Thursday, September 17, 2009

"The boiling point of things"

Today, three years of marriage. May all who desire it find wedded bliss soon.

Six years of blogging, slowing never stopping. In difficult transition from writing to writing.

Two years in Chicago, only beginning to discover its wonders. Last weekend: the Red Moon Theater's thrilling and funny outdoor performance, "Last of My Species: The Fearless Songs of Laarna Cortaan." Playing again this weekend; if you can go, do.

Turning the page of my thirty-ninth birthday in a couple of weeks. Forty years on the planet. Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita....

Nearly twenty months of Sadie Gray Corey, but it feels so much longer, an epoch. It is longer: nine months of anticipating her arrival must be incorporated into my experience of new life. Twenty-nine months. She speaks in full sentences already, her face is different every day, she's not sleeping too consistently, she delights and astonishes for her living, by her living. Thank you.

Eight months of a Democratic administration that never ceases to disappoint. "The art of the possible," "the perfect is the enemy of the good," "bipartisanship," "pragmatism." I'm sick of these words and terrified of the tea-baggers, the birthers, the truthers, the gun-toters. If they don't accept the legitimacy of the system why should we? Abolish the Senate. Abolish the Electoral College. Abolish state governments. Enhance the power of municipalities and localities. Let it change. Let it go.

Some six months since my tirade against fiction, some six months of writing it myself, wearing the itchy skin of an untested novelist, finding just minutes a day to write an ever-ramifying and baroque story incorporating elements of detective fiction, Jim
Jarmusch movies, grad school bull sessions, Holocaust drama, unrequited love, tourism, soap opera, romance, Romance. How long can this go on? It goes on.

An eternity of waiting for things to settle down, moments realizing they never will, gratitude for this.

Books finished and unfinished over weeks and months: Badiou, Laird Hunt, Adam Sisman on Wordsworth and Coleridge, Lance Olsen, Lynne Tillman, Jacques Roubaud (poetry and fiction), Claire Messud's deadpan 9/11 novel The Emperor's Children, Richard's terrifying Tracer, The Book of Disquietude and Pessoa & Co.. Poems encountered and re-encountered via teaching, so far: Whitman's Song of Myself and "This Compost," Dickinson's "Tell all the truth" and "A narrow Fellow," Mallarmé's "Coup de des," Hopkins' "God's Grandeur," Stein's "Picasso" and Ponge's "L'orange," Gary Snyder's "Smokey the Bear Sutra" and Archy the cockroach's "what the ants are saying." Roubaud, from Exchanges on Light: "Light is the boiling point of things."

Redmoon's lesson: every mask has at least two faces, and the dance of death is still a dance.

So hello, autumn.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


Had a fine time last Friday playing the part of poet-in-residence on the University of Illinois-Chicago's terrifyingly brutalist campus. Met with some students to discuss their work (and they are a sharp bunch), then did a reading that evening in which I read two things for the first time: a few of the poems from my June verse diary that I posted here, and a couple of pages of the novel-in-progress.

I joked after the reading that the novel represented my betrayal of poetry, but that's actually far from the truth. What it really has brought about is my semi-abandonment of this blog. What with teaching and family responsibilities, not to mention occasional other gigs like this one, I find that my spare writing energy goes into propelling myself into the imaginative universe of my characters and the constellations of words and scenes that they inhabit.

To get back to blogging--not that anyone's necessarily been holding their breath--means integrating that writing into blogging's dailiness, as my poetic and scholarly practice was once so integrated. But so far I've felt the need for at least a thin veil of privacy around my fiction writing. Perhaps as I begin to expose pieces of it to readers (or listeners), I'll be able to bring some of my process here.

I'll be back on the UIC campus again this Friday for a colloquium talk I'm calling "Unknown Knowns, or Poetry Traverses the Real," in which I distill my summer takeaway from reading Badiou and other sages. It will be at 3 pm in the Hull House Museum if you're nearby and interested.

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