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Les Semaines

99.03.14

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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Frayed at the Edges

It has been a busy, busy week, between our unexpected houseguest--well, more of a temporary roommate than a guest--and a couple of deadlines that I had to make and some evening commitments and a concert that I didn't want to miss. This week went by fast.

I do have some finished work to show for it in the form of several packages to be mailed off tomorrow. Those packages include two different chapbooks to submit to contests, the one I finished a few weeks ago, and a new one focusing on my magical poems. It was fun putting this one together particularly--the poems just fell into place.

For one of these chapbook contests I had to wrote a 125-word statement about my work. I butchered it down from previous statements I've had to make for grants, but thought it described what I've been doing for my writing life fairly well, if a little pretentiously. I don't know how to write these things in a way that isn't either pretentious or too folksy/friendly.

My poetry has always had one central theme: how the stories we tell about the natural and human world affect our lives and our perception of ourselves. Lucidity focuses on how landscape and our own histories affect us--how the interior self finds correspondences in the outside world, and learns to meet it partway.

The poems range from dramatic monologues to more purely lyrical pieces, several in a form that allows for both separate readings and the intertwining of similar voices.

The poems here bring these voices together in ways that complement but also contrast with each other, to discuss what we have in common and what divides us from ourselves, from what we love, and from what we hate.

The weather has been a mixture of the wind and rainstorms that we've been having all winter and a couple of days so warm and sunny that I've left the front door ajar (we have a locking screen door) and opened the windows sometimes for hours, and the cats have turned into basking animals. I'm ready for more of this weather.

But not so much that I go crazy that I still have more to do and can't spend all my time outside. It has been weeks since I went to the beach, which is one of the best parts about living in Seattle. I used to especially love going to beaches during storms, but now I tend to want to curl up in the warmth, or stay at home to see how much I can get done. It's bad when that becomes more important than doing anything you love. Last night we went to a movie for the first time in months. Shakespeare in Love, okay? And yes I enjoyed it--I thought it was delightful, and it made me crave reading and watching Shakespeare again. And I especially loved the portrayal of John Webster, the creepy kid (he grows up to be a playwright whose work is filled with deaths and gore--The White Devil and The Duchess of Malfi--I can't hear those without hearing Echo and The Bunnymen's song which includes that as a line). Coincidentally (I swear it) this week's Phonosnout entry talks about my first reading of MacBeth.

Plays full of passion and death.

Beware the Ides of March for me, okay?

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

Listening

It being a busy week, I didn't get to obsess over anything the way I so often do. I did go to see a concert, despite all my deadlines, because I just didn't want to miss it. It was a group of loosely affiliated female singer-songwriters in Seattle who call themselves Persephone's Circle. Of them I had only heard Mary Lydia Ryan before. I really like her first self-titled disc, and I've recently exchanged some email with her about the new creation of her file in The Ectophiles' Guide to Good Music and she told me about this show.

So Jim and I went. Because we both had to get up early for work we only stayed for Mary Lydia Ryan's set and two songs of the following set. Mary Lydia Ryan blew me away with her new material--her next album (which she's recording now) is going to be a knock-out. Anyway, because I liked the songs I heard of the following artist, and I'd liked songs I'd heard on a radio previous of the show of the other two artists, I came away with a self-titled tape by Willow, a cd by Aiko Shimada, Window, and a cd by jr, the vision of the fool ii. I have only just had preliminary listens to them all, but I like all three.

Local music rewls. I hope I get to hear these people again soon. There's something delightful about knowing there's music I want to listen to being created by artists right in town here, and that there will be more opportunities to hear them.

I want Susan Court to play out again, too, but that feels a little differently wonderful, as I knew her before I heard a note of her wonderful music.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

This week slowly completed Brooks Hansen's The Chess Garden, or The Twilight Letters of Gustave Uyterhoeven. Last week's estimation of it hasn't changed--it definitely is a head novel, but it tries to reach the heart but through the head rather than close identification with the characters. I enjoyed it, but it never really caught spark for me. I'm not sure if it's just not a catching spark kind of novel, or if it's just me. I still found it intriguing enough to be worth the time I spent reading it. It's a mixture of philosophy and fantasy, the fantasy written by one of the characters. I especially liked that aspect of the story.

Also reading Louise Glück's new book of poetry, Vita Nova. I also re-read many poems in Robert Hass' Praise, which has been one of my favourite books since I first read it in 1981 and began pressing it on all my friends.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

A busy, productive writing week. I had a story due Sunday night for a crit group, but I didn't manage to get it done until 2:30 am Wednesday night (meaning Thursday morning). But it is done. It's one of those I have no idea if it's any good or not--so hard to tell when you work on something in such a scattered way, snatching bits of time here and there and then pushing pushing pushing to get finished. In a lot of ways my head isn't out of it yet.

I also put together yet another chapbook I'm going to submit various places. This one is a collection of my poems based on fantasy subjects, and I'm calling it The Green Man's Book of Enchantments, which I hope doesn't suck as a title. Right now it's charming me, anyway.

I must admit that I really enjoyed seeing these poems together as a unit unto themselves. They're in the bigger manuscript I'm putting together as well, but this is their place to really play off each other as a smaller unit rather than spread out through the bigger one.

The bigger one which I desperately have to finish as soon as I can.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

February 1975

96. Listening again

I'm sitting here again, listening to the drama club recite their lines. Not bad, but not ready. The play isn't a bad one, but it could be improved. The acting's not bad, it it could be improved. All together, the whole thing could be improved. I don't know why they don't; it would be so easy to make a better thing out of the whole deal. Oh well, that's just the way it goes.

97. Dance

Well, as you may or may not remember, i was really looking forward to this dance. It was a bit disappointing--the only person i didn't want to be Miss Valentine won it, Jim. That's right, a guy was Miss Valentine. How shitty!!1 Anyway, my latest heart throb was there, but late. He danced with me (three times!) Yay(?) I don't know. I'm letting him mess me up. I really am a fool sometimes. I shouldn't let it happen, but i do. maybe something will happen tonight. Maybe...

98. About Laura at the Dance

Well, Laura has done another first. It was the first time at a Claremont dance that someone had sent flowers to the door. One of the teachers brought them in to her at the dance, but! (and i repeat, but!) the attentions of the young gentleman were unwanted (on Valentine's Day?), and the flowers were very unceremoniously donated to the council president (Tommy baby) who generously donated them to the teacher who had delivered them to take home to his wife. (If you understand all that...) Anyway, Laura happened to get together with a very nice guy who is a good friend to this heart throb of mine. Which is very convenient (...you might be able to understand this.)

99. What do you do?

What do you do about a très shy (not that shy's quite the word for it) heart throb (that's not quite the right word either) who knows you're alive (he's written in here, can you guess who's it? Hint--not the obvious ones) but doesn't quite "care" the way you do. And i do. I've really got myself hooked this time. Why, why, why do i let myself? Pretty soon my little heart will be broke in two. Ah, love.

100. A Memorable Chapter

This is going to be a memorable chapter, i mean, i mean,i mean, after all, this is the hundredth chapter, and that's kind of important (to me at least) and nice. One hundred chapters, November 1974 - February 1975. (It was a very good year, or three months.) It's funny, most of it has been written lately, at least half, maybe even three-quarters since January. I guess i've got more to say.

101. Laugh

How can i laugh? Is it really funny? What's funny? Cartoons with violence, teaching laughter.... This all came about with a discussion of cartoons. Everyone is laughing, but i only smile. Maybe i have a laughter problem--i don't know. I just laugh inside. But what's the different. [Quote from an old Monkees' song deleted.2.]

102. MacBeth

Today the poetry teacher started reading us MacBeth. Strangely enough, it's not that hard to understand. (Hello in there, are you MacBeth?) So far there's only the prophecy (i, a witch, say you, MacBeth, will be king). None of the blood has been shed yet, but there are foreshadowings. Foreshadowings are important because they kept the audience Interested and Involved.

103. I keep on asking

I keep on asking, but what to do? What do you do when you sat all semester between two guys, goofed around with them both, but one is a friends (note "s") and one you like (is like enough? Is it ever enough?) He must like me, too. How many guys grab you when they see you in the store wherein they work, to say hi. Not only once, but three times. When i was walking with friends yet. (Innocently walking though The Bay, when... pounce!). He danced three songs with me at the dance, which is pretty good considering he was only there for an hour out of the whole thing (he had to work). He always says hi, and not only when i see him first and he has to, or when i say hi first, but when i don't see him and he could easily sneak by without saying anything.

104. Asking cont'd

In reading the previous chapter over, i noticed i keep switching from the objective to the personal. Of course i do this in other places, but never so noticeably as here. I think i'm trying to stop caring so much. I think i'm getting upset because we haven't come within talking distance in two days. (Did you know you have to be within a certain distance before you start talking to someone? It's one of the Laws of Human Nature. Same way you can't talk too close.) Anyway, all that means is that i am even more unsure of where i stand. What do i mean? I know where i stand. Maybe he doesn't, but the important thing is where he stands. Isn't it? Sometimes i think he knows i like him and he's backing away. More likely, he doesn't know anything and this is just because i notice it. Ah the pain of unrequited love. Or is it requited? My god, i wish i knew.

105. Poor Me

Poor little earnest woebegone Phono with a guy on her mind. She does know I'm talking. I'm her Other Half. I am I with a capital I, that's how you'll know I'm here. She doesn't believe in capital "i"s. She thinks they're conceited. I know they're not; I know they're just more dignified3. She never did have too much dignity. I know what you're thinking. She hasn't got anything as theatrical as a split personality. Nothing like that. She's just a little frayed at the edges.


NOTES

1. Well, now I say good for them. And fun. But then my consciousness was not yet raised, I guess. I was pretty damn earnest.

2. Yes the song was old then, too.

3. That must be why I use them now. Dignity 'R' Us. (Actually, it was the pretentiousness of the small "i" that eventually got to me. That and the people who used circles for the dot.)

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