Catarina Sforza


Ho con me lo stampo per farne degli altri!
Apropos of the Heaney discussion:

It occurs to me that there are are a few problems here.

One is that being a Harvard Poet, a poet in Cambridge, Mass. -- and further, by being a Harvard poet by virtue of being a faculty member versus by virtue of being a student -- is far different than being a Boston Poet. There are also, within Boston, two Bostons: Catholic Boston and the other one

Another is that while there are two Irelands, on a part of the UK and one a Republic, in the US, if you are a poet from either, you are an Irish Poet. If you are from Belfast and in the US, you are not a poet from the UK. You are not competing with anyone from England or Scotland for attention, even if you're edit alongside Ted Hughes. Especially after you've won a Nobel.

A list of poets from Harvard (faculty): Heaney, Graham, Bishop, Berryman, some Eliot lectures.
A list of poets from Harvard (students): Eliot, O'Hara, Ashbery, Rich.
A list of Boston poets: Lowell, Plath, Sexton.
A list of poets from Columbia, students and faculty: Auden, Ashbery, Ginsberg.
A list of American poets: Ginsberg, Rich, Ashbery, Bishop, Lowell, Plath, Eliot.
A list of Irish poets: Heaney, Boland, Grennan, Yeats.
A list of British poets: Hughes.
went to a reading last night, Kim Calder and Cati Porter. about Cati's work and our conversation more later. So two readers, VERY accomplished, degrees, editorships, books, in or entering MFA programs.

Calder was a surprise; I had heard about her book but not heard her read. Anyway, the poem she read from the book was great; it was a lovely blend of confessionalisms in a new place (the desert, the res, drinking, relationship to dad).

She read from a longer work in progress called "Prison House" that was interesting; one could tell how it was getting assembled and disassembling -- the two overlapping rubrics: prison house (various things that could mean, including fate/destiny, family (although this is the ste of the least successful idea/line that returns: "death runs in my family" -- who does not have dead ancestors), a more theorized prison, consumerism, etc.) and alphabet animal flash cards -- the three than you never see in real life unless you go to a zoo: aardvark, TOKAPI, and another one. Or the other one might have been ordinary -- like a turtle, except in the desert one sees plenty of tortoises and no turtles. Anyway, it came up just enough that one could imagine that it had been more artifically there at one point, and the device didn't mkae its last stand as elegantly as I trust it eventually will, as elegantly as its earlier appearances in the poem. Good poem, nice structure, to hang together that well in a non-narrative way for a long period of time read aloud (ten pages, so about ten minutes).

She finished with a wonderful prose poem which seems to have been a pantoum at an interim stage; the lst line was a little cutsie, but the choice of repetition and variation -- about parking tickets you can't pay, mulitple meanings of pay, for example) -- was super.

During the q&a period, surprisingly, for a young, groovy individual, she had an all male roter of recs, no one writing anything like I'd heard: Richard Siken (unless he does -- haven't read any), Charles Wright I remember first.


from conversations on wompo

Siri Von Reis was doing a project on Peter Kalm's travel in Canada about exactly 20 years ago. Siri is a poet, but also a PhD in Botany from Harvard (I think). In any case, Kalm was a Linnean. The project had two problems, one of which she remedied -- the poems were found in the translation, not in the original wedish. I believe since Siri knows Swedish, she did some of her own translations, and also went to the original Swedish. Or not. I expect some of these appeared in magazines, but I didn't see them.

The other problem -- and note, I did read these in very early draft -- was that they were horribly Freudian. Freudian symbology was often the shaig mechanism for the choosing.

on wompo, discussing "erasure" which is nearly identical to most found poetry (poems made from taking aay words and context, rather than choosing words and removing them from the original context), a project was mentioned that uses a text from a British man in India in the 1850s about flowers. The "erasure" or found poem is intended to be a love poetry to India from the flowers. The inspiration to this project is Yedda Morrison's Darkness Chapter 1: http://littleredleaves.com/ebooks/darkness.pdf

here is a new gnoetry / heart of darkness poem cycle

so I think I'll review both together, and togther with the author notes, mostly invlved with post colonialism

More background, other than Siri Von Reis: one of the poems in my book DaDaDa is the parts where Spenser dscribes his fiancee in Amoretti. It is not the richest work of found poetry I've done, but in it, not only do you see that the bride is a monster, but also, the way in which "her fearful eyen" are not power, but under the male gaze, become a sort of vagina dentata.

My concern about the structure of the project as described is that it simply reinscribes the stereotypical tropes women = other = colony and women = sex = flowers = love, while also reinscribing the prejudiced male writer who wrote -- inthe midst of perhaps more important female writers who then, therefore, are not receiving scant artistic attention. Too, the 1850s is 100 years past the Linnean / first British Colonial period in India, and about 200 years past the Linnean explorers I know most about, those in Canada. Not that the female flower writers did not know the Latin!!! Many of them did, even when they insisted they didn't for defensive reasons -- to avoid harsh criticism for attempting to compete in a scholarly or scientific realm, in some cases.

My current female "explorer" used the british museum "fish and fetish" gathering rubric to gain some legitimizing / authority during her journey; she also, in the fish case, claims not to know precisely what-all sciencey, though she gthered specimins of unique lizards, for example.


West African Studies By Mary Henrietta Kingsley

West African Studies By Mary Henrietta Kingsley: "the other name sometimes used in place of Fetish namely Ju Ju is for all the fine wild sound of it only a modification of the French word for toy or doll joujou<br />"

so like dada

West African Studies By Mary Henrietta Kingsley

West African Studies By Mary Henrietta Kingsley: "literary only Africa I am not proud of my imperfections in English I would write better if I could but I cannot I find when I try to write like other people that I do not say what seems to me true and thereby lose all right to say anything and I am more convinced the more I know of West Africa my education is continuous and unbroken by holidays that it is a difficult thing to write about particularly when you are a student hampered on all sides by masses of inchoate material unaided by a set of great authors to whose opinions you can refer and addressing a public that is not interested in the things that interest you so keenly and that you regard as so deeply important"
Mary Kingsley was "self taught" including reading tons of African adventure / "exploration" books, and when her parents died and sh was left a legacy, travelled to West Africa many times -- her trips back wer to care for her borther, and her last trip was no nurse -- not to her area of "expertise"

Writing Out

1. Mary Kingsley

fish & fetish

"this book must be better than it was, for there is less of it"

On returning I publisheda very condensed, much abridged version of my experiences in Lower Guinea; and I thought that I need never explain about myself or Lower Guinea again. This was one of my errors. I have been explaining ever since...

The dangers of West Africa.
The disagreeables of West Africa.
The diseases of West Africa.
The things you must take to West Africa.
The things you find most handy in West Africa.
The worst possible things you can do in West Africa.

only one positive

[what to do with sim of tone to georgina splivin? fun! self! modesty why?!]

a friend hastily sent two newspaper clippings, one entitled “A Week in a Palm-oil Tub,” which was supposed to describe the sort of accommodation, companions, and fauna likely to be met with on a steamer going to West Africa, and on which I was to spend seven to The Graphic contributor’s one; the other from The Daily Telegraph, reviewing a French book of

“Phrases in common use” in Dahomey

“Help, I am drowning.”
"If a man is not a thief?”
“The boat is upset.”
“Get up, you lazy scamps,”
“Why has not this man been buried?”
“It is fetish that has killed him, and he must lie here exposed with nothing on him until only the bones remain,”

bubies of fernando po

this appealed to me because I didn'tknow those things for keeping works on paper were also called "flat files"

was looking for the bannr that someone put on the columbia library when she was graduating; has Marie de France and Sappho on it, I recall

found these


the Poetry Center

Saturday APRIL 4
7:00 pm @ the Unitarian Center, 1187 Franklin Street, $5

A festive triple-header Saturday evening featuring hometown heroes Bill Berkson and Kit Robinson, with New Yorker Lewis Warsh out west on a rare occasion. Bill Berkson's Portrait and Dream: New & Selected Poems will be fresh off the boat for this reading (Coffee House Press). Kit Robinson's The Messianic Trees: Selected Poems 1976-2003 (Adventures in Poetry) is newly in print. And Lewis Warsh is author to the recent omnibus collection Inseparable: Poems 1995-2005 (Granary Books).

Note early start time, so that our poets can stretch out.







APR 30 Poetry Center Book Award Reading


MAY 8-9 a symposium on THE POETICS OF HEALING
project curated by ELENI STECOPOULOS
Conceptual Poetry and Inspiration

What I like about conceptual art is that it reduces the direct concerns to the aha moment, the inspiration, the concept, the design of the project, the framing of the process and the execution, finish, technical aspects. What troubles me about conceptual art is that at its best, the final work and its concept are as fine and inseparable as in any other best work. At its worst, I argue a "real" work is not even produced -- the concept fails to come to finish. One wonders why the artist thought the aha moment was really an inspiration, or what else might have motivated it.

[more soon]


First, it strikes me that Sara Teasdale's books I have written aout (or merely meant to? oh, la) must be placed i contect of suely some of these, which I haven't read (as I have read Teasdale):

Fourteen Months in Canton, Mrs. John Henry Gry, 1880. (probably not)
Eileen Bigland (slushy novels!)
Isabella Bird


Emily May Crawford

One problem with the source book is that it is listing mostly British women, witha few Americans -- the wmen are early writers of travel / discovery / adventure in English, as Eglish women. I.e., the first white woman to climb mount x, or an english lady in the wild west.
An Unscientific Account of a Scientific Expedition
Last night, reading WAYWARD WOMEN: A GUIDE TO WOMEN TRAVELLERS, which is the type of book I refer to as one of my “junk books” (no offense to Jane Robinson intended –her effort, published by Oxford, is the sort which will likely never reach paper in future) grabbed at the branch library – not any research library – I found more than I needed (a list of female authors of poetry, novels, and a particularly female “travel writing” or “writing about place”): I found the title for this article, which, as Robinson noted, is a really frequent subtitle for women’s travel-related publication.

To continue my National Poetry Month project in a similar vein as last year, I will be using the public domain women’s travel texts I can find as sources. This relates to the general Delirious Hem CFW in that a search for identifying what makes poetry writing, or language use, gendered, or identifiably gendered, or gendered in a critically appraised way, is my chosen territory.

I will work on this blog post throughout April, that is, slowly. I will be able to link to many online texts and images, eventually.


Borgias notes

Catarina Sforza, Rocca di Ravaldino, Imola (da vinci drew a map...)
"beautiful virago" wrote EXPERIMENTS including recipes for poisons,velano ettermine "perfect sleep"

Joanna II of Naples, "slothful woman of outrageous morals and a capacity for double dealing"

"you do not preserve ... dignity ... You do not abstain from hunting or games, or from intercourse with women; you give dinners of unseeemly magnificence; you wear costly clothes; you have an abudance of gold and silver plate, and you kee more horses and servants than any man can need."

Marchesa Barbara

the courtesan Nanchine

Lucrezia & Ercole Strozzi
Pietro Bembo (monotype Bembo)
hexameters on her bracelet
Part of the Heaney Agonistes Jacket number, Ira Lightman mentions that he's been asking the o'driscoll questions of other poets; they are spun around Heaney's answers, but I'll see... about this later...

DENNIS O’DRISCOLL: Some years ago, you told an English journalist: “My notion was always that, if the poems were good, they would force their way through.” Is this still your experience?

OK, this is some sort of "poems waiting/needing to be written" a priori argument, and also some sort of attempt to still privilege lyric impulse "inspiration" while not dismissig craft.

DO’D: Over the years, you have often quoted Keats’s observation, “If poetry comes not as naturally as leaves to a tree, it had better not come at all.” Is that just a young poet’s perspective?

This is a similar-but-different folksy restatement, poets being poetry trees, poems emergng as part of the operation of the organism. Not all people are poets, or artists, or even express empoions or things in language.

DO’D: Does this mean that a poem essentially begins for you when you find a form?

While I don't see how this follows from the questions, which are what I'm reading now, right now this moment what I writes comes such that I know the shape, and they fill it; or I have the topic, and find a shape, or ... in other words, the identity between form and poem is to me childish, rudimentary -- I'm not saying anything about petry, but I am sayig a lot of things abot simpe-minded definitions

DO’D: Is there a poetry time of day and a prose time of day?


DO’D: I remember Anne Yeats saying that her father mumbled to himself when he started to write. Would the [Daly Burch] household know that a poem was coming on?

Um, because I'm not doing something else; some nagging noises from the other room, ringing unanswered telephones.

DO’D: Do you ever feel burdened by the sheer amount of work you know it will require to do justice to a particular inspiration?


DO’D: How can you tell a poem is finished?

sometimes it is obvious, sometimes it is not, and often I am wrong

I have been thinking of this idea, and I think the idea of "finish" is one that seems pretty important to the interviewer, and perhaps to poets like Heaney -- perhaps finish over construction or purpose, even

And something that it would be swell to critically discuss at length. Some writers and writings have a finish; finishes of poems -- not surfaces, but -- ends tucked in, allusions deliberate, sounds strightened, scansion done (even if not regular, etc.), grammar and punctuation sorted, articles weighed and weeded. Some poems aren't, and an offhand or informal or note-taking or other tone doesn't have anything to do with the finish. Some free verse poems reel out finished. I think that really might make those formalists who do not have oh crowns of sonnets reel out (some do) uncomfortable. How could they be finished from the get-go?

DO’D: Do you keep a notebook of phrases and images for later use?

a notebook, ha ha ha; but I write things down, and sometimes they resurface, and someties I work from a note-to-finish process (not very always)

DO’D: You mentioned earlier that the poem will come more quickly if there is a form. Would you be offended to be called a formalist?

1) I concur, 2) yes

DO’D: Do you have a preference for pararhymes and half rhymes over full rhymes?


DO’D: You are a poet for whom the sound the words make is crucial.


DO’D: Would you accept Eliot’s contention that the subject matter is simply a device to keep the reader distracted while the poem performs its real work subliminally?


DO’D: What role does humor play in your poetry?

it is a major component, since puns are multiple meaning, ex., and humor is performance / audience, and humor is also a metatrope, and it counteracts "difficulty"

it also, difficultly, offers "appeal" or "attractin" -- a pleasure -- though I generally look for an attractive combo of beauty and humor,but -- this as under discussion on WOMPO, is perhaps crippling or feminine, as much so, perhaps, as questioning or lyric lift rather than stating / gravitas -- though my poetry is also very serious -- serious and funny

DO’D: What are your thoughts about accessibility and obscurity in poetry?

poetry is too dull; even accessible and sentimental poetry is dull -- like anythin, it is hard to find the good stuff

DO’D: And the avant-garde?

I find if there is a smaller field (avant-garde petry, not all poetry) it is easier to avoid the dull stuff; also, more traditional (rather than wanna-be cutting edge) writers are resolutely dull

DO’D: What about your own critics and reviewers?

critics? reviewers?

DO’D: You told Seamus Deane, in an interview in 1977: “If you live as an author, your reward is authority. But of course the trouble is how to be sure you are living properly.”

how, the Heaneyean wordplay is just awe-inspiring. If only I could be Irish. Oh, wait, I am.

DO’D: Is there a sorrow quotient in all works of art?

No, but there's sorrow, and also you will have it if I catch you misusing "quotient" in person.

DO’D: I wonder how you would react to this statement from Paul Celan: “Poetry can no longer speak the language which many a willing ear still seems to expect from it. Its language has become more austere and factual; it distrusts the beautiful and it attempts to be true. It is thus . . . a ‘grayer’ language.”

I feel truly sorrowful. He unhooked from the ambrosia that poetry can be -- for principled reasons and emotions. We are sorry it could have sufficed if it didn't lend so much personal evil. Never confuse truth and beuty or find eiter lacking, dead guy.

DO’D: Robert Frost is among the poets most quoted in your talks, readings, and essays. He seems to have provided you with an entire philosophy of poetry.

Not me!

DO’D: Have you deliberately limited your exposure to Frost’s work, so as not to be over-influenced by him?

Yup. As I also limit my exposure to everything I find hateful. I am in an environment, people, I find loathsome.

DO’D: Does the fact that Frost writes in an American idiom present any barrier for you? Does Edward Thomas provide similar pleasures to those of Frost?

DO’D: Frost received some bad biographical press—is the character of the poet relevant to the quality of his work?

Well, this is a version of "quality" which is different from mine. The "quality" like "finish" or fulfilling the combo of form and content that is the poem's little problem, whatever -- no; the quality as far as qualia, integrity, you betcha. And then there's quality vs. value... [more soon]

DO’D: In poems and essays from around the time of Wintering Out, you made reference to the roles played by Sir John Davies, Sir Walter Ralegh, and Edmund Spenser in the conquest and plantation of Elizabethan Ireland. Did you ever find their colonizing role coming between you and enjoyment of their poetry or, at least, complicating the way you respond to their work?

Spenser, at the time of the DaDaDa Spencer poem, yes, because you see that in his relationship to love -- so you see it everywhere in his writing then -- this fear he has.

DO’D: . . . which inevitably brings to mind the Nazi commandants listening to Mozart at night and gassing Jews by day. How can we still claim that art has moral force?

How that brings that to mind, I dunno. Art and moral force. Art has a diffuse moral force; only some art is didactic, and only some moralities are sophisticated enough to become ethics. Good art is ethical, has a backbone in my view. But when it becoms moral -- even rather than immoral, although if extremely and deliberately immoral for immoral purposes really -- it is lesser -- less universal.

DO’D: Do you think the traditional notion of a literary canon comprising the best works, judged on the basis of artistic merit alone, can survive in the era of literary theory and political correctness?

So you see, this dance of pc and artstic merit is interesting: not merely pc, or deliberately pc, but we also await some new, problematic mysogynistic poem that's so swell it replaces the Mona Lisa.

DO’D: With so many thousands of professional poets writing in our own time alone, is it really feasible that the “test of time” will apply? Who can possibly sift through all those books?

It is a problem, because we are seeing that valuable work is getting lost in our own time sometimes for real distribution, popularity, pobiz reasons), and we are perhaps more keenly aware that some works of the past -- while not influential in the same way as always-cononical works -- are still of very high artistic merit.

DO’D: Is there still some kind of general or non-specialized audience for poetry?

No. Was there ever some kind of general audience for contemporary poetry? No.

DO’D: Can a larger audience for poetry be encouraged?