Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Saule Sidrys (1986-2009)

If memory by definition positions itself across a ravine from that which is no longer present, its cry constitutes not a hollow sound, not a lament, but an echo, a trace of you, eternally recurring. If lacunae form as I invoke your image, this suggests not a sink but a porousness. What remains is a conduit you fill completely, Saule. Your elegance and grace remain. All our words and gestures populate the absence. Love bridges the distance.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New Books




Keith Waldrop, Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy (UC Press, 2009) and Haunt (Instance Press, 2000)

Brian Teare, Sight Map (UC Press, 2009)

Rod Smith, Deed (University of Iowa Press, 2007)

Elizabeth Robinson, The Orphan & Its Relations (Fence, 2008)

Geoffrey G. O'Brien, The Guns and Flags Project (UC Press, 2002)

Barbara Guest, The Collected Poems (Wesleyan, 2008)

Robert Duncan, The Opening of the Field (New Directions, 1960)

René Char, trans. Gustaf Sobin, The Brittle Age and Returning Upland (Counterpath, 2009)

Robin Blaser, The Holy Forest: Collected Poems of Robin Blaser (UC Press, 2006)

Dan Beachy-Quick, Apology for the Book of Creatures (Ahsahta, 2008)

John Ashbery, Notes from the Air: Selected Later Poems (Ecco, 2007)

Italo Calvino, Six Memos for the Next Millennium (Vintage, 1993)

Frank Stanford, Conditions Uncertain & Likely to Pass Away (Lost Roads, 1991)

Graham Foust, A Mouth in California (Flood Editions, 2009)

Brandon Shimoda, The Alps (film forum, 2008)

Eileen Myles, The Importance of Being Iceland: Travel Essays in Art (Semiotext(e), 2009)

The City Visible: Chicago Poetry for the New Century, ed. William Allegrezza and Raymond Bianchi (Cracked Slab Books, 2007)

Conductors of the Pit, ed. and trans. Clayton Eshleman (Soft Skull, 2005)

Robert Fludd, ed. William Huffman (North Atlantic Books, 2001)

Joscelyn Godwin, Harmonies of Heaven and Earth: Mysticism in Music from Antiquity to the Avant-Garde (Inner Traditions, 1995)

Ben Lerner, The Lichtenberg Figures (Copper Canyon, 2004)

C.D. Wright, Rising, Falling, Hovering (Copper Canyon, 2009)


Monday, October 26, 2009

Spring 2010 Course Description

8C:001 Creative Writing Studio Workshop

Steven Toussaint

Sec. 020 M 11:30-1:20 424 NH


“Through the empty arch comes a wind, a mental wind blowing relentlessly over the heads of the dead, in search of new landscapes and unknown accents; a wind that smells of baby’s spittle, crushed grass, and jellyfish veil, announcing the constant baptism of newly created things.”

-Federico García Lorca, “Play and Theory of the Duende”


The arch is the page; the wind is whatever you generate and choose to write on it. In this course, we will follow Lorca’s cue, approaching language not as something reducible to mere explication, but as something with visceral energy, something to be experienced and embodied. Apart from weekly creative writing exercises and assignments, we will also be engaging with a number of selected texts (poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction) that not only announce the “constant baptism of new things” but also test the limits of expectation and press on the boundaries between genres. Furthermore, we will expand our attention to music and film selections that, like our selected texts, seek to physically inhabit us and be inhabited by us. Boldness and enthusiasm are absolutely necessary for a productive and dynamic class.


Required texts (available at Prairie Lights Books):

In Search of Duende, Federico García Lorca, ISBN: 0811213765

Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino, ISBN: 0156453800

Additional readings provided by instructor

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

350 poems

Two good friends of mine, poets Adam Roberts and Eric Linsker, have organized in conjunction with 350.org a really bold and crucial initiative in response to global climate change. Here is Adam's description and a link to the blog: here here here!

For the project, 350 poets in the United States and abroad are being asked to write a 3.5 line poem--in a language of their choosing-- in response to climate change. Why 350? Because that's the agreed-on safe upper limit for carbon parts-per-million in the atmosphere (we're at 390 & rising, close to the point where irreversible climate shifts will take place.) 350.org is mobilizing climate actions across the country for October 24th -- more than 4,000 events (including this one) in over 160 different countries. The idea is that by participating, and forwarding actions like these to close ones around you, we are embedding the number 350 in the popular consciousness -- so that our governmental leaders will be pressured to shoot for it, specifically, as a meaningful and ambitious target.

Please check it out and show your support.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Streetwise (1984)

Fantastic documentary by director Martin Bell following the lives of several homeless children as they navigate the underbelly of Seattle. Stark and at times terrifying, the film's greatest achievement is how honestly it portrays the building of community and of relationships within a truly desolate and perilous landscape. The whole film is available to watch on YouTube. Big thanks to Ally Harris for introducing me to it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Why is nobody talking about this?






While folks at Fox and Friends praise the town hall format as a chance for the real, salt-o-the-earth, American people to voice their opposition to the Obama administration's health care reform plans, they forgot to mention this small, apparently negligible nugget: sick