Tag: me

2016: Books

Books, Cinema, Comics, Fashion, Journals, Philosophy, Photography, Poetics, Poetry, Prose, Psychology, Theory and Criticism, Translation, Writing January 5, 2017

Bref, I read a lot of poetry translated from German and a lot of nonfiction translated from French. This is not very shocking. Much of my non-book reading happened at Asymptote: this reading (plus editing) is far more diverse and includes work by poets like Vicente Huidobro (Chile), Jan Dammu (Iraq), and writers who push at the limits of what translation means (the Special Feature in our January issue). One of my favorite pieces of this latter sort is Bronwyn Haslam’s anagrammatic translations of Nicole Brossard’s poetry (“Soft Links” becomes “Silk Fonts,” for example):

It’s nouns that gulp fire and life, one can’t tell if they’re Latin, French, Urdu, Veda, Cree, Mandarin, Aleut, Creole, Basque, English, secrete a number, deed, quorum, animal or accelerate old anxieties eddying before us in doubled somber contours full of luster and immense legends.

I also got to collaborate with my friend Michael Joseph Walsh to put together a different sort of experimental translation portfolio for Denver Quarterly 50.4 I have a few extra copies and would be happy to mail them to anyone interested (or you can subscribe). Joshua Ware’s visual translations of Celan appear as an online supplement to this portfolio here.

Photography by Gaëtan Gatian de Clérambault

Photographs by Gaëtan Gatian de Clérambault

For some years now I’ve been obsessed with a film by Yvon Marciano called Le cri de la soie (1996), which fictionalizes the life of pioneer psychiatrist Gaëtan Gatian de Clérambault. This year I read two texts relevant to this film, de Clérambault’s case studies of women who developed an unusual sexual “passion” for silk and other textiles: Passion érotique des étoffes chez la femme (1908) and its suite (1910). Read More

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My Comprehensive Exam Results

Art, Books, Cinema, Philosophy, Poetry, Prose, Theory and Criticism, Translation September 14, 2015

Pass Pass Pass
Pass Pass Fail
Pass Fail Pass
Fail Pass Pass
Pass Fail Fail
Fail Fail Pass
Fail Pass Fail
Fail Fail Fail

are one of the above combinations.

Or they are what’s in this blog post.

*

What’s in this blog post is a list of books that I “discovered” this past summer, that shifted things for me in small or big ways, or that I simply enjoyed.

Comprehensive exams, where I go to school, involve picking three topics for which you create a list of at least thirty-five books each. Like most PhD amateurs I went overboard and had around two hundred books overall, then read about half of them.

You get the summer to read and make notes, then you get questions which you answer in five thousand words each and await results.

I don’t care much for waiting, so I’ve declared myself three wins.

Congratulations, me! You’ve done what millions before you have done.

*

The books I picked were of four main kinds:

books I’d read before that I knew would be core books for my essays
books I hadn’t read before that I knew would be important for me
books I hadn’t read before that were there because they were “supposed to be” there
books I picked by chance/that fell into my lap/that weren’t even on my precious lists but I read them

I don’t want to be a broken record about books I may have gushed about before, so I’m picking just a handful of books from the last three kinds.

Etel Adnan (major figure)

Etel Adnan. Journey to Mount Tamalpais. 1986.

All of Etel Adnan’s books, which I either read or re-read this summer, are wonderful—I pick Journey because it works beautifully as both memoir and manifesto for how Adnan looks at the world. As you may know, Adnan has painted Mount Tamalpais for decades of her life. I expected Journey to tell me how she came to that work and how it has sustained her. I didn’t expect it to let me re-enter her written work—The Arab Apocalypse, Seasons, and Sea and Fog particularly—with a more nuanced sense of what she does. Here is one of my favorite paragraphs from the book (context: Cézanne painted Mont Sainte-Victoire repeatedly in a similar manner, so obviously is an influence):

Let us return to Cezanne. He is a petrol lamp. His glance lightens the things it touches. A sense of the tragic in the quality of a painter’s glance, in the moment of choice, in the phenomenon called vision. Cezanne was in love with the mountain (or the gardener, or the apples) but with the moment when his glance settled on them differently than when he was promenading or was involved in a conversation. A painter’s glance is bitter, in the sense Rimbaud gave this word. That’s why this glance seems to erase the very object that creates its intensity, the cause of its intensity. (“To abolish . . .,” Mallarme used to say.) Cezanne turns light into an impersonal and cruel prism. And if we so much like his watercolors, it is because they escape our direct glance, they slide like mercury under our eyes, because there is between them and us an invisible obstacle which is both transparent and irreducible. It can lead you to insanity.

Gilles Deleuze & Félix Guattari. What Is Philosophy? Tr. Hugh Tomlinson & Graham Burchell. 1991/1994.

I’m struggling to remember exactly why I put this book on my EA list . . . Read More

N. B.

Books, Philosophy, Poetics, Poetry, Theory and Criticism, Translation, Writing May 26, 2015

I have about ten notebooks currently in my possession. This may not sound like a lot, but they have notes in them from every class and every guest lecture I’ve attended as a graduate student. I write on every page and am very sparing with the use of paper. So it is a lot, actually.

I’m about to enter a summer of what is known as “comprehensive exam study.” It is about as bureaucratic as it sounds.

In order to prepare for it, I’ve been going through these notebooks, deciding what I need around me as I attempt to think this summer.

And the notebooks don’t want me to.

Here are some excerpts from my notebooks, at random.

*

why does apostrophe allow a move to the present?

thing: “a gathering of people to make law” (Saxon)
etymology
(Joy[c]e: thing mode)

voice
|
the occasion for
constantly turning
in and what
comes out is
a new modality
something pure

but for Cecil [Taylor]
|
a breakdown
of the self
|
what
emerges is
a radical
sociality

“consent not to
be a single
thing” Read More

End of a Notebook

Poetry, Writing August 9, 2014

Sometimes I watch how other people use paper.

It upsets me when I see  someone write only one side of a sheet or write on alternate lines of ruled paper.

I grew up writing on every inch of paper I could find, not out of worry for the forests but for paper itself. I used, for the most part, very ordinary notebooks. Once I found an empty notebook from my mother’s college days and I used that. It was very yellow. Today I buy Moleskines (which, from the looks of the graduate classes I’ve been attending, some writers use all the time) only when I know they will be carefully used and preserved. Typically I only buy their daily planners or their most ordinary softcover notebooks to copy out my favorite poems.

You could say I have a kind of disgust for ill-used notebooks.

And then I have a stack of paper of all kinds: junk mail, receipts, old assignments no one will want anymore. I write on their empty backs: notes for poems, grocery lists, lists of things to do. I use post-it notes very sparingly. I think they’re dangerous.

It turns out there are older relatives in my family who use paper in this same way. I can’t say whether I learned this habit from them or if it simply runs in the family like a, I like to think, good gene.

Here’s an example from my college days. Notes from a college guest lecture on the Israeli-Palestine conflict written on foolscap:

College Notes

  Read More

April Poems

Journals, Poetics, Poetry, Translation April 30, 2014

Bit of a shame I’m doing this on the last day of the month, but I’ve had some poems in the wonderful new issue of MiPOesias, edited by Sarah Blake. I’m sharing journal space with some really exciting poets, which I’m thrilled about.

MiPOesias April 2014

I also did a little blog post for Sarah Blake’s National Poetry Month Daily tumblr on something I love to think about: how people talk. There’s thirty poetry-related write-ups by poets on this blog, so lots to read and think about.  Read More

Dream Diary

Psychology, Writing January 1, 2014

It amazes me constantly that adults say things like “My dream is to . . .” or “My dream came true” or “I know if I work hard enough, my dream will come true.” On American television, of which I am a passionate viewer, such things are expressed all the time. Which is odd to me because I work hard not to make my dreams come true.

I’ve been keeping a dream diary for about six months now; here are some excerpts, dates and names redacted:

*

I’m on a terrace observing a sort of kingfisher that can stand on its head. We (elsewhere in the house) are deciding how a string of murders took place. The kingfisher is an immediate suspect and in the distance a wolf is the other suspect. But perhaps we are wrong, because later I am in bed in a deep, unremitting sleep in a room that looks uncannily like the room I live in now and uncannily not. Though asleep, I am strongly aware that a man (whom [sic?] in my sleep I have deduced is the actual murderer and who perhaps is aware that I am aware) is trying to get inside, through the door and windows. Outside, of which I am also profoundly aware—though asleep—it is incredibly bright. Somehow I am able to thwart the murderer’s attempts to enter, but I am still in bed and asleep and able to sense mounting danger. I am afraid for my death and still I cannot get out of bed. This is how much I want to sleep.

*

. . . I work for a business (am a partner in?) that washes women’s hair and promises improvement. (No hair is cut.)

A blonde client with curly hair. A bathtub full to the brim. Its temperature is hard to maintain.

The blonde woman asks if we do psychological testing in order to determine why she has bad hair.

I am confused. I say the bath will take care of everything.

Read More

The Robing of the Bride + Notes + Recording

Books, Poetry, Translation, Writing December 17, 2013
Aditi Machado. The Robing of the Bride. 2013.

Aditi Machado. The Robing of the Bride. 2013.

I have this chapbook out from Dzanc Books, which Matt Bell picked for the Collagist Chapbook Contest in 2012.

I wrote the poems for the chapbook in fall of 2011, surprisingly enough in a craft class.

Usually, a craft class is a space of experimentation and weirdness for me. I get to do a bunch of fun things and maybe get one poem out of the mess I create. Mostly, it’s a lot of learning to be used later, when I’m unaware of the learning.

But for some reason, in this particular class, which studied and practiced different ways of (re-) (un-)writing history in poems, I wrote nearly forty poems. Some of them were fragments or wholes created out of older wholes or fragments, but many were brand new poems in forms that were new to me.

Turns out, I kept notes during this time.

RotB Notes_1

Read More

Liquid Paper and Other News

Books, Cinema, Journals, Poetry, Prose, Translation December 2, 2013

Wanda Coleman. African Sleeping Sickness: Stories & Poems. 1990.

Wanda Coleman died on the twenty-second of November. I’d been introduced to her work roughly a year ago and hadn’t been able to let go of her long poem, “African Sleeping Sickness.” Some months ago I found her email address and contacted her. She gave me this stunning poem, which Asymptote published in its annual English Poetry Feature.

I knew Ms. Coleman had been ill, and you can find many instances of her thinking on her mortality in this poem:

My urine keeps getting darker, I must be passing.

But that very brief, personal admission is followed by a response—the poem is structured as a dialog—written in an entirely different register: a less inward-looking voice, a voice that opens out to a world of small, happy objects: a voice seeking, offering a sad pleasure, one could say.

Twenty-two cents, and a pack of mints
a rubber band and a paper clip.
Pass the bourbon and give it a kiss.

The title of the poem is “Tremors & Tempests: A Poetic Dialog.” The shaking, the sign of future destruction or pleasure, the barely perceptible movement, and the storm—that’s how I read it. And it’s a useful way to characterize the various natures of speech as well, or what are privately known quantities and what is gathered from public witnessing. Then, how these speak to each other.

I’ve also been thinking, via this poem, on the tension between the local and the international. Read More