Paris + gravy = Montreal

On a lighter note, this is really good …

math_01-690

… and just keeps getting better. See it all here.

I’m trying to be the fullest meat phone I can be.

 

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Inanna, a chapbook

Some nice news! A swatch of poems from Dumuzi will be published as a chapbook by Little Red Leaves. I’ve loved their books (fabric covers, hand sewn, venturesome poems) since I first came across them. Sew colour me thrilled. (Sorry, terrible.)

Title to come but I’m thinking simply Inanna Sent. The poems are a graphic novella, collaged out of junk mail, that tells the story of Inanna’s trip to the underworld. Thought I’d post a few panels, final versions. Here’s the first –


Panel 1

The strata are the linings of security envelopes. Inanna and her sidekick, the scancodes you see on autosorted mail. Her jaunty cap, the Bank of America logo, while he sports the NBC paycock (Pound’s spelling). The speaker is one of the galla, demons of the underworld; to them’s given the work of narration. They’re all blown up out of these:


scan code

If you get your pareidolia on, that can look like a postmodern Roman frieze, gods, monsters, epic struggle. Next panel.


Panel 2
As Inanna gets deeper in, her logo-feather-flame hat dirties and darkens. Small serendipities: with each new panel, I lifted the logo from the last with a letter opener and taped it down on the new one. Each move brought more scuffing, each layer of tape more obscuration and road dust. One more.


Panel 3
Scancodes and photocopy noise. Have written some more about Inanna, what and why she means to me, the space I was in (an intense one) making these poems, here and here and here and here. And a bit at the end here. If curious. (Old images there, the script far less open, but in the spirit of blog, I’m going to leave as was.)

Oh and the grainy oblique smudges above “Her sad eyes”? Bits of pinewood, my writing desk, pulled up by scotch tape I’d stuck there momently while I spotted a paperscrap just right. The meaning of the whole is, make peace with your accidents. (Not in a hey-do-this sort of way. In a note-to-self sort of way.)

Tried to explain the desk splinters to Stephen Burt when he asked me about my work. Talk about happy accident! But, he seemed not so impressed. Oh well.


If you’ve made it this far, thoughts on the title? I sent it out as Junk Inanna Down. That now feels like a hostile mouthful. Do you think so too? What about Inanna Sent? Too mild? Comment away …

that scamp’s still in the know

Some fine high play here with mockingbirds and finches. A reminder that for all that’s at stake morally and spiritually and politically in Lee’s so powerful novel and its latterly published and from all reports really pretty indifferent draft, her characters are ink on paper stirring forms in mind, there is no Atticus about whom to uncover shocking truths. Well that’s what I mean I don’t know if it’s what Theresa means. But her compositions here are provoking and provoked so check them out.

probablytheresa.wordpress.com

Tried to write a story this morning but couldn’t keep my hands off Harper Lee.

“better without me”

A friend tossed me a copy of the draf-ahem-new book ‘Watchman with a warning,
“Don’t ever read that.”

So I took it never readit read
the old one

mockingbird.

“They buy me.”

image

And now I can’t stop mushing them together. 💺💺 Playing around with having them interact.

you’ve-got-it-go-play-with-it

Shapely more than wordly, but just got the idea to use the same page numbers of each book. And it does turn out to be interesting to read the lines combined across.

er…Uprisin’

image

For these it was page ripping at random, pattern on pattern.

“What are you shooting at?”


Next I’ll probably try the matching page numbers. Fun, relaxing

for my frazzle

nerve.

Much.

#verse vibrated in Jean

“➖good night, Attic”

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Student work: Compost mural

A mural my students made last week in class. The prompt: using only the materials you have on hand, or can forage from the surrounding environment without breaking the law or hurting anyone’s feelings, express your understanding of “the art of compost.” Oh, and no legible text, other than found text.

Here it’s, as composted through my iPhone:

Interesting to watch them work. Each one herself, himself, just about perfectly. Last year I gave this, every one worked pretty much on their lonesome, class dynamics, long story, and it did come out okay. This time, some leaned toward solo, some into duo, some asked as to overview, but as they felt their way into the actual question at hand – are we one or are we many – those arrangements softened and shifted.

That is, as they composted their thinking, they found a rhythm where each had room to breathe, or so it seemed to me, and nice to see. Nice to be part of just in watching. Here ’tis, as panorama,

Compost mural 2015
Click on me to see (and again) compost understood

Sometime soon, a post on breath, breathing, the breath, which I’ve been thinking and not-thinking about, these days of hot high still air all round. How’s it I ever thought my breath was anyone else’s to order around? That’s my little bit cryptic thought of an evening, after a day hiking up at Baker, forest fire haze out of BC hanging on air, dulling Baker and Shuksan to the eye, but someone or something was watching lupines and mimulus shivering in wind bits, and what’s wind but earth’s breath, what we’re in.

Student work – Scrap elegy

The exercise, upon reading Anne Carson’s Nox:

Build an elegy out of scraps, fragments, parts. At least some of its text should be found text.


Nox a text I admit to some mixed feelings re. Gorgeous seductive reproductions of crinkled scraps. You can see the shadow where the slip lifts off the ground it rests on. The tears and stains are palpable. The thing ages afore your eyes. A sepia principle squared and resquared perhaps. Apotheosis of mimesis.

Nox - CI

First day discussing it, a tenth or thirteenth point threeth muse came down upon me, and I held the faltering accordion o’er my head, and cried out, “is document porn, people, document porn.”

I meant, it promises all the satisfactions of actual cotton fibre, passionate tears, coffee stains or such under your fingertips, but it’s mere dissembly. A 2D picture plane w/ a pretence to texture.

Yeah, I know, book’s an elegy, and first and last elegy for itself, and eros is longing for what’s gone missing, yadda. Porn knows it’s porn’s still porn.

Not, in the words of a comedian or three, that there’s anything wrong with that. But there are other options.


My students, bless’em, haven’t the production budget of a New Direction behind them, but their work on this exercise’s been wonderful. All sorts of elegy, acknowledgement of lack and loss and longing, and done without making their scraps into fetishes. (Admire Carson lots. Lots structural in Nox I love. But not its slick mimesis which makes me sort of sick.)

Herewith a gallery of their deft encounters.


One interrogates the torn edge without making a fetish of the tear.

Ex 6 no 1


One abrades the boundary between beauty and ugly in a way only plastics and the postmodern can.

Ex 6 no 2


One applies a mathematic of the shell to arrange swatches cut it might be from a Louis Quatorze drawing room.

Ex 6 no 3


Click on this one to get some sense how it shone. Also it had a warm shaggy waft of tobacco which made me want to smoke which I’ve never (almost). It was, that is to say, multi-modal. Okay now I’m doing the nostalgia I got on Carson’s case for. O mimesis. O Plato.

Ex 6 no 4


Been on this student’s case to get his thinking into his fingertips. He broke through and big.

Ex 6 no 5


And this one, my goodness, click on it too, the layers! the textures! the heart! (all of them, the heart)

Ex 6 no 6

Interstellar addendum

Near the end of Interstellar there’s a bit I find transcendent (when I picture it) and really kinda cheesy (when I think about it). Though in another galaxy and at the heart of a black hole qui s’appelle Gargantua our hero finds himself in his daughter’s bedroom behind the bookshelf.

A bedroom a bit altered. Imagine turning the book in your hands inside out and finding it contained a tesselated library. A still —

interstellarBig debt to Borges, yes, but the visual feels alive to me. And apparently it sunk in to where I could thieve from it. A bit after first seeing the movie, with no sense of debt to anyone or thing, I made this one out of bar codes, for the death and dragging under of Dumuzi —

Crossing bar (detail) - figThe debt I was aware of was to Tennyson’s “Crossing the Bar,” a poem I don’t much like, but I had in mind the recent passing of a favourite English teacher, in whose company I first met the poem. And so called it,

Crossing bar (detail) - titleAnyway, all this is to say, debts to others are so many, truly new thoughts so vanishingly few. Oh Ezra. Make it new — if it isn’t already altogether new, how could I, you, we, they, make it be.


P.S. The slantwise rough strokes are bits of woodgrain from my desk picked up by scotch tape splayed there. I want to write, soon soon, about woodgrain and accident, Martians Jack Spicer and Stephen Burt, and proprioception, but the moment is not quite yet — not quite yet — .


P.P.S. The bar code is from if I remember aright the paper that came long with my flu shot. And my dismemberment of it my vengeance upon it b/c it protected me not one whit, not one.

Now goth Inanna under wode

There’s an old quatrain from out the middle ages I first met as epigraph to Robert Hass’s Sun Under Wood.

Now goth sonne under wode —
Me reweth, Marie, thi faire rode.
Now goth sonne under tre —
Me reweth, Marie, thi sonne and thee.

A book and a poet that’ve always resounded for me for how tenderly they assay the harms to which the mother-son bond is prone. Terrain I work in too as uncrampedly as I can.


What sat me down to write though were a father and a daughter. Watched Interstellar a second time last night and was moved (again) by all it did well and dismayed (again) at all it did poorly. And what I felt most (again) wasn’t the admittedly spectacular black hole wrung with light, or the rungs of sooty frozen clouds the astronauts clamber among, but the intimate distance of father and daughter the astonishing otherness of those sights makes visual.

It kinda broke me. I suddenly got I’m almost for sure not going to have that in my life. I’m a bit too broken to have a kid or have taken a bit too long to get me whole enough to do it. I’d probably do okay at it now but the window’s closing or closed.

A bit later the okay-voices came to say there’s plenty else to make a life meaningful, and they’re right, but for a bit it broke me.


You see why I go to junk mail. It gets dark fast around here sometimes. A few galla for you — one’s trying to hide behind a bit of beachwrack. (Goeth galla under driftwood.)At Troy


If I’m more open here than I’ve been, I thank Hass a little, my students a lot, who’ve braved to write about trials and disorders known by name but not plumbed for real in the halls of DSM V. To write and make beautiful and indeed sublime sentences out of. (Therapy prose: the more honest it is the more you cringe. Transformative prose: the more honest the more you soar.)

I do have to say, a joy of teaching is, the wish in me to father is met, not as it would be by a child, I know, but still, it is, and meaningfully. That’s for a different post — maybe a different blog — but it’s probably the most meaningful thing about teaching for me, equalled maybe only by the creative incitement the most happy arrangements have had to offer me.

Thought on the way to the grocery store yesterday evening: if at the end of my life I’ve touched more people as a teacher than as a poet, that’ll be okay, I guess.


So, Inanna goth under wode, and I’ve had to go with her, goddammher. No point putting it off, let’s get this road trip started.

She takes

The text’s a bit hard to read (working on that) so —

She takes the road no one turns on to the kur where our names go to die.

The kur is the Sumerian underworld — ruled by her sad sister Ereshkigal. Her snazzy feather is the Bank of America logo. The terrain she and her trusty friend navigate at some peril is a treacherous assemblage of security envelope linings.

From a later (Akkadian) text, “The Descent of Ishtar to the Nether World” (just for funs):

To the Land of no Return, the realm of [Ereshkigal],
Ishtar, the daughter of Sin, [set] her mind.
Yea, the daughter of Sin set [her] mind
To the dark house, the abode of Irkal[la],
To the house from which none leave who have entered it,
To the road from which there is no way back,
To the house wherein the entrants are bereft of li[ght],
Where dust is their fare and clay their food …

Don’t make too much of the pun on Sin. But think about it — a road you can only go one way on. Really, there’s no such thing as a one-way street, you can always go the other way when no one’s looking. Anyway, this passage has always been striking to me, for how through its stiffness it still haunts and shudders.


In my version anyway Inanna grows smaller as the scope of her task dawns on her.

Her way crosses

Her faithful friend at a remove now, unable to follow any further, Inanna’s entered the weave of one of the earth’s textures, her feather guttering smokily, some sort of torch.