Posts Tagged ‘SUNY Brockport

18
Jan
13

Li-Young Lee’s Breaking the Alabaster Jar: Conversations with Li-Young Lee (2006)

Over the next few weeks or months, I will post all my reviews (“Tom’s Celebrations”) that appeared in Redactions: Poetry, Poetics, & Prose (formerly Redactions: Poetry & Poetics) up to and including issue 12. After that, my reviews appeared here (The Line Break) before appearing in the journal. This review first appeared in issue 8/9, which was published circa April 2007.

//

Li-Young Lee's – Breaking the Alabaster Jar“Hey folks, there is a cosmic consciousness,” said Allen Ginsberg during a SUNY Brockport Writers Forum interview. I think he was right, and now I further agree after reading Li-Young Lee’s Breaking the Alabaster Jar: Conversations with Li-Young Lee (BOA Editions), Ed. Earl G. Ingersoll.

Within the collected interviews, there are many recurring themes: Lee’s father, The Bible, alienation, being an Asian-American poet, & the interconnectedness of the universe – especially through its vibrations, as everything vibrates.

But first let me get to how I trust Lee. In the first interview from 1987 with William Heyen and Stan Rubin, Heyen and Rubin ask Lee some strong questions, which almost seem like an initiation ritual into entering the world of poets, which are questions that only one committed/seduced/given to poetry could answer. Lee answers, but he says something startling. His answer is unexpected to me. It’s an answer that only someone truthful could give. His answer, “I have, in fact, a handful of readers that I think about. . . . Oh, if so-and-so sees this, then they’ll really think I’m a poet. I always have this feeling I want to prove I’m a poet myself to a handful of people” (p 27). Do all us poets, especially young ones, have this secret urge within us? Lee also adds that he writes for soul-awaking, too, but it’s the first answer that sucks me into believing him.

The interviews that follow are all interesting. All have new angles (slants of light), even when he similarly responds to similar answers. And each interview, each question and answer, accrue and inform the following interviews. Each interview has Lee thinking more.

During Tod Marhsall’s interview, my way of thinking about poetry changed. Marshall asks Lee the right question with the right words, and Lee responds. Here’s how it goes:

Marshall: I feel those poems as moving vertically, down the page with a push. The movement in the memoir – we’re pushed along in a similar way, but the pace is much slower.

Lee: Even now, in the poems I’m writing, although they have longer line breaks, I can see now that the sentence is my concern. I like the idea that the line breaks make notation for the mind actually thinking. I like that. But it’s ultimately the sentence that I’m writing. Not the grammatical sentence, the measure.

[. . .]

Marshall: So you don’t see yourself as ultimately despairing that you can’t capture this litany.

Lee: [. . . ] I started to entertain some of the “stuff” that’s in the canon; I forgot for a little bit that that was the horizontal, the cultural, and that wasn’t the richest mode for me. If you look at the earliest poems in Rose, you’ll see the vertical assumption. The assumption that vertical reality was the primary reality and all of this was fading away, just “stuff” spinning off on that more important reality. The change was just in the realization. (p 138-39)

So what I realized after reading this and reading what had preceded is that the horizontal movement is when the poem talks to culture. (I had believed that poems intentionally talk to other poems & poets.) The vertical moment, however, talks to the self and the universe. This changed my thinking of writing. Instead of writing for other poets & poems, I should be writing for the depths of my self while simultaneously shooting up to speak to the universe. If you do that, do it well, do it with honesty, then you’ll catch the vibrations of the universe & your soul, and then necessarily/accidentally, the poems will have horizontal movement and talk to poems and poets naturally. To write is to write lines (“a literary activity”), which is vertically neglectful. But to write vertically (as if creating a conduit between you & the universe) – well, if you make the connection with the universe, then reverberations will happen, and it will vibrate up & down & horizontally.

As for Breaking the Alabaster Jar: Conversations with Li-Young Lee as a whole, the interviews inform through accretion and the thinking poet – though he thinks of himself as a body poet – but that’s another theme you should read about in these interviews.//

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Lee, Li-Young. Breaking the Alabaster Jar: Conversations with Li-Young Lee. Ed. Earl G. Ingersoll. Rochester, NY: BOA Editions, 2006.//

03
Mar
12

In Pursuit of the Juiciest Wine: Day 110 – Domaine Les Grands Bois Cuvée Philippine 2010

Southern Miss Golden EaglesToday, my girlfriend and I were accepted into the PhD Creative Writing program at The University of Southern Mississippi. It’s a three-year program, which is awesome, and it has good writers there. We are happy to both be accepted into one school that is the same for both of us. It relieves a lot of pressure. We still have six other schools to hear from, but Southern Miss is a great choice.

Now for some crazy, random stuff. I currently teach once class of Introduction to Creative Writing at SUNY Brockport, where I received an MA in English a long time ago and where my girlfriend is finishing up her Masters. The team name for SUNY Brockport is the Golden Eagles. The team name for Southern Miss is the Golden Eagles, too. Wait. There’s more. The people who lived in our magnificent apartment before us, also got accepted into Southern Miss. That’s crazy. They went for a Masters in Dance, but still it is crazy.

Domaine Les Grands Bois Cuvée Philippine 2010So to celebrate, we will be drinking Domaine Les Grands Bois Cuvée Philippine 2010 from Côtes-du-Rhône Villages. A cuvée is a blend, but I’m not sure what a Cuvée Philippine is. (Literally, “cuvée” translates into “vat.”) I hope it’s good, especially since it has been decanting for three hours.

But first, what makes up this cuvée? It is 55% Grenache, 35% Syrah, and 10% Carignan, and the grapes come from vines that are 10-70 years old. I hope most of them come from the 70-year-old vines. And since it is mostly Grenache, I’ll assume it is from the southern Rhone region.

To the tasting! Allons-y.

This wine has the color of a black cherry and is 90% opaque.

The nose is smoky and earthy. I mean real earthy. I can smell the dirt from where the vines grew. There are also black cherries, strawberries, and lavender.

Oh my goodness. What a texture. So soft. So round. So solid. There are no holes in this. The taste is steady. It’s not compartmentalized.

I pick up darkness on the taste. It tastes like midnight in the Garden of Eden the night before the fall. This is the wine they would to need to drink after they were expelled. It even has a little bitterness to the finish. The finish is also dark and with a little pepper.

Expulsion from the Garden of Eden

"Expulsion from the Garden of Eden". Thomas Cole. 1828.

In less metaphorical terms, it has dark berries, especially tart black berries.

This wine is $13 at Mahan’s in Brockport. It’s well worth the price. I imagine this would go good with some woody mushrooms, like Shitake mushrooms. It will also go good with hamburgers, especially if the outside of the hamburger is slightly charred. I think it will also go well with kielbasa.

The finish really dominates this taste. It lingers and it needs food to make it end.

I can see why Robert Parker gave this 90 points. This is a typical dark wine that he would like. If you like, dark, earthy wines, you will love this, especially at $13. It is a little too dark for me, as wines Robert Parker likes often are. But I can see how he gave it 90 points. But based on what I like, I gave it 89 points, but I respect what it does.//

23
Jan
12

In Pursuit of the Juiciest Wine: Day 108 – Conn Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Napa Valley

Conn Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Napa ValleyTomorrow begins my second semester teaching Introduction to Creative Writing at SUNY Brockport, so I’m going to start the semester off in style with Conn Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Napa Valley. The wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Wine Enthusiast gave it 93 points, so I’m psyched. So let’s get to it.

Allons-y.

It poured out bubbly. Maybe I held the decanter wrong. Anyway, it’s dark ruby in color and about 90% opaque.

The first thing I thought of when I smelled this was clear. Then I thought of a mountain stream with a bank of flowers. The nose is very gentle. It doesn’t smell big like a typical cab. I also pick up a hint of cantaloupe. But really it has almost no nose. Maybe it needs more time decanting. It’s been just over an hour, so you wouldn’t think it would, especially for an American wine. Or maybe it needs to age more. It’s probably the latter.

It’s thick and caramel-y in texture. I taste plums and cherries on the palate.

It finishes spicy and with dry, dark berries. On the long finish, there’s some smoke and nuts and wood, like cedar I guess. I’m not good with the wood, but I pictured cedar. Actually, I pictured the smooth top of a cedar desk. Something like:

Spanish Cedar Desk

Right now, this wine isn’t worth the $20 I paid for it, but I think it will be in a few years. I’d say pick up a bottle or two and store them for a few years. It’s just not ready, especially when there are so many good cabs at a less expensive price. Right now I give this like 88 points.

WAIT! Redux.

It’s been like an hour-and-a-half, and it’s finally opening. The nose has a body now and scents. There are still flowers, and my girlfriend says gardenias. I also get yellow plums and hint of chocolate.

The texture is more chalky now. The finish is less spicy, but nutty. On the palate there are purple plums and William Carlos Williams wife reading:

This Is Just to SayThis Is Just to Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Poor Florence Williams 😦

Still this wine needs some time aging. I’m still giving it 88 points.//

27
Oct
11

The Godfathers of Rochester Poetry – The Huff Black Reading (11-19-11)

That’s right ladies and gentlemen. The Godfathers of the Rochester, NY, poetry scene will be reading together at the heart of where the whole Rochester poetry scene really began – Brockport, NY.

Come one. Come all. Come to the November 19th reading at A Different Path Gallery on 27 Market Street. The event starts at 7:30 p.m., and it’s free.

Steve Huff Ralph Black Reading Flier(To see the poster full size, click it. To download a printable copy, click Huff Black Reading Flier PDF.)

There’ll be wine, food, and maybe cannolis.

So who are these fine readers? And why are they the Godfathers of Rochester Poetry? That’s because Steve Huff does significant work at the epicenter of the Rochester literary scene – Writers & Books. And Ralph Black co-runs the long running (if not longest running in the United States) reading series – The Writers Forum at SUNY Brockport. So all poetry in the Rochester area must first go through them. Or else!

Here’s more about them.

Ralph BlackBefore Ralph Black became a respectable citizen of Western New York: he delivered The Washington Post to Spiro Agnew (after Agnew resigned from office). He cleaned carpets in government buildings in the nation’s capital. He was Fritz in the Nutcracker. He painted houses in Maine. He waited tables at a swank Italian restaurant that turned out to be a front for a Mafia-led cocaine operation. He hitchhiked to Williamsburg, VA, on a school day, to interview a craftsman who made miniature replicas of Viking ships. He ate peyote buttons while sitting in a cave in the Shenandoahs. He was bounced on Isaac Stern’s knee. He stole a 20 lb. tin of cashews from the deli where he worked. He fought fires for the Forest Service in Idaho. He nearly fell off a mountain in the backcountry in the Olympics. Ditto for a cliff in Maine. Ditto for a cliff in Virginia. Presently, he lives in Monroe Co., NY, where cliffs are few and far between.

Steve HuffSteven Huff is the author of two books of poems, most recently More Daring Escapes, and a collection of stories, A Pig in Paris. A Pushcart Prize winner in fiction, and an O.Henry Prize finalist, his poetry has been read on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac, and been chosen by form US Poet Laureate Ted Kooser for his American Life in Poetry feature news column. He is Director of Adult Education and Programs at Writers & Books, and teaches writing at RIT, and in the Solstice MFA Program at Pine Manor College in Boston. From 2002 through 2008 he was host of Fiction in Shorts, a regular feature on WXXI-FM and WJSL-FM.

This event is sponsored by A Different Path Gallery, Redactions: Poetry & Poetics, and Lift Bridge Book Shop.//

16
Sep
11

in pursuit of the juiciest wine: day 100 (Altamura Cabernet Sauvignon 2007)

Hurray. Finally, it’s Day 100 in the Pursuit of the Juiciest Wine Tour. I’ve been saving the Altamura Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 for quite some time and for quite some occasion. While tonight is a quiet night, here’s what’s been going in the last couple of weeks. Hmm. How to order them. I thought of listing by order of importance or magnitude, but, hmm, they are all pretty big. So randomly.

Finally, I got new job! Yay. Thanks Gerry Fish. I’m going to be an editor, which is something I love to do. The job begins Monday in St. Louis. I’ll stay there for a week. Then the rest of the gig is working from home.

Working from home on my new laptop. A Toshiba Satellite P705D with an AMD A6-3400M APU with Radeon HD Graphics 1.40 GHz processor, 8 GB of RAM (thank goodness. that’s really what I wanted most), Windows 7 Home 64-bit, and 640 GB hard drive.

What else. Oh, Redactions: Poetry & Poetics issue 14 – The I-90 Poetry Revolution with guest editor, Sean Thomas Dougherty came out and we had a release party reading for it. It was a great reading held at the Alumni House at SUNY Brockport. (Thank English Department for hooking me up with space!)

SUNY Brockport is new thing. I’m teaching Introduction to Creative Writing there one night per week. I just started a few weeks ago. What fun.

I got that job thanks to Ralph Black, Steve Fellner, and Anne Panning and because I’ve a number of published books, including one that just came out two weeks ago. The book is Poems for an Empty Church from Palettes & Quills.

Poems for an Empty Church front cover

I’ve hired The Critic to speak on my behalf for this book.

The only way to shut him up is to BUY MY BOOK.

So I’ve had a lot going, and I’m not listing some other items, too. That’s enough. So tonight some good wine for the 100th day in pursuit of the juiciest wine.

Tonight’s wine is Altamura Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 from Napa Valley. It was number 5 on the The Wine Spectator Top 100 wines of 2010. So the wine should be perfect for tonight.

I got the wine on hearing its name and its rank. I did not know how it was spelled. I thought it was going to be a Spanish wine from Altamira. I was hooked because I love Spanish wines and I love the Altamira Cave with all the paleolithic cave art of which I’ve been writing poems about.

Altamira Bison

Altamura Cabernet Sauvignon 2007Enough of this. Let’s get to this 96-point wine.

The is an inky wine that’s dark purple in color and 90% opaque. It also has a tall meniscus. Is this wine even ready?

Thinking of tall, the bottle is tall and skinny. Odd.

The nose is smoky with dark berries, cassis, and black pepper. Yet with all that going on, it’s mild. My girlfriend says it smells inky. I get a hint of that, too.

Wow, that’s weird. It almost vanishes on the finish but then resurfaces.

It’s smooth going in like liquid air. And thinner than you’d expect from a cab. It’s actually kinda flowery when it gets in the mouth. But there’s also the counter of the inkiness and cassis. The cassis is on the beginning of the finish.

When you first taste it, it’s kinda like grapes. Like grape jelly but not as sweet but with the same wobbly texture.

My girlfriend picks up mushrooms. She also thinks its weird, but she thinks it’s weird because “It’s juicy, but I can’t define any of the berries.” After some time, she gets blackberries. I agree. That is, I think I can feel and taste those little blackberry hairs that poke out from in between the little blackberry bubbles.

Blackberries with hairs

This is a really mild wine. I quit enjoy. I give it an A.

The longer it sits, the juicier it gets and spicier, too. It gets more and more delicious. I can’t believe how much better it has become in the last 15 minutes. This bottle has been open for about an hour now, and it’s blossoming. It’s slowly becoming an A+. It’s coming alive with juiciness and youthful vitality. I feel like Dr. Frankenstein watching his monster come alive or, more specifically, Young Frankenstein watching his monster come alive.

The Altamura Cabernet Sauvignong 2007 is engaging. It’s flirting with me. It’s seducing me. Mmmmmmmm. I have been seduced.//

01
Sep
11

The I-90 Poetry Revolution Relocation Plan

The I-90 Poetry Revolution is moving to a new location. On Saturday, September 3, at 7:30 p.m., the revolution will begin at SUNY Brockport’s Alumni House, located at 142 Utica Street. Wine will still be served.

Map to Alumni House

Map to Alumni House from A Different Path Gallery

To download this map as a PDF for printing, click Map to Alumni House PDF.

To read more about the event, go to this entries:

Before you join the revolution, be sure to stop by A Different Path Gallery. It will get you in the mood! Look for future readings to occur there, too.//




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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