Thursday, March 17, 2005

I've met so many fascinating individuals in the last week that I fear that were I to systematically detail my California adventures I might sound like a repugnant namedropper. I will say that I am very excited for the books that California plans to bring out next year--two long-awaited collections from Joshua Clover and Mark Levine, as well as a New and Selected from Mei-Mei B. (othographophobia here).

On other fronts, Stanford's department runneth over with interesting junior faculty working on poetry. I was particularly impressed with Sianne Ngai, whose book Ugly Feelings I perused while drinking coffee among the overachiever set in the Stanford bookstore. I couldn't justify thirty dollars, but plan to read it through ILL as soon as I get back. Her project is to provide us with a new aesthetic and affective vocabulary for contemporary and modern poetry. She develops terms like "stuplimity," a mixture of awe and blah, to chronicle our post-sublime, post-modern affective moment. Her interest, I've surmised, is in the neglected or underrepresented affects--the zany, the glamorous, the bored--that constitute so much of modern life (at least where I am now) after the earth from space is so much footage, after after. I'll stop before I grossly misrepresent a book the full scope of which still eludes me. In any case, she's a fascinating critic with whom I'd be delighted to work. And Robert Kaufman's work also sounds fascinating. All in all, Stanford has a good deal going for it poetry-wise these days, even with Perloff retired. I'd been told that it was a very conservative department, but that doesn't really appear to be the case now. I didn't meet Yvor Winters anywhere, not even in the Rare Books Collection, where I read the following in the errata to a serialized version of Ulysses: pg. 23 [delete fullstop after law.] Yes yes.

What else? Cal Bedient--whose third collection, hurray, is finished--gave me a copy of Volt, a magazine the existence of which I've often doubted, and which features a dizzyingly brilliant poem, "The Animal Parliament Speaks of Warre" by my friend and fellow Ithaca poet Karen Anderson. Lots of great stuff in this issue, which I'm still making my way through--blogger par excellence Josh has some of his Fourier Series in there, a sequence I find more and more compelling each time I come across it. I'm excited for its release from Spineless.

Everyone I talked to about Don't Let Me Be Lonely recommended Juliana Spahr's new This Connection of Everyone with Lungs, a book I'm enjoying and about which I should have more to say at a later date. I feel a review coming on. Where's my third book? If only I had someone who was committed to printing the review. . .

I fly to Oakland tonight, and Ithaca tomorrow. It's a shame I missed Elizabeth Willis and Peter Gizzi. Josh is right--Turneresque is just deadly good.

The road's partly washed out here in the canyon, and my father keeps extending his Gehryesque overelaboration of a house deeper and deeper into the burred possible.

I'm totally over Bill Maher. Is there some rule that the more time you spend in front of a camera the more conservative you become? Maybe the whole soul-stealing superstition has some merit to it. . . . There goes my acting career. I coulda been a pretender.

Rei Terada is the nicest person in the world.

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