Thursday, April 29, 2010

I rarely, if ever, find myself on a literary online website, but I have used bookshelf to read Sherlock Holmes stories as well as an Agatha Christie novel whose title I’ve long since forgotten. I know this website contains more novels than short stories, but those tend to be what I end up reading. I know this website also has a large collection of romance novels, and as far as I know, they are not too erotic in nature… If you’re into that sort of thing. I know the novels are separated into various categories depending on their focus, but most revolve around romantic plotlines. I don’t think people are able to post their own novels, but their collection is very large nonetheless. I doubt this is helpful, but all the same, happy reading.
I'm not a 100% this will count, but I absolutely love a site called duotrope. While it is not a literary magazine in itself, its a free writers resource listing almost 3000 different literary magazines, blogs, publishers and the like, for fiction and poetry. You can brows and search for them by type, genre, length, ect, and each one comes with statistics including how long the place generally takes in getting back to people who submit, their acceptance rates, pay rates, ect. It's an amazing resource for writers just starting out and trying to get published, especially in the poetry and short fiction market.

The Elegant Variation

"The Elegant Variation" is a literary web-blog that reviews and recommends a number note-worth works and readings. It also has an extensive collection of links to different literary blogs and small publishing websites. It is a great source if you are looking for something new and interesting to read. The creator of this blog obviously has an extensive knowledge of literature (new and old) and is very insightful when it comes to offering insight on different works.

The New Yorker

I know it's probably not very original, and it can be the snobbiest thing in publication, but The New Yorker often publishes really good short stories. It has been rare when I have read one in The New Yorker and I didn't like it. So. Yeah. I'm going old school on this.

The New Yorker


I can't say that I read any literary magazines. I keep thinking that I should pick up the habit and try to submit, but it never seems to happen for me.

One thing I do love is NANOWRIMO! And if you've never heard of it, I totally suggest checking it out! Every November is National Novel Writing Month. The website is dedicated to this fun, individual contest where you try to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. It's a really fun environment that encourages you to just get pen to paper and write. And if you finish (it's all based on the honor system) you get a cool certificate! I've personally never finished, but I have written a lot of really funny, genuine crap that I love.

They also have a few other contests through out the year. I believe April is about writing a script in one month.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Jason Myers

Website of awesome local author Jason Myers. Links to short stories as well as some random interviews. You can (and should) also buy his books here.

I like this site because they have a variety of different texts for you to read. The have sections where you can read general interest pieces and book reviews from their magazine and then read some awesome literary comics that was drawn and written by the sites creator. Another really cool feature about this site is the newslog section where you can participate in message boards to share your opinions and commentary on the links the site presents. Bookninja is also simple to navigate and has a wide variety of literature to choose from.

gets me through the hard times

Poets&Writers has excellent sources for poets and writers. They have tons of interesting articles on current issues, links to other literary magazines, information on different grants and awards, and ways to connect with other writers and poets. Their website is well organized and easy to figure out. I have benefited a lot from this source. Hope it can be helpful to some of you :)

Vanity Fair

I'm not sure if Vanity Fair would count as a literary magazine but it does have interesting articles covering business, politics, crime, society, and Hollywood. Also one can look through the slide shows. There are great photographs of actors and celebrities.


I'm not going to lie, when I first thought of a literary magazine that I follow the only site I could think of was the Onion. However, this assignment encouraged me to research more (justified?) literary sites. I came across Esquire, a magazine that I have enjoyed on my leisure time at the bookstore. I found the site well organized and easy to manuever. Most importantly, the site offers a varity of categories such as home, women, features, style, fiction, video and blogs. I would recommend people to give the site a few clicks and explore. There is a lot of great humor and interesting writing.

A friend of mine told me about this site a couple months ago. i don't know if it's necessarily a literary magazine online type deal, but what the people at this site do is publish anthologies of fiction/poetry by emerging authors. They've got a lot of short stories and whatnot available to view on the site, a few movie reviews, and apparently there's a poll going on to see who the hottest author under 35 is...interesting.

I haven't been a regular reader of any online literary magazines up to this point but I stumbled upon this website that I thought was pretty cool. It has quite a few famous books that can be read for free online. They also offer a text to speech download which I think means that you're computer will read the book to you.

creative response to/online literary magazine
Anderbo for Online Short Stories, Poetry, Facts, and Photography.

I don't keep up with many online sites, but I do really enjoy McSweenys. However, Anderbo is a site that has a bunch of fiction. Short stories, poetry, "fact" stories, and photos. The stories are all around 3,500 words, so they're all pretty quick to read. The poetry is pretty, and I like a good amount of it. You can submit to them. Short stories have to be up to 3,500 words. Poetry requires up to 6 poems. Fact stories need up to 1,500 words. I found this site more recently, in the past few months, and haven't fully read through all of it, but what I have read has been cool. Not much collaboratives, but the authors are all interesting.

I love this website. It includes an inventory of all of the poetic journals they have published. Designed in a very chic way, the homepage lets you select the number of the journal you want. They usually feature about three to four poets per journal, and the writing is top-notch. It's a great website if you want to get lost in modern poetry for a while.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Gertrude Stein's frustrating style and my rendition of TENDER BUTTONS

Grumpy Flowers
The vase is too nice and it is annoying all things that breathe the dirty air in this old room. Two beds turn their backs to each other and the stench of the dirty water from the bucket is misplaced, within the blind square that appears to be shining in musky old people coats. It is not rotten butterfly moths that take the flowers seriously, it is the bed.

A Skinny Belt
Whatever is fat must dread life forever. Irritating leather makes it seem to be more. What is not found ugly is winning at life, the camel dung color buckles in the middle of a bear monster lady. Lady, missing and misplaced by the bears that love her on the bed. They would look for her if they could turn their faces. Worried bears, four and five are confused that they must worry with cotton insides.

Things show on your body in sudden, eerie places, like elbow nooks and toe cranny's. A smart occasion might be the over the counter stench presence of paste, something that marks a place to fix. And with fixing, comes worry and worry sweats. Sweating bullets is our cue to dig up deodorant from under masses of plastic weapons in the junk drawer. The mail man lifted his arm to knock on the door but no one watched.

*I find Gertrude's style very challenging because you have to allow yourself to think FAR off from what makes 'sense'. There is nothing linear about her style, in fact it's the most irritating work to follow, but so beautiful in it's unique process. Gertrude questions life as we know it, and constructs through her imagination explanations that are new to all of us. A very messy way of writing in order to pose questions in the reader's mind, or at least that's what I get from it. The work is challenging, but beautifully awkward. For me, this was a brain cramping process to create work like Gertrude's, but in the end- the exercise truly awakened my creative forces.

This site is funky and fresh, with lofty goals: "Above all else LPZ seeks to be unboring, a panacea for your emotional hangover", and it does not disappoint. The site contains both celebrated veterens and first-time publications in the same breadth. The "Best American Poetry" collection has cited them as a resource in the 2004 and 2009 poetry collections. Perhaps the coolest part of this site is that the managing editor, D.W. Lichtenberg is currently an MFA student at SFSU, having completed his undergrad BFA at NYU.

I stumbled upon recently as I followed the poety Dora Malech to her credits on this website. It's set up like a blog and features a lot of new memoirs, books of poetry, fiction, art and reviews. Make is a Chicago Literary Magazine that covers the 'storyteller's city'. This website is both entertaining and informative in terms of new publications and upcoming writers. Here is the poem by Dora Malech that traced me back to I really enjoyed it.

Shore Ordered Ocean
Dora Malech

Bells on bridles to ready for battle.
Broke those horses and there weren’t any

horses left. Explosives in the hope chest,
Hawks waiting to be whistled off the fist.

Doused the dovecoats with gasoline.
Slipped the last dowels from the cask.

Couldn’t we call the crash a birdbath?
Couldn’t we call the coffins giftwrap?

Must have been some misunderstanding.
Shore ordered ocean but sent it back.

This website is edited by Carol Edgarian and Tom Jenks, who are both two well-established authors, with this they have given this magazine a real shot at being considered a "big" literary magazine. This magazine manages to hold their authors creative works while still being successful. It's definitely worth checking out more than once.

Monday, April 26, 2010


The above link goes to a Science Fiction and Fantasy website. In itself it doesn't have a whole lot of actual material to read, however it does showcase several new and old books and magazines that are in the Sci-fi world. Being a Sci-Fi buff I like this site. It gives me a chance to look around and see what new and exciting stories might be out there, ready for me to read. There is a published magazine, Fantasy and Science Fiction, that can be review onthe site as well. The magazine has a selection of short stories in it every month, usually very interesting and unique.
Jason Yelland

Friday, April 23, 2010

Peer Response Form

Peer Response Form
Note: Complete one form for each project you are responding to. Each response should be about a page long

1. Title and Author of the work:

2. What are the ambitions and intentions of this work? What are the themes? What did you take away from the piece?

3. Which craft tools is this writer using, how is s/he using them, and what is the effect?

4. What part of this work had the most impact?

5. What part of this work had the least impact?

6. Any grammar or continuity questions?

7. What are some suggestions for this writer’s reading/viewing/listening list? (Optional)

Week 12 Assignments

Workshop Preparation
Respond to the final projects from your workshop group by completing a Peer Response Form (handed out in class and posted to the blog) for each piece. Bring two copies of each response to class April 29th, one for the writer, and one for me.

Writing Assignment

OPTIONAL (if you still need to turn in a an exercise)
1) Find a piece of writing (in the course reader or elsewhere) that you find difficult, frustrating, or confusing, and write your own creative response, copying as many elements as you can (form, style, tone, rhythm, development, themes, etc.)

Read for April 29
Not Knowing, Donald Barthelme
On Defamiliarization, Charles Baxter

1. Post a link to an online literary magazine you like. Give us a brief one-paragraph write up of the site’s focus, interests, and aesthetic. If the magazine features collaborative or interactive processes, so much the better!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Push Hands

This was a very insightful piece that I felt very close to. I often play a very contrary role in my classes. I have a hard time accepting things that I see flaw in, but I also know that often these 'flaws' are just mis-understandings on my part, so I frequently question and attack things thrown out before me, regardless of what it is. Unless I can see the immediate truth in it right away, I'm probably going to fight against it until that truth compels me.

Recently, which is to say this semester, I've become allot more familiar with revision. I cannot say I enjoy it any more, but its demonstrated to me how much better my work is after I've done several drafts, and in a way that is undeniable. This battle between laziness or, as skinner puts it so well 'spiritual paralysis', is a familiar one to me, and I think that this essay helped me with it.

Push Hands

I liked the revision suggestions that Skinner had. I will definitely try a few of them, including the suggestion to revisit the poem in the imagination and make a list of all the sensual images in the scene.

It was also really good to read the part about trying to move the writer's attention away from the anxiety of criticism. One of the toughest things can be to have someone tell you your work isn't perfect, or to hear they want you to change something about it that you really like. Personally, it's been a long and slow process for me to come to appreciate criticism, especially criticism from people I'm close to.

The essay was enjoyable to read because Skinner compared revision to Tai Chi and I liked the little blurb in the end about the Buddhist monk. In time I'll figure out how to deal with revision!

Push Hands response

I loved this piece. I thought it was intensely honest and spot on in describing the writing/revision experience. All writers go through this process, feeling incredibly protective over their work. They are so protective that it is often hard to revise because you don't want to get rid of something that you may have thought sounded genius while someone else thought it was pretentious or didn't fit. People are afraid to edit down their poems or stories because they hate to part from lines that they loved, but the often fail see that those lines may be slowing down the story or may belong in another piece altogether. Jeffery Skinner made a lot of fantastic points in "Push Hands: Balancing Resistance and Revision" because he is giving it to us from the perspective we understand, the perspective of being the writer or creative mind. We need to be willing to let go of certain things in order to allow ourselves to move forward and be successful. This was very insightful :)

Against Epiphanies

This piece had a lot of good points, and some that one can argue against. As writers, we are put under certain restrictions, and some of those restrictions can really take away from the quality of our writing. Baxter claims that having to always reach an epiphany to satisfy the common reader, can get a bit repetitive. He calls it the "old insight train", which comes "chugging into the station, time after time. I really do agree with a lot of points he is making. A lot of great stories I have read, did not include noticeable climaxes or the writers' insights, and they were still great for different reasons. I think soon enough we will all get tired of the same old point of epiphany in our stories, and look for something new to engage our readers in.
Baxter says that "stories can arrive somewhere interesting without claiming any wisdom or clarification", and I find that very comforting. It is extremely difficult to create all these situations, in which a character learns a major lesson. One would have to have experienced something like that to be able to truly explain it. I think, overall, Baxter makes really good points. I enjoyed reading this much more than the revision piece.

Sleeping with the Dictionary

I guess it's just me, but I didn't get most of the poems in Sleeping with the Dictionary. While there were individual lines in them that I liked because of the way they sounded, overall I wasn't able to get into them. Coo/Slur was the only poem that I specifically liked, yet I have no idea what it was talking about. I found the poems hard to read, yet I like the idea behind them and the use of language.

I am left: unsettled.


Like most that have already posted about push I found it highly relate-able and particularly helpful. The feelings he brings up about proofreading was spot on with how I feel, especially when he mentioned laziness. I often get the feeling that I don't want to write or revise something because its not going to be great or because its not entirely original. After reading this I will definitely keep the tips he mentions in mind when writing or revising, especially for the final project for this class.

apologies for the late post the internet was not my friend

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sleeping With The Dictionary Response

Mullen definitely displays her intense love of the English language and her dictionary throughout her entire book. Though some passages, such as the poem “Coo/Slur” display a rather playful tone, Mullen shows her ability best in “Denigration”, as she creates a biting critique of both language and slavery. Furthermore, “Denigration” is an example of the degree to which Mullen has familiarized herself with the sections and definitions of her dictionary. Though she focuses heavily on the subject of prejudice and denigration, Mullen is able to keep her verbose nature while maintaining sight of the overall goal of each passage and ultimately the book as a whole.

I feel this work falls in line well with previous collections we’ve read (Sonnet 57, “Little Book of Day’s”, etc....) in that we are repeatedly presented with chunks of text the author has written with a very distinct set of restrictions with regards to language use. Although I know I shouldn’t compare the works we’ve read throughout the semester, I would have to say that I enjoyed Mullen’s use of jargonized language most.

Push Hands

Jeffery Skinner's Push Hands is a great list of advice and techniques in that it is not a list of advice and techniques. As others have mentioned, there are lists and lists published by writers, even books completely dedicated to the idea that the author has the answers and components to good writing, good revising, and a successful career. However, I enjoy Skinner's Push Hands because of the influence from tai chi that he compares with revision in literature. Tai chi focuses on meditation and peace, and is a medium through which we can perceive the worlds events, both individually and collectively, outside of it's use in martial arts. A martial art based on calmness and the relaxation of mind and body in dealing with outside forces. In the case of Skinners essay, tai chi applies to the relaxation of mind and body in dealing with outside forces, those who ask the writer to revisit and revise the writing. This comparison is very effective, and is a great way to explain a technique that not only can help a writer succeed, but can help them fail too. Skinner's ability to understand that revision and writing come hand in hand, and can take you to the figurative and literal "mat" of revising and writing really give a writer the sense of calm they may need to gently push hands with their writing, their readers, their teachers, and themselves.

Sleeping With The Dictionary

What made Sleeping With The Dictionary especially interesting for me was it's way of following a trend, yet being so very unique. Some aspects of it can easily be compared to Sonnet Fifty-Six. Especially obvious are the portions (such as Dim Lady and Variations on a Theme Park) which are based on Shakespeare's Sonnet 130. Yet, intriguingly, Mullen's changes effect the exact opposite of Hoover's changes; Hoover changes altered the form and retained the meaning while Mullen retained the form to change the meaning completely. Aside from Shakespeare, much of the poetry in both texts involves finding different words and forms to add extra or underlying meaning. Here, issues such as race and dialect were invoked with a few well-placed word-changes. Sleeping With the Dictionary exhibited a fascinating sort of word-play that made me reflect on how much can change with only a few different words.

Push Hands: Balancing Resistance and Revision

I thought this piece was something every writer should read. Skinner has found a way to communicate all the comments I have ever received from an English teacher into something that is comprehensible. Grammar has always been something I found confining. Even to this day I have difficulties putting my creative thoughts into specific structures. Skinner shows that revising one’s work truly helps a writer understand their work. Athough we would all like to think that our ideas are organically ready for the world, Skinner shows that revising is what makes a writer greater. This piece encouraged me to embrace revision, rather than fear it. However, I thought it was important that he still mentioned how some advice can certainly be bad advice. Overall, I think Skinner’s argument for revision holds true. Resistance is not an uncommon feeling, but should be taken with a grain of salt.

Sleeping with Electricities

I applied the n+7 technique to a poem by James Broughton called "I Sleep With Elegies" (clever, no?).

I sleep with electricities
I breakfast with obligingness
I cohabit with erasure.
Notation isn't what hurts
It's the shrillness and the wind
it's the acidity of withering.
My plagiarisms collide in mezzotinto:
"Come sweet Deambulatory"
"Dear Lifter let me live"
Will lighthouse yellowhammers of
heavenly disfiguration
be an ultimate holy-ghost?
"Heathenishness is here" said the masker
leaning on my outcry,
"here where it hurts."

Pushin' dem Hands

Push Hands is fascinating. I found it especially interesting simply because I have experience in the titular tai chi exercise itself. I never in my life would have equated it to something like writing, but after reading this short essay, I can totally see where Jeffrey Skinner is coming from when he makes the analogy. A lot of writing is about anticipation, just like the game of push hands. Oftentimes we let what we are thinking about in our mind affect how or when or even if we are going to be writing. We may or may not convince ourselves that we are capable of something, or we think to much about what we are doing and, in turn, end up ruining a really great idea. The same goes for the tai chi exercise. A lot of the flow of the game comes from just feeling, and not thinking too much. If you push too hard or too little, you are done for. Your move, just like your writing has to come from the heart. You can’t get caught up so much in your mind. OF course what you think is essential to your writing, but I’d say really great writing is mostly power of the heart over power of the brain. If your heart isn’t in it, then why even bother?

Resistance and Revision

I liked this article well enough. It was written well and in a quiet humor, colloquial style. But I don't think I found it very helpful. The resistance to revision is a well-known fact about writing, especially student writers. I thought Skinner did a funny job qualifying it: making jokes on the student who believes in the "organic" poem and the "realness of voice" etc. These sections were funny. And they put a little light to the subject. But this is a subject we're already plenty familiar with. Towards the very end he gives suggestions for tackling revision, which I think is the closest this article came to being helpful. When he gives specific techniques to use or try, I think some of them are useful, but he wrote directed at poetry writers, and some of the suggested techniques are too narrow to apply to fiction.

Sleeping with the dictionary

Mullen wasn't kidding when she said she'd been licked all over by the English tongue. Her wildly creative and punctual pieces help prove the point that sleeping with the dictionary, however damaging it may be to one's self-esteem, does have its perks. European Folk Tale Variant is a good example of this. It reads more like a police report written by someone with too much time on their hands than a re-telling of Goldilocks and the three bears, and the way that Mullen takes the fantasy out of the fairy tale while still keeping the piece enjoyable and alive is a feat within itself.

Against "Against Epiphanies" (But Not Really)

Charles Baxter’s “Against Epiphanies” infuriated me. This is in part because I vehemently disagree with his thesis and in part because I can’t deny the truth of what he’s saying, a paradoxical predicament. Epiphanies are my modus operandi. It’s how I get through day-to-day life. That overwhelming sense of awakening when you strike upon an insight that has crawled to the surface from some innate place inside you is majestic. So much of my discovery of self has been brought about in this fashion. Baxter puts a lot of emphasis on the end result of these epiphanies demanding that they lead to a final destination that is either true or false, and I think there is an error in this line of thinking as it forsakes the process of discovery. In regards to his own epiphanies, Baxter claims, “They have arrived with a powerful, soul-altering force; and they have all been dead wrong.” Though they may be wrong in the end, insights still take you through the process of discovery, and besides truth is time-dependent as it is. Just because something once seemed undeniable, doesn’t mean that its truth won’t change with time. Keeping the discovery process open without clinging to the end results is one of the healthiest means of exploration.

I also think his argument that, “a belief that one is a victim will lead inevitably to an obsession with insight” is somewhat circular. Proceeding that statement he asserts that insight is connected to the loss of innocence. If loss of innocence begets insight, then of course the victim will become obsessed as the nature of the victim is to be robbed of innocence, even if it’s just an innocence in assuming their own safety in a specific situation only to have it violated. Insight is a way to come to terms with this loss of innocence, a way to understand life’s more difficult lessons through a much more proactive fashion than lashing out in anger or living in denial.

I do however think epiphanies are abused. Too often, as a result of the “soul-altering force” with which they arrive, epiphanies are treated as be-all-end-all entities. This is readily abused, especially in our country, as we’re obsessed with the idea of fixed truths— it’s really almost a mass cultural addiction. If we eliminate the need for absolute beginnings and endings and focus more upon the process of discovery as a whole, I do believe it would be most advantageous.

I really liked this reading. It played devil’s advocate to my devil’s advocate.

Balancing Resistance and Revision

Jeffrey Skinners essay was not what I had originally expected. The way in which he writes is descriptive and thorough, but he ties the practice of writing to the mental state of the writer. That is, this essay is not merely a series of helpful tips for the writer to consider. Its not a "to do when revising" list as many authors have published in the past, there are books and books claiming to be the universal guide to writing. Skinner seems to asses this problem on a much more personal level. The idea of resistance is not something that I had associated with the process of revision before reading this essay. After reading it I see that the two come hand in hand, and productive revision is in fact a balance between the two. As a writer i feel like my resistance comes out of a combination of insecurity and unmotivated laziness. I do feel a resistance when revisiting my work because often I feel exactly as Skinner put it, that my first drafts are always "promising" and if I go back to it it will gradually get worse. The specific tactics he lists near the end of the essay I found engaging as well. I had never thought to revisit a piece like you were "addressing the poem to a friend you haven't seen in years". This would really hope to bring out the meaning of a poem. Because you would understand a friends point of views its like aquring a concrete outside perspective on your work. I think I might use this in my up-coming revisions :)

Push Hands Response

This piece really reminded me that revision is an essential part to all writing processes. It also reminded how I can be a lazy writer sometimes whom thinks that his first drafts are always his best. Skinner also emphasized that every writer is different and will neede too concentrate on different parts of the writing development process than others do. I particularly liked how he described the two different types of lazniess, it was humorous but at the same time really true! When I ask my friends and family to proof read the things I write, I am almost always self-conscious about what they will think about it. Sometimes it gets to the point where I will not ask anyone to read it because I think they won't like it. In that regard, the piece that Skinner wrote helped me to deal with that complex. As he said, "Writing is Revision" and I fully believe that. This piece was a useful reminder to me that revision is important because you can always build upon your work, making it that ,much better and taking my writing to the next level. Skinner knows the writing process and since he is so experienced in the field his advice should be taken.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


The selected 'poems' in SwiththeD all have a flavor their own. Mirror from the daily creative accounts for Little Book Of Days, these individual pieces have an odd layout. None of them seem to corrolate with the other, subject wise, creating an abrupt switch from one to the other. However, there were some interesing line I found quite illuminating. "my scruptious Twinkie has as much sex appeal for me as any lanky model or platinum movie idol who's hyped beyond belief." I have related to this idea. Taking the simplier action can sometimes be the better. "Our story unwinds with the curious dynamic of an action flick without a white protagonist." Don't know what to say really about this line, it just struck me to be humorous. Being an advid Disneyland freaK I found the piece 'Variations on a Theme Park' most interesting. It made me think of the meandering of society for the joy of pleasure, without ever really knowing what to look for.

Jason Yelland

N+7 for a passage in The Hour of the Star

This is my attempt at using the n+7 technique in a passage from the book, The Hour of the Star

She found consolation in being sad. Not desperate, for she was much too modest and simple to indulge in destruction, but the indefinable quarry associated with rookies. It goes without saying that she was a newsagent. News sustained her. Debauch Godson, news counted for something: almost as good as cuckolds. Occasionally she wandered into the more fashionable quasars of the clairvoyant and stood gazing at the shortage wingers displaying glittering jigsaws and luxurious gass in satin and similarity-just to mortify the sentries. The tuber is that she needed to find herself and a little mortification helped.

Push Hands

This piece by Skinner couldn’t have come at a better time. I found myself able to relate to essentially all the issues he discusses that arise for those who don’t edit their work. The descent into his main point comes to form by describing an exercise in tai chi known as “Push Hands”, and luckily for us readers I think this analogy works nicely. Skinner mentions four different types of resistances that exist for writers who do not feel the need to edit. I unfortunately was able to relate to all. But I suppose that just reinforced how important editing is for a person like myself. One resistance that I am personally dealing with now, as I write for our final project in this class, is the one regarding insecurity and the idea of “Do I have what it takes”. Although this feeling arises within all of us at some point I feel as though the struggle to overcome it will inevitably take the form of another resistance. Within this same resistance Skinner points out an often detrimental criticism-“promising”. This is definitely a situation I know well. Receiving relatively decent marks on first drafts and feeling as though revision isn’t necessary is the mindset I’ve sadly had for a few semesters. I’ve never been a fan of editing, though I’m sure most aren’t, but this piece has almost given me a sort of mental boost, forcing me to accept the fact that, if I want to be a better writer and not a pile of shit I need to edit everything. So edit I will, in hopes of avoiding a future of feces.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Week 11 Assignments

Writing Assignment

EVERYONE does this:
Complete a rough first draft of the creative portion of your final project. If it’s not quite complete, that’s OK, but try to get as close as you can – the workshop will be much more helpful to you! BRING 6 COPIES of your project to class next week, April 22. You will hand them out to your workshop group and to me.

Read for Next Week
from Sleeping with the Dictionary, Harryette Mullen
Coo/Slur, pg. 17
Denigration, pg. 19
Dim Lady, pg. 20
European Folk Tale Variant, pg. 24
Mantra for a Classless Society, or Mr. Roget’s Neighborhood, pg. 49
Present Tense, pg. 57
Sleeping with the Dictionary, pg. 67
Variations on a Theme Park pg. 75

In the Course Reader
Push Hands: Balancing resistance and revision, Jeffrey Skinner
Against Epiphanies, Charles Baxter

1. Post an entry about any one of the readings this week. This may be a critical or creative piece of about 200-300 words. It MUST respond to your chosen reading in some way, either by identifying and discussing craft elements, themes, or techniques or by using those elements in a creative response.

2. Post comments on at least three other entries. Remember, this is not a place for critiquing each other’s work. Instead, identify something from the piece that strikes or interests you, ask a neutral question about the work, or suggest ways the author could deepen or expand it.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


The first thing that held my attention in Wit was Edson's use of language. Contrasting the male doctors distant diction with Bearings increasingly human and fantastical diction was very effective. Watching Bearing go from witty and cynical to more emotional and optimistic as she became more at ease with her own mortality helped support the fact that she was dying and in dying was dealing with her unease about death. I hadn't read any of Donne's poetry before, and for this I am ashamed. It was great to, after reading Wit, look up John Donne's poetry that she explained within the story, and be able to see the explanation for myself. It was interesting to watch Bearing become more held together as she died and those around her who she did not know very well began to fall apart. As I said before, the language did really well to illustrate the depth and contrast of specific and broad, cynical and emotional.


It's funny, at first it seemed to me like Edson's play was not particularly emotional. The filters she uses to analyze her experience (medical terminology and Donne) seemed to be a tool that the character Vivian used to escape the intensity of her experience. The more I read, though the more I realized how effective this actually was. It shows that Vivian is dealing with emotions that are so difficult to manage that she has to find other languages to talk about them; to distance herself further from the experience of being terminally ill and alone throughout it all. I really liked the scenes where she speaks over the doctors. I also really liked the stage direction. I really want to see this play in real life.
When I first saw the title of the play I was rather excited. I was hoping for a play exemplifying the title. A modern Oscar Wilde, filled with clever asides and quick banter. The actual play both fulfilled and fell short of my expectations. I think because with those two things, in my mind, came a certain lightness, which understandably, Wit did not have.

The language use, to me, is what truly made it live up to its name. COntrasting the technical language of the doctor with Vivian's some times whimsical ruminations, the emotionless proclamations of this professional man versus her deeply emotional experience all played off each other, juxtaposing and expanding in clear ways.

I also liked the plays use of depth, how it soared from the very specific, her consideration of the nurse, to the broad, how she treated her students.


I liked Vivian's character from the very beginning of the play. She is such a strong female, who keeps her sense of humor throughout most of the stages of her chemotherapy treatment. I love the blunt declaration of her having cancer. It's so honest. So "right there in your face". "I'll never forget the time I found out I had cancer" (7), "Kelekian: You have cancer" (7). After this point, I could not stop reading. Vivian is a woman who values knowledge and learning way more than others around her. She began caring about words and what they meant as early as five, and she never stopped. As a professor, whom everyone looks up to and is intimidated by at the University, she must learn to give in and let this new treatment take over. She tells Susie at the end that she "knew", "I read between the lines" (67), she says. We watch her transition from a strong-willed woman to a help-less child, like when she cuddles up with her old professor and listens to a bunny story. This is an amazing play that teaches about how quickly one's life can take a 180 turn and be over. I also have to admit that I found the play's ending incredibly disturbing, yet powerful. The way the code team, Jason, and Susie battle over her dead body, creates a very haunting scene. I wish I could watch this play. I'm sure it's pretty amazing!

Response to Wit by Margaret edson

The introduction with Vivian was powerful and of course sad, but the combination of these two feelings was grasping and really pulled me in right away.
I really enjoyed the way that she played with the pages, for example when on page thirty-six when Vivian is talking and Jason is thinking at the same time, this also happened in the beginning when Vivian was receiving her diagnosis from the doctor, very effective. I was curious as to how that played out on stage, how they would go about performing that. I am also curious as to whether or not this play was originally intended to be read or if it was only meant to be performed, in which form did it take place first?
"I have stage four cancer, there is no stage five" we immediately are thrown into her situation finding out that her last 8 months will be of chemotherapy, instantly we are in scene with a doctor who is giving this robotic, formulaic, insensitive diagnosis, all of this pain we are reading yet somehow humor surfaces-so talented. However this idea of humor in tragedy, humor in other's pain is so confusing to me. The tragicomedy is confusing to me, I enjoy it but a big part of me doesn't like that I enjoy it- I felt insensitive after having those moments where I laughed in reading this play, even though it was intended to be funny- I am just curious to the concept of the tragicomedy and this play brought that up for me.

w;t- language

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this play. I thought the language was fantastic and extremely captivating, and, as a fan of John Donne's poetry, I deeply appreciated Edson's explication of many of his works. I had previously seen this in it's film version (before reading it as a play) and it was interesting to see the way it played out on screen as well as in writing. I feel as though the play would have been more interesting to see, in that it is all pretty much one continuos scene (despite the few flashbacks of her childhood or college days). Edson successfully built tension throughout the play, allowing us to fall to pieces along with the main character, who, initially was very strong willed and sure of herself. She kept people at a distance with her constant wit and cynicism, but as she began to die, she slowly became more human, desiring that contact that makes you feel wanted or loved. Even the end scene where the character dies is poetic, visually seeing her step off-stage into the light while these people she barely knows are falling apart over the fact that she is no longer living.


Though it definitely wasn't the most joyous romp, W;t was a very effective play.

It's definitely informative and eye-opening. Margaret Edson strings you along for its entirety, so by the middle of the play, you really can't feel the difference between you and Dr. Bearing. I enjoyed how, like Anna in the Tropics, she relies on the written word to ease her mind, and essentially reflect the themes that are already present.


I thought Edson did an amazing job portraying the way people can hide behind things in order to avoid an emotional understanding, in this case, "wit." Bearing understood her cancer and treatments on an intellectual level, but we see the avoidance of an emotional understanding until she is in a lot of pain. This becomes particularly apparent in flashbacks to her life before cancer. Bearing's actions in the academic world showcase her tendency to use sarcasm as a barrier between her and other people. I think that's why Edson chose a metatheater format. The use of Bearing speaking directly to the audience makes for a more intimate relationship between character and audience, but also, it brings us in so close that we watch her use this "wit" barrier, frustrated, making the employment of metatheater almost ironic.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


The voice of “Wit” was that of an incredibly disheartened individual who is dealing with the reality of death. The main character, Vivian, seems to be grasping at any last shred of self worth in her life. As the play unfolds, she constantly refers back to the challenging poetic works of Donne. These poems, both confusing and somewhat tragic, serve as a central theme in the play. One scene in particular takes place when Vivian was a young student learning about Donne’s poetry, in which an instructor criticized Vivian for her blunt punctuation. The conversation focuses on the coma that separates the concepts of “life” and “death” rather than a semicolon or exclamation mark. This conversation serves purpose during Vivian’s final stages of cancer. Death is in fact barely separated from life. She learns that life is a transgression into death, as her cancer has slowly killed her. Edson does a phenomenal job of depicting a fear that everyone encounters: death. The play comes full circle when at the very end; Vivian is read a childhood story titled “The Runaway Bunny,” which is closely related to Vivian’s reflection upon her childhood love for Beatrix Potter novels. I felt that this final reading revealed the simplicity behind life. We spend time earning degrees and dissecting complicated literature as a way to become more “distinguished” individuals. However, Edson reveals how in the end simplicity is what we truly crave and comprehend.


In this play, W;t, the character of ?Vivian has ovarian cancer, leverl 4. The unexpected onset of her condition doesn't initially break her spirits. When she finds out and her doctor says she will have to stop teachin her response it "out of the question" The brave stature she exumes is what makes her character likeable. The intelligent humor adds to the delight of reading about a terminally ill cancer patient.



I enjoyed the way this play was structured, and Edson's unique use of time and perception made this play intriguing. In the present, the clock for Vivian's life is ticking, in a forward motion- a drawing toward death, while she also takes the audience back in time...connecting specific memories 'flashbacks' to the intense concluding days of her life. Vivian's 'speaking to' the audience is also very moving, as it shows her personality connecting with an audience, connecting with humanity- something she easily avoided with her highly intellectual ambition and focus for most of the years of her life. Vivian's intellectual and cynical persona is a flavorful theme, seeing as death is such a vulnerable encounter. Vivian learned more in the time she was dying than she had in her entire life. in this time she grasped the meaning of the poetry she had studied for so long, seeing the work with a deeper meaning; beyond the boundaries of academia- unto spirutality and transcendence.


Vivian’s character is written well. She is strong, almost to a fault; but incidentally she is debilitated with a disease the makes it difficult to keep up such a brave persona. She is essentially alone, finding comfort only in the words of her long time friend John Donne. One scene that really made me enjoy this play was the one where we flashback to Vivian’s past. It is her fifth birthday and she discovers the magic that books potentially possess. Though this scene is very brief it captures a moment that I believe anyone can relate to. A scene in which the audience can relate and see a softer side of Vivian exposes her humanity, something I believe Vivian struggles to see in the world, making her world of Donne more tolerable.

My Response To Wit

I felt that Margaret Edson's play Wit really opened my eyes to the effects of ovarian cancer. Being at the later stages of this disease the main character shows much humour, bravery, and vunerablity. Towards the end of the play I felt is was really touching and heartbreaking when her former teacher is reading the bedtime story The Runaway Bunny. This was my favourite scene in the play I felt that it ended the play well. If I were in her shoes I would want someone near me when I go to just be there for support so I would't be alone. The main character did not want someone to read John Donne to her but rather a children's story whose message is one of peace and love.


The structure of Edson's play, particularly the use of flashbacks, is an effective tool for revealing how Vivian really feels on the inside. Early in the play, she treats her cancer almost like she would treat one of John Donne's poems; picking apart each aspect of it in a precise and analytical fashion. Doing this allows her to feel like she is still somewhat in control of how things are going to happen, which is how things were for her when she was a teacher. When the play flashes back to the lecture she taught with the pointer (p.48), we see her in the height of her power. This power is suddenly stripped from her when Susie enters the room to notify Vivian of a test they need to perform, and Vivian is adamant about finishing what she set out to do, not what the doctors want. Another example of how a flashback ties into what Vivian is feeling is when the students appear on page 59. Student 2 begins to ask why Donne is so complicated and proceeds to say that "I think he's really confused, I don't know, maybe he's scared, so he hides behind all this complicated stuff, hides behind this wit". This is a reflection on Vivian herself; she's confused with no idea what is going to happen to her, which scares her, so she attempts to combat this by hiding behind her wit and scientific approach to life.


Edson does a fantastic job of making the process of death human and almost tangible by allowing Vivian to be studied and scrutinized by the doctors and then one step further, by the readers of the play.
A proud, strong woman, dying, exposed in nearly every way a person can be exposed, and it’s the readers alone who are privy to Vivian’s most naked moments for example, “I am being treated for cancer. My treatment imperils my health.” Alas we’ve come to a place of isolation. Vivian is literally in isolation for part of her treatment and this is also the first time in the book that John Donne has failed her, “Herein lies the paradox. John Donne would revel in it. I would revel in it if we wrote a poem about it.” Earlier on in the play we see Vivian reciting passages of Donne’s poetry to get her through confronting death and to quell her fear of the initial doses of her treatment plan. Now the treatment has reached a point of isolation, where if it’s not worse than death, it is certainly lonelier, for Donne has no poetry about treatment imperiling health. Edson is able to craft a most fulfilled depiction of what isolation is from multiple angles. Death is on the other side of this isolation, however death at least has poetry. Cancer treatment methods do not.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

W;t amd Anna in the Tropics

After reading Wit, I realized it shared one big similarity with Anna in the tropics in that they both use an existing piece of literature as a basis for the play. While Anna in the Tropics used Tolstoy's Anna Karenina as a way of relating the chacters in the novel to the Cuban characters in the play, while simultaneously depicting how important literature was to the lives of these Cuban cigar factory workers and what the lost with its removal with the coming of modernity; Edson uses John Donne and his poetry to help relate the emotions Vivian is going through. I especially enjoyed how Edna deconstructs one of Donne's poems early on to liken a comma to that of a breath that separates life from life everlasting. However, on a broader note, these two plays demonstrate the power of writing as the characters in Anna and Vivian in Wit use a novel and Donne's poems to make sense of their lives and help them get through their ordeals.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


The dry scientific language the doctor's use is a stark contrast to Vivian's scholarly wit that gives the reader a keen perspective of the loss of strength and pain inherit for a stage 4 ovarian cancer patient. The doctors aren't very sympathetic, they explain her condition in purely medical terms and there is very little emotional encouragement. Vivian is a stubborn character though and keeps her sense of humor alive by analyzing the doctors word choices.
The monologues to the audience are rich with reflection about her life's work. The Holy Sonnets she's meticulously studied her entire career deal with the most dramatic themes of life, death and god, themes which she is now not only intellectually but physically faced with. It has a disturbing effect when, Vivian is caught up in her revelries, has to quit thinking to be tested and probed. Her objective treatment is really noticeable when a group of fellows are all poking at her abdomen and discussing the condition as if she were a picture in a textbook.
In the earlier parts of the story, Vivian thinks a lot about John Donne. As her cancer progresses and the chemical therapy weakens her body her consideration of literature similarly degrades. She begins strong and confident with a solid sense of humor and recites the holy sonnets to herself. As it progresses and she becomes lonely, she considers how she treated her students in comparison with how the doctors are treating her. Eventually she is allowing a nurse to call her sweetheart and recalling her favorite children's book.
The book makes a frightfully mechanical image of health care professionals and gives an insightful perspective into the horrors of cancer. Both of these are fueled by the contrast in language between Vivian and the doctors. A poet and the quantifiers.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Rumsfeld & Ashbery

Hi Everyone,

For those who are interested, here are the links to the pieces we talked about in class!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Week 10 Assignments

Writing Assignment

Choose One:
1) Compose a series of at least five found poems or prose pieces that have a shared theme, subject, or organizational principal.

2) Compose your own cento of at least 40 lines using at least 5 different texts.

3) Write a poem in a form that you invent as John Cage did in Method.

4) Impose a constraint or set of constraints on yourself. Then write in poetry or prose, keeping within your constraints.

Read for Next Week
Wit, by Margaret Edson

Read for April 22
from Sleeping with the Dictionary, Harryette Mullen
Coo/Slur, pg. 17
Denigration, pg. 19
Dim Lady, pg. 20
European Folk Tale Variant, pg. 24
Mantra for a Classless Society, or Mr. Roget’s Neighborhood, pg. 49
Present Tense, pg. 57
Sleeping with the Dictionary, pg. 67
Variations on a Theme Park pg. 75

1. Post an entry about any one of the readings this week. This may be a critical or creative piece of about 200-300 words. It MUST respond to your chosen reading in some way, either by identifying and discussing craft elements, themes, or techniques or by using those elements in a creative response.

2. Post comments on at least three other entries. Remember, this is not a place for critiquing each other’s work. Instead, identify something from the piece that strikes or interests you, ask a neutral question about the work, or suggest ways the author could deepen or expand it.
I was surprised by Sonnet 56. By its wit, by its accessibility, and by its creativity. One would expect to get bored after 56 re-iterations of one poem, but the mistake in that assumption is to think that it is the poem that’s really doing the entertaining, that it's the content which draws the attention. With this book, that is not true. Instead it is viewing the creativity of re-interpretation. In a way, it is a meta-commentary on the actual content, expressed through the different approaches. Which each alternative poetic style there is two dialogs. The first is the commentary on the original poem as approached by the way it is forced into this new format. Then there is the commentary on the format that has been chosen that time, seen by almost the exact same thing. So, approached from that standpoint, it is the way the content is manipulated that creates these dialogs.

This style to me is inspiring because it transcends poetry. Really it is applicable to so many things, beyond even just art. Prose, music, visual arts, can all have these dual dialogs that open up, reflect, and explore the original material. But even engineering can have this. With engineering you have a problem and you must solve it. But imagine you have the same problem and you solve it, but you are told “Ok, solve it a different way”, by being forced to take a different tack, you are examining the issue from a different angle, and thus learn more.

If you don't want to be drunk...

If you feel the that being drunk is too much and leaves a bad taste in your mouth, then be high. If you don't like the taste of alcohol a safer alternative is smoking cannabis. So as to not feel the heavy burden of booze on your liver that causes you to get kidney stones and frequent urination, then you must replace liquid with plant.
But what kind of plant? Sativa, Indica or "Sindica" if you like a variety. Whatever the type, just always stay high.
And when your done slumber in your bed and go to pretty places where the flowers grow and everyone is free to live in peace. While there, take in the sights of bountiful water and fertile land; a place to start over again. Reborns praise the winding trees, colorful rocks, crystal blue water, lush green leaves that circle continually around the essence of our lives. When slumber ends and your dreams coalesce into reality and take human form you realize that being high doesn't come with a hangover, alcohol is out of the picture. Nice...

"Get Drunk"

Did anybody else love this one as much as I did?
It is perfect in every way I can imagine. I just looked up where this poetry-prose came from, and according to wikipedia, it is part of 51 prose poems gathered together entitled "Le Spleen de Paris." It was published by his sister in 1869, after his death. I think that is is brilliant and fantastic that such lighthearted wisdom stemmed from so long ago. I see that there are many different translations, but this one I think I like the best. It is times like these I wish that I spoke different languages so I could fully understand the intended impression of a piece of poetry (or prose, or whatever).
I love that it is so simple. I feel like so often poems get stuck in a rut of being overly complex, almost trying to confuse the reader in order to make them think or get a reaction out of them. But this one is what is is. Timeless! I like that he uses repetition to get his point across that drunkenness doesn't necessarily have to derive from alcohol. He tells you again and again to get drunk off of life and if you ever sober up and remember the time, then just get drunk again.
"ask them the time; and the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, and the clock will reply: 'It is Time to get drunk! If you are not to be martyred Slaves of Time, be perpetually drunk! With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you please"

Get Drunk

I thought this piece was fantastically light hearted and full of spirit. The author takes what is relatable and pulls it to the next level, paralleling a state of drunken bliss with the immense vastness of the human imagination. It begins very straightforward and realistic, stating simply that "one should always be drunk" because you don't feel "the horrible burden of Time weight on your should be drunk without respite". Just from viewing this first stanza, the poem seems as though it will maintain this sense of simplicity, but instead Baudelaire twists the concept and pulls us into to abstract realm, urging us not only to get drunk on wine, but also to get drunk "with poetry, or with virtue" which are much larger ideas that previously introduced. He then pulls the third stanza into an otherworldly scenario, in which, if you are drunk, you may "awake, on the stairs of a palace...and find that your drunkenness is ebbing or has vanished, ask the wind and wave, ask star, bird, or clock...ask them the time" and they will reply "'It is Time to get drunk!". By pulling the reader into the realm of the absurd, Baudelaire successfully get across the need for imagination and a good dose of poetry. We are meant to drink in and absorb the words, finding ourselves in great palaces and other places of such excitement. This was definitely a successful piece of writing.

Get Drunk

“Get Drunk” is the type of thing everybody on earth should have to read at least three times in their life. It is something that is necessary for almost every aspect of life, and it should be like a bible to most people.

The main idea here is Baudelaire trying to express the importance of finding your bliss in life. Don’t get trapped into a life where you have no outlet, or anyway to just let go of the outside world and be happy. When you’re drunk you have nothing to worry about in life. And he doesn’t mean just with wine. As he says, “With wine, with poetry, or with virtue”. I have often heard surfers say that when they are surfing, just at the moment they are about to catch the wave and let loose they feel absolutely nothing. They’re not thinking about their papers, or their meetings, or whatever is bothering them in their life. Right at that moment, they are with the ocean. They are drunk.

People today get so sucked in to the little things in their lives that they forget to get drunk. They find reasons why they can’t get drunk, and as a result they lose a bit of themselves.

New Years Resolution - Inspired

In attempting to be nothing today
I started with my heart.

My heart and I are usually friends,
comrades in the games we play.

I told my heart today
to leave me.
That bloody organ looked up
in the saddest way,
the way only a heart can be sad.

But to be nothing
is to let go of my heart.
I told it so,
and it seemed to understand.

Upon leaving,
a hole had to be made in my chest.
I did this with a butter knife.
(The stake knives are too
expensive to accidently break)
Cutting through
skin, fat, and bone
was easier than I thought.
And it hurt
like how a hot shower
defrosts a frozen body.

I thought I'd have to yank
out my heart.
But instead
it flopped out.
Laying on the carpet
in a pathetic
staining the carpet
kind of way.

I'm still something though,
I haven't succeeded
in nothing yet.
But I'm one step closer
without my heart.

I will start with my feet,
I think it will be less messy.

Another Cage response

if the time has come to folD
sEt your hand on the
fAce up so the rest can see
and watch as the pot is Cleared
forget about tHe gas money

get riD of the letters
the tickEt stubs
that napkin he wroTe his number on
And don't call
forget the Contours of his face
the smell of His clothes

become a Drunken leaf
stumbling through currEnts of air
make The break
from the brAnch
in the Cool morning
of some winter montH

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sonnet 56

The most fascinating thing about Sonnet 56 was, for me, simply how far Hoover carried the basic concept behind the work. One could use the transmutation of a Shakespearean sonnet as an exercise of sorts, but writing a total of fifty-six renditions of the same work while retaining the original gist was nothing short of amazing. And these were not simple translations into different beats - in what ways the format changed, the poem's words or context changed appropriately. My favorite types by far were the ones that transformed it into a completely different form. For instance, the Epic Poem (20-21) or Lounge Singer (32) gave the words and message overall a unique spin yet retained the core elements of the sonnet. Overall, the most important thing I learned from Sonnet 56 is the versatility of both words and meaning, and how a modern poet could give a single sonnet written centuries ago so many forms.

Get Fucked

Sorry if the vulgarity of this offends. This is a imitation of Charles Baudelaire's "Get Drunk". I rather enjoyed the original.

Get Fucked

You should always be in the perpetual state of being fucked. I mean, if you’re going to be the prisoner of everything, of the continuous motion of time and solitude and loneliness and emotion and judgments, then you should be getting yourself fucked.
You may be asking what exactly getting fucked means. You can get fucked with almost anything: a dick, a cucumber, a broken heart, a dastardly curse that has plagued your family for centuries. Try a little lube; it’ll mend those cracks that you’ve lived with for ages.
If the continual fucking gets to be a bit too much, and you happen to black out and wake up where the fairies dream, or in the lake that shows your reflection, or by the backyard slip-n-slide that you used to delight in a kid, look to the water or the architecture and scream “Please sir, may I have some more? I’m dying of reality and it’s beginning to hurt a little bit. Look! I’m bleeding from my aorta.” Hopefully, the buildings will scream back and point you towards the nearest vegetable garden so you can get fucked once again. After all, they understand what it’s like to be tread on for centuries, never shaking their curses, never shedding the emotions, and they can’t get fucked, like you.

Creative Response to T. Berrigan

"Wife Works the Graveyard at Denny's"

it is 7:56 p.m.
but the next time she blinks it is 8:58.
at Vanity,
she retraces the arcs of her eyebrows kissed away
with pillow-talk. she must get at it again,
again, even though the day has left, again.
she will sunbathe in the beams of neon,
letting it wash away the stars,
saturating cigarette smoke with radiance,
feminine marvelous and tough
it is 12:39 a.m.
pours coffee, turning a shy eye to flashing flasks
it will be another 4 hours til she lies, again,
pushes her husband off of her, again.

Sonnet 65

Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea,
But sad mortality o'er-sways their power,
How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,
Whose action is no stronger than a flower?
O, how shall summer's honey breath hold out
Against the wreckful siege of battering days,
When rocks impregnable are not so stout,
Nor gates of steel so strong, but Time decays?
O fearful meditation! where, alack,
Shall Time's best jewel from Time's chest lie hid?
Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back?
Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid?
O, none, unless this miracle have might,
That in black ink my love may still shine bright.


Gates of iron slowly rust

but do not fall apart

under the sun

and watch seasons of flowers

come and go.


Rheanna: I agree, the book did get really repetitive after a while. I felt there were some real jewels in there, like "Binoculars" but much of it just repeated itself over and over again.

Lauren Rossi: I like your theme of Time in this, its very reminiscent of Sonnet 56 and much of Shakespeare's other sonnets.

Alfonso: Yeah getting the format just right on the internet is especially hard, for some reason it hasn't learned how to hold margins yet.

Response to "Sonnet 56"

I found Sonnet 56 to be a very interesting piece of writing, both for its adherence to/focus on only one concept (Shakespeare’s sonnet) and for its audacity in altering Shakespeare’s work not once, but 56 times. I was constantly surprised and impressed with Hoover’s ability to give the reader versions of the sonnet that were true to the spirit of Shakespeare’s words, while switching quickly between modern—Answering Machine was my favorite—and more classical forms of language. Though at times, the reading became a bit tedious, this is after all the same concept regurgitated more than 50 times, Hoover’s variety of forms allows the reader to find the form that speaks most to them, rather than Hoover himself choosing. Hoover’s work is proof that a writer can produce many different works from even one idea, should they take the time to pursue such endeavors.

Within this Poem there is a word,
a word that I do nOt yet know.
And as I type I rEally hope,
that this lazy Method works.

For I am not a Poet,
tO say the very least.
But if this workEd who knows?
This could be a Masterpiece.

i just wrote a dumb short poem hoping I could find a random word within it and
this happened

Composition in Retrospect; BODY

your Body
dOes not

yOur eyes
Yet again

(it would not let me keep the format I created for the aesthetics of this poem, so I bolded the letters that should have stayed linear to read BODY)

attempt at get(ting) drunk

One should always be drunk. Since I got drunk I felt loose enough to
rule the world, or loose enough to lose the world.
Drunk with what?
drunk with wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as i please. But I get drunk.
And if sometimes I should happen to awake,
up and out the door
up and to the world
meet life; she's a pretty girl
A pretty world
Drunk pace is pretty now
I got pretty drunk now
Now I'm pretty drunk
and I got a pretty girl
met her, she's nice
yeah she's a pretty girl
think I met life
she's a pretty world,
and she told me but
all i saw was her curved
and graceful mouth
curve the words between her teeth
"One should always be drunk"
yeah, she's got me looking at a pretty world,
a nihilistic and pretty world.
And she got me feeling awake,
so it must be time to get drunk!
with wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as I please.
But Charles, I get drunk.

Response to Sonnet 56

This was really fun to read, although a bit repetitive after a while. I mostly enjoyed pieces like chat room, binoculars, workshop and especially answering machine. As much as I hate to admit that I have a really hard time reading and enjoying poetry, the way that Paul Hoover took Shakespear's Sonnet 56 and gives so many different variations of it kept me engaged throughout the book. one line that has been sticking with me since I read it was "winter, all summer long" and I really liked the piece where he had summer and winter have a conversation. Binoculars was very clever. Answering machine was hilarious as was the writer's workshop.
I was fortunate enough to hear Paul speak about Sonnet 56 this week and it was interesting as to how much information he has about the different types of poem forms that can followed, also listening to him do a reading of Sonnet 56 was wonderful as well, and how he was inspired to write some of the pieces was great too.
I thought it was really witty and and funny at times, all the while using beautiful language.

Something about Nothing

Nothing is an impossible concept, and it is a popularly held belief, outside of the Buddhist community, that to become nothing is to die, to no longer exist, it is hard for me to see any value in this process. Furthermore it is amongst the most impossible tasks, the first law of thermodynamics states that no matter or energy can be created or destroyed, merely converted. To become nothing would violate this core law of existence! This is the thought that I have every time I'm confronted with the concept of Nirvana, it just seems undesirable to me, to no longer be... However I found this piece very interesting, she uses this concept of nothing to illustrate her middle aged angst (very different from teenaged angst, more dramatic, sometimes), she feels it is all for nothing and indeed life can seem like a zero-sum game. But in this piece, as well as The Ghazal of the Better Unbegun, I feel like the speaker is denying experience and the value of that in and of itself. Accomplishment should be measured in the good one does, the impact they make, not what they take with them. To make yourself less each day is to diminish the good you can do for the world, I think.

Sonnet 56 Villanelle response

Out of all of the versions of the poem throughout this book, I was most drawn to the villanelle version on page 12. After looking up the structure of a villanelle poem, I found that the first and third lines of the stanza end in rhyme, with a couplet at the end. The villanelle has 19 lines, 5 stanzas of three lines and one with four. This forms seems to have a very lyrical quality to it and the poem almost sounds like a song to me. The use of repetition throughout the poem also adds to this, after the first stanza all of the following ones only have two new lines. This also ads to the tone of desparation in the piece. "For a day of love, we starve a thousand nights" Love is an on going state, and the lyrical quality of this poem gives it an almost tragic feel.

Sonnet 37

My creative response to Berrigan's Sonnet 18. Tried to follow some of the rhymes and sentence structures, etc.


Dear Ezra, hello. It is 2:37 a.m.
Inside my room, air is thick with regret
In my head. Dreams of Grace Potter
At the Independent. The night we met.
Moon, it used to illuminate us two
Now it hangs and shines and mocks
In the city: my mistake is a shadow
Following. "Transcendence," you said.
About our moon. Reminded of Jeffrey Lewis
You clenched your fist over your heart
And made it hard to breathe. You know
Ezra, tonight, and every night, I can't
Listen to that song you wrote me.
It kills me. Now I'm dreading June
Your eyes will shine, no doubt, just
Not for me. At any rate, not soon.
Forsaken: our remorseful incandescent moon.

This day is not today

It is not tomorrow

But yet just a moment in a span of nothing

That sits in texts books of yesterday

Yesterday is always late

My nose is running, and my sense of awareness is hiding

My grandma can’t seem to die

And it’s all because yesterday will never amount to anything

Tomorrow is stunted

We lied and cheated and now

Potential can’t be reached and mama just cries alone

We fucked the future, because that’s all we’ve ever known

The past never seems surprised

It’s cynical, because it knows how humans are

The past takes the angst-y role

So I can try and believe that life is good and happiness is possible

Birthday Wish

I ask my friend Kelly what her birthday wish is, and she says, with a giggle (indicating that she is obviously excited about her upcoming birthday): to go somewhere exciting, to receive lots of gifts... She asks me what I want for my birthday, but I do not want to answer her. I have been dreading my birthday all month, wishing it could somehow be skipped. After a few days of more people bugging me about my upcoming birthday, I think the most honest answer to my friend Kelly would be: for my birthday I want to learn to want nothing. Is this wrong? She wants to receive tons of gifts, and I want to receive nothing from anyone. I know by wanting nothing I may be making her look and feel bad. She may feel like I am trying to be more humble than her to prove my maturity. I feel that I am being caring at this point of my life. Would I be making her look bad if I say that I want nothing even though she wants everything? That's not all. I have been telling Kelly for over two weeks now that I don't need to receive things to have things. After having twenty five birthdays, and receiving numerous gifts from people that may still be in my life or not, I came to the realization that I got nothing. People give us gifts in life. We like them or we don't. We keep them or we wont. What happens to those gifts as time goes by. Nothing. I wanted certain things in life, so I worked for them. Some of them I was able to get, and others were out of my reach. But nothing I ever bought ever made a difference. Why don't THINGS ever make a difference? So, why would my birthday wish be "to receive gifts" when everything I'll receive, will disappear eventually? Maybe this year I will change my wish; to ask for nothing.

Get Drunk creative response

One should always be drunk.
The statement carries with it a high level of improbability, but with a drink in hand I've slowly been working to achieve that mindset for the last two hours. It wasn't planned, it has no reason, no drinking buddies to keep me company, alcoholism just seems best suited for me.
My mother would disagree, saying addiction is in our genes, but she needs two whole days to recover from a single margarita, she knows nothing of addiction. My roommates wouldn't be that happy either, if they ever found out about the tremendous amount of booze I've nicked from their supply, I'd be out on the streets. But each shot I take lets me think about it less and less and the harsh whiskey vapor rising from my throat soothes my nerves, giving me the confidence to waltz into the kitchen, grab a bottle of Jack that isn't mine, open the lid and let it burn a hole through my stomach. And when work comes around and I haven't the slightest idea as to where I am, only able to function because of muscle memory and an intense desire to not lose my job and I somehow manage to avoid my boss the entire shift, then Yes, I would have to agree, one should always be drunk.

Sonnet II, Cage Style

My attempt at translating Berrigan's sonnet into a Mesostic like Cage's piece

Dear Margie, hello. IT is 5:15 a.m.
dEar Berrigan.
He dieD.

Back to books. I read
It's 8:30 p.m. in NEwYork and I've
been Running around all day
old come-all-ye's stReel into the streets
Yes, it Is now,
How Much LonGer Shall I
be Able To Inhabit
The DiviNe

and the day iS bright gray turning green
feminine marvelOus and tough
watching the suN come up
over the Navy Yard to write
scotch-tapE body
in a noTebook
had 17 and 1/2 milligrams

Dear Margie,
hEllo. It
iS 5:15 a.m.
fucked til 7 nOw
She's late
To work and I'm 18 so why
are my hands shakIng I should know better
FuCk I need a C

So yeah it fell apart at the end, also blog wont let me post with the letters in the middle

Monday, April 5, 2010

Creative Response to Sonnets by Ted Berrigan

Sonnet I

Dear God, hello. It is 1:30 am.
dear Mary, she shelters those
Looking in the mirror, I gaze
Its 4:30 pm in Chicago and I'm exhausted walking
up a thousand steps to the top of the attic. Wow, I can see,
When Is The Impossible Just Improbable
the moon is pale blue turning clear
forgetful revealing and memorable
tearing at the mention of Forgiveness
to take a black and white picture
5 by 7 inches
Dear God, hello. It is 1:30 am
doomed till 3, he is sleeping with one eye open, and I'm
just 17 so why am I having trouble breathing I should believe

"Sanity in Retrospect"

My recollection
of whAt happened
is not what happeneD
as everyoNe remembers
nor arE their memories false.
to underStand is to defy time
and Space, as defined by popular convention.

i Must have been
abAndoned by my
senses, formed aD hoc impressions
all and Nothing
of what i rEmember
iS in the mangled wake of
the Situation not at hand.

hallucinations perMeate
what’s lucid, Abstract molds
wrap arounD
transitions, Needing
air to breathE to die
or not die depending on the Season,
So the rhythm goes

suppose the Music
ends inside the plAce of conception
where the minD eats its own tail
even possibility has a patterN
a brain in flux is stability Embraced
so I Said while i was in motion

all that I recall reMains
wrong from the right Angle
of the straight-eDged ruler’s point of view.
curvature causes a warped frame of refereNce
and thE thing about this world,
is that it’S all round
and Spinning.

Not soMething that possesses definition
nonetheless explAined
in packageD parcels
delivered by the toNgue
sent from over seas, over spacE,
unwrapped String unwraveled time,
reality disperSed.