15 December 2006


My next book, Certain Slants, has been sent "to press" by the publisher, Junction Press. I'm very happy about that, and looking forward to reading from it on January 15 at the Poetry Project, in New York, right after it's printed and bound.

There's not a lot that it's easy to reprint in this blog, because of the often varying margins, indentations, i.e. the use of the space in the book as a contributing part of the methodology, structure, and meaning of the poems. But here's one of the shorter pieces, from a series of Cardinal poems.

Cardinal 19

jewels glow and breathe out
as though stars go somewhere
headlands to desert to
streets with stone houses
all in all, black ink white paper
rubbed or printed
where the lines
bear or redeem
little but the organ’s intent
to form a language
of us, our homes are yours as well
as well
it composes, blooms whether little
or much water recommends face
to face
wash over the children
in the light
before it goes

This poem, like Cardinal 18 that precedes it by several pages in the book, was written with Gil Ott in mind. I remember seeing Gil at our home in this desert city, after his residency at Headlands Center for the Arts, and visiting him at his home in Philadelphia, among its stone houses. I think of both of us printing black on white, words and images, and I think of us both as fathers. It's a notation remembering a friendship, a language remembering and pointing toward a life, as well as simply a notation, a group of words, a movement of its own.

Everything flows through and in words.

I'm thinking about Gil again because I've sent "to press" (from Chax Press) a terrific new book by Tim Peterson, Since I Moved In, which is the first winner of The Gil Ott Award, an annual book series from Chax Press. The editors (Nathaniel Mackey, Eli Goldblatt, Myung Mi Kim, and I) will select one book a year for the next four years (five counting this first book), largely through the generous contribution of Julia Blumenreich. We also believe we will find funding to continue the series beyond the first five years.

Here's a poem from Since I Moved In, by Tim Peterson.


Something’s going haywire among the fens;
nettles aping naturalness until they touch you
versus the pretty important password you imbibed:
dark liquid is a good idea. Scratch a late hour,
you replicate yourself in our dark hair attempted access.
Growing out of dirt, like dirt, we archive,
in a central location, the morning’s blades. At last
our long grasses pose a security compromise;
rights you relinquish to acquire a strained wisdom
like a post office anesthetized by foppery –
hot cheeks, the fishing emails. I’m sorry,
you’ve been turned off. The inchworm
crawling up, uh, that thing there in a dark time.
A bunch of malarkey in the weeds wasn’t music,
was it? Crossed that line without friends as a scab amends
greased gladiolas, the swan tank full of weeds.
Your ancient seed: we dug it like a house
looks out onto a lake paralyzed
by adept seeing. It grows up around them throats
O pungent carapace, O immersion in that home machine.

If you find this book, buy it, and read it, you won't be sorry. And I hope you pick up Certain Slants, too.

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