How else to break such a silence

Than by bandying about Napoleon's penis?

But, seriously, folks, I'm still around. I'm cooking, living, doing my thing. Reading much, writing a little, submitting a...very little. The pressure to be a worldlier poet makes me more than a little hostile to the world.

But let's see, on my reading list:

Disgrace, J.M. Coetzee (a friend asked me who wrote this book in a text message; I hadn't read it and figured that I ought to if people are going to be asking me questions about it)
The Life and Times of Michael K, ibid (still reading; because I enjoyed the first one so much, in a pained, unbearable lightness of being sort of way)
The Anxiety of Everyday Objects, Aurelie Sheehan (light post-feminist fiction in the genre of sympathy for administrative employees)
Hubbub: Filth, Noise and Stench in England, Emily Cockayne (still reading; has inspired a good number of poems...perhaps a chapbook's worth?)
Telegraph, The Very Lovely Ms. Kaya Oakes (go thou to Pavement Saw and order, for the love, this woman is a worker and it shows!)
The Triggering Town, Richard Hugo (don't ask why I've waited until now to read this, I have no acceptable answer)
The Language of Inquiry, Lyn Hejinian (lyric essays; I love "Thought Is the Bride of What Thinking")
Holy Skirts, Rene Steinke (just cracked this one, so no verdict yet)
Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, Edwin Abbott (verdict: I really should go out and read VAS now, shouldn't I? I mean, again.)

On my yet-to-read list, the trifecta of feminism I'm expecting in the mail (male?) from Amazon:
The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir (I came *this* close to buying the French version from the Seminary Co-op Bookstore, but I haven't read French in years and certainly would end up cursing Beauvoir and her abidingly deep and complex relationship with her own language, and then realizing the irony of thinking French her language, at which point I would explode.)
A Room Of One's Own, Virginia Woolf (No, I haven't read this. But I have read Orlando and To the Lighthouse. Perhaps another one as well. And The Years. Bad English major.)
The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan

Namely, I will no longer allow myself to move into the "deep cuts" (as iTunes so deftly calls them) of any 'ism' until I've reckoned with the basics. I've had a lot of time with prose lately. Though, that's always been my way. I'm not a great reader of poetry, though I admire those who can sit down waist-high in poetry books and journals and come out supreme ruler of many names to drop. Is it hypocritical of me to seek readership of my own work when I read so little of others'? I wrestle with this question often. And the question of identity as a poet, place in community, &c. While I am chatty with my poetry friends: we talk about poetry, things in general, read each other's work on a regular basis, &c., I don't go to readings (well, not without a great deal of entreaty from others, heel-dragging from myself). Is the reading the non-academic axis of poetic community? If so, how sad! Most readings I've been to (none lately, but thinking back) have been dreadful mock-performances, or dry-as-a-bone documentaries of the Poet's Life, staged behind pulpits, for the Edification of the Young.

Lately, my friend Ben, the quintessential hip young philosopher (from whom I get most of my relevant cultural newsfeeds - he, for example, was the aforementioned Coetzee texter), dreamily suggested we start a salon. Not hair, but, as I imagined, a kind of post-Dadaist play collective. A bunch of artists meet up, make some art, drink some coffee, talk about theory. He, of course, qualified the scheme as naive. But, I thought, is it any more naive than the idea of the poetry reading? As a planned and anticipated event, any meeting of artists becomes about election. Hip enough, plugged in, getting the right listservs, &c.? Yes, but no. Yes, I'd like to hang out with poets I haven't met, but no, I don't want to be so...performative about it. I realize I'm wishing for the impossible here. Something organic in a completely enclosed, inorganic "community." Where the elite are selected not on the basis of merit (because as heirs to the post-post-modern, we've become rather too lazy to develop a satisfactory standard of taste for our art), but on the basis of asskissery.

But the question remains, is that really Napoleon's penis (Oh, how I wish they'd posted a picture! A shriveled eel!)? Or just a bit of it? The foreskin, perhaps. Was Napoleon circumcised? And if you know this, I would really like to take you out for coffee, pick your brains about the bodies of dead historical personages. It's a special interest of mine. Perhaps we could start a salon, charge admission, and then perhaps, I could quit filing reports for a living.


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