Tuesday, September 25, 2007

one word

I used to write poems that reveled in brevity, poems that maxed out at three lines, three short lines, even. They weren't easy to write, unless they came to me entirely whole, already created out of the ether. Those were lovely, to be sure, but the majority of them were heavily polished little gems, careful creations masquerading as feats of inspiration.

Sometimes, the titles were longer than the poems. Other times, the titles were the only things shorter. Sometimes, they just had numbers. Lately, I can't write like that, but this delightful post (found via Bookslut) about short poems reminds me of how satisfying it was.

Last night, we were talking about The Fear of Losing Eurydice and AVA, because I'm re-reading the first and always thinking about the latter, and because there is a resonance between them that I was trying to explain. I think it boils down to this: each sentence in each book is as dense and vivid and carefully self-contained as one of these poems. Even in Eurydice, where they're not set apart visually, each sentence is a separate revelation, a discrete and lovely work that is linked thematically but not grammatically to the surrounding text.

Last night, I said they were similar "flights of language," a phrase I meant to reference the irresistibly infectious quality of flights of fancy, but also the delicious experience of flights of wine: words that take wing, and words that allow you to taste a range of ideas and images. Each word a rare bird.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


via Maud Newton, a list that reminds me overwhelmingly of one of the best scenes in Hackers. I don't think there's any overlap between the two lists (what are the passwords: god, sex, love, power, password and the user's own name?), but the idea is essentially the same. Humans are a remarkably predictable breed.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

eurydice, lost

Julieta Campos died a few days ago. Searching online, I've been able to find only one English language obituary. It's short, and I hope that's because I missed the longer ones; maybe they've all disappeared since last week. This is probably not a reasonable hope, but I'm holding on to it, regardless.

I'll re-read The Fear of Losing Eurydice soon, and I'll write more about it then.

In the meantime, an interview.

Thursday, September 6, 2007


I couldn't love this more.

More about why I love it: it seems like a commentary on fact and permanence, and the ways in which we transmit information. back in the day, a sweater was something that took weeks to knit, a handmade object that had a certain metaphorical, personal weight to it. similarly, a newspaper had a certain once-a-day heft. to me, this is project all about trying to lend that permanence and personal-ness to a modern machine-knitted sweater, and also to the ever-changing constantly-being-reported-and-updated news of today.

If the above seems ungrammatical or out of context, it's from an email. Don't judge me for the incredible number of hyphens. Apparently, I was in a hyphen-heavy kind of mood.

(found on CRAFT:)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


If I told you the book I'm reading included a scene of attempted self-castration, I suspect you'd conclude that I was reading someone like Chuck Palahniuk, someone who would write about the heat of the blood, the snap of the tendons (are there even tendons in there? I don't know, but it sounds plausible), the sudden excess of liquid, and the undeniable sexuality of the whole experience. It would be the kind of scene that causes girls to faint in the subway.

In this case, though, it's not. It's a quiet scene, as ambiguous as anything of its kind can be. The narrator slips off into the bathtub, razor in hand, and we're told of blood, of pain, and of his eventual faint. Nothing is explicit, and it's not until a few pages later that the reader is entirely, finally convinced that their suspicious were correct, and this confirmation comes only in the form of unscarred wrists. Regardless, this particular moment of mutilation feels entirely necessary, a silent and bloody means of further subsuming the terror of sexuality.

The book? The Seraglio, by James Merrill. Published in 1957, the first of the only two novels he ever published. He's well known as a poet, but wrote the two novels when he was relatively young; neither one is anything like what you'd expect, and both are quite remarkable. Truth be told, I liked the other better, and apparently I'm not the only one. It's still in print.