Friday, April 16, 2010

poetry, daily: 12

Well, we're more than halfway now, so thank you if you're still hanging on and doing this daily practice. It's no easy thing, that's for sure.

A thought on critique: For serious writers, when looking at another writer's work, the question does not become 'is this the thing that should be done?' but 'what is this thing I have here?'--not 'is it working?' but 'how is it working?'. Once these questions are resolved, the writer and her critics will be in a position to interrogate the workings and make substitutions, if necessary.

Good peer review examines what is on the page explicitly and thereby examines the potential (what could be there if the author changes things, or what would be there if you were the author). It doesn't make what doesn't exist the focus of its study. I'm not talking about rejecting the conditional or future tenses when talking about the poem, but about basing any projections on what is there, rather than on what I-critic might personally desire. How is the thing in front of me working and how can I make it better? The engineer doesn't say the bicycle should be a light socket, but might incorporate some function of the latter into the former, if necessary (like to light the way at night!).

And ask, maybe: What can this poem teach my practice?

the light was beautiful and it was warm

Writing exercise: Write a poem about something lost in interrogatives, rather than declaratives.

See you Monday.


All work here © 2010 and onward to me, Eireann Lorsung. Please do not reproduce my words in any form in print or online. If you wish to excerpt parts from the month of poetry featured here, please contact me: ohbara at gmail dot com.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

poetry, daily: 11

The series. What is it, how does it function? By series I mean both poems in parts and series of separate poems that function together. The series can be a way for a poet struggling to relate things to box them into separate areas but leave them on the same page. More capably used, it can, as in Seamus Heaney's poem "Mossbawn: Two Poems in Dedication", make us think about two disparate elements in terms of their relation (which in this case is not formal or tonal or imagistic), while the poet clearly composes two objects--and places them together, changing and complicating what they would have been alone. The series means we can't go back to the single poem. It desires the complex relation that moving parts have, because it is composed of parts that relate internally (both vertically and not), relate to the whole, and relate to what is outside (as with any poem).

Poems in a series are train cars, rooms in a house, little worlds with their own rules. And have to merit these. There's no flab on a freight train; everything working, everything carrying its weight.

Michel Foucault, in The History of Sexuality I: Composite bodies greater than their parts' sum (136).



Writing exercise: Write a poem in parts or a series of poems.

See you tomorrow.


All work here © 2010 and onward to me, Eireann Lorsung. Please do not reproduce my words in any form in print or online. If you wish to excerpt parts from the month of poetry featured here, please contact me: ohbara at gmail dot com.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

poetry, daily: 10

Writing exercise: Take 10 of your poems you feel closest to or most affectionate about. Go through them and list the nouns, verbs, and adjectives/adverbs you use. This is your lexicon. Compose a new poem using only the words on these lists, plus any conjunctions, articles, and tense/person changing suffixes necessary. What is the new poem like? Does it feel similar to/different from the source poems? Reductive? Fresh? Have you been forced to use the same words you tend to use in new ways? Or not? Have you fallen into your usual tendencies?

See you tomorrow.


All work here © 2010 and onward to me, Eireann Lorsung. Please do not reproduce my words in any form in print or online. If you wish to excerpt parts from the month of poetry featured here, please contact me: ohbara at gmail dot com.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

poetry, daily: 9

Writing exercise: Write a poem without the word 'I', without the word 'he', without the word 'she'.

Check out the slender, lovely slip of a poem that is Rae Armantrout's "Second Person".

How about this anthology compiled by C. Dale Young?

Our shadow is our second person.

See you tomorrow.

All work here © 2010 and onward to me, Eireann Lorsung. Please do not reproduce my words in any form in print or online. If you wish to excerpt parts from the month of poetry featured here, please contact me: ohbara at gmail dot com.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

poetry, daily: 8

Check out these words about Michael Dickman's book, The End of the West. Two very different reviews in two quite different outlets, and the second one is not entirely kind (which is fine--reviews aren't meant to be laureates, but this one, unfortunately, has the slightest aura of sour-grapishness about it). I met Michael once, quite a long time ago now, at a party at a friend's house. We talked about Randall Jarrell and then exchanged letters for some months. I wish I had kept up the correspondence, because I liked his poems then and I like what I've read recently.


coats, mirror, sink

One thing I like about his poems is how you enter them. I am drawn to poets who are methodical and considerate, and his entrances feel that way. The dangerous other side is plodding.

Writing exercise: How do you enter the poem? Via what door, tunnel, passage, arch, window? Begin the poem at its entrance.

See you tomorrow.


All work here © 2010 and onward to me, Eireann Lorsung. Please do not reproduce my words in any form in print or online. If you wish to excerpt parts from the month of poetry featured here, please contact me: ohbara at gmail dot com.

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Friday, April 9, 2010

poetry, daily: 7

Tragedy, beauty, and absurdity in the newspapers (and everywhere). For example.

Writing exercise: Find a newspaper story that interests you and write from it. Don't feel bound to a reportage-style recounting of the facts; just use it as a starting point. What does the story call up in you? What is missing from it? Where else could it go? How could it depart from the 'realities' of its situation? How can you step away from what we assume and see those realities in other lights? What is strange about it?

frituur bea

See you Monday.

All work here © 2010 and onward to me, Eireann Lorsung. Please do not reproduce my words in any form in print or online. If you wish to excerpt parts from the month of poetry featured here, please contact me: ohbara at gmail dot com.

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

poetry, daily: 5

I'm reading Sharp Stars by Sharon Bryan right now. I like it for its play, especially its wordplay. I like its sense of space. I like how trim the poems feel. They feel so crafted. Not impetuous, though they do feel ready, like a runner on the blocks. You can read about the book on the publisher's (BOA Editions) site, read a review in Rattle here, and buy it at Powell's here. You could wait a few months and read my review of it, too...more on that later.


Writing exercise: Click this link and write about the first image that strikes you.

See you tomorrow!

All work here © 2010 and onward to me, Eireann Lorsung. Please do not reproduce my words in any form in print or online. If you wish to excerpt parts from the month of poetry featured here, please contact me: ohbara at gmail dot com.

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

poetry, daily: 4

Writing exercise: What is the particular geography of the place you love? What are its most intimate, actual, physical, material details?

This time, play with the physical largeness of the poem. Make yourself use lines that go all the way across the page (with or without breaks in the middle). Use the white space to create meaning. Start lines from both margins. For example.

Create a picture of this place you love, including the things you can't say or that are too big to say. These things might take the place of narrative or imagistic gaps, formal play with white space, punctuation, etc.

the mosses are blooming

See you tomorrow!

All work here © 2010 and onward to me, Eireann Lorsung. Please do not reproduce my words in any form in print or online. If you wish to excerpt parts from the month of poetry featured here, please contact me: ohbara at gmail dot com.

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Friday, April 2, 2010

poetry, daily: 2

A poem can be just a moment. It doesn't have to tell a grandiose story, or travel vast distances. Mostly the things close to home, the physical things we know and can touch, are what will touch others (and ourselves on rereading).

leicester, delay

Ezra Pound: In a Station of the Métro

The apparition of these faces in the crowd:
Petals on a wet, black bough.


Writing exercise:

Take public transport this weekend. While you're waiting for it (or while riding it, or after you alight), take note of the things you see. Write a short poem from this experience.

See you Monday!


All work here © 2010 and onward to me, Eireann Lorsung. Please do not reproduce my words in any form in print or online. If you wish to excerpt parts from the month of poetry featured here, please contact me: ohbara at gmail dot com.

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

poetry, daily: 1

What is a writing exercise?

A writing exercise is a suggestion from outside the writer for a direction, image, form, or prompt for writing. It is not rule-bound. It is not prescriptive. In the best of times, the writing exercise may be best served by the writer's ignorance of it, transgression of its boundaries, or contradiction of its instructions.

What is a writing exercise for?

A writing exercise is not only to train the writer to respond in the moment to a particular stimulus which interrupts and then disappears from or is integrated into the flow of the unnoticed daily, but to train the writer to see the processes, projects, anticipations, exaggerations, possibilities, disappointments, and travels of everyday life as a continual source of that sort of stimulation; to transform the parts of life which we regularly overlook into instances of the surreal, the poignant, the bizarre, the beautiful. In short, the writing exercise exists to train the writer in attentiveness to the moment and openness to all the linguistic, imagistic, and relational possibilities inherent in it.


See you tomorrow.


All work here © 2010 and onward to me, Eireann Lorsung. Please do not reproduce my words in any form in print or online. If you wish to excerpt parts from the month of poetry featured here, please contact me: ohbara at gmail dot com.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

poetry, daily.

poetry month

April is National Poetry Month in the U.S. Beginning April 1, there'll be something here every weekday. I'd love to see if you join in--leave responses to writing exercises in the comments (or a link to your post), tell me what you think!

(P.S.: you can steal a little banner like the one above by clicking here and downloading it.)

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Thursday, March 18, 2010


The quest for the perfect mug wasn't something I thought about before I came to England, but then a very neurotic Englishman, an acquired habit of tea-consumption, and time enough to start collecting objects again conspired to make me think about what I like in a mug.

newest ♥ mug

I like a mug to hold enough tea, but not too much. No oversized IKEA fancies for me, please. I like thin china, but nothing precious. I like mugs that feel good in my hands and I like mugs that fit in, roughly, with my other things. (I don't have any matching dishes, but I like it all to hang out together happily.)

My longtime favorite mugs have been a blue Tams Ware one I, er, borrowed from the back of the staffroom cupboard a while back and a Marimekko one with a bright green pear on it that I bought in a Scandinavian design shop in Oxford. But then I went to John Lewis (one reason not to leave England) the other day and saw this:

secret garden mug

...of course, it had to be mine.

John Lewis also has a lot of really lovely Orla Kiely mugs (you can see them here), all of which are bone china, so they're really nice and light. The handles are a good shape, too.

When I was at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park about 18 months ago, I found an Orla Kiely mug with cars printed all over it--ohhh nice. But this one, from Fiona Howard, is even nicer:

bus mug

You can see more of their stuff here. Although perhaps it's better not to look, even. The collection of a thousand mugs begins with a single set. Or something like that.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010


letter with birds and airmail stickers

Girl of the future, I'm sending you a crown airmail...

If you are waiting for an email about your public transit tickets and your cameras, please wait a little more--it's coming. I've been working on this, haven't had time for much else. But I haven't forgotten. If you're still interested but haven't gotten in touch, please email ohbara at gmail dot com. The project will entail you receiving something in the post, taking a high-quality digital photograph (I'll specify what), then sending me back the photo (via email) and a public-transit ticket of any kind from the place it was taken.

Recently: Benoit P.'s photos. Kyoto Chirimen Museum. Magritte's house is a museum, too. A short video (not new, but still funny) about art school.

And more good mail. (Thanks, Gracia & Louise! Poems soon.)

mail from gracia

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Wolfgang Iser on Art

(Bernard Moninot, Dessin sur soie n° 2 [sans titre], acrylic, graphite, and silver thread on canvas.
Dole Municipal Museum of Fine Arts, Dole, France, April 2007)

Right from the start this contradiction [between the supposed transcendence of art and the revelation thereby that art did indeed have a function and was therefore dependent on worldly reality] was aggravated by the need to provide a concrete idea of what autonomous Art meant. The mere impulse of abstracting Art from the given world was not enough to convey an image of its autonomy. After all, Art was claiming to be the realm of freedom in which lay man's only chance to ennoble himself; but if man was to be led to true humanity by way of Art, then this Art that was to underlie his education could scarcely remain an abstract idea. How, though, can one concretize something that only lives through the transcendence of its direct opposite?

The answer was: by collecting all the great artistic achievements of the past. Hence the emergence of that typically nineteenth century institution, the museum. Originally, collections had grown from the personal tastes of individuals; but now the multiplicity of tastes had to be unified into a single concept of taste which could take on normative authority. And so works of art were taken out of their sacred or profane settings and placed in the museum. It is this 'abstraction,' this uprooting of the work from its context, that underlies whatever we have now come to call a work of art. As a representative of a normative taste, it must exercise its effectiveness entirely through itself, and not through any purposes of functions. It is scarcely surprising that when Duchamp displayed a bottle rack in a museum, everyone was shocked. For the museum was the final triumph of autonomous Art, in that it took works of art out of their historical settings and endowed art of all periods with contemporaneity, so that from their various appearances there could be extrapolated a single, universally valid norm of Art.

Once again, however, there is no escaping the problem that the museum was in fact meant to dispose of. The museum is 'a late stage of all the successful representations in the history of art, which are preserved by a present that simultaneously distances itself from them, in order to enjoy its own uniqueness' [quoting Blumenberg, Arbeit am Mythos,p 382]. This enjoyment, however, brings to light precisely the factor that the unified collection of works sought to cover up--namely, the historical relativity of taste, as evinced by the individual works and also by the historical functions, sacred or profane, that they had to fulfill in their original settings. Thus, the contemporaneity with which the museum endows the works actually causes stress to be laid on their historical differences, the concealment of which was supposed to underpin the claim of Art to be autonomous.

From Prospecting: From Reader Response to Literary Anthropology, Johns Hopkins UP 1989, pp 204-205.

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Friday, February 26, 2010

paris, a very small tour.

paris from butte mmtr.

From Butte Montmartre. One of my favorite places because you can sit and watch all the people getting to the top, completely tired from all the steps, and then see them turn around and see Paris like this. I like to walk back down behind the basilica and then (if it is daytime and they are open) go into the many fabric shops. That's where I got the printed cotton with flying geese on it (with my mom when she came to see me).


A small Jewish grocery in the Marais, selling glazed fruits in these bins. The walls are lined with every possible kind of alcohol you could imagine, all different bottles reflecting all different kinds of light. This is where I found a bottle of Izarra for my dad. Right down the street from many little shops, including Petit Pan and many shops selling Japanese goods.

The herbs and plants in my friend's kitchen. Her window looks out on the court but it is the 5th floor, so there is lots of light.

The view from her window. I loved the neighbors' geraniums and the zinc-colored pipes and drains. Even though I remember how miserable living in those old buildings could be, I recognise their beauty (and hope I did, then, too). And the grey sky, against which the buildings of Paris are particularly beautiful, although they are stunning against the bright blue, too.

See? They're just made for that. The colors are so elegant and understated, and then all of a sudden they're right in front of you and you realise how well-planned they are, how they are just made to go together. The shades and shadows the different angles make. That gold dome!

Speaking of exclamation marks, here's one in the Jardin des Plantes, a botanical garden founded in the 17th century. Those trees are so Parisian as to be a cliché, aren't they? But they exist. I sat in this garden many times drawing.

Drawing these bean-poles, specifically. And watching the people. And listening to them talk.

This is Mélodies Graphiques, also in the Marais, very near the Ile-St-Louis. I bought a tiny card (about 1.5" by 2") that had had a pattern burnt out of it: flowers and leaves in an arbor. He collects the beautiful mail his customers send him. I promised to send something, but haven't. Maybe this year.

And this is Austerlitz Station (Gare d'Austerlitz), to which I had a fond connection because of W.G. Sebald's book Austerlitz, which you can read about here. And here. And here. And here. The Métro trains going in are bright turquoise, which is brilliant against the gray stone and glass, and echoes the faded turquoise paint on the façade (you can see a hint of it in the mullions of the window in the lower left corner of the photograph).

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

return to the archive

after some changes

Wow, it's been a long time since I wrote about Derrida. Well, let's change that. I'm re-reading The Postcard for the chapter I'm writing right now and it makes me remember exactly why I love Derrida. He is so materially romantic. The archive? Yes, it's the part of memory work that contains the trace of the past, and it's an important theoretical trope. But it's also a material love story for Derrida, who caresses his distant beloved via his careful treatment of the things around himself. He notices everything. The book is full of trains, photomatons, houses of cards, pots of growing myrtle, books, letters, postcards, photographs, traces of the beloved and the disappearance. And throughout it there is the insistence on the burning of the archive--let's destroy it as we go, let's start over, Derrida (or 'Derrida', because as readers we're not meant to be sure of who we are reading, I don't think) says. Let's build this record of all the things that I love and you love and then if we need to let's leave it all behind, poems and libraries and Purim cakes and telephones and hands and cut-paper flowers.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

printing (again)


Playing with pieces of old prints in order to get ready for the class I'm teaching at LPW next weekend, I made this, which is pleasing on lots of levels.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010


cat on belgian

A public service announcement: how wonderful it is to have someone in your life who supports you and makes space for you and wants to find out about what you love, and resists you when resistance is necessary, and talks with you honestly, and takes you places when you're blue, and drives a long way to see you, and meets you at stations, and brings you flowers, and gives mean-nice presents, and talks easily with all your friends, and introduces you to his family, and makes you feel welcome, and takes care of you when you have a 101° fever, and puts up with your incessant punning, and teaches you stuff you didn't know you needed to know, and drives through blizzards when your plane is rerouted, and gets you to like cats, and speaks other languages with you, and is just generally kind and smart and fun and funny, and lets you be happy, and helps you be happy!

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"...but he did have pictures of this apartment. He got the job."


It's the last sentence of this article* that I think speaks most to me--about how our 'training' as thinkers, makers, and academics has to be flexible, and not only nominally so. It's time for a re-valuing of diverse and deep knowledges, and of unorthodox expressions thereof! Why not--why can't a maker be a geographer, or a pattern designer, or an amateur (in the best sense of that word) astronomer? Especially with the amount of information that is available to us now via the internet (not to mention via the more traditional sources--public libraries, museums, universities, etc.), there is so much possibility for deepening and broadening our understandings.

It wasn't so long ago that an apprenticeship--proving one's capabilities, learning by doing--was an acceptable way to learn things. Why not now? Come on, all you auto-didacts: there's a whole lot of everything out there waiting to be known and thought about and wondered at and questioned. And that can change the system as we know it--where at the moment more and more it seems that education is 'just' a means to an end; where things like 'impact' (what does that even mean?!) mean more than passion and wonder; where learning is commodified and curiosity loses ground.

Education in the most open sense of the word--open access to and curiosity about the world, or as much of it as possible--should be for everyone. And it begins in thinking that things are possible, that one can learn about what is interesting.

So what would you do? What do you want to know? Where are you going to begin?


* N.B.: I do find the kind of blithe endorsement of collecting for the sake of the aesthetic of collections kind of bizarre, though. What's the point of having Wellies you don't wear? Okay, they're beautiful objects, designed objects...but they're also functional. Design for design's sake? I think W. Benjamin would have something to say to that.

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Friday, February 12, 2010


to Buxton

to bakewell

One thing I love about the small scale of the UK is that these landscapes are just a couple of hours from me by bus. I'd like to go back to the Peaks alone and stay somewhere for a week. Seems like a place that could be really good for writing.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

changed priorities ahead

changed priorities ahead

In about two weeks, the ftp service I use through Blogger is going to end, and I'm not sure what will happen to this space, or to the posts I've made here for the last three years, at that point. I'm looking at my options right now, but the ones I've found aren't ideal.

I'd like to keep control of how my space looks, and I don't want there to be ads. I'd like to keep my archives accessible. I'm looking at Movable Type, but I'm not sure I have the energy and time that switch would take.

I really like how sites like Martha's new workbook and Delphine Doreau's sketchbook work, and I've been wanting a way to make my site more integrated and less linear.

Any ideas/recommendations/help?

On an aside that may be interesting only to me, I just realised (prompted by a comment from Nadia) that something like the past ten posts have had pictures of buildings in them.

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Monday, February 8, 2010


english light

In the interim, I have taught a lot of classes where I got to talk about surrealism, feminism, poetry, the semi-colon (also known as the king of punctuation marks), why women in the 18th century used lead to powder their faces, how to construct a thesis statement, why René Magritte is the most excellent painter of them all (this may be subjective).

I have thought about my thesis and had a very successful meeting with my supervisor. I've called home and called Z. and written emails and letters. I've written poems. I've written part of a film script. I've written some thesis. I've gone to a couple of workshops. I've made travel plans (Paris in May!).

I've gone to Bakewell and Buxton by bus, and watched the stunning beauty of the Peak District roll by the window. I've had tea with the Birdwoman. I've been so even-keel. I've enjoyed watching the light change now that it is late winter. I caught it just as I like it--light from the west, dark in the east, bright blue above, red-orange bricks that typify this city--the other day.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Thursday, January 28, 2010

a people's history

I read Howard Zinn's book A People's History of the United States while I was living in France. It was so absorbing I had to consciously pace myself so I wouldn't finish it too quickly. By the end, I knew I wanted to study for a PhD, because I wanted to make work that would make other people feel like that book made me feel: alive. Hopeful. Powerful. I felt an immense love for the strikers who were brave enough, unarmed, to call out 'Cowards!' when the police charged them; the people who risked humiliation, violence, harm, and death to change the way our political system works. And I felt despairing that those things felt like history sometimes. I am not always good at sticking up for what I think is just but that book made me want to be better.

Howard Zinn died yesterday. You can see him speaking and others reading from the People's History here. It's about an hour, but it is worth it. So beautiful, stirring. Overwhelming. Thank you, Professor Zinn, for reminding me that just a few people acting together can change things.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

on saturday

sherbet-colored houses

We went to Rugby (the town, not the sport, although that's where we get rugby). Fran thought I meant rugby when I meant Rugby so she was surprised about halfway there. Oh, that's why you wore those clothes! Ha. We went to the gallery where my work is and then walked around the town. I had been there before, this summer, to see the Museum of Everyday Life.

Earlier that morning, terrible but joyously noisy breakfast with entire Beeston contingent, charity-shop shopping (where I found a really beautiful blue midcentury ceramic pitcher for £3), and walking in the brief sunshine. I love mornings. And my life.

Best part of the day was telling some (12-year-old) kids who tried to harass us that we were from an (imaginary) republic where there were no cars, and confusing them when they tried to explain (or point cars out) by calling them 'cows'. And our names began with a letter that was unpronounceable in English. And that we'd walked to Rugby--but very quickly, on the motorway, so it only took 20 minutes. Also gleaned the valuable information from said lads that ASDA is indeed Rugby's best candy shop. Out of the mouths of babes, folks.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010


where are we going?

Tomorrow morning I start the first regular teaching I've had since I left France. This marks the end of the luxurious period of only-reading-only-writing-only-making of the PhD. Where are we going?

I am sure there will still be trains, also the ocean. Paris. Flowers in the spring. And poems, photobooths, the birdwoman, adventures, all the things I like. And things I don't know I like yet, like 18th-century British history, commuting, and grownup clothes. And and and. This is why I like teaching--my students remind me to think about how much there is to know and how exciting it is to start to know it.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010


waning moon, weeping birch

The grain guarantees the mediation and points me beyond the representation (the photograph) and to the Real (which, despite all postmodern tendencies, I find I do believe in, in my fashion). This is the moon at 5:15 p.m. today. Still a little light in the western sky; I can't believe how fast winter is going this year. I love this flickr group: The Archival Moon and Waiting.

Tomorrow I go back to the library, where I'm writing about textual ontology and reading books about art history. On Friday I start teaching again, as a lecturer in Leicester. Birds, rabbits, some Dutch, some French, some cakes, and probably lots of photographs in the interim. How are you?

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

there is a light and it never goes out

I didn't listen to the Smiths in high school. Or university. Or graduate school, the first time. I discovered them in April, after two years in the UK and in the aftermath of a cataclysmic breakup. They are so absolutely English to me. The ennui, the feeling of being caught somewhere small. The 'do I dare disturb'-ness of it (yes, I know Eliot was American). The ironic posturing. The sincerity buried underneath it all. The bleakness. The beauty in the damp, dark, watery, days: there is a light and it never goes out. Listening to this song makes me nostalgic for an adolescence that doesn't belong to me.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

no unified aesthetic here, I'm afraid

(I love having a camera that works. Thank you, Jonathan.)

I didn't realise Mieke Willems was two people, or that their shop is in Antwerp. Now I know. The second piece of information is more pertinent to me. Next time I'm in Belgium I'll go there and see the shop.

Drawing as both pushing away (pencil on paper) and pulling near, says WJT Mitchell. That's how I feel about very spare aesthetics (like MW above, or Fine Little Day, or, Martha, or Camilla Engman, or 88). I wish I could do it but somehow I always end up with a riot of pink, green, yellow, flowers everywhere, postcards balanced on pictures, a gingham tablecloth.

Sometimes I feel like I am not serious enough!

How could that possibly be.

Recent find--more of that spareness thing I want but can't: Dear Oly.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

I love this.

above my desk

"But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.

"Not that that mystical stuff is necessarily true. The only thing that's capital-T True is that you get to decide how you're going to try to see it.

"The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.

"That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing."

-David Foster Wallace, from this.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

a list, and help required.

birdwoman, meet kabouter.

Forgeries, masks, games, double agents (triple agents), clementines in the winter, granny-smiths in the summer, some Borges and Neruda, lots of wandering around Paris by myself, pretend mushrooms and plastic goldfish, nasturtium leaves (like dollhouse plates), red notebook, trains, a photobooth.

The lovely Belgian gave me a new camera for Christmas. The one I had, I'd had since 2002 and then it cost me about $70. It's not bad--it's fine for documentation--but it's about 2 megapixels (my mobile's camera is more powerful) and it doesn't like to focus and it eats batteries like candy. It is such a luxury to be able to take clear photographs, of high quality, and at a large size.

I'm thinking of where my prints will go and I think photography (and the rest of the list above) will be a big part.

I need volunteers from other places in the world who will take a photograph (I'll send instructions) and send me a used train ticket. Any takers?

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Thursday, December 31, 2009

beautiful 2009 (12)

I finish a draft of the introduction to my thesis and it feels good. With two other artists, I man an unheated stall in Nottingham for three days, thanking the universe for the invention of hot water bottles. I make a lot of presents. I go home, and then I go to Belgium. There's a lot of light.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

beautiful 2009 (11)


I go back to Belgium, where very early mornings prove useful for my thesis: I write thousands of words before noon, and spend the afternoons before the Belgian is off work wandering around Gent with an exceptionally heavy backpack, grunting helplessly when strangers assume I speak Dutch. My Dutch improves incrementally. I hang out a lot with Sue, Sriparna, and Zalfa. We make up our own language. I have band practice, and we write a couple of songs which I then become too bashful to sing. I make Thanksgiving dinner for about 25 people, and the next day come downstairs to find water streaming down the wall wth my books. I observe two minutes' silence on the 11th, anti-papism on the 5th, and the elegant lines of staircases on the university campus.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

beautiful 2009 (10)


I sew some patchwork covers for my ugly chairs. A piano arrives, all thanks to the magic of freecycle. Some of my friends help me celebrate my birthday with tea at Lee Rosy's, and I am touched by how thoughtful they are. We see the movie "Rumba" and go out for dinner afterwards. I take another trip to Belgium and meet some mushrooms in a forest. I go home and begin to sew my own. The Beligian comes, there's another Nottingham Poetry Series reading, and I get H1N1.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

beautiful 2009 (9)


The Belgian and I spend a happy, magical day walking around London before he gets the train back to Gent for good. We have cake in a café and many serious, funny, and practical discussions. The Eurostar people are concerned by how much I'm crying. I can't explain that this is just my normal reaction to feeling anything, and no, I'm fine, it's all going to be ok. Back in Nottingham, I write a lot of poems about East Anglia and perfect my recipe for banana bread.

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

beautiful 2009 (8)


I move into my little house, with a lot of help from friends (including Melissa and the Belgian, who commandeer a shopping cart). I go to Leicester some more and print a lot of compound prints. I get offered teaching at the print workshop. The Belgian and I go on lots of walks. He tolerates my eternal taking of pictures. I tolerate his non-tea-drinking ways. I ignore the fact that I now have one year left to finish my PhD, and instead institute poetry meetings at my house once a week.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

beautiful 2009 (7)


The garden has lots of basil, lots of parsley, lots of radishes, some poppies, some marigolds, some chard, some tiny carrots, a few zucchini, and a multitude of disgusting grey slugs. The nasturtiums take off beautifully. I go to Latitude festival and have a great time (anyone up for 2010?) even though I miss seeing Lisa Hannigan by about 20 minutes due to a sudden rainstorm. I see Thom Yorke play solo from about ten people back. I see Regina Spektor (mostly hair and a piano) and Nick Cave (mostly swagger and a piano). I teach a poetry course where I meet people who will become my friends and fellow poets.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

beautiful 2009 (6)


i eat waffle, bruges

I go to a conference in London, ditch it halfway through, and go hang out with poets on the South Bank. We walk around, get sunburnt, bother folks in the Poetry Library, then go home (their home) and make dinner and cake. I go to Belgium for the first time. I like the train. I like the seaside. Wow, the ocean is cold. The Belgian obligingly takes me to Ieper, Brugge, Oostende, and Gent. I eat the obligatory waffle. I like fritkot better.

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