Archive for March, 2011


Happy First Birthday to The Line Break

One year ago today I began The Line Break blog. Since then I have posted 144 blog entries, which is almost three posts per weeks.

Birthday Cake Wine Glass

Birthday Cake Wine Glass

Anyway 13,381 thank yous to each person who has visited.

Here is a list of the most popular posts, starting with the most popular first.

  1. I-90 Manifesto
  2. The Thought-Farts in Rae Armantrout’s Versed and Elliptical Poetry’s Velvet Rope
  3. Thomas Sayers Ellis’ Skin, Inc.: Identity Repair Poems
  4. Lineation: An Introduction to the Poetic Line
  5. 2014 World Cup Predictions
  6. Wine Spectator’s 2010 Top 100 Wines
  7. 2011 NFL Playoff Predictions
  8. In Pursuit of the Juiciest Wine: Day Seventy (Ruffino Modus Toscana 2007 vs. Monte Antico Toscana 2006)
  9. Djelloul Marbrook’s Brushstrokes and glances
  10. About (which isn’t really a post).

Enjoy, and please keep reading.//


Footage from the Three Bad-Ass Poets Reading

The night started with a buzz, and then we got drunker.

Well, that’s not completely true, but there was definitely some drinking. It was actually one of the funnest readings I have ever been to. And it definitely was BAD-ASS.

The night of March 26th began as a party at A Different Path Gallery with the wonderful curator Katherine Weston. The party was then interrupted by some poetry for an hour and then party continued.

The poetry reading began with Charles Coté, author of Flying for the Window.

One of the first poems he read was called “April.”

During his reading, Charlie was caught texting.

Charlie then closed his read with the concluding poem from his book Flying for the Window, “After a Storm.”

Charlie was followed by Sarah Freligh, author of Sort of Gone.

Sarah Freligh reading

Of course, before she read there was a brief intermission so everyone (about 20+ of us) could refill their wine glasses. One of the first poems Sarah read was “Birthday,” I think, or “Happy Birthday.”

A bit later she read “Halfway House.”

Then there was another intermission to fill more wine glasses. Then I (Tom Holmes) read. The first part of what I was read was from my recently released collection of poems, The Oldest Stone in the World (Amsterdam Press, 12:00:01, 1-1-11). I gave a brief introduction to the book.

Tom Holmes Gesticulating

Then I commenced with the first part of my reading. (In case you’re curious, we all read about 15-20 minutes.) I devoted the first part of my reading to the book, and the second part to some of new investigative poems of Paleolithic cave art. But first excerpts from The Oldest Stone in the World.

Then some of the new poems: “Paleolithic Person Discovers Fear,” “Paleolithic Possession,” “The First Painting,” “The Invention of the Ellipsis,” “Paleolithic Person Tells of the Invention of Harmony and Melody,” and “Paleolithic Person Learns to Sing.”

Then we returned to the party where the poets words, along with the audience’s words, slowly became more and more slurred. Luckily there was a limo to drive most people home, and the rest of us walked home.

It really was a bad-ass reading by poets and attendees. Thank you everyone for coming.//


On Cain Todd’s The Philosophy of Wine

The Literal Metaphor: The Expressions of Wine, or How to Express Your Experiences with Wine

How many time have you smelled or tasted a wine that you just weren’t properly able to describe? Either you couldn’t identify a taste or smell or you couldn’t apprehend or explain your experience. For instance, just recently I was drinking Codice Vindo de la Tierra de Castilla Red Wine 2008. It was a good wine, but there were two interesting developments in my experience with it. One, I couldn’t quite discern what grapes were in the wine. It’s labelled a red wine, so I assumed a blend. I picked up Tempranillo, but I also assumed Carignane because of some herbs and Merlot because of some cherry. Two, I was also missing a flavor, or a descriptor for it. As soon as someone read the back label, “black currant,” I was “Yes. That’s it. Yum.” Then a little research told me the wine was 100% Tempranillo. What did these experiences tell me? You need other people to help you experience wine, and the more experiences with experiencing wine, the better enjoyment you will have with wine and you’ll be better able to express your enjoyment with wine. This is what Cain Todd’s The Philosophy of Wine: A Case of Truth, Beauty, and Intoxication (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2010) gets into – experience and expression.

The Philosophy of WineConcerning descriptions of wine, Todd asks:

Whether the words used to characterize wine can be anchored more or less firmly in objective properties of the wine, or perhaps in objective properties of our shared experiences of it. What, if anything, separates the appropriate from the absurd? (p 47)

In order to determine, Todd gets into the “many different ways in which we attribute smells and tastes to wine” (p 48). Here, I suddenly feel like Todd has struck a chord with me. I feel like I’m reading Ezra Pound’s essays “A Retrospect” and “How to Read” because Todd lists and describes the distinctions like Pound has his lists and distinctions for poetry and the translation of poetry. Todd’s distinctions are: descriptive, evaluative, literal, and metaphorical. To me, this sounds like Pound’s Melopoeia, Phanopoeia, and Logopoeia. I think these distinctions should all be used when describing a wine. Todd agrees, too, as he writes, “For we are no interested in naming but in meaningfully describing” wines (p 54). Which is to say, when describing a wine, the metaphor “grounds” the literal. In other words, there are distinctions and expressions of those distinctions.

Todd also points out the difficulty in sometimes separating each distinction (descriptive, evaluative, literal, and metaphorical), which is more difficult than you think, which in turn becomes another level of the subjective and objective experience of the wine and provides a discussion about the role and use of wine critics. What is the role of wine critic? Do we need them? Do they taste better than us? Just because they like a wine does that make the wine good? What about my taste buds? What about my experiences with wine? Do they count? These are concerns through much of The Philosophy of Wine.

On an aside, I also like the occasional chemistry lesson, such as:

American oak […] contains ethyl vanillate, which is also present in vanilla and which gives some oaked wines, such as Rioja, their distinctly vanilla odour (p 53).


But back to the wine critic. To add another level of complexity to the wine critic, the use of the wine critic, and the ability to describe, we have to wonder what the wine critic is referring to when he or she describes a wine. Is the wine critic, or you the taster, describing the glass of Merlot in hand, for instance, or describing the Merlot in relation to what a Merlot from that region, vineyard, or year should taste like, or describing the Merlot according to what a Merlot should taste like, or describing the Merlot based on what the critic prefers in a Merlot, or a wine in general, or is there “cultural information . . . present in the sensorial descriptions” (p 65), or is the experience with the wine being described? You can start to see how complicated the language of wine is.You can even start to understand how you can have a long and entertaining conversation about a bottle of wine or even be inspired by the wine to improv a story or poem or song. You begin to see how wine can be a muse. Well, that’s where my mind went after “Chapter 2: The Language of Wine: Chemicals, Metaphors, and Imagination.”

This chapter is followed by look into objectivity. Using David Hume’s insight’s on the perceptions of color and the notion of a true perception of each color, Todd soon arrives at a conclusion about wine critics:

The consensus of ideal critics, therefore, is required to ensure that we get the right verdict (p 90).

But, as Todd mentions, Hume also says, “all sentiment [wine tasting] is right.” This makes the critic, you, and me all correct. Or so it would seem until we learn of Realism – there are:

properties [in wine] such as balance, suppleness, finesse – [that] are really in the wine, objective features of it to which we have access through our taste and smell experiences, given the right conditions. . . . We [the tasters] can, in other words, get things wrong about the real properties of the wine (p 90-1).

This, of course, leads to the question: How do we decide who the critics are?

One answer is those who can detect the tastes and smells that are really in the wine. And how do you acquire these accurate detection abilities? With experience. You and I may pick up some smells on the nose and some tasting notes, but we may also miss a few or maybe even get a few incorrect. This may be because we lack the experience and, perhaps more importantly, because we are not trying to “make sense of the taste and smell experiences as really belonging to the wine” (p 94). Yes, there are certain attributes and properties that are part of a wine, such as the vanilla in a Rioja wine. (I know . . . shocking, right?!) Sometimes we can get the vanilla order wrong as I have by thinking of white chocolate or something sweet or just missing the scent. The one with discerning taste, however, can distinguish between raisin, figs, cherries, currants, red currants, dark currants, etc.

(On a side note, in this chapter, Todd introduces a term I know I’m going to use more frequently – the objective intuition. I think that perfectly describes my tastings and judgments of wine.)

After the critics are established, how do you undermine them? As always, with the avant-garde, or in the case of the book’s argument, with New World wines, like Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. This is because New World wineries introduce new ways to express wine, such as big fruit Merlots, or using new technologies, or introducing new combinations of varietals, or new ways to use wild yeast, etc. Now the norms have changed and so has the experience and, thus, the evaluation.

Amid all this change and experimenting, how are art critics and philosophers going to consider wine as a work of art? Is it art? Does it have aesthetic value? Does it provide an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time or over the course of a night? These are questions to which answers are sought in the penultimate chapter, “Chapter 5: The Aesthetic Value of Wine: Beauty, Art, Meaning, and Expression.” In this discussion, Todd mentions that wine is an “artefact.” I like that . . . a lot. It’s a non-wavering description of wine. In the meanwhile, a good adventure in seeking answers about wine as art is had. My answer about wine as art is, “yes and no but probably.”

(As a bonus in this chapter, Todd gives us an expressively visual history of the croissant. It’s a short but powerful burst in two delicious sentences. Yum.)

Ludwig WittgensteinIf you’ve read Ludwig Wittgenstein, you will also enjoy this book. At times, this book reminds me of Wittgenstein trying to describe pain. For him, for all of us, there is nothing to compare our pain with. I don’t know what a pain feels like to you. So, how do you describe pain? And the level of pain? What does it feel like? It seems a futile exercise. Luckily for us, wine can be shared, but similar problems arise.

In the end, this book is like a good bottle of wine. It’s filled with wonderful smells and tastes that spark the imagination. (I think it’s because of the solid language.) So often in this book I would drift off only to find myself thinking about something new, be it wine, poetry, or art. Then I’d catch myself and be glad the book sparked a new thought. (Really, what else do you want from a book?) Then I’d return to where I began to drift, read, and repeat. This book is short, but it takes a while to read because it evokes new experiences, sensations, and thoughts, just like any good wine – and I say this subjectively, objectively, objective intuitively, realistically, pluralistically, and relativistically.

If you want to stimulate you imagination, if you want wine to more often stimulate your imagination, then read Cain Todd’s The Philosophy of Wine: A Case of Truth, Beauty, and Intoxication.//


Charles Cote Interviews Me About My Poetry and Poetics

The fine poet Charles Cote and author of the collection of poems Flying for the Window and the Flying for the Window: The Bloggings of a Curious Man blog has just posted his interview with me about my poetry and poetics.

You can read it here:



in pursuit of the juiciest wine: day eighty-eight (Newton Cabernet Sauvignon 2008)

I’m in Dixfield, ME, “The Only One,” watching Inception for the forth or fifth time and drinking Newton Cabernet Sauvignon 2008. I started drinking it out of a port glass.

Port Glass

Newton Cabernet Sauvignon 2008The opening of the mouth is small. When I smell the Newton it smells of a forest in the Pacific Northwest. A mushroomy forest. The nose is dark and dank. And it tastes about the same. I don’t really care for the nose and the taste is okay.

So I go to the cupboard and get a small mason jar to pour the wine into. Oh, it opens up like a dream within a dream. The nose now has perfume and vanilla.

The flavor doesn’t last long in the mouth. I pick up a sharp jaminess. I think there are some raspberries and coffee. The finish is dark and spicy.

But what I like is how different the wine is based on the size of the mouth of the glass. It’s like two different wines. We all know that different wines are supposed to be drunk out of a a glass with a certain shape and size, but who really thought it mattered that much? Well, this time it did.

So drink the Newton Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 out of a big mouthed glass and let it breathe for at least an hour. It’s pretty good. 89 points.

Next entry I’m going to use a different grading system, because this point system is unnecessary.//


Buffalo Small Press Book Fair

I love going to the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair every year. It’s one my favorite annual activities. (And it may be my favorite.) I like it much better than AWP. At the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair, you can actually hold a conversation of more than one minute. At the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair, there are no politics. It’s just writers, publishers, and artists having fun. Plus, it’s more manageable than AWP. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes literature, books, typography, book making, and art.

My favorite tables are always the P22 Type  Foundry, sunnyoutside press, Talking Leaves Books, White Pines Press, and the SUNY at Buffalo Poetry Collection. . . . Oh, and my table: Redactions: Poetry & Poetics. But really, I like them all . . . a lot. And this year there will be 110 different publishers of books, chapbooks, magazines, etc., plus bookmakers, artists, alternative authors, regular authors, poets, zinesters, and more.

Buffalo Small Press Book Fair

The half-day event (noon to 6 p.m.) on Saturday, March 19th, which is being organized by Chris Fritton, will be held at Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, which is a converted church with really high ceilings. The first floor is where all the artists, writers, publishers show their wares.

Buffalo Small Press Book Fair

Buffalo Small Press Book Fair – A Look Inside

Upstairs is where they hold events like readings, how to create a hand-made book, and discussions and lectures on various topics. The events vary each year. Here are this year’s events:

Low-Budget Comics: Creation, Publication, and Promotion – Successful local comic artist Kyle Kaczmarczyk talks about his creative process, his work, and how he gets it all out there on a shoestring budget. A must for anyone making and distributing their own comics!

Roundtable Discussion on Editorial Models and the Future of the Small Press – Come discuss small press editing and publishing with special guests Matvei Yankelevich (Ugly Duckling Presse), Rebecca Wolff (Fence Books), and Adam Robinson (Publishing Genius). This special event will take place in the smaller room on the second floor.

Zoetropes: Analog Animation – Our friends from Squeaky Wheel will be presenting their homemade zoetrope and giving participants a chance to make their own animated strips. Learn all about this antique animation technique and how to turn your old record player into an analog animation machine.

Copyright, Fair Use, and other Legal Issues – Sure it might not sound fun at first, but this is your chance as a small-presser to ask all the questions you’ve always wanted to as well as learn about touchy subjects, like trademarks, unauthorized biographies, and defamation. Lawyer Steven Fox will guide you through and answer your questions.

You can also see the schedule here:

The Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum is located at 453 Porter Avenue in Buffalo, NY.

I can’t believe Chris Fritton does this all almost single-handed. Thanks, Chris. You’re amazing.

Chris Fritton

Chris Fritton – The Man Who Does It All

For more information visit Buffalo Small Press Book Fair website: download this flier: Buffalo Small Press Book Fair 2011 PDF.

Any you know what? It really is:

A Saturday afternoon of guilty pleasure for readers and writers!

It’s the chillest book fair in America.//


in pursuit of the juiciest wine: day eighty-seven (Silver Palm Cabernet Sauvignon 2007)

Thom Caraway, poet and poetry publisher, has announced that today is Beastie Boy’s Day. It was a good decision. And so tonight I will celebrate this occasion with a drink. However, I won’t be  drinking Night Train or drinkin’ OE with Johnny Ryall since I can’t make it to Brooklyn. I’m in Upstate where you ” get your head together” and “Thunderbird is the word and you’re light as a feather.”

Except today the word is Silver Palm Cabernet Sauvignon 2007. It will make me “charming and dashing,” I hope, as I get as drunk as “the drunk called Otis with his five o’ clock shadow.”

Man, there are so many good songs on Paul’s Boutique. It’s one of the all-time great albums. Everyone should own it.

To the wine, yo.

When I’m embarrassed, my “face turns red as your glass of wine”, and this glass of wine is the same but a darker shade.

It smells of the ocean to me. Ocean and wind. But not the funky, dead-fish wind. The cool breeze smell. A juicy breeze. A wind with mist so I can see “the wind in my eyes.”

This cab’s got strawberries and blackberries and something green. It’s got earth and a coffee bean.

Oh, what an interesting taste. It’s like melon and something grape. It’s silky, it’s smooth, it has bit of cassis.  It has linger on the finish of a jellybean. It tastes like Easter without the ham. It’s like a chocolate egg with just a hint of cream.

Cadbury Eggs

But don’t be deceived. It’s ain’t that sweet. It’s as dry as the street after a windstorm and a day of heat.

I’m actually liking this wine. It’s a little thin for a cab, but I’m liking it. It’s making me happy. I’m happy because I got wine, my girlfriend, and the Beastie Boys. “I mean wine and women and song and such.”

By now, “I’m just chillin’ like Bob Dylan.”

I'm just chillin' like Bob Dylan

It’s a good wine. I give it a thumb’s up. And for $14 I’ll give it two. Get a block of sharp cheddar cheese, and you’ll agree.

I’m done. I’m out.  “I’m a writer a poet a genius I know it.” “My mind is kinda rhymin’ and I think I oughta think. I’m rockin all the rhymes and I’ll have another drink.”


The Cave (Winner of The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award for 2013.)

The Cave

Poems for an Empty Church

Poems for an Empty Church

The Oldest Stone in the World

The Oldest Stone in the Wolrd

Henri, Sophie, & The Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound: Poems Blasted from the Vortex

Henri, Sophie, & The Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound: Poems Blasted from the Vortex

Pre-Dew Poems

Pre-Dew Poems

Negative Time

Negative Time

After Malagueña

After Malagueña

Enter your email address to subscribe to The Line Break and receive email notifications of new posts.

Join 2,546 other followers

March 2011


The Line Break Tweets

%d bloggers like this: