I have picked up copies of books by Rupi Kaur and Lang Leav and leafed through them. Like the alliteration of ‘Lang Leave and leafed,’ I am not convinced by their quality. Actually, I’m pretty convinced of their quality and don’t think they have much. I have seen, in magazine articles, screen shots of work by other ‘instapoets’ and it has made me think that the genre as a whole is pretty lacking.

I also don’t have much affection for slam poetry. If we are ranking these things, slam poetry ranks orders of magnitude above instapoetry in my estimation.

Me? I learn and comprehend best through interaction with the written word. I like to read, is what I’m saying. More than that, reading is how I engage in dialogue with the world around me.

So neither forms are really aimed at folks like me.

And I really don’t know what to say nor what to add to the current kerfuffle over instapoets and, to a lesser extent (mostly because of this article, which singled out a particular, recently published in book form, slam poet), slam poets. It’s not the first kerfuffle and it won’t be the last. Or, more likely, it’s all the same kerfuffle, which has been going on for a couple of years, at least.

But my two cents. It’s not good poetry. I haven’t read deeply into the genre, but I feel like I’m on pretty solid ground. Both in terms of my critical evaluation of what I have read and as regards the follow up question as to whether I’ve read enough to form a valid opinion.

But… I’m glad poetry is selling. I didn’t think the poetry collection by the singer, Jewel, was very good either (though, of course, I listened to her first  album constantly in the mid-nineties and nursed a mild crush on her in my early twenties). But I believe that having read one poem, people may read another. Having bought one book, they may buy another.

Also, though we may feel resentful that someone has achieved success with what we believe to be pretty shoddy work, most of these folks are in their twenties and I think we must forgive people their awful youthful poetry, even if it does get published, sell in the millions, and make them rich. And we should try not to be too bitter about it.

Poet Tips

This website is awesome – you enter the name of a poet you like and it spits out some awesome recommendations. And just by some brief checking, the suggestions are excellent and the range of poets suggested even better (I checked for Anne Carson, Kenneth Rexroth, and Cathy Linh Che).


Is It On Or Off The Wagon?

That was a question asked by an episode of Seinfeld. I love Seinfeld. My better half ranges between ambivalence and mild dislike. But that’s neither here nor there.

And I’m talking about my phone, not alcohol. Read more

My iPhone Is Slowly Dying

It doesn’t charge very well. Most cords won’t work. I can sometimes charge in car and with the off brand cord next to my bed, but only if I brace it and the angle is correct.

One day soon, I suppose, it won’t charge at all. Read more

‘Ex Machina’ & Ted Lieu

Ex Machina is an excellent, creepy, and faintly problematic movie. Ted Lieu is a congressman from Southern California. As a just meaningless side note and, arguably, a moment of pointless name dropping, I met him a dozen years ago when I canvassed for him when he ran in a special election for an open seat in the California General Assembly.

This was part of a series by a nonprofit called Future Tense. It’s one of many semi-political, semi-advocacy, vaguely but not quite thinktank-y orgs that exist all around DC.

Lieu spoke well and amusingly and amazingly non-partisanly about technology legislation around the hacking of driverless cars, cells, etc. But I’ve always liked him. He even mentioned universal basic income or UBI as something worth attaining.

This was the second time I’d seen Ex Machina and I was able to better appreciate parts of the performance, script, and direction better. Like watching a surprising mystery, it can be fun to go back and re-see things again, knowing what one knows. The manipulations of the sparse cast.

But… the nudity seems problematic. There’s not a lot, except, towards the very end, there is a scene with great deal of extended nudity (there was an earlier nude scene which felt less problematic, as well), all of women (and all, my better half noted, women of a certain body type). I can understand why the director did it, in one sense, and I can outline why, I expect, he felt needed and why he felt it was okay. The gaze was female, for example. It was about becoming a woman (and a human). More reasons, too. But even though it probably wasn’t more than a minute or two, it felt like it lingered and it’s hard to fully explain away voyeurism. I won’t truly condemn voyeurism (I’m a man who’s used the internet, so it would be disingenuous), but maybe this movie didn’t need it.


Another Episode Of Facebook Poetry In Translation

It’s been a while, but it’s time for more “Found Poetry That Is Actually Facebook Translations of Posts from Thailand.” Enjoy.

I knew it.
It’s raining. It’s not going to go out.
It’s raining through a mirror
a movie.

I’m putting sleeping pills in the rice again
Good night.

My eyes… the birds are very satisfying.
It’s more fun than that, Dr. Wig,
eyes on the. A bird.

It’s Typewriter Day!

Did you know that June 23rd is Typewriter Day? I didn’t, not until June 22nd, at least.

But here’s my typewriter anyway. It’s a Smith-Corona Galaxie.

Midweek Staff Meeting – I Saw That!

6-F1903.309-768x411So, I finally got around to seeing this amazing Sotatsu exhibit at the Sackler. It’s around until Sunday, so go see it!

This is super awesome: century old audio recordings of Guillaume Appolinaire!

Whatever he chooses to write about, David Brooks is always hilariously wrong.


Midweek Staff Meeting – Think Of The Children!

“Reading always seems to be in crisis. Two and half millennia ago, Socrates inveighed against the written word because it undermined memory and confused data with wisdom.”

The intellectual center of the world used to be a Parisian apartment.

A brief history of reading as sacramental activity.

Enjoying Call of Duty on your Playstation? Thank Dungeons & Dragons.

Weekend Reading – The Making Of Schiller

photoFriedrich Schiller’s strange education at a military academy that promoted poetry, rhetoric and Enlightenment principles. Also, caning.

This does not actually reassure me. It’s more like the second coming of Rod McKuen.

So, while poetry only bookstores aren’t exactly blossoming everywhere, there are a lot more than there were just a few years ago (when it was really just Grolier’s in Cambridge and Innisfree in Boulder) And while it might be an exaggeration to call them wildly profitable, they clearly can be economically viable.

The unrecognized republic of Zaqistan.

In search of the new flâneur.