Ptarmigan

a grouse with completely feathered feet

5/15/2005

Well, this is it. The last post on Ptarmigan. I've moved shop and set up some annexes at my new weblog:

http://www.goblinmercantileexchange.com

It's really not all that drastic of a change. The types of subject matters discussed are going to still be, well, all over the map. And I was able to import all of my previous posts--along with many comments even!--already, so it will be really like you never left. Which is really the case since it's, er, cyberspace. So it's all good.

Still, this is a little sad. OK, I'm going to stop writing before I tear up. Goodbye! And hello!

5/13/2005

Hey. I'm going to be switching to a blog, with Wordpress, on a different host, sometime this weekend, along with 40 other projects. I'm really tired of Blogger grayouts. I'll keep y'all posted when the migration happens.

5/05/2005

Reginald Shepherd's blown a gasket, but don't dare call him on it, because it will just depress him. From the email extant on Josh's blog:

"But then, in general it seems difficult these days to make a nuanced argument--people see things only in black and white, and insist on reducing one's arguments to simplistic parody."

Later...

"There is nothing in the so-called avant-garde, from the New Americans to the Language poets to whatever the contemporary crew wants to call themselves besides 'too good for everyone else,' that wasn't done by the Modernists."

and

"there is a lot wrong with pretending that one came up with these techniques and approaches oneself, especially when one then goes on to congratulate oneself for one's daring and perspicacity."

and

"And why, for that matter must interesting, challenging, difficult poetry be labeled or accountable as 'avant-garde' in order really to be taken seriously?"

Alrightey. Rather than actually engage with a dialogue, pout. Then deny the conceivability that one may gain pleasure from anything from the New Americans to the present day in terms of experimental lexicons. Then, create an rather idiosyncratic, largely unsupportable cosmology regarding Modernism, and pre-empt anyone actually calling you on it by asking:"Why can't poetry be allowed to be and do what it is and does?" Got it.

The funny thing is, I really don't think Mr. Shepherd addressed much of what Tim had to say at all, and when he did, he pretty much did it with the old "slander by accusing slander" fashion. How is Tim saying:

"the binaries of text/context and form/content don’t line up cleanly either with each other or with the binary of avant-garde/mainstream"

an example of Tim being, according to Reginald, "particularly determined to willfully distort everything [he] wrote"?

Perhaps most tellingly, Tim wrote, in regards to Reginald's earlier comments, that "these aesthetic positions must recognize themselves as positions, not as the absence of any position or as some idea of pure critical neutrality that welcomes any 'great' work, whatever its kind."

Yet this is precisely the gaping absence in pretty much everything that Mr. Shepherd wrote. Most of what we had to contemplate from him was the expression of tactical gambits. "Peace and poetry" indeed.

5/04/2005

Darth Vader has a blog..

I wonder, is this one of these "early adopter" or "late adopter" (UNCOOL) posts?

When it comes to poetry, Minnesota is pretty much North Nebraska. But I'll try to blog about that later.

5/03/2005

It took me a few months, but I finally figured out the RSS feed for Taverner's Koans:

http://www.taverners-koans.com/rss.php


You think it would be simple for me, until you actually knew me.

I probably shouldn't care if Ted Kooser sneezes--easy pickings, right?--but I can't help my obsession with him. Probably because the things he says, which are no doubt received as folksy wisdom by many of those who read his crappy newspaper column, are unbelievably passive aggressive. I mean that, by the way. Here's his latest column, where he gives this little "kernel":

Though many of us were taught that poems have hidden meanings that must be discovered and pried out like the meat from walnuts, a poem is not a puzzle, but an experience.


Ok, read that again--what the fuck is he saying? I don't mean that in a flippant way. This sentence is borderline incomprehensible in terms of parallel structure. Are walnuts puzzles? Does the New York Times come with a little bag of walnuts to solve?

Let's go to the claim that he makes that a poem is an experience. Word aren't experiences. They can be experienced, but that's a wholly different question. Basic stuff, right?

Lastly--Kooser's on this weird anti-walnut vibe? Hey, last time I checked, people actually liked walnuts. Are walnuts little antichrists? So why is it such a big deal if people crack open walnuts. Right--that's "what we were taught". To look for "hidden meanings that might be discovered." Discovery, in this sense--in any sense--is extremely low on Mr. Kooser's totem pole.

All passive-aggressive, all the time. Here's what I guess bothers me about him so much--that his aesthetics and ethos fit so easily and blithely with this current administration. Kooser's views about poetry are profoundly radical in their fundamentalist supremacy of one aspect of poetry--fetishizing clarity over any other conceivable value-- in an ahistorical approach to language. For this approach of his to work, the only tactical option is to go beyond merely discrediting other possible avenues of poetic discovery, and to discredit discovery itself. And the keystone to this whole strategy is the "regular guy" schtick, which is smoke and mirrors in terms of a poetic persona. For his poems and taste to "work", he needs to assert the poetry as part of a faux-everyman experience. (Contrast this with Mark Nowak's Shut Up Shut Down)

Poets don't change anything in this realm; Kooser certainly won't--but in his post as laureate, he definitely has symbolic attachments to policies that seek to normalize radically conservative notions of freedom, the body, and language's ability to speak truth to power (in that it shouldn't).

5/02/2005

We really wished we could have gone to the Nebulas. Gar! Instead, Kristin was working on her office changing, um, offices, and I watched a lot of snow fall on Sunday. That was fun.

Speaking of my wife, some of you might remember that has had a blog. It seems that extremely recently someone has hacked into her blog and made a post and what's more, purports to actually be Kristin. I urge you to visit the site and ascertain the truth for yourself post-haste. The possibility that Kristin herself has actually posted of her own volition is too shocking to contemplate. (ps tomorrow is her birthday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

(There's a helicopter flying 'round the circumference of downtown, and from my little vantage point on the 29th floor, it looks like it has "Channel 3" emblazoned on the side. Last time I checked, the Twin Cities doesn't have a channel 3?! So either the chopper was too far away or it's a chopper from a PARALLEL UNIVERSE.)

In more reality-based news, a symposium on speculative poetry (part 1) is just up on Strange Horizons, with Mike Allen, Dora Goss, and me.

Finally, Red Giant will be out by Memorial Day weekend. This I vow.

4/29/2005

To the architects and denziens of Foetry.com: y'all do realize, don't you, that for all of your gasbassing and bloviating and paranoiac snipping for more than a year, the three Future Stars comics by Jim Behrle (here, here, and here)--made from stickers--have been 100 times more of a devastating a critique on the "Official Verse Culture" that you (allegedly) despise.

So shine on you crazy diamonds, I guess.

4/28/2005

In the obsolete technology dept.--do you remember in the mid-90s when massive CD-changer stereo systems were all the rage? 100 CD changers! 300 CD changers! Holy shit how high could it go!?!? It was kind of like a Babbage Engine form of the iPod. I just checked on some prices and, although this probably isn't definitive, a 300 CD changer is now cheaper (i.e., less desirable) than an iPod.

4/27/2005

Blogger, why are you so touchy today?Anyway, speaking of the GameCube, I rented SoulCalibur II last night, a highly regarded fighting game. Nothing too cerebral, good for some button mashing and the like. It's always interesting how even single-player games in our household are communal affairs. Kristin is really really good with puzzles, and I'm...not. When she's playing say Metroid or Paper Mario, I'd like to think that I give at times some good stategery. Either case, I easily think of it as both of us playing at the same time, no matter who has the actual controls. Anyway, that's just backdrop. When I loaded SoulCalibur, it slowly dawned on Kristin just what type of game we were dealing with here--almost zero narrative, bad voiceovers, pure 75-combo combat baby. Like this:



Aww yeah. At any rate. "This is it?" she kept saying. "This is the game?" "Yeah, it's a combat game." She sighed. Still, Kristin and I started to spar in the game with a series of different characters. After a few times, when she started to get the controls down--lo and behold--she completely kicked my ass ten times in a row. I mean, she was really good. "Hey this game isn't so bad!" she said, after the eighth or ninth time. So beware! (and those of you who have played Mafia with Kristin know this well): it's just like that Eric Clapton song about playing pool in that movie with Paul Newman and Tom Cruise about playing pool--there'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.

4/26/2005

We don't have a Nintendo DS (though we have a GameCube)--but PacPix looks pretty freaking cool, and very meta:

"One day a mischievous wizard came up with a mysterious invention called "Ghost Ink." When something is drawn using this ink, it turns into a Ghost. These ghostly tricksters would then jump into pictures and books, to pull pranks and cause havoc around the world. Our hero, Pac-Man, has taken his mighty Magic Pen – the only weapon that can defeat these Ghosts, and locked all the Ghosts inside a book. But before he could turn the Ghosts back into the Ghost Ink, he was also captured within the book! You must now take over Pac-Man’s quest to defeat the mischievous Ghosts. Use the stylus to draw Pac-Man, control his movements to eat up all the Ghosts on the screen. Travel from the lower to the upper screen to collect items and accumulate points. Can you bring peace and quiet back to the world with the Magic Pen?"

Here is a screenshot:

4/25/2005

Browsing a poetry section over the weekend, coming across the collected poems of Richard Wilbur, misreading the cover as saying The Collected Poems of Richard Wilbur: 1643-2004..

4/22/2005

I posted a slightly longer version of this comment in regards to Ron Silliman's post about contests and Foetry. I still don't buy the notion that entering a contest is the same in terms of monetary investment as going to a writing conference or MFA program. The former is by definition, except for one person, throwing money into a black hole. The latter two examples are engagements with people, not an often-rigged game of "$2000 Pyramid".

I guess what bothers me most isn't the larger high-octane contests--those are tied to a mostly bankrupt value system in regards to poetry's place in the world anyway, so whatever. Rather, it's the smaller and more experiental poetry presses--that allegedly are part of a project of a critique of capital and exploring the transgressive realities that poetry can construct in the world--that fall into offering contests and payouts that galls me. "Let's have it both ways! And let's take money from ephebes to subsidize our EXPERIMENTAL VISION!" Doesn't work that way. Or it ought not to, at least, esp. when revolutions in digital printing have lowered costs and raised access everywhere. There are some "post-avant" poets and presses of my generation who fall into this with astounding alacrity and glee--this, I think, is the major question in terms of poetic production that we are dealing with in our generation. And there have been some great solutions (e.g., Ugly Duckling Presse's trapezoidal books).

4/20/2005

Because the (unseen) (leisure) class lines in poetry still run pretty deep.

It really really sucks that Foetry.com was such a misguided failure. Contests are still a shitty way to subsidize faux-poor poetry presses.

After 3 posts yesterday--whew! I'm tuckered.

4/19/2005

Dave Truesdale has another rantreview at Tangent that would be only slightly less comprehensible to me if it were written in Manx Gaelic. It's really, really not worth reading. It's funny--after his first rant about feminism on the new Tangent site, it got a pique of interest from people--BUT mostly in a kind of nostalgiac way, "there's Dave, oh, I remember him, up to his old tricks again!" Now, after that one-trick pony recussitation, no one gives a fuck. As it should be.

The vast, vast majority of people stumbling 'pon my site are looking for information about ptarmigans. So here it is:

The State Bird of Alaska.

More of 'em.

OK, now I have some facts:

1st, don't eat ptarmigans. They are nice and besides when did they ever hurt you?

The Sea Ptarmigan was a Dutch cutter that ran aground in Duluth-Superior in 1884, and it carried explosives!

The Sea Ptarmigan was also the name of a famous play.

Owls eat ptarmigans and that's just not cool.

St. Trebuchet is the patron saint of ptarmigans.

More later?

Growing up Catholic, devoutly, going to 12 years of Catholic school and still remaining semi-devout for 4 years after that, all I have to say about the selection of this new pope is that--I'm glad I got out while I did.