Just wanted to let you know that the amazing Tony Trigilio, poetry professor at Columbia College of Chicago interviewed me for his radio show, Radio Free Albion. Check it out here.
I’ve also got some new sonnets from House of Ions online here:
Three Sonnets at The Brooklyn Rail.
Black Leotard at Better Magazine.
I’m happy to announce that my sonnet, “Red Wand,” was chosen as one of the Readers’ Choice poems for the 2012 poem-a-day hosted by the Academy of American Poets. I’m very proud to be in such good company. Thanks to everyone who voted for me! Also check out this lovely poem by my friend Megan Kaminski.
I spent a good part of the day reading Horace. Here are some of the lines that stood out for me from the Epodes and the first book of Odes. Enjoy.
From the Epodes:
Fate has decreed that wolves and lambs should be / no more at odds than you and me
If any man with impious hand has broken/ his aged father’s neck/ let him eat garlic
Groaning she worked to bury him/ where each long day the boy/ would three times see the rich fare served to him/ and seeing it, would die/ only his face above ground, / like swimmers treading water–/ all to cut his liver and the marrow of his bones/ and dry them as an aphrodisiac/ when once the pupils of his eyes, long fixed on food/ forbidden him, were wasting into nothing
Why pester harmless passers-by, you cringing cur? / Are you afraid of wolves? / Why not direct your empty threats my way and yap/ at one who’ll bite you back?
You dare ask me, you decrepit, stinking slut, / what makes me impotent?
It gives no joy to me as once it did/ Pettius, to write little verses in the throes of love/ love that demands that I should dote/ more than anyone else upon pretty boys and girls.
Why am I so effete? Why has this idleness / in deep oblivion drowned my every sense/ as though my thirsty throat has drained great cups/ of Lethe’s sleep? / You wear me out…
…your turn will come to weep / and mine to laugh
(Candidia, a witch, is speaking here):
Or do you think that I, who can cause waxen images/ to move, as you have found by prying, and pluck/ the moon from heaven by my spells/ who can arouse cremated corpses/ and blend the elixirs of lust–do you believe that I/ shall weep because my arts are powerless against you?
From Book One of the Odes
Pale death kicks with impartial foot at the hovels of the poor/ and the towers of kings
I pity poor devils who have no experience of you/ and are dazzled by your radiance
Plancus, would be wise to remember to put a stop/ to sadness and the labors of life with mellow undiluted wine
Drive away your cares with wine. Tomorrow/ we shall set out again upon the broad sea
Don’t you ask, Leuconoe–the gods do not wish it to be known–/ what end they have given to you or me
When you praise Telephus’s / rosy neck, Lydia, and Telephus’s/ waxen arms, Oh how my liver/ boils and swells in indigestible bile
Daughter lovlier than your lovely mother/ put an end to those scurrilous imabics / however you wish, whether in the fire/ or in the Adriatic sea
…her face so dangerous to look at…
I myself once, when a better love was offered me/ was shackled in the delicious fetters of Myrtale/ a freedwoman wilder than the Adriatic sea/ scooping out the bays of Calabria
With a shrill cry/ rapacious Fortune snatches the crown from one head/ and delights to lay it on another
God has the power / to exchange high and low, to humble the great/ and bring forward the obscure
to be a humble woman in proud triumpth
Yes, I hired one. I have talked for years about the idea of hiring a maid but I finally did it. It was funny because I called a few places and I kept telling them that I don’t have a dishwasher or a washer and dryer and my house is actually pretty clean and they were very adamant about telling me that maids don’t do the dishes or the laundry. They seemed also indignant about it. And I’m just thinking to myself OK, you’re a maid that refuses to do the dishes? So, what do you do? We wash the floors, dust and “spot clean” (I don’t even know what the latter means). I really don’t need someone to dust. Finally, I found someone who is willing to do “a few dishes.” Then, I keep having the thought that I better make sure that my house is clean FOR THE MAID. Craig and I are splitting the cost of the maid so hopefully it will be worth it and save both of us some time. With us both working full time, at this point, it really makes sense. I start going back to teaching at the end of August and I think our lives are just going to be crazy hectic at that point. But I’m just so proud of Craig. He’s accomplished so much. This November we will have been together seven years (I guess I”m including in that the 7 months that we were separated).
Charlotte’s been more alert in the last week. She still sleeps a great deal but she has periods now where she’s sort of looking at us and smiling etc. I know that the smiles that you get at this point are supposedly reflex-type smiles but I really DO think she’s responding to us and if they are mere reflex, then evolution has done a fantastic job.
Eze is still adjusting to the baby. Overall, he’s been pretty great with her–giving her kisses and cuddling her but I can tell that he feels that he’s not getting enough attention which makes me feel ridiculously guilty. I can tell because he’s talking more about “Jaj,” his imaginary friend. I hope that when I’m fully recovered from having Charlotte and when it gets cooler out, I can spend more time outdoors with him. I long to take him on walks in the forest, something we both love, but it’s just not possible at the moment as the weather just won’t permit it. I think also, when the school year starts, I’m going to resume our Wednesday night date. Spoiled little man.
There are these peculiar things that I don’t understand about myself. For example, I can’t stand it when people talk about yogurt. I don’t know why but it fills my whole being with disgust and remorse for the human condition. But why yogurt? I’m fine talking about ice cream, crab cakes, granola bars. Why yogurt? Also, I think that I have a mild version of misophonia because the sound of someone drinking water and gulping is sometimes completely unbearable to me. I don’t have an extreme case of this but it’s definitely there and I’ve often wondered if there is some weird relationship between this and writing since sound is so important to me—how I can’t write unless there’s complete silence—which is um hard when you have two children. Craig always compares me to Sei Shonagon. Craig’s position is that I pretend to be “down-to-earth” but my tastes and are, at heart, maddeningly aristocratic. What can I say!? I like good things! Have you read “Hateful Things”? I always teach this in my creative nonfiction class and (most) of the students find it very entertaining and funny. A few just think that she’s a hateful and bitchy snob, but that’s not the stance of the majority of the class.
“Indeed, one’s attachment to a man depends largely on the elegance of his leave-taking. When he jumps out of bed, scurries about the room, tightly fastens his trouser-sash, rolls up the sleeves of his Court cloak, over-robe, or hunting costume, stuffs his belongings into the breast of his robe and then briskly secures the outer sash — one really begins to hate him.”
“One is in a hurry to leave, but one’s visitor keeps chattering away. If it is someone of no importance, one can get rid of him by saying, “You must tell me all about it next time”; but, should it be the sort of visitor whose presence commands one’s best behavior, the situation is hateful indeed.”
“An admirer has come on a clandestine visit, but a dog catches sight of him and starts barking. One feels like killing the beast.”
Did he drink a lot of coffee? Yes, he did. 50-80 cups A DAY? How can this be? How can this be? Writing my essay about sonnets—a lot of emailing and asking friends what they think. Interested also in failed sonnets, what makes things not work in poetry. I imagine with sonnets you always have to be a little bit ahead of the form, a little bit more clever or irreverent or passionate or they just don’t work at all. This must be why often one will hear something like “she has mastered the form” because sonnets are also about power though we often see them as a form whose subject matter is love that proceeds through a 14 line obstacle course of arguments. I think I love most of all Hopkins’s terrible sonnets. I’m not a religious person but I am, nonetheless, oftentimes attracted to those who are–maybe because I empathize with the all of the hopes and frustrations and desire for there to be something more than.
This isn’t a sonnet, obviously, but I love this poem!