Tickle of Ideas

Another day still ahead. What irrepressible — or, failing that, useful — observations do I have this morning?

Over at Carmi’s I won last week’s caption contest for this photo. The caption I suggested is up at this week’s photo capture to caption.

Focus can be a tad elusive. Or, rather serially focused, monkeying around. I need to sustain a task. As much as getting 1% done on 82 things*, at the end of day, it doesn’t make for a very satisfying net. [*arbitrary number from air]

Skipping around in the head…the idea of lined pants coming out of the dryer as a mobius strip. Pondering where to buy slaked lime for making hominy for pozole. The idea of sea lions as warts on a toe of text. How satisfying to see replied to indicator beside almost all my incoming emails. The idea of copyleft. Strange that my 40 word year is coming towards an end. Strange how the centrality of online and offline are reversing poles. The idea of fears as stencilled and regrets as genuine as boiler plates. And how to say good morning in Russian depending on one’s mood.

Wha..? Someone opened both ends of the cracker box.

Tomorrow is the start of poetry month. I plan on doing a poem a day again. But only one poem a day, unlike last year where I shot for 3 or 4 poems a day, doing 3 prompt sites in parallel. That was,… interesting, shall we say. And I’ve done that now. 1 a day seems tenable.

Poetry Links: National Poetry Month as hosted by Angelhouse press will give a poem a day. Seen reading will give a 30 in 30 podcasted poem a day. The League of Canadian Poets celebrates the month with readings across Canada and a daily poetry site. And year round there’s poetry news at Poetry Blog Hut and GotPoetry.com.

Local Poetry Link: Poetry Month launches April 1st at Carleton University with a viewing of the modern poetry collection and a reading by David O’Meara.

Quote: “Instead of writing out of inspiration, write into inspiration. […] Find a way to write yourself ‘into spark’. Insisting on pre-spark can be limiting, at times.” – Roland Prevost

30 Mar 2009, 1:55pm
Ottawa Photos

Some Sums of Weekend

The 5th year anniversary of Dusty Owl was yesterday. People who had featured for the last few years took part in the retrospective. (I got waylaid and ended up 2 hours late but still caught most of it. It was nearly 5 hours long.)

It’s true what Ritalin said – that a strength of the series is how it doesn’t promote the false dichotomy of page versus stage poetry, put or pit poetry versus short story versus music. It’s all artistry. And community.

The raffle for donated prizes ended up raising over $120. (Lotteries are always money-makers.) By the end we all knew what number range Marcus had. How sweet of him to spy a prize of knitted scarf that he knew Michelle would like and push the winning ticket for it on her. (India-sized heart, that one.)

The weekend had time to rest and read and reflect and time to go out and about.

two ducks monkeys
In the first shot two lucky ducks and in the second, 3 monkeys. Goofy fun.

Among the what else this weekend, Hub (the right of the two ducks) and I joined in on the Pooka Press pub crawl, taking as much cranberry juice as the wineskin of bladder could hold.

cabinThe crawl went thru earth hour. One place was lights out but since it’s called the Cabin it was fitting, even with a campfire atmosphere of singalong, a couple guitars, a hand drum, tambourines and Warren brought maracas with him. (Because, you never know, just in case, it never hurts to carry a pair.) We didn’t stay long, with it being cold. And behind schedule for the next stop.

and someone brought a guitar At each place, club, pub or tavern, there was a poem prompt and each person along, and waitress as well, if she could be persuaded, would add a poem. Some waitresses were delighted to participate and thought the whole idea cool, and a couple were sure they weren’t creative that way, but participated. One was curious on why we were all reading a newspaper at 11 p.m. when everyone downstairs was watching The Game. But then, upstairs was the Warren-and-rob banter show.

The physical snapshots from a weekend that felt a week long are scant, having left the camera at home more than not.

The mental snapshots are pastoral… The images of the succession of toddlers who chased the tail of the kite of the man in Major Hill’s Park, how parent after parent gave up on calling back the captivated kids and tromped over and ended up flying the kite too. Sometimes a revised plan is just easier.

How quiet life was in the leaf duff, spring pushing residuals aside.

spring signs
There’s the start of something there even if we don’t know what.

It was 15 degrees above freezing and this meant that men played frisbee shirtless as a woman in bikini top and shorts started working on her tan. Although seniors promenaded the park in sweaters and jackets. A group of seven asian youths on 2 benches had among them one female who kept jacknifing with giggles, her arms and legs taken with whatever the fellow beside her was saying.

Quote: “Swallow your pride occasionally, it’s not fattening.” – Franks Tyger @ the daily mailing of quotes a day

29 Mar 2009, 1:15pm
Communication Poets
Comments Off on A Poetry Aside

A Poetry Aside

The 2nd last post was too long so I cleaved the end bit off that got lost in the length…and then added more since…but better than leftovers, far better…

Poetry Link: senryu and kyoka to be found at Prune Juice, a new online journal. Sample? This kyoka by Angela Leuck,

two months
I wait to hear
from him
then a card
with my name spelled wrong

The irony of it all. The issue is the lighter side of short verse, which isn’t to say it is low-literature verse.

Also among many that struck me, this senryu by Charles Trumbull

writer’s block
the sound of a weed-whacker
closer and closer

Science Link: “A new study from Ecological Parasitology at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) suggests that parasites also “drive the flow of energy in ecosystems.” The findings show that the sheer biomass (weight or volume of organisms in a unit area or habitat) of parasites far outweighs that of free-living organisms.” Matt on Parasites

Pesbo Link: Paul Tyler and Shane Rhodes read at Factory in the last of that series for a couple months. More over at Pesbo

Blog Link: my poetry postcard of erasure, tracing some letters thru a card is up at Bentspoon

Quote: “Holding onto anger is like grasping onto a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else. You are the one who gets burned.”
– Gautama Buddha [via Deana]

28 Mar 2009, 11:50am
Books Light Link Dump Photos

Various Kinds of Nonsense

stymied cherub
I sort of like this oddball picture of the cherub in tulip sprouts.

Rosemary pointed out the new Top Hundred Eleven (111) reasons why I became a poet by John E. Peele. My favs,

25. Vegans really respect my dedication
30. Bag ladies give me things
33. Poet action figures
34. For the sympathy
46. It explains the wardrobe
48. Farming is smelly
55. Torch wielding mobs
60. If one is to be ignored, it should be for something special
63. My character flaws improve my market share
73. I’m overqualified for McDonalds
74. Sun-kissed butterflies
80. I promised to use these powers for good, not evil
81. Free pie with every poem (not available in all locations)
84. Most of the laws against it have been repealed
86. It’s not “derivitive”, it’s “homage”
90. Poets are better than normal people
91. I am fond of feathery phrases formed on fictitious foundations

I like the deliberate self-aware comedy better than the unintentional comedy of China declaring how “China marked its inaugural Serfs’ Emancipation Day on Saturday with testimonials by Tibetans on the merits of Communist rule, denunciations of the Dalai Lama and vows to crush any attempts at independence.” Can that edict be released with a straight face? Seriously/ [via Reuters] And the empire’s absurd tragedy marches on, over Tibet’s culture.

Glad Book Game: We’re really enjoying Guy Thatcher’s A Journey of Days: Relearning Life’s Lessons on the Camino de Santiago. He comes across as such a nice man. The tone’s convivial. There are historical footnotes and direct quotes of people who have walked Spain’s Camino over the last couple millennia. Unlike others who walked for a month or so, he goes with a why not attitude. Unlike those who have travelled it, he is neither pilgrim nor thief. I’m curious to see if he’ll fall in with either…

I’m cycling back to Joan Finnigan’s Down the Unmarked Roads. Each chapter stands alone so it is easy to set down and pick up. She also has a richness of details and easy tales are being spun. It’s still odd to come across places I have been in a book. It gives a sort of orientating timeline and context; it’s like stories my dad would have told if he didn’t decide anything of the past is irrelevant to speak of, of no use at all.

Also enjoying Sean Stanley’s deliberate nonsense of Etcetera and Otherwise. Tightrope Books has published a very strange little work indeed, but glad they did. It’s bizarre. There’s an excerpt and sense of flavour at the link; I shan’t retype.

But given that there are rumours and sightings of people outside in Tshirts instead of coats, the weather’s too fine to not soak some in. Away from all kinds of pages we go…

Quote: “Anyone can steer the ship when the sea is calm.” – Publilius Syrus at QB

27 Mar 2009, 5:35pm
Books General Ponderings Stress/ Relaxation
Comments Off on Speed and Slow Reading

Speed and Slow Reading

I didn’t get to lunch until 3 which no doubt, helped nothing. I’m probably dehydrated as well, but at least I’m on a full sleep, and got some exercise and Got Things Done. And I finally remembered to go the bead store. When it was open to boot. If I want to convert $10 earrings to screw or clip ons, that’ll cost me $25-$30. Pah. Or not.

Yesterday was all mental productivity, sustained concentration that I couldn’t pull myself quite out of, leaving me preoccupied with lousy mindfulness. No depth perception yesterday. Hot casserole out of oven, which I took the glass lid off with my bare hand. Full-scale absentminded professor mode. Go to sit and nearly miss as chair scoots away. Where-is-my {pen, keys, _____} mantras. External world just wasn’t registering, as much as it tried.

And here it is today again already. TGIF. It almost slipped past me.

What a frightful mood I’ve been under. Intense. Can’t seem to turn it down a titch of a notch for long. Wound tight as a yo-yo from before I opened my eyes. So long as I keep mind or body moving I don’t sink to glower and grump and can just poke fun at the cranky mood that arrived with consciousness.

I was taking too many jumps is the Frogpond and Prune Juice [a new humorous senyru mag] and inside Roadrunner. It didn’t quiet my mind, but left me further overstimulated with ideas. I take a quiet form and then cram as many as possible between my fingers and ears. Wrong use of form indeed.

Sustained thought comes from They Went Whistling: Women Wayfarers, Warriors, Runaways, and Renegades by Barbara Holland which is writing about history as if women had been around for centuries. They haven’t have they? There’s been so little sign…?

It’s written in a breezy way which may explain why so many copies are available for resale at really low cost; a quick read. I’ve found Amazon resale prices are generally a good barometer if it’s worth buying in the first place. Good books keep their value as a rule.

The They Went Whistling book is interesting and meaty in details, or at least vivid, and may be well-researched but certainly is told with fluffy snarky anecdotes and asides. It entertains. It has loads of things I don’t know about or have heard little about. It bites to antagonize women who quietly obey, generation after the last. It questions the narrative that we’ve been handed of what we think we know. These are all valuable and pleasant but how do I go further?

It’s tiring to screen out side comments. She seems heavy on the interpretation and I don’t know any of this to have a second opinion or cross-check. Rafts of women going to sea, or war, or as doctors in drag and living their whole lives as men and as womanizers. (Raft not in the Huckleberry Finn sense.)

I know that in 6 history courses that I took in high school and a couple in university were as if women were not on the planet. There’s a heavy skew. As she points out in her introduction, National Geographic about a decade ago did a human history timeline with 32,000 years and not a female among it despite there being billions of women to potentially make the cut. Her irritation at skew in what women do, who leads, who gets financially sidelined and so on is my irritation as well. It’s easy as shooting fish in a barrel to point to such.

I’ve only got to page 49 where she says “Chronology is destiny.” That dovetails into what XUP was talking about in thinking critically about Gladwell’s Outlier’s. How do structural shapes of lives by gender or class happen.

But to return to Holland; she’s good at storytelling. She’s an interesting read. I doubt there’s intellectual rigor behind all that emotion. It seems to aim for excitement and incitement than scholarly work. I want to know where she is being flip and playing loose with facts and what I can rely on. What’s contrived for good story? Maybe that could be printed in text in another color?

Whenever there’s high emotion I presume the brain is disengaged and the emotion is about temperament or some other issue. That’s probably just my obstacle of a bias popping up again. I find the tone great for a little while then wearing.

I can see she’s full of fire against someone who says women can’t wear pants (tee hee, fashions used to be the reverse; absurd monkeys) and she’s against how Hollywood portrayed such-and-such and she’s up in arms against how Shakespeare twisted… and I don’t know about all she is opposing and taking exception to. I’m not her intended target audience. It reminds me in tone of those people who stand up in public forums and rant off topic then walk back to their buddies who clap their back and tell them they got in a good one for the little guy who the system abuses, as represented by the panel the person soapboxed at.

Am I just tired or fatigued and pulling out what irritates? I’m at a different energy wavelength, on a different page and want to be on the same page and am frustrated. My ears block and open, block and open.

Give me contrivance, fine but for use, for the sake of sugar-coating a truth not just popping jellybeans. I only have so much time to consume. And dozens of books I do want to read. Any loss is multiplied by the potential energy and ideas I could have gained. Yes, I am still in high gear without traction enough here. I think I am in the mood to be challenged not capered around and entertained. I want a heavy load to pull not a painted cart. I have to switch to a couple books of essays. That may be the solution as much as anything. A different time.

P.S. Or maybe a dif. book. Did she actually use the word “twerp”? Her language slants so much its fairly lounging. Why impose speculation and head-hopping when facts are implicitly interesting and provide a natural narrative? “Antony told his wife[…] to mind her own business. Octavius was furious.” (p. 12) Emotional high terms everywhere. And did she just dismiss gender fluidity as silly anarchy that died with George Sands? (p. 58) Maybe what in her intro I took as satire was straight up…So much to screen out to get useful bits.

Blog Link: Obituary to Common Sense

Vid Link: Ok, but this did make me laugh: How Samson earned TWO cookies Turn on speakers for the drumroll. (And, har, I think cats are smarter.) [via Laura]

Quote: “It never ceases to amaze me how many people who aren’t interested in sex – who consider sex to be trivial and unimportant – nevertheless deny their frustrated partners permission to do this trivial, unimportant thing with others.” – Dan Savage in Savage Love column

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