Thursday, August 28, 2008

Just Think About Today

Hatred and Discrimination has always been a part of the American Experience. Bigotry against Catholics, Irish, Italians, Hispanics, Women, Gays, Jews and many others is a large part of our heritage.
No bigotry however is deeper than the trials of African Americans, just say the names- Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Booker T Washington, Joe Louis, Jackie Robinson, Marian Anderson, Jesse Owens, Langston Hughes, Martin Luther King. Think of their struggles think of the fire hoses, the lynchings, the middle passage... and then think about today.
A black man is the Democratic Nominee...
On this day the anniversary of the I Have a Dream Speech a Black man will be the nominee of the Democratic party. This black man's name was put in nomination by the son of Richard J Daley and he was hailed by the party of Jefferson and Jackson. We all sit in a new world a world were being American includes everyone.
Just let all of this sink in- and don't let those who would diminish it say anything...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Gen X Rising

In a post on the Politico it is argued that Barack Obama is the first GenX presidential candidate. Those of us who fit into that generation do not receive the press of our Baby Boomer parents. We have lived of course within the Baby Boomer Psychodrama for our entire lives. It was our role to be the Children who watched the the 1970's from our cribs and playgrounds. It has been our role to dwell with the shadow of 'their' great history and slide along quietly while watching our younger Millennial brothers and sisters take over the world we are the ultimate sandwich generation born during a terrible war and formed during the narcissism of the Baby Boomers perpetual youth.
This is true in Poetry as well as we well know. The fact that we still hark back to debates and arguments between Language poets and the fact that many of the arbiters of poetic taste are boomers lets those of us who are GenX know where we fit into the culture.
Barack Obama embodies our generation. A child of divorce, abandonment and parental narcissism he rose above all that to become confident and to give back in a quiet way. It was in many ways harder to make a difference in the 1970's and 1980's and Barack did that. But in the end those of us born between 1961 and 1980 have a champion and a candidate.
It is fitting that the two baby boomer presidents- Bush and Clinton spent years arguing about their generations' issues. It is now our time- and we have our candidate.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Why are Democrats Such Wimps?

Why are Democrats such wimps?
Why is is that Democrats cannot hit back hard and make the Republicans feel it?

As we speak the Republicans are tearing Barack Obama apart and the perceptions are being placed in people's minds and the Democrats are not fighting back.

I have to say that as a person who began his political life on the Right but whose opinions have changed over time the one thing that I miss about the Republicans is their taste for the jugular.
Forget about feelings or respect the Republicans care about winning and by any means neccessary- maybe the Democrats should learn this lesson?

It has been at least 40 years since the Democrats have punched back against the Republicans in an effective way. (Lyndon Johnson, JFK, before him Harry Truman and FDR). The Democrats have allowed themselves to be marginalized because they have not fought for legitimate issues. When John McCain attacks Barack Obama's moderate stand on taxes as 'tax and spend' why can't the Democrats punch back hard really addressing the issue that the Republicans and their big business friends have been making war on the Middle Class for the past 40 years and this has to change if we are to survive as a nation?

I find it so refreshing to watch a Michael Moore movie because he at least punches back and says the truth about Trade, Racism, Healthcare, War and Guns. Why is it that the Democrats cannot punch back hard and also take the character issues to them? John McCain is a war hero but he is also a product of the Republican lie machine.

This new book about Obama is being edited by Mary Matalin- James Carville's wife. Why are not Democrats protesting in front of their house in New Orleans? Why is Carville allowed to collect the money from the book's sales (Since he is married to Matalin) and why isnt Matalin expected to respond to the lies she edited? Republicans would do this to a Democratic editor. because the Democrats do not have a taste for blood.

John McCain, has a very mixed record on morality and I think his family's morals are more UnAmerican than anything Michelle or Barack Obama has done or said.
  • He cheated on his first wife while she was in the hospital- divorcing her for his current wife.
  • His current wife Cindy is the daughter of one of the richest men in America but she could not see fit to give any money to her 1/2 sister- who recieved a paltry $10,000 from her father's estate while she recieved millions. Then she proceeded to tell people she is an only child.
  • John McCain has repeatedly voted against benefits for our veterans he is part of the cause of what happened at Walter Reed Army Hospital.

John McCain, has a very mixed record on the economy.

  • He has supported right to work laws which have resulted in the destruction of our industrial wagebase making cities throughout the nation Ghosttowns. Why is this not an issue?
  • He also has supported unsustainable water programs that have caused sprawl development in the Southwest that will in the end need to be bailed out by the Federal Government.
  • He first opposed and now supports the Bush tax cuts why is this not an issue?
  • He favors taxing health benefits that people now recieve at work. Imagine the cost of this program to the average worker?
  • He favors retaining the Bush tax cuts so that we can never pay off the huge debt we have incurred about the Iraq war.
  • He wants to throw all American workers into the private healthcare market- thus taking away healthcare for anyone who is sick or has a pre-existing condition.

John McCain's record on the War is Clear

  • He wants to defeat evil- everywhere which means more wars not less.
  • The surge has been effective- but it is not permanent how do we deal with the fact that Iran is now more powerful because of Mc Cain's positions?
  • He first opposed and then supported Torture.

I think that Barack Obama- my candidate-- needs to spend the week with Keith Olbermann of MSNBC. He needs to hit Obama the way Olbermann hits back and he needs to do it squarely in McCain's jaw- and show people the truth.

If he does this 2008 should be a landslide for change and an end to Wimp Democrats. Oh if it was just possible to hear Karl Rove squeal??

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


This is the worst time of the year to be an American. Knowing what I know- that all Italians are at the beach or in the mountains and that they have 30 days of time off it is a sad time to be American with our frenetic lives.

The truth is that our standard of living in the USA is so twisted by our lack of time. It makes us fatter, more stressed and weaker but at least we have the pennant races...

Friday, August 8, 2008

Why Chinese Oppression Matters

WANG Xiaoning
Sentence: 10 years in prison plus 2 years deprivation of political rights
Internet writer and dissident, arrested on September 1, 2002 and charged with subversion for articles published online between 2000 and 2002. Wang was sentenced to ten years in prison and two years’ deprivation of political rights on July 25, 2003 after Yahoo! supplied his user information to Chinese authorities. He is currently being held in Beijing No. 2 Prison and has reportedly been tortured.

This is the bio from the Pen Site of just one prisoner of honesty in China. As the Olympics begin today I am thinking only about my friend Mr Shen who is in prison for simply praying an unauthorized rosary in China. As we begin the games it is important to realize that in China poets and writers are doing what we are supposed to do- being prophetic.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Italian Poetry "joyous puzzlement"
I am not unbiased about Aufgabe Magazine- as a way of disclaimer I was the guest editor on Aufgabe 6 and I edited the Brazil Section so I am invested in the journal. If this level of intimacy bothers you click out and don't read my comments.
Aufgabe is a magazine that has noble pretensions. Apart from Circumference and Mandorla few magazines in the United States have any interest in the world of poetry or prose outside of our shores- Aufgabe is a breath of fresh global air.
Aufgabe 7 Featuring a section on Emerging Italian writing is the best issue yet produced. I am going to concentrate in this blogpost on the Italian section mostly because I find it so interesting. The section is edited by Jennifer Scappettone, a professor at our own University of Chicago and a fine poet in her own right. While Jen's poetry can be interesting her work here in Aufgabe is really unique and important.
In her opening essay she uses the term "Joyous Puzzlement" but it is clear in her essay that that puzzlement has led to recognition of a poetry that is at best unknown in the United States. Scappettone has created for contemporary experimental Italian poetry a context that perhaps will lead to presses translating these fine works and exposing them to the poetic class in this country and also among the English Speaking peoples. Perhaps one of the things to come out of Scappettone's work will be a renewed dialogue among the poets of the Italian diaspora in the Americas- of which Scappettone and myself are a part- and Italian innovative poets whose work does not get the pages it should in its home country?
Scappettone's editorial choices are really interesting- she has older poets like Andrea Zanzotto who represents a profound localism and the use of dialects and also Amelia Rosselli, who ranks with the greatest poets of the 20th century in any language. Scappettone also includes postmodernists like Gherardo Bortolotti and Marco Giovenale whose work would be winning prizes and plaudits if it were published in the United States for its exciting innovation.
The issue as a whole gives the reader a taste of what is going on in Italy and for those of us who read Italian it is a pleasure to see the beautiful language played out in its original and in its English translation on the page. Most American poets know nothing about Italian or any other global poetics I hope that I can shame them into buying this magazine expanding their minds a bit?
The Poetry section of Aufgabe 7 is reliably interesting.
There are new poems by Sarah Mangold and Jennifer Chapis along with two poems by the late kari edwards which makes one want to morn more for her loss. There is real depth in this section and it is a good introduction what is happening poetically in allot of place. The review section has some interesting stuff include a review of Kenning Editions publication of Hannah Weiner's open house which Patrick Durgin edited. If you don't have this Weiner book then shame on you. There is also an essay by Danish poet Pia Tafdrup on the Medellin poetry conference that is illuminating.
More often than not poets in the USA do not read enough- if you need a book for the beach this summer or to read on the train- Aufgabe 7 gives you the reason to stop watching baseball for a little while and read something filled with joyous puzzlement.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Immediate Empire an Intimate Collaboration

I got an email from Catherine Daly of I.E. Press, my publisher, that the new book that I authored with Waltraud Haas is coming out. This is very exciting but the process of creating this book was interesting and at time very tough in an intimate way.

Most poets are lone wolves. They create alone and they process alone and they work alone. Immediate Empire is a collaboration. Waltraud Haas is my wife and life partner but we have not collaborated before artistically except on book covers so working on this together was an experience because Waltraud is also a solitary in her art so where the nexus occured makes the book all that more intimate and for me as a poet interesting.

I wrote Immediate Empire from 2003-2005 and it is based around some themes. One of those is Leni Reifenstahl and Fascist collaboration. I have always found Fascist/Nazi intellectuals fascinating. Heidegger, Celine, Marinetti, Pound, Nolde and Reifenstahl were artists of the highest order and unlike most of their friends and colleagues they chose to believe in Fascism or Nazism. What possessed these keen intellects to believe these evils? Normally intellectuals who believe in Marxism get a free pass (Which is Unfortunate since Marxism is simply a different form of Totalitarianism and is equally murderous) but those who believed in Fascism become pariahs. I am fascinated however in the parallels to Fascism and Nazism that exist today in our world and how ready we are to believe the big lie.

Immediate Empire in its poetry is about this- but the visual art is something else. Waltraud chose to create a series of paintings called Origens. These are not synthetic works like my poems but organic works. The paintings come from Traudi's sense of art as sucher rather than razorblade. It was quite a challenge to fuse these two things into one and I proud we could do it in many ways it is a homage to our whole relationship over the past 12 years.

Traudi's paintings are really something and we are hoping to find a gallery here in Chicago to be able to bring Immediate Empire alive with poetry and art in one spot.