Archive for April, 2011

26
Apr
11

in pursuit of the juiciest wine: day ninety-one (Signargues Côtes du Rhônes Villages Granacha 2007)

Man, the poetry world is busy lately. I’ve been running the Just Poets blog updating it with all the local poetry events and posting a poem day for National Poetry Month. I’ve been laying out and doing the cover for Michael Meyerhofer‘s Pure Elysium, which won the Palettes & Quills 2010 chapbook contest as judged by Dorianne Laux. (Her latest collection, The Book of Men, is wonderful. Look for a review here soon.) Here’s the Pure Elysium cover:

Pure Elysium full cover

I’m also just about to start editing issue 14 of Redactions: Poetry & Poetics – the I-90 Poetry Manifesto issue with guest editor Sean Thomas Dougherty. (There’s a good interview with him at Bookslut.) Then I have an anthology to layout and do the cover for. Plus, I gotta work my full-time job, too. Oh, and I’m planning the last reading of the season for the A Different Path Gallery Reading Series. You can read about the last reading of the season here.

Man, do I need a drink.

Tonight, I’m going to have Signargues Côtes du Rhônes Villages Granacha 2007. A Granacha from the Rhone valley. Robert Parker at the Wine Advocate gave it 91 points. So it will probably be a big, fruity wine with lots of alcohol. Bonus – It’s an old vine wine. Sweet.

I’ve been dying to drink this for about two weeks, so here it goes.

It shimmers in ruby like thick stained glass windows that have never been clean and the sun is setting so its low angles of sunlight barely light it and create the hint of a glow.

The nose is pleasant with some bright berries, dark raspberries, and flowers. And there’s a hint of duck.

My first sip is Yum and It will go good with cheese. I pictured a yellowy orange cheese. (Grammar rule: don’t hyphenate compound modifiers if the word ends with a y.)

When I taste the Granacha, I pick up the duck again. I also get some big, dark berries. The finish is a bit spicy, too. This wine is almost meaty, too. I feel like I can almost eat it. Or maybe I just want to. Oh, to eat a wine. That would be divine. (Or should I say, devine. Ha.)

The body doesn’t give much. It’s like it wants to let loose and be juicy, but it’s being anal about something. Maybe it needs more time to open, though it’s been over an hour. Maybe it needs a decanter. Maybe it needs tomorrow. Don’t we all need tomorrow. As long as tomorrow arrives with me, all is good.

I don’t have much else to say about this wine. I hope I didn’t pay more than $15 for it.

. . .

So I’ve been swirling the glass around for the last half hour, and it’s opening. The berries are definitely brighter. There’s less dank.

The DankMoe: Oh, everybody is going to family restaurants these days, tsk. Seems nobody wants to hang out in a dank pit no more.
Carl: You ain’t thinking of getting rid of the dank, are you, Moe?
Moe: Ehh, maybe I am.
Carl: Oh, but Moe: the dank. The dank!

I like less dank, and this wine is slowly getting better. It’s lively and almost jammy. A thin jammy.

It’s such a different wine in the last half hour.

I’m digging it.

I’m giving it an A-. I love it.//

20
Apr
11

A Different Path Gallery Reading Series: May 2011

On Saturday, May 21 at 7:30 p.m. at A Different Path Gallery (27 Market St., Brockport, NY), John Roche and Kitty Jospé will read their poetry.

Roche Jospé Poetry Reading Poster

Kitty Jospé – Teacher with a passion for languages and the arts. Music and poetry both require a precision in elements of craft applied to the endless possibilities of personality.  This line from her poem, “Rumbled in the Street,” sums up her ars poetica: “I want to land a helicopter – stop the massacre of what it means to be human.” Her book, Cadences, will be available. Proceeds go to Women Helping Girls.

John Roche  earned his PhD from SUNY Buffalo, studying with Robert Creeley and John C. Clarke. His first two full-length poetry collections are Topicalities (2008) and On Conesus (2005), both from FootHills Publishing. His latest book of poems, Road Ghosts, is available from theenk Books. He also edited the collection Uncensored Songs for Sam Abrams (Spuyten Duyvil, 2008), co-edited with Patricia Roth Schwartz an anthology of poetry by inmates at Auburn Prison called Doing Time to Cleanse My Mind (FootHills, 2009), and edited Martha Rittenhouse Treichler’s Black Mountain to Crooked Lake: Poems 1948-2010, with a Memoir of Black Mountain College (FootHills, 2010). Roche is an Associate Professor of English at RIT.

To download a printable post, click Roche Jospé Poetry Reading Poster PDF.

Schedule it on your Facebook calendar by clicking here.//

17
Apr
11

in pursuit of the juiciest wine: day ninety (Chateau de Lascaux Coteaux du Languedoc 2008)

Finally, I found Chateau de Lascaux Coteaux du Languedoc 2008. (Many thanks go out to Holly!) It’s number 85 on The Wine Spectator Top 100 list for 2010. That’s a good reason to get a wine. Plus it’s a 91-point wine for only $14 or $16. But I wanted it because it’s from Lascaux, where there are some great cave paintings.

The Man, The Bison, and the Bird of the Shaft (The Shaft of the Dead Man)

The Man, The Bison, and the Bird of the Shaft (aka The Shaft of the Dead Man)

That’s one of the more famous paintings. It’s probably most famous because it seems like there is a narrative, a story, going on here, but no one knows what the story is. It’s mysterious. More so because most Paleolithic paintings don’t have stories. Most are images. There are very, very few cave paintings that appear to tell a story. I’m not sure if a story is going on here. It may be a palimpsest of images.

But what of Coteaux du Languedoc? Is there a story here? Well, it is the oldest vineyard in France. Some say the Greeks put vineyards here around 5 BCE and some say 500 BCE. Either way, it’s old, but not as old as those cave paintings. Coteaux du Languedoc is then divided into many appellations. Chateua de Lascaux is located in the Pic Saint-Loup appellation.

Coteaux du Languedoc

Pic Saint-Loup appellation is up top in the dark red.

Of the Pic Saint-Loup appellation:

It’s probable that those living here 2800 – 2400 years BCE already drank Pic Saint-Loup . . . After all, wild vines – lambrusques – were growing way back then.

Wines from this appellation are required to be  have at least 90% Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre combined. The other 10% can be Carignan and Cinsault. This wine from Chateau de Lascaux is 60% Syrah, 30% Grenache, and 10% Mourvedre, which meets the requirements of the Pic Saint-Loup appellation.

Other appellations have different requirements. For a break down of each appellation’s requirements and a brief history of Coteaux du Languedoc, visit the Languedoc Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée website.

For more information about Pic Saint-Loup, read the Pic Saint-Loup press pack. Interestingly, the press pack says:

Vine cultivation started largely with the Roman occupation around 120 BCE. Since then it has constantly expanded.

(I don’t know why they say Romans when other sources say the Greeks were the first to plant in Coteaux du Languedoc. Maybe they were both there? [shoulders shrug])

Chateau de Lascaux Coteaux du Languedoc 2008There is obviously more to learn and say about Pic Saint-Loup and Coteaux du Languedoc, but it’s time to get to the Chateau de Lascaux Coteaux du Languedoc 2008.

Held up to the wet sunset sky where snow (big, fat snow flakes of snow) had been falling much of the afternoon and early evening, the color of this wine is bright purple. It looks vibrant and happy.

The nose is delicious. Vanilla and and and, ah, it’s like vanilla cream. After a couple of swirls, new smells arise: cranberry and pepper. There might be cherry, too. And I pick up some truffle oil. Truffle oil. That’s what is making me happy inside. Truffle oil. Truffle oil is always happiness to the body. I smell it and all sorrows go away.

To the taste.

This is pleasant up front with cranberries and plum. The body is cool and deep. The Mourvedre is making for a tart finish, or a high acidic finish. The tartness while mild endures on the finish.

This is an enjoyable wine, but it needs some food to cut the tart finish.

This would go good with eggs. Eggs, toast, hash browns, and ketchup. This would be a good breakfast wine. Though, who has wine for breakfast? Hmm. Maybe I should go to the Brockport Diner.

I say this is a B+ wine. It could probably benefit from a few more years so the acidity can mellow a bit.//

ADDENDUM (4-18-11 a.m.): This becomes a solid A- with some food. It went perfectly well with some spicy chow mein noodles and veggies that I made.//

ADDENDUM (4-18-11 p.m.): About 24 hours later I had some more. It was so much better. It was a new wine. The tartness was all gone. It even tasted a bit like garlic bread. This wine either needs lots of time to open up or a decanter. I’m now giving this an A.//

16
Apr
11

On Eric G. Wilson’s My Business is to Create: Blake’s Infinite Writing

A version of this may appear in an upcoming issue of Redactions: Poetry & Poetics.

.

William Blake

William Blake in an 1807 portrait by Thomas Phillips.

Why do we need another book about William Blake? I have three main reasons. One, I’d say we need another book because Blake seems to have been forgotten or is only remembered as just another one of those old poets in an anthology. Two, we need to be reminded of Blake’s genius. We need to be reminded of Imagination. We need to be reminded of Energy and Original Creation. Three, because Eric G. Wilson’s 85-page book, My Business is to Create: Blake’s Infinite Writing (University of Iowa Press, 2011), is inspired and filled with energy. While reading it, you will want to return to Blake, and, more importantly for the writers out there, you will be revitalized.

Eric G. Wilson's My Business Is To Create: Blake's Infinite WritingMy Business is to Create begins with a brief biography of Blake. This is followed by the story of Allen Ginsberg’s first vision of Blake and a list of other writers, artists, musicians, filmmakers, and graphic artists who were inspired and influenced by Blake. And then the book’s first of many creative epiphanies:

Originality equals genius; imitation is mediocrity (p 8).

That’s good insight and good advice, but only if you know what creativity means, if it still means anything at all after its overuse. Throughout this book, Wilson examines what creativity is, and he uses Blake as the exemplar of creativity. First, he takes a closer look at “inspiration, one of Blake’s primary terms for creativity” (p 9).  Inspiration, to Blake, is to view something as you see it and then holding to that vision, especially when it goes against the consensus view or generalized views, which Blake says “are the plea of the scoundrel, hypocrite, and flatterer” (p 14). From this inspiration, one can create. The inspiration is the “Divine Vision.” Even nature can’t challenge one’s own imagination, for:

imagination apprehends and depicts the world’s illimitable fecundity. It is a way of knowing as well as a mode of expression (p 14).

Wilson is inspired. He has energy. An energy that penetrates into the reader. I feel it. I feel almost like I did shortly after my first encounters with Blake – inspired, wide-eyed, and bursting with new poems.

Martin Buber's I and ThouAfter you find your personal view, Wilson continues, you are ready to create relationships with the world and nature. And these relationships are not objective. They are no longer relationships with the other. They are personal and meaningful. Using Martin Buber’s I and Thou, Wilson makes this Blakean idea of relationships clear to us. That is, once you have made this I-and-Thou relationship, you can:

[g]aze at life as though you were always blessing it, consecrating it, humbly, as holy, and then your biases will be relaxed and your curiosity will be aroused (p 22).

This and some practical examples that Wilson lists are ways to go about being creative and, hopefully, to experience “pure sensation unencumbered by meaning” (p 24), as Marius von Senden says. To widen this view, to move beyond, Wilson says that you should embrace polarities:

Saying yes and no to the same thing, hovering between authorization and invalidation, I undergo the joy of expansion (p 28).

Wilson also gives us an overview of Blake as the inventor of: free verse; the idea that form is never more than an extension of content; the prose poem; and, though Wilson doesn’t say it,  I will, the inventor of cubism – “in which single events are presented from numerous simultaneous perspectives” (p 39).

Wilson also devotes a chapter to revising. He explores why we do it, how it works, and, of course, how Blake revised:

To be freed from the notion that first drafts even exist, to understand that you’re already revising the minute you put word to page: this makes it easier to modify those initial sentences. There’s nothing special about them. They’re yesterday’s news (p 44).

And:

[R]ealize that revising is creating, is life, and therefore the more beautiful our revisions, the more vital our lives, and, surprisingly, the more innocent (p 45).

I love that sentence, especially after Wilson points out that for Blake innocence “is knowledge” (p 46). Or, more precisely, to quote Blake: “Unorganized Innocence, An Impossibility / Innocence dwells with Wisdom but never with Ignorance” (p 46).

As I said before, Wilson’s My Business is to Write is filled with energy. Wilson is possessed like Blake, and, like Blake, this book is filled with many quotable lines, as I’ve shown above, and some of which I’ll list here:

This is a writing that is infinite, an eternal composition, draft after draft after draft, an editorial mysticism whose goal is not the “final,” but the “farther” (p 29).

The more deeply you descend into your specific haunts, the more universal you become (p 41).

[On the Swendenborgians]: [T]he hormones get you to heaven, and paradise is within the genitalia (p 55).

Let you carnality pursue the poem (p 56).

Industry [the process of writing or creating] is all there is. To lose yourself in it, to become it, its boundless but rugged promises, its oceans of tone and form, rimed now with rough ice, and then freshened by the warm trades: this is grace (p 69).

Not only do I think this is a good book worth returning to, it will be a good book for writers or any creative person (as I’ve already mentioned on Facebook and Twitter). I also think it can be a terrific book for creative writing classes. In addition, midway through Wilson’s My Business is to Create: Blake’s Infinite Writing, I had the belief that Blake was actually writing the book, and if he wasn’t, then Blake had possessed Wilson during the writing. In the end, Blake would approve of this book and I encourage it.

On an aside, I still haven’t figured out where to put this book in my library. Should it go with my Blake books and literary criticisms of Blake or with my books on and about writing? Ah, such a fun dilemma to have.

One last aside, a personal note: Wilson is obviously a writer, and he clearly writes about situations that writers encounter. Often he writes so well about situations I have been in, I wonder if he was there when it was happening to me. I love that he somehow knows me. Perhaps you will feel the same. Consider this paragraph:

So often we are troubled by past and future, and thus alienated from the present moment. I sit at my computer on a Wednesday morning trying to write. But my attention keeps straying to what has happened earlier in my life, maybe two years ago, perhaps ten minutes, those events toward which I nostalgically long or from which I regretfully recoil. Also I anticipate an appointment to which I’ve been looking forward or dread an upcoming responsibility. Dissipated by these feelings, I hover in a ghostly limbo, composed of apparitions of a past that is no more and haunts of future not yet here. While drafting among these abstractions, I’m not really living. I’m overly self-conscious, obsessed with my personal history, my success, my failures. I can’t get out of myself, connect to something beyond, something “not me.” I’ve imprisoned myself in a ratio of my own making, egotism’s same dull round: wherever I look, there I am. Distant from this life – right here, right now, this instant – and perversely enamored of monotony, of death, I can’t write anything worth keeping. I don’t know what to do. I just know I’ve got to kill time, somehow (p 70-1).

As you can tell, I can keep writing about this book as it has impacted me. I want to go farther.

Now, because Ginsberg heard the voice of Blake in a vision and the voice sang “Ah, Sun-flower,” here are The Fugs singing “Ah, Sun-flower”.

//

12
Apr
11

21.5 Bottles of Red Wine

Right now I have Twenty-one-and-a-half bottles of red wine plus a few bottles of port, a few bottles of whites, and a bottle of champagne. This isn’t alot but it’s a lot for me. I have no place to store much more than this or even this much, and the summer is too hot for proper storage. But what’s unique about this selection is that they are all good wines and many are real good. Here’s what I have in reds.

Twenty-One-and-a-Half Red Wines

Twenty-One-and-a-Half Red Wines (Click me to see zoom in.)

Chateau de Lascaux Coteaux du Languedoc 2008 (2x). This one is number 85 on The Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of 2010.

Nine Stones Shiraz 2008 (Barossa). I love this wine. Everyone should try this wine, especially for $11. It also won The Battle of Barossa Shiraz.

Codice Vino de la Tierra de Castilla 2008 (2x). Another wine everyone should try. I opened it one night with someone who really doesn’t like, but she couldn’t stop drinking it. Yes, and only for $9 or $10.

Ergo Tempranillo 2008 (Rioja). I’m just assuming this one is good, but I can’t remember what led me to think that. I’ll try it in a few days and let you know.

Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (D. O. Colchagua Valley, Chile). I’ve had previous Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignons, and they were wonderful.

Cycle Buff Beauty A Date with M. Fitts 2008 (Malbec-Shiraz blend). Actually, I don’t know if this will be good, especially since it’s 80% Malbec, and I don’t really like Malbec. But it has an awesome retro label. It’s like a 1950 B-movie poster.

Two Hands Angels’ Share Shiraz 2008. I had another Two Hands Shiraz, the one that is number two on The Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of 2010. I’m assuming this one will be good, too. Plus it’s got Angel’s Share in the title. Angels’ Share is “The wine in oak barrels that disappears due to evaporation.” That’s from the epigraph of Joseph Mills’ poem “Some Questions about the Drinking Habits of Angels,” which appears in the wonderful book of wine poems Angels, Thieves, and Winemakers.

What if the angels don't drink
their shares at all,
but instead save them,
so that later,
when we check in,
or perhaps at judgement day,
we'll find samples
of all the wines and all
the days, all the lost
friendships, everything
we thought had evaporated away,
lined up and displayed,
not as an appreciation
or a rebuke,
but simple a testament,
to what we tried to make
with our lives.

Perrin & Fils La Gille 2007 (Gigondas). This one is number 78 on The Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of 2010. Plus, it’s from Gigondas. (Gigondas is pronounced gee gohn dahs. Where the first two syllables are said rather quick so that the n is almost not pronounced and slips into the das, which is a longer syllable. This guy gets close to the pronunciation: hear it pronounced.)

Signargues Cotes du Rhones Villages Granacha 2007. A Grancha from the Rhone, yea boy.

Borsao Garnacha 2009 (2.5x). Borsao tends to make delicious wines, and this one is no different, plus it’s only $8. Go get some . . . now.

Monte Antico Toscana 2007. I raved about this one before. Plus, it won The Battle of Toscanas.

Columbia Crest Grand Estates 2007 (Columbia Valley). This is a good everyday wine. It’s a solid 88-point wine, and I say it’s 89. Plus, it’s only $8 or $9.

Jade Mountain La Provencale 1999 (St. Helen, CA). I don’t remember why I picked this one up, but I have had it for a while. It’s the dusty bottle on the left. I know it’s good. I wonder if I should save it. You know, what if I have a kid. This might be his or her only way to experience the previous millennium. I actually did this for my friends with their first baby. I picked up a bottle of a 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon. I wanted their child to experience the millennium in which their parents met.

Domain Les Grands Bois Côtes Du Rhone Cuvee Les Trois Sœurs 2009. I had this before. It pushes 90 points.

Ryan Vineyard Calera Thirtieth Anniversary Vintage Pinot Noir 2005. I remember this being a real good Pinot Noir. It’s normally $50, but I got it for $25.

Castell del Remei Gotim Bru Costers del Segre 2006. I read something good about this somewhere, plus it looks like something I’ve never tried before.

Lan Rioja Reserva 2005. This isn’t on The Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of 2010, but the Bodegas LAN Rioja Crianza 2006 is at spot 90. I’ve heard the 2005 Reserva is even better or just as good as the Crianza 2006.

Altamura Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Napa Valley). This one is number five on The Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of 2010. When I heard Mahan’s Liquor and Wines was getting some, I got in on the order because I thought it was Altamira, where all the cave paintings are. This would have been a special joy because I’m studying and writing about Paleolithic cave art. When I got it, I saw that it was spelled different and was from California. Sigh. But, hey, it’s number five, plus I have the Lascaux which is number 85, so yay.

I’ve got some good times ahead. Stay tuned. I’ll share them with you.//

02
Apr
11

in pursuit of the juiciest wine: day eighty-nine (Penfolds Thomas Hyland Adelaide Shiraz 2007)

It’s been sometime since I’ve done an official tasting post, but here we go. Nah. First I want to mention this new journal edited by Laura McCullough – Mead: The Magazine of Literature and Libations.

Mead The Journal of Literature and Libations

This is such a fun a unique idea, and the first issue is strong with these wonderful writers: Stephen Dunn, Richard Garcia, Steven Huff, Bob Hicok, Thom Ward, Ravi Shankar, and Derek Pollard (the latter two will also appear in the next issue of Redactions: Poetry & Poetics, due out in June). So if you like this blog, you will surely enjoy Mead. Or if you just like literature or libations, you’ll still enjoy Mead.

Now it’s time for me to go to my libations, Penfolds Thomas Hyland Adelaide Shiraz 2007. Shiraz from Australia might becoming a cliché of itself, but I saw the staff at Madeline’s in Ithaca, NY, doing a tasting of this. So, when I found this bottle in New Hampshire, I had to pick it up. (By the way, Madeline’s has the best food in Ithaca, and probably most of mainland New York State.)

The color is dark. A dark purple. It looks thick (if a wine can look thick). It doesn’t smell that special, but it has plums and leather. I think I also get some white pepper, cherries, and vanilla. So this Shiraz has some of the typical traits, and then some.

It’s dry and jammy. My girlfriend said it tasted like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but I think it just has the texture of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

I like the juicy finish. Juicy, berry finish followed by a dry slide. The finish is actually chewy, or like something you want to take a bite out of.  The finish returns as a tart ghost to haunt the mouth.

There is nothing extraordinary about his wine, but it is good.

I said in my last tasting that I wasn’t going to use the 100-point scale anymore. I forget my reasons, but now I think about the specificity of the numbers. I can tell the difference between 87, 88, 89, and 90, but before and after I can’t. So I want to use what I used for about 27 years of my life – a report card.

Report Card

To me, anything below an 87 is an F, and anything above a 90 is an A. The Hall Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 is an A+.

Besides, why be so exact. A wine isn’t exact, plus I like grades. There is wiggle room within a grade. So let’s give this wine a grade. Let’s give it a B.

A B to me means its better than ordinary. It’s put in a good effort, but more can be expected. It could improve. It also means it’s worth its price of about $12.

What’s keeping it from meeting a B+ or an A? It’s not meeting the full expectations of what I think a Shiraz should taste like. It has the notes, sure, but it’s not playing the Shiraz melody with feeling.

It’s a B, and a B is good.//




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

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