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Archive for 2006

Journal, Day Five December 8, 2006: Reader Rowan Steigs, sounding slightly tetchy as though he himself may be short of a little quiet time, asks what I want the emptiness for. (See his comment.) This is a very good question. Just to have, that’s what I want it for. Just to jump in, the way Scrooge McDuck jumped—dove—into his money pile. It’s a condition of wealth. It just [...] by

Journal, Day Four December 7, 2006: Reader Kim (no last name) is curious about my admitted discomfort with using poems to describe what already exists. This came up earlier, when I was thinking about ekphrastic poetry. I said, essentially, that a little outside stuff goes a very long way for me. She thinks maybe I’m missing something. She quotes some ideas about what poetry does [...] by

Journal, Day Three December 6, 2006: This is a good question that reader Robin Yim poses: Can one court sensory deprivation (which I mentioned on Monday in relation to the camera obscura photographer) or does one just have to be ready to take advantage of it when it happens by? First of all, of course I’m not really talking about sensory deprivation. The phrase sensory [...] by

Journal, Day Two December 5, 2006: Ekphrastic poems. Norris Palmstreick asks if I write them. Well, now that I have looked up the word and determined that an ekphrastic poem is one that describes another work of art, usually a painting but also possibly sculpture or music, I am prepared to say that I have done so, after a fashion, but not recently. I should start by admitting [...] by

Journal, Day One December 4, 2006: In spite of my description above, I really haven’t been spending time blogging, or even reading blogs. This is my first, and undertaken because I was asked. I could give it a grumpy title, like Larkin’s title for his collected prose: Required Writing. My first impulse was to cheat and prepare a week’s worth of foil wrapped entrees that [...] by

Journal, Day Five December 1, 2006: A month or so back the intensively peer-reviewed, internationally respected British medical journal The Lancet suggested that an additional 650,000 people have died in Iraq due to the prosecution of the second Gulf War. And who knows how many more deaths there have been since then? It is such a terrible figure, such an unthinkable number that [...] by

Journal, Day Four November 30, 2006: With their lack of subtlety and inability either to see or apply nuance, both Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett have been seeking to promulgate a kind of militant, proselytizing atheism of late. I’d like to suggest that both should read more poetry. An atheist myself, I’m uncomfortable with their anti-religious stance for a number of [...] by

Journal, Day Three November 29, 2006: Roy Fisher is a Birmingham poet. His often jazz-inspired work shows how place and folk conspire with each other, and inspire each other, in the lives they lead in the landscapes in which they lead them. His is a singular voice: harsh, sometimes crabby but, equally, ironic yet warm and often very funny. This is “Epic”: ‘Stranger, in [...] by

Journal, Day Two November 28, 2006: I read a lot of translated novels and poems. Indeed, the majority of books that I hold most dear weren't originally written in English and so I owe a good deal of my reading pleasure to the skills of translators. We all know what Robert Frost said: “Poetry is what gets lost in translation.” So, am I only reading pale, neutered versions of [...] by

Journal, Day One November 27, 2006: I’m not one for conflict, but I was pleased to see the rumpus in the US that ensued over Alice Quinn’s Elizabeth Bishop book (Edgar Allan Poe & The Juke-Box: Uncollected Poems, Drafts, and Fragments), back in March. Poetry isn’t often in the news, being seen as irrelevant to our more pressing, quotidian concerns, and perhaps this is right: [...] by