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Saturday, January 14, 2006

Reading with Jeff VanderMeer at KGB's Fantastic Fiction series

Art work by Scott Eagle, for Jeff VanderMeer's
City of Saints and Madmen: The Book of Ambergris

January 18,
Wednesday, 7 p. m.

KGB Fantastic Fiction series
directed by Ellen Datlow & Gavin J. Grant
Marly Youmans & Jeff Vandermeer

at KGB Bar
85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave)
New York, NY 10003

Jeff Ford has a piece about the double reading on 14theditch, the January 11th post. (Skip the bit about The Wolf Pit, as it's not quite right--a novel for adults! And that gets discussed in the comments, as does more about A. Segur...)


  1. Obviously Jeff is just hoping The Wolf Pit is Adantean. I do wish I could drop in on your reading--but the mountain is walking again to the ocean...The Melusina story posted on the blog you linked to reminded me that I wanted to ask if you'd read AS Byatt's Melusine story (the name of which escapes me this evening, drat--remember the nice green cover, and the terrible fact that the copy I read was lent me by a friend--and was, gasp, a library book. Returned late, with contrite apologies to clear friend's name).

  2. Possession (wasn't that the one?) seems to have dissolved into the primal alphabet soup of my mind. But I should look at it again. I'm a great re-reader.

    I'd still be interested to see your list of favorites... And what contemporary poets do you like?

  3. Possession is Byatt's most well known work (complete with movie-of), which I did like, but then I was a specialist in Victorian lit in a former life (or what seems like a former life), so delved right in. The Melusine story is a short story centering upon aging, and is in a collection of same, and I still, damn it, don't have the name. You are right, though, in Possession one of the poems that the plot revolves around has to do with this legend.
    As to contemporary poets (and poets of the 20th century in general)--I used to kind of snobbishly say I like poems, not poets, and this still is a little true--but there are a lot I enjoy and admire. I have a sense of a poetic geography though--one likes best those who are in one's own space (having nothing to do with real geography)--while one can appreciate those from other regions. I explain it badly. From what I gather of your poetry from Claire, you might best respond to more formal and sound conscious poetry--I tend to be a sucker for image myself, and not adverse to leaps of the mind.
    But let me think, off the top of my head (which has a headache, just finished a long memorial service for a friend and am decompressing in this odd way)--I like a lot of Mary Oliver's work, though she sometimes gets a little too breathless for me (series of metaphysical questions). I like her sense of nature/eternity, and her vividness. When I was just out of college I was bowled over by early WS Merwin. He's gone in all sorts of different directions, but I generally still enjoy following him where he wanders. Not sure he'd be your style, though. I like a lot of the Latin American poets, though my Spanish is just barely adequate. Not contemporary, but 20th century, Ahkmatova (Anna) (I hope I spelled her last name correctly). Wrote in Russian, stunning poetry, starting with very simple lyrical things before the Russian revolution, on to a heartwrenching long poem written when her only son was jailed by Stalin, and a very difficult long poem/play called, I think, something about masks--this last work is hard for me to get through. Imagine, however, years during which she was under scrutiny and could not write down her work--so she'd work on it, in her mind, and when random visitors came she'd recite a bit, which they'd take away in their minds and write down someplace safe--little bits of paper everywhere, gathered and passed around. In Russia they took poetry seriously. (I like poetry in translation, which is surely perverse--lately I've been seeking out poetry from the middle East--usually poetry of exiles, in these times).(the poet Amichai, who I think was born in Germany and wrote in Hebrew in Israel wrote some really amazing things. I don't read Hebrew, and have only been able to find a couple books in translation, but took him to heart). When I am more coherent I'll get you a better list--and that list of favorites, in which your Raven Mocker and Ingledove should reside.
    And no, your 8 year old isn't really too young for you to dedicate an Adantean book to him--but you are safe, since there is no way for me to tell him this. (Hadn't read Fraser, by the way--but you are right about hill people and borderlands.)

  4. Very interesting list. I also went through a period of loving The First Four Books, or whatever that Merwin reprint collection was called. And I have read a good bit of poetry in translation, as well. And had two years of Russian (not enough for anything, really) and fooled around with translating lyrics. Akhmatova I liked very much, though I haven't read her in a long time.

    My most recent poetry book acquisitions include collections by Durs Gr├╝nbein, Charles Causley, Kathleen Raine--before that Montale and Lorca. Maybe that gives some sort of glimpse. Heaney essays on poetry, too.

    For me, the formal stuff came late, after years of the other... And some of the Claire poems were once "free." Those are all "early" but revised. I still write "free" verse but only when I can capture that feeling of shackle-breaking--and that comes, for me, from writing metrical and rhyming poems.

    My next book of poems will be much stranger, more supernatural and a mix of metrical/rhyming and free poems.

    Although one's knowledge of e-people is a bit odd (rather like Old and New World correspondents from another century), I find your sensibility and interests appealing. Hope you're adjusting your mind a bit better to that final estrangement of death.


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.