New Creative Writing Course Starts Sunday

Hello, Dubai Writers,
I’m inviting all to join a new Creative Writing Studio Workshop at DUCTAC.
Courses start this Sunday 5 June—with a morning and afternoon option.

Please invite friends, and forward to anyone you think would be interested.
All writers, all levels welcome.
Would love to see you there!
Contact DUCTAC to register (they use the word ‘waiting list’ on their website but they mean ‘to register’)

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Shortcuts

I have a few windows open in my web browser, and a ton of tabs in each window because I’m working on a few different projects and this is how I’m attempting to keep the projects, thoughts, process separate—a way to organize, and possibly focus. (Did I include enough qualifiers?)

To navigate between the windows, I was going to the Window tab at the top of the screen, and selecting the window I wanted. But then, when trying to switch between apps—from Firefox to Excel—I accidentally hit the wrong keys (or more accurately, hit them at the wrong time), and found myself switching between browser windows.

!

Shortcuts make me happy.

Keyboard Shortcuts

to switch between open apps / programs:

  • cmd ⌘ + Tab
  • click the Tab key to move forward through your apps
  • after you’ve clicked cmd ⌘ + Tab, can see your app icons and have moved forward at least once in your list, you can also move backward by clicking
    cmd ⌘ + ~

 

to switch between multiple windows in Firefox:

  • cmd ⌘ + ~

See how the accident happened? See how happy I am?

keyboard_shortcut.jpg

(The tilda / backtick / grave accent key is usually found under the esc key, but mine’s next to my Z; I have a French UAE keyboard. Took some time to get used to, but all’s good now.)

 

 

why haven’t you been posting?

I’ve been in mourning over the death of my Honeymoon Phase. How melodramatic-poet is that statement? Here’s another:

Everything Is Death, Dying, Dead

dead fish head

  • The fish carcases by the canal (future post)
  • Our friend’s beautiful cat, Princess Baby Lamb, who finally had to be put down after fighting cancer for so long
  • Our friend’s father taken off life support—and those complications
  • We’re decomposing as we go.” –Tom Waits
  • The California fires
  • The crushed bird by the shop entrance—look over there, said Alfredo, pointing in the opposite direction
  • Censorship is death
  • Some say language is dying. Some say movies killed the novel.
  • The flat road-kill tuxedo cat on the sidewalk corner because he didn’t make it across the street—oh, the wild cats here (future post)
  • The tiny desert mouse in the beak of a massive black raven that flew over my head—please don’t drop that
  • The suicides off the balconies at Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT)
  • The many recent posts on IG by long-time followees who have lost their pets
  • Thoughts of the death of my first cat
  • Thoughts of the inevitable
  • Thoughts of the death of my co-worker
  • Thoughts of things that can never be—how they end before they begin
  • The beginning of the end of weather on this side of pleasant
  • Yes, this list has a lot of dead animals. Dead animals make me very, very sad.

This is from a moment in The Plunge, a valley on the map of culture shock.

What is culture shock?

more poetry?

Only 2 (give or take, depending on your time zone) more days of National Poetry Month, so—yes—let’s get some last-minute celebrating in! Kristin Hatch’s new book, the meatgirl whatever, just came out—Winner of the National Poetry Series—congrats, khatch!!!! I placed my order with Amazon on April 17. It’ll take more than a month for it to clear customs and get to me—can’t wait!

Tell me, what’s your favorite book of poems or single poem of all time?

What is your relationship with poetry?

With all the moving and shifting and such, I’ve gotten a bit behind on my poetry writing & poetry news…I’m sure there are lots of announcements and lots of ways to celebrate, like doing the 30 in 30 project, which I say I’ll do every year and don’t—or, you could visit a poetry landmark in your area. This area is full of them (future post).

I still have to get out and get involved with the poetry & writing community here, been stuck in the apartment this last week waiting for maintenance technicians to come and fix the AC that needed repair, the water heater that burst, the toilet that broke… boring.

The Offending Adam

The first week we were here, when we were still living in the Legacy hotel, I received an acceptance letter from the online journal The Offending Adam (Thank you, Andrew & Ryan!) and was reminded I wrote/write poetry. My 3 poems—more World Book poems, all from the same guide word: Folklore—went live on their site Monday 28 April, if you want: check them out.

I really appreciate Ryan Winet’s intro—hitting all the highlights that drive me: exploration, duality, frustration at information. He focuses on my themes of desire and transgressions:

  • “the transgressions that desire brings”
  • “such searches are ultimately futile: to desire is to already invite calamity”
  • “Hardy’s tome—-itself derived from encyclopedia entries—-identifies the lines where such cataclysms have left layers of irradiated dust”
  • “Wherever we look, we find desire and transgression.”

That last line I keep misreading as “desire in transgression” or “desire as transgression.” Tomato tomahtoe.

Since I have the chance, in this blog, to make a minor correction, I will—though, I’m fine with his interpretation: the first poem is about Lilith, not Eve. Eve is the “one / whose name means beginning. Before her.” Before Eve, meaning, Lilith.

Also, “Fell for one on high, who in turn fell /  from the seventh to the fifth, to farther still—an arc. / An act of choice, of not knowing, this was the devil  / she went with. Meaning night, meaning demon” is a reference to the archangel Samael, not Satan (though, I believe there are some people who believe they are the same—mostly they are different). Samael and Lilith were married–after Lilith left Adam, her first husband “the most fertile of clay. / From this, two figures formed. … / Being of the same, he was no stranger. She preferred someone stronger— .” Samael. “As a good angel, Samael resides in the seventh heaven, although he is declared to be the chief angel of the fifth heaven.” –wiki.

“Wikipedia is heaven
When you don’t want to remember anymore”
–Nick Cave, We Real Cool

Which is of course a nod to Gwendolyn Brooks’ 1959 poem, We Real Cool

More Nods & Notes

If anyone’s interested in this sort of thing, you can find a nod or two to Neko Case’s song Hold On Hold On in this poem.

I listened to this song on repeat, making notes for this poem, while sitting on a hand-woven child-size chair in the low-ceiling loft of the renovated XVII century chapel we rented during our 5th anniversary-celebration vacation to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. More notes were written while spending time at the Larchmont Bungalow—that research led me to la llorona—she wanted to be in this poem, but will have to wait for her own; this one’s Lilith’s.  I’ve written 5 Folklore poems, so she may stand a chance, if I decide to write more. Folklore is a long entry in The World Book.

The second poem in this set, Folklore pg. 2652 Folklore, has references to the Museum of Jurassic Technology’s Tell the Bees exhibit.

The third is influenced by William Carlos Williams’ “essay” that starts In the American Grain.

Oh, WCW. Oh, America.

Desire. Transgression. A high dive. A fall.

Hold on, hold on….and then

men diving dubai mall The Waterfall scupture
sculpture of men diving against an immense waterfall at the Dubai Mall

 

 

to be or not to be?

Happy Birthday, Shakespeare! How kind of you to be born on World Book day, which lands during National Poetry Month.

Ah, books. Printed or e? Paper or plastic? Pros and cons. But books. Are people still reading?

Here’s a passage from The Crack Up by F. Scott Fitzgerald, written March 1936:

“I saw that the novel, which at my maturity was the strongest and supplest medium for conveying thought and emotion from one human being to another, was becoming subordinated to a mechanical and communal art that, whether in the hands of Hollywood merchants or Russian idealists, was capable of reflecting only the tritest thought, the most obvious emotion. It was an art in which words were subordinate to images, where personality was worn down to the inevitable low gear of collaboration. As long past as 1930, I had a hunch that the talkies would make even the best selling novelist as archaic as silent pictures. People still read, if only Professor Canby’s book of the month—curious children nosed at the slime of Mr. Tiffany Thayer in the drugstore libraries—but there was a rankling indignity, that to me had become almost an obsession, in seeing the power of the written word subordinated to another power, a more glittering, a grosser power…”

Makes you just want to end it all, doesn’t it?

To be or not to be? WordPress’s editor is politely pointing out how this was written in the passive voice. True, indeed: that Hamlet was one indecisive and contemplative dude. That is, until he decides to take Arms against a Sea of troubles.

It may be hard to tell in this light, but the end for all is the end for all.

Back to the enterprises of great pitch and moment, those of you who know me will know how happy this makes me: World Book Day!

world book edit

Here’s a sample from my project inspired by the WB Encyclopedia–a touch of Chaucer, a bit of Eliot, a hint of Tom Waits.
Originally published under the title “Vol. B, Pg. 710—from The World Book” in Black Warrior Review.

 

Bed                                      pg. 710                       Bee

Every day in this month of April, it rains.
I can’t get the recipe right, does time
mixed with memory equal desire? How big
is your bed? Different sources say twelve,
some twenty-four, others sixty-eight people

could lie on the Great Bed of Ware.
The English beds in the 1500s were enormous
affairs. While the archbishop was at vespers
a splendid shrine was erected.
For reasons I understand, I have

a hard time saying no to you. Sleep
comes in under the shadow
of this bedstead—-a foundation
of coils, the resting place of savages
—-as in Explorers have found

bees kept by savage tribes in the jungle.
There were wild bees in the New World
when the white man came. Honey
cost 5pfs a quart in ancient Egypt.
What is the conversion rate now? For a bed,

(See: geology) a heap of straw, leaves
or animal skins striped black, white,
serves as well as curled horsehair or cotton—
the soft covering of snow in winter. Cold
air comes through the open window,

the whistle of a far-away train, sweet
liquid, called nectar, calling—-such liquor:
rain and vodka bathes every vein, every center.
What is the function of an atom? More things
should naturally phosphoresce like uranium,

formerly Becquerel’s element, as observed
during overcast days. Without sun,
let’s discover all there is; we’ll stay in bed
until the rain stops. When you say
my name, I say, Call today the Prologue.

waiting

As I waited for property agents to return our calls about apartments, for them to show me apartments, waited for A’s first paycheck, waited for his residence visa, Emirate ID card, wait for the bank account & checks, wait until I can apply for my gov’t papers, wait to spring Ourkittyboys from the cat house, wait for my sandwich, for the Metro, a cab, for A to come home, for that guy to stop smoking…

I find myself singing (in my head, as that’s best for everyone) We’re Impatient Americans to David Bowie’s I’m Afraid of Americans, which could have a resonance here, but doesn’t: everyone is incredibly friendly, kind, willing to help.

Insert your own hypothesis:

  • I’ve been mistaken for German;
  • Dubai is something like 95% expats from many, many nations;
  • we’re all displaced & slightly lost/in need of each others’ help;
  • everyone’s on their best behavior (I added a u to that word–it starts) in a foreign land….
  • insert your thoughts here

I’m alert, sometimes cautious, have a heatlhy imagination, but fear is not something I like to entertain. When I do, I’m usually a fool:

I was walking from the Metro to the cattery the other day, in a remote, industrial section of the city that’s only mechanics/car part shops & distributors (read: only men), and less pedestrian friendly than anywhere else (which is saying something). I was about to cross the street when a white panel van, going in the opposite direction, pulled up next to me. I kept walking. He started driving in reverse, now going in my direction at the same speed as I was walking. I kept walking. He kept driving in reverse next to me. We stayed like this for a long block. I got to a large driveway and crossed. He stopped, waited for me to cross, then turned right, into the driveway that he’d missed the first time by.

So far, it’s safe here.

With all this waiting, rereading this seemed appropriate :

20140331-175151.jpg

 

Soundtrack: David Bowie  I’m Afraid of Americans

Cristian Mihai, (the first blogger I started following on WordPress because his bio could be my bio–except for the part about his hometown & lines: I can mostly draw one, but I also believe lines don’t have to be straight–we definitely share the part about singing), also wrote about fear today. Check it out.