Monday, May 16, 2011


…I have been in a big poetry phase lately. (You already knew that.)
I just discovered Martha Collins. Wow.
I'm almost done with "Blue Front" which is her book, an entire collection about racism based on lynchings that happened when her father was five years old in 1908 and sold ice outside of a small town store.
She's taught me a lot about meter and cadence and breaking rules.
Here--read this:


as a mirror on a wall, or the fall
of a dress. a dress, a shirt on a line
to fasten to dry. on the rack, or back
in the closet again, a sweet curse
on it all, sliver of nail, delayed
attack. shamed creature, a curse
on itself, so the act of doing it
changes the verb, tense with not
quite right. with rope, like a swing
from a tree. from a pole, like a flag,
or holidays, from an arch lit bright
with lights. in the night, in the air
like a shirt. without, or with only
a shirt. without, like an empty sleeve.

I mean, holy hell, right?
I sent her a note on Facebook. (Facebook really is an amazing thing, the way it builds a bridge and gives you access to all these people who would otherwise be untouchable.) She was very kind and grateful.

…I am also almost finished with Kim Addonizio's book, "Ordinary Genius." I love it. Every other page is filled with gold, so much terrific stuff in there about writing or life or some aspect of beautiful, wonderful, inescapable art. If you got this book, you would be so happy.

…So consequently, I wrote a shit ton of poetry in the bath tub last night. It just poured out of me. A lot of it was horribly tragic, but good, I think.

…I spoke to a group of 50 people last week. Blah Blah Blah. I did pretty good. They laughed a lot and cheered when I was through. Yesterday a guy I didn't know that was there was really sweet and said nice things about my talk and when I told him I was a writer now, of course the first thing he asked was, "Have you been published?" And he's meaning, naturally, do I have anything in print, meaning specifically do I have a novel or collection in print (I don't.) When he asked what I write about I said, "Tragic things. Dark things." When he asked why--which I liked, which I thought was kind of brave of him--I said probably because of my childhood.
One day, some day, I will write a happy story. I can write about sex pretty well. That's happy material right there, isn't it? But, you know, like a happy story that's happy on its own merit--well, I am not that capable.

…By the way, I am really learning to love the new "Airborne Toxic Event" album. I was scream singing to track 8 just today. A lady at the light next to me saw me in my car and probably wondered if she should dial 911 or not.

…By the way, doesn't it seem strange to you-- 9/11 and 911. Or is that just me?

…I like these things on a Monday morning:

"The hardest thing in the world to do is to take something everyone already knows and make it a little better." Michael Bastian

"I admire anybody who has the guts to write anything at all." EB White

"If you aren't prepared to put your writing first, you aren't really a writer." Rita Mae Brown

"Waste your money and you're only out of money, but waste your time and you've lost part of your life." Michael Leboeuf


  1. wow, the collins' poem is stunning indeed. must check it out.

  2. Hi Len,

    I will try to post again. I was quite shaken when I wrote a long love note/pep talk to you on your musings about feeling like giving up sometimes, and then my post disappeared. Paranoia set in. But then you reassured me, and once again I need to tell you that you are wonderful. William Carlos Williams is soooo great. I have turned many students onto him. One, I am pretty sure, is now doing a thesis on him, and the first time he heard of him is when I began reciting red wheelbarrow to him, and waxing poetic for half an hour. I am reading Yeats just now. Wow! Lightning strikes! Read The Linnet's Wings when you have a moment. Stunning. And also, when you get a chance, read my new story on Left Hand Waving. Thge link is here

  3. nicolette, yes. she's very interesting and takes a lot of time experimenting with form. her language is essentiallys simple--no seven dollar words--but the way she strings them together is something else.
    andrew, i'm really sorry you lost that original post. it actually happens to me regularly for various reasons and it never fails to piss me off. thanks for your kind words. i really appreciate that so much. but hey, your piece in LHW ROCKS! really. so moody and atmospheric. the broken streetlights in 1965. borovicka. soot and sauerkraut. you're really onto something there. keep doing your thing. i've never read a voice like yours. truly.