Friday, June 29, 2012


You, Ivan Karp, were one fabulous person--a delight with your very sincere enthusiasm for Art!

Here's one, a superrealist box by Daniel Douke, which you helped place in my home:

Now, it's true that Douke's box began a period of friends coming by with real boxes offering them to me for a "mere fifty bucks" each!  But despite these jokesters, after about thirty years after bringing this work home, we are still enjoying living with this, and many other art works to which you led us. And you were always so gentle, too, with our challenging (i.e. paltry) art acquisition budget--didn't we trade wine for this artwork?  Anyway, THANK YOU for a life so well-lived you also uplifted other peoples' lives.

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Thursday, June 28, 2012


My beloved kitchen table press, Meritage Press, may be small but as poet-writer-critic Kevin Killian once put it, "[It's] small but mighty!"  And now, UNPROTECTED TEXTS: Poems 1978-2006 by Tom Beckett, will have poems featured in Horror (CLOSE-UP), a themed book that will be used to teach 8th-10th graders in Denmark!

I know! Meritage Press, courtesy of Tom, is placing Zombie poems among Danish kiddos! Hey! Moi lives to serve you, World!

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I am off the mountain from July 3-15. This means if you need me to snailmail you something (an order for Beautiful Eyes, a review copy for Galatea Resurrects, etc.), please email me this week. 



The Argotist Online has an interesting series discussing the state of poetry including "Otherstream" (the alternative to mainstream or "Knownstream")--which Jake Berry lucidly presents, in part of course, as

... Otherstream. It is turbulent and chaotic relative to the perspective of the Knownstream, yet it is present in the unlimited margins. To practice art in that space that is not actually a space means to surrender conventional ambition and work in the wilderness. No single description of it is sufficient since it is largely unknown and what is known cannot be determined to be representative. Failure, then, is a given and is the initial experience in this other “space.” To surrender and pass through failure without expectation is the price of admission out.

The series (my term) begins with Berry's essay "Poetry Wide Open: The Otherstream (Fragments In Motion)".  The following poets, critics and academics then respond:

Ivan Arguelles
Anny Ballardini
Michael Basinski
John M. Bennett
John Bradley
Norman Finkelstein
Jack Foley
Bill Friend
Bob Grumman
Bill Lavender
Alan May
Carter Monroe
Marjorie Perloff
Dale Smith
Sue Brannan Walker
Henry Weinfield

You can begin reading the respondents' offerings HERE. I am honored, by the way, to be mentioned in Anny Ballardini's response--thanks Anny! I am just starting to read everyone's response. For now, though, I want to respond to something Jake Berry mentions in his essay. He says others may feel that

It is reasonable to argue that with so much poetry available a gatekeeper is needed. Otherwise one might read, listen or watch for years and never get a sense of which poetry was important and which was insignificant.
Actually, a gatekeeper is not at all required for the reader who is deeply interested in poetry. When I started out, I had no idea who is who or what is what in poetry. So I went to my local Barnes and Noble poetry shelf and just began reading everything on it (yes, it was a limited start but I was starting from Ground Zero at age 35 and with poetry but a faded memory of elementary school assignments). What will happen, if the reader is committed to exploring poetry, is that you begin to determine what you like or dislike and lead your reading more and more to those tendencies you appreciate.  (After some time of learning those tendencies, I had to consciously be sure to continue to remain open to reading others outside of those tendencies because one never knows what will rear up in Poetry--a story for another time).  I didn't/don't need a gatekeeper but found out/find out on my own. My process requires a deeper commitment than the couple of years required to be majoring in poetry or creative writing. It's a daily commitment that continues on today on a daily basis. My approach, however, requires something that takes a lot of time and attention--one might call it Devotion.

Devotion is a much stronger force than a third-party telling you what's what or who is who. Devotion's expanse and the knowledge it will introduce will usually be much larger than any gatekeeper's particular knowledge ... and bias.  It's hard work--no one else can do it for you. You have to do it for yourself--if you abided only by what the gatekeepers say, it's like you asking someone else to do your research for you.  That's the thing about Devotion: there's no shortcut.  So, Poet, suck it up and just read radically.

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Sunday, June 24, 2012


Here's the third of my snapshot series posting an image of my working desk every Sunday.

On the laptop screen is an image that will appear on the front cover of my next  book -- my 20th poetry collection! -- coz that's what I do: make books.  It's from the "MacArthur Paintings" series by brilliant artist jenifer k wofford.  I love jenifer's work and particularly empathize with her approach in the MacArthur series which recontextualizes the iconic photograph image of General Douglas MacArthur and other soldiers wading onto Philippine shores during World War II.  My next book's title?  THE AWAKENING (also considering THE AWAKENING OF A) -- look for it later this year! More details most assuredly to come...
Among the books--poetry books!--on the desk is the newly-released CEMETERY CHESS: SELECTED AND NEW POEMS by Sandy McIntosh.  I'm so glad to see this book is out because it's interesting to see the historical trajectory for a poet who's doing something fairly unique in contemporary poetry: his blend of humor and surrealism.  No one else I know is approaching poetry the way Sandy McIntosh does and I do highly recommend you check out this book!  And, hoo-haa! A review copy is available for Galatea Resurrects!  (Well, actually, there is one famous--insofar as poets can be famous--poet out there who also mixes humor and surrealism, but this nameless one doesn't do it as effectively or layeredly as McIntosh.  That's a detail just for moi amusement...)

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Thursday, June 21, 2012


Yeah!  More details later but do save the date for the Book Launch of BEAUTIFUL EYES by Gayle Romasanta and illustrated by Ramon Abad.  It should be in the afternoon of July 22 at the San Francisco Main Library.  It won't be your usual "book launch" -- this one will have a puppet show by the illustrator, music by "Lil Bits" (there was this punk band and then the band members had kids who then became Lil Bits -heee), snacks and even a pop up pastry shop by Dr. Dawn Mabalon (usually known for her incredible scholarly work!) and ... MOI!  Another illustration as to why this will be a special launch?  Check out this photo below (the girl is the author's niece):

This book always makes Moi grin!

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012


You know, I haven't patted Moiself on the back lately -- no wonder the universe has felt imbalanced.  To wit, do allow Moi to preen over a missive sent over by a UC Berkeley professor:

hi eileen,
just to let you know, my students read your poems yesterday in class as I am teaching this summer… exceprts from commodities and the mail-order bride poems. they love your work and said that they enjoyed reading your poems because they were funny and yet talked about colonialism, globalization, commodification of women, etc. etc.
among the many many poems we read this summer, they liked your poems best.
they also thought haynaku hilarious!!!!
just wanted you to know how appreciated your work is.

My, my: bravo to Moi!  Of course, it's timely to recall why the hay(na)ku is funny!  Remember that it's partly riffed off a childhood rhyme translated to English as:
Two Three
Your Dad's bald!

Thank you poets and creative writing teachers who use my work.  Please continue: Moi is really ... funny!

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Sunday, June 17, 2012


There are two things I like about this Father's Day drawing that Michael did for the hubby:

The first thing I like is how he focused on one of our favorite ways to dine on weekends: hamburgers on the grill!  It made me think about how we've been parents for less than four years, and attachment is an ever-complicated thing to achieve in adoption.  But one of the ways (I'd heard) is to create family traditions.  I don't know that the hubby and I intended these hamburger grilling affairs to be a "tradition" -- I hadn't even realized Michael paid enough attention to them such as to highlight the event in a drawing.  But, okay, someday when he looks back, I hope he looks back happily at when the three of us used to dine frequently on Dad's burgers (see the pink burgers he drew smoking up on the grill.  such an enchanting detail!).  His father, by the way, grills GREAT hamburgers!

The second thing I like about the drawing is how he sees us better than what we are (which I hope extends to many things, believe me). That is, just as he drew too much hair on the hubby's head, he drew me skinny.  Actually, I don't like it -- I LOVE IT! 

Happy Father's Day!

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Here's the second of my snapshot series posting an image of my working desk every Sunday.

Among the contents:

--computer open to a blog I've been reading with much pleasure: People in my Neighborhood by Livia Gerson. It's a blog with a deceptively simple premise. Livia lives in Nashua, New Hampshire and this blog of interviews of its residents is a way for her to get to know her neighbors and the neighborhood. But something about her writing is inviting and addictive (even if you have no link to Nashua). One commenter said it was like Studs Terkel and I'd agree; the writing also reminds me of Allen Bramhall's posts, not because they write similarly but because both can take seemingly mundane details and make them something larger, occasionally transcendent (remember Allen's meditations as he tours his local malls? makes Moi grin just remembering...) . Anyway, good writing is a pleasure and thanks to Livia Gershon for such indeed.

--poetry on desk today includes FIFTEEN POEMS by Bobbie Louise Hawkins (so happy Belladonna reprinted this), along with her SELECTED PROSE (where BlazeVOX shows why it is a necessary presence in publishing!). Angel-work for both projects was conducted by Barbara Henning -- kudos to her for her efforts as editor and, more importantly, someone wise enough to see the possibilities from what she thought would be a simple interview of Ms. Hawkins.

--as ever, the cuppa java... as the last thing one wants to do is sleepwalk through one's life, di ba?

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012


When it comes to poetry reviews, I don’t assign myself certain books. I just try to read as widely as I can and then whatever compels my engagement will end up being the books I will have reviewed. And in doing that, I’m pleased to announce the first title that compelled me to review it for the next issue of Galatea Resurrects: BENDING AT THE ELBOW by Matvei Yankelevich. I read it, put it away on the bookshelf, and ended up returning to it two days later – its effect lingered and so I ended up writing on it!

Which is to say, I’m looking for more reviewers for Galatea Resurrects. I actually am going into the next issue – whose review deadline is Nov. 11 so you have time – with not much in the pipeline for reviews. And new books continue to come in the mail! So please do check out the list of available review copies and consider doing a review!

Here then is another update of my Recently Relished W(h)ine List below. In the Publications section, note that if you see an asterisk before the title, that means a review copy is available! More info on that HERE.  "Call me, maybe" at  !

BENDING AT THE ELBOW, poems by Matvei Yankelevich (fabulous. so compelling it ended up being my first reviewed publication for next issue of Galatea Resurrects)

* I, THE WORST OF ALL, poems by Estela Lamat, Trans. by Michael Leong (magnificent!)

* RING OF BONE: LEW WELCH COLLECTED POEMS, Editor Donald Allen (it was most useful to me when I also considered the poems to have been poetics required to create what, for me, was a perfect poem in the book – the title poem “Ring of Bone”. Also was encouraged by this to begin what will be a new poetry manuscript, J. The whole thing about Welch’s “language is speech” was a push; as regards “J”, there is so much I’ve long wanted to say but … had not. So, as ever, Poetry begins as in Poetry verbs action.)

MOTHER WAS A TRAGIC GIRL, poems by Sandra Simonds (Sandra is such a fantastic poet, as evidenced too by this collection—the world should know about her stellar talent…!)

* PARTYKNIFE, poems by Dan Magers (rollickin’ energy!)

THE IMPORTANT THING IS … CARD GAME, poetry card game by Marjorie Tesser

* INFINITE VARIATIONS, poems by Marci Nelligan (the rubbing together of the Origin of the Species with the Old Testament is certainly a worthy concept)

* GEMOLOGY, poems by Megan Kaminski (gems indeed!)

* CLOUD COMPUTING, poems by Josh May

* EVERY POSSIBLE BLUE, poems by Matthew Thorburn

* LAGNIAPPE, poems by Jill Stengel (a feat and a feast!)

* A three-author poetry chap featuring A COINCIDENCE OF WANTS by Michelle Detorie, THRONE by Michael Cross and MAJAKOVSKIJ EN TRAGEDY by Johannes Goransson

* RE-, poems by Kristi Maxwell

* NEWCOMER CAN’T SWIM, poems by Renee Gladman

* BANDIT, poems by Jared Hayes

* FILAMENT SENSE, poems by William Allegrezza (wonderful)



* THREE COLUMN TABLE, poems by Harold Abramowitz

* GLASS IS REALLY A LIQUID, poems by Bruce Covey

SILVER ROOF TANTRUM, poems by Naomi Buck Palagi

KATE & SONIA (IN THE MONTHS BEFORE OUR SECOND DAUGHTER’S BIRTH), poems by Dan Thomas-Glass (a moving and pleasurable read)

POEMS 1955-1959 AND AN ESSAY IN AUTOBIOGRAPHY by Boris Pasternak

* MATCHING SKIN, poems by Shirlette Ammons

THE WHITE CALF KICKS, poems by Deborah Slicer

* ALL STEEL, poems by Lori Anderson Moseman

REGARDING WAVE, poems by Gary Snyder

* EARTHQUAKE CAME TO HARLEM, poems by Jackie Sheeler

* VERSE. Vol. 27, Nos. 2 & 3 (2012), poetry journal co-edited by Brian Henry and Andrew Zawacki (includes John Olson and reading his poems in this issue just reminds me of how so many try to write as he does and only end up being poetasters relative to Olson’s mastery. I adore the opening paragraph to one poem, “Diamonds” for beginning with the sentence “I don’t think much of diamonds” only to end with “This is why I wear binoculars, and enjoy riding in elevators.” So much happens between those two sentences and they sing even as they grin.)

*  MADNESS, RACK, AND HONEY: COLLECTED LECTURES by Mary Ruefle (wonderfully surprising)

SEMPRE SUSAN: A MEMOIR OF SUSAN SONTAG by Sigrid Nunez (fabulous read)


SOMEWHERE TOWARDS THE END, memoir by Diana Athill (nicely done!)

* WORDS & FLESH, short stories by Carmen Firan

THE BRICKLAYER, novel by Noah Boyd

AGENT X, novel by Noah Boyd

CATCH ME, novel by Lisa Gardner

BY A SPIDER’S THREAD, novel by Laura Lippman

THE BURNING SOUL, novel by John Connolly

DOUBLE DEXTER, novel by Jeff Lindsay

DEXTER BY DESIGN, novel by Jeff Lindsay

DEXTER IN THE DARK, novel by Jeff Lindsay

DEXTER IS DELICIOUS, novel by Jeff Lindsay

DEARLY DEVOTED DEXTER, novel by Jeff Lindsay

2003 Almaviva

2004 Trevor Jones Barossa Valley

2003 Ch. Rauzan Despagne

2007 Paradigm cabernet NV

Sean Thackery Pleiades XXI Sangiovese blend

2006 Pirathon shiraz Barossa Valley

Firewood SFAirport house pinot grigio (actually it was crap.  Why is the Firewood at SFAirport worse than other Firewoods?  It's on my relished list coz I drank it anyway and I monitor all wines I drink ... for better or worse)

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Sunday, June 10, 2012


Yep, in my last boxing training session, I told Julio -- whom I'd been punching in our sessions as he teaches me form -- that I wanted to feel his punch. I wanted to know what a punch feels like!

I think it shocked him. And, later, he'd tell me that I'm the first student to request his punch! The first! After all those Peeps he'd trained! I'm really proud of that. I may never actually master boxing (but of course I'll never master boxing!), but I will have been one of its greatest students!* Which, actually, is not that far-off from my overall approach (to date) as a poet open to researching all sorts of topics: whether or not I will excel in a particular matter, I want to be one of its greatest students.

(But, yes, do note that parenthetical "(to date)" because I actually wouldn't mind switching gears whereby I narrow from the all to specializing in the one and indeed excelling at it. I just haven't found yet that one matter that's so compelling that it would draw me away from the rest of the world to it. And if that be moi path that's 'kay too.)

Anyway, so Julio punched me! Well, not my body but I slipped on his boxing mitts and he punched me there. WHAT A REVELATION! With his first punch, I immediately realized: to receive the punch is not to receive the power of his fist. Oh no! What I felt from Julio was not his fist but the power of his forearm and, presumably, the rest of his body from which that forearm emanates. The fist was not even (metaphorically) a presence!

To belabor the obvious, the punch obviously would be empowered if a boxer put his body behind the punching motion ... and the punch obviously would be empowered if the body behind the punch is in shape. That's EXACTLY how I view writing the poem! That is, the activities and research which occurred prior to the poet taking up the pen to write a poem is what will drive the poem. The author is not dead and that person's prior activities and preparations -- not a disembodied hand -- will make the hand, um, punch out a poem that will knock you out with its song, its beauty, its message, its power, ...

Such blather but I'm so amazed at not just the discovery but how it was so revealed quite physically (Julio is very fit!). I had not anticipated how the fist would play such a small part in boxing!. And, actually, this reminded me just now of how Meena Alexander told me (in my first book BLACK LIGHTNING), the poem is just the tip of the iceberg.

Of course -- without the body, there'd be no tip. Aren't I deep? Just Say Yes to that question as, Moi Dear, you wouldn't want to feel my ... punch!

* Reminds me of that period I studied kali martial arts under Gura Michelle; my sticks fumbled and bumbled but my kali poems? I'd like to think they bladed air! Speaking of blading air, I love this photo of Michelle making that sword dance (uh, I never moved like this either--maybe one of my goals is just to see how many martial arts forms I can bungle ... due to a more primary and primal goal: to amuse moiself):

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I'm thinking of posting every Sunday a snapshot of what's on my working desk.  As with most lists, over time I think something will surface ... To wit: here's the inaugural snapshot of today's desk:

Among the contents:

--poetry books, of course--in this case, including SATURA by Eugenio Montale, POEMS 1955-1959 AND AN ESSAY IN AUTOBIOGRAPHY by Boris Pasternak, my REPRODUCTIONS OF THE EMPTY FLAGPOLE that I'm chiseling for poem-sculptures like these in Muddy River Poetry River...

--THE LIMITS OF LANGUAGE edited by Walker Gibson, featuring William James, A.N. Whitehead, James B. Conant, Herbert J. Muller, P.W. Bridgman, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Jeal-Paul Sartre, William Barrett, Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf and Wallace Stevens

--computer open to Wall Street Journal blogs

--most importantly, a photo of my dawgs and a German Shepherd sculpture--dogs keep moi heart supple in face of worldly hardness...

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Saturday, June 09, 2012


Yay.  Friday was the last day of school!  I passed 9th grade!  See, no one ever told me that to parent a kid meant having to re-do school!  Anyway, remember that elegant refrigerator that won't let me post Mommy ephemera etc on it?  Well, after I looked at all the stuff Michael brought home from school, here are more images that I would magnetize on my refrigerator door if it was magnet-izable.  Here he is with, from his Art class, his sketchbook opened up to a still life that he entitled "My Still Life" (chuckle).  The other images are of pages from his sketchbook.

Below is the rubber stamp he carved from, uh, rubber.  You stamp that stamp and you get ... Superman!

Another page with various drawings:

A page that includes our a drawing of our beloved Achilles--woof!

Below is another depiction of how boy culture is gore culture!

This next one is cool -- it's actually of Clint Eastwood wth guns blazing ...

I hope you enjoy my son's blogged exhibition!  Naturally, Mama Moi is very proud!

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Friday, June 08, 2012


I am apparently exhibited in a museum! Pretty good since I'm not dead. To wit, perhaps you wish to stop by the National Steinbeck Center's marvelous exhibit. Among other marvels, you'll see a photo from when I first met (then ate with since no Pinoy meeting is authentic unless food is involved) Jose Garcia Villa:

Villa's face is cut off in that photo but that photo of me and him is starting to be replicated more and more.  What may not be as well known is the photographer: it was either XX (an artist-photographer who joined us for lunch but whose name I can't recall--I'll fill it in here when I do) or Luis Cabalquinto, another fine poet.  Luis is the one who introduced me to Jose Garcia Villa.

I continue to watch with amusement my ongoing ossification!  Mortality -- ye amuse Moi!

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Thursday, June 07, 2012


Whenever I read a poem

entitled or themed
“What a Poet Should Know”
the list—thus, the poem—
usually seems so incomplete,
                           so small
perhaps because a critical
ingredient is often ignored:


(after "WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW TO BE A POET" by Gary Snyder)


Tuesday, June 05, 2012


As I'm always thinking of ways to spice up Galatea Resurrects, I concocted an idea I'm calling "Random Diptych" and am hoping this will interest some of you Peeps.

I'd like to send two books chosen randomly from GR's review copy list to a reviewer. That person then can review or engage with the two books in any manner deemed fitting. The idea is, yes, to engage with a poetry publication but also somehow elicit an (as of now) unknown/unanticipated relationship (including maybe non-relationship, I'm easy) between two publications, or poems in the two publications.

Actually, I can choose two books at random or you can choose one (from ) as long as I toss in the second one so that we have that randomness in play.

Now, you might request the two books and end up not being able to review the project in this way, but rather would prefer to do individual reviews of each book -- that would be a fine result, as well! We have so many review copies and if this is a way to get you thinking of engaging with a poetry project that'd be fine, too!

Do please email me at if this idea interests you, or if you see a review copy you would like to review.

And please do help lighten out the heavy load of review copies on moi bookshelves, not to mention floor!  Here they are longing to be read:


Monday, June 04, 2012


Hey, it's the last week of school! I'm so pleased! It's been difficult for me to survive 9th grade! Since I'm feeling cheerful, here's something for your eyes to feast upon -- please feel free to be grossed out at (or think it Kewl!) this box of pigs' limbs:

And why, Toi asks, is Moi sharing this resonant image? It's because Michael has an internship this summer, helping out at a free clinic in Nicaragua. As part of his training for that trip, he'd been learning some basic medical practices in the last month or so, like the Heimlich maneuver and, as regards the porcine references, basic suturing and splinting skills. The interns practiced suturing on these pigs' limbs! And big bonus: Michael got to bring home (ewwww in my elegant freezer) an extra piggy limb to, uh, practice on! (Gads: that's a huge piggy!)

Ah, the joys of raising a child to be a good, global citizen attuned to the world beyond a 5,000-population small town... Dude: slice 'em and stitch 'em!

Well, that's all fun.... and, suddenly, he's interested in a health care career! Wonder what would happen if I got him the entire pig!

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Sunday, June 03, 2012


Here's moi refrigerator.

Yes, it's an elegant refrigerator. Bespeaks the original elegant (!) design to my kitchen as a place where one doesn't actually go to cook but, uh, microwave. So elegant kitchen where kitchenware like mixers (snort: as if I bake) were chosen for sculptural qualities as much as for their utility.

But after I became a Mom nearly four years ago now (!), a problem surfaced. This elegant door to my refrigerator doesn't allow for refrigerator magnets. Where I may have wanted to screw elegance and cover it with all types of Mom tsotchkes, I can't because said elegant door isn't magnetize-able. Hence, the blog-as-refrigerator! To wit, here's Michael's Mother's Day card to me this year!

There's a long story to why I got it belatedly. What I will share is how he apparently had Googled to come up with a poet-related saying to scribble onto his card and what he chose (sniffle) is:

My mother is a poem I'll never be able to write, though everything I write is a poem to my mother.
--Sharon Doubiago

And because we're also all about exploring the artistic process on this blog, he apparently copied the image from a book on my To-Read stack. Unfortunately, it was the stack related to serial killers but, whatever:

It's all so precious, ain't it!

And now I also know another definition of "Mom" -- it's a woman with a refrigerator upon which you can tack on refrigerator magnets for displaying the marvels of your child....! Who'da thunk!

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