I’m pleased to announce my poem, “My Husband,” first published by Court Green, has been selected by Sherman Alexie for Best American Poetry 2015. I’m completely knocked out by this and extremely happy.
Tove Lo, Habits
Marina and the Diamonds, Starring Role
Lana del Rey, Young and Beautiful
Sia, Elastic Heart
No, it’s not a metaphor. I baked a lousy pie.
Things started promisingly. I made the crust dough in a food processor. It was super buttery, but not unlike dough. Rolled it out, weighted it down, baked…. and disaster. The dough steamed bizarrely and stuck to the aluminum foil. Trying to remove it and the pie weights resulted in the pie crust tearing to pieces.
But it’s cool, right? I have another batch of the dough. I’ll just roll it out, bake it and instead of using pie weights, try pricking the crust all over. We’ll be fine.
Um, no. The pie crust was so buttery it slumped down into the bottom of the pan. I’ve never seen anything like it.
So, at this point, I have two failed pie crusts, a new and lousy experience for me, and I have a filling with nowhere to go. The filling is essentially pecan pie + chocolate, which I’m positive will be a winner.
So, I give up and go to the store and buy a pre-made crust, damn it all, return home, pour the filling, bake it.
Pie looks reasonably pie like.
Chill it, pack it up in the morning, take it to Atlanta for Thanksgiving.
Hello Thanksgiving family! I have brought you pie!
We try pie.
Pie is gooey, sugary, slumpy mess. Everyone politely eats it. We feel the suffering in our teeth.
Afterwards, I suggest we trash the pie.
We’re trashing the pie.
Maybe this is a metaphor, actually.
Pleased to have my poem “Neverland,” first published in Crazyhorse, featured on Verse Daily today!
So I’m doing poem-a-day for 15 days with a great group of people: Brittany Cavallaro, Nancy Reddy, Casey Thayer, Jacques Rancourt, Angela Voras-Hills, Corey Van Landingham, Josh Kalscheur, and Rebecca Dunham. To try and keep up with my progress, I’ll be posting titles here. If I miss a day, I’ll post (missed) and hopefully make it up on another day.
15: DEAD WIVES
16: UNTITLED POEM ABOUT BILL MURRAY
17: MURDER THE WORLD
18: MAXIMUM HEROIC
21: SADNESS IS ONLY THE FIRST STATION ON THE LINE
23: HOW WE LIVE NOW
Well, that went *badly!* I should say I’ve got some big life changes going on, so maybe that’s why I didn’t do so well this time! Better luck in the future.
Every Frame a Painting is a very good youtube channel if you like movies — I really enjoyed the Spielberg one, to my surprise. This one, about Satoshi Kon, is very good in the way it explains how Kon achieved his dreamlike effects. It’s also very good if you aren’t familiar with Satoshi Kon, because you should be. You really should be. He died far too young, and left behind some amazing films. If you think you know what anime is, and don’t like it, then this is for you — he really did so much to push animation in new directions, creating serious and fun movies that stick in your brain and do strange things there.
Now I want to rewatch Millenium Actress, which I’ve only seen once and is terrible of me. I’ve seen Perfect Blue several times (very Hitchcockian) and Paprika — well, WAY too many times.
MFK Fisher’s The Art of Eating. I can’t recommend it enough. She’s so good.
The Journal of best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man’s Quest to be a Better Husband, which I’ll totally admit I bought because it looked diverting and only $2.
Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time is good, but it actually…sort of stresses me out. Which is funny, since a lot of the book is about the negative effects of stress. So, I’m just reading it in pieces.
Recently finished books:
I read, like everyone it seems, The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison. There are some fantastic essays in there, although some of them left me cold. Oddly, the ones that probably required more empathy were the ones that interested me least — I think I prefer her more journalistic work, such as the essays on extreme runners. Still, good stuff.
Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian. Good, but perhaps not for me ultimately. I was far more interested in the friendship between the two men than I was the many many many ship battles.
Baby Meets World: Suck, Smile, Touch, Toddle: A Journey through Infancy: pretty fascinating — I really enjoyed seeing how various aspects of child rearing have been alternately praised or demonized through history (like pacifiers, for instance).
The Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St. Aubyn. These are pretty fantastic, and I suppose I need to buy the last one not in this compilation. What impresses me the most is how each book shifts as the character ages. It also manages to channel the voice of a drug user without being incredibly dull — I wish The Gold Finch had managed that trick better.
All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior. I’ve been wanting to read this ever since I read in excerpt in…The New York Times? I think. Really fantastic.
Annihilation and Authority, the first two books in the Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer. These are very fun, and the first is Lovecraftian and frightening.
The first two novels in the Split World series by Emma Newman. These aren’t..good…exactly, but I kept reading,so, that’s something.
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. Oh sigh. This is on so many top fantasy lists, and it’s so…only adequate. It’s very hard to find really good fantasy. Either the writing is poor or the plotting is poor or they read as if the author has never met a real life woman.
The Group by Mary McCarthy. This was a best seller in the 60s and for good reason. It follows a group of women in the 1930s as they go through marriage, divorce, lovers, childbirth, etc –all the big things. It will kill you to see how the concerns are the same we have today, and how little has changed for modern women.
The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson. Genuinely laugh out loud funny, which is a rarity, and an enjoyable, affectionate, look at modern art.
Ok, that takes us back through March.
*I was going to talk about movies, too, but now I’m tired.
This is an enjoyable cover of “everybody wants to rule the world.” I have some odd childhood memory that the original video to this song scared me as a kid, but I’ve looked at the video and I can’t see why that would have been. I have this memory of the lead singer dressed as a carnival barker of some sort? Is this a false memory? Some kind of dream? Very weird.
I can tell you that I was traumatized by Tom Petty’s “Don’t come around here no more” when I was young.
I wasn’t allowed to watch MTV and my parents had programmed it off the remote. But one day at a friend’s house I learned the channel number, and back home, discovered I could just plug it in and the channel would come up. Once I did so, I found myself in the middle of this video. I distinctly remember seeing them cut up the Alice cake and freaking out, thinking, “Oh god, my parents were right!”
I dated a guy in college who looked a lot like a young Tom Petty. Not sure what that says about me.
While we’re at it, let’s have an original Tears for Fear’s — “Mad World.” The Gary Jules cover is great and all, but we need respect the originals, too. 90% of this video is just a guy touching a window.
Today the lovely Sandra Simonds is coming to visit me for lunch. It’s not a small drive from Tallahassee to Valdosta, so I’m feeling very appreciative.
For the past few days I’ve been working on an article about the line in poetry. So far I’ve come to realize that the line is a difficult subject. Probably why an article is a good idea. One of the things I enjoy about writing such articles is that doing so helps me to articulate my thoughts on a subject. Unfortunately, there are so many subjects I have unclear thoughts on that to write enough articles to remedy the matter would mean I never wrote anything else. Ever.
I am really not a logical writer, so to write an article that in any way proceeds sensibly is actually an incredible amount of work for me. It’s strange how hard I find writing these articles, and how long they take me. I really envy the people who can just bang them out quickly — they exist, it seems, and I will never be one of them. I tell myself that if I write more and more articles, I will start to absorb the form and they will be easier, but so far, not so much. Ah well.
I’m also reading several poetry books for review, which is another form I find challenging. I really like writing reviews, although again, hard for me, even more so perhaps because I want to do right by the author whose work I’m reviewing. For me the best reviews point out what works and what doesn’t work, and give the reader a sense as to whether or not the book is for them. (I say this, and yet of course when I get a review of my own work that points out something that doesn’t work I’m horror-struck and go hide under my bedcovers but that’s another story). I find hyperbolic, overly glowing reviews to be insufferable, and on the other side, I hardly see the point of tearing a book apart when so few poetry books get reviewed as it is.
Other than that, we’ve been traveling a little. We went to Kalamazoo, Michigan, for a sad occasion — Mark’s grandmother’s memorial service — but since it was also an opportunity for family to gather, it was a very happy time as well, which I think is what Doris would have wanted. We got to spend a little time around Bass Lake, which was really pretty, and Mark helped install a dock for the summer. Any activity which requires waders is bound to be interesting.
We also took a little jaunt together up to Amicalola Falls State Park, where we stayed in a cabin and hiked around! It was lovely, and while we didn’t see any of the bears we were warned about, we did see deer, a snail, mating moths, some gnats and mosquitoes, aggressive squirrels, and poison ivy (identified and avoided).
And that’s all my exciting news!