Monday, January 29, 2007

The Path of Mindfulness

"A practitioner is aware 'this is suffering', as it arises. One is aware 'this is the cause of the suffering', as it arises. One is aware, 'this is the end of suffering' as it arises. One is aware, 'this is the path which leads to the end of suffering' as it arises."

--adapted from Satipatthana-sutta, translated by Thich Nhat Hanh and Annabek Laity

Friday, January 26, 2007

Interview U

1) Where did you grow up? Was poetry and writing part of that mix?

I was born in Portsmouth, VA at a Naval hospital. My parents moved to Chicago when I was still a wee babe. I was raised partly on the south side of Chicago in a purely Lithuanian neighborhood, then spent the majority of my childhood in a southwest suburb. I read voraciously as a child—a lot of sci-fi/fantasy and astronomy books. I read the dictionary and the encyclopedia quite a bit. I recall reading parts of a Richard Feynman book that my father had been reading. I also had Tolkien books, C.S. Lewis books, and a book called "CLAUDIA" about a girl who doesn't fit in. Of course Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary were part of the pre-adolescent catalogue. I wrote a story called "THE CLOROX" based on Seuss's Lorax for my gifted program and space story called "ZEBRON: MY HOME PLANET". I had just discovered the colon. It was truly a fine piece of futuristic fiction complete with great transitions such as:

"ONLY 5,890,765,098 years to wait!"

"5,890,765,098 years later..."

My first brush with poetry was in about 5th grade. Our gifted program class put together a literary magazine and I was introduced to concrete poems and acrostics. Of course, in various forms of literature we would have to read for class, poetic language would arise. I was Cassius in our 6th grade production of "Julius Caesar". Before that I recall singing Lithuanian songs in Lithuanian school and paying close attention to metaphor and poetic language. My grandmother told me many stories about Lithuanian folklore/myths and about our family's journey to America. She read to me always and I to her. Lithuanian was really my first language early on. I learned lyrical quality and pliability of language. I was, essentially, flexing between my languages and that was a poetic exercise.

The first poem I wrote was at age 11 about a homeless girl living in a cardboard box and the title was CARING? It was published in The Poet out of Indiana, I think. I was exposed early on to opera and ballet and the symphony. Classical music was a very important part of my visceral development as a writer, I believe. I was exposed to it quite regularly. And folk music.

Poetry though. I was involved in theatre but I was not exposed to much writing in elementary school and jr. high. I think we read "Call Of the Wild". I had to relieve my literary fever independently. The curriculum through my gifted program focused on deductive reasoning, critical thinking, and architecture/history/economics. I remember I had to dissect an owl pellet.

Poetry though. I think in the angsty beginning years of high school it was journal, journal journal. Through classic rock music and blues and soul I became aware of rhyme, meter, movements. I think I started writing a screenplay at 15 about a psychiatric ward.

True poetry in high school reading Plath and Sexton for the first time.

Soon, Russian novel writers Solzhenitsyn, Dostoyevsky. Then Voltaire. Beowulf. More plays. Guare. O'Neill.

I really came into my own by 19, having met other writers my age in English programs. Whitman, Poe, Emerson, Neruda, Shakespeare, 17th century metaphysicals like Donne. Milton.

The first poets who really influenced me were Neruda and Lorca. I was later introduced to Mina Loy, Wallace Stevens, and The Surrealists.

2) Who are your poetic influences, favorite poets, writers, artwork, other things that inform your work?

Lorca, Wallace Stevens, Sexton, Mina Loy, Maya Deren, Alejandro Jodorwsky, Fellini, Frida Kahlo, Maxine Chernoff, some Lithuanian poets (Platelis is the most metaphysical of the traitional poets), Patti Smith, Fluxus, Laurie Anderson, Zappa, Piero Heliczer, David Lynch, Captain Beefheart. I draw from science and astronomy as well. There are many writers I enjoy reading to be certain. Last great book was Rinaldo Arenas' The Assault. It was so raw.

3) When did you 'become' a poet when did poet become part of your everyday life?

I had a journal from 15 until about 25. Sporadic, of course. I took many poetry/fiction writing workshops. I think the key was to write poetry every day however I only did it when it struck me. I was with a comic book artist for about 3 years and that revitalized my need to write and shaped my craft tenfold. When I met Larry Sawyer, he awoke me to the innate aspect of poetry in life (it choosing you). He conceived of milk in 1998 and in 1999 I put it online.

4) Where were you educated? Was this important?

I started in Illinois, went to Iowa, went to Ohio, came back to Illinois. Northern Illinois, Loras College, DePaul University, Wright State. Got a Master's. I liked being exposed to the social dynamic of workshops, but not always helpful in my opinion. I'd be writing this way without specific study. I believe I would have followed the social circles surrounding the type of artistry I wanted to achieve--in whatever medium. At 13 I traveled to Italy alone and for my Master's thesis, I examined the atavistic nature of my writing, which included a 2-3 month journey back the homeland, Lithuania. The places I've been have educated me--NY, San Francisco.

5) You are a Lithuanian-American. How does this affect your writing?

I took a sociolingustics class in which we studied Russian theorists Bhaktin and Vygotsky. Bahktin discussed the notion of heteroglossia, or the coexisting hierarchy of language within your mind. I took 6 years of Spanish as well, so I had a primary language which is Indo-European in its roots (Lithuanian—the closest living language to Sanskrit), a Germanic-based, Anglo language and Latin all competing for a chance to do the "sentence sashay". Needless to say, I confused words a lot (to this day I still do hear the Lithuanian word first in my head for many things) but I think being tri-lingual flexed that muscle I mentioned earlier. I could better achieve imagery and metaphor because of a wider selection of sound.

5)What is your favorite food?


6)Vacation Spot?

Italy, Lithuania (in summer months). Mexico.

7)Curse Word?


Craft Questions

1) How do you form a poem?

I listen to the sounds and voice in my head guiding words to juxtapose. Then I examine external references/sources to bolster the central emotion behind it. I then rearrange the language until it speaks to me in a fashion I fancy.

2) Do you use collage, parataxis cut ups or other tools?

The dictionary, encyclopedia and external stimuli.

3) Is poetry an organic or synthetic process for you?

Organic completely. It is "of the moment".

4) Where do you write? Is Ambiance important? Do you have rituals or habits when you write?

On my computer, mostly to the blog. I am most alert in the morning—my mind is ripe.

5) In the balance between found language and created language where does your work fall? Do you use many sources?

I'd say it is a fair balance of both. My source is mainly the randomness of my thought process and catching words with a "chaos sieve".

JAN 25 23:02

Today is Friday, Jan. 26th and it is 1:30 pm and I am staring out the window and in broad daylight I can already see the moon out in First Quarter position that will last until Full Moon Feb 2 05:45. I am feeling as hidden as this moon.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Flaming "V"

a. Reefs
"Well, I'll swill seahorse's eyelash,"
Ravi declared. "I do believe I'll
masticate the alphabet twice."
She via Venus, thirsty heart
a serrano along the roadside.
Through the verbal ambergris,
desire laminates this puncture.

b. Branches
"Muse droppings,"
details Mavis. "A whole
bouquet." And the needles.
Thread glass stylus,
play love's archeology
of reunion. "Signed,

c. Mannequin Fingers
She beneath aperture
coves draped in
phosphorus feathers,
spark plugs.

*Okiagari-koboshi, "the getting-up little priest" is a traditional Japanese doll. The toy is made from papier-mâché and is designed so that its weight causes it to return to an upright position if it is knocked over. Okiagari-koboshi is considered a good-luck charm and a symbol of perseverance and resilience.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Nombre del Arbol/Medis Vardas

sus manos
son mis manos
en la vida del arboles;
las manzanas
de mis ojos
son tuyos

savo rankas
yra mano rankas
gyventi medai
yra akies obuolys

Monday, January 22, 2007

Jupiter Uranus Square

These rabid braille details.
the icebox swears,
it is new language.

Lovers: when Jupiter,
in 12 years, contemplated
you--now, on January 22.
Make hands, make a significant
era. Uranus, 'the Awakener' hits
cosmic you.

You. Most significant braille.
Rabid reciprocations in
the language icebox.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Radio wire is often used to make bird nests.
What station do they listen to?


Wednesday, January 17, 2007


post of olive marrow,
winter lasso, arrived
each a mother,
a matron, & mistress
under the universe's
cruel microscope.
each mind letters
a scientist and then,
17 of them: "I am a
whisper." And then,
all that cuts thirst,
all in her walk to
the still lake, all
in each crimson gush
the maid cries into her keys.
"It must be." For pistachio
myth, this extinct exchange,
no cuneiform across men's
mysteries, chests,
aches, can cross.

The Brodmann area defining the primary visual processing area of mammallian brains, the atomic number of chlorine, the number which held the key to the control of natural forces in Godley & Creme's Consequences, the halogen group in the periodic table, Messier object M17, a magnitude 7.0 nebula/cluster in the constellation Sagittarius, also known as the Omega Nebula, The Number Seventeen (1932), directed by Alfred Hitchcock, 'the most random number' as described by MIT, The New General Catalogue object NGC 17, a peculiar galaxy in the constellation Cetus, the age at which one may donate blood and join the military voluntarily, in the novel So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish by Douglas Adams, a character who is unknowingly a rain god has a numerical scheme to categorize all the different types of rain which continuously bombard him; the worst, the heaviest, the least pleasant, is Rain Type 17, "a dirty blatter blattering against the windows so hard, it was impossible to tell whether he had the wipers on or off", the ratio 18/17 was a popular approximation for the equal tempered semitone during the Renaissance, the age of the "Dancing Queen", a mild swear word in Swedish, commonly used as "sjutton också!" ("seventeen, too!"), roughly be translated to "Darn!", the maximum number of strokes of a Chinese radical, the number of syllables in a haiku (5+7+5), in Nordic countries the seventeenth day of the year is considered the heart and/or the back of winter, the number of trees Dostoevsky could see out of the window of his cell while he was in prison, the number of surat al-Isra in the Qur'an, in Italian culture, the number 17 is considered unlucky. When viewed as the Roman numeral, XVII, it is then changed anagramtically to VIXI, which in the Latin language it translates to "I have lived", the perfect tense implying "My life is over." (c.f. "Vixerunt", Cicero's famous announcement of an execution.) The Italian airline carrier, Alitalia, does not have a seat 17.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Matriculate Blind

these ravens wore wool,
rushed to the story
of two stripped
planetary streams

fell she
the eyes her

wings clipped.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Fins of Cloves

In my Sanskrit state,
my still celluloid dream,
the last gelatine poems
severed from scrolls and minerals.

I'm the demographic gaffe,
protest me. This fission of girl,
this scaling. I, beheaded,
a loving cup smirk.
My life a mussel- a soft gun,
a parliament of flora,
my name.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Finch Me A Vacuum

Artist Céleste Boursier-Mougenot.

Saw his installation, From Hear to Ear seven years ago at the
  • Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center.

  • He recently had an exhibit in NY (below) of vaccuum cleaners producing sound via strategically-placed harmonicas. In the backdrop of this exhibit, he a magnified a candle flame and kept the camera steady upon it. He then recorded the flame's sound vibrations as it flickered. When this sound was played back to the candle, it extinguished itself.

    There is something about sound within an art installation. Sound obviously sets tone and environment. However, from a potentially-blind perspective, I have grown to become attuned to sound. Each nuance sound in daily life: of pitch, tone, variation, pauses, breaths, and white noise all indicate place, time, and mood. I can sense tension and love through sound. I can feel vibrations in the air. I can taste electrical impulses. When we viewed the exhbit of finches on a labyrinth of wire hangers, there was a chorus of their movements in the air. Sound implies existence. In the large, cold room, one could close their eyes and feel each finch move with a winged flutter and tinge of wire clinging in the air. It was as if you were a tiny finch in this created environment, for a moment.


    Photograph courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, Paula Cooper Gallery, through Oct 14 2006
    From Time Out New York

    “French artist Céleste Boursier-Mougenot has casually arranged 13 vacuum cleaners, hoses curled and metal tubes standing at attention. Their indicator lights glow green and each has a harmonica stuck in its nozzle. One vacuum suddenly switches on, a wan yellow bulb attached to its side lights up, and air is sucked through the harmonica, sounding a wheezy chord. As it turns off, another goes on, its harmonica playing at a slightly different pitch. Soon all the machines chime in at intervals, creating the chaotic harmonies suggested by the work’s title, harmonichaos.

    Boursier-Mougenot allows chance to conduct his concert: The vacuums’ motors are controlled by hidden sensors (modified electric guitar tuners) that react to sound frequencies, producing live, never identical call-and-response performances. Together with the muffled whirring of the motors and ambient noises in the gallery, the harmonicas evoke incidental pipe organ music, as if John Cage had scored a Lon Chaney film. In its spectacle of technology forming a disembodied choir, harmonichaos also recalls the eerie melancholy of Janet Cardiff’s Forty-Part Motet (installed at P.S.1 and, more recently, MoMA).

    Opposite the vacuums is a black-and-white video projection of a candle flame, enlarged to the point of abstraction and flickering in slow motion. Its movement, we learn from a gallery handout, was generated by the reverberations of its own light. The fluttering was translated into sound waves, which were played back on a speaker; the sonic vibrations blew the flame out. But the video is silent and our connection to this process remains as ephemeral as the ghostly image itself.”

    Wednesday, January 03, 2007

    Hieronymous Bosch

    The fish of man/
    opal-dyed quasars/
    yet to be molested or birthed/

    We come back to where we have committed a crime,
    [not] to where we loved.

    -Joseph Brodsky


    Tuesday, January 02, 2007



    "Our Destiny is to Merge with Infinity"

    ...said the teabag tag.

    New year thrusts forth the notion that we will receive a clean slate handed to us at the stroke of midnight. Though this mentally transpires due to intoxication, it is us who must shift perspective to this new state of mind independent of chronology.

    It is this illusion that change only exists when we exert our will upon the universe, but it is the universe, ultimately, that is in constant flux and affects all life forms as a result. Impermanence, change, is necessary and an innate foundation of life. It is "okay" for things to change. We are not in a stoic state. Time is passing, we decompose. However, life is simultaneous, keeping rhythm with this and these accidents, coincidences, and "planned" occurences are all relative. Is it according to plan? What is the plan? Does one need "a plan" and why?

    Is this a cruel, sick joke in which fleeting, meaningful moments ensnare entire being only to be interrupted by mundane being or is it in pure being that meaning is found? Perhaps there is no meaning in pure being, our hearts mechanistically pumping, each of us dead until the next significant moment pulls us from tragedy to elation?

    I watched an "Ugly Betty" marathon all day yesterday. All day, splayed across my couch, uninvolved, living vicariously through a fictional character who selflessly undermines the beauty standard by enforcing compassion with her mere existence. Imagine that.