tethered to a reality made of foam.
I got a note from these two kids, Neil de la Flor and Maureen Seaton, (who are not kids but are really old goats) that their first collaborative book is coming out (gay) (or) soon from and her Coat of a Thousand BluebirdsFirewheel Editions. I don’t know why the title is so long. Might have something to do with title envy. You can pre-order Sinéad O’Connor and her Coat of a Thousand Bluebirds (try to say that three times in a row really fast) by downloading and filling out the form. Then mail the form in with your money ($12 cash, check, or diamonds), so that you can get your copy of the book. Five years of work for only $12. It just doesn’t seem right. Remember there’s nothing dumber than filling out a form and forgetting to mail it in for the prize. Well, it’s not a prize, but it’s almost a prize. It’s a book. Warning: it contains words. I swear, I have powers of perception. Plus, I . Oh, FYI: super hot tennis hottie Novak Djokovic wins Australian Open. I think Djokovic is cuter than a cow. Anyway, I forgot what I was writing about. Have a subversive day. Download the order form at Sinéad O’Connor and her Coat of a Thousand Bluebirds or simply mouse-click the image below.
Why the title Sinéad O’Connor and her Coat of a Thousand Bluebirds? No reason, but maybe to honor the blue coat Sinéad O’Connor wore when she was booed on stage at a Bob Dylan tribute concert a week after she tore up the photograph of the pope as a protest against the cover up of child sexual abuse by the Vatican.
Sinéad O’Connor’s performance on SNL (Saturday Night Live) a week before the Bob Dylan tribute concert:
On Rachel Maddow, O’Connor discusses the lack of accountability by the Catholic Church.
- Sting, Sinead O’ Connor and Robert Downey Jr to Appear on New Charity Album (rollingstone.com)
- Burn it down: Sinead O’Connor on the Vatican (theage.com.au)
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be poet.
Today I shot an email to a few poet friends and asked them if they would share what they were working on at 1 PM EST, which was the time I myself was at my laptop in a book-lined nook ninety feet from the warm Atlantic, blinds half-closed, relieved it was drizzling out so I didn’t have to feel guilty about neglecting my new bikini. (Ha.)
It’s Friday. Tourists and South Floridians are slathering sunblock for a weekend of volleyball and vitamin D, boardwalks and tan lines. I needed the company of poets.
Chris Green (Illinois): “I’m writing a series of job poems while I’m supposed to be doing my job. The one I’m working on right now is called ‘Junior Broker’ and I just wrote ‘Hour after hour, the homeliness of the market–/stocks we joke and call love-dollars.’”
Kenneth Gurney (New Mexico): “Many colorful balloons seurat the sky.”
Thank you, thank you, I told them, kicking my bikini under the bed.
Do you remember the precise moment you knew what you were going to be when you grew up? I do. I was twenty-eight. I had two children, a pending divorce, long brown hair, and a turquoise bikini. I lived up North on a street in a town near a brook. Something was flying around my head that looked like a twist(er) of fate or like the sudden rain of a thousand red-winged blackbirds. I looked down at the words that had grown out of my typewriter and saw they were strangely brief and electric. They threw out a long string that was hooked to an internal organ somewhere south of my belly button. Or there was a key at the end of that string and it was struck by a light that zapped me into a heightened word-obsessed world, a world-conscious world, one from which return was moot. My eyes popped open, my ears cringed with the Noise of Everything, and my kids looked up at me with trembling mouths. Oh, I said, shit! I’m a poet!—and fainted dead away like a protein-starved lab rat.
There are times in my workday, after a few hours of writing, when I look up and think: Now, at this very moment, sits another author, whom I do not know, in Damascus or Tehran, in Kigali or Dublin, who, like me, is engaged in the strange, baseless, wonderful work of creation, within a reality that contains so much violence and alienation, indifference and diminishment. I have a distant ally who does not know me, and together we are weaving this shapeless web, which nonetheless has immense power, the power to change a world and create a world, the power to give words to bring about tikkun—‘repair’—in the deepest, kabbalistic sense of the world.
—David Grossman, Writing in the Dark: Essays on Literature and Politics
Today I sent Grossman’s words of connection out to poets, that rare species whose job is to drop a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and wait for the echo (Don Marquis, c.1920*). Back came the responses: personal, off-the-cuff, and charged with the extraordinary hopes and ordinary elegances of human life.
My bikini gathers dust until tomorrow.
Rose petals land on a coyote pup.
Holly Iglesias (North Carolina): “View set for page layout, the document open like a face before the slap. The coffee instant, Bustelo crystals stirred into hot milk, a swirl of foam and the five brown specks that refuse to dissolve. Stirring today, stirring like Abuela, clanking her spoon against the cup at my kitchen table every Saturday and Sunday morning for twenty years.”
Paulette Beete (D.C.): “The folk song Silver Dagger (Don’t sing love songs, you’ll wake my mother….) has been in my head lately; I learned it nearly 1/4 of a century ago when I was an underclassman in college. Two nights ago as I videotaped myself singing it, I started to hear a poem in between the verses as I sang. So that’s what I’m working on–a poem of a mother with a hand that’s both claw and cradle, and a father who too is a womb…at least, so far.”
Jim Elledge (Georgia): “I was working on my bio of Darger, something that takes up every second of the spare time I can find. As soon as I heard from you, I thought of the end of O’Hara’s ‘Personal Poem:’ ‘I wonder if one person out of the 8,000,000 is / thinking of me as I shake hands with LeRoi / and buy a strap for my wristwatch and go / back to work happy at the thought possibly so.’”
Neil de la Flor (Florida): “I would like to be David Grossman or the writer in Damascus or Tehran. I’d like to leave the social structures of the world, social, economic, political, and be that city where the writers write. I’d like to give up my responsibilities to the people of a big city and become that city free of responsibilities. I’d like to be the potholes on Pennsylvania Avenue and train track in grand central station. I want to be the city utility that powers the City because then I would truly be connected to those writers tap tapping away on their laptops. I’d like to be a giant oak tree too.”
Connie Deanovich (Wisconsin): I want to write a pantoum for the first time in my life.
Samuel Ace (Arizona): Tucson 1.21.11 shabbat tonight in a language I never learned but sang in those jewel glass windows with lelyveld and Rebecca’s sweet smelling cheeks and her wandering brain Rabbis in the basement with the shuffleboard and shrunken heads tucson in cleveland a dude ranch (only one back then that let Jews) in the b&w snapshots under the half-painted model model-t’s and the lionel green caboose
Terese Svoboda (New York): “What I’d like to be working on is Professor Harriman’s Steam Air-Ship which is a long poem inspired by a 19th century lithograph of a couple flying in the above. What it seems to be about is marriage, sex, my parents, invention and the future–repairing myself, and maybe that repair will help the world! What I’m actually doing is preparing sample footage for a documentary my friend John Sorenson directed on South Sudanese girls learning to quilt from an African-American quiltmaker in Nebraska, on the eve of the state passing anti-immigration laws like AZ’s. That seems to be more directly linked to changing things–and I’m hoping Oprah will think so too.
Larry Richman (Vermont):
Hamlet’s Dog’s Soliloquy
To bay, or not to bay, that is the quandary.
Whether ’tis more doglike to give a nightly howl
and take the shouts and kicks of self-made masters,
or to hush the canine self, to sacrifice the melody
some god has planted for our tangled joy
and need to greet the moon while humans sleep.
* Don Marquis (1878-1937), American humorist, journalist, and poet: “Publishing a volume of verse is like dropping a rose-petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo.”
–Maureen Seaton, 1/21/11
Ma says I should never toot my own horn so I’m going to toot my imaginary horn and wear my horns to McDonald’s and celebrate with a Happy Meal because, you know, Happy Meals are dead cows between two buns. My point, my imaginary persona, Neil de la Flor, who I created in my imaginary world and is way way less cool than Lady Gaga, who is really really cool, just published (de la Flor not la Gaga) a new (de)Classified play (or long poem) (or short long story poem) at Fringe Magazine. It’s not about puppies. It’s about what you lose when when you look too hard for answers. In other words, it’s about puppies.
“Neil de la Flor’s introduction to this collection of poetry sets the tone for what follows—it shifts form, identity and gender to fashion, something delicate and beautiful.” Read the full review here and if you don’t I’ll eat you.
Megan Roth interviews Neil de la Flor @ the Rumpus: “It’s high noon on Friday when I enter the Hyatt lobby bar to meet Neil de la Flor, author of the Marsh Hawk Prize winning hybrid work Almost Dorothy. De la Flor is decked out in a tailored grey suit and a pensive look that says, “Bug off.” I sashay to the bar and order a giant chocolate milk – no ice – and turn to shake hands with De la Flor. Instead, I’m greeted with an eyebrow and a quick nod at my chocolate milk. “Make that two,” he says, “And I’ll make you a star.”
Kathleen Rooney reviews Neil de la Flor’s Almost Dorothy @ the Rumpus too: testimony, memoir, stand-up comedy, you name it. Almost Dorothy—almost true, almost fiction—succeeds, because of de la Flor’s seriously playful refusal to permit it to settle on just one genre, resulting in a multifarious testament to love and family, beauty and grotesquerie, science and death—and to the language used to describe and record them all.
I don’t literally mean Steve Fellner is on Neil de la Flor because that would be really hard since they’re so far apart. However Steve wrote this on his fantastic blog Pansy Poetics, which isn’t a blog about flowers even though de la Flor means from the Flower in English. Read Steve’s comments here: “On Neil de la Flor’s Almost Dorothy and the Generosity of Comic Imagination.”
(This interview was first published on Scene360. November, 2004. )
Maureen Seaton is the author of Venus Examines Her Breast; Little Ice Age; Furious Cooking, winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize and the Lambda Literary Award; Fear of Subways, winner of the Eighth Mountain Poetry Prize; and The Sea Among The Cupboards, winner of the Capricorn Award. She is the co-author, with Denise Duhamel, of Exquisite Politics, Oyl, and Little Novels. She is the co-editor, with Denise Duhamel and David Trinidad, of Saints of Hysteria: A Half-Century of Collaborative American Poetry, forthcoming, Soft Skull Press. She is the co-collaborator, with Niki Nolin, on “Literal Drift” and “Chaosity,” and the forthcoming “Cave of the Time-Stream,” web-based hypermedia collages. Maureen is the recipient of an NEA fellowship, an Illinois Arts Council grant, and two Pushcarts. Currently, she is Director of Creative Writing at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL.
Hey, kids, guess what? I have a limited supply (6 copies) of my creator’s new book, Almost Dorothy (Marsh Hawk Press 2010), which has absolutely nothing to do with me. I think he just stole my name to seem cool. For $15 bucks you’ll get his book (with my name) + free shipping + his stupid signature. To order the book send a message: click here. To learn about the book: click here. To call the cops for crass self-promotion, dial 911.
Rigoberto González is awesome. He wrote a shout out about my creator’s silly book, which was the Winner of the Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize, on the Poetry Foundation’s Harriet Blog. I didn’t know this, but Almost Dorothy is a queer debut. I guess this means I’m a débutante and Neil de la Flor must be queer, or a quack, like a duck a L’Orange. I wish my name were Harriet or Duck. I wish I were real. I wish I had my own blog. I wish you would click on the excerpt below to read the whole freaking shout out for yourself:
“I like the naughtiness of de la Flor’s poetics: the speaker’s wordplay is double-speak and double-entendre, and no dust ever settles on a single meaning. Almost Dorothy is a challenging and unsettling reading experience, but there are plenty of cues and clues along the way to keep the reader constantly alert and sometimes startled: “At age 13, Frida Kahlo joined the Communist Party. Inspired by the Mexican Revolution, she fell in love with a cactus and a pig. Shortly after her death, the hieroglyphs in Egypt were decoded. They all read, Diego.”