Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Dragon Speaks


It says it's ART








This morning in June, the skies are overcast and pleasantly gloomy. Within a week we'll have temperatures in the 90s (that's Fahrenheit; in the 30s Celsius). But June and gloom remind me of a poem I came up with using Dragonspeak.

Do you remember Dragonspeak, a program for transmuting spoken input into written word? I think it must have been named for Robert Heinlein's Sir Isaac Newton, a Venusian 'dragon' who carried around a 'voder' that gave simultaneous translation of 'his' Venusian speech into English. Also, dragons, right?

You will not be surprised to read that I consider myself well-spoken, not only articulate but also clear-spoken, properly-pronounced, articulate. Yeah, consider all you want, Karen. Dragonspeak had to be trained, which is to say corrected, to account for individual differences in pronunciation. I set out confidently declaiming Shakespeare's Sonnet 18:  "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" Dragonspeak came back with something very different. I tried again, enunciating the hell out of that puppy. What came back was not the same, but was no better.

I confess:  I got annoyed. I started mocking the program, reading back to it what it have me. This make for an interesting positive feedback loop, where my input reflected and (apparently) heightened Dragonspeak's particular algorithm.

What follows below is a section of that bout of petulance, that fit of pique. I would say that it almost means something. It is found, in the sense that I did not change the order of words nor add words, though I did add punctuation. This was one of four poems published in the now-defunct Status Hat Artzine, in the March 2011 issue on Tools, edited by Mojie Davis

     http://www.statushat.org/create/status-hat-artszine/shp2011/tools-april-2011/276-found-poem-on-dragonspeak.html


I go a little, fall again, but you are here. There is you, meaning a pain, pain and ravine. You are the root of the year. Usually you are here, and so am I. I am in boot camp, easy on you. I love the movie of the June forlorn. I’d utilize one written word (you name it ) in young orange. In pinyu Hang Zhou was written:  one. You were one. In Asia, words mean pain. Gone, and here’s to dwell on:  breathe together every night, until each breath is his. You know you exude those you lose. A savior shocked into flying will save your new moon. Stay cool and unknown. The flaw in downfall never owned old clocks    not Yuma    not Omaha    not Houston no more. Something clean is in that country. Be gone, safety. It comes to be a symptom. Newfound fame was stones seeking family, compensating soaking sleep of time. It was stones, good enough to say goodnight.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

It's a Book!



Or at least, it's going to be a book. Right now it's a couple of file folders and a Word file, entitled The Book of Knots and Their Untying. It is also the latest addition to the Aldrich Press, whose editor, Karen Kelsay, offered me publication Monday. Now I have a raft of new tasks:  develop a cover photo (the above photo is the first mock-up, but I'm not done yet); solicit blurbs from the more esteemed poets of my acquaintance (two refusals already, well, I didn't have to wait very long); get ready to set up readings once I get a publication estimate.

And also try to answer in my heart:  is it good enough? Am I a good enough writer to have a book? I have had reverence for books ever since I knew what they were. I was never a kid who scribbled on printed pages. I thought Doctor Doolittle was real because he was in a book. (Okay, I got past that one.) Maybe a writer is one who writes, as a dancer is one who dances. Maybe good enough needs to be replaced by what W.S. Merwin said in an interview about artists:  "Now is the time to do what only I can be doing."

Friday, May 6, 2016

AWP 2016, part 5: some images


I wish I had not seen this man, so obviously discharged from some hospital to Skid Row.
Pretty sure Baudelaire had something like this in mind.
Sad yet darkly comical vision of someone carefully pacing off 85 feet.
The Braille tells the story, however.













Monday, May 2, 2016

AWP 2016, part 4: Nowhere to hide

Fatigue or despair, who knows?

Who knows, really, what is happening in other people? I was at the Book Fair, staffing the booth of Inlandia, a journal and arts collective of the Inland Empire of California. Yes, seriously. I chatted with people who were there to sign their books, I took money and gave change, and all the while I watched this young man drifting around the booth across the aisle. He picked up an item or two and glanced through, put them back. Suddenly he crouched, then sat on the ground. He huddled into himself and, apparently, fell asleep. Intrusively and carefully I watched him. No signs of sobbing or sighing. Also no inclination to seem the marginally more comfortable chairs or benches scattered around the Convention Center. He was still there when I left 30 minutes later. We will never know.




Thursday, April 7, 2016

AWP 2016, part 3: introverts rampant




See, you got some 20,000 people (I think) roaming all over, up and down the escalators and stairs and over from the Los Angeles Convention Center to the Marriott Hotel, approximately next-door but only by Los Angeles standards (my phone app claims that I walked six miles the first day), and I would guess that more than the usual proportion are introverts. So, you have many people getting very excited at making social contact, very nice, but people who then require some quiet time to replenish.





Some people found islands of quiet in noisy places. Some resorted to the Emily Dickinson Quiet Space. That is, the people who were able to find it. I did find it; it was mostly empty, which was fine, but it was also cold and white, a small banquet room, which was weird. Ten large round tables with ten hard chairs at each one; each table used by only one person; people who jumped and glared when I sneezed, or clicked. No photos came out, btw; what is there to show about starched linen? I had hoped for comfy chairs, even a sofa or two. At least I could prop my chin on my hands and shut my eyes. And I swear:  I have never seen so many blank books in one smallish space, particularly being scribbled into diligently.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

AWP 2016, part 2: cardboard cutouts are people too.





This lovely black and white stand-up cutout smiled back at me as I stood talking to the editors of diode. They thought I was snapping a shot of them and obligingly posed and smiled. My actual subject remained unselfconscious and elegant.




Stand-up cardboard cutouts were a popular booth accessory all over the Book Fair. Here, Mountie with obligatory mustache at the booth for University of British Columbia's creative writing program.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

AWP 2016: Is it better in Los Angeles?




This photo shows the view from our 7h floor room in Seattle, 2014, at the AWP conference. Or is it convention? I was awake at 4 am because I had broken out in hives 2" across the night before, and had been prescribed PREDNISONE by one of Seattle's Urgent Care centers. Hives itch demoniacally, besides looking scary, and the MD on call gave me IV Benadryl as well as Prednisone. My retired pediatrician publisher, Sammy Greenspan, thought they were a reaction to something I ate, but my GP at home shook his head and said, "Stress can do it all by itself." This year the convention is in Los Angeles, some 45 miles down the road from me. All nearby hotel rooms were booked pretty much instantly, so I'm commuting from home by train and bus (or cab or Lyft, whatever). It will be two very long days without a real break for lunch, and I'll be out of the house pretty much from dawn to dusk. O how convenient a nearby room would be, for a midday nap. There will be no midday nap unless I snatch one in the Emily Dickinson Quiet Room (not making this up). Many panels sound really good, but if they disappoint, there's always the Book Fair, or texting a friend and seeing what they are up to. I'll be back soon or later with photos and reports of odd moments.