july 2019 reading

Vernon Lee, Psychology of an Art Writer

Dora Malech, Stet

Devin Johnston, Mosses and Lichens

Paul Schimmel, Message to Our Folks: The Art Ensemble of Chicago

Herman Rappaport, The Theory Mess

Prismatic Publics: Innovative Canadian Women’s Poetry and Poetics, ed. Kate Eichhorn and Heather Milne

Toby Green, A Handful of Shells: West Africa from the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution

Louis Chude-Sokei,The Last “Darky”: Bert Williams, Black-on-Black Minstrelsy, and the African Diaspora

Frederic Tuten, The Adventures of Mao on the Long March

Thomas Bernhardt, The Voice Imitator [read months ago, forgot to list it]

Theodor Adorno, Dream Notes

Robert Bailey, Art & Language International

Vincent Katz, Swimming Home

Anne Boyer, The Undying

Stephanie Young, Pet Sounds

jul 31

Up 7. Watched another 30 min. of The Great Ziegfeld - it’s 3 hrs. Chatted w/ dad. Tidied bedroom. Left to L.A. about 9:40. 1st trip out of the I.E. since I’ve been here, always forget how unpleasant the freeway traffic is when I’m away for a few months. Made it to Ameoba by 11, shopped for an hr., several classical CDs in the $3-5 range to satisfy my curiosity about Ignacio Cervantes and John Alden, Carpenter, some used jazz, 2 volumes of the year-by-year R&B sets I’m trying to complete, and a couple of indulgences - a pre-ICP Mengelberg I hadn’t seen before, and a vinyl comp of gospel that influenced rock and roll (a lot of which I may already have or have heard). Also bought a self-contained turntable, one of those Crosleys, to use here - justified/budgeted it as a “home” expense. Met Evan Kindley for lunch in Los Feliz, spent a couple hrs. catching up and chatting about various academic and literary subjects, walked from 101 Cafe to Counterpoint Books on Franklin, near where I used to live. Picked up a couple more jazz CDs and an early bossa nova comp. Dropped Evan off to pick up his daughter, drove home w/ a stop in downtown West Covina (yes, another bookstore). The coffee place in that vicinity closed - tho, I hadn’t cared for it since it changed hands into more of a boba situation. Had also thought to buy some sausage for dinner on Friday at the nearby Claro’s, but had forgotten that the entire chain is closed on Weds. Listened, over the course of the day’s driving, to disc 4 of Motown 1967 (probably twice through, and repeated plays of Chris Clark’s version of Smokey’s “From Head to Toe”), Lloyd Cole’s synthetic new Guesswork, and most of a Guus Janssen/Han Bennink duo. Home by 6. Dinner, got some office/paperwork together just after for an errand tomorrow. Watched Jeopardy!, and most of a Law & Order, made myself go out from 9-11 to edit. No time to read seriously today - didn’t quite finish the unfortunately dull Gorney book. Read front matter and 1 short poem by Alfred Starr Hamilton from the Song Cave book I’d found in Claremont the other day. Lights out 12:30.

Last day I’ll be posting this for the foreseeable future; will continue to post monthly reading lists, and think about how otherwise to use this space.

jul 30

Up at 7. Missed an appointment, rescheduled. Read 20 p. of Gorney - it’s informative enough for my purposes, but barely a piece of writing. Out at 9, dealt w/ some open tabs over coffee, got to KSPC by 10. Had a good show, w/ Ethan Stoller as guest for 2nd hr. https://spinitron.com/KSPC/pl/9192749/The-Manila-Folder. Had lunch w/ Ethan in Claremont, stopped by Rhino, bought the new Lloyd Cole and two used Penguin Cafe Orch. CDs. Went to Last Name Brewery to have 1 stout; slow in the afternoon, and they have wi-fi. Meredith from the old Nick’s crowd works in the front office there, said hi. Wrote to David Nagler, Steve & Cheryl (the horn players), and Mitch Easter - had been putting those off. Stopped at a meh thrift store nearby, found a cd of McKuen sings Brel. Home near 5, dinner at 7 - seemed interminable. Watched the first 1/2 hr of The Great Ziegfeld in between, and read up to halfway mark of Gorney. Jeopardy! w/ Dad after dinner, went in his office and did a little more paperwork, and finally did do some revision on the TPA chapter just so I could make a red mark on my work calendar. I haven’t managed to cut down these sections by more than a few 100 words. Lights out 12:30.

jul 29

Up 7. Finished the Williams and Young books. Went to Rancho Cucamonga on an errand around 9:30, listened to Motown disc 3 (horns on an Isley Bros. song are a good reference point for “Faith and Credit”), stopped at Ontario Public Library to revise for an hr., bought a few $1 classical CDs, 2 SF paperbacks, and a Bennett Cerf collection for Bree. Home at 1, turned around to take my dad to an uneventful eye appointment. Home at 3, called Bree, watched a two-part L&O, played a little piano. Finished Boyer. Not sure what to say, it’s ambitious in a couple of senses, and virtually criticism-proof. Read the first few pages of Jay Gorney’s biography, by his widow. Made a tax appt. for my dad for next week - I probably have to drop off some documents Thursday. Dinner, out to Starbuck’s at 8, revised for another couple of hrs. Home before 11, had decided yesterday to give up on the daily poetry notebook but changed my mind and wrote 2 entries. Caught up on episodes of Unaffected.

jul 28

Had to get up at 6, so that one caregiver could leave and to let another in at 7. (I don’t know who’s reading this or cares, but if you wonder: if you are in the house, why does your father have a 24 hr. caregiver - even this hour gap between shifts was rare. Well, first, ask him. Second, I’m here for a few weeks at a time, the routine is very…routine, and the ladies of the agency would obviously rather work steadily than piecemeal. It would be too disruptive to cut their hours, and possibly lose the most reliable entirely, when I’m around. Last, I’m not going to help him bathe [though I did a good deal of physically intimate work when he was very ill on 2017.]) Skimmed most of a book on “writing in flow,” w/ a lot of excerpts from author interviews, mainly poets and novelists. I don’t think the terms are that useful to me, and it’s notably that no one in the relevant chapters on blocks, resistance, fear + anxiety and the like say much about guilt over the selfishness of a writing life, and none gives that a political (class privilege) spin. Everyone thinks they deserve or have earned all the time they need.


Took a ride to Claremont Farmer’s Market around 10. Eggs, tomatoes, almonds, berries, and 2 books at the stall that the prison library charity sets up - a little pb of Auden’s The Enchanted Flood, and Showalter’s anthology of feminist criticism. Came home, read 10 p. on Williams and 75 of Boyer. Took my dad to lunch at 12:30. Fine, back about 2. Turned around and went to the office - though by way of downtown Upland, where I bought a Jackie Wilson LP w/ versions of “Light My Fire” and “This Bitter Earth” at a generally not-great record shop b/c (not Penny Lane, saving that for later in the trip), and a new coffee place called Lucky’s that I think is trying to be classier than Rad, and finally the actual Prison Library bookstore, where I picked up Gerald Posner’s Motown book and some poetry (Garrett Caples, Alfred Starr Hamilton, the rest are in the car). Worked 3-6 trying, w/o much luck, to cut down and reorganize TPA material. Listened to disc 2 of the 1967 Motown set on today’s drives — best lesser-known song on this one is Barbara McNair’s Smokey-penned “Here I Am Baby.” Back at 7, dinner. Didn’t go out. Read 20 p. on Williams, and a good bit of Stephanie Young’s Pet Sounds. Opening poems is powerful, and I’m entertained by the digs at Greil Marcus re Van Morrison’s relationship to black culture, some of the other personal/political material isn’t my cuppa. The overall worldview is akin to Boyer’s (as I already knew). Probably fell asleep around 11.