Site Meter Peculiar Susceptibility: 2009

Monday, December 28, 2009

"Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind"

Some memories play over like good records. Today is grey; yesterday was grey. We're in the grey of winter and I've been playing over the time we lost Patrick in my head. I've been waking up with it in the middle of the night; I've been holding it with my morning coffee.

It was this time of year - a little before Christmas. Mom was pregnant with Nora. Earlier in the day we had gone up the Empire State Building with Uncle Bill. In the elevator we thought of names for Nora. Patrick and I, with uncomfortable ears, distracted ourselves with dinodahn names. We figured out, I think it was for the first time, that many names when paired with "Dahn" become dinosaur names. Irena Dahn. Carlotta Dahn. Umberto Dahn. Madonna Dahn.

My grandparents had an apartment in White Plains that grandpa used when he was in the city on business. It had what my child's mind perceived to be an extensive roof garden, multi-leveled and well-populated with nooks and topiaries. We left mom and dad, looking at stars, embracing at the edge of the terrace. We played hide and seek.

It was dark and large and I couldn't find him. I looked and looked and eventually interrupted my parents to enlist their help. We looked everywhere. We couldn't find him. I started looking over the edges of the wall; every time I looked over a new edge I was clutching my core in preparation for something I didn't want to see.

These past days when I've woken up in the middle of the night with this memory, it's been to the image of Patrick's little body at the foot of that building. And it's always with that same clutch in your core, isn't it, when you have to prepare for something you don't want?

He was fine. He had gotten lost and wandered inside.

He left yesterday to move to Paris. No one ever said dreams were subtle.

He's left the stewardship of his record collection to me. I'm hoping they get stuck in my head.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"What are borders and pieces of paper and different tongues in different mouths compared to desire, to heart?"

(Image by Ben Gancsos)

I've been thinking a lot these days about integrated art forms and lenses, perspectives and approaches, and how these confluences shape the articulations we make.

This weekend, I attended a preview of The Parkville Project, a production of the new Bated Breath Theatre Company. The company interviewed community members, business people, and senior citizens. They reviewed historical documents. And they used this information to create a piece that combines creative movement, text, music, and photographic projections. The actors moved through the space and, in so doing, implicated the audience in the action of the play.

I was thoroughly excited by it. I wrote a little thing thing, here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Braiding Media

I've been thinking for some time about how paradigmatic shifts in media affect cultural production. Today I have a post up on Listen, Dammit about the Chicago band Califone's new film/album project All My Friends are Funeral Singers.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Making fun of neurotic writing habits

Some people write postcards to their loved ones; I write postcards to my GP.

You can read about it at

Thursday, September 3, 2009

On the geographical, on distance

Since moving to Hartford, I've wanted to write about it. I've wanted to write about it in a way that doesn't feel earned. I often wonder how much I can really claim to be here. I spend time at work and at home - so that the moments of feeling in this place stand out:

walking during snowstorms

obsessive photography

being perched up high for the excellent Branching Out series

But, for the most part, I've felt fairly disconnected from an experience of Hartford that I could present to a general audience.

• • •

Last night I was watching Bas Jan Ader fall from a tree, fall from a roof, fall with a bike.

Gravity everywhere, even in tears.

• • •

I was thinking of sitting up in a tree with Jillian and her telling me about her climbing prowess and near disasters. It settled in that the moments that have been most meaningful in this place, many of them have been on walks with Jillian, cradled in branches with Jillian, wanting to swim in a river with Jillian, standing on a cliff with Jillian.

I feel like I'm losing part of my geography.

Photo by Faith Antion

But I'll write you stories about getting lost.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

And I was calm as the plane went down

Sometimes I wake up with a line of a poem stuck in my head.

I've been thinking these days about that space above the things on which we focus. Sometimes, it's the sky:

Sometimes it's the walls and ceiling of a natural history diorama:

Last night I dreamed that the plane I was in clipped the Sydney Opera House before it went down. We were hovering above that eminently photographable skyline identifier.

I've never been the kind of poet that writes from dreams. I write from research. I read. I visit archives. I look through photographs. Frankly, I don't know how to write a poem from a dream; I don't know how to make that relevant to a wider audience than myself.

But I like waking up with a series of words in my head that I trust to be a line of poetry.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Mute and hardly active

Bird Specimens, Study Skins, originally uploaded by profholtz.

The past several days, I've had the distinct feeling of being mute. I feel as though I'm giving stillbirth to words.

I haven't written anything about which I'm content in longer than I can remember.

I need to be bolstered up and ordered by something, but I'm not sure what that might be.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I wish to curl up in a vast and obsolete cement ear.

These days, I've been dreaming about Ireland, about the UK.
[Jillian Green doors everywhere.]

It happens a couple times a week and it's things as specific as basking in dappled aprication (the best way one can, I think) in some NUI garden in Galway, with the smell of it and every blade of grass making its way through my dress to my skin. It's as tangential as incorporating a street into another cityscape. It's been a room in a Cardiff of my imagination.

Tonight, it's my wish that my self-conscious will allow me to curl up in a vast and obsolete cement ear.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Hitch and turn

Sundays are my favorite. It's the time of my week I allow myself a kind of stillness in the space of the day to contemplate and stretch and read and cook and do whatever it is I'd like. I suppose I'm conventional in that way.

I spent some time yesterday listening to the absolutely dreamy Solitude Trilogy by Glenn Gould. I also watched The Weather Underground, which of course makes me think about poetry. (Documentaries do that to a girl - all that carefully constructed and overlapping language, palimpsestic discourse.)

I have been really struggling with how to negotiate my relationship to poetry lately. I haven't written anything that I would consider finished or polished in far too long. I've been re-reading old work with disdain (I know this isn't that strange an occurrence, but that doesn't make it any more pleasant).

On the other hand, I can feel the influence of the kind of thinking poetry engenders in most aspects of my life more keenly than I have in some time. Yesterday, I worked on a sound project for hours - recording it, considering how best to score it. What I have in mind, could, indeed, read like poetry, I think, but it's footing there isn't secure. I'm picturing something that would owe a great deal to a Benjamin J. Mansavage Klein score: a layered thing that you peel back and reveal to yourself in shifting ways each time. Another possibility would be to set it up as telescopic web text.

The difficulty that this little sound project is so clearly a component of is my tendency of late to write very little that isn't part of a kind of closed circuit. I can imagine this being quite a lovely sort of new media, multi-disciplinary sound poem, but I am making it for a very particular audience: me and one other person. I've been feeling similarly about the Charcot poems, too. I begin to suspect that they comprise an entire book that I wrote to myself...or perhaps to multiple selves (a self of circa 1995-1999, a self at a specific future point, et al). My insomnia series is definitely not for public consumption, but it's a really compelling project, nonetheless.

When I was a teenager I was adamant that essays and poetry were close kin, that there is a kind of hitch of logic or turn of mind that occurs in both, when they are successful. I find myself, more and more these days, full of hitch, full of turn, but lacking a way of wedding those steps to some kind of appropriate means of public consumption.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Discovering strange little poetic moments on the Web

I've done something delightful to my browser. Michael Day, an artist whose work I esteem in great measure, has put together an exhibit through Add-Art. Add-Art utilizes a firefox plug-in to replace all web ad content with art. Lovely.

Michael Day, Filter 5

So, for instance, yesterday, when I was looking up the last lines of "The Dead," I saw this:

I've noticed that having the ad content replaced changes the quality of the way I read on-line. It's more still; there are fewer moments in which I feel tugged in ten directions.

I've written a small bit of text to go along with the exhibition, which you can read here or here.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Things I have learned this week:
  • reading about boredom does not always create enough intellectual stimulation to stave off boredom (Heidegger, I'm talking to you)
  • once you start researching boredom, you will never be able to use the word "interesting" without being self-critical
  • pigeons are commuters
  • Wordpress is really, really annoying
I have a new post up at  It's about superdoves.  And boredom.   Please take a look if you'd like.