An elegant piece of constrained writing over at The Virtual World today.


Enter Invisible

Sarabande has officially announced Catherine Wing's book, Enter Invisible. The description may sound excessive, but it's all true. I don't know if I can wait until October.

The City of Dreadful Night

Thinking about things I've read years ago reminded me of James Thomson. This is the 19th century Thomson, not the nice pastoral 18th century James Thomson. I remember coming across a reference to The City of Dreadful Night in an anthology and immediately rushing to the library. I may have read it all in one sitting. I was the first person to check the book out since 1920 something or other. Here's an excerpt to add a little shadow to the July sun:

The City is of Night; perchance of Death
   But certainly of Night; for never there
Can come the lucid morning's fragrant breath
   After the dewy dawning's cold grey air:
The moon and stars may shine with scorn or pity
The sun has never visited that city,
   For it dissolveth in the daylight fair.

Constraint of the Month

The constraint of the month over at Oulipo.net is the villanelle. It's a reminder that Oulipians are formalists, though in a profound and serious way that the current gang of neoformalists just doesn't get.

You can read a Babelfish translation of the page to get the gist of the historical note at the end. And, as the note points out, the best known villanelle in English is Dylan Thomas's "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night."

The first time I was aware of the form was a summer spent reading Joyce (everything except Finnegan's Wake). I remember coming across Stephen Daedulus's villanelle in Portrait of the Artist and being unimpressed. What did impress me at the time was Stephen's astounding mixture of desire, arrogance, uncertainty, and self-loathing—things I could immediately recognize in myself.


Radmila Lazic


I flew the coop.
I hopped away like a squirrel.
When summer came in its sandals,
I put on mine.

I stood on heels as thin as needles
That pierce the heart.
There had been enough deadly wounds.
Enough wars between countries.
I swallowed all kinds of tiny pills.
Black warts grew everywhere on me.

I no longer want to be a rose in someone's lapel,
Someone's life jacket,
A hole in someone's shoe,
Nor the shoe that pinches.

I sharpen a pencil to a point.
I don't need anyone to sit next to me
Waiting for me to throw him a glance
Like a gnawed bone to a hungry dog.
I don't want anyone to snore next to me
Like a choir of saws in a forest
While I drill the ceiling with my eyes all night long.

Like a crust of bread to an infant
I need my hours for myself
To rub the gums where teeth will grow
With which to bite what once bit me.

I won't share my solitude with anyone.
I came to know the bliss of departure.

—from A Wake for the Living, trans. Charles Simic


There's an obituary for pianist Grete Sultan in today's NY Times. (Use bugmenot.com to get past the annoying login.) It's the first time I've heard of her, though I wish I'd heard of her before. Two things about the obit, though.

First, it talks about the range of her musical taste as if loving and recording the Goldberg Variations and being a mentor to John Cage are somehow contradictory. They aren't, and it's just silly to think that they are. Common, but silly.

Second, the obituary ends with "She leaves no immediate survivors." I understand the form of obituary, but my God. To read the obituary is to know that she has a world full of survivors, even if none of them are blood relatives.

Seattle Surrealist Group

See their website. I'm very pleased that we (Floating Bridge Press) are publishing a couple pieces in Pontoon by one of their members, Martin Marriott.