Monday, June 19, 2006


Pretty apathetic days. Father's Day – yesterday – was alright – I tend to have a tough time with holidays which are supposed to be centered on me, & this was no exception. We didn't do one of these big Bérubé mini-golf-and-water-park extravaganzas, & didn't even go out to eat, but had a nice evening at a friend's "Father's Day Party," where P. & D. were the token kids, along with our friends' little boy.
It's two days before it's official, but Summer is already here in force; it's pretty much unbearable to be outside anytime before 1.00 AM, with the humidity crowding your lungs and the heat pressing down like a big hand (or like the Monty Python 16-ton weight or Foot Of God). Hard to think. The house needs painting.
Josh jogged my memory, & I've started rereading a book I bought about 20 years ago in Ithaca: Elizabeth Sewell's The Orphic Voice: Poetry and Natural History. Not the sort of thing I'd be reading on my own, for better or worse, but it was terrifically important to Ronald Johnson in his early years (and, I sense, thruout his career), & I've got a big Johnson piece to crank out over the summer. (Where's Compostition Marble? I thought I had a subscription? Everybody's raving over the chap, & I feel like the one kid who didn't get invited to the birthday party...)
Daphne (aet. 2) gave me the new album by this Austin band The Gourds, Heavy Ornamentals (I suspect her mother had a hand in that...). Pretty cool – really deep twang, the Blasters meet Exile on Main Street meet the Derailleurs. Great band motto: "Music for the Unwashed and Well Read."
Evals for Spring semester came back. Surprisingly positive: I must be doing something wrong; way too many people commend me for a sense of humor that I'm not sure I actually possess.
Basta. More later.


Josh said...

Apologies—sloppy on my part. The check, as they say, is in the mail.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mark/

What's this RJ piece that you're working on? Say more! The Orphic Voice was one of three books about "poetry" Ron told me he felt to be "necessary" for a poet - presumably me - to read in order to make way in the art. The other two: The Pound Era & Leon Edel's biography of Henry James.

There were other books that came up again & again: A Test of Poetry, of course, but also the VISION + VALUE series edited by Gyorgyi Kepes, published by Braziller. (You can still find these hanging around used bookstores: kind of a Bauhaus sequence of essays on art, science, math, aesthetics. Pretty amazing.) The other "master" text was Thoreau's Journals, which he owned in the massive two-volume Dover edition, which reprints four pages on each folio leaf.

But early on, it was The Orphic Voice that Ron was most insistent that I read. Which I dutifully did. And have revisited from time to time. He felt that each poet should have a myth he/she works out in the poetry, which ought to become the "great bonfine of your art." He told me that Sewell's book showed him that Orpheus & Euridice (as he always spelled it) was his myth.

I could go on - but let's hear more from you about ES & something about the "big Johnson piece" you're "cranking out," between the hours of 1am & 6am, presumably?

Good things,
Peter O'L

Steve Shoemaker said...

Hi Mark--Just a quick note to say that I've been enjoying your blog since I first happened on it a few weeks ago, and that I've started one of my own at, if you want to check it out (not sure of the etiquette, since I'm new to the whole thing, but I've linked to your site). Anyway, I've said almost nothing about poetry so far, but I'm planning to get to it!

All best,