Ave. B: doughnut holes arranged lovingly on the windshield wipers of a vintage MG.
There is a marvelous, crystal-clear savaging of Dana Gioia by A.O. Scott also in the Sunday Times Book Review this week. The Book Review should fire all their poetry and fiction critics and hire movie critics to replace them.


When I noticed the New York Times Book Review did a piece on Lyn Hejinian's Best American Poetry I thought, hmmm... I'm sure this will include an extensive, thrilled quotation from Kasey Silem Mohammad's poem Mars Needs Terrorists. I'm sure they wouldn't just run series of understated, threatened put-downs....

What we get is a picture of Lyn, which is shocking enough to see in the Book Review, with the words What Were You Thinking writ large below it. Then we get complaints that experimental poets are actually established, clearly too established for Orr's comfort. This is followed by complaints that the "traditional" sources BAP is taken from, Poetry, The Paris Review, etc. are missing.

I have to admit that I found Orr's comparison of the relative print runs of Shiny, The Yale Review and Cat Fancy amusing. Then the central complaints: the poetry here is not based on anecdote and "constructing a reliable voice."

Orr uses the second Matrix movie as a metaphor for what he sees as the weakness of experimental poetry. Metaphor can sometimes have a way of magnetically pulling away from uses the writer had intended for it. The closer, related, metaphor here would be the first Matrix film, where Neo, still in the ignorance-is-bliss Fox News/ Yale Review Matrix, is offered the pill and rabbit hole of a less reassuring but more real version of things (less based on anecdote and reliable voice you could say). Maybe Orr will one day go back and decide to take the other pill. You can imagine Lyn offering it to him with a sunglasses and an ankle-length leather trench coat. Lyn is Morpheus. Kasey is the pill itself.

Mlinko on primal self-expression.

Magee on Iraq blowback.

Kimball on Jordan Davis and Stephanie Young.

Latta on Padgett, Culley and Gottlieb,


Stephanie Young and Jordan Davis, BPC, 11/13/04

Came in slightly late to the BPC, where Stephanie had already started, sporting a (new?) rocker-Cat Power-ish look. Almost didn’t recognize her from a distance. I settled in at the bar in the midst of her startling, marzipan-heavy series featuring a haunted talking bracelet and a robot: totally marvelous.

“I lick the plate of macaroni. I have a sincere desire to change.”

“I had gone far to rest among the foxglove.”

Jordan Davis:

Is there a correlation between an appetite for Dub and the relaxed line and welcoming tone modulating themselves to the demands of circumambulation? Am I right in thinking there were more specks of disclosure in Jordan's reading than I'm used to?

“Taco hot dog blooper magnolia.”

“Under interests she listed sex and power, and then crossed one out.”

“It’s got to be overcast to mean business.”

“It repeats it, out to the edge of the pancake.”


Two things from different talks given by Steve Evans and Michael Magee linger together in my mind, though the talks were given months apart. Steve made an off the cuff remark worded with chilling concision about how the world had apparently been reabsorbed into a fundamentalist mind-set -- a perception our recent election confirms and deepens.

Magee's riffing off of the Burke thing about how diversity in America can have an ameliorating effect on the use of negative mass psychological forces for concentrating power - that we can't agree on who to hate, seems like it might be up in the air now that American Republicans/Christians seem to agree to hate Arabs and queers together? Or they agree enough on this that a little voting fraud in the right place does the trick.


The election...

no acceptable reaction...