lucie brock-broido

Day 23/30: What whittles down by Diana Khoi Nguyen

Unfortunate enough to catch a cold with this resurgence of chilly weather. Being sick means fog in the brain, and poems worse than usual. Am not despairing.


"Buzkashi (iii)"

  • - Can't recall anymore through the thicket of my skull if I borrowed/adapted this form from somewhere else. I only remember trying to find a median between the first and second buzkashi poems.

  • - And also, some lines from the latest Hannibal episode.

"Getting the Hero to Speak"

  • - Idea from a poem in Monica Youn's first book, Barter--in the notes section, she mentions one aspect of Greek hero workship in which supplicants pour blood down a funnel through the grave of a hero in order to get the hero to speak. Subsequently Googled all I could find about Greek hero cults. So awesome.

  • - JB assigned me some James Tate reading from his Selected--and loosely took the scaffold of the poem "Loyalty."

  • - Realized that I can't really be funny in a poem.

"From the Conch"

  • - Poem I sadly eked out while sick in bed yesterday. Totally embarrassed, but this might be the closest to funny I can get.

  • - Scaffold of poem from James Tate's "Annual Report."

  • - Totally a coincidence that JB's poem for this day also used more than one parentheticals. Funny because we were in separate states while composing our poems.

  • - The line "Last week the mermaid died of breast cancer" borrowed of course from Yoko Tawada's Where Europe Begins. She's my myth-genius.

Over & out--

Day 20/30: Remarkable, as if it were not the work of my hands by Diana Khoi Nguyen

How could it be? Yes, total disbelief that I've written all these poems so far. Twenty! That's more than a carton of eggs. Which means . . .


As JB would say, "Calm yourself."

The sun broke through today and I'm feeling more lively than I have all week. Though it is sincerely possible that I might be coming down with a cold--JB was ill last night and still he turned in his poem. 10 more days. 10.

This time last week I had $0.00 Tupelo donations for this 30/30 endeavor, but part of that was because I wanted to wait until I had at least a week's worth of poems before reaching out. Then came 7 poems and no time to reach out--or my balky perceived lack of time. I just learned the word balky and already I'm using it incorrectly.

I finally took precious time on Tuesday to write personal letters to close friends/mentors. And I was so deeply moved by the response that came back. As of yesterday, I'm at $415! My goal is $600, but I think I can get there--the support and generosity of those in my life somehow surprised me--and certainly, it stirred so many feelings and poem feelings--and yet I was so tired in this second leg of the marathon.

But not today! It's a sunny day before my weekend (which are Sundays/Mondays), and I wrote another buzkashi poem. It could be crap, but I feel great.

And the notes . . .

"There are No Stables in the Jungle"

  • - It's true, it's too dense for stables. I mean, for them to occur naturally.

  • - This title is actually something I said randomly to my co-worker Alex a couple of weeks ago. Or was it days? I think it was because I was burnt out after writing "Buzkashi ii" and didn't feel I had anything left to say about horses. Or that my horses didn't have anything left to say.

  • - This is my Mowgli poem.

  • - Also appearing in this poem is JB's explanation of why Radiohead is awesome.

  • - Sat with LBB, Mark Levine, and you know, the law of the jungle.


"The Mailman"

  • - It seriously feels like I wrote this yesterday, instead of a couple of days ago. I have no concept of time anymore.

  • - I asked JB for an assignment and he told me to read Mark Strand's poem, "The Mailman" then write a poem from the POV of the mailman.

  • - JB's been helping me with paring down my drafts. Of course he's the keenest editor I know, but it also means I'm getting floppy.

"Self-Portrait as Justin Boening"

  • - I couldn't resist. No idea what came over me during this poem, but I believe in it.

  • - Borrowed LBB's form from her poem "Self-Portrait as Kaspar Hauser"--and also, Joanna Klink, Ben Lerner . . .
  • Sat with Plath's Ariel and Timothy Donnelly's recent essay on Harriet titled, "Quasi-unintelligibilty (Part 3)"--he writes quite possibly my favorite prose about poetry. And thinking. And being human.

Day 12/30: A slowing down by Diana Khoi Nguyen

Definitely feel a lot of resistance in both my body and my brain today--struggling to even post notes/updates here! I think the grey rain outside isn't helping much.

"Remember Which is the More Dangerous Instrument"

  • - Was lucky to have recorded Lucie Brock-Broido'a AWP reading from the front row--and even luckier to have read her poem in the back row at Jorie Graham's reading the previous night, "You Have Harnessed Yourself Ridiculously to this World." After writing a poem like the second buzkashi one--I needed something to ground myself--and LBB is always so infectious.

  • - I spend a lot of time thinking about Harry Harlow and his rhesus monkeys. This TAL episode always conjures the well.

"Nocturne in Autobiography of Daughter"

  • - Watched the season premiere of Mad Men twice this week--and then played Chopin's Nocturne in E flat major on loop all day yesterday.

  • - Was sitting with Julie Carr and what LBB refers to as "a girl ago"

  • - Also found this list of youngest birth mothers under 11.

I earnestly hope I can make it through to Monday--at which point is the halfway mark! I need a resurgence of energy and FEELINGS. Or a nap.

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.

Week 3, Day 5: "Everyone knows an unworshipped woman will betray you." by Diana Khoi Nguyen

Update for this week:

  • Mark Strand's Man and Camel [done!]
  • Karen Volkman's Spar [done!]
  • Monica Youn's Barter [done!]

Rereads: (counts as 0.5 each):

  • Sarah Gridley's Weather Eye Open
  • Lucie Brock-Broido's A HungerThe Master Letters, and Trouble in Mind

Beginning the great LBB rereading (in chronological order) today, and I'm savoring each moment--like when you get a cone vs. cup at the ice cream/gelato shop.

A bit of pressure in figuring out what the last 5 books should be--seems so final! And JB got me this amazing book on unicorns when we went to the Cloisters on Sunday. I didn't know I'd be such a fan of unicorns--or more accurately, a fan of captured/wounded/bleeding unicorns.

Week 3, Day 1: Potential for strength, but weak knees: a colt out of the cave by Diana Khoi Nguyen

Here's the roundup for March 15-21:

  • Mark Strand's Man and Camel
  • Karen Volkman's Spar
  • Monica Youn's Barter

Rereads: (counts as 0.5 each):

  • Sarah Gridley's Weather Eye Open
  • Lucie Brock-Broido's A HungerThe Master Letters, and Trouble in Mind

I think you should envy the dreams I'll have when I sleep this week.