Morning routine

I get up early, around 5:30, regardless of whether it’s a workday, and I’ll do some writing or I’ll do some reading, or else make some visual art. And I’ll have coffee.

I’ll also do some thinking. You know: Hmmm, how did I get into this situation? How do I get out of it?

We are all in situations to one degree or another: a job that makes us miserable; a toxic relationship; etc. My mind is fresh in the morning and more capable of tackling such things. I read better and I write better, too, ’cause I’m sharper and more alert.

But no, I am not one to wake up and bolt out the door in the morning. Anything but.

Book notes

Today it occurred to me that a book should exceed a certain weight or size in order to be called a tome. Small, skinny books are not tomes. “Title” can be used to refer to a book of any size, however.

Today I saw a pamphlet-sized magazine in a magazine rack mixed in with the lit stuff. This, too, is erroneous taxonomy. Even worse was the fact that the pamphlet (or bulletin?) was $12 or so.

If you wanted to get really technical, then I will add to this list magazines that resemble paperbacks. Or are all paperbacks novels? The mind boggles.

Switching gears a bit, I’m tired of seeing Ansel Adams hogging up shelf space in the photography section at bookstores & libraries. And Picasso, too, in the art section. Although I like his work.

my poetry & art book wish lists

Is Santa listening yet?

POETRY

  1. The Collected Poems: Sylvia Plath
  2. New Addresses: Poems by Kenneth Koch
  3. Selected Poems: Frank O’Hara
  4. Tender Buttons by Gertrude Stein
  5. Ozone Journal by Peter Balakian

ART

  1. Cy Twombly: Fifty Years of Works on Paper
  2. Marcel Broothaers: The Complete Prints
  3. Georgia O’Keeffe: A Portrait by Alfred Stieglitz
  4. Pablo Picasso: The Lithographs
  5. Une Semaine De Bonte: A Surrealistic Novel in Collage by Max Ernst

on reading

I like the mindlessness of just flipping thru a magazine or photo book. There is nothing to understand. Like Grace Kelly’s character Lisa Fremont at the end of “Rear Window,” i look at colorful photos of handbags, Versace ads and models looking amazing in their clothes. It’s comforting to me to have so many books around me, but i don’t necessarily read them, say, if I happen to be sitting near a couple of small stacks. Maybe they’re a ruse for laziness, tendencies to drift and dream, noseyness (when i’m in a public place). My cat hangs out or even sleeps sometimes near her toys, but she doesn’t necessarily play with them.

coffee with ray carver

I recently read a book called Flash Fiction, and the only story that clung to my memory afterward was one titled The Father by Raymond Carver. So I went to the library yesterday and borrowed this beautifully bound 1,019-page hardcover book with a multitude of his short stories and a smattering of his essays. Ray Carver also happens to be one of the authors whose work was on the syllabus of a writing class I took in college while studying English lit.

> a present from me to me

I gave myself Tin House’s current sex-themed issue for my recent birthday. Very apropos, yes? Inside is fiction, poetry, brief essays, reviews on sex-themed books & other stuff. I’ve already devoured most of it. Naomi Jackson’s mini-essay Minding the Gap alone made the purchase worthwhile:

“… The fact that when kissing someone who is still only a body to me I must look away to make it okay, assures me I’m not cut out for this kind of thing.”

Tin House has pretty high production values and attractive page layouts but the writing is totally mainstream, both style- and content-wise. No envelope-pushing. I don’t go for that generally, but I made an exception in this case.

Still, you’ll find some gems inside from time to time. I remember reading in a previous issue an enjoyable translated fiction piece called The Dress of Honey by French author Jean-Philippe Toussaint, for instance. It was an excerpt from his novel Naked.

> advice to writers from joyce carol oates

This quote had a huge impact on me when I read it about a month ago. I haven’t been the same since as far as my writing is concerned. It’s from Joyce Carol Oates’ book The Faith of a Writer:

“Never be ashamed of your subject, and of your passion for your subject. Your ‘forbidden’ passions are likely to be the fuel for your writing.”

> my current poetry notebook

Monogrammed using glue stick & an image from an old fashion magazine. If you want a quality journal on the cheap, I recommend this one. It’s $3.95 at Barnes & Noble and has good paper stock. The one I have measures 4 x 6, but they also come in 5 x 7. Here’s what it looks like naked. What’s really nice is they stay open when you’re writing — kinda like the gorgeous deconstructed journals designed by Studio Oh!