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Odd Words June 30, 2010

Posted by Mark Folse in Odd Words, Toulouse Street.
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Well it’s Wednesday and I’ve really got nothing to spice up the listings. In fact, I don’t have any listings. And I completely forgot to post an Odd Words last week until it was about 11 at night and all I could do was groan and drag myself to bed and think, well, better luck next week. There was a large crowd to hear poet, playwright and story teller extraordinaire Jonathan Kline at the Goldmine in spite of my failure.

And in spite of this reminder that I’m mostly doing this to entertain myself, I’m back although I have something else I really should be doing right now and I’m basically stealing time from sleep for this. Which is silly because I Got Nothing.

Except maybe this: there’s a feature on The Millions called Difficult Books which returned this week featuring Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany and, well, yes it’s a hard read no doubt, vanishing deep into the character’s head about halfway through by way of his hallucinatory journal, itself an alternate version of the novel. I found it strangely satisfying as I only got around to it a few years ago after returning to New Orleans’ real-world apocalypse and finding a powerful resonance in the bizarre adventures of the plot and its idiosyncratic characters, not one of whom you’d give a second glance passing on a bicycle in the Marigny. If they had decided to close the city after Katrina but abandoned the die hard downtown folks to stay you would likely end up with something uncannily like Dhalgren’s Bellona. Not long after I finished the book I found this fellow’s exoskeletal costume at Mardi Gras immediately put me in mind of novel’s scorpion street gangs. If you are headed to the beach (OK, maybe not) and you are ready to crawl into the shade and completely leave reality behind without waking up with a hangover or wandering naked somewhere looking for your clothes, I suggest you give Dhalgren a whirl.

§ The Maple Leaf takes the Fourth off. And the Dinky Tao Poetry Series continues its long running non-occurrence on Tuesdays (although I’m hatching a plan to revive it with my friend Sam, since it still comes up in the local newspaper listings). There are no interesting book signings. Nothing. It’s the Fourth of July in New Orleans and that means nothing is going on except the sweaty crowds in the Quarter trying not to pass out before the fireworks, or (better yet) staying in Mid-City and reminding ourselves of the consequences of mixing fireworks and alcohol. Again.

I have a novel idea (Ed.’s note–please untie me before he makes any more bad puns): maybe this is the ideal weekend to pick up Dhalgren or Gravity’s Rainbow or Ulysses. Go spend some serious cross-eyed quality time decoding Dylan Thomas. Or even make your way at last through the dreadful Tennyson-on-Seconal wasteland of the later works of Auden. Somewhere on your shelves is That Book You’ve Been Meaning To Read/Finish. You’ve got a long weekend and nothing else to do.

Spirit Vessels June 27, 2010

Posted by Mark Folse in 504, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
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Activist and poet Dennis Formento reading “Spirit Vessels” at the spirit vessel launching ceremony at Bayou St. John in New Orleans, Sunday, June 27 2010. There are photos here of the small unfired clay vessels bearing beeswax and olive oil tapers, flowers and representations of Gulf of Mexico wildlife, built by volunteers under the guidance of local artist and educator Jane Hill. I no longer know how to pray but to be there, to help light the candles, was enough. The sweltering stillness was broken by a fresh breeze from the south as they launched the first of the spirit vessels. I’ll let Formento’s eloquence and the pictures tell the rest.

Nothing is wasted June 26, 2010

Posted by Mark Folse in 504, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
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“they say that
nothing is wasted:
either that
or
it all is”
— Charles Bukowski

At some point in watching the first and last episodes of Treme last night (my wife wanted to start from the beginning; I wanted to re-watch the last) I had the realization I have hinted at over at Back of Town in the past. In great art, nothing is wasted: not a word, not a brush stroke, not a moment of silence before the next note. In great novels (the closest analogue to a season of episodes running to over eleven hours in length) detail is piled upon detail and in the greatest works every piece is a working part of the great machine. Oh, perhaps an appendix is left in in the manner of an intentional flaw in Asian art but everything else serves the purpose.

I know that as I go back through the series I will find these fine details more and more often, will connect the threads to small to see on first viewing.. It will not be a matter of taking the scenes apart, parsing the dialogue and the soundtrack as if I were decoding an encrypted text. It will be a discovery of that new thing: that word, that song that has to be there and suddenly it’s so obvious, you’re standing transfixed before the canvas and the guard comes by to remind you it’s closing time.

I don’t remember what started this train of thought but I know where I lost it: a moment I missed with a house full of friends for the first episode, the gumbo party that started as a drunken joke in a bar, running to the kitchen for beers at the end of Buona Sera: at the end of the sequence of perfectly apocalyptic shots of the dark and empty city. that one perfect shot of the plastic bags swirling in the wind, at once trapped in the current and rising up to heaven, proxy ghosts for all the lost in quick fading (you will miss it unless you step through the frames) to the unanswered call on a silent telephone.

I think I should perhaps change the epigram at the top to the one Ken Kesey recorded somewhere in the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test: “go with the flow…you’re in the hands of experts” but that would be wrong, because this is no bad trip.

Before I go any further: a confession. I rarely watch television anymore. If twenty seasons of Law and Order isn’t enough to ruin you for crime drama forever, start watching the Wire if you’re new to Simon’s work then dip into an episode or two of conventional cop shows. If it were not for Treme and my bundled internet connection, I think I could save about $150 dollars a month if my family wouldn’t put me out of the house and change the locks if I disrupted their access to Futurama and The Housewives of Where Ever. (Not dissing Futurama, mind you; just cataloging what gets watched around here by others).

The armchair television critics around the internet can complain all they want that Treme is not good television because they are right. It’s not just the sniveling juveniles at Warming Glow. It’s this superficially thoughtful but ultimately convention bound review on Salon. Television is a medium, but one that blurs with film with the proliferation of wide screen, high definition sets. It is to some extent simply a delivery channel, albeit one with clear expectations. To complain that Treme does not conform to the expected tenets of episodic serial television is like complaining that the milkman also delivers orange juice. These malcontents are tourists walking into McDonalds in Paris and discovering snails on the menu, subjected to a tremendous cognitive dissonance because of the cubbyholes they have constructed to organize their world.

It is an ironic distinction as something much on my mind largely is the opinion many writers hold of bloggers, that blogging is not writing (paging Truman Capote: Mr. Kerouac on line one). Most of the time it isn’t. It’s noodling and air guitar playing and coffee pot chatter and bathroom graffiti and screen magazines and gum comics and trading cards and a hundred other things. It can be all of those things and still host brilliant writing because it truly is a delivery system as much as what Marshall McLuhan would recognize as a medium.

Not everyone has the chops to write something as massively complex and interleaved as Ulysses or Gravity’s Rainbow, and few have what it takes to navigate the labyrinth of Hollywood to win approval of and then manage the thousands of threads that must be tied together to produce a major television series, to do it on a scope of almost twelve hours and still create something on that scale with the attention to detail of a painter. I think that is an equal part of why I am so deeply drawn into this show and not just because I live in New Orleans. I am about halfway through The Wire (I am not just another fawning fan, knowing Simon before the last few months largely by reputation) and I am just as taken in by that world as well.

We all talked again last night about how universally accessible Treme is or is not but I think that’s a moot point. If my son and I pop The Seven Samurai into the DVD player my wife will find something else to do. Some people need a translation into the familiar language of cowboys and bandits; some don’t. There may be a language where the words loss, betrayal, defeat, and hope don’t translate well but I have a hard time imagining it. You can find all those themes on a hundred channels at the same time but they don’t deliver the depth that something like Treme does. Catharsis depends in part on hubris, upon watching the high brought low and seeing it coming. We don’t live in a land of incestuous kings but by stretching to the limit of his grasp and the limits of the medium (and the audience’s tolerance) and then trying to stretch just a little bit further, Simon substitutes his own ambition for Oedipus and Lear, and achieves the same effect with characters some might find mundane and uninteresting. But like Shakespeare or Sophocles some effort is required of the audience.

In the end Treme will be judged as success or failure by those who job it is to mediate culture. As long as we rely exclusively on the judgments of television critics it will often be judged harshly even as Simon is praised for stretching the envelope. Go read that Salon review. There will be more like it everywhere and for all its pretension to a literate critical distance it is built on the same bad foundation as that of the knuckleheads at Warming Glow.

Or better yet, go into a darkened room where you won’t hear the neighbor’s weed whacker screaming and turn off the cell phone and start to watch again, and savor the moments of auteur brilliance like the trash bag spirits or start to do the Sunday Times crossword puzzle of music and plot. Don’t listen to the whiners. They will move onto the next vampire spin-off soon enough and leave us to enjoy what we have discovered, to spend our time unraveling the weave and putting it back together again and again rather than be forced to choose something less suitable just because it’s what is expected.

The Last Day June 22, 2010

Posted by Mark Folse in 504, 8-29, Hurricane Katrina, Toulouse Street.
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I used to read the blog Still Life with Soup Can long ago. At some point she took it private, which is fine. Some people write for themselves or a small circle of friends, and wish to keep it in that circle. I right for myself and the tiny audience of voices in my head, and chose to hang it out like a line of laundry. To each their own.

I have been contributing a bit and commenting a lot at the Back of Town blog on the subject of David Simon and company’s HBO Series Treme, and one of the regular contributors and founders sent me a link this this post on her blog. The email subject was “this is cool” and contained only a link.

I have a problem with the term bloggers, because it carries some horrible connotations. It is also much too generic, like “periodical”, which would encompass The Weekly World News and the Lewis Laphan-era Harper’s. While there may once have been a Harper’s List which referenced Bat Boy or Faces on Mars in some tongue in cheek way, they are about as far apart as possible.

I read another blogger’s take on Treme here, and felt obliged to comment. I think BatBoy is likely one of his devoted readers and may occasionally comment there as well, unless there is a James Bond marathon on Spike, in which case his entire readership disappears into mom’s basement with a box of PBR and a big bag of Doritos and isn’t seen for days.

Then I read the recommended “cool” post, Still Life’s with Soup Can’s The Last Day.

I think to “this is cool” I would add at least a “wow”. And thank you.

Birmingham, 35 miles June 20, 2010

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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It all comes down to this: if the blood red ocean comes to poison us all, brings in the end a slow and broken confederate retreat from the coast, I will sit on my porch and watch them pass, spoon the last of the cold, looted food out of the can, sick with twitchy dog dreams of cigarettes and burning the last of my batteries playing this song…

Photo (c) Lauren Williamson. Permission requested. Song by Rev. Goat, who moved to Austin after IT. Taken from New Orleans Musician Relief CD without permission. Buy a CD to redeem my sin.

Odd Words June 17, 2010

Posted by Mark Folse in Odd Words, Toulouse Street.
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A NEW ABOMUNIST MANIFESTO!

ABOMUNISTS BELIEVE BOB KAUFMAN IS THE SECOND COMING OF EZEKIEL.

ABOMUNISTS WILL HOST THE ANARCHIST COOKBOOK AND COCKTAIL SERIES THIS WEEK, FEATURING THE MOLOTOV.

ABOMUNISTS BELIEVE JIMMY ROSS’ HAIR IS THE SECOND COMING OF BOB KAUFMAN.

ABOMUNISTS PLAY TUBA NAKED IN FRONT OF THE FIRST DISTRICT POLICE STATION

ABOMUNISTS BELIEVE DAVE BRINKS HAS THE COLDEST BEER ON DAUPHINE STREET.

ABOMUNISTS REJECT ALL SCHOOLS OF POETRY WHICH WOULD ADMIT THEM.

ABOMUNISTS GATHER SECRETLY AT THE GOLDMINE SALOON ON THURSDAY NIGHTS AND DISTRIBUTE FLYERS TO PROVE IT.

ABOMUNISTS DISCOVER THE TRUTH THROUGH THE DIALECTIC OF A BEER & A SHOT OF JAMESON’S.

ABOMUNISTS CELEBRATE THE TRANSCENDENTALLY ABSURD BY READING FROM THE WORKS OF NEW ORLEAN’S BORN PROTO-BEAT BOB KAUFMAN AT 17 POETS! ON JUNE 17.

ABOMUNISTS DO NOT BELIEVE IN STARTING AT EXACTLY EIGHT, SO HAVE ANOTHER BEER AND RELAX.

ABOMUNISTS BELIEVE YOU DON’T EXIST IF YOU DON’T COME AND CAN CONSTRUCT CIGARETTE SMOKE SYLLOGISMS TO PROVE IT.

§ In other news, oil still flows in the Gulf like blood pulsing from an artery. Frederico Franco was unavailable to comment on the situation. However, you can by submitting poetry, stories, photos, art, music or any damn thing you please to TheBlackFlood.Net. Send submissions here.

§ Minrose Gwin, who will be the featured reader at the Maple Leaf on Sunday June 19 at 3ish (OK 4 but we all need a couple of beers first and to catch upz) signs and reads from her novel The Queen of Palmyra. 6 p.m. Friday. Octavia Books, 513 Octavia St.

§ While I think everyone in American should be required to read Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana’s Cajun Coast by Mike Tidwell and pass a short quiz to prove it before they are allowed to refill their gas tanks, I am intrigued by new book Losing Ground: Identity and Land Loss in Coastal Louisiana by David M. Burley from the University Press of Mississippi which typically puts out very high quality work of regional interest. Burley can be found around town several times this coming week including 4 p.m. Saturday. Fair Grinds Coffeehouse, 3133 Ponce de Leon Ave and 5 p.m. Sunday. Lost Love Lounge, 2529 Dauphine St.

§ The New Orleans Haiku Society hosts their monthly meeting 6 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. Monday. Latter Library Carriage House, 5120 St. Charles Ave.The New Orleans Haiku Society hosts their monthly meeting 6 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. Monday. Latter Library Carriage House, 5120 St. Charles Ave.

§ Odd Words wishes to inform Gambit and the Times-Picayune that the Dinky Tao Poetry Reading no longer occurs at Molly’s at the Market on Tuesday after that unfortunate incident with the drunken sorority girls, nitrous oxide and the gypsy industrial vacuum cleaner. At least, we think it doesn’t. We haven’t dared go back to check. The organizer would be very sorry if he could remember the incident more clearly.

§ FREE FOOD DAMMIT. When am I ever going to arrange things so I can attend Loren Murrell’s weekly poetry and spoken-word night with free food? Free admission. 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. Yellow Moon Bar, 800 France St., New Orleans (Bywater).

Bloomsday June 16, 2010

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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It’s Bloomsday, June 16: the day of the year depicted in 1904 in James Joyce Ulysses.

And I forgot.

If you find me wandering the streets, take me home. You know what street I live on.

joyceart_nolarising

The Governing Weather of Summer June 13, 2010

Posted by Mark Folse in 504, hurricane, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
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Here in New Orleans the solstice is truly Midsummer. As early as May the governing weather of summer is upon us with all the weight of the planets, guiding our choices toward the shade and the restful, but we are a contrary folk and while I might have enough sense to work in the yard before glare of midday, still I stood on the corner of Frenchman and Royal last Saturday night and watched the Young Fellaz Brass Band drive another band from the opposite corner by pure power of sound and danced until I was as sleekly wet as a seal. My wife, who would normally not approve, didn’t care a bit that I had completely unbuttoned my rayon shirt and bared my chest. The atmosphere was a palpable thing on my body, running in rivulets down to my shuffling feet and into the street, the only movement in the air our bodies and the sounds that drove us into this senseless frenzy when a more temperate people would be still.

Not yet Midsummer’s Night and we have months ahead of red weather. We will drink more beer than modern American medicine thinks good for us (and outlive them to prove them asses), tending the fires in our grills beneath richly speckled Creole sausages, dousing the fatty flames with a spurt from a shaken bottle. We will drive out the evil vapors of last night’s cocktails by starting the weed whacker much too early for some of the neighbors, who may curse us but will then rise up themselves and get to the yard work before the sun boils the mercury in the window thermometer. Come the Fourth of July we will stand in the mosquito thick, coffee-hot dark breeze of the levee to cool ourselves and to better view the fireworks. August will weigh down upon us like the responsibility of empire on Caesar’ shoulders and we will still stand on the blistering cement of the French Market for Satchmo Fest if we are to late to claim a bit of shade.

We are, in a word, accustomed to where we live. I spent almost 10 years in Fargo, North Dakota and small-town Northwest Minnesota. My first year in the small down of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota I had a long sunken driveway and a cranky, (very) used Monkey Ward snow blower. When the plows came around the corner my drive was the first break in the curb for 100 feet and they would dump an immense amount of slushy avalanche snow that would freeze into a wall two feet high in the driveway I just cleared. By the end of that year, I was lifting snow over my head at the mouth of the driveway (keeping in mind how snow settles and compacts). And I stuck, as they say up there. There were compensating virtues to the place, and humans are adaptable enough to range from the edge of the Arctic ice to the vast Sahara and Gobi deserts.

Last night we went to dinner at someone’s house, and as we sat around after sipping a beer and admiring the massive bank of windows along one wall of their house we inevitably got onto storm shutters. We’re well into June and while the start of hurricane season is mostly ceremonial, a time for the weathermen to read the auguries to everyone congregated around the television, to recite the names of this year’s storms, and the signs are not good the augurs tell us. The Atlantic is exceedingly warm, our host reminded us and El Niño is taking the year off. Our host recited the official forecast: 14 to 23 Named Storms including 8 to 14 Hurricanes of which 3 to 7 could be Major Hurricanes.

Even as we went off into the common topic of evacuation stories and stay-versus-leave, his wife wasn’t interested in hearing the numbers. “I’m not borrowing trouble,” she told him, and I agree. Long range weather forecasting is as much art as science, a series of assumptions fed into the historical statistics and computer models that are themselves a mix of past performance and assumptions, mixed with the current sea temps along the Intertropical Convergence Zone (and if you live down there, you know it by that name and not, say, as The Horse L attitudes). Like gambling at the stockbroker’s or the track, it is as much about initial assumptions as it is past performance and if you’re wrong, you tear up the ticket on you way to get a beer.

This morning I go back to confirm the numbers and read the names for this year’s storms and I find a map of the South Atlantic with a big orange circle, the message below it in telegraphic CAPITALS telling us of a disturbance spinning toward the Cape Verde Islands. A medium chance, it tell us, of becoming a tropical cyclone during the next 48 hours. It’s begun.

I know the general trends well enough to understand that a storm in June isn’t much to worry about, just as we know the storms of late September and October will spin up the East Coast, just as we know Katrina was that once in a generation storm we were all raised to expect. Still we can’t resist looking, re-familiarizing ourselves with the cryptic jargon of the forecasters, wondering when the first disturbance will enter the GOM*, when that The Clash song will start hammering in our heads. For all their research and supercomputers and a lifetime of art the forecaster’s can’t tell us what we’ll be doing in August or September, but I can. Come August, we will go to Satchmo Fest and send my daughter off to college and get my son ready for his sophomore year of high school. I will thank Ogoun that it has not rained and the grass is brown, will break a cigarette and sprinkle some tobacco onto the soil as I daily water the plants in thanks for one less task in the dank afternoon, will retreat into the shade of the fan-cooled porch when I am done, will submit myself to the governing weather of summer as before a jealous and merciful god because it’s what the chosen people do as the price of the land of milk and honey.

*Gulf of Mexico

Morning 40 Federation June 11, 2010

Posted by Mark Folse in 504, Dancing Bear, music, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
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“You’re gonna walk down the street in glory…”

Every day, in every way, this looks better and better. Wake me up when the band starts.

Odd Words June 10, 2010

Posted by Mark Folse in Odd Words, Toulouse Street.
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First, sorry about the premature announcement last week. It was not the Bob Kaufman event and in fact 17 Poets! was canceled at the last minute. If posting other than Odd Words (and I had to drag myself out of bed early to manage this) even with recent good news about efforts to capture some of the oil spewing out of BP’s well in the Gulf things are a bit gloomy here on Toulouse Street. Fortunately, I’m so insanely busy at work that I’m not allowed time to notice. Its good to be a beta.

OK, all you creative types: it’s time to rethink your enslavement to all things Apple (c) after you learn that Apple, unlike Google, doesn’t even pretend to renounce or avoid evil. This case: censorship. Apparently nudity is too prurient even for content for the I-Pad rated for ages 17+, forcing the creators of a graphic novel version of James Joyce Ulysses titled Ulysses Seen to revise some of their work. “Apple has strict guidelines and a rating system to prevent ‘adult content.’ Their highest mature content rating is 17+, which doesn’t seem to be a problem since no one reads Ulysses at sixteen anyway. But their guidelines also mean no nudity whatsoever. Which is something we never planned for.” The link to UK MacWorld courtesy of HTMLGIANT. I’m with this guy.

§ Tonight 17 Poets! Literary & Performance series presents a reading/performance featuring poets EDMUND BERRIGAN, JESSICA FIORINI and JAMEY JONES on THURSDAY, JUNE 10, 2010, 8:00pm @ The Gold Mine Saloon. And be sure to bring your luminous words & jests for yet another amazing evening of mirth, fantasm & reverie! Feature will be followed by Open Mic hosted by Jimmy Ross (sign-up begins @ 7:30 p.m.)…storytellers, poets, fiction writers, essayists, vocalists & performance artists are welcome.

§ I don’t normally read crime fiction (although I am trying to get around to reading some George Pelacanos based on his association with David Simon) but I do read short stories, and the idea of a book of short crime genre tails called Delta Blues and centered around Clarksdale, MS sounds almost irresistible. Contributing authors Alice Jackson & Suzanne Hudson will sign Delta Blues. 1 p.m. Saturday. Maple Street Book Shop, 7523 Maple St..

§ At the Maple Leaf Bar on Oak Street Sunday poet Delia Nakayama presents poems and songs.

§ I keep listing this based on the recommendations of others but haven’t been here yet: – Loren Murrell hosts a weekly poetry and spoken-word night with free food. Free admission. 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. Yellow Moon Bar, 800 France St. in the Bywater. And yes, I am told, there is free food. This is clearly hosted by someone who understands poets as well as the people who host their series in bars.

§ Finally, another chance to pimp <a href="§ “>Back of Town where my level of exhaustion of late is clearly demonstrated in the comments trying to defend the idea that long trajectory television series are clearly novelistic, and that there is not that large a gulf between the direction of attention by a novelist and the direction of gaze by a filmmaker. Sort of, in a rambling sort of way that other people told me made sense. OK, fine, but if you’re here you probably care at least a week bit about New Orleans, and if you’re watching Treme’ BOT is becoming an essential companion piece. Hey, even David Simon stops by. Why don’t you?

Finally: On second through (or second cup, first thought) perhaps I will correctly the clearly flagged typos in this post and update. Many I need a vacation. Oh, and submissions to <a href="§ “>TheBlackFlood.net are encouraged and welcomed.

Uncomfortably Numb June 4, 2010

Posted by Mark Folse in New Orleans, NOLA, The Narrative, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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For years after the levees broke and my city flooded I raged and wept at Wet Bank Guide, naked as an Old Testament prophet in our ruined temple and praying as best I knew how for New Orleans. At some point, I felt that part of my life had reached an end. I stopped posting there, and collected some of what I thought worthwhile as Carry Me Home — A Journey Back to New Orleans. I learned to live (through my writing) not in grief or anger but in the pure joy of New Orleans.

Now I stare for hours at the oil flooding into the sea and rolling onto the coast, scroll past picture after picture of things dead and dying, a pelican black wings half-raised and bill open as if to scream, read endlessly about the simmering anger and the broken blankness of the people of our coast and the flailing of incompetent government, powerless to protect it’s people. I cannot live in anger for ever. Someone I know, a fellow blogger, died in part from anger. Now I try instead for a calm something like numbness but it’s not working; the slow drill grinds against the rotten tooth and I’m yelling Stop! Stop! It’s not enough. It’s not working.

Odd Words June 3, 2010

Posted by Mark Folse in Odd Words, Toulouse Street.
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I apparently have no more sense than Tony Hayward has scruples because I’m already overwhelmed at the office, working on a consuming performance/book project for August with someone else, have a wife and two teenagers with their own plans and generally am bone weary at the end of the day and not writing much here.

That’s why I’ve decided to launch yet another project, TheBlackFlood.net. This blog format e-zine offers authors and artists a place to submit work focused on the oil flood in the Gulf of Mexico and not wait six months to see it in print. Right now the academic journals are all closed to submissions for the summer and there aren’t that many markets for poetry, art or creative non-fiction that don’t have time lines longer than the average cable news watcher’s attention span.

My own initial reaction to British Petroleum’s disastrous accident was of course to start writing and I imagine others are doing the same. If you have, maybe you hustled down to your local open mike and shared it. Share it with a wider audience online by submitting original poetry, prose (fiction or creative non-fiction), original art work to theblackflood@gmail.com. I will consider short but powerful essays on the subject but that’s something you can probably peddle much more quickly to another market. Go read the electronic submission guidelines so you don’t swamp my mailbox.

If this thing gets legs and I collect a lot of powerful work, I will look for a publisher to anthologize it, with all net proceeds going to a Gulf Coast organization working to restore Louisiana’s coastal wetlands. Send nominations for that agency to the same address. Details are again in the Submissions section.

§ Thursday, June 3rd 17 Poets! will host a celebration of New Orleans-born Beat poet Bob Kaufman, featuring readings of his work open to audience participation. Kaufman was the proto-Beat–beatific, beat down, a man marching very much to the beat of his his own drum. Dave and I will have collections to pick something and read from. If you’re coming and you own a Kaufman book bring it. Climbing (carefully) on the furniture to declaim will be encouraged. Going outside and climbing on cars to spout poetry and getting arrested for disturbing the peace is optional, but if you do we will start a donation jar for your bail just like the one kept for Kaufman in San Francisco back in the day. Starts 8-ish at the Goldmine Saloon at Dauphine and St. Peter streets in the French Quarter.

§ The Community Book Center in Gentilly needs your help! The air conditioner is dead… just in time for summer. They are hosting a fundraiser supper for the Community Book Center. Fish, Chicken, Mac & Cheese, Potato Salad, BBQ Tofu and Veggie Rice, Salad Plates, Vegetable and Dessert. $10.00 Donation per plate. Dates: Friday, June 4, 2010, 11am – 7pm and Saturday, June 5, 2010, 11am – 5pm. Volunteers, Advance Orders, Food, Drink and Paper Product Donations are also welcomed! CBC is an independent book store, literary hub and meeting place serving the community for 27 years. “More than a book store”, CBC offers African Centered books by and about people of African decent. Please help out this important indie book store. I mean, you’ve got to eat, right? 2523 Bayou Road just off Broad.

§ The artist’s retreat in Algiers A Studio in the Woods hosts FORESTtival! on Saturday June 5th 11:00 am – 5:00 pm at 13401 Patterson Road in Algiers. Artist presentations include: ArtSpot Productions, Mondo Bizarro, and Raymond “Moose” Jackson present an excerpt from Loup Garou, Jane Hill sculpture demonstration and “poetic installation” by Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts. There will be food, drink, tours of the site by a botanist and music by Panorama Jazz Band and Beth Turner and friends. If you did not see Loup Garou last year, don’t miss a chance to see at least part of it before it goes on tour this summer.

§ From Chere Coen of the Louisiana Books mailing list, this sad news: THE LOUISIANA BOOK FESTIVAL, an annual event celebrating the state’s literary tradition, has been canceled this year because of budget cuts. State Librarian Rebecca Hamilton says she decided to cancel the festival after losing funding and staffing for her department. “I put a lot of thought into this; this was not an easy decision,” she says. “I would rather us not have a festival than not to have a great festival.” This year’s event had been scheduled for Oct. 30. The festival attracts authors from across the U.S. for workshops, panel discussions and events spread across the Capitol Grounds and the State Library. It costs about $500,000 to put on the festival, with money coming from state and federal sources; previous attempts to secure private funding for the 7-year-old event were unsuccessful. Please be sure to go here and tell Gov. Bobby Jindal thanks for his continuing war on the arts.

§ Garden District Books will host a reading/signing by Alex Heard for The Eyes of Willie McGee: A Tragedy of Race, Sex, and Secrets in the Jim Crow South Saturday June 6 from 2-4 p.m.

§ Octavia Books will host a Thursday author event for Attica Locke’s BLACK WATER RISING, a book that resonates on the theme of how race and class intertwine in the South, on Thursday at 6 p.m. This is always a subject percolating in the back of my mind, which bubbled up to the surface just earlier this week.

§ A final note, not a listing:

Dear Metizen: Thanks for the link. Was the opener of last week’s Odd Words a “review of a review”? I’m not sure that entirely fair. Yes it referenced Joseph Goosey’s review of Daniel Bailey’s DRUNK SONNETS extensively, asking why Goosey didn’t see this (Berryman) in Bailey’s writing along with that (O’Hara and Bukowski). It was written after reading Goosey’s review twice through, finding the link that took me to a half-dozen of the DRUNK SONNETS online and becoming as fascinated as the original review with what I found. It was written based in part on a comment I left for Goosey, wondering why he didn’t hear Berryman along with O’Hara and Bukowski in the poems. And now that I have a copy of DRUNKEN SONNETS I wonder why he didn’t even mention the recurring and obscure references to loss that permeate the poems, the reason he is writing while crunk. Has she just left him or has she died? My first reading last night left it unclear, and so I will read them again shortly. In the end there was just more to say than could fairly be left as a comment. And I think I’ll have more to say again.

It was, in the end, a form of extended communication, a riff on the short comment I left at TheRumpus.net, an expansion of the thoughts launched by a review on another site, and ultimately my own review of DRUNK SONNETS crediting Goosey for putting the work in front of me. It was an example, in a nutshell, of how writing on the Internet sometimes works. It truly is a web of linked ideas, around which communities build. I may send a link about this one-sided dialogue to Goosey or to Stephen Elliot, as this answer comes out of something the latter wrote last week in his Daily Rumpus email about writing and community and the Internet.

Yes I sometimes crib link to and riff on stuff from TheRumpus or HTMLGIANT, LitDrift or Millions but only because I think it is something worth reading from a site everyone who has made it this far down this blog post should know about. That is how virtual communities grow. You may not have discovered this, as on your site comments are closed, and the email address you publish bounces. Your link generated a whopping two hits. You may wish to open up a bit. There a whole world out here beating a path to your door, but when we knock, no one is home.

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