Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Okay. Rodney tagged me to share 8 FUN FACTS. I reply only because Rodney is one of my favorite poets and people (such a NICE guy; niceness counts with Moi!):

1) My first poetry collection, After The Egyptians Determined The Shape of the World Is A Circle, was published in 1996, within a year after I began writing poems. I didn't know the publishers (based in Midwest). When they ceased the poetry-publishing business, I either bought back or asked for all of the remaining copies of the collection so that it will never again see the light of day. (There was a time when Nick Carbo would often counsel, Be Kind To Your Early Work...! It took me years to find that kindness...but I still will never show a copy of moi Egyptians which I think -- or hope -- I've completely taken off the public domain...)

2) Suzanne Vega was a year ahead of me at Barnard, so I used to see her sing at various dormitories (Furnald?) at Columbia University's campus. Back then, she was young and I assume still starting out of course and so, among other things, her in-between-songs patter was still raw and self-conscious. I used to feel bad for her when some students would laugh at her awkward attempts to engage the audience in between songs. But I began remembering her and appreciating her when I began to write poems -- in attempting poems, I came to respect her more for her fortitude at such a young age in totally opening herself up to strangers through her music.

3) When I was in high school, I appeared on local TV in Los Angeles as a news anchor. This was during the period when I explored then rejected television news as a career -- because I realized from that experience that (in some areas of television news) you didn't have to be intelligent, just photogenic, to be successful at it. But I was also interning under people who were contemptuous of Connie Chung...not knowing Ms. Chung, I don't know if their contempt was because Connie Chung is "dumb" or because she was an attractive female who elicited envy and thus sexist patronizing. In any event, it's fair to say that rather than offering a role model, Connie Chung is one reason I didn't pursue a career in television news.

4) I delivered the commencement speech during my graduation from Gardena High School (at the time, and possibly still is, the largest high school west of the Mississippi). Though the speech is usually given to valedictorians by many high schools, in this case, high school seniors competed to have the position of giving that speech. But I didn't deliver my winning speech which I had crafted to "win" the competition by saying what I thought people wanted to hear. I delivered a speech that was almost anti-celebratory in nature, scoffing at various things (though I can't recall any specifics today). This is one of my biggest regrets in life -- that I think my speech ended up tarnishing what should have been a day of celebration by families....because it's not like graduating from high school (especially for various parts of that community) was not a major achievement. I was young, therefore I was stupid. If you are a 1978 graduate of Gardena High School and you find this post someday in the internet -- PLEASE ACCEPT MY APOLOGIES. I repeat: I was young and stupid. (Though I mostly hope you weren't paying attention to my speech or have forgotten it...)

5) I love to take out the trash. I've lived in several NYC apartment buildings where there are trash chutes on each floor. In those places, I used to empty trash from the apartment more than once a day just for the joy of walking down the hallway, opening the chute and releasing the plastic bag of trash. Now, because I live on a mountain, I have to haul trash and recyclables myself to a nearby trash dump on weekends. I love the experience so much I've written poems, a blog and a book on or about that beloved garbage...

6) I once wrote a "graphic novel" (before I knew the term) through collaging from various pages of glossy magazines. I sent each chapter to another poet. I didn't know each letter was a "chapter" and that the whole of it was a "novel" until the poet said so because she'd been out of town and let the mail pile up. When the poet retrieved my correspondence, she thus was able to read them all in one sitting, and that's when she called it a "novel." As a novel, that work was probably my only successful novel attempt so far -- I speak as one who's trashed rain forests worth of paper attempting the long novel viz words. I don't know whether the poet ever kept my graphic novel. But I like the possibility that ... that novel has evaporated. I am, indeed, explicably thrilled over that possibility. I think I'm someone who writes, but doesn't write words so much as spaces for engagement.

7) [] because some things must not be revealed...

8) Long before I paid attention to poetry, in college, I once went out with a guy I met at a bar at 110th and Broadway (NYC) because he slipped me a matchbook whose cover unfolded to reveal a poem he'd written. Because I have no formal education in poetry, I didn't realize until years later that he didn't write that poem -- it was an excerpt from a T.S. Eliot poem. That Eliot -- always a mischief-maker.

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