donald revell

Day 5/30: How is it not my Friday yet? by Diana Khoi Nguyen

To say I am exhausted would be just that: I'm exhausted. It's not the worst thing in the world, but it's pretty darn uncomfortable! No giggling happens, and people ask me if I'm feeling okay. Those who are informed instead say, "It's a marathon!" I think the advice, "Stay hydrated" always applies, especially this morning.

Was quiet ecstatic yesterday to finish a poem early--before leaving work to go for Turkish meze with JB and his grandfather. I've never finished a poem before 12:00am! And somehow, I also accidentally drafted notes/skeleton for today's poem--as in: I started to write one poem, then stopped and wrote the poem that ended up being yesterday's poem. So today I get to finish what I started.

Tonight is PSA's 103rd annual award ceremony with a likely awesome lecture from Robert Bly! I wish I could come dressed as a dragon, or just a cloud of smoke. Because I was a finalist for the Medwick award this year, I get to attend the champagne reception and JB is my +1! And he'll be wearing new clothes (sportsjacket, shirt, lovely pants, socks, tie). I hope I can be presentable beside him!

Notes for yesterday's poem:

  • - Inspired by a story/line from a story: "The Smallest Woman in the World" by Clarice Lispector (translated by Elizabeth Bishop).

  • - Realized I didn't know what orphanages really looked like, so I did some Googling. Resulted in my discovery of Janusz Korczak.

  • - Sat with: Donald Revell's A Thief of Strings again--somehow found a poem in it that oddly resembled more LBB than Revell.

Here is where I whine that I can't believe it's only day 5--and I have 25 more poems/days to go. How do people do this! I am glad to be doing this. I'm exhausted and my Friday isn't until Saturday. But there is no Friday in the 30/30 game.

Day 3/30: Fieldnotes by Diana Khoi Nguyen

I am only starting to make notes for today's poem and already I feel the richness of last month's reading brim beneath my eyelids. I feel like I've flexed a lot of muscles already and I've only written two poems. I can't even begin to imagine what I'll feel like come day 22, or gosh--day 31, which is not a day in the month of April.

JB had a great thought last night as we sat across from one another after Indian takeout--furiously "in the zone" working on our poems--we self-imposed a midnight deadline, which seems fair to us--but it looks like the other 30/30 marathoners are submitting that day's poems much earlier in the day. So in my brain and my legs, I feel like I'm behind, but I am really not--we're just at the cusp.

Oh! JB's idea was to document each day's poem's notes via blog. A marvelous idea that I'll start here, today.

For 2/30 poem, here's what I've got:

  • - The lore loosely taken from an African myth called: "WHY ONE NEVER TELLS A WOMAN THE TRUTH" (I'm not even joking). In it, a hunter spies an antelope taking off its skin and transforming into a girl who sells gumbo at the market. Before she heads to the market, she hides her hide in the dirt and the hunter takes it, waiting until night for her to return. At which time he demands a reward in exchange for (1) his keeping her secret and (2) his returning her skin. It's lame--she promises to be his wife (he already has another wife), and he takes her home. The two wives quarrel (rather, the first wife is mean to the shapeshifter wife, and boring domestic things ensue and eventually the story earns its inappropriate title.

  • - We all know (or now you do) about my obsession with selkies.

  • - Books I sat with on this one: all Revell, all the time: The Bitter Withy, A Thief of Strings, and Tantivity.

  • - I don't feel that the poem's current title, "You Must Not Quarrel with an Animal" is the right one, nor do I feel the ending is right--but I did complete a draft, and I don't have time to fret over this poem because I'm deep into today's day 3 poem already! Alas!


Week 2, Day 5 (later in the day): Through the looking-glass: Me + Donald Revell by Diana Khoi Nguyen

As you might have seen from my reading list for this week, I'm going to power through a lot of Donald Revell! Am nearly finished with A Thief of Strings, and it's blowing my clogs off!

And I had to share:


Once, when I was in kindergarten, we had to fill out this little questionnaire that would accompany some kid-art we made. This was probably for open house or something. Anyway, when I got to the field for "eye-color," I turned to the nearest stay-at-home-mom-classroom-volunteer in panic.

"What color are your eyes, Diana?"

"I don't know!" The mom hands me a mirror and told me to look around my pupil. I feel triumphant in my seeing.

"Well, what color are they?"

I reply, "Black!" The mom laughs and tells me to look again. And I'm confused as to why she's laughing because all I see are black inky pools staring back at me from the surface of the mirror.


"The Wisdoms"

It was now late; Goethe gave me his dear hand, and I departed.

 --Johann Peter Eckermann

What happened? I was one

Gladly suffered the believing I am I.

A cut tree weeps a stream of ants from its wounds.

Not too feet away, sage and verbena thrive

In a cascade of blue differences

Over the lizards and dirt.

La di da. To matter to me,

Time was, a man or woman had to love me.

That was America.

That was a chief concern.

What happened is my eyes have no color.

I love the way a flower steps away

From a dead tree.

Broken glass is alive, too

In the colors. In them, I was a republic.


Meanwhile, the last time I visited JB's parents' house, I found this picture. Even as an adult, I don't truly know what hazel as an eye color really is. And I've looked into JB's eyes many times. Thanks, Wikipedia!


Week 1, Day 7: The end of the first limb (leg, leg, arm, arm) by Diana Khoi Nguyen

Did manage to finish Jorie's Hybrids of Plants and of Ghosts, but it was a slow process that reminded me of trying to study for biology or chemistry. This isn't to say that I didn't enjoy this book, but that I couldn't just breeze through it in one sitting (or at a 11pm bedtime lying down position which is how I started the book last night).

And honestly, only made it through 1/3 of rereading Tawada's Where Europe Begins because (1) my brain is tired from all the forced reading (but pleasurable forced reading) and (2) I'm taking extensive poem notes, which slows down the whole process by mucho minutes. And I already have to tack on the African Myths book for next week.

Aaaaand I take the bus to Boston for AWP tonight. That is, if this snow/rain/wind thing doesn't delay/harm the roads. The idea of socializing is crippling me right now, but I think it would = poor mental health if I back out of going so last minute. I can force myself to interact with humans if I can force myself to read human letters.

Here's the roundup for March 8-14:

  • Cynthia Cruz's The Glimmering Room
  • Donald Revell's Tantivy
  • Donald Revell's The Bitter Withy
  • Donald Revell's A Thief of Strings
  • one book I will buy at AWP
  • African Myths and Tales
  • finish taking notes/rereading Yoko Tawada's Where Europe Begins