Thank you, Charles Simic; or, My Continued Disorganized Discourse

This morning my email inbox included a letter from Twitter with a list of posts from folks I follow – technically follow, that is, as I usually don’t allow myself to actually follow them, for reasons that will become clear to the reader shortly. Several of these posts turned out to be quite fascinating, and involved me in a series of reading, communicating, and reading more that took up a good hour, an hour I didn’t really feel I had this morning to spend (oh, and don’t look now, I’m spending time writing things too). It was wonderful though, and I couldn’t help thinking that I wished I were paid to do this, because then I would do it all day and maybe half the night, except for the all day in which I was writing poetry and submitting it to journals, and all the day in which I was reading, period. If I were paid to do this, it would be one of those jobs you hear about where the interviewee says “I can’t believe they pay me to do this – I just love it!”

Venus approaches the moon, February 25, 2012

My employment tends to the direction of “I can’t believe they don’t pay me MORE to do this – it’s OK, but it’s a lot of work, not that interesting, and not enough to live on.”

One of the several articles I read this morning is a great piece by Charles Simic in the New York Review of Books, called Poets and Money. When I reached the stage of reading, communicating, reading something else, and then thinking – ‘Oh no, I have a lot to get done! Another hour squandered on wonderful things!’ everything suddenly came together in my mind. Consider the dilemma of someone I know, who, having newly left a quite decently compensated job for the graduate school poetry MFA track, finds school unfortunately academic – although more practical in terms of potential earning power – than the longed-for environment of creative people, and particularly poets, who, as Simic points out, are generally expected to produce poetry for nothing.

This individual could take me for an example to keep going in the pedestrian track (see above re my earning power). Just yesterday, I viewed a very inspiring video about friend & fellow poet Christopher Luna, who recounts a moment when he was enjoined by the poet Antler to “Make poetry your life!” My friend has done this beautifully, and all this sets me this morning to pondering; is it possible, I wonder, to make creativity my life, and manage to pay the bills as well? An open-ended question. In some favorite words of my late father, that remains to be seen.

that gold

that gold in a Gauguin sky
crocus stamen something of a star
glimmer in the blood elemental
passage of large numbers of wild animals
sky at twilight winter-burnt grass
when distance between you & you turns
solid or inhabited again by gold
nothing to tell nothing happens
unless some piercing of horizontal flash
gold-speckled lightning pass
across weathered wood that is
solid gold
string beads on it that
dash against one another thus
incarnadine impact casts flames
profuse wild fabulous
immersed in icewater they form
inviting fissures as in
certain ceramic arts or
crack open in the
palm of the hand

Helmut Salzinger: A Retrospective

Helmut Salzinger, Activist, Critic, Philanthropist, Publisher & Poet (1935-1993)

Salzinger’s critical theory work around the cultural revolution of the 60’s, his philanthropic activities & political activism, and his idiosyncratic voice, played an important role in literary arts in Germany. In his early career as a reviewer & music critic he wrote for the prestigious journal Die Zeit and for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung (The South Germany News). A selection of his articles for the German music journal Sounds written under the pseudonym Jonas Überohr, are collected in the volume Best of Jonas Überohr – Popcritik 1966-1982, published posthumously in 2011 (Philo Fine Arts) and his poetic and literary bibliography remains compelling and impressive.

In the early 80’s, after his stint as a reviewer at Die Zeit was terminated, he moved to a farmhouse in the moorland village of Odisheim on the North Sea. He named his home Head Farm, & after giving up on his initial idea of a commune there, lived more privately, exploring the surrounding natural environment, writing, and carrying on philanthropic activities to support the arts, and students, artists & writers.  He established the publishing house Headfarm Odisheim, and Head Farm became a gathering point for writers and thinkers. As well as books, Headfarm Odisheim published the literary magazine FALK, which appeared monthly for three years, 1986-1989, and was produced at Head Farm. A lifelong sufferer from diabetes, he died at his home in 1993.

Salzinger’s life is celebrated in the German Humus – Hommage á Helmut Salzinger (1996, Modick, Salzinger, Keller). However his work, largely not translated into English, has received little attention in the English-speaking world. With this documentary project Curmudgeonly Press hopes to bring more of Salzinger’s life and work to the English-speaking world.

The Retrospective will include three main components; a broadside and photo exhibit to take place at the Innisfree Poetry Bookstore & Cafe in Boulder, an opening event with live readings from Salzinger’s work, and an online interactive documentary. Additional readings and discussions will be held as well, time & place TBA.

Exhibit Opening
September 20, 2012
Innisfree Poetry Bookstore & Cafe

1203 13th Street Suite A
Boulder, CO 80302  Map

A selection of newly translated poems and excerpts from Salzinger’s essays, presented in broadside format, with photographs of Salzinger, his home and the eco-region that inspired much of his poetic work, friends, and colleagues, highlight images and writing representative of his work.

The exhibit opens with a reading of Salzinger’s poetry by exhibit author and translator Clara Burns.

Interactive Media Archive
The online component, built using Zeega (, an html5 platform for authoring interactive documentary work, will incorporate exhibition materials as well as recordings and photographs from the reading, experimenting in a new medium for documentary expression that will expand the reach and influence of the project.