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September 2005


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every other day


30 SEPT 05
  How can another see into me?

 

28 SEPT 05
Recently discovered the online journal APOCRYPHALTEXT. In the current issue there are 2 terrific poems by Brandon Shimoda and Phil Cordelli, the authors of The Pines, Volume One & Two. (If you haven't yet seen and read these beautiful chapbooks, do yourself a favor. Visit the blog "Peek through the pines"--the books are a steal at $3 apiece or $5 for both.) I look forward to learning more about the The Pines in the next issue of H_NGM_N.

Received in the mail (but haven't yet had a chance to more than open) Fanny Howe's The Lives of a Spirit / Glasstown: Where Something Got Broken, new from Nightboat Books. Very handsome. (And I like the way it opens, nice and wide.) "Happy was I, then, to have a childish view of G-d. Like light on my hair, it was not an encumbrance. Many affections are, no matter how passionately held. Nonetheless, for one who accepts everything, I still have a lot of trouble swallowing it."  (FH)

Also in the mail: interesting short interview with Harryette Mullen in the new issue of Rain Taxi. "I'm sincere in my intention to make meaningful poetry... I imagine an audience that includes people who are not just like me."  (HM)

I'm halfway through the first half of No Direction Home. (This halfway-through thing is so indicative of my general situation that it's practically a style.) Hoping to reach the second half tonight.

Bob Dylan. Stills from the Scorsese documentary.

"I felt like I had to write that song. I did not consider myself a songwriter--at all--but I needed to write that. I needed to sing it, so that's why I needed to write it. Because it hadn't been written."

"I was born very far away from where I'm supposed to be." (BD)

And from the Einstein Random Quote Generator this morning: "The faster you go, the shorter you are." Finally, an acceptable explanation.

 

26 SEPT 05
I'm halfway through Lucy Lippard's Eva Hesse, a book I've been meaning to read for years and one remarkable in its balance. Both biography and critical analysis, it's illustrated abundantly but in plain-paper black & white (it works); and, while there are many excerpts from Hesse's diaries and letters, the reader feels a level of privacy respected, perhaps because Lippard and Hesse were friends.

Much of what's been written about Eva Hesse has concentrated on the extremes and tragic aspects of her childhood and early death instead of her art. (She died of a brain tumor when she was 34, "at the height of her powers," though who knows how high she might have gone.) I appreciate that Lippard's book tells more about Hesse's growth as an artist and her everyday studio life, the making of drawings and sculptures, and about her struggles pursuing this life/career as a young woman in the 1960s.

a page from Lucy Lippard's book, Eva Hesse

some notes:
"There were miles of that string there. The string was what really got her going."
"You could date them by the way the color became less and less important."
"a vocabulary of shapes"
"absolutely straightforward and devoid of modulations"
"I use a word for its sound"
"No more haze"
"Plaster!... Its whiteness is right."
"You belong in the most secret part of you"
"leaving behind shadows"
"I saw her as a very interior person making psychic models."
"if there had been more time"

Eva Hesse, cover of exhibition brochure, 1965

 

24 SEPT 05
My father came home from Japan and brought me a camera. One of the few gifts I remember from him. I started taking pictures. Black and white, because I wanted to develop the film.

What I really wanted was a darkroom. I took a class. I made a darkroom for myself at home in the half-bath (a term I didn't know then). That my parents let me paint the walls and ceiling flat black amazes me now. I bought a cheap enlarger, trays, some tongs (never used them), a timer. I had to open up a folding table in there after I closed the door--then it all fit.

I was enthralled with this black room and the equipment and the chemicals--even the names: the Enlarger, the Fixer, the Stop Bath, the Safelight. Shaking the tray in the nearly dark, watching the image come up, faint at first and blurred by liquid. How the poems come now.

I never became skilled at the business of shooting, always needing so long to focus. There was rarely a chance (I felt!) to frame the image.

But I took pictures trying to see what I knew I didn't see already. It wasn't for remembering. It was more to be surprised by what I found in the negatives, afterward. Little things.

detail

I wondered today, do people still use tri-ex? (I was devoted to grain.) A quick Google search yielded this: "If you are shooting your own photos, use Tri-Ex black-and-white film, make sure there is plenty of light, get close to your subject, and keep the background as simple as possible. Make sure the subject is doing something interesting, not just sitting at a desk." *

Billy sleeping

Shadow. Surprise. Reflection. Sometimes the surprise was just that the picture looked something like what I thought a picture should be. (A version of "photogenic.")

Q: What would illustrations of the inner life tell?
A: It was forbidden, but there was no wall.

 

22 SEPT 05
"Let us express our astonishment before we are swallowed up in the yeast of the abyss."   (Emerson)

altar

 

20 SEPT 05
Guest blogger Max G. gives this morning's news:

The familiar sound of those truck brakes. I go to the screendoor and look out. A burly man in shorts walks up to the house carrying a 21 pound box. Satisfying thump when he sets it onto the wooden porch. "That's the one we're waiting for."

I bring it in, detour by the bathroom to weigh myself with and without the box (just curious). Put it on the table, cut it open. Rough brown packing paper. Then the covers. Thin, stapled spines. World, world.

Kate was still expecting a last proof when Colleen (editor and publisher) wrote to say the finished books had been shipped. K had faith in Colleen, and indeed all the last details were fixed. (Good back and forths between them along the way, the book turning into itself, giving its own instructions that they worked together to translate.)

Out to the studio with one of the chapbooks. I ask, "Can I show you something?" She looks up from her work. She sees it. Oddly, she doesn't take it from me when she walks over, but looks down at it, then touches the cover with her fingertips.

We walk back to the house (I'm still holding the book). She goes to the box, brings out a small stack, weighing their frequency, smiling, excited, maybe afraid. Then, after a lifetime of opening books by other people, she opens one written by her.

A cricket in the furnace duct (good resonating in there) serenades us as we sit at the old table, each reading intently, as if we'd never seen these poems before.   

chapbooks

 

18 SEPT 05leave openings

I was going to drive a train across the country, then a ship across the sea. She came to see me off at the station. It was a little caboose I was driving. She asked me what was wrong. I told her that I'd had a dream the ship was going to sink. She said: Remember when you were a boy? and we used to do "The Magic of Believing"?

[It's political. Must be mass-produced. Two doors.]

I hadn't thought of that expression in years.

[illegible: Make it impt, a practice. Then yd feel that you were "using yr mind"]

We didn't say anything else to each other. We didn't say goodbye.

[illegible: "Make this yr headquarters" and "It comes to us from somewhere."]


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