Sunday, April 10, 2005

Kind of sick, worn out from traveling and general excitement. Full weekend, what with the grad student theory conference on Friday and Saturday (heard some really excellent papers on the topic of mimesis and poetics [not necessarily together] by Buffaloers Michael Cross, Eli Drabman, and Thom Donovan, along with Cornell stalwarts Alex Papanicolopoulos, Pedro Erber, and Alex Young-Bryant; plus a fascinating and useful lecture by Michael Hardt of Empire fame on the topic of multitude) and then of course the Soon reading with Ann Buechner and Mark Lamoureux. Be on the lookout for Mark's new manuscript, whose name I can't recall but which uses the names of stars as jumping-off points for intensely lyrical and moving poems. This morning Mark guest-starred in the D&D game, during which our intrepid heroes climbed precariously down into a not-quite bottomless pit, fought off a cloud of killer bats, and then took out a hideous Siamese zombie (two zombies badly stitched together). Experience points for all my friends!

I've admired Simon DeDeo's poem review blog Rhubarb Is Susan for some time now, and now I'm delighted to report that he's turned his acute and sympathetic critical eye on one of my own poems. The poem in question is pretty old, dating almost to Montana days, and it's interesting to get a fresh perspective on it. Simon doesn't call any attention to its being a ghazal in his review, but that kind of makes sense since I found the ghazal form to be more of a useful generative procedure than a form I was using in full consciousness of its history and implications. A form of orientalism, perhaps, but at the time it was a useful spur to the imagination. I kind of like the requirement that the poet insert his or her own name into the final line; it's a kind of boomerang treatment of lyric subjectivity for a form that puts most of the focus on the semi-objective fact of obsessive repetition. Anyway, my thanks to Simon.

Speaking of obsessive repetition: I know they're kind of evil, but via Paul Guest I've just discovered Amazon's rather beautiful new "Concordance" feature, a representation of the 100 most frequently used words in a book. In the case of Selah the top words are "eyes," "light," and "water," with "air," "mother," "sea," and "white" following close behind. Draw your own conclusions.... Looking forward to what they'll discover about Fourier Series (seventeen days remain!).

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