Thursday, August 18, 2005

Slow Days

It’s a low-key week on the blogosphere, or at least the corners at which I am wont to regularly peer. Congratulations to Emily for netting a fine winner for her utterly nifty “Between the Lions” poetry contest – and for getting Poesy Galore back onto a fine heading after what looked like a summary quietus. On the other hand, two of my very favorite bloggers – John Latta and Henry Gould – seem to have put their respective blogs on indefinite hold. That’s too bad: Henry is always worth reading – a sensibility at such an angle to mine that I always find something to learn from him – and John’s lightly worn, sparkling erudition has always kept me alert and amused. Come back, all is forgiven!

Our ten days in New York seem like a dream – a particularly sticky dream, since the apartment we were staying in had no air conditioning, and the sun condescended to shine pretty much the whole time (during daylight hours, of course). Lots of consumption: we went to a half-dozen restaurants, the most notable of which was a fantastic Indonesian/Malaysian place in SoHo (I’ll post the address when I find their card – it’s worth seeking out), and several museums. The Jewish Museum on 5th Avenue has just wound up a wonderful Maurice Sendak exhibit, focusing on his book illustrations and his opera sets and costumes. Fantastic stuff: I’m convinced he’ll one day be recognized as a 20th-century artist of the calibre of Kitaj or Jasper Johns, once people start paying attention to draughtsmanship again. Nothing, however, from his disturbing Fuseli-adaptation illustrations to that weird “Kraken” edition of Melville’s Pierre some years ago.

Of course, the best reason to go to a big city is to visit good bookstores. The following is the take:

Paul Celan, Lightduress
Celan, Threadsuns (both in Pierre Joris’s translation)
James Hogg, Memoirs & Confessions of a Justified Sinner (if you’re the person to whom I lent my Oxford World’s Classics edition of this three-four years ago, I still want the damn thing back – you know who you are, even if I can’t remember!)
Rosmarie Waldrop, Lavish Absense: Recalling and Rereading Edmond Jabès
Robert Pinsky, The Want Bone

St. Mark’s:
Peter Szondi, Celan Studies (more on this later)
Christian Bök, Eunoia
Anne-Marie Albiach, A Geometry
K. Silem Mohammad, A Thousand Devils
Pierre Alferi, OXO
Christopher Middleton, Of the Mortal Fire
Middleton, Tankard Cat (best title of 2004?)
John Peck, Red Strawberry Leaf

The Strand (which, ohmigod, has now been [marginally] air conditioned – thank God, it’s still dirty and badly organized and the staff as rude as ever…):
George Oppen, New Collected Poems
Tom Pickard, The Dark Months of May
Myung-Mi Kim, Commons
Peter Middleton, Distant Reading: Performance, Readership and Consumption in Contemporary Poetry
Barry Ahearn, William Carlos Williams and Alterity
Vincent Sherry, The Great War and the Language of Modernism (60 pages convinces me that this might be the most important book of the new millennium on modernist poetry)
Richard Bozorth, Auden’s Games of Knowledge

And of course the record stores. I managed to be fairly restrained here, but still came away with what might be some good items:
Mr. Bungle, Mr. Bungle (something sophomorically fascinating about an album with song titles like “My Ass Is on Fire” and “Love Is a Fist,” produced by John Zorn to boot)
New Model Army, Raw Melody Men (an early 90s live album by this lefty Brit post-punk outfit that I’m just discovering – yes, it’s true, I was attracted to them initially by their name – NMA was the moniker that Cromwell gave his reorganized parliamentary army during the Civil War – but the band is actually quite good: Killing Joke without the mysticism…)
Spoon, Gimme Fiction (I know next to nothing about this “next big thing” indie band, but they were playing them on the store system at Tower in the Village, and I liked the David Bowie-meets-Radiohead-with-Robert-Quine-like-guitars so much that I couldn’t resist)

And a huge boxed set by the Yorkshire folk group The Watersons, Mighty River of Song (yes, unfortunate title indeed): so if anybody wants to come by and hear some vibrato-free a capella Northron folk-singing, feel free to bring enough beer for four CDs worth.

Finished reading Lord of the Rings for the umpteenth time at Fire Island over the weekend – even read thru the appendices at the end of Return (okay, I confess, I skimmed the stuff on how to pronounce Elvish and so forth). Ended up more convinced than ever that Peter Jackson shouldn’t have skipped “The Scouring of the Shire” in the movies; it’s definitely the best part of the final volume. Anybody have any copies of Christopher Tolkien’s History of Middle-Earth they want to unload?

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