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1000 Black Lines

:: digital coffee stains on the paper of the blogosphere ::

Speaking of Mark Strand...

...I just came across this post in a google search.


One more song before you blow out the candle

From NYT, regarding classical music:

One reason "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" stunned my generation... was that this Beatles album was not just a collection of songs but a whole composition.... That was a new experience in rock. "Sgt. Pepper" pointed the way to longer total-concept albums like Radiohead's "In Rainbows," the big news in pop music today. Link.

The conclusion of this piece is that appreciation of classical music is "the ability -- and patience -- to listen to something long. I wonder, in regards to contemporary poetry, if this contributes or not to the decline of poetry read in Americans -- i.e. lack of concentration to read "longer total-concept" poetry books.

The poetry books I've read recently seem to be collections of poems in the same manner that contemporary music album is a collection of songs. Of course, there are albums other than classical music that require you to listen to it from beginning to end. For example -- a seasonal example -- the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "Christmas Eve and Other Stories" holds together as a complete work. At least, that is how I listen to the album. Progressive rock is known for "concept albums" as in Pink Floyd's "Dark Side Of The Moon" or Dream Theater's "Images and Words."

But are there poetry books that hold together the way "Christmas Eve and Other Stories" does? A few poetry books I have read from cover to cover include Lavonne J. Adams's In the Shadow of the Mountain or Mark Strand's Dark Harbor: A Poem or Ted Koosher's The Blizzard Voices. Jorie Graham's collections do not work like a "longer total-concept" book. At least, not in my edumicated opinion. I tend to read her books like one works a car stereo radio dial in a strange city. I'll scan through a few poems and land on something that reads well and then scan forward a few more pages. Maybe a Graham collection would work best as a 5-song EP.

Given the propensity for Americans to latch onto iPod singles rather than a full-length project like Blind Guardian's Nightfall in Middle-Earth, would a better way of introducing American readers to poetry be in the form of EP-sized chapbooks? Jessica Smith offers such a format with her bird-book. Or maybe it is better to introduce readers to Les Murray's Fredy Neptune : A Novel in Verse.

Of course, my credentials as a poetry critic just went down the toilet as I used progressive rock and metal as a way to explain why Amoricans don't read lit.

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Does size matter?

From Washington Post regarding former poet laureate, Robert Pinsky's recent (and slim -- 83 pages) book:
Pinsky... appears as an honest guildsman, his apron smudged by his labors, his work table piled up with the objects of his making. Link.

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What's in your book bag?

I already offered what's hot on my iTunes/Last.fm playlists, but "What’s in the bookbag?" is a good question. Here rests a conundrum, what's in my book bag does not reflect a "top ten" favorites list. I read business books, poetry books, non-fiction books, novels and occasionally a graphic novel for a host of reasons (A list of favorite books I read this year will have to be considered for a later post.). Also, I am developing a few manuscripts for publication. So, I read those as well, but will not include them as "in the book bag." With that disclaimer, here's ten books that recently resided in the book bag:

  1. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity -- reading
  2. Thinking for a Change: 11 Ways Highly Successful People Approach Life and Work -- reading
  3. The Blizzard Voices -- reading
  4. Daybook: The Journal of an Artist -- reading
  5. This Place You Return To Is Home -- reading
  6. A Mystic Garden: Working with Soil, Attending to Soul -- read
  7. The 4-Hour work Week: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich -- read
  8. The Words -- read
  9. Life and Holiness -- read
  10. Ego & Hubris: The Michael Malice Story -- read

So, what's in your book bag?

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There are writers and there are writers

From NYT, P.J. O'Rourke. Link.
Clark talks a lot about the determination, drive and persistence of the Starbucks Corporation. But if those were the sole qualities of success, toddlers would rule the world.
(via Seth Godin) Link.

Writing is not simply typing words into a machine and broadcasting them to the world. Words (grammar) are the foundation of a logical (dialectic) argument (rhetoric). It seems a lot of contemporary writers skip the middle step and crumple grammar into a mess of rhetoric. Then there are readers that don't know the difference and great writers and thinkers are relegated to the corners of the cultural landscape.

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“reducing the number of books I own”

From 43 Folders:
The solutions people offer are thoughtful and suggest that many of the better ideas are coming from fellow bibliophiles who’ve struggled with The Book Problem.

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The Warren Wilson Public Lecture & Reading Schedule

From Warren Wilson College's website, a condensed schedule of the MFA Program's public reading and lectures:

The public is welcome to attend the morning lectures and evening readings in fiction and poetry offered during the Master of Fine Arts Program for Writers’ winter residency. Events last approximately one hour. Admission is free. For more information, call the MFA Office: (828) 771-3715.

Readings will begin at 8:15pm in the Fellowship Hall behind the Chapel unless indicated otherwise.

by MFA faculty and graduating students
Thursday, January 3 : Brooks Haxton, Anthony Doerr, Barbara Ras, Dominic Smith
Friday, January 4 : Marianne Boruch, Charles D’Ambrosio, Van Jordan, Michael Martone
Saturday, January 5 : C.J. Hribal, Debra Allbery, Debra Spark, Steve Orlen
Sunday, January 6 – in Gladfelter, Canon Lounge : David Haynes, Betty Adcock, Victor LaValle, Heather McHugh
Monday, January 7 : Wilton Barnhardt, Jennifer Grotz, Maud Casey, Maurice Manning
Wednesday, January 9 : Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Megan Staffel, Ellen Bryant Voigt, Peter Turchi
Thursday, January 10 : Graduating student readings: Amy Cloud, Kira Obolensky, Henry Kearney, Matthew Simmons, Maeve Kinkead
Friday, January 11 : Graduating student readings: Sara Bauer, Kande Culver, J.J. Penna, Tom McHenry, Mark Prudowsky
Saturday, January 12 – 4:30pm, followed by Graduation Ceremony
Graduating student readings: Allison Paige, Justin Bigos, Sunil Rao, Scott Challener

Faculty Lectures
All lectures will be held in the Fellowship Hall behind the Chapel.
Friday, January 4 11:15am: MAURICE MANNING: In Kind: Some Thoughts on Sympathy
Wednesday, January 9
9:15am: DEBRA ALLBERY: ‘When Light Went Forth Looking for the Eye’: A Meditation on the Contemporary Ekphrastic Poem
Thursday, January 10 –
9:15am: JENNIFER GROTZ : The Pathetic Fallacy
Friday, January 11 – 9:15am
: DEBRA SPARK: New Wave Fabulism
Saturday, January 12 –
9:30am: HEATHER McHUGH: Matters of Letters
Saturday, January 12 –
10:45am: C.J. HRIBAL: Vision and (Re)vision

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Top 10 songs of 2007

Here's a link to NPR's listeners pick the year's best projects. I hesitate to say "CDs" because the CD is slowly becoming souvenir to be replaced by ephemeral MP3 files. And those MP3 files disappear into apps and iPods and Last.fm playlists.

Since I didn't purchase a souvenir CD this year, here's the top 10 songs tracked on my Last.fm account.
  1. Barenaked Ladies -- Sound of Your Voice
  2. Brett Dennen -- Ain't No Reason
  3. The Hold Steady -- Hot Soft Light
  4. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club -- Gospel Song
  5. Michael Franti & Spearhead -- Light Up Ya Lighter
  6. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club -- Shuffle Your Feet
  7. The Guggenheim Gretta -- I Think I Love You
  8. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club -- Howl
  9. Barenaked Ladies -- Home
  10. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club -- Restless Sinner
And from my iTunes playlist:
  1. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club -- Ain't No Easy Way
  2. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club -- Restless Sinner
  3. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club -- Gospel Song
  4. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club -- Shuffle Your Feet
  5. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club -- Howl
  6. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club -- Complicated Situation
  7. Barenaked Ladies -- Home
  8. Barenaked Ladies -- Sound of Your Voice
  9. The Hold Steady -- Hot Soft Light
  10. The Hold Steady -- Massive Nights
Here's my amazon.com wishlist if you feel especially generous.

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