It was difficult to continue reading this book, I did not follow who was who in the family and there was no plot. I had heard it was a novel written iIt was difficult to continue reading this book, I did not follow who was who in the family and there was no plot. I had heard it was a novel written in the form of a poem so I sought it out. What I did not know is the second half of the book is about a man, who seems to have been actual friend of the author, who died from AIDS. As soon as AIDS began to be referred to, when the major character Caroline returns to NYC, my interest started to engage.
This is an 'experimental' novel in many ways. Both in form and in its inclusion of art, newspaper clippings, and other visual artifacts. It is based in facts such as the explosion of the Challenger, and the artists of our times, this is definitely appealing to me.
The book is dedicated to Gary Falk, 1954 to 1986, an actual artist who died from AIDS, in the sections where she visits him in the hospital she uses her name, Carole, as opposed to the character in the book name, Caroline. She also shifts within the book from third person to first person at times.
So, I looked up Gary Falk and indeed he is a real person who was an artist who died of AIDS. His mother wrote the memoir, "Retrospective: Portrait of a Forever Young Artist." (on further research this appears to be in his archives and not available for purchase.) As someone who has worked in this field I appreciated this section of Carole Maso's novel. It was moving and portrayed the time before there were meds extremely well. As for the rest of the novel it is too difficult to follow. Too many blurred boundaries but with beautiful language and some scenes I delighted in.
From research on the web I found an article by Victoria Frankel Harris, she says, "According to Maso, however, her books seem transgressive, not because she deliberately flaunts the orthodoxies of traditional fiction, but because her models are not drawn from the novelistic tradition at all. The primary influences on her work, rather, come from the visual arts, from dance and music, from film, and from poetry (Maso and Vladimir Nabokov are the only fiction writers ever to be featured on the cover of American Poetry Review). " And, "The Art Lover (1990), resembled Ghost Dance in its focus on a fictive family (the family that, in the novel's final version, are the main characters in the novel-within-the-novel written by Maso's protagonist Caroline). When Maso's friend Gary Falk fell fatally ill with AIDS, however, Maso began to write a different book, one whose textual strategies are even "stranger" than Ghost Dance's."
I don't think I'd have the stamina to read her other books, but I am glad to have completed this one and learn about Gary Falk....more
I learned about this book from novelist Tom Spanbauer. I love reading artists talk about their creative process. Artist Francis Bacon speaks about beiI learned about this book from novelist Tom Spanbauer. I love reading artists talk about their creative process. Artist Francis Bacon speaks about being a receptive, he says, "I don't think I'm gifted. I just think I am receptive."
What is especially great about this book are the pictures of the art under discussion, and near the back a picture of his messy studio. He talks about his art coming out of chaos, that his drive to make order manifests in his art. He lived in one place that was too orderly and there he could not make art, he had to move. He has done many triptychs, which I enjoyed seeing since I've not seen his work in person. Also, the art of other artists he refers to are included in the book.
He talks about the injury he does to the subjects in his work. Hence the subtitle, The Brutality of Fact. He preferred to work from pictures rather than with live models.
I love when he says, "to record one's own feelings about certain situations as closely to one's own nervous system as one possibly can." In my study of hand-to-page for writing in Continuum movement this is what we talk about, the tip of the pen being the end of your nervous system.
He also discusses the idea that as soon as there is more than one character in a painting the observer is compelled to add narrative. He uses the Valery quote, “To give the sensation without the boredom of its conveyance. And the moment the story enters, the boredom comes upon you.” ...more
This Slipstream prize winning chapbook has many letter and postcard poems, 23 poems total. I found it philosophical and thought provoking at the soulThis Slipstream prize winning chapbook has many letter and postcard poems, 23 poems total. I found it philosophical and thought provoking at the soul level. It is broad, bringing in the spirituality with a whole world history of artists and poets he has obviously studied. I looked up the poet Ryokan, who I learned is a Japanese poet who lived from 1758 to 1831. John Clare was an English poet who lived from 1793 to 1864 and was known as the Northamptonshire Pheasant Poet. As for Nikolai Christophorovich Shivarov the only information I could find on his is in David Chorlton's poem, the web search pulled up nothing but his poem, according to him he was, "the expert for literary maters in the case of Osip Mandelstam."
Lines that made me ponder: "There's no future in the past." ( Postcards from the Age of Miracles) "People/have become so loud, even the ones I agree with,/" (Letter to Ryokan) "...and when he strikes/he's doing it for everyone who hurts/with nothing more visible/to hit back at/than fate." (Shadow Boxing) "We need to keep accents alive. They may/be the last part of our regions to survive/as character is traded for efficiency" (Letter to John Clare)
Stanza III from Postcards from the Newsroom: "Now these messages from the manufacturers of pills the side effects of which overpower their healing properties but whose presence is the only way corporations know to package hope."
My favorite poem is The Borrowed Man, which is a long run-on poem with no punctuation. I'll share the beginning, "On the nights when it's full/we borrow the moon/from the ancients who sat/in its glow and composed/lines describing loneliness/as they turned into shadows/between old twisted pines" I wanted to section it out into stanzas, to give it more space, but I love this poem. It is a book that ruminates on history and spirituality, done well.
This is the second book I've read by Stephen Dunn. I enjoy his writing and enjoyed this book. What I especially like is his dialogue poems. In a talkThis is the second book I've read by Stephen Dunn. I enjoy his writing and enjoyed this book. What I especially like is his dialogue poems. In a talk I attended on the use of contradictions in poetry to increase tension, Stephen Dunn was used as one of the examples and now I want to read his book of essays. He said, "A poem must contain the shadow of its affirmation." He also said he argues with himself when he composes and that he resists where the poem wants to go. He is a very skilled poet who I want to learn from....more
I'd heard about Ruth Stone through Wom-Po, the Women's Poetry LISTSERV. Somewhere, maybe Facebook, I was sent a video of her reciting her poems from mI'd heard about Ruth Stone through Wom-Po, the Women's Poetry LISTSERV. Somewhere, maybe Facebook, I was sent a video of her reciting her poems from memory for nearly an hour. That was amazing, Ruth Stone is in her 90s and nearly blind, she can no longer read her work. The fact she memorized and read her work with such passion astounds me. So when I came across "In the Next Galaxy" at a second hand bookstore I bought it. It won The National Book Award.
In the middle of reading her book I attended a Writer's Craft talk that focused on contradiction to build tension. The poet who gave the talk provided lots of examples and it intrigued me. Picking up Ruth Stone's book after hearing this lecture I was amazed to find a plenora of contradictions though out her work.
Some examples: In her poem "Wanting" it starts with the lines, "Wanting and dissatisfaction/are the main ingredients/of happiness." and at the end, "To violate beauty/is the essence of sexual desire./To procreate is the essence of decay." In an amazing poem about her long term marriage, "Getting to Know You," she writes, "Miraculous dull day to day/breakfast and dinner." I love this poem. In the title itself, "Sorrow and No Sorrow," she writes, "and what is not there/is always more than there." In "Train Ride" she plays with the repeated stanza, "Do all things come to an end?/No, they go on forever.: She gives us rich lists of what ends and what goes on forever, proving her point. In "Assumptions," the line, "The inner is really the outer."
Her language is full of science, fractals, parasites, and names of scientists I do not know, This is not a world I am easy in or understand, but I enjoyed reading this book and know there is much I can harvest from it if I dig deeper to study it. Not sure I'll do that, but it is an opening book by an amazing woman....more
Wow. What a book of fairy tales, but not fairy tales for the very young. These are brazen and raw with their examination of Alaskan myths from a sexuaWow. What a book of fairy tales, but not fairy tales for the very young. These are brazen and raw with their examination of Alaskan myths from a sexual perspective. Sometimes hard to read, there is pain and violence between the sexes in real life and in the myths and this author has done us a service to write them down. Thank you Denise!
I'm glad to have found one of her early books in a used book store, I've been meaning to read her work since I've read many of her poems online, plus an interview with her. I'm excited to read more. She is daring and a good writer....more
Great read! Gritty poems with teeth about life in small town America with all the interwoven characters & place: the cat named Loan Shark, Newton'Great read! Gritty poems with teeth about life in small town America with all the interwoven characters & place: the cat named Loan Shark, Newton's Bar, & of course Jesus. She has poems that grapple with god that are truly unique perspectives: kites & malls. In the prose poem "Dominoes" she writes, "I invited god over for dinner to talk about/wrestling. She helped me rub the chicken with paprika and lemon. We/agreed on a wine. We ate rice. She told me her grandson pays the blues in/a tavern over on Fourth Street We played dominoes into the night/Black, and white falling over and over in little heaps. That's god. Not angry/over small things. Not worried about stupid people. Just amused." Notice how the cover hotel sign looks suspiciously like a cross! I especially enjoyed many of her prose poems.
This book of poetry sings beautifully from a deep place in the soul, Patricia captures the illusive through careful observation of nature and processiThis book of poetry sings beautifully from a deep place in the soul, Patricia captures the illusive through careful observation of nature and processing what is is to grow older. I love her poems and have many marked lines which I will return to.
Her opening poem, "Wherever you are going," is about exiting the world and it is a meditation that coaches us to, "...take nothing./Take less than nothing and even less than that."
Her second poem, "On the Question of the Soul," makes me cry in her equisive ending stanzas, " It is the no color of rain/as if it sweeps a field on an August morning/full of fences and wildflowers.//It is the shifting of light across the surface/of any lake, the shadows that move like muskrats/across a mountain whose shape mimics the clouds above.//Weighted down by the vested interests/of the body, it nevertheless bears us forward."
In the center of the book is a 15 part poem titled: "Permaquid Variations." She has several references to Dante throughout this book. I know when I go back to read her book after reading Dante her words will be illuminated even further. This incredibly deep poetry grips me in my body and mind even without having read Dante.
Her poem "Lullaby for the Woman who Walks into the Sea" is a beautiful poem that repeats the last lines at the beginning of the following stanza. The use of the name Orphan is haunting. ...more
I loved this book when I read it a few years ago. Sharp striking images. It was chosen for the Yale Series of Younger Poets in 2005 and has an intro bI loved this book when I read it a few years ago. Sharp striking images. It was chosen for the Yale Series of Younger Poets in 2005 and has an intro by Louise Gluck. ...more
This Gertrude Press 2009 Fiction Award winner is a small chapbook, 22 pages, first published in 2007 in another journal. It opens with the main characThis Gertrude Press 2009 Fiction Award winner is a small chapbook, 22 pages, first published in 2007 in another journal. It opens with the main character, "Cam" for Cameron Gray, remembering his band buddies after a plane crash. Turns out there is one other survivor, Michael. It is the story of their meeting.
The author layers music into the story, which acts as metaphor; one paragraph both symbolizes their relationship and foreshadows the ending, " Michael lifted the harmonica to his mouth again. He started playing the same tune as I at exactly a quarter of the tempo, and damn it worked. Steady by with quavers, he played like a tightrope artist walking slowly over the net of my finger-picking. Suddenly the sound tumbled off the rope and down the scale, only to be caught and borne skyward again as if by some wide-winged bird. It hung for a moment on the edge of air. Then he let himself go, and that bird was flying circles around my four feeble lines of earthbound harmony."
At the end I am left wondering about their continuance, I don't want to give away the ending, but it leans toward the makings of a gay fairy tale. ...more
This book includes a selection of his work from some earlier books; but the main bulk here are the poems he wrote after his partner died of AIDS, a seThis book includes a selection of his work from some earlier books; but the main bulk here are the poems he wrote after his partner died of AIDS, a series he wrote after the elegies, after he thought he could not write any more. In these he leaves the trappings of grammar in the dust. He was on a train and the speed of his traveling is in the poems. So many beautiful images that are not separated by commas or periods. It is not an easy book to read, each poem needs time, slowness, and then a grief process to release. It also contains his 18 elegies for Roger from "Love Alone." I loved these poignant poems written to honor and remember the love of his life. I want to read his memoirs that he is so famous for. He also has a love poem in here that was written to Roger after he first met him in 1974, that is very beautiful. There are too many good lines to write them here, I strongly recommend this book....more
This chapbook is in three sections: the grandmother, Beila, the mother, Blanche, and the daughter, Lori. It is a book that captures the essence of femThis chapbook is in three sections: the grandmother, Beila, the mother, Blanche, and the daughter, Lori. It is a book that captures the essence of female immigration from Russia through rich details. A dear book that is a delight to read....more
I went to hear Carolyne Wright read from this book of translations at the University Bookstore in Seattle. She described how crafted the poems into anI went to hear Carolyne Wright read from this book of translations at the University Bookstore in Seattle. She described how crafted the poems into an arch of a love relationship going through it's different stages from early infatuation to the long term stability of relationship. This 81 page book encompasses poems by women from SE Asia, in particular Bengali, India; all contemporary authors many of whom she has met. Carolyne speaks Bengali fluently and has a long interwoven history with this part of the world. She brings this knowledge to the book, and what I love about it is her notes in the back that give deeper insight into this culture.
In, "Dark and Handsome," Taslima Nastinan writes, "Give me a night twelve years long/in which to see you."
In the poem, "Hope," Rajlakshmi Devi writes, "I never hoped you'd love me./As though, if I leaped, I'd find a foothold/Even as the bottom of the sea./As if, left to drift in the current,/The boat would find its way to shore./To my highest question—what worthy inquire,/I never hoped to find an answer."
This book is full of lovely poetry, I'm so glad they have been translated and brought to us by this accomplished poet....more
I love this book. It is in Miles own words from interviews and he says it like it is, lays out his life, his music and many personal aspects of relatiI love this book. It is in Miles own words from interviews and he says it like it is, lays out his life, his music and many personal aspects of relationships with family and women, as well as his health. A brilliant musician he was a master at mentoring musicians. If you want to learn about the creative process this book provides an amazing study.
Some quotes: "A musician's attitude is the music he plays." "Things take time, you know, you just don't learn something new and do it overnight. It has to get down inside your body, up into your blood before you can do it correctly." "Feed the monster." "You've got to have style in whatever you do—writing, music, painting, fashion, boxing, anything. Some styles are slick and creative and imaginative and innovative and others aren't." "A person is lucky if he has one soldier or Gil Evans in his life, someone close enough to pull your coattail when somethings gone wrong." "When I say both of us have a shyness I mean an artistic kind of shyness, where you are wary of people taking up your time."
This amazing book jumped off the bookshelf into my hand at Open Books. It was just released and John Marshall, who runs Open Books, said he was readinThis amazing book jumped off the bookshelf into my hand at Open Books. It was just released and John Marshall, who runs Open Books, said he was reading it and it was hilarious, that the juxtapositions were perfect, and it was a book I'd enjoy. Synchronicity. So I bought it and I'm glad I did.
It is a sentence by sentence found poem that is an 'autobiography' of a fictional character. Every line comes from an autobiography of a star put together by two brilliant poets. I've read D.A. Powell and am excited by his eclectic work. I've not read David Trinidad, but now having read this I guess I have! I cannot even phathom how they managed this feat, it is brilliant and once reading it I could put it down. I keep wanting to know what lines were from who's biography, but I gave up and just enjoyed the flow. Seriously, check this book out, it's fantastic!...more
I had to slow down to enter Nanette Rayman-Rivera's world and language, I found myself reading each poem several times, I looked up words and did goggI had to slow down to enter Nanette Rayman-Rivera's world and language, I found myself reading each poem several times, I looked up words and did goggle searches to come into her work deeper. This is a book that is rich with dense images, her writing evokes pain yet rides the pain using exotic flowers-flor de maga & Laeila Lobata (an orchid), birds, and the world of theater. I learned much that was out of my radar: Laurette Taylor is the famous silent film star; Sarah Heartburn is a common name for Sarah Burnheart exemplfying an overly dramatic daughter, a Buchner flask is named after a German organic chemist, a bildungsroman is a type of novel concerned with the education, development and maturing of a young protagonist, these and other images are throughout these lyrical poems and plays.
In the poem "malach," she writes, "My father keeps Winstons and a pale/blue yarmulke in his bureau to ambush angels./As they appear to come from the underground,/cigarette smoke veils how he's done/with God's split-shift." Death visits this night and later in the poem, "Brutality, like an itch in a dream,/a wandering woman heard a voice/as if she were present with the angels,/to her they came, they/nudged her, wagered her winds." We can see the father so vivid in this image, feel the deep currents of emotional winds in her work.
More pain in the poem "an actress and her stigmata," she writes, "On what you're after. You think you will make it,/each woman a mess-about denudes herself in smiles the bigger/the sadder. Her wrist and pulse a friendship/bracelet covering her scars, refusing to be imagined otherwise."
On the publisher's website it states one of the things this book is about is homelessness—I would say it is about homelessness in the heart of a woman who is beautiful in a world that gives beauty back only through nature. A book of displacement, yet in it is a survivor making sense through a complex web, and sometimes holding onto the pain is what gives strength. I feel the pain, feel the incredible strength in her words; she speaks in a complex language that touched my heart....more