Thursday, August 30, 2007


That odd lingering pain in the throat and a vague ache all over. Flu symptoms? Or purely psychosomatic?

Resolution for this academic year: talk less.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


'Scarlet Tanager' arrives in the post. I open the Amazon package & am pleasantly surprised. Does this mean I prefer Bernadette Mayer to George Herbert (whose Collected I'd assumed it was)? Or some more basic acquisitiveness?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Memory Lane

'Neutral Tones'

We stood by a pond that winter day,
And the sun was white, as though chidden of God,
And a few leaves lay on the starving sod,
- They had fallen from an ash, and were gray.

Your eyes on me were as eyes that rove
Over tedious riddles solved years ago;
And some words played between us to and fro -
On which lost the more by our love.

The smile on your mouth was the deadest thing
Alive enough to have strength to die;
And a grin of bitterness swept thereby
Like an ominous bird a-wing….

Since then, keen lessons that love deceives,
And wrings with wrong, have shaped to me
Your face, and the God-curst sun, and a tree,
And a pond edged with grayish leaves.

Thomas Hardy

I can remember being given this for a Practical Criticism exercise at school. I can remember working on it at home, a Sunday morning, autumn term - so October, November? I would have been 16? So, 1980?

Now, in 2007, I'm struck by line two - and the way the consonants and short 'i' of "chidden" work against "sun was white" and the strange - but lyrically lush - line 8 "On which lost the more by our love".

I've yet to find a better poem by Hardy. Let me know if you can think of another.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I like it dry

"One of the charms of being me
I catch on late"

The Wire's feature on P J Harvey piqued my curiosity. So it was off to the Mediatheque to get some samples. I really don't know how I could have missed this the first time round. Anyway, I'm hearing it now. I love the guitar, the bass, the drums, the dry production, the sudden cuts between tracks, and a trace of 'Dahrsut' in zum uv 'em vowels. A great sound. There's Beefheart in there, Pere Ubu - but I'm most reminded of ... Iggy Pop. And I didn't expect that.

not my cup of tea

Thursday, August 23, 2007


There are no amateurs in the world of children

(Don Delillo, 'White Noise')

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Daily Bread

"In the constant interruption that it is to go to work every day, to talk in generalities of things that can only be known in specifics..."

(Robin Blaser, 'The Fire')

Monday, August 20, 2007

And so it's Monday

So ... the past eight weeks. What stands out?

- discovering Alice Notley's 'Grave of Light' and then her essays on poetry
- reading more Bernadette Mayer - those early books as pdfs
- reading Barbara Guest in the garden in the sun (those one or two afternoons)
- re-reading early Creeley and early H.D. and finding so much more
- discovering Ted Greenwald thanks to Lisa
- going back to 'Human Abstract' and hearing it now
- and, above all, realising - finally - it is going on now, around you, in front of you, beneath your nose and in and out your ears. Listen ...



Sunday, August 19, 2007

"The spider listens with her leg"

Spent most of this afternoon reading Elizabeth Willis'
'The Human Abstract'.

Take these lines, for an instance:

The work of love and the work of art

has no sleeping part

Is a drop of light

in a small silver socket,

a rosy dime

in a daylight tryst

(from 'A Maiden')

I'm really fascinated by Willis' web-like structures - how lines work in their own moment and resonate spun with echoes before and after. Receiving sounds. Sending sounds. And the whisper trembling through the lines of Emily Dickinson?


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Second Move

I know, I know ... we're a sucker for piano & double bass. There's a new CD shop opened on the Sablon. It was Saturday morning; the sun was shining, there was something 'in the air'.

Yes, the album photos are cringingly naff - a gesture towards Belgian surrealism at its worst. But the music ... is good.

That's the 'atmosphere' for today. Saturday. August. Holidays all but over.

(Jean-Louis Rassinfosse (double bass) et Jean-Philippe Collard-Neven (piano))


and, an hour later, I've just been playing the first three tracks on repeat. I hear Jarrett (most definitely), I hear Bill Evans. I hear Ravel, Debussy, Faure. I hear fragments and lifts of pop songs ("living in a duh-duh-duh ...").

Really L-U-S-H.

Friday, August 17, 2007


'Sea Rose'

Rose, harsh rose
marred and with stint of petals,
meagre flower, thin,
sparse of leaf,

more precious
than a wet rose
single on a stem --
you are caught in the drift.

Stunted, with small leaf,
you are flung on the sand,
you are lifted
in the crisp sand
that drives in the wind.

Can the spice-rose
drip such acrid fragrance
hardened in a leaf?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Keep this in mind ...


“Hopefully I write what I don’t know. I know in teaching simply telling people again and again what you know or what they know, the whole thing sags entirely. So it’s a delight to teach in a circumstance where something’s learned. The teacher has equal possibility with the students.” (Robert Creeley)


“Ideal circumstance, man. You’ll be learning along with them. Which is the best possible state.”
(Charles Olson to Robert Creeley. Olson suggested that Creeley taught Biology in Black Mountain – Creeley replied he knew nothing about the subject).

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

& so today

... begin to think about the year ahead (nearly said 'academic' and paused). And what about 'year', for that matter? It's the artificial differentiation of time, of course.

Anyway. I went through drawing up lists of poems by Creeley, Mayer, Coolidge, Padgett among others. This time we're really going to open things up.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Multiple Choice

Which do you hate more?

a) traffic jams on the M25


b) the drivel on BBC local radio (while listening for news about (a))?

As you will have gathered, we're back from the UK.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Playing now ...

... and quite bafflingly good. Just what is this music? And why do I like it?

(Hommage à Piazzolla, Gidon Kremer on violin.)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


"In pure painting the rhythmic interweaving of the colour scales brings the colour into an 'open' neighbourhood relationship in which colours are compositionally in accordance with a colour development upon which their formal grouping ultimately depends. The colours meet now in neighbourly relation in the sense of tensional difference (italics) - that is to say, in the sense of simultaneous contrast (italics)."
Hans Hofmann

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

And maybe finally split the rhyme

I've never bought into the Nico 'myth'. However, listening to her Chelsea Girl CD this afternoon, I'd say that 'The Fairest of the Seasons', 'It Was A Pleasure Then' and 'Eulogy to Lenny Bruce' are worth fifteen minutes of anyone's time.

Monday, August 06, 2007


“To arrange its dimensions the poem stretches (looking outwardly and inwardly), thus obtaining a plasticity that the flat, the basic words, what we call the “language of a poem”, demand, and further, depend on.”

and (the poem)

“arrives from tensions placed on the structure: variability of meter, fleeting moods of expression, mutability of consonants and vowels.”
(Barbara Guest, 'Forces of Imagination')

Friday, August 03, 2007


"Any path always risks going astray, leading astray. To follow such paths takes practice in going. Practice needs craft. Stay on the path, in genuine need, and learn the craft of thinking, unswerving, yet erring."
(Heidegger, Epilogue to 'The Thing')

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Great Book

Over the past ten years I've read this again and again. And (again) today. I think it was the first book I ever ordered from Amazon. There are marks down the margin to isolate key passages. The trouble is, each time they change.

This has to be one of the great 'How To' books - precisely because it is so much more. As the title says: on the level everyday. Every day.

. Driving into work the other morning with 'Village of the Sun' playing & humming & drumming along  & think...