Les Semaines

January 22, 2005

what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: old journal

 §

How To Do That In Words

So strange sitting at Tamar's dining table with a screen and microphone in front of me as I read my poems. It's a really odd experience talking them into a machine. Tamar's there, listening. She has the headphones on while I read.

Between our schedules being difficult and then needing a pop screen to make the plosives less explosive, her recording program being funky, and me suddenly slurring or messing up words in the midst of poems, it has taken us quite a while to get this far. We're probably three-quarters the way through, trusting the work we did today turns out well. We've tossed out a lot as we went along, repeated a lot, tested a lot, done a little patching. I love reading to an audience and I know I'm reading to an audience now that I can't see. I don't know their reactions. I can't sense their ears near me. I don't know what's working and what's not. I don't know if people will understand my weird emphasis and pronunciation, let alone the idiosyncracies of my work. This feels more speaking into the void than writing itself. It has been an educational experience, but mostly fun working with Tamar. Sometimes we've had to be careful not to be laughing during recording, even with my mostly so very serious, earnest poetry.

It all makes me think a lot about what I'm trying to do with my poetry. What I'm trying to convey. The emotions I'm trying to put across the space between myself and my readers. Learning, always trying, to figure out how to do that in words. Now I will have not just the words but also my voice speaking them to send forward. Words, and also the music of speaking those words. Letting the words themselves speak, form their patterns, not letting the voice overwhelm, but letting the voice carry them.

I lost a poem today. Maybe my machine crashed before I saved it. Or I filed it in oblivion. Or I wrote over it. Or something. I don't know what I did with it and honestly cannot find it. I think what happened is when backing up I replaced the folder that had it in it with an older one that didn't. This is annoying. It was only the beginnings of something, but it's gone. I had some written notes for it where it began even earlier, but I can't find them, either. I probably recycled them, thinking I was done with them. Grr. Now I have only the idea left. Rather than building the poem, I have stripped it away. That's wrong.

I'm feeling a little achy. I owe you more words here, but I'm going to go and sit in front of the TV for a bit before going to sleep.

Chronicles of Sloth: Episode 10

  • Email inbox down to 314 messages (down from 335 last week, from 380 when I started tracking this, but up from my 231 low in late November)
  • New novel stands at 32,858 words
  • Four batches of poems to send out
  • One more medical appointment for me to arrange (3 to go to soon)
  • Managing to keep up with Clarion West applications so far
  • Picking slowly at the 2 large stacks of CDs to ready for review
  • CD pileup prodded at, a couple fewer (keep/toss/add to ectoguide)
  • 1 red cloth bag of tapes (+ a bookcase) diminished by about 10 the last few weeks
  • 2.5 friend's novels still waiting to be read & critiqued + one story half critiqued
  • Get framed picture of me & Jim & send to Jim's Dad
  • I will henceforth forget about the abstract things and the lurking, unexplored more, and concentrate on that which is clear and in front of me to do
last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing

Listening

Hannah Fury has a new strange and labyrinthine ep.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

Ian R. MacLeod's The House of Storms is a wonderful, rich, strange fantasy novel. Set in the same world as The Light Ages, where aether and the spells that govern it run an industrial, Dickensian world, this novel focuses on a marvelous house and its surroundings, especially Einfell, where the changelings (people whose physiology has been affected by the aether) live, by the sea and its people, and the rambunctious city of Bristol. A dense and complex but satisfying read.

I can't remember where I heard of Stephenie Meyer's twilight but when I read the jacket cover and realized it was about vampires I was sure I wouldn't like it. I decided to give it a try, expecting to put it down after a few pages. Well, I couldn't put it down, and read it till the end, at 3:30 am. This is a young adult novel, about a teenage girl who moves to the gray, rainy town of Forks, Washington to live with her father when her mother needs to travel with her new boyfriend. She has to start a new high school, where she gets captivated by a gorgeous, shadow-eyed guy who sites next to her in biology and hangs out with a family of gorgeous, shadow-eyed people. Later she learns he's as drawn to her as she to him, but he knows just how dangerous that is. She's to entranced by him to let that matter.

Scott Westerfeld's young adult SF novel, Pretties, is the sequel to Uglies. Anything I say will be a spoiler for Uglies so I can't say much about the plot, but suffice it to say that Tally's entanglement in plots and relationships she doesn't quite understand continue, and this novel sets up the final volume, the not-yet-published Specials well. Entertaining and surprising.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

Two poetry rejections this week, one of which I had already given up on since it had been 11 months. Annoying, they returned the poems without even a rejection slip. Nothing to add to the rejection slip collection.

Finally, slowly, wrote myself past the place of stuckness in the novel.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: old journal

Thursday, August 22, 1991
Edinburgh

Walked up to George Street, then back up to the Mound. Christina went her way, and I went into the Gallery there. Wandered through the regular collection. More taken with the gallery itself than with any of the fine paintings. One stood out to me, though, a Titian of a woman bathing. Lovely and simple. Then went up to the Impressionist Gallery. Entranced by van Gogh's Les Oliviers. Looked at it from all sides, then sat and looked at it for a while. The movement in it is what caught me. The ground the grasses the wind one motion, and ten the gnarled trunks breaking it, but blooming into the same colours, a different direction. Made me think of how to do that in words, if at all possible.

A lovely, gentle orchard scene, too, painted only months before the olive trees but so different. Also several nice Gaugins.

Went downstairs to see the "saved for Scotland" exhibit, which had a lovely Jacobite tapestry. Charlie's glove, two William Blakes, especially one of Job. The other was Raising a Lazarus, not so interesting somehow. Stopped at the loo--even it a work of art.

Then back outside into the crowd of vendors, buskers, performers, sidewalk artists, guys in kilts. Bought a silver ball to give to Mom and Dad. Then to Jenners to see of they had any Ola Gore jewels. Wanted to get a good prize for Christina. Got some jam, looked around the kilt shop, then down to the gift shop, where I found Morris tablemats and lovely white ones for Christina, that will go with anything, including her new cutlery and blue plates.

Then had to scoot over to theatre to meet her on time. Sat around waiting for the play to start. As You Like It and we were a little afeared we wouldn't after the Macbeth fiasco. It started a little bumpily, but gradually took off and was delightful. Rosalind was charming, and there was a wonderful singer who did abut five songs. Came out of it pretty happy.

Went to Littlewoods and got small salads. Went through the crowd again to get a catalogue from the guy who sells the silver Mayan chime balls, then saw away from the crowds to eat. Green park. Pesky squirrel.

Walked through the crowds. Decided we'd seen every kind of kilted Scotsman (formal band, skinny angular runner, one with a sweat shirt over with writings, naked chested young, grizzled old, red-bearded, dark-looked, punk, then near the tourist info office saw a band with Hawaiian shirts with their kilts playing "Deep in the Heart of Texas" yelling the title line

Went home and sadly packed.

Got Indian take-out about 9:00 and made the necessary departure phone calls.

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