For Brigit Pegeen Kelly

I often felt like writing to her, but, in general, I don’t write to people I care about often enough, I don’t call the people I love often enough.

I was fortunate to have had Professor Kelly–as I still feel I should call her (though I think she would prefer just Brigit)–as my first poetry workshop leader as an undergraduate at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in the spring of 2003. I was a foolish boy from the cornfields with a love of language; I was lonely and depressive; and I was failing out of jazz inprovisation and trumpet performance in the School of Music when I entered her class. For the next year or so, I spoke almost every week with her in her office in the top floor of the English building about poetry, religion, literature, life. I remember walking her to her car one evening. I remember her lending me the published diary of a (Swiss? Czech?) writer from the 40s that contained sketches of stories about marionettes and woodsmen–I still cannot remember the author or the book.

I am not good at remembering or telling stories, so forgive me.

I write this with a deep but gentle sadness welling in my face and flushing through my limbs, because through the short time in my life that I knew her, she influenced me profoundly as an example of openness, generosity, compassion, and deep wisdom. Her poetry is nothing like what I write or work on, but it has a beauty and mystery that has always touched and warmed my too often inhuman core. When I read it, I think of her and how kind she was to speak to me all of those days. It never felt like I was an irritation, and it was always a true exchange, and I have always wished to be like that with my own students and in my own conversations.

The last time I saw Brigit was in 2009 when she gave a reading at Wabash College in Indiana. For some reason I do not remember her reading her own poems there too vividly, perhaps because I was already so familiar with them. “Dead Doe” was always a favorite of mine and my poetry students at Purdue. Another favorite has always been “Pipistrelles.”  There is a sort of spell they cast, so perhaps I was too intoxicated by them. What I remember is her reading from Wallace Steven’s “The Auroras of Autumn,” which I had never read or heard. She made it beautiful.

This isn’t very eloquent, and I’m losing track of what I am trying to do here. What am I trying to do here? I just want to say that it was her kindness and sadness that I treasure most, through my interactions with her and through her poetry, and my life and the world have both been made better for them. I feel an emptiness and a loss knowing she is gone, but I feel her impression in that same space, that helps me to understand what is good in this world.

View and Purchase My Digital Art at Redbubble!

redbubble_logoLast week, I joined the online arts community/store Redbubble, and there are now 17 of my artworks up for sale as prints, posters or greeting cards. I have already documented some of my process of making these works, but you can also find more details in the descriptions for each image and in my public profile statement.

This has been a year in the works so far. I’m excited to see what kind of response my work gets, and my profile is only going to grow in interest as I get further into learning Processing 2.0 and using databending techniques.

Check out eRoGK7’s profile and portfolio at Redbubble!

Migraine Brain Drain in Progress (Updated 9.28.13)

Self-Portrait with Migraine

Self-Portrait with Migraine, eRoGK7 (2013)

Update:

The migraine situation has improved quite a bit recently. While the new medication I am on to prevent migraines, depakote, doesn’t seem to work very well relative to its side effects (weight gain, drowsiness, dullness, stomach pain, mixes badly with alcohol or caffeine), I have been put on a nasal steroid and Zyrtec for allergies and have not had a migraine or even a headache in the past three weeks. I am hoping the continued treatment for allergies can stop my chronic migraines for good and get me back to just the occasional episode. Relpax seems to be doing a good job with those.

Original Post:

So I’m still dealing with chronic migraines, the headaches along with all of the other fantastic symptoms that surround it–nausea, disorientation, lack of focus, sinus pressure, light sensitivity, depression, a worse memory than usual, the occasional beatitude, soreness throughout my body similar to what follows seizures, almost no sense of time.

The meds I’m on might be a problem too, since it seems the nortriptyline isn’t helping to prevent them much anymore, and the side effects are becoming more pronounced. A visit to the neurologist this week might improve this at least. It’s hard to tell what the eletriptan is doing to my head too.

Anyway, I wrote a poem about migraine. Maybe I’ll make a habit of it. Maybe not. Writing about my life and my feelings doesn’t usually turn out too well, but here goes.

MIGRAINE

My head has been cloned on top of itself.
Each eye has its own head each with its other eye.
Like a Ven diagram where it all overlaps?
There is no easy way to describe it.
Looking, I see.
Seeing, I understand.
It is suffering.
There is a cause to it.
There will be an end to it.

The man rubs his head into the pavement.
Children had drawn a beautiful landscape in chalk all over it.
The man rubs the landscape into him, inside his head is a chalk transporter.
People watch but they cannot help him.
The man opens a portal in his suffering and falls in.
There is no record of this event.

Excellent discussion on migraines on The Diane Rehm Show, August 16, 2012

I’ve suffered from episodic migraines for much of my life. I was able to deal with that for the most part. Beginning last October, I began to get migraines every 2-3 days (sometimes more, sometimes less), and no longer had sufficient time to recover before another one would start. I finally went to see a neurologist for treatment in February this year, and after inducing a couple of months of increasing panic attacks from the first medication he prescribed (verapamil), I finally have found a treatment for me which has dramatically reduced the incidence of migraines (nortriptyline). I’ve started to feel like my life is back in my control, like I have the power to take control of how my life goes without constantly being taken out or disoriented by this terrible disorder.

Listening to the first hour (or was it the second) of The Diane Rehm Show from August 16, 2012, “Living With Migraine And The Search For New Treatments,” it feels good to hear so much of what I’ve discovered over this past year explained so clearly. Most people have no idea what suffering from migraines is like (how can you if you’ve never experienced it), and how deeply it affects those who suffer from it. It was interesting to hear that many specialists no longer classify it as a “headache disorder” and instead have started to see it and treat it as a “brain disorder.” I think it sounds very reasonable that I have a brain disorder. It connects a lot of the dots, and I’ve always felt a bit Abbie Normal anyway.

I hope there are a lot of people that benefit from the information discussed on this show. I also wish this show would have been put together a year ago, when for months I had no idea how to explain what all was going on, and couldn’t comprehend that my previously contained migraines had begun to manifest in strange and life-consuming ways. Maybe others will understand sooner and be able to gain back control of their lives much earlier than I was able.

Support the Occupation of Wall Street!

OCCUPY WALL STREET

Don’t listen to the ridiculous distortions or the simply lame reporting of the protests that you hear on corporate owned media, PBS/NPR and the BBC. There are thousands of very articulate people in these protests, and their various demands are serious. Watch Democracy Now!‘s coverage. All the anger about Wall Street, capitalism, the wealth gap, unemployment, the scam that is health insurance, the corporate ownership of politics and media, student loan debt and the cost of education, etc. etc., that came out of me for the past two years in 6x6x6 seems to be verified now in all of these people taking a stand. I thought that people weren’t ever going to start up anything. Whatever city you are in, support this thing. I’ll be in Pittsburgh this weekend and I’ll find the protest there.

Here’s a prayer:

May the American People arise
Where they have not arisen;
And where they have arisen, may they not disperse,
But increase further and further.

]] is up at Gnoetry Daily

Over the past two weeks, I have been working on a chapbook of poems (or maybe poetic compositions would be more accurate) which deal with my feelings and thoughts about September 11th, 2001 on this tenth anniversary in a way that I hope is both artful and tasteful.

I’ve written an introduction and posted the three (somewhat incomplete) parts of the chapbook up at Gnoetry Daily over the past three days under my alter ego username eRoGK7, so I’ll stop introducing the thing here. Know that there will be more of the Gnoetry section (Part 2) going up for a while still.

I hope you enjoy it, and that it makes you think about and reflect upon various important things.

All Posts for ]] and Other 9/11 Works

Watching Art21 on Hulu and Thinking about Writing

I’ve started to watch episodes of Art21 on Hulu Plus now through my PS3. Seems you can watch all of the episodes on the PBS Art21 website. I’ve always been fascinated with all kinds of art: music, visual art, literature, dance, film. I’ve also liked to listen to interviews with artists, which I often find much more stimulating than interviews with writers. They usually seem so much more passionate, intense, and wrapped up in what they’re talking about, what they’re working on. It’s this mentality I would like to bring to my poetry, to my projects and what I am doing with language. Some of my favorite poets sound more like abstract visual artists describing a display than writers talking about a poem or the situation that it arose from. Writers like Jackson Mac Low, bpNichol, Gertrude Stein, Leslie Scalapino and Christian Bök that continue to engage my curiosity and respect after repeat engagements with their work and thought. It is not really so much an idea of an avant garde that I want to connect with. Instead, there is a curiosity and openness to their work that is constantly (constantly did) re-emerg(e)ing throughout their careers, a necessity to change the approach, the materials, the aesthetic of their projects as new focal points emerged. And the concepts, perspectives, states of mind, spaces that their works engage with and recreate for readers are a pleasure am undeniably thankful for. This is how I would like my past present and future works to be. If there is a poembassy to bomb, it is in my mind, and I will continue to build it up, blow it up, and build it back. Or maybe stretch out a bit in its hollow shell and look around.

I’m a Mother Fucking Amateur: Introducing the updated blog

It’s been a rough year for me. Fifteen months now of lower back problems and sciatica have dealt a serious blow to the amount of time and energy I could devote to writing, reading and thinking about poetry, being a practicing Buddhist, a dutiful husband. This blog has suffered much from my health problems, probably more than anything else, but it’s time for me to get back to work here.

What is the work of Poembassy Bombing? To figure out what it means to be a Mother Fucking Amateur (MFA 2009) and whether this is a term to embrace or run from in shame.

What do I mean by Mother Fucking Amateur? It is the best description I have for how I have felt since I completed my MFA program in 2009. So I have this degree now and a documented (and lived) institutional educational experience. I am a pedigreed “creative writer.” So how I do I become a poet, one of the same ability and impact as those I most respect: Stein, Mac Low, Koch, Silliman, Scalapino, Mohammad, Hejinian? I had a terminal degree and the feeling that I had not even started. This is when I first felt like a mother fucking amateur.

Add to this my health issues. However clear my sense of purpose or direction may have been 16 months ago (and trust me, it was not all that clear, all though it seems otherwise now) things have changed. The Buddhism that inspired my previous title (what light already light) is no longer as solid in my mind and life as it was, partly due to my physical inability to properly practice meditation and partly due to the ideas of Stephen Batchelor (Buddhism Without Beliefs) and Slavoj Zizek. Zizek’s ideological critiques of Western Buddhism particulary, although I find them problematic (I’ll blog on this later for sure), have made me suspicious of my own motivations and desires concerning my adopted religion/philosophy. My infant poetics and aesthetic sense have also fallen into troubling times, and I find myself really needing to read, discuss and come to new and more informed conclusions about the avant-garde ideas that have been somewhere behind my decisions about my writing since I first started down that road six years ago in grad school.

There is a lot that I need to learn about poetry, and I need to develop my own approach to understanding the art and writing about it in addition to my ongoing attempts at practicing it. I’m using the blog to this end for now.

Upcoming projects on the blog:

  • Reading through all of the original L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E issues (@ Eclipse) and reflecting on the relevance and impact of the aesthetics and practice recorded there. I’ve been reading Bernstein’s early essays from Content’s Dream, and I want to get deeper into the writing and ideas of that formative period of the Language School, which has produced some of my favorite poetry of the 20th century.
  • A discussion of Zizek’s critique of Western Buddhism and the impact it has had on how I think about my Buddhist practice. I’m a huge fan of Zizek. I take his criticisms very seriously and think there is a lot to how he problematizes Buddhism for Western practitioners.
  • Thoughts on the writings of Leslie Scalapino. Her last two books and the recent release of the update How Phenomena Appear to Unfold have only furthered my interest in her work. I group her with Mac Low and Stein as an unabashedly eccentric, free and original thinker about what poetry is capable of. Once you can understand her prose style–the density of the ideas and the quirky use of language–there is a lot to experience that is new and strange.
  • How my further use of Creative Wreading (ala Charles Bernstein) works out with my Introduction to Poetry class this fall semester.
  • Other things I’m sure.

Another Visit to Saint Lucia (2011)

Well, my wife and I are in Saint Lucia for the month of May visiting her family, taking buses around the island, and regularly visiting the beaches. I learned my lesson with the sun the last two times I came, so I’m managed a tan with minimal burning so far :>

I’ve adjusted well to the climate this time around, and the mosquitoes are kept away at night by coconut oil (it works somehow) and a mosquito net over the bed. I may be living here in two years or so, so it’s good that I know I can deal with these issues. I’m learning a bit of Kweyol, too, and should problem take some lessons in French while I’m at it.

I haven’t taken many photos yet, but here are the best of what I’ve got so far.

These first two are shots of Kay’s parent’s home up Monier, Gros Islet (halfway up what they call “hills” here, but seem more like small mountains to me):

Here’s the harbor in the main city, Castries:

Some ships near Rodney Bay (the Ramp):

The waves lapping the beach (was going to make an animated gif, but I’m feeling lazy):

A view down to the sea off of Morne Fortune (I think there’s some Sandal’s resort with a golf course in the shot there):

Identity A Blog Post

[Original Post: 26 Jul 2010 @ 3:48 PM]

[Update 1: 04 Aug 2010 @ 1:03 AM]

[Update 2: 03 Sept 2010 @ 9:59 PM]

1

I am I because my little blog knows me. The author typing alone has nothing to fear.

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

Questions for Further Discussion:

What is true about the statement in this poem?

whr iz d contxt?

2

To not forget: ideas and texts that I fear losing track of [I fear losing track of myself and my things], unlike in writing poems, where memory is not (for me) (for now) important, is not the object, and there is often little to “keep track of.”

Blog is about image (self) in that scattered pieces which the self is fearful of forgetting may be kept in one space and displayed as self-image, is then the self that is forgetful and may forget itself but never will, which has that identity then of seeing oneself laid out as in a journal or photo album. There is some distance there. Flip through and remember things you have lost track of to feel more whole.

This is of the nature of illusion.

3

My writing is mostly to avoid or obstruct self-construction, brush aside the illusion of a solid self. My writing often instead relies upon a principle of like/dislike or pleasure/boredom, which is an equally troublesome illusion. I have read. Though I really like-dislike pleasure and boredom. But then,

Writing is the present creation of illusion in order to diverge from it in being a state of attention. Attention, the activity of reading or observing, is the only history and present moment – at all.

(Scalapino, The Public World / Syntactically Impermanence 10)

There is the term “timeless awareness” in Tibetan Dzogchen Buddhism. This could not be a medium [basis?] for writing.

Attention here assumes the point of conventional self (relative) not the truth of no-self (ultimate) — self and mind as they appear and are experienced within or without narrative/historical context — as the point of composition. By assuming this point and writing in opposition to the self-cherishing attitude and the reinforcement of self-concern, one engages in an effective deconstructionist and Buddhist mode of writing.

4

This is nothing like nowhere as good as Identity A Poem. That had a lot to do with plays and human nature. This has nothing to do with plays and little to say about human nature.

I love you Gertrude Stein. I do this for you Gertrude Stein.

>- o -< >- o -<>- o -<>- o -<>- o -<>- o -<>- o -<>- o -<>- o -<

Lotuses smell like toilet cakes

Blogs smell like blogs

ppl smeL lIk ppl

And swamps smell terrible most of the year.

<+|+> <+|+><+|+><+|+><+|+><+|+><+|+><+|+><+|+>

5

There is illusion of continuity thus continuity of self. There are posts (writings) and gaps, and the gaps must be filled in with an assumption of continuity of self. Until the last writing. Then the complete writings may be published and sold, arranged in order of the best continuity of self, not necessarily in time, because a self does not always develop in time or thought, but actions, which are often more clearly defined outside of temporal continuity. And a self does not really develop in actions because the self does not inherently exist.

6 – txt msg (CstructD 4 othRz)

A prsn iz not a v gud writer. A writer iz CstructD 4 othRz out of a prsnz living & wrkN. Born @ d nd of writiN & brawt in2 d wrld by editors, 1 hOpz dey wer gud fRnds. DIS iz an illusion of BcumN a writer. insted jst jst wrte.