Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Just Announced: Pussy Riot at PEN Gala on May 5

Just announced: Members of Pussy Riot will join Toni Morrison and honorees Salman Rushdie and Twitter CEO Dick Costolo at the PEN Gala at the American Museum of Natural History on May 5.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Never Challenge a Roth - My List of Words Never to Be Used in Poems Used in Toto

Of course, when I published my comic (but also more than comic) "List of Words Never to Be Used in Poems," people protested. Some sent me very good poems using some of the words from the list. But no one composed a work using all the words. That was up to my beloved friend of 45 years, Audrey Roth. Here are the original list and Audrey's beautiful composition. I love you, Audrey Roth!

List of Words Never to Be Used in Poems

Soul, being, essence, fire, dream, auburn, scent, inhumanity, starry, ripe, free, heaven, transcend, memory, butterfly, chrysalis, please, mad, ecology, teach, tear, lachrymose, cry, frown, smile, love, thought, potential, season, poetry, verse. Transubstantiate, transform, ascend, breathe, breath, usurp, sing, shudder, genius, antihero, thrush, lark, birdsong, exaltation, maid, woman, man, men, attempt, right, am, word, tresses, thrill. Form, character, said, desire, longing, elm, oak, tree, flame, yearn, burn, consume, new, human, bow, warrior, want, page, blank. And so far, you agree. Well, then…

Understanding, unique, déluge,manqué, mensch , wheelbarrow, manifest, palimpsest, avatar, sight, seer, samovar, light, ingredient, save, Oprah, Jerry, nothing, but, yet. The, a, loneliness, mélange, sea, lighthouse, tower, healing, light, use, underscore, trial, Kafka, yes, shop, radiant, garden, fore, yore, music, recollection, last, addiction, evolution. First, over, in, DNA, Darwinian, medicate, pharmacology, software, star, hardwired, stellar, bang. Relate, relationship, query, queer, think, survivor, mine, pain, sorrow, tragedy, woe, enter, laughing, mope. Still with me? How about…?

Life, live, living, hope, horror, help, one, singularity, Buddha, art, bomb, arms, lines, marital, Broadway, show, tell, ask, mission, missive, missile, realm, wonder, wander, know, knowledge, reify, epistemological, portent, magic, magical, many, omnipotent, avuncular, very, theme, adjective, parse, nun, father, mother, brother, we, our, us, I. Eye, omnibus, rarity, time, past, future, date, number, year, one, abstract, narrative, native, experiment, fusion, phrase, quote, café. Random (or mad), insight, learned, spirit, well, good, thanks, fine, good. You?

Audrey Roth's response (touché):

Homage to a Friend:
A Challenge

In the past, date uncertain (the year 1968 is my recollection), I met a girl – a genius, a mensch – unique, with radiant auburn tresses, a wonder for life. A character. A seer.

I could relate. Our relationship was Darwinian; it transformed us. Mine? Evolution from chrysalis to butterfly. Hers? Lachrymose to laughing. From blank slates to palimpsests – essence a memory, a scent, a dream – our magic was – well – magical, with potential to render us omnipotent. Addictions? Poetry. Kafka –antihero, warrior. Buddha. (Oprah and Jerry were yet to be – we could not quote them.) We wandered the streets, sang Broadway songs at top volume, and shop…(lifted).

We would transcend sorrow – pain; loneliness, tragedy; moping; man’s inhumanity to men (to say nothing of woman) – at a remove. Carry them off in a wheelbarrow, light them on fire, watch them burn, flames consuming, ascending to the starry night. She wrote a missive: “I yearn for healing,” she said, “from father, mother, brother – the mélange of many humans who have formed me with their experiments -- used, usurped, my love, entered my tower, attempting to deluge me with their narrative.” She frowned. “Woe is hardwired in me. Longing. I want to live, hope for a future where I can breathe, sing like the lark, its birdsong a balm to my being, a breath to medicate my soul. I am a maid manquée.”

“I think I know how to help.” I thought, along avuncular lines, of the necessary ingredients – no software supporting my search. I would season her tears with understanding; parse her fine phrases; find a fusion of music and art for her learned brain; evoke a different knowledge –of insight, epistemological energy. “Let me save you. Tell me, show me, more – please,” I asked. My desire to teach, reify her abstract realm, free her from random recollections of living in days of yore. “But how?” I queried. My mission – of manifestly mad singularity – cease her shudders, her cries, her horror. Sire a sea of smiles, a theme of thrills, a new spirit for this star, this stellar survivor. Launch the missiles, the bombs – not one, but many. BANG!! Turn the page over; change her very DNA; transubstantiate! An alternative avatar would fly to the fore, exaltation in its eye. Ineffable - no number of adjectives could capture it.

Within my sight, a thrush settled on an elm tree (or an oak?) in a garden outside the café where we sat. Samovars surrounded. We were a rarity of cultural ecology, so right together. (A portent of our current omnibus of pharmacology?) The time was ripe. She morphed to marital bliss, complete with dacha (first making a trial run as a nun), I toward being a good queer. We spoke our last words while reading “To the Lighthouse,” – hers in verse, underscoring her native tongue – bowed; and wrapped our arms around each other.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Happy 450th, Will!

Gulielmus, filius Johannes Shakespeare, was baptized in Stratford on April 26,1564; April 23 is traditionally celebrated as his birthday. Here is my favorite sonnet, number XXXV.

No more be grieved at that which thou hast done:
Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud,
Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun,
And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud.
All men make faults, and even I in this,
Authórizing thy trespass with compare,
Myself corrupting salving thy amiss,
Excusing thy sins more than thy sins are:
For to thy sensual fault I bring in sense—
Thy adverse party is thy advocate—
And ‘gainst myself a lawful plea commence.
Such civil war is in my love and hate,
That I an áccessory needs must be
To that sweet thief which sourly robs from me.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy birthday, Vladimir Nabokov! Poem for Ada

désolé de ne pas être avec vous

mood: like a monarch’s genitalia
labeled under glass, I miss yo(u).
when did you stop being my brot-
(her), my lover, my tramp, my sc(
am)p? Best incest, this fraternal/
maternal. Royalty did this, scions.
Now we are husband, huffed, and
Hera-scarum-wife-and-strife. désolé
de ne pas être avec vous today and
as we were, hymn/her, heard.

Poem for Earth Day: revery about intoxicated turtles

the fruit has turned again
alcohol fragrant
smile at the thought of them
lolling on a beach
inverted and drunk and certain of
turning right side again
every wave an ally

tomorrow the eggs will hatch and the young will
race to the sea, Darwinically pursued
by rapacious winged predators
half will die the rest will find the sea
and live

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Traditional Russian Easter Greeting

Христос воскресe! (Khristos voskres)
(Christ has arisen! This is the traditional Russian Easter greeting.)

Воистину воскресе! (Voistinu voskrese)
(Indeed, He has arisen! This is the traditional response.)

Plus three kisses, one cheek, two cheek, and back again (the kisses are essential).

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Guest blog on We Wanted to Be Writers

Thanks to Cheryl Olsen for asking me to share my favorite books.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

First Review of #specialcharacters

Thanks to Meredith Sue Willis for her review of #specialcharacters in Books for Readers #169 (April 17). She writes:

I thought this was going to be all poetry, but it is much more experimental than that, ending with a wonderful piece about a woman who is close to the end of the line with aging, mental illness, and poverty. It's called "MIRROR, or a Flash in the Pan." It is very close to fiction, although it certainly has passages of poetry. It's an excellent piece, crystal clear and shockingly honest. The collection also includes what is rightfully maybe Shmailo's most famous (popular?) poem, available to read on line, "The Other Woman's Cunt". This one is angry, raunchy, vicious and -- by the way! -- hilarious.

There is a fair amount of typographical experimentation and deep connections to literature and mythology, but at its heart, as a whole, the book has the remarkable quality of being extremely moving even when you aren't sure what's going on.

That's a serious statement, too, because you have the feeling that things that look like games on the surface – for example, a short poem called " t(his), (he)re" – are in fact the only way Shmailo could have written what she wanted to write. This is highly recommended as both interesting experimental work and for its powerful emotional connections. .

Monday, April 14, 2014

Between Eclipses

A razor cuts your wrists, but
what cut you off from me?
Is true love quart'red below?

When (blew) an azure sky
separates the chambered clouds,
which Earth will you then save,
which elements recycle?

These eclipses should portend,
but I would always be
the bastard that I am,
had the maidlienest, brightest star
eclipsed upon this gesture.

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