15 March 2009


We are having an Open Studio! Lots of people were here yesterday, looking at books & paintings. Even printers stopped by — one from Baltimore, one from Boulder! Four framed broadsides are out on our main table, along with unframed broadsides, copies of fine press books, and copies of recent paperback books. Chax Press looks great yesterday & today! Joni Mitchell (SHINE) is on the stereo right now — did I mention that we finally set up the stereo yesterday, with the speakers about 10 feet high, music sailing through the room.

And the Tucson Festival of Books is going on at the University of Arizona campus. A huge huge festival, with thousands of people. In poetry, Jefferson Carter (Chax Press book: Sentimental Blue) read yesterday, and people flocked to his books. He was the headline for poetry, YES JEFFERSON CARTER! NOT Billy Collins or CK Williams or Jane Miller or anyone else. But it was all there. I DO wish the festival had a wider aesthetic view, I mean, not a single true descendant of the New American Poetry (black mountain, beats, NY school, objectivists, etc.) and not a single LANGUAGE poet, and not a SPOKEN WORD/SLAM poet, so a pretty significant ignorance of the "now" poetry outlook. But hey, though this is the first, it's set up to be an annual event, so let's hope next year for: Tracie Morris! Mei-mei Berssenbrugge! Lisa Jarnot! Laynie Browne! Charles Bernstein! Michael Cross! Tyrone Williams! Nathaniel Tarn! Leslie Scalapino! Ron Silliman! Rosmarie Waldrop! Bruce Andrews! Erica Hunt! Rodrigo Toscano! Tim Peterson! and how about, from across the Atlantic, David Miller! Ken Edwards! Caroline Bergvall! Carol Watts! Jeff Hilson! and a lot more of the poets we believe in. And yes, maybe I'll just have to try and get involved in order to make some of this happen.

Still, great to have a book festival in Tucson, and I did manage to get a book signed by Gail Carson Levine for one of my daughters.

One fine Tucson poet, Frank Parker, was spotted in the crowd, looking fine, taking it all in.

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01 March 2009

With Friends

I had been thinking, for a couple of days, that I just wanted to hang out with poets and talk. And then Peter Gizzi was in Tucson, so I picked him up Saturday morning, took him to Frank's for a great breakfast (eggs & chorizo for him, huevos rancheros for me), then back to Chax where we looked at printed works, read some of Olson aloud, and talked for what must have been, counting the breakfast time, over two hours. And it was easy to feel as though I'd been friends with Peter for a very long time. It's that kind of collapsed friendship poets have, where you know you like people, even intensely, but you live in separate places, writing and doing your work in various ways, and see each other maybe only once every few years. And when those times are right, it's beautiful. It was beautiful hanging with Peter on Saturday, and going to his talk on Friday.

Now I'm going back and forth in his two books, Some Values of Landscape and Weather, and The Outernationale. I absolutely love his poem "Revival" in the former. Here's a small part of this 6-page poem.
I was talking about rending, reading, rewriting
what is seen. Put the book down and look into the day.
I want an art that can say how I am feeling
if I am feeling blue sky unrolling a coronation rug
unto the bare toe of a peasant girl.
with vague memories of Jeanne d'Arc,
or that transformation in Cinderella.
Where is your mother today?
I think of you, soft skin against soot.
How much has the world turned
since you were a girl in Troy?
In a way the conversation with Peter was like being in a poem of his, where the combination of leaps and the information included is diverse and always fluid, the mind moving, embracing. A lovely dance, and one that wants to reckon where and how and what it is, that wants to come to grips with everything.