Friday, July 29, 2011

Of Wyrms and Women pt. 12

[part 1] [part 2] [part 3][part 4][part 5][part 6][part 7][part 8][part 9][part 10][part 11]

Tia’s at the wheel, and I’m stretched out in the backseat. Tia picked me up after work. It’s nine o’clock now, and I want to sleep. I don’t mind much; it’s a nice feeling back here. The motion of the car makes me feel like I’m floating, until a bump jars me. Tia has informed me that we will stop once for “gas and a piss” and we’ll eat when we get there. She wants a smoked meat sandwich. I asked her what kind of meat, and she just looked at me.

My nerves have calmed considerably, since I rashly told Tia I would come on this trip two weeks ago. Once she found out when Phil could watch the Lair, Tia told me to arrange a day of absence from work. I didn’t want to; I hate talking to my boss. But I have a bunch of unused sick days, and Tia insisted I take one. “We have to leave Friday, so that we have a full day Saturday.” She was a bit exasperated with me. I left a message my boss’s phone, and then he left one on mine. To my surprise, he had no problem with me taking a day off. Sick days are one of the beautiful things about union regulations.

I drift off to sleep. Tia wakes me up when she stops for gas, so I get out of the car and stretch. I find the bathroom. There’s toilet paper strewn about, and there are more crumpled paper towels beside the trash than in it. There are wet spots on the floor around the toilet, and I place my feet between them, crouching with my right foot turned inwards and the left beside the toilet. It’s usable, at any rate. Then I buy a root beer, and go back to the car. I take a sip of the cold, sugary drink to ease my dry mouth.

“All set?” Tia asks.

“Sure.” I feel like a little kid, in the back seat with my soda. Are we there yet?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Late Night Reading

Last night i finished Kathy Acker's Blood and Guts in High School. A strange choice for bedtime reading? i had very weird dreams, that's for sure.

Sex, violence and language learning. Incest, slavery and poetry.

It's what i was trying to write in high school, but couldn't. It's what i wish i were writing now but retreat from.

i made a mistake reading the back cover, which states that Kathy Acker's work "has been labeled everything from post-punk porn to post-punk feminism." It made me expect a gross-out book, and with the reference to slavery maybe even torture porn. But it wasn't that at all. It was raw & angry & whimsical & complex & direct & multilingual & literary & not porn at all. i should have known. Some people call anything with pictures of dicks pornographic. Not to say that there wasn't a lot of rape in the book, there was. Of course it was about rape & consent & fucked up families & relationships.

What surprised me was how much of the rhetoric about bodies and autonomy and language i see repeated on feminist blogs today and it is still a new argument. It is still a new argument because people are still shocked & reactionary.

The punk i grew up with is 80s/90s punk. i wanted to compare B&GiHS to Jello Biafra (full of rage, but smart enough to sense futility in the face of political systems and power hierarchies). But of course, Acker published this book the year Biafra's band, The Dead Kennedys, formed. i also think of this song:

Bikini Kill "Suck My Left One"

Kathleen Hanna, Bikini Kill's singer-songwriter, lists Acker as an influence. So really i've been absorbing second-hand Acker since i was in high school.

And really Blood and Guts in High School is both the most and the least about high school of any book i can think of.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Of Wyrms and Women pt. 11

[part 1] [part 2] [part 3][part 4][part 5][part 6][part 7][part 8][part 9][part 10]

1. Njörðr - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"Njord" redirects here. For the Leaves' Eyes album, see Njord (album). ... Njörðr is sometimes modernly anglicized as Njord, Njoerd, or Njorth. ...
Etymology, toponyms, and eponyms - Attestations - Theoriesörðr - Cached - Similar
2. Njord (album) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Njord is the third studio album by the German/Norwegian symphonic metal band Leaves' Eyes. It was released on August 28, 2009 on Napalm Records. ... - Cached - Similar
3. Njord
27 Dec 1998 ... His children are Freya and Freyr, whom he fathered on his own sister. Originally, Njord was one of the Vanir but when t... › ... › MythologyEuropeNorse mythology - Cached - Similar
4. Vikings & their Gods - Njord
Njord is a one of the Vanir gods. His first marriage was with his sister Nerthus with whom he had two children, Frey and Freya. ... - Cached - Similar
5. Njord (Norse mythology) -- Britannica Online Encyclopedia
Britannica online encyclopedia article on Njord (Norse mythology), in Norse mythology, the god of the wind and of the sea and its riches. Start praying for a safe trip. - Cached - Similar
6. Njord | The Norse Gods
Njord is the God of the wind and fertility as well as the sea and merchants at sea and therefore was invoked before setting out to sea on hunting and ... - Cached - Similar
7. Njord - Paddle kayak in the Fjords of Norway
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Kajakkurs og guida turar mellom holmar og skjær, klatrekurs i klipper og fjell ved havet og fjellturar i vakre Vest Noreg. - Cached - Similar
8. is here!
Welcome to, the Official Website of Jess Scott and Steve Wollkind (or should that be Mr. and Mrs. Steve Wollkind? more likely Mrs. and Mr. Tia ... - Cached - Similar
9. LEAVES' EYES (official) on MySpace Music - Free Streaming MP3s ...
On “Njord”, Leaves' Eyes finally opens a new chapter in Nordic mythology. .... The music of “Njord” is enriched by the power of a choir and the virtuosity ... - 5 hours ago - Cached - Similar
10. Njord: Leaves Eyes: Music
With their latest masterpiece "Njord", Leaves' Eyes embarks on yet another enthralling journey through the myths and sagas of the North. Listen to this while writing, Sam. › MusicHard Rock & Metal - Cached - Similar

Monday, July 11, 2011

Jake Kennedy,

today was going to be the day i finally sat down and wrote a serious and thoughtful review of Apollinaire's Speech to the War Medic. That was the plan. Except i may have misplaced your book somewhere in the piles of books and comics and thesis papers sitting around my apartment (i would post a picture, but it's too terrible).

So i'm going to be the asshole who writes about your book without it sitting in front of me.

But i read it through twice, almost, so don't worry! And when (if) i find my copy again, i can write about it again!

But Claire, why don't you just wait to write about this book so you can write a proper review? Because i am supposed to be working on my thesis.

Apollinaire's Speech is a very different book than The Lateral. i want to be careful about quantifying the difference: it has something to do with humour and sarcasm and a self-depreciating voice, and the use of the word "asshole". Apollinaire's Speech is a candle compared to The Lateral's strobe light. What a clunky metaphor! But I mean that The Lateral is an exuberant outgoing book and Apollinaire's Speech is a little bit quiet and you have to lean in to catch what it's saying, and it leaves you wondering about the probability of sleepy tigers suffering religious euphoria and is there something subtle about moose shit on icy lakes that maybe you missed and it is still okay to laugh because it's moose shit in a poem?

There is a gentle elegance to many of the poems in Apollinaire's Speech to the War Medic, especially around the subject of violence. This fractured skull is a thing of beauty. This bullet hole, this bleeding wound. But the language never becomes precious. The book doesn't get bogged down in sentiment, but flits into it and back out again, capturing the ordinary out of order and the extraordinary doing the dishes.

There's something going on with transformation, a man being a book, that i wanted to talk about, but i forget exactly what my point was. So, um, i'll just say that the book avoids falling into the trap of lycanthropic lyricism that has become so typical of contemporary Canadian poetry. (But what does that even mean? Shh, it sounds critical, right?)

I mentioned once that Erin Moure's books make me feel like i need to grow into them, that i need to rediscover them every few years as my body of knowledge and my frame of theoretical reference increases. That they become more and more productive as i become a better reader. Apollinaire's Speech makes me feel the same way. i'm not even going to make a joke about how the back cover lists everyone who ever wrote a poem, because i'm serious. This is a smart book.

And that's pretty fucking amazing, Jake Kennedy.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Of Wyrms and Women pt. 10

[part 1] [part 2] [part 3][part 4][part 5][part 6][part 7][part 8][part 9]

No one thought to warn Wealhtheow about seasickness. The water rose in waves, the boat bucked like a beast. She was not sure whether it was the ship or the sea that roared. She curled up and closed her eyes. She did not want her new husband to see her vomit-crusted dress.

Wealhtheow expected Hrothgar to mock her weakness. But he was gracious. She was grateful. He mentioned that he, too, was sick his first time at sea. Yet none of the men were ailing now. Unfair, she thought, that I will likely never take a second voyage. If I do, it will mean I have failed, that I’m being brought back to my parents. I will never become used to the sea.

Part of her hoped a serpent would swim up beneath the boat, so that she could watch the warriors at work. She wanted to see the action she heard about in song, to brandish a blade and be sung about herself. Instead, she was sick. She could never swing a sword in this state. Wealhtheow tasted bitter bile. Her face felt gaunt, and stung from the salty spray. Ever since her parents had mentioned her marriage, she had looked forward to the journey more than her new home. She had admired the ship before they launched; it’s proud prow carved into a large, looming wyrm, the dark wood marred by many voyages. Its mouth was a gaping grin that displayed long sharp teeth, meant to make monsters wary of the wyrm’s bite. A craftsman had spent an entire winter carving the head of the dragon, the most ornate in her father’s navy. She had been eager to climb aboard, to begin her adventure.

Now, she sat on a pile of soaping goatskins in the middle of the boat, craving the shore. Njord help me, she prayed, invoking the same god the men had called at the outset of the journey. Njord, god of the sea, protector of ships. Njord, see us safely home.