Saturday, August 30, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
The Asian American Writers' Workshop with CLMP (council of literary magazines & presses) and Poets & Writers
present a chat about two New York MFA Programs with Robert Polito (New School) & Kimiko Hahn (Queens College, CUNY)
Thursday, Sept, 11 @ 7 PM
16 West 32nd Street, Suite 10A
Posted by FAC at 6:36 AM
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Monday, August 4, 2008
This summer I have been reading poetry outside of the U.S. tradition, starting with the wonderful new collection New European Poets, edited by Wayne Miller and Kevin Prufer. This wide-ranging anthology has introduced me to many young poets I’ve never read. … I’ve been trying to read work that crosses genres and breaks rules, like the strange and beautiful book of poems, Mommy Must Be a Mountain of Feathers by Korean writer Kim Hyeson (translated by Don Mee Choi), published by Action Books. And I just finished the new book by my favorite poet CD Wright, Rising, Falling, Hovering. I’ve also been rereading the fantastic stories of Grace Paley which in so many ways question the divisions between poetry and fiction – still so ground-breaking-- and the most recent Don Delillo novel about 9/11, Falling Man. … Finally, I’ve read two books of new non-fiction—poet Sarah Manguso’s memoir about her illness, Two Kinds of Decay and fiction writer Kathryn Harrison’s While They Slept: An Inquiry into the Murder of a Family, a true crime book which is interestingly interwoven with Harrison’s own narrative. … I'm finishing a new collection of poems, Milk Dress, and writing a cross-genre piece, The Flood Notebooks, about the recent midwest floods. And I've been busy co-editing an issue (with sociologist Pamela Stone) of the journal Women's Studies Quarterly titled "Mother." And finally I enjoyed reading at Bluestockings Bookstore and in DC at the Miller Cabin in Rock Creek Park.
A great many new books of poetry such as collecteds by Mark Doty and Cornelius Eady; Li-Young Lee and Marie Howe’s latest. Gerald Stern’s remarkable newest collection. I have to admit, in all seriousness, that my favorite find is: Ryan Mecum’s ZOMBIE HAIKU. It is actually fun and brilliant. Other poetry includes those poets participating in my CUNY/New York Times webcast course on poetry and humor: CUNY profs Billy Collins, Wayne Koestembaum, Donna Masini, Gregory Pardlo, and our own Roger Sedarat. … I am still revising my manuscript, Toxic Flora—a process that’s taken five years and counting. Nicole read it a few months ago; Eamon Grennan is sending notes. I have also started a new manuscript that collects some of the more formal (as in forms) work that I’ve been conjuring up. And of course, in between our administrative chats, Nicole and I exchange early drafts. Thankfully. What else? Because I read the newspaper every morning, I need a detective novel to go with the margaritas by evening.
I’ve read a lively, interesting first novel, Kiffe Kiffe Demain, by a very young French/ Moroccan writer named Faiza Guene. It’s a first-person account of a perceptive fifteen-year old girl living in the projects in the Arab suburbs of Paris. She has a fresh, immediate voice and the book has been a great popular hit in France but has gone virtually unrecognized by the French literary establishment, which tells you a lot about the French literary establishment. The book got me interested in “Rai” music—a wildly popular musical genre in France which blends Arabic and French lyrics with funk bass lines, pop arrangements, social protest and a great beat. I’m also rereading an extraordinarily, dark, heartbreakingly beautiful novel called Stoner by John Williams. An academic novel that moves through the first half of the twentieth century, it is a marvel of austere, cold-eyed storytelling that has the feeling of a threnody and the sad music of a life wasted—almost. I’ve also been rereading Brecht since I’m thinking a teaching a course in political theatre. The tougher, thick-skinned very Marxist stuff is interesting to read in a post-Soviet context. And even harder to swallow.
Here’s my list: my new colleague Aracelis Girmay's Teeth, Don Delillo's Falling Man: A Novel. …The MFA summer reading, The Kenyon Review, which features an excellent poem from Nicole Cooley. … After attending a stellar presentation at a translation conference this summer on Michael Palmer's translations, I'm back to his Baudelaire Series as well as to Emmanuel Hocquard's Theory of Tables. And Palmer's The Lion Bridge: Selected Poems 1972-1995 and The Company of Moths along with Louis Zukofsky's Selected Poems. … A few other recent favorites this summer: I'm (re)reading Ameen Rihani's The Book of Khalid (out of print, but available online), the first immigrant novel from a Middle-Eastern American writer. Though very derivative of Whitman and Emerson, it's interesting in part for that reason. It also makes a good pairing for contemporary immigrant novels. New European Poets, ed. Wayne Miller and Kevin Prufer. Lyn Hejinian's The Language of Inquiry. Poetry of Iraj Mirza (in Persian and the few poems available in English), the first Iranian poet to use colloquial language, very witty and transgressive. Problematic to translate even a century later under the current Iranian government for his take on the veil and sexuality. Joyce Zonana's Dream Homes: From Cairo to Katrina, an Exile’s Journey (just out from Feminist Press) The author of this memoir has just agreed to visit the Middle Eastern-American graduate seminar later in the fall.
I've been reading Willa Cather, Henry James, Nikolai Leskov, Jhumpa Lahiri, Edgar Allan Poe, and a Spanish novel (in the English translation) by Camilo José Cela, *Christ Versus Arizona*, which is written in one 200-page-long sentence! At the end of August, I'm giving a reading from my most recent novel, *What I Did Wrong*, at Atlanta's Decatur Book Festival (29-31 August, Billy Collins Keynote Speaker). I published a piece about Jack Kerouac's *On the Road* in the Summer *Gulf Coast*, and I had a short story ("Utopia Parkway") accepted to an upcoming anthology of fiction by gay men, *Between Men 2*. As for writing, I'm extensively revising a bunch of short stories, which I hope will fit together in some kind of short-story-ish-but-novel-like hybrid.
Posted by FAC at 5:49 AM