Monthly Archives: November 2010

Welcome to England

I can’t believe I started this year in New Orleans, went to freaking Colombia, back to Portland, hung out in Woodburn, off to Indonesia for a jaunt and am now in England, more specifically of all freaking places, in BATH.

What I really want to say is… I don’t want to work on my statement of purpose, or personal history, or email all the necesarry materials I should have already emailed weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks ago. I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to. I don’t want to. But I know I HAVE to. And I know I will eventually, if for no other reason because in the end I always do. But I just have to say it: I really, REALLY, don’t want to…

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Mas Poetry

Time for another recap of the best poems I’ve read in the past few months or so, methinks. I read A LOT of Bukowski and Tony Hoagland this past month or so, if that means anything.

Personal (Tony Hoagland)

Don’t take it personal, they said;
but I did, I took it all quite personal—

the breeze and the river and the color of the fields;
the price of grapefruit and stamps,

the wet hair of women in the rain—
And I cursed what hurt me

and I praised what gave me joy,
the most simple-minded of possible responses.

The government reminded me of my father,
with its deafness and its laws,

and the weather reminded me of my mom,
with her tropical squalls.

Enjoy it while you can, they said of Happiness
Think first, they said of Talk

Get over it, they said
at the School of Broken Hearts

but I couldn’t and I didn’t and I don’t
believe in the clean break;

I believe in the compound fracture
served with a sauce of dirty regret,

I believe in saying it all
and taking it all back

and saying it again for good measure
while the air fills up with I’m-Sorries

like wheeling birds
and the trees look seasick in the wind.

Oh life! Can you blame me
for making a scene?

You were that yellow caboose, the moon
disappearing over a ridge of cloud.

I was the dog, chained in some fool’s backyard;
barking and barking:

trying to convince everything else
to take it personal too.

The Secret (Bukowski)
don’t worry, nobody has the
beautiful lady, not really, and
nobody has the strange and
hidden power, nobody is
exceptional or wonderful or
magic, they only seem to be
it’s all a trick, an in, a con,
don’t buy it, don’t believe it.
the world is packed with
billions of people whose lives
and deaths are useless and
when one of these jumps up
and the light of history shines
upon them, forget it, it’s not
what it seems, it’s just
another act to fool the fools
again.

there are no strong men, there
are no beautiful women.
at least, you can die knowing
this
and you will have
the only possible
victory.


The Laughing Heart (Bukowski, again)
your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

From Phillip Larkin’s “Going, Going”:
It seems, just now,
To be happening so very fast;
Despite all the land left free
For the first time I feel somehow
That it isn’t going to last.

Nobody Can Save You But Yourself (Bukowski, again… told you it was that kind of month!)
nobody can save you but
yourself
and you’re worth saving.
it’s a war not easily won
but if anything is worth winning then
this is it

think about it
think about saving your self
your spiritual self
your gut self
your singing magical self and
your beautiful self
save it

don’t join the dead-in-spirit
maintain your self
with humor and grace
and finally
if necessary
wager your life as you struggle,
damn the odds, damn
the price

nobody can save you but yourself

from “One Season” by Tony Hoagland:
Looking back, I can see
that I came through

in the spastic, furtive, half-alive manner
of accident survivors. Fuck anyone
who says I could have done it

differently. Though now I find myself
returning to the scene
as if the pain I fled

were the only place that I had left to go;
as if my love, whatever kind it was, or is,
were still trapped beneath the wreckage

of that year,
and I was one of those angry firemen
having to go back into the burning house;
climbing a ladder

through the heavy smoke and acrid smell
of my own feelings,
as if they were the only
goddamn thing worth living for.

Other poems I read and liked:
So You Want To Be A Writer” (Bukowski)
The Sonnets to Orpheus, Part Two, XII” (Rilke, every blogger’s favorite poet to quote)
Survival Poem #17” (Marty McConnell)
The Applicant” (Sylvia Plath) (basically summarizes how I feel about all modern relationships!)
For the Dead” (Adrienne Rich) (another good relationship poem)
A Callarse” (Neruda) (first read this in English at my writing workshop and found it very moving)
Originally” (Carol Ann Duffy) (written by a Scottish poet who moved to England as a child, I find this an excellent summary of my own life and multi-home dilemma/situation)
The Contrariness of the Mad Farmer,” “What We Need is Here” (Wendell Berry, always good)

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Some quotes from Orwell

This book of Orwell’s essays, journalism and letters mysteriously arrived at the house yesterday, in a brown paper package addressed in my sister’s handwriting, but postmarked from England. Who sent it? Where did it come from? I don’t know. Orwell is such a great comfort. Here are some passages from the collection that my sister either underlined or circled that I also enjoy:

From “Why I Write”:

From a very early age, perhaps the age of five or six, I knew that when I grew up I should be a writer. Between the ages of about seventeen and twenty-four I tried to abandon this idea, but I did so with the consciousness that I was outraging my true nature and that sooner or later I should have to settle down and write books.

I had the lonely child’s habit of making up stories and holding conversations with imaginary persons, and I think from the very start my literary ambitions were mixed up with the feeling of being isolated and undervalued. I knew that I had a facility with words and a power of facing unpleasant facts, and I felt this created a sort of private world in which I could get my own back for my failure in everday life.

The great mass of human beings are not acutely selfish. After the age of about thirty they almost abandon the sense of being individuals at all — and live chiefly for others, or are simply smothered under drudgery. But there is also the minority of gifted, willful people who are determined to live their own lives to the end, and writers belong in this class. Serious writers, I should say, are on the whole more vain and self-centered than journalists, though less interested in money

 When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art’. I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing. But I could not do the work of writing a book, or even a long magazine article, if it were not also an aesthetic experience. Anyone who cares to examine my work will see that even when it is downright propaganda it contains much that a full-time politician would consider irrelevant. I am not able, and do not want, completely to abandon the world view that I acquired in childhood. So long as I remain alive and well I shall continue to feel strongly about prose style, to love the surface of the earth, and to take a pleasure in solid objects and scraps of useless information. It is no use trying to suppress that side of myself.

Every book is a failure.

All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very botom of their motives lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demn whom one can neither resist nor understand. For all one knows that demon is simply the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention.

From “Letter to Brenda Salkeld: (137-140)

He idolises the Japanese, who always sem to me such a boring people.. It is amazing how some people can have the most interesting experiences & then have absolutely nothing to say about them.

I don’t know how it is, I can write decent passages but I can’t put them together.

I nearly died of cold the other day while bathing, because I had walked out to the Easton Broad not intending to bathe, & then the water looked so nice that I took off my clothes & went in, & then about 50 people came up & rooted themseles to the spot. I wouldn’t have minded that, but among them was a coastguard who could have had me up for bathing naked, so I had to swim up & down for the best part of an hour, pretending to like it.

 I managed to get my copy of “Ulysses” through safely this time. I rather wish I had never read it. It gives me an inferiority complex. When I read a book like that and then come back to my own work, I feel like an eunuch who has taken a course in voice production an can pass himself off fairly well as a bass or baritone, but if you listen closely you can hear the good old squeak just the same as ever.

This age makes me so sick that sometimes I am almost impelled to stop at a corner and start calling down curses from Heaven like Jeremiah or Ezra or somebody–“Woe upon thee, O Israel, for thy adulteries with the Egyptians” etc etc.

From “Letter to Brenda Salkeld”: (148) I am living a busy life at present. My time-table is as follows: 7am get up, dress etc., cook & eat breakfast. 8.45 go down & open the shop, & I am usually there till about 9.45. Then come come, do out my room, light the fire ec. 10.30am-1pm I do some writing. 1pm get lunch & eat it. 2pm-6.30pm I am at the shop. Then I come home, get my supper, do the washing up & after that sometimes do about an hour’s work.

From “Review of Tropic of Cancer“: (154) Modern man is rather like a bisected wasp which goes on sucking jam and pretends that the loss of its abdomen does not matter.

From “Leter to Henry Miller”: (226) The fact to which we have got to cling, as to a life-belt, is that it is posible to be a normal decent person and yet to be fully alive.

From “Letter to Geoffrey Gorer”: (380-381) It may be just as possible to produce a breed of men who do not wish for liberty as to produce a breed of hornless cows.

From “Inside the Whale”: (494) A novelist who simply disreguards the major public events of the moment is generally either a footler or a plain idiot.

[…] read him [Henry Miller] for five pages, ten pages, and you feel the peculiar relief that comes not so much from understanding as from being understood. “He knows all about me,” you feel; “he wrote this specially for me.” It is as though you could hear a voice speaking to you, a friendly American voice, with no humbug in it, no moral purpose, merely an implicit assumption that we are all alike. For the moment you have got away from the lies and simplifications, the stylised, marionette-like quality of ordinary fiction, even quite good fiction, and are dealing with the recognisable experiences of human beings.

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Some dates

November 4th- 9AM: Meet with Michael. I think? Figure out my bill with him.
Somehow find time to go to AT&T store to get phone replaced.
5.15pm- Go to creative writing event thing at alma mater, talk with old professor from 2005.

November 5th
– Go to 8.30am -2.45 pm traning for Job #2.
4.30 – 7.3opm: Go to board meeting for Job #1
Somehow find time to email professors recommendation letter requests.

November 16th- Take GREs.

November 17th- FLY TO ENGLAND.

December 1st- FIRST GRAD SCHOOL APPLICATIONS DUE (I don’t know if I’m gonna make this one, quite honestly).

December 5th- FLY BACK TO PORTLAND.

December 15th- NEXT ROUND OF GRAD SCHOOL APPLICATIONS DUE

December 17th-23rd- GO TO MEXICO (maybe)

January 15th-
LAST ROUND… ETC… USA APPS DONE.

March 1st-end of June- UK APPS… DONE.

It’s official, folks: WE ARE ON A MISSION.

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