Nomad Ink

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

sax colossus

sonny rollins was inspiring...these folks, like Kamau Brathwaite, Bob Dylan, Sonny Rollins, a couple or so decades older than I and still going strong, i realize there are few limits to what one can do if one is passionate about creating art, if one can't help but do it... Rollins's gait was a bit stiff as he moved across the stage, but his playing was fantastic. Powerful lungs, strong musical vision. The trombonist didn't have a very clear sound; it seemed muted and a bit fuzzy, nice complementary tone to the sax but not at all what one might consider virtuoso tone...interesting. the place was packed, the ted mann hall at the u of mn. people were very attentive and respectful, they really knew what they were seeing. i sat way up on the second tier where all the kids and less pecunious folk but diehard fans were; next to me were a tiny, smelly, ugly but magnetic old couple who spoke to each other in english but with strong accents, possibly german or swiss; that wouldn't have been my first guess, but i noticed later that the man's hat looked tyrolean...turns out she is a musician, a pianist, and knew quite a bit about jazz...she remarked in her thick accent to her date (or husband, or brother, cousin or friend) that "all the musicians" had turned out for the concert. i wonder who she is.

Today also finally the tree man from Matt's Tree Service (a gay or gay-friendly treework co) came and took away the parts of the willow and mulberry and that one i don't know what it's called, with the green-and-white leaves, that were touching the house...part of the anti-squirrel campaign. He remarked that since he works outside, he doesn't mind indoor type recreation. Like what? Book signings, he said. He liked to go to book signings. He'd just been to one by someone who'd written about Iraq, Paul Rykoff?? and Al Franken, and he'd wanted to go to Barak Obama's recent one but it had been during the day. A charming conversation. Minnesota's good at that. Gay, politically progressive tree people.

rollins and tootsie rolls

forgot to get halloween candy then ran out and bought $18 worth of tootsie rolls, reese's pieces and mini-hershey bars. only got 2 groups of kids and now must rush off to a sonny rollins concert, i'm thrilled b/c this'll be the first time i get to see him...Jamaican/Canadian poet Pam Mordecai was just here at the U for a reading hosted by VG: Voices from the Gaps it was a great occasion, she's a very warm and lively person i admired her stamina b/c we kept her going all day long w/o a break and she was exceptionally gracious about it.

ok just got a bunch more trickrtreaters...they've pretty much cleaned me out. The adults always want candy, too. Only one dad in the whole crew said no. ok overnout.

Friday, October 27, 2006

happy backness

it does feel nice to be back, to have the space and leisure to jot a bit of interiority into the electrons. now waiting for a few folks to come for dinner, some of my colleagues who also meditate at the same place i go to, andreas and fernando, and andreas's partner lisa disch, a great person. it will be a slightly weird dinner as i made a pumpkin soup w/ veg broth and a salad, but then some organic lake trout sugar-cured, cold, for the meat dish (lisa's a vegetarian), and then bread pudding for dessert, plus a cheese platter that a and l are bringing. when i had dinner at lisa's once she made exquisite food, a melon and avocado salad and stir-fried jumbo shrimp w/ black mustard seeds and all kinds of fancy stuff, and this is gonna be pretty plain. but it's all abt the people, hey, na? the doorbell shd ring at any minute. they're also bringing wine. fernando is a lusophone culture expert (just got a guggenheim whoo-hoo) and he's bringing portuguese wine.
last night saw marjane satrapi at a local church that's for sale (!). she was great. lots of high school students there, very touching, a real minnesota crowd, tall, blond and earnest, wearing home-made hats and sweaters and clapping when she made even the mildest anti-Bush observations, which most of them were. mild. sat with mark nowak and lisa arrastia, two of the best people, but why say that the world is full of excitingly fabulous people and i am glad i know some of them. some are my students, my sweet undergrads who spend $$ on poetry books!!! that are not even required!!! ok, time to go fret abt being a hostesse.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


oh i am such an idiot, i see i already posted my ramblings on pierre and nicole's, so that makes me wonder about my mind. but now i recall i actually wrote about making kabocha squash soup, with oolong tea and ground pumpkin seeds for body. that's what it was, well that's what i'll be consuming for the foreseeable future, as i've made vast quantities from the enormous squashes i picked up at the harvest festival for my CSA; about 10 huge butternut, kabochas and pumpkins, that'll hold me for months, and possibly give me carotene poisoning, the yellow-tinged skin of a compulsive carrot-eater. ok, over n out.

reconstruction blues

I posted a lovely passage (yeah, i admit it) right before flying to tulsa, then lost the whole thing. I'll try to reconstruct the highlights...
Here's a collaboration i sort of imposed on Audacia Dangereyes, the alias creature of overheardness:


you said humbly
all a-mumble

both read books
shaves of glass

vanishing and easily
fired from within

outdistanced by time
crumbly pure powdered

I got to the scene
between the leaves

panting all ancient history
painting through parchment

I like the way it turned out. I remember going to albany for a conference convened by Chris Funkhouser back in the 1990s, and i stayed w/ Pierre Joris and Nicole Peyrafitte in their Madison Street mansion; i was ravenously hungry and ate most of the chicken and cornbread she'd prepared for dinner; she's an amazingly efficient and good cook and hostess, in addition to being –to me, at the time –intimidatingly hip, having grown up in an inn-keeping family in the pyrenees. I stayed in Joe's room and read a pirate book to Miles, the younger son. "Le Pirate BADABOUM," and drank my coffee on their couch looking out a tree, with their cat Pillule snuggled up against me. At least so i remember; anyway it was lots of fun saying "pillule" and "badaboum." That conference is the first place i met sandy baldwin, ben friedlander, chris stroffolino, doug rothschild, and of course pierre and nicole. and chuck stein, whose presentation blew me away. the only woman i remember other than nicole is belle gironda, though i know betsy burns, now my mpls homey, was there as well, as i remember her daughter Cici in Pierre and Nicole's livingroom.
It's an overcast day here and i'm sick, at home, having bowed out of the presentation on Dylan and the Beats i was going to give in Colleen Sheehy's class on Dylan at the Weisman art museum, in preparation for the big Dylan exhibit that's coming in the Spring. There is a conference in late March associated with the exhibit, so all you groovoids get your paper proposals in! ok, over and out. it's kabocha squash soup all day every day around here, an antidote to the extra avoirdupoid accumulated in Tulsa.

Monday, October 23, 2006

tulsa tussle

just back from MSA8 where i had a lovely time seeing Barrett Watten, Ben Friedlander, George Hartley (who read a KICKASS paper on Pound's ideograms, Fascism, and Bush's doublepeak), Steve McCaffery, Michael Davidson and Dee Morris (though i didn't really get to connect with the latter three), my very first doctoral student, Mike Bibby, now a full prof at Shippensburg U) and my own UMN colleagues Paula Rabinowitz and Lois Cucullu; and meeting new groovoids like Sarah Ruddy, Joel Nickel, Amy Hume and Matt Hart. The Tulsa Doubletree Hotel had terribly stale air in the guestrooms and freezing conference rooms,and i felt super-alienated until i connected with my panel-mates and the panel actually took place. "New Directions in Poetics." BW framed it in usual trenchantly theorized style and then we were off to the races. I spoke first, about WEB DuBois and Walter Benjamin, and what we can learn from them about new directions for current poetics. I prefaced it by saying how hard it was to speak on new poetic in the current planetary cacophony in which sustained thinking is pulverized by global war conditions, and referred to poetics going missing, "non habeas corpus." It was a good warm-up act for George Hartley's amazing polemic mentioned above. I had also mentioned the death of Du Bois's infant son as an impetus for the Souls of Black Folk, and then George referenced the "death of my sons," to whom his paper was dedicated. It was an incredible moment as I had not known about the tragic events in George's recent life, and learned more about them later, at dinner. Sarah gave a paper on Ben F's Simulcast, referring to the "savage adolescent" impulse to take on one's seniors in the poetry-heavy scene, while Ben was sitting right there in the audience, a sweetly quizzical half-smile on his lips. It was great. Then a marvelous couple of dinners right in a row, with many of the above-named groovsters in the town where steak was king and they do meat right. eventually made it to the fascinating Gilcrease Museum of Western-themed art and was quite impressed. With Barrett and Sarah. We had a magnificent sunday brunch there overlooking the "grounds," with a series of goofy and/or majestically beautiful women serving us and asking us how we were doing, how we liked the food and if we were ready to have our plates taken away or our drinks refilled. what a life!! it's hard to get back into the groove here in my office in mpls, but i am glad to be back in control of my diet and the air quality of my sleeping quarters. Reading Ashbery's Flow Chart for an independent study w/ a Creative Writing MFA student; it's sheer delight, much to my amazement.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

winterish interstices

i've got a moment or two before i go meditate at Common Ground; i may actually have finished my conference paper, amazingly enough. i looked at Paula Rabinowitz's ASA paper where she also talks about Mark Nowak's work (as i will at MSA8) and hers is fairly tightly wrought; mine is pretty general with some forays into density, but hers is dense throughout. Sometimes the mind is on, sometimes it's just off. Fabulous "tea-scented" kabocha squash soup, with ground pumpkin seeds in it to give it some body, and half a cup of strongly brewed oolong tea. it's delicious!!! using the chicken stock from these natural chicken carcasses i can buy near my house, at the new Midtown Global Market, one of the Cities' few multicultural sites...the stock came out so velvety and rich i can taste it through the intense squash flavor. I picked up about 10 huge kabochas, eight butternuts and 2 pumpkins (among other things such as cilantro, sage, two napa cabbages, beets, zucchinis, leeks and kale; most blanched and in the freezer by now) at my CSA's harvest festival; that should keep me in orange vegetables through thanksgiving at least. time to start planning that baccanale...but first, the HOWL festival, november 17, all poets welcome. it's overcast and wooly-sky'd all day and yesterday, even some "snow showers" today while i was teaching. i had gone to the CSA harvest festival with Sonja Kuftinec and Andy Arsham, with whom i split a share of vegetables this summer and with whom i thus have many fond food memories from their backyard. Summer is a wonderful time for an academic; we can work at our own pace and enjoy life. I'm rambling, sort of, but having such a lovely time doing it, just checking in with myself in public like this. Life is full of unobtrusive pleasures like this.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

breathless gush of i'm-back-ness!

dear invisible listeners! (this is how walter benjamin began one of his radio broadcast book-reviews, so endearing)
i've been away for so long. I was overcome w/ bashfulness, like, who was i to claim blog-space, it seemed at once abject and grandiose, esp as i did not aspire to poetry pundit-dom but rather to cyber-connectedness regardless of content; it turned out i enjoyed writing about food preparation and the weather, as in, the view from my writing window(s), always a source of inspiration, from Literature Nation to whthrrhthms. I can't really enjoy a cup of coffee unless i can look out the window at a tree; i remember explaining this to Pierre Joris and Nicole Peyrafitte when they hosted me at their gorgeous Albany mansion at some conference long ago, organized by Chris Funkhouser among others. That was a lovely visit; i met their cat, Pillule, and their sons Joe and Miles, and read a book, Le Pirate Badaboum, to Miles. Right now i'm procrastinating working on a paper for the Modernist Studies Association, on New Directions in Poetics, a panel operated by, flown by, no, chaired and organized by, Barrett Watten, so the theoretical, polemical and intellectual stakes are h-h-h-high (oy v-v-v-vey iz mir); there's so much to say and it's hard to stay calm and rational on such a topic, so i'm taking refuge in the past; writing quite sketchily on Du Bois and Benjamin as forerunners of a poetry and cultural studies as well as an embodied poetics in their inspired styles, both heavily imbued with Enlightenment dialectics and breaking away therefrom. hmm, i'm enjoying paraphrasing my as-yet unformed paper more than i'm enjoying writing it...
Last wkend had a great time w/ Adeena Karasick, doing a "simultaneous jewissance" presentation of mutual scholarly/creative influence, to a grad student conference, Articulations, at the Theatre Dept here at the UMN. Her energy is so intense it carries me along with it and makes it easy to play with words in a heightened way; the eroto-linguistics of performance...
And what garden is...tiny nascent white raspberries re-forming on wild stalks, of course it'll frost over and plunge into winter b4 these little gems have a chance to actualize themselves in my mouth...and the jasmine has turned to spindly pinwheel seedpods across the vacant ex-dog-run area...and the buckeye tree in back has shed all its geriatric leaves while the willow tree in front hasn't even yellowed yet, still deep green...
and here Marjorie Welish made me promise i wouldn't turn into a "let me tell you about my garden" writer...
anyway, this is my letter to the world, which sometimes even does write back. but how do i get those stupid ads out of my comment box? and people have tried to tell me how to link to others' blogs so i can do the network thing and give back to those who are giving to me but my eyes glaze over when i read their instructions...sorry tim, sorry nick. i'll try. xo, md