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Les Semaines

01.01.14

what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: The Phonosnout

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Nothing to say and a page to say it on

There are days like this, when if somewhere were here I could talk their ears off, but I feel, as Richard Hugo used to say, like I couldn't write my name in the sand with a sharp stick.

It wasn't a bad week. I've still been fighting insomnia. Monday night I didn't get to sleep until 4:00 am, which seriously messed me up as you can imagine, but I recovered after a couple of days. I think Monday night was just because I was so wired after the reading, the launch at Elliott Bay Bookstore of my new book, Blood Memory. It was a really fun reading, for me at least. I love reading, and I'm proud of the book. I mostly read shorter poems and I read about half the Mairie poems, interspersed throughout the reading. Basically, I read poems as samples from each of the sections. Jim opened the reading with some poems from his chapbook and then some of his newer poems about music. I think we both read fairly well, and the question and answer period afterwards was fun. It was great that so many of our friends showed up to cheer us on.

But it's funny, no matter how good things are I'm never satisfied. I was disappointed at the number of people who said they'd be there and never showed (several people phoned and apologized for not making it but that's another thing), and the people I expected would be there but weren't. It's not that I expect all of my friends to show up every time I give a reading, it's just that this was the launch, and the launch of Spells for Clear Vision felt like such a total celebration, and I sold 23 of the 25 copies of the book they had there. This time Elliott Bay couldn't get my books in time and so I had to bring my own, and only sold 6 and the bookstore bought an additional 6 copies from me. I don't want to go backwards in sales. It's hard, though, as there has been so little promotion and all. And having a reading so soon after the holiday season and on a Monday night didn't help. Oh, the angst of being an anxious writer.

Still, I did have a good time, and the people there seemed to, as well. For those of you who missed it, well, it still felt like a celebration to me! We taped it, but only Jim's portion came out as I didn't really use the microphone. I'll try to tape another one, soon.

It was busy at work, with things finally settling down into the second week of classes. It felt like a long week, though.

Friday night Tamar came over to lie on our couch instead of her own. She's had the flu, and we fed her hot & sour soup and showed her X-Men, which was actually much more fun than I thought it would be. And the guy who played Wolverine sure is cute. Another friend who has a Boyfriend of the Week site just named him her current boyfriend. Ha!

Yesterday my friend, Judy from Saskatoon, a buddy from my Clarion West class, was in town with her husband to got to a boat show, so we had a chance to go to dinner last night (Ethiopian, yum) and then meet up to walk around Pioneer Square for a while, visiting Magic Mouse toys and Fireworks arts shop, windowshopping in the carpet shops (I'm saving myself for our next trip to Turkey), and bookbrowsing in Elliott Bay. We had lunch there, and then I drove them to the airport and here I am.

Typing isn't exactly a sharp stick and the web ain't exactly sand, but this is as far as I go this week.

Bye for now. I'm off to either soak in the bathtub or collapse on the couch under the eiderdown throw Jim gave me for Christmas. I think the collapsing idea is winning.

last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing

Listening

Jim and I are still both obsessing on Two Loons for Tea; there's something about their sound that is just what I want to hear right now. The mix of smoothness with liveliness and depths of the flowing sound. And of course the great guitar and vocals. Heavenly.

And in working today on The Ectophiles' Guide's entry for Hugo Largo, I had a listen to their two discs, drum and mettle. They're strange in that they're experimental and the melodic shape isn't always obvious and yet the melodies are recognizable. They flow and yet shift around. It's a music full of contradictions. and yet really listenable.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

O.R. Melling's The Summer King is a young adult novel, the second in a series of loosely connected novels about faerie in Ireland. The story begins with Laurel, whose twin sister Honor has been killed in an hanggliding accident. Laurel is mourning her sister, and as the athletic of the two felt she had forced Honor into trying these types of things. Her sister's diary of the time just before she died mentions that she has a secret life, where she is meeting secretly with people who need her to help them. Laurel decides she will try to meet these people and see if there is a way to contact her sister, who while she is dead in the human world may be alive in faery. Along the way she encounters the tricky ways of faery, and of pirate queen's. An altogether delightful read, like its predecessor, The Hunter's Moon.

I haven't read any Maeve Binchy for years. People sneer at her because she's popular and her books aren't particularly challenging, but they feel so real. Her characters are just like people you know. People I know, at least, even though I don't know anyone in Dublin. Anyway, Mom loaned me several of her novels to read over the next few months. I read Tara Road this week. It's the story of a woman and her marriage and the house she loves and creates as her children are growing. Then there's a crisis in her life, and on the spur of the moment she decides to do a house exchange with a woman in Connecticut. Both are in pain and grieving and trying to sort their heads out but they are very different women: Ria, from Dublin, has a life full and family and friends; Marilyn in the U.S. is reserved and far more solitary. The exchange changes their lives in ways they couldn't have anticipated. I found this an enjoyable read--as I said, the characters feel particularly real, and it's easy to feel involved in their lives and to care what happens to them. A warm and human book.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

Still working on that long poem. It's getting a little frustrating because it's still not near completion and I'd like to take it to a workshop on Tuesday. it's funny how some poems come quickly like gifts. I think because this is one that I had so many ideas for, so many notes to shape, it's taking a long time to weave it together. And, of course, it's longer than most poems I write and thus more unwieldy. It does help to take it apart and work on each section individually, though. Luckily tomorrow is a holiday, and I hope to spend most of the day working on it. Working on it. Working on it.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

July 1978

981. Our revels now are ended

Today was the last day of my dream. Timeless must end, and discipline and fatigue begin. The endless time has ended [1]. I am going to have to requisition wake up calls. I am going to have to requisition a little reality, to be injected at intervals into my dream world. My life was so balanced--dream all day, reality at night with work. Paul lay somewhere in between. All those books that I had prepared myself to read. I will make time. But manufactured time is never so opaque as this other time. Now nights will be to be gotten through. Now I must begin to write seriously. I read those books I put aside. I am not yet ready to reenter. I long to live the life of a courtesan. This month has been my attempt to play out the dream. The future frightens as I must again begin to battle my laziness. What a scribble with a scrawl! I must answer more letters. Write. Create. I am supposed to create. I tell people I write, so I should be writing. Not just journal, though this is a beginning. Phono cover with water again, this time with cliffs surrounding the one fertile stream. This is again very symbolic. I am those rough, infertile cliffs. My writing is that stream. Paul's cigarettes. I mean to claim my rent.

982. Exercise

Everything I write these days is just an exercise for writing more. [Quote from Sylvia Plath's "Daddy" about not doing any more omitted.]

983. Totally killing

Good grief. These things happen to me. Wrong room. Alien world. Waiting. Got to wait. Why do these things happen? O dear. Slimy world. American Literature. Wake up, dear. Yawn. What can I do? I refuse to walk out. Last night I dreamt about going through red lights. Elation and fear. Meaning? Looking out the window on a very Victoria grey summer day. I'm too tired to write and can't bear it. Closing my eyes and dreaming, wand'ring. This is old Phono, not new, and somehow I'm caught in a time warp. I don't want to talk about this. No. Digging in Faulkner? I was here for Shakespeare. Endure, I can endure. I can live through almost anything, anything. Going through the waters, yeah. Living submerged. Blind as hell (never could open my eyes under water). Wish it was over. This was over, all was over. My stomach turns as if it had drunk a gallon of sea water. Could I be out? I would like to be out. Dreaming enclosed, caged. Burnt. Pleas understand the burning. My mind bends like a spoon in water. Why do I stay? Why do I feel like I owe these people something? how totally killing.

984. Paris

Please excuse me. My whole body is overtired, and aching. Anaïs, where are you now? So now I find, discover to that she died last year, 1977. How could she die and leave me here? I O so wanted to meet her and now there is no time. So instead I write my journal and address questions to her. I have no courage, little life in the morning. It is living in a foreign land ("How can we sing, sing the Lord's song, in a foreign land?") [2] O I would love to sing one of the songs of Zion. Yet there is no music in morning for me. (More like mourning.) Even the bitterness of slimy hell is no cause for music. There is no beauty in this room, this is the ugliest room, causing pain. To carry on--Paris, O I long to be in Paris. To catch a glimpse of the life Anaïs speaks of, that she lived. Pierre Jean Jove [3]. Warm greyness.

985. Café dreams & life

Anaïs has been overshadow by summer Shakespeare. Taming of the Shrew now. Anaïs drifts in through the last volume of her journal, beautifully. So now to work! To work! To buy a fat hen. O?? Back into my boring silly Phono-mood. Drowning in it. Today is a day with sun and heat and traffic. I dream of Paris, of small, dark, grey corners, of mediæval houses, of the café life where creation was the main topic of conversation, where every night was a growth, an expansion [4].


NOTES

1. Summer Quarter classes were beginning.

2. Psalms.

3. Who?

4. Such a romantic!

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