Tuesday, January 31, 2006

If you haven't already read them, check out Kasey's incisive critique of the new Sarabande anthology and Steve Evans' ongoing investigation of the conservative backlash driving powerful forces in the poetics and politics of our era.

As far as the anthology goes, I'm reserving a quantity of judgment, since I haven't actually read the thing, and it contains the work of many, many poets whose writing I admire. But I think Kasey's analysis of the title, the editors' statement, the cover, and the overall packaging/positioning of the book is brilliant. The single most practical insight I'm taking from his post, to file away for any future anthology editing I myself might attempt, is the importance of not letting consensus (between oneself and any partner editors, between oneself and the critical establishment) be the sole order of the day. It's the exact same affliction that can turn a poetry workshop—that supposed refuge for creativity—to become an enforcer of conformity. It's a structural problem that good intentions alone will never fully overcome.

I do think there's a place for anthologies such as this, organized along age or whatnot, as a means of introducing contemporary, living poetry to people who might not otherwise know where to start. At the same time, such enterprises will always have a whiff of the textbook, which is why I think in any future poetry classes I teach there can be no substitute for having the students read current books, journals, and webzines.


Thanks to all who have expressed their good wishes about my engagement. It's very strange how rapidly such a thing turns from a celebration of love to an elaborate exercise in party planning: a vocation I'd heretofore had very little interest in. Wish us luck.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Going to the Chuppah

Emily and I are engaged! We couldn't be happier.

Thinking about a September wedding.


Saturday, January 28, 2006

Happy Blogday

This blog, like Trogdor, turns three years old this month, and will have its 200,000th visitor sometime in the next week. Thanks to all for your interest and support.

But THAT's not news. BIG news is on its way—watch this space....

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Finished Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle this morning: a remarkable read. It's about nothing less than the birth of modernity, and shrewdly intermingles plotlines about the rise of the modern banking and currency systems (Ezra Pound would've been fascinated, or maybe just outraged) with the birth of the new science as personified by Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (who both appear as vivid characters in the book); Newton, of course, unifies both major plot strands as both author of Principia Mathematica and as Master of the Mint, first under Queen Anne and later under the Hanovers. Stephenson puts the reader in the position of rooting for the advance of Protestantism, Whiggism, empiricism, the free market; and against Catholicism, Toryism, alchemy, and feudalism. At the same time there are some cautionary notes: one character's belief that England's choice is between slavery or industrialization leads him to wonder if the outcome of the latter will necessarily be wholly good, while some of the villains—a Tory Lord, a Jesuit priest—get pretty good speeches about how they feel bound to resist the new "System of the World" in which values are produced rather than inherited. It has its flaws, among the most serious of which are the female characters, who behave in frankly unbelievable ways; geek-boy fantasies all. But I was very entertained. The whole thing is apparently a massive prequel to Stephenson's Cryptonomicon, which I am now eager to read. Also on my list: George R.R. Martin's A _____ of _____ fantasy series, which comes highly recommended by Mr. Aaron Tieger, among others.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A few new links at right, including an experimental webzine new to me: zafusy. In honor of Zukofsky's birthday(s), I'm pleased to point to "Zukofsky's A - 23/ a start at an antonymical transliteration" by Stephen Vincent: a brilliant topsy-turvy sort of close reading. Here's the original for comparison purposes:
An unforeseen delight a round
beginning ardent; to end blest
presence less than nothing thrives:
a world worn in whose
happiest reins preempt their histories

which cannot help or hurt
a foreseen curve where many
loci would dispose and and's
compound creature and creature together.
Each lamp casts its shadow

after its lampshade—concentric—flared-
flower—hurricane chimney—midnight blue
hair of intermittent allayed water
most of such gossamer scarcely
moved in spirit to word

what hurries? why hurry? wit's
but the fog, the literal
senses move in light's song
modesty cannot force, blind call
its own, nor self-effaced fled

to woods perpend without pride
stone into lotus
. The least love
lasts, the troubled heart foregoes
its sigh .. upon a time ..
going a way is here

as if a child sings
a li'l bit of doggy
, teased by nestling eyes
of white little furry cat
their toy fascination of lazulite

crystal, sunlight of sunlight, older
desire chances naming, thought smiling
no more than hungerpang aged
eating cures
: it persists, acts
whiteness with—without—sweetness or

invoked equisetum—horse + bristle
(field horsetail)
research won't guarantee;
tongues commonly inaccurate talk viable
one to one, ear to
eye loving song greater than

anything—unhappiness happiness moves too
susceptible, and in extended world
where does the right thumb
throb—how far from a
room's wall, from its floor—
Vincent's antonyms discover a more fleshly Zukofsky in "A-23"—not that Zuk isn't always concerned with the senses, but it's astounding to see "moved in spirit to word" become "The slow deprived mute tongue" or "happiest reins preempt their histories // which cannot help or hurt" become "Walloped, unloosed, flesh one's future: // The bluff, ridges red, rib boned." (And Zukofsky's horses become John Ford's horses on that red ridged bluff.) Vary intestining, as Pound might say.

Monday, January 23, 2006

First day of classes: hello, students! I'm excited to have a class of my own to mold and mangle (I kid, I kid) once again. We're beginning this "Introduction to Drama" with Beckett's Act Without Words—I think that's a nice way to get to fundamentals quickly, and to talk specifically about stagecraft rather than the film/television drama most of us are more used to.

This weekend as part of Ithaca's annual Light in Winter festival, I got to see Laurie Anderson performing the piece that derived from her being the first and only artist in residence at NASA, "The End of the Moon," to a packed house at the State Theater. Among other qualities, Anderson is a master storyteller: I'm fascinated by her use of conversational, sometimes banal language with pinpoint precision, allowing different strands of anecdote and narrative to resonate against each other, warp to the weft of the music she makes (electronically modified violin and some synthesizers), until it feels like you've been to the bottom of the world: the moon, the military-industrial complex, her dog's inability to subtract, a childhood of dark lawns, New Yorkers after 9/11, Buddhism, relationships. One of the most stunning moments came when she took a tiny camera and held it upside-down with the same hand that clutched her violin bow and projected the image on a screen where previously a moonscape had been projected: upside down we saw the violin surging toward and away from us while these enormous vibrations took hold of the theater: it recalled for me the sublimity of old science fiction movies where the awesome size of the space ship is conveyed by slowly panning across it while the engines rumble. Some of her text is quite beautiful and makes musical use of refrains, pauses, and crack comic timing. I'm interested in what she might have to teach me about poetry: the violin is an interesting emblem in that regard, because I think of the violin (thanks to Adorno) as the most lyrical instrument, closest to the sound of the human voice. There's something almost old fashioned and Romantic about the image of Anderson bowing her violin: but of course it's heavily modified in all kinds of ways, even physically: the "womanly" curves of the conventional instrument are narrowed and straightened, while her famous "tape bow" replaces horsehair or what have you with magnetic tape, which the violin "reads" producing a sound she can slow up or speed beyond recognition (in her 1986 concert film Home of the Brave the bow records the William S. Burroughs phrase, spoken by Burroughs himself, "Language is a virus"). In the most literal sense it's not her own voice at all, and the tape-bow, like the attenuated "I" of her violin, both foregrounds lyric subjectivity and puts it subtly into question. In a short interview published in the Light in Winter program, Anderson says that she's not interested in self-expression, but in collaboration with the audience. It's an attitude that I admire.

Anderson is one of the first nontraditional artists (that is, not just a painter or sculptor or working in any one particular genre) that I was ever aware of: one of my friends when I was a teenager was a huge fan and she had us listening to her albums and watching snippets of her masterwork United States and Home of the Brave (which Cornell Cinema presented on Friday night along with her latest film, a short called Hidden Inside Mountains that she did for the EXPO 2005 festival in Aichi, Japan—some of the spoken language toward the end of End of the Moon was also used as text in the film, appearing on the screen simultaneously in English and Japanese). I didn't really "get it" when I was a teenager, but I did get a sense of stranger possibilities for art than I had previously been aware of. She was also the first woman artist who wasn't a pop star that I was really conscious of—watching Home of the Brave again, though, I was struck by a surprising resemblance to Madonna in the 80s and 90s: strong personalities who managed nonetheless to be chameleons, to play with gender (Anderson wears a kind of suit and tie for most of the film and sometimes uses a special mike to make her voice low and masculine, but for one segment of the film she appears in an evening gown; the effect is startling), and who seem intent on offering their audience a kind of funhouse mirror image of themselves and their desires. Not the least part of Anderson's appeal as a performer is the variousness of her chops: she can dance, she can sing, she can create striking images, she writes interesting texts. I feel lucky to have seen her live and hope it's not for the last time.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Check it: CARVE Editions has two new chapbooks for sale: Chris Rizzo's Zing and Jess Mynes' birds for example. Just five bucks each.
The question of heteroglossia and lyric has come up in a couple of places: in a discussion between Jasper and Johannes and in the comments field of Kasey's Collins vs. Moxley post. I am very sympathetic to the notion of a decentered, heteroglossic lyric, and my understanding of the major shift that happens in the career of Pound (for example) is from a hierarchical poetics of masks (personae) that Johannes associates with Eliot toward a more open and fragmentary poetic (in the Pisan Cantos and the Drafts and Fragments) in which different registers of language are allowed to represent different aspects of the self. But the self is still there as an organizing principle, which perhaps prevents perfect heteroglossia in the Bakhtinian sense. I used to think Bakhtin's indictment of lyric as monoglossic was either the positing of a straw man to make the novel look good, or else the result of his being forced to deal entirely with pre-Revolutionary nineteenth-century texts. But there does seem to be some truth to the idea that a lyric poem can never fully forsake its role as the expression of a single subjectivity—though it can and does profitably challenge that role, and some of the most interesting lyric poetry is that whose claims to subjective expression are entirely formal, whose voice(s) are all "minor" (a good example is this hyper-fragmented idyll by Michael Greenberg—part of the remarkable Order + Decorum project, which in itself is an experiment in fragmented epic heteroglossia—poems named for or in honor of members of Congress, necessarily failing to cohere into a mosaic of our Grand Old Flag). Still, the self is the stake to which every lyric expression is tied: the latter might peacefully graze in the grassy plot allowed it, it might strangle itself on the lead, it might simply squat there dumbly like Kafka's hunger artist. I am increasingly interested in the long poem or epic as that which nominally expresses a collective subjectivity—still not the novel (which is best, according to Bakhtin, at representing competing subjectivities) but that which (again, at least formally) requires or reaches toward some kind of unity, without reaching it—as though Stein's "Act as though there were no use in a center" had to be re-enacted and rediscovered again and again. A line of Derek Walcott's comes to mind: "Either I'm nobody, or I'm a nation"—poetry that straddles that Odyssean line fascinates me. Speaking for a capacious self, fragmented from the outside (from the habitus), without resorting to rhetoric or ideological main force. Letting language take the lead.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

More Short Takes

- Ladies and gentlemen, I'm pleased to present an exciting new press to you, Apostrophe Books, edited by Richard Greenfield and Mark Tursi. Please send them your brilliant manuscripts.

- Kasey is back and in excellent form, thinking with considerable nuance about lyric vs. narrative (I take his point to be that this is not only a false opposition, but acts as a de facto false hegemony) and Moxley vs. Collins. Provocative, clarifying stuff: "The real reason mainstream poetry is bad is because any art produced by a complacently 'established' class of artists will inevitably reflect the vicious, chauvinistic, and insipid values of the interests that underwrite that class's position of 'job security.'"

- Reading, mouth agape, Aaron Kunin's Folding Ruler Star, a Miltonic meditation on the erotics of shame. A remarkable book. (Has anyone written anything, a book or essay, about Jewish readers of Milton? Why do I feel such an affinity with this blind polymathic Puritan? Perhaps it has something to do with Milton's uncanny ability (I speak of the textual "Milton") to be both canonical and an outsider, theologically grandiloquent and syntactically odd.)

- Johannes Göransson proposes a School of Elegance as a kind of accessory or corollary to the School of Quietude. I'm not sure I believe in the odd beta-male patriarchy he attributes to it (if you're going to name Michael Palmer as a member of this school, why not Ann Lauterbach?), but it's interesting to compare this to Kasey's Moxley-Collins post: the combined implication is that the School o' Elegance is close neighbors with Quietude because its innovations are strictly formal, and therefore they have a toehold in the academy. As for my own implied membership in this school, it's not quite for me to say. It's true that Eliot was a formative influence, I've never disputed that; it's also true that my attitude toward my inner Eliot is a highly ambivalent one. Once you understand something of your own grain, it's natural to want to see what happens when you go against it.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Michael Zbigley, a fellow Montanan, writes in to ask a reasonable and penetrating question about my verse-time/narrative-timelessness theory: what about The Odyssey? The Metamorphoses? The Divine Comedy? Paradise Lost? How does narrative in those poems not produce "anti-poetry"? Why, indeed, was poetry primarily a narrative vehicle for most of its existence? That last question has a relatively simple answer, I think: verse serves as a mnemonic device for non-literate cultures; the more poetry becomes about silent reading on the page, the less prominent narrative becomes in it. Verse is eventually liberated from its originary function, which is not the experience of time but the preservation of content through time—so form becomes content (and not coincidentally, poetry loses its popularity as it becomes impossible to use in a purely instrumental way as an envelope delivering plot and setting and character and history across the ages).

Michael's question makes me realize that what I'm talking about has, like most binaries, to be put on a continuum if it's really going to accurately reflect my experience. There's also the wildcard of translation to take into account: when I read The Iliad or Odyssey I'm not really reading Homer but Richard Lattimore or Robert Fagles, and their basically free verse interpretations I suspect reduce the hold metrics might have had on my ear if I were able to read the original Greek. (I'm guessing Alexander Pope's Iliad would register much more strongly as verse if I took the time to read it). Anyway, my experience of Homer has primarily been narrative—only the epithets like "rosy-fingered dawn" and "many-minded Odysseus" have stuck in my mind as language that must be assimilated in time. Dante is more temporal for me because the translations I've read preserve something of his terza rima and the three-line stanzas also help set up a rhythm for language unfolding in time. Milton is an interesting case—although there are vivid scenes, set-pieces, and characters in Paradise Lost I experience it primarily as poetry: as something read or even chanted, with the slippery syntax providing most of the drama, excitement, and propulsiveness that we generally expect from plot. For that reason Milton remains one of my favorite all-time poets and something of a model for the long-poem ambitions I'm harboring.

Can there be byplay between narrative and verse—each exchanging energy with the other? I suppose that would produce something close to the ideal narrative poem, and maybe Paradise Lost is the most successful example we have. As I bite more deeply into modernist longpoems like The Cantos and "A" and ARK, however, I'm finding that it's their organization of time—their explosion and extension of verse structures (generally a question of the line and stanza) into multiple cantos, chapters, or movements—that fascinate me the most and maintain these poems' viability for me as means and models of poetic communication.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Enlivened by the latest issues of Chicago Review and The Poker. Highlights of the former include C.D. Wright's deeply moving long poem "Rising, Falling, Hovering" and some astounding translations of Arkadii Dragomoschenko, whose work I'll be seeking out now in book form; highlights of the latter include sizzlingly strange lyrics by a poet new to me, Elizabeth Marie Young, as well as strong work from family favorites George Stanley, Ben Lerner, Alice Notley, Ange Mlinko, and Mark Lamoureux, plus a thoughtful interview with Anselm Berrigan—I found this part very useful for trying to understand where we're all at right now:
[Anselm:] There's some kind of connection between how the culture here is so tied up with celebrity status and is passive within the functionality of a representative government. There's a sense that there has to be an individual voice who will speak for everyone and if that voice isn't out there in some particular way then by implication everybody is OK with what is going on, and this is not a sane way to actually function. And I think that the breakdowns in how the situation in the Gulf was handled, say, and the fact that there are serious questions about the level of competency of the people put in charge of making decisions that affect millions of lives is a by-product of people waiting around for one person to speak for them. And the level of participation in decision making actually needs to increase which isn't a call for more bureaucracy but a call for more participation by ordinary people. How to do that is a separate question. You can start by not having political parties draw the lines for districts in states. But, you, know, sitting around waiting for Bob Dylan to suddenly come around again...

Dan: Only Bob Dylan can save us.

Anselm: ...isn't going to get it done. Which is why I think the poetry community is really useful and interesting right now because it's a collection of voices. But if people don't actually choose to see it that way ... if they're waiting for the anti-war poem ... I mean, I saw this letter where a guy said if Robert Lowell were alive right now he would have taken apart the Bush administration in a single poem. This was written in Poetry magazine. And I thought no, this is the same thing, you're waiting around for someone to do this thing that's going to give everybody some kind of break from responsibility, but it takes everybody speaking.
I love the Heideggerian snicker in Dan's remark. And of course even Bob Dylan wasn't able to be "Bob Dylan" when the messianic rubber met the political road. But goodness knows I've been just as guilty of this kind of thinking: pinning all my hopes on "Howard Dean" and then "Barack Obama" and trying to imagine making an investment in "Hillary": trying to turn people into personalities into signifiers into gods. But that's now how real change happens, in poetry or politics. It's structurally conservative, even if your god's name is Guevara or Lenin.

Kevin wonders if my dislike of verse narrative isn't just a dislike of bad poetry, i.e. prose chopped up into lines. It's true I enjoyed Autobiography of Red (I haven't read The Face but I did find things to like in a long excerpt from that poem—I think that's what it was—in APR a year or two ago), but in that case the "verse" seemed mostly irrelevant to my enjoyment; I find myself agreeing almost involuntarily with those who complained that there was no logic, metrical or otherwise, to her lines. What I remember from that poem are the characters of Geryon and Hercules, plus a few indelible images—the words have evaporated. The use of Red being poetry, if not verse, I chalk up to a kind of expansiveness of permission: Carson's wonderfully eccentric, tensile imagination seemed unloosed by writing in lines, freeing her from her more essayistic tendencies (though I enjoy her essays quite a bit). The only other novel in verse I can remember reading would be Vikram Seth's The Golden Gate, which uses Pushkinesque fourteen-line stanzas of iambic tetrameter to tell a rather dreary tale about a group of earnest liberals in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1980s. In that case, the form provided the energy that I felt the narrative to be lacking, and so in a way it succeeded in being the kind of temporal experience I demand from poetry without actually being interesting—the worst of both worlds. So I believe my intuition about the link between temporality and poetry versus atemporality and narrative is more or less consistent.

On a seemingly unrelated topic, Robert Archambeau asks what I others think about New York School-style name-dropping in poems (incidentally the new Chicago Review also contains a piece of Bob's book on the Yvor Winters circle at Stanford). Well, I'm generally for it, as the same principle allows me to refer to a man I've never met as "Bob" in this blogpost. There was a time, though, when I felt that sense of outrage he describes when public sphere expectations are violated by the introduction of private codes: I remember reading an issue of The Germ years ago and reading an interview between Keith Waldrop and Peter Gizzi (long before I knew who either of those gentlemen were) and being irritated by the first-name basis they seemed to enjoy with legions of poets I'd never heard of. I felt deliberately excluded—yet if I were to read the same interview now I'd nod my head with recognition and feel a sense of warmth and inclusion more pervasive, if less intense, than my initial sense of repulsion. And for whatever reason that earlier feeling failed to deter me from my interest in the strange and marvelous world of poetry I discovered in The Germ (my tastes in literary journals before that time ran mainly to those with "Review" somewhere in the title). But come to think of it, maybe my irritation derived more from the fact that the medium was an interview, which I imagined was meant to be precisely the disclosure of a private sphere unto the public one: isn't that what we read interviews for? That this interview seemed to want to preserve its privacies made it curiously resistant to the touch. But personal names in poems just strike me as another manifestation of the beloved, and well within the circle of lyric expectation.

Still not sure what I meant by "prose as poetry" except the obvious: prose that provides a temporal and tangible experience of language, that continually tosses you off the blindly racing back of the narrative: Tristram Shandy, In Search of Lost Time, Ulysses, Gravity's Rainbow. Or a homelier example: when I was a kid, reading and rereading The Lord of the Rings, I impatiently skipped past the songs and poems, wanting to get on with the story. In part that's because they were bad poems. But what about a novel that contained poems that somehow forced you to stop and read them—that transformed your relationship to the prose, even? Literally arresting language, as compelling as the poems in The New Yorker aren't (the cartoons are much more successful at breaking off one's attention from the prose flow, of causing one to remember that one is reading—that one is a reader, an agent, and not a sponge or otherwise passive. So that's what I'm looking for from prose, and what I'd try to do if I were writing it in a non-scholarly, non-diaristic capacity: language at least as compelling as a cartoon. A quixotic desire to beat the image at its own game, perhaps. Or else I am only forced to resort to image-language to get at something ineffable about the pleasures of active reading.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Wow, I totally missed Josh Corey Day as sponsored by Johannes Göransson! I shall try to enjoy it in retrospect; thanks, Johannes.
Reading the Jakobson essay fundamental to Timothy Morton's theory of ambient poetics, I come across this sentence: "Only in poetry with its regular reiteration of equivalent units is the time of the speech flow experienced, as it is—to cite another semiotic pattern—with musical time" (italics mine). This made me realize a fundamental difference between poetry and prose: when reading prose, even highly enjoyable prose with a sufficiency of verbal flourishes (as is the case with Stephenson's Baroque Cycle—I'm almost done with volume 2), I don't experience time in the writing—in fact, one of the primary pleasures of good prose fiction is the disappearance of time, the experience of looking up an hour or two after one has started and noticing the light has changed. The prodigious length of many popular fiction books (certainly Stephenson but J.K. Rowling also comes to mind) is part of their attraction: so many hours will be disappeared. With poetry, even poetry that's not in meter (but is still as Pound says "compose[d] in the sequence of musical phrase") we experience the time it takes to hear the words and repeated sounds. I suspect one of the reasons most people say that they don't "get" poetry is that they haven't learned to read in this listening way, haven't been taught the pleasure of reading in time but only know the vivid negative pleasure of reading out of time. Poetry requires more patience than prose: it literally requires that the reader make time for it, even if it's just thirty seconds on the subway.

This realization is useful to me in part because it explains my impatience with verse narrative: the experiences of time and timelessness produced respectively by the two forms are at cross-purposes. A poetry that causes time to disappear (a version of transparency, what Charles Bernstein calls the artifice of absorption) seems like anti-poetry to me. I've sometimes made a fetish out of difficulty, but difficulty is not the point: the point is that the poem has something in or about it that makes me experience the time of reading more vividly. Musicality and wordplay are the most obvious and pleasurable means of producing this vividness, but allusion and ideation (logopoeia) are also effective. Image-production is the poetic mode most readily assimilated by narration/timeless reading; that's why I've gone over the course of my short career from being highly enamored with images and imagisms toward a more suspicious stance.

Bottom line: I don't want poetry to be prose. And yet I often want prose to be poetry: what can this possibly mean? Stay tuned.

Monday, January 09, 2006

This article, thanks largely to the quality of the dissenting voices it seeks out, is a more intelligent take than usual on Poetry and its millions. I continue to think of all of the bluster about "the common reader," much less "poetry users" (!) is an exercise in bad faith; the only truly democratic way to increase poetry's popularity and secure a base for it is to have it taught in public schools from elementary school on up. I speak of "literary" poetry only, of course: from Dylan to Kanye to slams, poetry is as popular and enduring as it ever was. You want meter, rhyme, and storytelling? There they are, considerably enlivened by being heard rather than read.

Amused by David Orr's verse review of Billy Collins' latest, in which he convincingly damns with faint praise.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The melancholy task of returning books and otherwise presiding over the dissolution of Bookery II is underway. Today I snagged a Frank O'Hara recording and a couple of of Philip K. Dick novels on their way back to the publisher; I'll scavenge as much as I can afford over the next couple weeks. In the meantime, ironically, business is way up for the time of year. Maybe it's just people taking advantage of the 15% off sale (going up to 25% next month), maybe they're here to mourn. It feels like Ithaca is losing one of its anchors; if it's true what the bumper sticker says ("Ithaca: Ten Square Miles Surrounded by Reality") then reality just took a big bite out of it.

Fighting a cold, not up to much besides planning my Intro to Drama class now that we're completely caught up with Lost. Reading the Orestia and really feeling those Aristotlean dramatic virtues in it of pity and terror. Trying to decide if I teach the whole thing or if we should just stick to the Agamemnon.

All the poetry journals are gone already. It's a terrible pity.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Sad news for the New Year: after twenty-five years my employer The Bookery II is calling it quits, done in by big boxes and Amazon's free shipping. It's a serious bummer. I've only been putting in a few hours a week here so it's not a personal disaster, but it's a disaster for Ithaca and for everyone in this community who loves independent bookstores and what they can do for a town's intellectual life. The used bookstore (Bookery I) will remain open, and Ithaca still has more than its share of fine used bookstores—but Bookery II, with its fine selection of academic books and the poetry section I built more or less with my own hands will not be easily replaced, if it's replaced at all.

On a happier note, Emily and I had a visit from my old Montana compadre Richard Greenfield this weekend, up from Tusculum College where he's been teaching. We had a great weekend talking poetry and old times and Lost (all three of us are obsessed with the show). I'll see him again in nine weeks at the AWP conference in Austin.

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