Sunday, May 31, 2009

This one's called Lily.

However, Rosie's Emma's favourite (the one with the all black nose I didn't manage to take a photo of).

We're in what could be called a quandary.
Greetings from Social Circle Dental,

We would like to wish Blake a Happy Birthday!

Dr. Jones and Staff.

(This message is waiting in my Inbox this morning)


Off to look at those 3 kittens this morning.

One is enough, I am told by The Boss.

Friday, May 29, 2009

More Cat Stuff

Lots of people are saying: no, no, no ... you don't adopt one kitten - you adopt TWO.

My wife's in Cambridge today & so I've sent her to sniff out some books at Heffer's. Anything by Carol Watts, anything new and interesting by Prynne. She's just called to say that I'm out of luck. Not a sausage.

Now I'm wondering where you'd go in Cambridge - that hotbed of UK alternative poetics - to buy your books? In my mind's eye, shelves packed with Salt volumes, Andrea Brady, John Wilkinson, The Prynne ... .

I mean to say ...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

This will cheer you all up. I've just been sent this picture of a new litter.

Might one of these be The One?

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I've just wasted two and half hours in front of the television watching the much-hyped Man. U-Barcelona match. 

I don't watch football, as a rule* - and when I do I realize why. A sort of guilty, empty feeling afterwards. Couldn't I have used the time better? 


(*Maradonna handing the ball into the net in the World Cup and not having the decency to own up made me realize that football as a 'sport' had lost its relationship with 'sporting' behaviour. Careerism, greed and corporate interests were the new names of the game). 

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Just saw Griff Rhys Jones leaping about in a field of daffodils on BBC 2 - producer's logic: posh sounding chap with double-barrelled name who used to present programme about saving English heritage sites equals the right kind of chap to front Poetry Week. 

Yes, it's as dismal as that. 

Monday, May 25, 2009

Nation's Favourite Poets

There's a vote going on, it seems. Here are a list of ten currently writing British/Irish poets that I enjoy reading & re-reading. In no particular order:

1. Tom Raworth
2. Martin Corless-Smith
3. Iain Sinclair
4. John James
5. Lee Harwood
6. Out To Lunch (aka Ben Watson)
7. Tim Atkins
8. Sean Bonney
9. Maggie O'Sullivan
10. J.H. Prynne

and I could list another ten - but these are the names that pop into my head before I go downstairs and start cooking.

And how silly to nominate a 'favourite'. We've left the playground - or have we?

Thoughts, anyone?

I was reading the dictionary. I thought it was a poem about everything.

(heard this the other day on the radio - Jack Dee being interviewed, quoting the U.S. comedian Steve Wright)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Little Cat Diary IV

Sad news. This morning Potiron was flopping sideways - one look at him told you that life was ebbing away. Even to stand up was too much of an effort. Little by little he'd sink down exhausted. I'll spare you the list of things that we discovered were wrong. 

So, it's 3.35pm and the vet has done what vets do when there's nothing else to do.

We're all very sad. 

At the back of my mind are the questions i) how could anyone pass on a kitten to two little girls in this state? ii) how could the previous vet not have identified just how sick he was? iii) how could we have been stupid enough not to put two and two together earlier?

But what's the point in recriminations? We tried our best to make him happy. 

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Little Cat Diary III

Not a great start. We take Potiron to the vet & it's clear that this is one sick little kitten. 

The vet is terrific - spells out the chances, gives clear instructions and her personal phone number.

The next 36 hours or so are going to be decisive. 

Friday, May 22, 2009

Little Cat Diary II

1. litter tray + scoop
2. bag of gravel
3. bowl for food, bowl for water
4. bag of dry cat food
5. appointment with vet at 11:45 tomorrow

(All we need now is the cat). 

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Little Cat Diary

Not very good news, I'm afraid. Little Potiron was found dehydrated in the garden having been rejected by his mum. After a trip to the vet for resuscitation he's being kept indoors and fed via a syringe by Bernadette (solids being too much for the moment). 

Assuming he gets through the next 24 hours, Saturday morning looks likely as the time to go and collect him. Not exactly what we'd planned. And it's going to be a steep learning curve - feeds every 3 hours until he's able to eat for himself. 

So tomorrow I'm off to buy a litter tray and other cat paraphernalia. 

Belgianwaffle meets Rolf Harris? What's going on?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

beginning to delve into Rosmarie Waldrop's Edmond Jabes (accent missing) Reader.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Just been scribbling for an hour or so about Keith Waldrop's Transcendental Studies - a distilled form of which will transfer to the Blog in a day or two.

While it's less immediately appealing than - say - the Jacob Delafon* volume or the early 'conversational' poems, it pulls together so many disparate ideas that I've been having about collage principles and issues of 'meaning' as against 'sense'.

For now, a phrase I hit upon in one of the poems in section 'One' of Shipwreck in Haven:

disquieting thought

What a brilliant description of poetry itself! The more I look at this phrase the more it seems to suggest.

More to follow ...


* I see KW's photo on the back of Transcendental Studies is credited to Delafon. That's a good one.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

There's an interesting short piece in the new edition of The Wire on Louis Armstrong's reel-to-reel tape boxes, making the link between jazz & collage via 'rag time' - plantation workers 'ragging' an existing melody & improvising upon it.

Not only did Armstrong splice recordings of his own trumpet playing but decorated the boxes, too.

One of Armstrong's hobbies: "using a lot of Scotch tape".

I'd seen the collage principles behind Teo Macero's work with Miles (e.g. 'In A Silent Way'). Armstrong seems to have been in on it earlier!

(And Joseph Cornell - of all people - lived within four miles of Armstrong's house. It's a wonderful world ...).

Friday, May 15, 2009

The 'Eleven Collages' show ...

... I was astonished at the number of positive reactions. One sale within ten minutes of opening time.

And as one of of my students said: "they look so young".

I'll take that as a compliment.

This arrives today.

I'd assumed it was Waldrop's own cover art - of course not, it's Robert Motherwell! In my brain this is a perfect way to draw today together: a book of poems, my visit to la Louviere at Easter for the Motherwell exhibition, the vernissage tonight where I'm showing my eleven collages. There they are on a wall and creating a dialogue of sorts.

A tentative sense that - finally - things are beginning to take shape.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

page 40 ...

Jacob Delafon cannot remember where he read the warning


but he has done his best always.
I've read two more pages - just as good. Even better?

A book like this makes you want to drop everything you are doing & to find a suitable chair where you can read a page every five minutes or so, flip back, re-read, feel the pages that remain between finger and thumb, look around you, look at the cover, read the credits page, sip a coffee, dream of all the books you could now write because this one has given you new permissions, think what the hell the inside of Keith Waldrop's mind must be like (a dusty, chaotic but elegant secondhand bookshop with odd opening hours?), and notice that everything in the world has moved just slightly - but enough - to one side.

Jacob Delafon is surprised to read of ancient astronomers who "defied Time".

Later he realizes it is a misprint for deified.

(from The Real Subject by Keith Waldrop)


This has just come in the post. I have only read four pages & already laughed out loud five times (once for the sheer brilliance of the idea - what a way to arrange material!).

It is my absolute All Time Favourite Book This Tuesday.

In a better, happier, more just world it would be in the windows of every bookshop in the kingdom. So there.

Some statements on writing by Claude Royet-Journoud:

C.R-J.: Each of my books is composed of a number of sequences, five to ten pages in length. Each sequence starts out as four to five hundred pages of prose. That’s why it takes me about six years to produce a book! All of this is contained in large notebooks. I write prose texts on the right-hand pages from which I later extract certain elements. These are noted on the left-hand pages. The object of this effort is enter into the mental space proper to the act of writing. This stage can last a long time, until it “gels”. When the text finally takes form, it is distributed over several pages. It is essential to the narrative that the text circulates across facing pages as well as recto-verso; even the volume of the book itself is important. If you will, I always write from within the book, from the very start. Later, when I already have a few pages of text, a sketch, I begin to work on the language, neutralising the text. How? By tracking down and suppressing metaphor, assonance, alliteration - to see what narrative emerges -what appears, embodying this language within a language.

M.B. : A language which is flat, flattened . . .

C.R-J. : Of course. Moreover, it’s this “platitude” which seems to me to incite violence, which is certainly problematic and for which I am criticised unwittingly. The problem resides in literalness (not in metaphor) , the need to to measure language by its “minimal” units of meaning. For me, Eluard’s verse “The earth is blue like an orange” can be exhausted, it annihilates itself in an excess of meaning. Whereas Marcelin Pleynet’s “the far wall is a whitewashed wall” is and remains, by its very exactness, and evidently within its context, paradoxically indeterminate as to meaning and so will always “vehiculate” narrative. This might be experienced painfully.



C.R-J.: To write I need a very long period of work. There are people “inhabited” by language, that’s not the case with me. There’s never anything. I pass my time with this nothing and I’m stubborn and I insist on this nothing and so at first there is this work which is very bodily, which consists in writing a great quantity of prose without literary value. It’s only a way to cleanse myself, to create a vacuum, so that by the end of a certain number of hours per day, per week, per month of a constant effort, you begin to feel it happening, that the world is becoming legible. Because we pass the greater part of our time blind. It is not easy to attain this kind of legibility where suddenly a table is saying something, or a book, or a line...


C.R-J.: Yes, there’s a time to rest, a time to work, etc—it’s very Biblical—but I am very jealous of my periods of silence, jealous in the sense that I don’t want to give them up. I attach a lot to those months that go by without writing, so much so that I have trouble freeing myself from them. I sense that they’re necessary, necessary to a shift in words, or to the displacement of vocabulary. These periods when I don’t write are indispensable to the book. I need several years for each book. It’s a rhythm I like. It integrates phases of intense work and at the same time periods of reserve, of absence from oneself.


Monday, May 11, 2009

At least in my case each one I write is like a note I try to hit when during a meditation or a contemplation, a rocket of words bursts from my body that refreshes it and encourages it to live a few days longer.

Francis Ponge

(quoted by Margaret Guiton in her Introduction to the English Selected Poems - I can't track down the original source).

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Kitten Update: in two or three weeks this might be the one. Lara has already hit on a name - Potiron (or Pumpkin for English speakers). Which gives us plenty of time to buy the cat litter etc..

Saturday, May 09, 2009

A 'hello' to Isleofmine - whoever you are!
News just in ... they won!

Well, well.

A poetry festival at my daughter's school, and here's the younger Wafflette (plus Best Friend) showing her Dad how it's done.

The poem was by Jacques Prevert about a Snowman (in case anyone's wondering about the costumes).

I'm terrifically proud of her.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

I find it impossible to write - as to read - one thing at a time. ... It's rare that I don't have a litter of fragments and false starts suggesting, often, irreconcilable projects. This does not mean I write fast, only that my concentration is poor. But one has to work with what one has. Or, if possible, find some way of putting one's defects to work.
(from 'Notes for a Preface', Keith Waldrop)

The Opposite of Letting the Mind Wander arrived today - ordered last week that's pretty quick from the States. Anyone who follows this Blog will see why I seize on this quotation - what a relief to find someone else in my predicament, what a positive way of turning what seems to be such a failing!

I haven't got further than the Preface yet - but one gripe already: why didn't they use Waldrop's own collages on the cover & not three images by Marjorie Welish?

Grumble, grumble.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

So, the South Bank Show is to be cut. Yet another step in the wrong direction by the British TV media. 

For all its faults & Braggery I owe it an enormous debt: where I first saw Laurie Anderson, followed Messiaen through the woods annotating birdsong, more recently there were the valuable programmes on Humph, Jarvis, J.G. Ballard.

Of course, there'd be nothing to gripe about if the decision was to try something else - a new format, greater diversity. But it's unlikely, isn't it? 

The SBS didn't patronize the viewer, didn't make culture 'trendy', didn't employ TV heads to gesture exaggeratedly as if that was the only way to guarantee the viewer's attention for more than 5 minutes. 

Cameron & Clegg sling insults at Gordon Brown as the House of Commons declines into a version of Big Brother. Could either of them do any better? Has British politics itself basically run aground? 

I don't suppose Belgium's much better - but I'm pretty glad to be across the Channel these days. 

saying as
seeing is


is seeing
as saying



sew/we working for the eye?
Also maintains the paired line - appropriate for the twin blades?

saying as
seeing is


is seeing
as saying



so/sew ... implicit or explicit? Decisions ...

saying as
seeing is


is seeing
as saying



Sunday, May 03, 2009

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Is this right that Joy Division once played under the name Stiff Kittens?



is this
the heir
the apparent

taught to adore
do I pare or draw

learning occurs
(in parenthesis)


Friday, May 01, 2009

as you will notice from the previous post, I can't count. Four? Five names, surely?

Actually, Monk might not be a bad name for a black cat?

(And yes, that's a pretty bad jazzer pun, too).
Those of you tuning in for a Cat Update will be pleased to know that a dentist friend has two cats with kittens. (Much rejoicing among the Waffle daughters!)

Having gone to see them this afternoon the debate is between one of two black & white blotchy-looking ones and an all-black little chap (my preference). Born at the beginning of April they're still too young to leave the mum so there's plenty of time to invest in litter trays & other impedimenta. Sacks of dry cat food, hefty vet bills, books with chewed pages ... just some of the joys that await.

I might even start a Blue Peter-style competition for the best cat name (& promise not to rig the phone-in). What about Thelonious? Miles? Zukofsky? Mina? Gertrude? There's four that spring to mind looking around the shelves.

Suggestions, please ...

Watched this last night and it has to be one of the more miserable two hours or so I've spent recently.

I never got into Joy Division and so can't comment on the accuracy. In any case, does this matter? I've never seen film of Ian Curtis' live performances - did he have that strange boxing-windmill style arm movement on stage? Dunno.

I've taken out the remastered CDs of the three albums and have just started to listen. The idea of watching the film was to find some kind of way in - or back in - to the music. Everyone knows 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' and maybe that's a bit of an obstacle to what else was going on in the music.

As for the film ... I was reminded of The Beatles' 'Hard Day's Night' without the laughs. Or Reisz's 'Saturday Night Sunday Morning' with Sam Riley as a skinny Albert Finney. Much of the film seems to boil down to Cyril Connolly's dictum of the pram in the hallway as inimical to creative life. There's also a pretty clear connection made between Curtis' epilepsy and creativity (and eventual suicide). As so often, I wonder if it really is so straightforward. Ultimately, though, the film works (or doesn't) depending on how much the Ian Curtis persona fascinates you. For me, it doesn't. As portrayed in the film he seems mostly helpless and vacant - there's little to suggest the more interesting thoughts and conflicts which must have been going on to fuel the lyrics. There's a flatness to it all - ironically what I used to feel about the music. Listening to one or two tracks now I hear much greater richness in the music and possibilities in Curtis' voice.

Maybe it's another one of those cases where it's best to listen to the actual music and ignore the film.



ontic fax

speaking destiny’s grope


tore me



    under the phenomenal Father


fuck you -

I’m putting the world up for adoption



another 'derived' poem - only late last night I saw how it might have some kind of shadowy affinity with 'Control'.

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