Monday, August 21, 2006

Lara Glenum, from Hounds of No, tagged me. I'm quite terrible at thinking up books at the right moment so this might seem random.

1. A book that changed my life
Patricia Bosworth’s biography of Diane Arbus. The biography itself is completely schlocky and terribly written, but it put ideas in my impressionable, teenage head on what kind of person I wanted to be and what kind of career I wanted. Needless to say, I achieved none of these goals.
Doubtful that a book of poems changed my life. But if I had to choose: Paul Celan’s Collected Poems. Theresa Cha’s Dictee comes in a close second.

2. A book I've read more than once?
Well, I’ve read the Diane Arbus biography to rags and then I lost it.

3. What is a book I'd want with me on a desert island?
Does an i-book count?

4. What is a book that made me giddy?
The Official Dictionary of Dance Hall Slang.

5. What is a book that has made me sad?
Any number of children’s books. Recently? Jared Diamond’s chapter on Easter Island in his book “Collapse.” It gave me sad dreams.

6. What is a book I wish had been written?
I wish Osamu Tezuka wrote a manga version of Ulysses.

7. A book I wish had never been written?
At the risk of facing the wrath of many young aggro-emo males: Fight Club? Ok, the book has its place. I’ll have to think about it…

8. What is a book I'm currently reading?
Bertolt Brecht’s Collected Plays. Lisa Jarnot’s Black Dog Songs. Susan Stewart’s Poetry and the Senses. A Prose Poetry Anthology. Richard Greenfield’s A Carnage in the Lovetrees. Paul Virilio’s Speed and Politics. Terry Eagleton's Sweet Violence: The Idea of the Tragic.

These all vaguely have to do with my own writing or teaching. None of these are beach reads except for maybe Brecht.

9. One book I've been meaning to read? I have a shelf of them glaring at me right now.

Friday, August 18, 2006

From the New York Times:

- Civil rights leader Andrew Young resigned as chairman of a group intended to boost Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s (WMT.N) image after he made remarks to a newspaper disparaging Jewish, Arab and Korean shop owners.

Young told the Los Angeles Sentinel, an African-American newspaper, that Jewish, Arab and Korean shop owners had ``ripped off'' urban communities for years, ``selling us stale bread, and bad meat and wilted vegetables,'' The New York Times said.

In a statement posted on the Working Families for Wal-Mart Web site on Thursday, Young apologized for his remarks and asked for forgiveness from those who he offended.

``I recently made some comments about former store owners in my neighborhood that were completely and utterly inappropriate,'' the statement said. ``Those comments run contrary to everything I have dedicated my life to.''

I wonder if Young's comments might resonate with some African Americans since he managed to exploit that age-old tension between immigrant store owners and black neighborhoods, a tension that still hasn't dissolved since the LA Riots and that still needs to be addressed. It's just terribly misguided that Young has shilled Wal- Mart as the answer.

Wal-Mart may crush Arab, Jewish, and Korean business owners, but how do they help black business owners? Sure, they prevent immigrants from lining their pockets. Instead, the profits go straight to the Waltons, who rank among America's top 10 richest people. And this is a family not exactly known for promoting livable wages, civil rights, and any kind of health-care for the working class.

Overall, it's disappointing that Andrew Young, someone who has spent decades fighting for equal rights, has made such sweeping bigoted remarks. He truly captured a range of ethnic groups. He could have just kept it to the Koreans. But he had to rope in the Arabs and the Jews. Unlike Mel, it won't be just the synagogue that he'll be visiting to make ammends.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Ahem, so Poetry Foundation asked me to write a personal essay on "poetry and the sentence" and to respond to Adrien Blevin's essay. I did. It is hardly a groundbreaking essay since I give a skimming, abc explanation on experimental trends.

Then they asked me to engage in a weeklong blog debate with Blevins. Well, here's my response to her response. But, it's a blistering 100 degrees in NY, my brain's fried and I'd rather not think about the aesthetics of poetry. Here, instead, are other weeklong blog debates I would rather engage in:

Leggings: How long will this silly trend last?

Morrissey: Gay or truly asexual? And can people truly be categorized as asexual?

Should one whore oneself out for centralized air-conditioning? Why or why not?