blog

banana tree

Summer 2015: crowding with family // I tend to be a solitary person but I am learning about the lack of solitude because after the crowding my heart becomes a couple beats better at expanding and shrinking at will rather than at whim // Picture notes: Fallen banana tree in the damp yard of my mother’s brother home in her hometown in Sitiawan Malaysia // here my mother’s family tapped rubber, had fruit trees, battled mosquitoes the size of eyes

Advertisements

Books I impulse-bought this past few days:

r. erica doyle’s proxy

Jeannette Winterson’s The Powerbook

Wendy Xu’s You Are Not Dead

Lucas de Lima’s Terraputa

A couple of other chaps and chaplets that have not yet arrived

What is this excitement? I want to write up compulsive loving descriptions of the experiences reading these incoming books–

Eight discourses between Myung Mi Kim and Divya Victor:

http://jacket2.org/interviews/eight-discourses-between-myung-mi-kim-and-divya-victor

====

I have been sitting for a while with this really, really instructive (but not pedantic) dialog between two very wise and cool poets on poetics and hybridity and experimentation and appropriation and intertextuality and performance.

Excerpt:

Divya Victor: What you’ve been saying about the usage of the term “hybridity” goes back to what we were saying about totalizing perception, totalizing a poetics. I like linking this up with what you said about process, and the use of source materials: there is no decision to use, it just couldn’t be helped. As I often say to my students: line breaks aren’t heartbreaks. Similarly, when you immigrate, it can’t be helped. That does not translate into a formal strategy. A strategy is something that can be helped. That’s what a strategy is: something deliberate used to create something else. Basically, my question is coming from a concern about a general trend in criticism that makes life experience (if I dare say that) into metaphors for writing.

Myung Mi Kim: I think this is a profound issue for me. This brings up important satellite questions about naming someone an experimental writer, avantgarde poet, and so on. How is it possible to render one’s actual, lived experience, one’s historical condition? Rather than saying “let’s just make it somehow akin to” … it seems to me that any sort of departure from the given is relegated to the “experiment.”

When I went to Korea, for the first time I realized in a resounding way something that I couldn’t sense in a US context — when someone would ask me “What’s happening in your work” — the quote-unquote “inscrutable,” or “experimental” — I could finally say “It’s not about that.” How can I find a way to indicate the actual experience when that experience doesn’t exist? There are no models, no modes, no form, no linguistic registers that are available. In a sense, you have to rework the entire continuum of language, form, prosody, whatever you’re drawn to as a poet. Saying that in a non-US context and having people say “Oh this is not a methodology, not a strategy, but that this comes out of a particular way in which there is no prior shape, no prior moment, no prior poetry or poetics that you can simply draw from.” You have to literally make it. Hand by hand, finger by finger, foot by foot. You have to make something that allows you, however uncomfortably or comfortably, to work that space — mentally, emotionally, historically, and culturally. Because nothing exists for how you are coming to your own condition.

It’s not, for me, a decision to “experiment.” But it is an “experiment” simply because it does not coalesce or does not hearken to what already exists. If that is what one means by “experiment,” OK then that is what I do. However, I am not necessarily working in the experimental tradition, or building on a genealogy of an experimental convention as it exits. One isn’t always taking adeparture from something that exists, one is making it for the first time.

Victor: I have an image of a guinea pig showing someone that part of its back with a patch of flesh charred and red with chemicals, saying “I am participating in this experiment. This is experimental.” The guinea pig is not in the position to ask the crafted questions or pose the hypothesis that the experiment then proves or disproves. My concern is that there is a distinct institutional privilege enacted in the ability to raise your hand and ask the right questions, to pose the likeable hypothesis that gets the funding. The access to this “ability” is problematic or compromised for some.

I am a terrible hiker but I hiked into this place today all on my own.

It’s a place that used to be a volcano (but I didn’t know until I got back and googled it). I was in a volcano and didn’t even know it!

It was 3 miles roundtrip. I’m improving as a hiker. I borrowed one of those camelback things that has a tube you can suck on as you walk, so I was just sucking on water throughout the hike, sucking like I was an infant. (I had to pee three times on this short hike). I’m improving as a hiker. Maybe someday I can do it alongside other people. The southwest is a beautiful place. I’m not just a terrible hiker, I am also a cliche-generator: I am only loving this place now that I am leaving it.

After the hike I lay in bed for hours, wrote a poem called HOW STRANGE A BORROWED POET ON BORROWED LAND.

redmountain

“We gave birth to so many babies that our uterus slipped out and we had to wear a special girdle to keep it inside. We almost gave birth but the baby was turned sideways and all that came out was an arm. We almost gave birth but the baby’s head was too big and after three days of pushing we looked up at our husband and said, “Please forgive me,” and died.”

(The body as foreign / grotesque, the body as impending death.)

Last night’s dream:

A lost child. About 7, 8 years old. Girl child. Expression of a face that had been wiped. Back erect, expectant. I was in charge of watching her, charged by whom, I don’t know. Her face got muter and muter and finally she hid herself in some corner I couldn’t reach.

Time passes just as well whether or not I document it.

I used to approach journalling as a means of getting rid of thoughts in my head, the adage of “getting the crap down on the page” so that it’s not clogging up the “real stuff.”

But really though, sometimes documenting just feels like creating. It’s not that you are writing what’s already there, instead, when you write you are creating something out of nowhere.

Which means, if I’m getting too much junk down on the page, haphazard, bonafide, junk, then, instead of clearing my head, what I end up doing is causing chaos, making messes.

Better not document. Or, better yet, better document differently.

I met with a friend today and we tried to talk poetry, somatics, creating with/in the body, all of which ended up giving us headaches.

Didn’t take too long to ditch that, shut up, do 5-minute speed sketches of each other, instead. Quietly, quietly.

IMG_20150323_195713

What I drew of her

IMG_20150323_195640

What she drew of me

I made soup today to make the house smell familiar again. Familiar like unadulterated by worry.

I was gone for two weeks (race and creative writing conference in Montana, then a roadtrip all the way to Louisiana and back) and came back to a house besieged under a thin film of abandonment.

Yes, musty, but, also, I think I’m about to kick up a lot of changes with my life, and I have neglected somehow to fully grasp the consequences.

It was this film of neglect that unsettled me into pain, awful, piercing pain the next morning of my return, or was it my uterus, my ovaries, pain with every movement, pain walking, pain sitting, pain sneezing.

So I bought a whole chicken, butchered it into pieces, and made soup, all the while clutching my middle, slightly bowlegged like I’m not actually walking around, I’m not actually real, I’m not actually trying to cook a thing to cure something inside me:

  1. Slice lots and lots of ginger (I used two palm-sized ones)
  2. Lightly fry ginger in some oil for 5-10 mins
  3. Add rice wine (about 1-2 cups) (I used up the last of mom’s homemade one which is red, hence the red-tinged picture) (I need to ask mom how to make red rice wine) (Pretty sure this was from a bottle she fedex-ed me probably 1-2 years ago) (otherwise any chinese cooking wine/rice wine/wine wine would do)
  4. Add in all the meat, fry them around and around for a while (picture below taken at this stage)
  5. Add in hot water to fill up pot
  6. Simmer for 30-40 mins
  7. Season with soy sauce, salt, whatnot
  8. Eat with rice or noodle
  9. House is purified with smell of ginger and chicken fat

IMG_20150322_140303044

How do you say it, ginger red wine chicken soup (or drunken chicken soup) sets me right again like a hug from the inside. Again and again.