circle of H-E-L-L--but I am not one of his readers. Based upon my somewhat loopy purchasing history, Amazon should be notifying me that they have a hot new monograph available on "The Mycology of Post-Volcanic, Inter-montane Guatemala."


Above: Dore's depiction of Dante and Virgil searching for mushrooms near the 7th Circle.

Note: Lately, I find it impossible to write a cogent sentence before I've had a sufficient dose of caffeine.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Pre-Weekend Update

My class went well yesterday; I should have a pretty good group of students.

I am taking the rest of the week off to work on my novel. My goal is to have something mailed to my agent by September 15. This is an ambitious goal, but if I wait much longer than that, the demands of teaching and my day job will slow everything I tried to accomplish this summer to a crawl.

It is a lovely day––sunny and warming. But I had to make a fire this morning, just to chase the chill out of the house. It wasn't much of a summer in these parts, and fall is on its way.


Above: American CIA agent, novelist, and infamous Watergate burglar, E. Howard Hunt.

4:27 P.M.: 249 pages.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Dean Young Effect, Redux

Readers of the American Poetry Review will want to turn all the way to page 54 of the September/October issue to read Dean Young's very funny response to Tony Hoagland's essay, "The Dean Young Effect," which appeared in the July/August APR. In his letter, Young admits that he is not only responsible for much bad writing today, but is also responsible for bad writing all the way back to Chaucer and Donne.

Young writes, "The list, as any delicate reader knows, goes on and on."