Friday, September 30, 2005

It's Raining

James Dean died today, 50 years ago.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Gardens and Imaginative Constructs

The colchicum have arrived! I planted them in the front and back yard, and kept one for inside. They arrive already sprouted, but their stems are very pale. They look sort of alien like right now, but are supposed to bloom pale purple.

Read a little of Stanley Kunitz's The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden today. He writes:
In the beginning, a garden holds infinite possiblities. What sense of its nature, or its kingdom, is it going to convey? It represents a selection, not only of whatever individual plants we consider to be beautiful, but also a synthesis that creates a new kind of beauty, that of a complex and multiple world. What you plant in your garden reflects your own sensibility, your concept of beauty, your sense of form. Every true garden is an imaginative construct, after all.
Have moved out of the Dylan and am now listening to Dolorean . They are labeled by music reviewers as alt-country, which is also sometimes known as "insurgent country". Which is also an imaginative construct.

I like talking to my husband when he gets home from work. And when he brings me truffles on a Thursday, I like that too. Thanks baby!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Obviously Five Believers

Have been listening to a lot of Dylan - it's the PBS influence I suppose. Got so lost in singing along with him in the car this morning that I did what many adjuncts before me have done - almost drove to the wrong school. Figured out what I'd done in time to get off the freeway and turned around, but I was five minutes late to class. I told them why - I'm not sure how wise that was, but I told them.

My students had rough drafts due today and only ONE student didn't turn one in. Props to the students!

My narcissus bulbs are underneath my desk, in a little dark corner. You're supposed to fake them out, make them think it's winter so they put down roots. Singing Christmas carols helps too.

Was excited to find a blog by Lyn Hejinian. Then found a site that says Lyn Hejinian does not have a blog. So now I don't know WHAT to believe!

Lyn Hejinian quote: "The presences that constitute life do so by entering life/ and they do so infinitely"

Bought some cool papers and accoutrements today. Tacos for dinner. Started another poem. Will be making more ATCs tomorrow. And teaching and driving and singing along...

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Thelma or Louise?

I got pulled over for speeding today for the first time ever. It's official - I'm living on the edge! Well, I was driving 28 in a 15 mph zone, but still. The policewoman ran my driver's license and everything. I felt like I was on COPS or something. No ticket was issued - she let me off with a warning - so no email campaign on my behalf will be necessary. I have never been pulled over before but I think I handled it well. No sudden movements.

Have been reading Best American Poetry 2005. I think I figured out a solution to the criticism that the series receives from many readers. The words "The Best" should be replaced with "Some". There, problem solved. There are many poets in the 2005 edition whose work I admire. The cover is nice. More as the situation develops.

I have begun my narcissus forcing early. Bought 15 paperwhite bulbs today. Here's how to do it.

John Ashbery quote: "I write with experiences in mind, but I don't write about them, I write out of them."

Awoke very early, worked on a poem, taught some classes. Going to turn off my brain and watch Gilmore Girls with my kids.

Monday, September 26, 2005


Things I learned from my father this weekend:

1. When you are in a competitive walk, walk as much as possible in a straight line. This will cut seconds - even minutes - off your time. Race car drivers know this.

2. The night I was born there was a boxing match on television which my dad would have liked to seen the end of.

3. When my father went to see Hunter S. Thompson at the University of Oregon more than a few years ago, Thompson was late in arriving. Ken Kesey and Ken Babbs got on stage and started discussing their bus, Further. One frustrated student stood up and yelled "I didn't pay good money to see this! I want to see Hunter S. Thompson!" Kesey grabbed the kid by the collar and threw him out - not before giving him $5 and saying "I know exactly how much you paid for this!" About a half hour before he finally appeared on stage, Thompson peeked out at the crowd, said "jeez!", and didn't come out for another half hour.

Woke up this morning to an NPR voice saying something about the "larger implications" of using the militairy to aid in establishing order after hurricanes, rather than state and local governments. I wonder what Thompson would have to say about this?

My friend J. has been transcribing the poems of Elizabeth Bishop. In Michele's workshop we memorized poems to recite, and this seems to be something along those lines. I am going to try transcribing some Revell - when his book arrives.

I still have a few essays to grade. Writing comments can be challenging, but the trickiest part can be assigning a letter grade. One technique is to throw all the papers up in the air, and assign As to ones that fall to the left of you, and Bs to the ones that fall to your right. This technique is discouraged in most academic circles, but I believe Ken Kesey would have approved.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Saturday in Central Oregon

Spending the night in Central Oregon, so I can walk the "Sisters Stride into Autumn" with my dad. Did I bring the essays with me? Of course! Will I look at them while here? Yes of course. Wait. No, I will definitely look at them.

Found this today while searching for Caffeine Destiny links on Google (I do that sometimes, I admit) from a poet who doesn't care what people think: "And while my university might not recognize it, I think more highly of my work published in Caffeine Destiny than what appears elsewhere more reputable." Hmm...

Ordered Donald Revell's collected poems.

On my ipod shuffle play on the way over here today - Dylan, Iron and Wine, Joni Mitchell, Belle and Sebastian, Art Pepper, Shins, Coldplay. Bought Dandy Warhol tickets today! I am looking forward to Martin Scorcese's documentary on Dylan that airs Monday.

Note to Zanni: They're not PHDs YET. Call them CANDIDATES. And you're just as capable of ferreting out those Greek roots as they are. Nico: The subjective experience of the poet matters far more than technical considerations.

It's more autumn-ish here. Red leaves, yellow foliage. Horses, cows, deer.

My son's team won their football game. Now to watch the UO/USC game on tv. Go Ducks.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Because There Are Songs to Be Played

There is some great music to be found here, at my husband's new blog. And he played me a new song last night! Welcome to the blog world baby!

Today is picture day at my house. The kids have chosen their outfits.

Have to grade those quizzes and read other papers for my Monday class. I am going to Sisters in Central Oregon to walk a 15K with my dad on Sunday. The Portland Marathon is in two weeks!

News from the garden: Colchicum bulbs are being shipped to me as I write this! My aunt in New York also ordered some for her apartment. I can picture the window where she will grow them. In an unprecedented act of bird on gnome violence, a scrub jay swooped in yesterday and knocked over the garden gnome that had taken up temporary residence in the bird bath in the corner of my yard. The visibily shaken (not to mention prone) gnome seems to be recovering nicely. The bird could not be reached (wings,etc.) for comment.

Laura Mullen is going to be here next month, giving a reading. I am very pleased to hear this. New poems of hers will be appearing on Caffeine Destiny .... soon!

I have drafts of poems that are feeling neglected and are beginning to get restless. I have assured them they will be completed ... soon!

I would like to lounge in my pjs all morning, drinking coffee and making autumnal ATCs, with oranges, reds, magentas and browns, while a batch of bread rises nearby...

However, the essays await!

I made the ATC of the woman with the guitar. Do I need to keep saying that? All the artwork on this site is mine, until further notice. More on ATCs for those of you who are interested ...

In answer to your question, T. - yes, you need a bigger bed.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


The students were a bit stumped by the quiz. One student told me he had read every essay "like three times" and still had trouble on some of the questions. He told me that again as class was ending. Oh but there will be more quizzes ..

One of the questions asked them to define hegemony, which was mentioned in one of the essays they'd read this week. I had defined it yesterday, written it on the board, and we'd talked about it.. But I didn't quite know how to pronounce it, and admitted that to them (it's not a word I use in conversation).

So the student who had read every essay three times asked another student about the hegemony question as I was collecting the quiz. The other student said, "remember - that was the word she couldn't pronounce."

I don't know what to make for dinner, my office is a mess. But I love the light this time of year.

Speaking of hegemony, I read today that Ruth Lilly didn't mean to give all that money to POETRY. I think that's funny.

This may interest some - the University of Iowa is turning its old card catalog into art!

Before What Happens, Does

Zanni is so sweet to link to me. But she's a welcoming person, that Zanni . And I KNOW she is returning to Portland once Southern California is done with her. Zanni is a complicated person and a great poet.

Also think it's cute that she seems to think students actually READ the syllabus. Do they? I go over mine the first day but I don't know if it ever really sinks in. I think writing it helps me get a handle on the class. And in some circles I suppose it's almost a legal document.

I saw a syllabus on the web for a writing class - somewhere - and it said "I don't accept late papers. period." I would like to write this teacher and ask her, REALLY? I'd like to see how that plays out in her classroom ...

Shout out to Carly - if it's Thursday, this must be preschool!

Kept waking up last night. Finally decided to just get up at 5:00. There is no better time than early morning. Am reading Speciman Days by Michael Cunningham. I started it this summer and was slightly disappointed in it but it's getting better. And the Whitman references are cool. Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes.

My son's open house last night - favorite part was reading this sentence in my son's essay: I am fond of chess. I find it charming he would write "fond" rather than "I like to play chess".

Was reading Tessa Rumsey' s book The Return Message last night. She does this thing where she end-stops an enjambed line. Like this:

Oh, how like a clock the lover lost its pale face and colored.
Numbers the longer you looked at it, until each phantom.
Tick of its innermost mechanism heralded possession.
And the mercurial sensation that something was slipping.
Away from you, until what once was your seduction device.

etc... It seems kind of gimmick-y in a way, but I like it. I don't think I've ever seen it done like that before.

My students have a quiz today. I must go write it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

My Husband's Adidas Jacket

My husband looks very cute in his new adidas jacket. I just had to write that.

Still Groovin' on the Oulipian

Still have papers to grade but am posting again. The art is from a collage I made, an ATC, artist's trading card. I make them and keep some and trade some.

Ran into a friend from grad school who is applying for MFA programs. If he gets in - I'm sure he will! - I will know yet another person in an MFA program. HOWEVER, I know what oulipian means now, so I'm still, you know, aware.. I think I will start using it incorrectly..

Classes went well I thought. But they haven't turned their first papers in yet, so we all still like each other. It's when they have to start writing papers and getting comments on them and talking to each other about their writing and not just having discussions on the readings that things get a little more ... something.

Read this the other day, from a site I think is funny... THE TROUBLE WITH ACADEMIC PROSE:

While we waste our time fighting over ideological conformity in the scholarly world, horrible writing remains a far more important problem. For all their differences, most right-wing scholars and most left-wing scholars share a common allegiance to a cult of obscurity. Left, right and center all hide behind the idea that unintelligible prose indicates a sophisticated mind. The politically correct and the politically incorrect come together in the violence they commit against the English language.

Here I Am!

Why am I starting a blog at this point? Because I think it might be fun. From what I have gathered, it seems to function as a way to put off doing other stuff. I made the collage..

I learned last night what the word "oulipian" meant, after reading it on a friend's blog. Another fancy word for stuff I've done before but never called it that. I am going to try to start a list of other fancy words for stuff I've done before.

Talked to my friend Janine on the phone this wekend, who is up to her ears in grad school - at one point we were talking about metonymy. I think she was almost (I say almost) correcting me on what it really meant, but in a very pleasant Janine way. Subtext - she's learning STUFF! You go girl! (oh no I really said that - and on my very first posting. - will that establish me as the sort of blogger who writes "you go girl" in their postings, which puts me in a certain category which people will make other assumptions about? yay I ended a sentence with a preposition!)

anyway, very pleased that Janine's phone number remains the same, as so many of my Janine encounters when she lived here were via phone. So it's kind of like she never left.

Except when she tells me what metonymy means.

My african violets don't look so good.

Many papers to grade and a soccer game this afternoon.

After reading my friend Zanni's posting about teaching, I think she is nicer in the classroom than I am.

Oh I get it... this is addictive!

More later, s.