Saturday, October 29, 2005


Most refreshing reading attended: Kate DiCamillo reading a few chapters of her newest: Mercy Watson to the Rescue. Mercy is a pig. No windbag introduction full of flattery, self-flattery, and lies. No third party digs. No self-important asides by the Q & A crowd (though one self-identify’d “teacher” did hint at possible fraud in DiCamillo’s notion of writing somewhat blindly, that is, WITHOUT AN OUTLINE). No fashion-preening by the crowd, no putting on the trappings of the indigent, the trappings of the crazed. Attention honed to the point of one boy—following along in the book—’s blurting out “Crack!” just when “Crack!” happen’d. DiCamillo recount’d rather ruefully how, after a twenties spent sitting in coffeehouses in a black turtleneck, she determine’d to write two pages a day (“That’s a novel a year”) and ’s stuck to it. Recount’d her dead-end job history: at Disney, an eight-hour day of saying, “Look down here, look at your feet.”

Latest most favour’d blog: Aphidhog’s Georgia Sam. (“He had a bloody nose.”) A free-floating terror-humoresque attach’d to a juicy succulent or a poet’s feedbag somewhere in the British Isles.

Revery-report: Trying to do the layout (involving a piece of posterboard the size of two storefronts, text blocks of roughly one storefront-dimension each, an intermittently taut piece of twine stretch’d out by two cowboys, numerous ladder-straddling and roof-perching helpers, me on a ladder with a hammer and a mouthful of tacks) for what I suppose one’d call the elephant (wooly mammoth?) edition of Ted Berrigan’s Collected. Nobody’d work together, everything kept coming up crooked. All of it taking place against the pots and pans and sundries-hung fa├žade of a “Wild West” general store.

And, intermingle’d with th’above, the tiniest conversation. Ange Mlinko: “You put my constellation up,” pointing to a perfect row of four stars with another, a fifth, just akilter. Me: “Yeah, what a terrific alignment.” (So Starred Wire gets acclaim’d by the dream-mould.)

T. E. Hulme, attaining the rank of Spicerean real lemon in “Notes on Language and Style”:
It is seeing real clay, that men in agony worked with, that gives pleasure. To read a book which is real clay moulded by fingers that had to mould something, or they would clutch the throat of their maddened author. No flowing on of words, but tightly clutched tense fingers leaving marks in the clay. These are the only books that matter—and where are they to be found?
And, some stray lines:
[Defining language.] Large clumsy instrument. Language does not naturally come with meaning. Ten different ways of forming the same sentence. Any style will do to get the meaning down . . .

[Under Prose.] A sentence and a worm are the most stupid of animals and the most difficult to teach tricks. Tendency to crawl along requires genius, music to make them stand up (snake charmer).

[Earlier.] The poet makes it stand on end and hit you.

[Last remark.] All theories as toys.