Louis MacAdams
The River, Books One, Two & Three
Blue Press, 2005

Got a copy of this (finally) at Skylight last night. Lewis MacAdams is the second generation new york school poet who personifies "new york school not in new york." THE RIVER basically records his key not-new york-ness, because MacAdams is founder of Friends of the LA River. Part of The River is a record of that learning about the river, the history behind the present.

His key not new work ness being less to do with the closest beat - nys second gen link, Bolinas, than with this river poem explaining and being a locale for this particular poetry, chatty and full of information, opinion, observation.


This book
poetry daily, april 2001

this clear blue vinyl book, when turned on a turntable, plays its words, each folding of a leaf of this book changes utterly the previous page, as though the paper were clear, the ink the only opaque inside these walls;

this book means something different each time it is read, it means something different depending how it's read, oh, wait, that's every book

this book was never printed
this book was never thought
this book is my book and you can't have it
this book's not free

this book is not a person and I won't have it described like one, it has no character (or characters)

this book is the margin notes I wrote in Rachel Loden's books; Mme. Fifi is a black ink line drawing of Audrey Hepburn in a pink New Look dress walking a poodle down an abstracted Left Bank street, I am Brigitte Bardot, XXXXX,

this book graphs all the formulas of all the genre novels, sestinas, villanelles, canzones, and pantoums

this book isn't a bad run through of Euclid in English; my high school geometry book, it never had covers, I bought the cheapest one “knowing” it was about the content and on the title page I wrote “Mrs. Steve Comerford” over and over, Steve Comerford's wife if you read this, drop me a line.
Speedfactory autosummary (at trAce)

without froms, tos, and accompanying notes, ms word autosummary has
selected 98 “important” words

Catherine Daly



Words glide
hands in stocks.


long lines,


Hand held
words tumble, fragmented
a word trap
loose. pass time counting words & recounting history protocols
mind …
Our words


for fun time. Broad minded? working. spheres
777 code. lost
world solvent.

You've had bananas. bananas.” bananas. Joe. between light and word,
- speech becoming light
becoming light becoming speech
“generations of hands
those hands. touch.

touch becoming speech becoming light
mirror your words,
tremble. tremble.
hmmm, 50 words. reading

place, this brain
this house
stop. loved the garden.
Looking for endorsements, etc., for voting, I found

How we evaluate a candidate
12 family values criteria

now, how are these family values criteria?

We are endorsing candidates who will work to…
1. Reduce the bloated bureaucracies at the school and city levels

by including "school"? that bloating: certainly not a family value, no

2. Provide real solutions to protect kids and families from gangs and crime

ah. what about all those people without a family. just kidding.

3. Improve education standards and schools

ok, that is a nice value

4. Control schools or cities with wise fiscal management

control with fiscal management. very odd. also, this parallel of "school" and "city" is getting scary

5. Create more accountability of teachers, school administrators and city employees

to whom, and for what? how about creating more accountability for parents and students, too?

6. Cut waste and inefficiency in the schools and city

ok, although the public schools I've seen are too poor to have much direct waste. this is certainly aimed at lausd, which clearly needs to be split into valley, city, southbay, westside, county boroughs

7. Achieve independence from—and not become a puppet of—the powerful government unions that prevent needed reform and protect incompetent teachers and city employees

as one of the first and last white collar unions, protecting teachers who are increasingly subject to violence from parents and students... ah...

8. Support a parent’s right to send their children to charter and other schools if the local school is failing the students

that's fine

9. Look to privatize and outsource government services for lower costs and greater productivity

generally this is code for "funding religious charter schools"; I don't know how much stands to be saved here. would have to investigate.

10. Pledge to reduce taxes…and not to vote for new taxes. Watch dog and advocate for the taxpayer. Be pro job growth and business friendly.

I sense the anger here, but the real problem is that there is a group of high income individuals which needs to pay more in tax, and they keep passing regressive taxes, like sales taxes, rather than appropriate taxes. We don't need more taxes on small business; we do need them on big business. We don't need more taxes on people earning less than 40K a year; we need to raise property taxes on 2M plus properties which were purchased more than 10 years ago, too

11. Candidate has proven to have vision, a passion to serve and a track record of accomplishment.

12. The Candidate by all indicators and research has integrity, honesty and a servants’ heart.

A servant's heart! Love it. No. No one should have a servant's heart. People running for office should have a desire and ability to serve the public with honesty, integrity. What they do with their musculature is their own beeswax.

So, I voted for the existing board members endorsed by... my union...
Carrie Olivia Adams

Intervening Absence
Ahsahta, 2009

A Useless Window
Black Ocean

A USELESS WINDOW is a chapbook partially or wholly contained in the new book, INTERVENING ABSENCE. Adams is poetry editor of Black Ocean, so the chap is either collaboratively published or led to that position there; they are having an open reading period now. I am thinking of entering. So, I'm trying to psych out the editor from the work, always a risky proposition, as the editor or judge's past choices or even essays are more reliable an indication than the work. Such is the difference between what we like and what we write, or even what we think we write and what we actually write.

Adams' chapbook, in review at Coldfront, is reportedly operating under a RUBRIC more than a project or a philosophy (even though the opening quote is from Kierkegaard).

One of the recurring happenings in the poems is something vague is conjured with false specificity, as in an intervening absence:

"A red room speaking
of the night’s egress.


A white bird
in your open hand
in this red room:

the brilliance of the moment
in which the invisible gleams
from the edges."

A little recollection of the red wheelbarrow, here, but "night's egress" "brilliance of the moment," "in which the invisible gleams / from the edges": "so much depends" (and the red vehicle, and the white bird).


..."Consumed somewhere
by couch cushions, the door frame.
Was it the black pearl of the afternoon moving seamlessly
into night?"

In the book, there is some play between layout and "intervening absence" (as a rubric, as a "repeated title") and the distance between titles and poems -- espcially poems in untitled-individually sections.


"even while his engagement with (I don’t say commitment to) turbulence and turbulent thought " yet another example of the way in which our finest writers know "people" are unaware f careful word choice -- and so cannot write OR SPEAK, in certain modes, as well as they should
A. Lincoln all over again
Barbara Maloutas
The Whole Marie, Ahsahta, 2009

There is *no way* anyone would ever assign this review to me, as I know Barbara, and here is the major reason that that stricture shouldn't apply in the small world of poetry where most reviews are friendly: the table of contents of the first sequence, i.e., the opening poem, is very obviously informed by Barbara's interest / experience with graphic design, but it is particularly lovely that the poem is *written* in a way that letter subtraction poems aren't much, anymore: at once more written and more visual. The earthquake bit is melodramatic.


May 6, 7:00 p.m.
Reading at the Center for the Arts
Brendan Constantine, Terry Wolverton, Ching-In Chen, and Eloise Klein Healy read at the Center for the Arts in Eagle Rock.

Brendan Constantine was born in Los Angeles and grew up there, the second child of two working actors. His work has appeared in numerous journals, most notably Ploughshares, the Los Angeles Review, Artlife, and the LA Times bestseller The Underground Guide to Los Angeles. Constantine is currently poet in residence at both the Windward School in West Los Angeles and the Idyllwild Arts Summer Youth Writing program. His first poetry collection, Letters To Guns, was published in February by Red Hen Press.

Terry Wolverton is author of six books including Embers (Red Hen Press, 2003), Insurgent Muse: Life and Art at the Woman's Building (City Lights Publishers, 2002), and Mystery Bruise (Red Hen Press, 1999). She has edited fourteen anthologies, including Mischief, Caprice, and Other Poetic Strategies (Red Hen Press, 2002). She is the founder of Writers At Work, a creative writing center in Los Angeles, where she teaches fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry.

Ching-In Chen’s past occupations include karaoke singer, flautist, 1st grade literacy teacher, community organizer, construction job counselor, and a severely lost person in the Rocky Mountains. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Water~Stone Review, Fifth Wednesday Journal, OCHO and Yellow as Turmeric, Fragrant as Cloves. A Kundiman Fellow, Ching-In is currently an MFA candidate at UC Riverside. The Heart’s Traffic is her first book.

Eloise Klein Healy is the author of six books of poetry, most recently, The Islands Project: Poems for Sappho (Red Hen Press, 2007). Healy has been awarded artist residencies at The MacDowell Colony and Dorland Mountain Colony. She directed the Women’s Studies Program at CSU Northridge and was founding chair of the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Antioch University Los Angeles. Her imprint with Red Hen Press, Arktoi Books, specializes in publishing the work of lesbian authors.

Reading at the Center for the Arts
2225 Colorado Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90041
Tel: (323) 226-1617
Free Admission


Ange Mlinko at Mayday

To begin, I’d like to list some qualities (requirements?) of contemporary poetry:

- Very interesting language, an extremely personal style
- A great emphasis on connotation, texture (as opposed to direct statement)
- Extreme intensity, forced emotion, violence
- A good deal of obscurity
- Emphasis on sensation, perceptual nuances
- Emphasis on details, on the part rather than the whole
- A tendency toward external formlessness and internal disorganization
- All tendencies are forced to their limits
- Emphasis on the unconscious, dream structure, the thoroughly subjective
- Attitudes anti-scientific, anti-common-sense, anti-public
- Not a logical, but an associational structure

Do you see your poetry, and the poetry you admire, in this list of characteristics? I do. I mean, I see a description of my poems and the poems by living poets I most admire. And yet this list is entirely cribbed from Randall Jarrell’s “A Note on Poetry,” written at the behest of James Laughlin and published in one of the New Directions “Five Young American Poets” anthologies—in 1940.

“A Note on Poetry” is fresh as a daisy, though whether that’s a compliment to Jarrell or a diss on us is open to debate. It made a splash at the time because it seemed nobody had understood Modernist poetry as an extension of Romanticism until then. We are still Romantics. Poetry is the repository of every vestigial romantic and spiritual longing, everything para- and hyper- and super-. And yet most of us don’t subscribe to Christianity, the Kabbalah, theosophy; most of us aren’t really mystics, except when we believe that our private languages will become magically transparent to the right reader. Yes, we write in poetry dialect.

OK, so this is Jarrell, as the most boring poet-critic ever, and brought back again but not by Stephen Burt. Oh, my. He is not non-academic! He invented the current role.

OK. About Jarrell's list:

To begin, I’d like to list some qualities (requirements?) of contemporary poetry:

- Very interesting language, an extremely personal style

There are enough educated, critically acute poets who have continually questioned what "interesting language" and "personal style" might mean. I think, of the two phrases, it is "personal style" that remains most problematic; how does it relate to the newer old saw, "unique voice" which is "general, yet universal" "personal and colloquial, yet vatic"? And I might say that this latter phrase is one that the post war generation of academic poet critics gave us, with its focus on voice. What could it possibly mean, post baby boom, to *not* strive for a unique voice, a voice, a personal style, an identifiable style, a "brand" (even as an artist)? Also, that "academic" really means "establishment, as the establishment and academia is related, the establishment establishment being more established than in loco parentis academia, which represents the establishment."

- A great emphasis on connotation, texture (as opposed to direct statement)

I would say that there is a lot of direct statement, and a lot of direct statement in clotted language, now. Why? Because readers are different, and because Stevens, the langpos, and other poets have had a profound influence.

- Extreme intensity, forced emotion, violence

Only where catharsis is preferred; I think that it is, but where / how it is expected to be found changes....

- A good deal of obscurity
- Emphasis on sensation, perceptual nuances

- Emphasis on details, on the part rather than the whole

I don't agree with this at all, because Olson's and others' emphasis on process and project -- and even Iowa grads -- and other emph. on source and, yes, brand -- ok, this is a shorthand note, but I spend a lot of my efforts here. I do not see much of this "trees for the forest."

- A tendency toward external formlessness and internal disorganization
- All tendencies are forced to their limits
- Emphasis on the unconscious, dream structure, the thoroughly subjective
- Attitudes anti-scientific, anti-common-sense, anti-public
- Not a logical, but an associational structure

Ever since i heard of this book, I wanted to read it, but first I wanted to know what a plum stone game was. Sounded like a sort of make it yourself cabinet game. It, in fact, seems sort of like poker dice, except only a few hands score. The "Curation" poem sequence does a pretty good job of describing the game: native american game of chance, mostly played by women; rather than full houses and such only a few combos of moons and whatnot score; score traditionally kept with quills, blades of grass. We realize this is a sort of natural history curation (I'm so used to art curation, this took a while for me to catch). Ah, and there are even curatorial notes for "Fig. 2".

But here's the thing: Ararat? Well, not in North America. The M-3? Decidedly UK. And why does "Fig. 9" say "no picture available"? I mean, isn't the picture the "figure" in the catalog? OK, a lot going on in this section; a lot to return to in a real and thorough reading.

I obviously started at the beginning at "Lives of the Saints." These are prose poems. The poems aren't about the saints per se, but the peculiar, internal "stories of the lives" which are half vision, half judgement. The sequence begins with night (two lives), moves to journeys, mutilation/purgation, and returns to night, but the figures or stars, night, light, are in most every poem.

The first poem is the opposite of the organized turning of the paradiso: "All that was left were the curved streaks of their paths.... There was no turning point." The second reverses the light under a bushel comparison: "I lit lamps in unlikely places to attract night’s insects. ... I waited for things to come by and trapped them." But here, Jesme performs the amazing task of *illustrating* concentration on the small, the hidden, the "least spaces" of sainthood. As well as the bloody-mindedness and obsession (particularly with big and little deaths).

The next sequence, "I will not let thee go except thou bless me" begins with an amazing ars poetica statement (for the book? for Jesme? for the sequence? tbd), "Speak to me fidelities: a shift of traitors each its own /
rhyme..." I.e., fidelities are speaking. Fidelity as in faith? Oh, sure, but also, when speech is conjured, fidelity as faithful reproduction, speech together with poetry. Not, speak in this poetry, or to me from the aether to become this poetry through me, rocks, but fidelities (to a standard, perhaps, to truth, to rocks). What is the opposite of Fido, or of Semper Fi? Traitors. Each traitor has its own rhyme. Thus fidelities have ONE. And it is in SPEECH. She goes on to parallel secrets as betrayals/traitors. Secrets: what is not said.

In the next poem, I read about grasses and think of the quills or grasses in the plum stone game which poems I officially haven't read yet, if I'm not reading / skipping around. A good question about order, sequence, and poetry book reading, I suppose. Sequence and chronology are not terribly concerning to me when reading poetry because so much poetry is written to be re-read. To be returned to, at will, willy-nilly: the reader's will.

One place where Jesme and Mlinko / (Burt) / Jarrell intersect, where Whitman and Dickinson intersect with the modern temper, the romantics, too, is where do the writers get a response? We do not. In this way, the pursuit becomes as "kinda religious" as real religion.

from Robin Blaser's "obit" on Charles Bernstein's site:

"thinking serially so as to move beyond the epistemological limits of positivism and self-expression"

The first poem in the last sequence uses WORDS slant:

after a "shift of traitors" (migrating word meanings?) Jesme gives us light "spackling" -- covering, joining, sticking -- leaves, not speckling or sparkling; "sheets of fragments" I can only read as poems or as opposites (although even poems or stained glass or mosaics or crazy quilts are sheets made from fragments, not sheets of fragments, properly); the dogs of thoughts started tracking (prey), but the thinker missed the feeding -- consumption of the results of the thoughts; [jump to garden]: "garden" and relationship to "interference" has to do with DEFINITION, but also note how WILD isn't mentioned; non-interference, i.e., cultivation, i.e. the opposite of WILD, yields the next question, which is about abandonment, really, since attention is somewhat different than culture, wilderness different from participation (tree.. falling... perception...); "canting" is here, again, not the opposite of recanting, since canting has more meanings than recanting...; and she wants to turn awry, not away, and askew is like another "cant"... the first little hive of reversals and multiplied and divided meanings in the beginning of a "dense lyric" sequence -- of quasi - prose.

The transition, "In another country the grasses know her" capitalizes (not a real swell word choice by me) on the confusion / multiple meanings of the previous poem, while it creates a disjunction, as the next "sentence" starts, "Are addressing..."

Pun on dressing and addressing, the place as a garment; the second poem in the sequence is also a puzzle, just a different sort of puzzle.

"out of reach until in hand, in mouth, in ear." another quote from Bernstein


strange poems that were written to cfw, but were not published

Chartruese Blues

I woke up this morning
with chartreuse on my mind.

I woke up this morning
hung from too much wine.

I drank too much at the opening,
now my woman's name is Ashley Sunshine.

Ashley, she wants Chinese brocade;
Ashley, she wants a couch custom made.

I don't know how I ended up with this design gal,
I don't know how I drank so much Merlot,

I know I got to get down to Melrose
before the Pacific Design Center closes.

Cold & Flu Season

It's been a long day
surrounded by damp kleenex and
the parrot's learned to call you "Atchoo."

Golden pollen floats outside, perhaps from the jacaranda
every poet seems to call "wisteria", a vine,
not a blooming tree, but yours is no mere allergy.

This time of year, rivulets of snot, sudden bursts
of histamine, and raspy breath no eucalyptus inhaler aids
replace thundering oceans of passion stirred by waves of desire, etc., etc.

Honey, I'd suck the pools of mucus from your sinuses
with a vacuum if that'd help, but I'm not angelically inclined.
A chaste kiss on the forehead will have to do you.
psyching out contests, presses, etc.

Dara Wier is judging the new Mississippi Review 3 book prize

Don't actually have any of her books and haven't seen her read; have a few of Tate's books.

One of the poets -- likely but not in the main crowd -- doped by John Ashbery. See Ralph Angel, Lee Upton.

When I read the poem with phrases I immediately think of Alice Notley. Because I always think of Alice Notley's "White Phosphorus" when I see phrases broken up by pieces of punctuation. The one I wrote also uses double quotes. Maybe I should translate it or do another rewrite pseudo translation with parens. Another with brackets. Another with asterisks. How would that make the difference between "White Phosphorus" and "Blue Oxen" more apparent?

(it's scaffolding) at the beginning is a clear and obvious signal; more cannily, I should have typed "(it's scaffolding)"

(it's scaffolding I have to borrow or rent for next Saturday)

Masque not Skin

(yet they are bright) (night envied) (silver moon, broken) (bodies in the ocean) (in clouds, roses white, rose) (souls of men) (clad in sky-colored dress) (by day) (evening's motion)