The Lemoine Affair

I read Marcel Proust’s The Lemoine Affair, and I wanted to love it, but couldn’t.  What I love is the series of Melville House classics.  I want to own and read every one; they’re exquisite little books.  Melville House does a great job with design.  Proust’s book about a real man, Lemoine, who pretended he could make diamonds out of coal.  Lemoine escaped, but a lot of people lost money on his little scheme.   Proust crushes so many words together, his book is like a little diamond, not something you want to hang around with every day.  I’ve never understand the fascination with diamonds.  How does this expensive rock make you feel important? I’m giving Proust a rest and am on to some short stories.

Published in: on June 29, 2018 at 9:52 am  Leave a Comment  

The Ballad of Black Tom

I read The Horror at Red Hook followed by The Ballad of Black Tom.  Lovecraft’s horror is laced with his fear of immigrants.  The Ballad is a beautiful story, almost a love story between a son and his father.  Everything the boy did was for that father, and when the father is brutally shot by a policemen, he finds a new father.  Cthulhu, Lovecraft’ s King under the Sea becomes a real person in this story, a person you fear will make an appearance.  This King, the inspiration for Alien is possessed of magical powers.  Tom too has magic.  I went on to Paul Tremblay’s Head Full of Ghosts, which was too much family drama and girl drama for me.  Black Tom felt like a real character, someone I know and could meet again.  Lovecraft’s stories emphasize that we fear what we do not know, and he himself hated immigrants, Jews and Blacks.  He thought Hitler was a swell guy.  The father of modern horror, in his day was considered a kook and a racist.  Hemingway, Pound and Eliot weren’t people you’d want to hang around for long.  They were racists as well.  The writer and the writing and the divide between them.

Published in: on June 27, 2018 at 10:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Grinding at the stump of ideas

We’re Frenching through pages, we’re thrashing along the shore, we’re grinding at the stump of ideas, we’re writing.  Each day, threading the needle and getting down to it.  Is that enough metaphors for you?  We read each other’s work, think out the storyline.  We ride the bike; yesterday it rained and we whipped along the curves leaning into the wind and wet coming back from the water.  I swam as far out in the heavy waves as I could, maybe forty minutes, and they were threatening to drown me so I turned back to the dock.  Some swims are two hours, but the writing calls me back.   When we first came here years ago, I would swim for three, four hours every day, but this is a writing retreat.  I swim seven days a week, we write seven days a week. While I swim, Mark drinks coffee, reads and writes.  The sun doesn’t set till 8:30 pm so we write until ten before we break for dinner of tomatoes, cucumbers and onions.  We eat the uncomplicated Greek food and write thickly viscous stories.

Published in: on June 27, 2018 at 12:17 am  Leave a Comment  

Red Hen Press is not a restaurant

Published in: on June 26, 2018 at 10:07 am  Leave a Comment  

Maggie Nelson’s Bluets

I read Bluets at midnight, and crawl down the dark blue of it until I finish and fall asleep before the rooster starts in and the day opens blue.  She takes us down the rabbit hole of the color; Nelson’s like a pianist with favorite keys or a guitarist with favorite songs.  Wittgenstein threads into her obsession with blue. My favorite blue is the blue of the balls used by Lita Albuquerque in “Stellar Axis.”  She showed us the blue balls at her house, one was for sale.  There was blue on her walkway and on her fingernails.  The very blue of “Stellar Axis” was stuck to the paving stones.  Her husband goes skydiving hundreds of times a year, they are both off into the blue, like Maggie Nelson who breaks apart language and ideas like you do eggs.  We had blue eggs for a while from Aracauna chickens and green eggs from the Olive Eggers.  The judge asked, “Do you have green eggs,” and under oath, I said, “Yes and ham.” Now we have mostly Rhode Island reds and one Polish chicken named Pantalones. Maggie Nelson mixes in a mixing bowl literary theory, life, and sex, a raw mixture then cooks it up and bakes a cake like Bluets.  It’s intoxicating like climbing into morning.

Published in: on June 26, 2018 at 12:45 am  Leave a Comment  

Editing is a messy world

I’ve finished a poetry book and I’m handing it over to a professional editor before I send it out.  As an editor myself, I know that I do a lot better editing books I love.  Books where I love the sand and grit and wild, the tenderness, the gravel and the smooth.  I hope this editor will love all that in my book. It feels scary though.  If they don’t like the book, it feels like they don’t like me. I edit my husband’s writing, and he seems to be completely un-worried if I don’t like the pacing of a chapter.  He just jumps in and tightens it up.  But a book of poetry like this one feels like it’s part of my eyeballs and fingertips. I’m working on another project now, I’m pretending not to care about my poetry book out there having little things done to it maybe with a screwdriver, maybe with a knife.

Published in: on June 25, 2018 at 1:19 am  Leave a Comment  

Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts

Last night around midnight, I decided to read Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts.  I’d hopped around it when it first came out. But I didn’t have time to focus completely. I know everyone else has read it, but I finally had the time to dive deep. It’s breathtaking.  She swims, effortlessly it seems through falling in love, having a child, and her spouse’s gender fluidity.  The love is big, the references to literary theory numerous, but the thick waters she swims through, (sorry for the swimming reference but I am swimming 1-2 hours a day) just seem too difficult for most writers to traverse.  Adoption, addiction, her mother’s obsession with weight, a woman’s shape in the world.  I like that part very much.  The questions about how you can do this or that as a woman, as a pregnant woman.  Maggie Nelson has a towering intellect and a verbal jump rope that leaves you dizzy.  She carves a wake through privilege and sorrow, expectations and flirtations.  There are all kinds of families.  Many people have questioned her family; a great family of energy, love and wild.  I’ve been given flack about our family, but ours too is wild.  An amazing read. Maggie, Harry, Harry’s son and Iggy are sounding the gong of life. In the day, in the morning, in the middle of the night.

Published in: on June 24, 2018 at 8:10 am  Leave a Comment  

Most of life is more like poetry than the movies.

Poetry is tough.  You have to keep wrestling it to the ground. You have to keep wrestling in spite of the voices in your head that say what’s the point. Stop. Stop writing.  No one is going to read this anyway.  We sleep on airplanes.  We shouldn’t sleep too much in the rest of our lives or we’ll miss the moments that could be poetry.  Life is more like poetry than a movie.  In poetry, there are snippets of joy and a snippets of sadness and a lot of stuff you have no clue about but it gives you a feeling.

Movies are like eating popcorn and having fun.  Most of life is more poetry than movies.

Published in: on June 21, 2018 at 10:35 am  Leave a Comment  

We are all a red boat. Waiting.


Published in: on June 21, 2018 at 10:31 am  Leave a Comment  

Greece is full of light, blinding thick light which slants down into the waves.  I swim. At the bottom of the sea, I see plenty of fishes and once an octopus.


We eat Greek salads every day and we write. Seven days a week.


There’s an old red boat in one lonely valley which is becoming part of the earth.  It’s a large boat probably for fishing.

I swim around islands where goats climb rock walls. Patmos is full of cats. So many cats everywhere; so many kittens.  We are feeding three cats.  I make up names for them. Penelope is our main cat; she has one eye, but she’s a sweetheart so no Cyclops for her.  There’s Cheetah and Paws.

We miss Jasper, and we spend a fair bit of time on Red Hen stuff, but the machine of LA seems far away.

I wonder if I lived here or in Ireland if eventually I’d stop worrying about what everyone thinks.

We come to quiet and we write as lemons fall from trees.

Published in: on June 21, 2018 at 5:29 am  Leave a Comment