Sunday, October 31, 2010

Where I Mashup My Favorite Twitter Poets

Inspired by @Soulclaphands' sparky mash poetry sitemy current affair with luminous David Shields ("you are seeking to arrive at poetic truth, which can be reached only through fabrication..."), a naggy blocked writing morning, and, of course, some of my very favorite twitter poets, I "assembled" a poem. That is, I mashedup.  

It was liberating to romp with stolen words... to pluck them, lean them against each other, shift, tweak & shift again. Is it an adulteration of the originals?  To be sure.  Is it something new, too? Well, yes.

Knowing the originals adds all kinds of crazy drift (I've included links when available), which I love.  Like song covers, the new is richer when the source is burned into you too.  I also just stepped up and titled the thing.  It felt a tad proprietary at first, but now I can rightly say it's our poem.


"Body" doesn’t do
your body justice. Patient
in my fumbling hands.

                                             My kiss
on his cheek the only thing I knew would help him

his hands, my hands,
silk scarves from God's perfumed drawer,

                  where your skin
is a window open on a night
of many weathers

O night, O sea - you are twittery and long.

                                   There is too much
in this world already. In a pile

Mistake yourself for shadows. 
Learn the lullabies of lint.

1st stanza - Gabrielle Calvocoressi Elegy Scale 
2nd stanza - Alex Dimitrov Dish Washer 
3rd stanza - Trish Harris First Baptist
4th stanza - Sarah Sarai Let Me Ask You This 
5th stanza - Kimberly Grey The Difference Between "Oh" and "O"
6th stanza - Stephanie Kartalopoulos Inside a Dark Room
7th stanza - Saeed Jones Sleeping Arrangement

Friday, October 29, 2010

Me. Narrative Magazine. Oh yes.

In case you haven't heard? My essay in Narrative Magazine:  Woo-hoo!

While I’d love to rave about a French Laundry binge or a fat wedge of Ms. Child’s Pâté de Canard en Croûte, something so far out of the ordinary that it stunned me and presented me my calling on a platter, it wouldn’t be true. Exacting perfection has never swayed me much...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Best Poetry Dinner Ever

All photos by John Clayton at (unless otherwise noted)

The best things are always chancy, and there was so much beautiful random to the making of this night.  Poet Gabrielle Calvocoressi and I put it together on the fly with about two weeks notice.  I "met" her on Twitter, where we follow one another (in twit speak).  She tweeted, one day, that she was meeting poet Matthew Dickman in LA, and I, off-the-cuff, replied that they should just fly up here for dinner and a reading. Gabby immediately said yes, (which, it turns out she's very very good at).  But we wondered, would anyone really show up on a summer's weekday for food and poems?
 Oh yes they did...

kooky dana snap
There were jubilant arrivals...

Gabrielle & Dana
Poets Matthew & Gabrielle
Crazy plates of summer food.

Hushed candlelit poems - beneath paintings, stars and cars - in which bee-filled armpits, vulvic bon bons, and Elvis-slicked hair made appearances. People wrapped their arms around each other,  rocked,  cried. 

It was a twitter-inspired literary fantasy. It came to be through a tweet relationship, was packed with tweeters (who heard about it through Twitter, natch), and left most anyone in the room who wasn't already tweeting racing home to sign-up. (Check Megan Taylor's lovely post on the evening: 

It was another shimmering example of how social networking brings us together; sparks our humanness rather than alienness.  In a brilliant post for the The New Inquiry, Helena Fitzgerald suggests that internet socialization - because it is so centered on the written word - encourages a more 19th century kind of intimacy, as opposed to robotic, modern disconnection.  I couldn't agree more.  I'd even say that it especially attracts those who live in words for that reason; that it is inherently literarily-inclined.  We were of proof of that.

There wasn't one person in the room who didn't say at the end that we should host more of these, that these should be regular events.  Monthly? Quarterly perhaps?  We're still working it out.  I'm chatting with all sorts of Tweeters about it,  of course...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Gabrielle Calvocoressi & Matthew Dickman: Dinner and a Reading, Wednesday, July 21, 2010, Woodward's Garden

Gabrielle Calvocoressi
Lucky me, I discovered poet Gabrielle Calvocoressi through some circuitous Twitter route many months ago... wherein lies the beautiful random of twitter.  And how could I not immediately latch onto her (although I do try to tamp down twitter stalk tendencies)? She's balm; she's manna.  She takes twitter to a place I think I'd secretly hoped it could go: beyond inane blow-by-blow updates and proclamations; past a daily grinding patter into something, well, artful. 

When I found her she'd just landed in Italy on a 6-week stipend.  Here - in 140ish character bites - is the wild I leapt into:

Blood oranges & nutella. Pecorino, spring onions & tomatoes to cook with orrichiette & anchovies this Sunday. Now nap & Mafouz in my turret.

Once my mother said how much she loved me. Once my mother said, "No one who ever sees your eyes move around like that will ever trust you."

Am I working on something or am I losing myself.

Louise Bourgeois is dead. Try staring that in the face.

Maybe it's about not knowing but loving deeply anyway. I don't know. Maybe a walk to the blue field.

The song I'm listening to on loop as I wait to give a presentation about God & my mother & me:

Finish The Great Gatsby and lie alone for the last night and listen to the owl. More than anything I've loved this turret. This silent time

I want a space like this. A house w/ quiet & owls & hills. And a study with no books. And bedroom full of light. And reading room. And love.

Unfettered Twitter is utterly suited to Calvocoressi, to her expansive vision of things and of how art might work. She's gripped by Elvis, place, religion, desire, boxing! (she, too, writes the sports desk column for American Poetry). Alongside is a word she's made her own, and made me love.  And she does much making alongside; writes against music, video, film, novels (she's always deep into a classic in her tweet stream). She does this, she says, in part for answers, but also, "to push into the possibility that silence is the answer" (see Isak interview).

Writing, for Calvocoressi, is a coming close, a seeking (alongside), a kind of prayer.  She's about the connectedness of things, and the mining of that there alliance... and about sitting ardently with not-knowing, too. A randomly found Publishers Weekly review claims her poems result in "a not unpleasant ambiguity"... Oh, friends! They result in hellfire-in-your-head gorgeous ambiguities. Read them. Hear them read by her. With dinner.

Matthew Dickman
Oh, and the crazy-beauty of Matthew Dickman's poems?  Deserves a post all its own.  But I'll cheat and offer links:  Read his achy "Slow Dance" in Narrative Magazine, find the smart New Yorker profile on him and his twin brother (also a poet) here. Have dinner and hear him read with Gabrielle C. at our restaurant, Woodward's Garden, Wednesday, July 21st, 6pm ($35 per person, 3-courses, includes wine). Please book by phone, as you cannot book through Open Table for this night - (415) 621-7122.

Prayer After a Long Time Away 
- Gabrielle Calvocoressi

God, if you are the horn
and the wind that blows it

then who am i to turn my back
and breath from you.

Too long I say.  Too long
since I sat in that cloistered room

beside the cornfield and let
the spirit move me as the Fisher

Price record player strained beneath
the weight of Dexter Gordon

and Jackie McLean.  All that vinyl
and the cheap needle that skimmed

along the top as I pursed my lips
and tried to show restraint when

all I wanted was to sound across
the town that bore me so much

ill will.  I tell you I'm
ashamed.  To have held my breath

so long.  To have said, "I give up"
over and over when I could

have made a joyful noise instead.
Were you the songs or the silences

between them, the rustle I took
for nothingness?  How young

I was.  All those saints
calling to me from the bars,

clamoring in my tin ear.

         -From her newest collection, Apocalyptic Swing

Friday, June 11, 2010

Goaty Goodness

We spit a kid goat (cabrito) on Memorial Day weekend with our friends Dita & Martino at their Olive Oaks home. This was a 35-pounder, grass-feed from Marin Sun Farms. Our first whole goat.

We rubbed it with oil, loads of garlic, salt, pepper and huge handfuls of herbs (thyme, marjoram, rosemary) the night before.  

Drove it to Sebastopol early Sunday morning and gaffed it to a spit under the trees, which is always its own kind of challenge.

Used scissors, pliers, mallet, wire, butcher string, nuts, bolts. Sewed lemons and huge branches of Olive-Oaks rosemary into its belly.  Let's just say Goat was stuffed and anchored. 

We spit it for six hours; brushed it with oil & herbs.  It got crazy gold-crisp the last two.  

The thing was attacked before we could get it carved, with tender, crackling rib meat being the most coveted loot.

And although Goat was the glory-getter, there were other dishes, too, my favorite perhaps: oh vegetal mounds...

...of Smoky Eggplant; Tzatziki-Chive Blossoms; Just Plain Artichoke-Fava Madness; Radish-Fennel-Fresh Chickpea Galore; Gigante Beans w/Honey, Mint, Clove; French & Banana Fingerlings w/Meyer Lemon Confit; Salsa Verde; Skordalia... need I say more? 

Oh yes, Apricot-Frangipane Tart with Wild Thyme, Honey and Greek Yogurt. There.

It was "; NoCal: this moment in June" to paraphrase Ms. Woolf; as sweet as any spring moment gets.