Monday, December 28, 2009

The Year In Review

Belgianwaffle’s Highlights 2009

Reading ...

... Stephen Rodefer, Tim Atkins, John Godfrey (Private Lemonade), Kit Robinson (Messianic Trees), Keith Waldrop (Transcendental Studies, The Real Subject, The Opposite of Letting the Mind Wander, Several Gravities – everything, really), Alfred Bester, John Martone, Carol Watts (alphabetise), Ray diPalma (The Ancient Use of Stone), David Jones ( Anathemata & The Sleeping Lord especially), Rebekka Baumann (lemon ink), Giles Goodland (Littoral), the Mr Gum books by Andy Stanton, The Famous Five, Paddington, (these three with the girls at bedtime), Bernadette Mayer (Midwinter Day – which I read on the 21, 22, 23 and 24 December in snowy Brussels), Zippy comic strips.

Listening to ...

... Duffy, P.J Harvey & John Parish, John Adams, Henry Cow, Yes, Radio 4 & Radio 3 anywhere in the house via Wi-fi.

Meeting ... (by handshake or e-mail or exchange of stuff) ...

... Luc Fierens, Ed Baker, Geof Huth, Nico Vassilakis, Gordon Hopkins, Andres Topel, Michael Lally, John & James and ... the Walrus (finally revealed!).

Writing or making ...

... collages (January, February), life drawing (March), collaborations with Wolf, Hampton Armpit Chapters One & Two, Material Comforts, Earful Symmetries.

As well as ...

... seeing Martin Clunes as Reggie Perrin, Ray Johnson in How to Draw a Bunny, Wonderwall ... discovering I do like lentils and pumpkins ... that I also do like cats (Rosie & Lily, anyway) ... Emma winning the poetry recital with Alice ... being invited to exhibit my collages ... Jack Dee replacing Humph on ISIHAC – and it working! ... the Mariemont Artist’s Book Fair ... that Saturday afternoon with Alan, John and James ... moving into this fabulous office space (April) and the house being (more or less) finished (December).

And lots of other things, too.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas comes early. A 6 a.m. phone call to confirm that it is a Snow Day. The holidays properly begin tomorrow but today feels like a bonus.

I drop the girls off. Go to buy bread and vegetables. Make (another) pumpkin soup. Resume Lady Chatterley's Lover (stalled since early November). Listen to Lark's Tongue in Aspic right through for the first time - Easy Money a particular favourite. Then a walk in the woods ...

And the book fell open at this page:


By stress and syllable
by change-rhyme and contour
we let the long line pace even awkward to its period.

The short line
we refine
and keep for candor.

This we remember:
ember of the fire
catches the word if we but hear
("We must understand what is happening")
and springs to desire,
a bird-right light

This is the Yule-log that warms December.
This is new grass that springs from the ground.

(Robert Duncan, The Opening of the Field)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hampton Armpit Chapter Two out now!

See The Sticky Pages Press site (link to the right).

Here's an excerpt to whet the appetite:

"Miss Doggit was in her bedroom putting on rouge. She was experimenting far out on the cheek bones. Smoothed roundness with flurries of agitation. The chin was another trick. No hard line to say what gave. Incredulous dabs echoed in her face. All lips and indelible..."

Saturday, December 12, 2009

This morning out to the supermarket early. At the fish counter I congratulate the 'poissonnier' on his fine display. He's obviously flattered - and perhaps a little surprised that anyone would make such a comment. (Perhaps it's just my clumsy French). I buy a thick fillet of cod and a good handful of prawns. Turning to push the trolley on around the aisles the muzak track changes - a Christmas carol (O Come All Ye Faithful?) almost unrecognisable with heavily souped-up strings. And it's as though something breaks inside me - a little warmth spreads - a sense of possibility again, after all these stale and miserable weeks. Uncanny. By the time I'm in the soft drinks section there's Abba's I Have A Dream playing (original version) and I find I'm singing along under my breath. Then, at the check out some ten minutes later, I notice that the woman scanning the items through is humming the chorus over and over. She picks up the articles and passes them on in time with the song.

It's something I remember reading in a Jack Trevor Storey article: that it's not the masterpieces that move us most or get under our skin. More often than not it's the cheesy tune, the sentimental, the banal. As, indeed, it seems to be today.


This afternoon I resume Hampton Armpit after a three month lay off. Chapter Two by Christmas? Watch this space!

Thursday, December 10, 2009


bw: Previous ... Next ... Space ... Return ...
BW: Working on some new philosophical conundrum?
bw: No. Just looking at this Touch keyboard.

... . , ? ! ' ...

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


BW: And anyway, you never know what might crop up.

bw: Like this, for instance? "... poetry isn't about succeeding or finding anything, it's an ongoing state of quest. The book/poem continues, the search for answers is full of trapdoors, questions that accrue in ornate frenzy to the point we can no longer follow them - but we continue on, people and clues looming out of the darkness ... ". Dodie Bellamy in the recent Chicago Review.

BW: Ex ACT ly.

bw: Mince pie? (Notice the way they're smaller these days?)

BW: Mmm ...


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

the conversation continues ...

BW: So, go on, give me 10 reasons why you write a Blog.

bw: OK ...

One - at the very beginning - as a kind of 'out-building'. A way of allowing light into the notebooks. Someone could look in, find something of interest, take something away with them. Greenhouse effect - warm the cerebral hemispheres.

Two - a learning to have the courage to 'go public'. Stand by your words! Deliver! Not quite reciting in front of an audience but at least in a small way chancing yourself. But don't shoot the pianist!

Three - making some kind of a commitment to Poetry. Anne Waldman's contract (sort of). A way of saying it matters, it's worth talking about, participating in a wider community of interest. Hey! I'm here, too. In Brussels (of all places!).

Four - an extension of the day job. Actions speak louder than words. Put it another way: make your words active. Literature as something of greater value than simply fodder for examinations, IBO-gradeable matter, directives from the stale old cheesy Chalkface. The 'Teacher' resumes his rightful position as the Eternal Student. There Are No Answers. "Avoid the authorities" (Kerouac).

Five - a course in self-education. I didn't 'get' so much. Forcing myself to articulate puzzlement led to revelations (partial and otherwise).

Six - a way of spilling the beans, sharing the sweets round, an overflow of happiness. I like this - I think - I want - I need you to like this too!

Seven - making up for lost time. Writing back to myself aged 18 ... 21 ... 25 ... if only someone had mentioned certain names or placed that volume in my hands! What time I might have saved!

Eight - learning how to write or at least maneuvering myself into a position to know what I needed to do and glean a few clues as to how it might be achieved.

Nine - laying a few ghosts to rest, resurrecting others, discovering some were just hobbled goblins of my own imagining. Learning that Poetry is - above all - learning how to con-verse with ghosts. Spicer's Low Ghost. Blanchot's space. The Cryptic echo within the Script. Know this? Gnosis.

Ten - rhizome making. Rhyme with and without reason. Why not? Just do it! "You keep a Blog? What on earth for?" "No idea. Just do." A need. A flow. Outside the cash nexus. And to make friends along the way. Him ... and her ... and you ... and you ... and you, too. And the risk that there's no one out there, that it's all for nothing, words out into the void. Have you the courage for that? And that you can lose friends, too. Who's dropped by never to return? And the constant risk of sounding pretentious, presumptuous, ignorant, dull, misguided, big-headed, pompous, arrogant, narcissistic, self-serving, careerist, deluded and you'd be better off doing something more constructive with your time. (Earn some money, paint the house, dig the garden, correct some papers, write the novel ...).

Eleven -

BW: Eleven? We agreed ten!

bw: Eleven: that Life and Art are One (or should be). The challenge to write your own days (Koch). To respond to the roll of the dice as they fall. To make soup - alphabet and toothsome. To guard the hearth and heart (Duncan). To learn from cats the time to sleep and the time to act. To see the light in the afternoon. To know no weekend (Beuys). To be an archaeologist of morning.

BW: And you really believe all that?

bw: (hesitates) -

Monday, December 07, 2009

BW: So, why the silence? The cat got your tongue? Run out of things to say? Finally decided that your Blog is the virtual equivalent of navel gazing?

bw: Yes. No. Maybe. Then again.

BW: Come on, don't be shy.

bw: We've been having a lot of rain.

BW: What's happened to all those projects? Riddles of Form ... the collages ... the sonnet series ... the little apercus ... the kitschy kitten stuff?

bw: People have been falling over, falling ill, nasty life stuff. Puts things in perspective.

BW: But isn't that the function of Art - to transform, transcend, translate suffering into that which does not decay? Those are pearls that were his eyes ... you know the jingle ... And that other one: farm the verse/blessing of the curse. Double you aitch whatsisname.

bw: Yeah. Another of my ex-students, are you?

BW: Well, what about the new books, the DVDs, the trips to the mediatheque? Stopped reading? Wax in your ears? Housebound?

bw: Do we need another Ikea catalogue? It's all out there, anyway. Go and look for yourself. Just tap a name into Google. Who bothers browsing along a library shelf nowadays? Books are 'passe' (can't be bothered to insert the accent). Listen to a librarian. Search engines are the name of the game. Who cares about the feel of the page, the smell, the physical act of reading?

BW: Cut the act. I know you don't believe that. I've seen you visiting the post room and those little brown packages. Spill the beans,

bw: OK, if you insist ... 'How to Draw a Bunny' (DVD about the life and work of Ray Johnson); 'Antoine's Alphabet' by Jed Perl (collage study of Watteau); Scott McCloud's books on comics; Bill Griffiths' 'Zippy' strip; various albums by Yes ...

BW: I knew it! A waffle doesn't change his spots!

bw: But shouldn't all this reading and listening lead to something? What's emerged over the past month or so? Wasn't that the agreement: stop the blogging to focus upon the writing. To make objects. And what is there to show for it all?

BW: There've been distractions ... the house ... kids ... work ... problems back in the UK ... 4 a.m. arguments in your head ... Life (with a capital 'L') inotherwords.

bw: And you're saying Ron and Geof and John and Jonathan and (name of another intimidatingly regular and copious Blogger poet) don't suffer from similar distractions? Get a life! Oh ... sorry, that's what you're complaining about. C'mon. Chill out. Where's the famous en-thoos-iazam? The evangelical gleam in the eye? The I-gotta-tell-you-about-this compulsion? Where's the belief in being part of a Community of Discussion? Of standing by your words? Of carrying on the teaching beyond the stifling walls of the classroom?

BW: Spam merchants. Prying eyes. The silent minority. Um ... somehow I feel I'm arguing the other side now ...

bw: I? Side? Who's speaking? And where's the Carpenter gone? Wasn't there a Walrus once upon a time?

Zebedee: Time for bed everyone! (Music)

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