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Monday, July 23, 2012

Fascination Award Nominee: Vote for Me!

We're very proud to announce that Blue Positive has been nominated for a 2012 Fascination Award in the Category of Creative Writing/Teaching blogs. Please take a minute to vote for my blog, so I can one of 25 winners and receive a $100 gift certificate. It would make me and my stomach really happy if you did. Thanks!

The Fascination Awards

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception Takes the Bronze in Foreword Mag's Book of the Year Awards

I am very honored to announce that my most recent book of poems, The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception, published by Saturnalia Books in 2010, was chosen by Foreword Reviews as a Book of the Year bronze medalist. Katherine Larson's Radial Symmetry (Yale University Press) took the Gold, and Liliana Ursus' A Path to the Sea captured the Silver metal. These were chosen from a dozen BOTY finalists, including Michael Heffernan's The Bureau of Divine Music and Richard Berlin's Secret Wounds. 

I am pleased to find myself in such fine company. 

When I learned I had won the bronze my mind went immediately to the 1972 Olympics and Ludmila Tourischeva. Ludmila  (just in case you were not around  for the 1972 Olympics) was a dignified and mature gymnast on the USSR team,. Unlike her buddy Olga (who admittedly I, too adored), she did not weep/wipe tears away after her uneven bar routine, winning the hearts of millions, along with the judges who the next day grossly inflated her uneven bar scores, permitting her to nab a silver in that event (preposterous when you think about it; she fell off the bars three times during her disastrous routine). 

Ludmila did not play to the crowd, was more the graceful grande dame, providing a role model of composure (kinda old school Russian lack of emotion--she did not weep but then again she did not need to; she performed flawlessly throughout the competition, winning the all-around gold metal). 

But what does this tale have to do with the bronze?  Well, the Russians didn't do so well in the vault competition in 1972 (the East Germans whipped their tails). However,  Ludmila managed to eek out a bronze in that event.

(this is actually her 1976 Montreal vault -- YouTube doesn't have her 1972 vault - does anyone know what it was?) 

I'll be honest with you: a bronze metal is not a gold metal, and this fact sorta bums me out. However, I tell myself, I bet Ludmila did not look her gift horse in the mouth. I imagine she stood on the (albeit lower) podium very proudly, waving her hands in the air, thrilled to bring one more metal home to Grozny. 

I am not by any means a Ludmila type (I'm more of a weeping, following, un-grande dame), but the take-away from her story is that she took third place with a smile and a feeling of accomplishment for a job well done, and I am doing  my best to do the same.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Poets, Powerpoint, & a Delightful Misuse of Company Time

I am so excited to be part of an upcoming event taking place at the West of Lenin theatre space in the heart of Seattle's Fremont neighborhood (203 N. 36th Street) on July 19 beginning at 7:30. Poets, Powerpoint, & a Delightful Misuse of Company Time is about mashing up poetry with a series of twenty slides. Each slide will be be visible for 20 seconds, during which time the presenter will be talking/poetizing/reading some sort of written text to accompany each slide. Psssst! Think pecha kucha. 

Whatever happens during each of the 6 minute and 40 second presentations (by Kathleen Flenniken, Keri Healey, Peter Pereira, Molly Tenenbaum, Barbara Earl Thomas, and I), you will be entertained, amused, and then fed copious amounts of office food (Costco sheet cake, crudites with ranch dip, and the like); there will be a no-host bar before the after, so you can get snookered and guffaw through the entire series.

Over here at BP, we've been tirelessly toiling to make our slideshow and accompanying poetic complements the best they can be. Here's a sneak preview of some of the slides you might just hear me wax eloquently about during my presentation:

Laika, the endearing dogma-naut 

Newton's 3rd Law of Motion Carries the Day

Tickets are available for $30 via Brown Paper Tickets, but do not delay as the theatre can only hold 80 people. 
This event benefits Humanities Washington. Hope to see you there!


Space Secretary

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Remissness, Neandertals, Sontag Memoir, APR, Joe Brainard, Summer Winds Poem-a-Day Edition

Yes, yes, dear reader, I have been remiss. I will say no more, but instead provide you with a taste of what I've been up to this past month (when I have not been grading papers, which is now, great glory, a task of the distant past);

I so enjoyed a book by the name of How to Think Like a Neandertal by Thomas Wynn and Frederick L. Coolidge. The going was initially rather tough (a bit too heavy on spear making), but once the chapters headed into subjects such as symbol making, humor, and language, I was afoot, enjoying every word. A truly revelatory book. Why? Because while you go in thinking you're gonna learn how to think like a Neandertal, you come out knowing a whole lot more about what it means to think like a human.

I also, because it came up in this interview which I raved about incessantly in my previous post, read Sigrid Nunez's Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag, which is sort of like reading a literary People (though how would I know as I do not keep up with the lives of non-literary celebrities). I wish I could share specific passages from this book, but sorry I already returned it to the library. Just read it, is all I have to say, especially if you are sorta not sure what you think about Ms. Sontag. She is a bit of a neurotic nutcase, in a word, no offense or anything, but I mean that in the most endearing way. Example: I think she was in love with her son, or at least she had some serious, serious issues with letting him grow up and leave her home. biZARRE. I am trying to read her journals but mostly they are boring lists of things like childhood memories ("Chemistry sets. Daddy telling me to eat the parsley, it's good, in the fun club.  The table Christmas tree in Florida: silver with blue lights."). Kinda cool (definitely mine-able for poetry!), but after Nunez's can't-put-it-down driving narrative, it's hard to read this stuff for more than a few pages.

Okay, and then my new issue of APR arrived the other day, and I am going absolutely apes-on-bananas with it. They haven't put up the new issue yet online, but soon enough they will, and you will love it dandily, for sure. I am reading the poems very slowly from front to back, and I have enjoyed them all so far (Dickman, Equi, Weisburd, Mai, Patrick Phillips, and Alexie). Wow, wow, wow.

So then last night I was doing some research on anaphora and stumbled upon  I Remember by Joe Brainard, an entire book of poems with all the lines beginning "I remember ..." I mean, what instructor of poetry wouldn't want to assign this book on the first day of class? It would actually be a nice way to start off the semester, but by the end of the course you'd be reading the surrealists and Ashbery and Graham -- it would be fun to go from one extreme to the other, though not saying Brainard's memories are necessarily autobiographical. Oh, and also! Ron Padgett wrote a memoir about Brainard, Joe, which I (lucky, lucky) found a 1st edition hard cover on Amazon for $10 plus shipping, but there are some that are $6 used (paperback).

Which brings us to, ahh and ooh,  The Summer Winds. Here they are, and with them the urge to write a poem a day in July! (Yes, we are a bit stoned thanks to the 70% dark chocolate, courtesy Theo Chocolate).

Hope your July is off to an umbrella-sky start!