Friday, March 30, 2007

Nervous Breakdowns and Missteps

Hi All--my busy-meter has been pegged for the past two weeks, and logistics have finally started breaking down. If I can somehow get things done this month and not lose my mind. I'll not go into details, as they would only depress me. Sorry Kristen!!!!

In more pleasant news, I got a parcel from Bulgaria today--I'd reviewed a performance of Emil Tabakov's concertos, which have just been released by Naxos records. I wrote a review of it for Musicweb which the editor sent to the composer himself in Sofia. Tabakov emailed me asking if I'd be interested in more of his recordings and I was quite happy to say yes. Inside the parcel, which Tabakov hand addressed, I have eight CDs, five of which he burned for me himself. On top of all was a very pleasant brief note. It's stuff like this that I really enjoy about reviewing recordings. Tabakov has number of recordings to his credit, almost exclusively with the Sofia Philharmonic under his baton; he was conductor for the Sofia Philharmonic from 1988 until 2000. More recently, he is the conductor of the Ankara-based Bilkent Symphony Orchestra, which is the orchestra for the burned CDs I got. His work is much along the lines of Shostakovich, Schnittke, and Shchedrin, which means I really rather like it. He's rather obsessive with his thematic material, which adds to the tenacity of the pieces of his that I've heard so far.

The above photo was taken at my last poetry workshop, which involved making unusual taxonomies and sorting objects in new and different ways and seeing how that can be applied to poetry. There were quite a few objects to sort through. I started taking pictures of what I came up with, as well as what others did, which you'll likely see throughout posts for April.

For example, there were quite a few postcards. I started taking pictures of them as seen through various pieces of equipment found in the room, including the overhead projector, which is how I got this second image. All in all, quite fun.

Ok, I've got to get back to work. Much to catch up on.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

A weekend with little to show for it...

Well, I gave it a try. A halfhearted one, but a try nonetheless. I opened up the first annotated bibliography and the English wasn't English--so much to the point that I closed the folder and opened up a book. I went to the bookstore to see if the Didion was there, but it wasn't. Some Haydn and some Dadaist literature was, though. I worked a bit on the first book review, made a couple of notes while I ate Thai food on the north side of town--I at least got some work done during that time. I got a small draft for one poem and a whole paragraph of a book review. Rah. At least I've been able to read through almost all the Wallace Stevens.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Scrambled and Frantic

Oh Dear. I really have no idea what to start on first. Should I go for the big paper on William Carlos Williams' Paterson, or should I read The Year of Magical Thinking and write that paper? Or should I grade the almost foot-thick stack of annotated bibliographies my students turned in yesterday? Or perhaps should I start on the one, preferably two book reviews I should have ready for the Sycamore editor by Wednesday? Or my tax return? Or record reviews, or typing critiques for the other memoir submissions for Monday, or the two poems I need to have written for Wednesday, the short reflective essay I need to have for Tuesday's class on Langston Hughes, or perhaps even start with revisions for the Memoir class, since I've got to have a final revision portfolio due in less than a month. Happy place, Dave--go to your Happy Place. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

In new fantabulous news, I got a reject letter from the Indiana Review! Yay! Yay! This may sound strange, this being giddy about a reject letter, but, knowing what I know so far of the world of literary journals, this reject letter was wonderfully good news. Rather than being a 6th of a sheet of paper with no signature saying "We appreciate your interest, but...." I got an actual short note signed by the poetry editor expressing interest in further work and even specifying a piece of those that I submitted that was especially liked. I walked around the house with a spring in my step. I just need to add sending out submissions to more journals this month to my things to do list above.

With potato chips and orange juice,
I remain, oh fair readers,
most frantically
and frothily

Saturday, March 17, 2007

On the mend

Sure, I still cough like an 80 year old toothless geezer, but I actually feel like a human being again. I've managed to essentially finish out my paper on Hilda Doolittle, and I'm only 2 papers away from finishing up on the grading. That leaves all day tomorrow to work on my memoir section and do laundry! Who says that one can't get things done over Spring Break! I'd actually hoped to do more, but hell, 20 papers graded, one paper written, two memoirs critiqued, 2 records reviewed, 5 loads of laundry washed and folded, dishes washed, and groceries gotten, all while surviving the gutbucket flu seems, on the whole, a relatively productive week. And I've done quite well on the eating front, too, for the most part: only one trip to a bad Chinese buffet, and only one Cadbury's Fruit and Nut chocolate bar. The rest has been chicken soup and guaifenesin syrup.

For extra viewing enjoyment, here is the lovely table for Sycamore Review that we had down in Atlanta for AWP. Brian and Eric and Daryll-Lynne are holding down the fort. With such a tall sign, we were visible throughout most of the area and got quite a lot of good exposure. Various folks including Michael Martone and Walter Mosley visited and talked a while. I also found out that the husband of Nadine Sabra Meyer (the author of the book I reviewed) came by specifically to buy the issue that had my review in it! I missed him by perhaps only 15 minutes. My big favorite writer at the moment is Alice Notley and I managed to run into her at the University of California Press table, whereupon I rushed over to the Sycamore Review table to grab my copy of Grave of Light for her to sign. She kinda looked at me like I was a freak, but I'll admit I was at that particular moment. I got a chance to talk to her a bit about the availability of her wonderful book The Descent of Alette which is a great feminist text. Beyond that, it's wonderful poetry. At any rate, she signed two of her books for me and then she was on her way no doubt to yell at Penguin publishing for not having her book available for purchase.

Among other things with AWP I found wonderful was the work of the various smaller presses. Ugly Duckling Presse has some downright wonderful books available, one of my favorites is Nets by Jen Bervin, which uses Shapespeare's Sonnets as the basis for a found poetry that is quite striking, and quite strikingly presented. I might actually have this as a required text for the creative writing class I'll eventually be teaching. So for those of you out there--don't forget to support your independent presses!

Monday, March 12, 2007

From Bard to Verse...

Sorry for the horrible pun, but, while I was trying to force myself to make sense of William Carlos Williams (and if one is having trouble understanding William Carlos Williams, then one should be concerned), I realized that I was not feeling better. I went to bed. Woke up around midnight and felt bloody awful. Fever back up. dizzy, etc. I force myself, after gargling salt water, etc, to go back to bed. I'm stuck in a never ending dream where I'm looking at my brain, which is clogged, huge, and sitting on the floor, covered by bumperstickers, and all the while a song lyric plays on endless repeat: "In letters of gold on a snow white kite/ I will write the words 'I love you'/ And send it soaring high above you/ For all to read." By morning, I was at the end of my rope and could hardly move, hated this flu more than I'll ever be able to express. Worse, I was coughing up blood too, so it looked like something else might be up. Davo the Consumptive. Diptheria Davo. I drove all the way up to Purdue Health Care, since they're now in charge of me, and it turns out that I have a chest infection and an infected ear. I now have new drugs and hopefully that will do the trick.

The pharmacist mentioned that the cough medicine they gave me could make me drowsy, but I thought nothing of it, considering I was used to antihistamines, etc. I took some right away and drove off for Indy. About halfway home, I started feeling all warm and snuggly; the best, most wonderfully delicious feeling that one gets when settling in for sleep. I managed to keep awake through the drive home and went directly to bed. Turns out I had spaced the fact that the cough syrup also had a relaxing agent in it. Bad Davo. I'm feeling better, but I tell ya, folks, for all who can hear--don't skip your flu shot! Somehow I thought I'd take the gamble this year and I've ended up spending over twice the amount of the flu shot on meds. And then there's the price of one's misery. Phooey. It's the vaccine route for me from here on out.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

AWP--The Overview

Since my last post I've burned through an entire box of Thera-Flu, a box of tissues, and slept just long enough for the meds to wear off, whereupon I take more. Fever is down to 99 which almost feels normal, especially when comparing it to 103, which was decidedly unpleasant. Now that I'm recovering just enough to start scraping my poop back in a pile , as well as to actively procrastinate on other tasks, I thought I'd enclose a few pix of my quite exhausting but thoroughly enjoyable time.

All the first year MFA's (save the one that didn't go at all) got in a Purdue van and drove south. Spirits were high, especially Mehdi's after the three-drinkie lunch he had at Tumbleweeds, a restaurant south of Louisville with the surliest and most reluctant service I've ever experienced. Case in point: After being served a taco salad with no dressing at all, I ask: "May I have some salsa?" The waitress stops, thinks a bit and responds with "Well, I supPOSE...." As if it was unheard of to have salsa on a taco salad. Or that it might cost extra. Or that the walk might cause her arches to fall. Mehdi was enjoying the best margarita of his short life and didn't notice.

Once in Atlanta, we quickly found that the nearby Scottish-style pub was not our speed at all, with it's being too noisy and (now that' we've gotten used to smoking bans in Indiana) waaaay too polluted as far as air quality was concerned. We ended up at a 1980s two-story hall of mirrors on the corner called the Cafe Metro that was wonderful and had wait staff that surely are up for sainthood. Here we are after having stuffed ourselves on the last day, just before we headed over for the Purdue reading at the conference.

Mehdi is working the Sycamore review table by this time, so he wasn't present. Coming back to restaurants in Lafayette after getting used to this lovely place in Atlanta has been a bit of a shock.

Ok...I'd type more, but I still don't do well sitting up for very long, and I've done more sitting up today than I've done since Thursday, so I'll still count that as progress.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Davo Sick. Davo way sick

I knew I was coming down with something on Thursday, but wasn't sure what. I woke up Friday morning like I'd been mugged. I drag my sorry self to campus, then cancel class, then drive home to Indy so I could convalesce. 5 hours later I wake up on fire and watch TV for a bit, then realize that I probably shouldn't be getting weepy watching prime time TV. I take my temp: 103. With aspirin and such, I'm holding at 101 and I'm wearing 4 layers of clothing. Not fun. Not fun at all. And I have lots to do: record reviews. 2 papers on modernist poetry that I keep putting off. etc. At least I have books to read. I just have to pick wisely: T. S. Eliot makes absolutely no sense when one has a fever. Kinda like how Henry James makes no sense when you have to read him in an airplane.

More later. I'm wondering just how many aspirin I can take in a day.

With pathogens,
I remain (but barely)