Wednesday, December 15, 2010

40's Postal Project One: Lisa Pasold & Bremner Duthie

Dec 15th 2010. I return home from invigilating exams. It is snowing again in Mulhouse. My new apartment is warm, though, and hummmms emptily. Far from you, Lisa & Brem, my friends, and your wonderful energy, I sit down in my kitchen and begin to select random words from the London Review of Books. Then I clip out tiny images of insects from a reproduced book cover. I stop to look around the house at all the scraps of other magazines, letters, cards. I find the envelope, such a colorful, bright, flowery envelope, from one of my birthday cards on my desk piled high with stories and papers waiting to be read and graded. I am foregoing such things tonight to make this little something for you.

With the enveloppe and my scattered pile of words, a glue stick and some other scraps I have collected, I transform my little Bristol card for you, hoping that this will bring into your house a little blue bright sky. I label the bird human, I pick words that attract me, not thinking of phrases or syntax. The language is in a sky, floating, just as it will soar your way tomorrow morning.

I have my terrible cheap camera, and in a million and one attempts I end up with a few photos to stick here. I slip the work with the collage(s)--because I ended up making a mini collage on the other side of the Bristol card, too--into an enveloppe adressed to you, in hopes of protecting the little words. I would not want any language to fall off en route, for syllables to be lost on the road, left to their own devices!

It is late now, and I am still thinking of you. I hope that there it is snowing, too. Crystalline, soft snow. Whispering to you as you sleep--for it is very very late now--and I hope you dream of lotus flowers, carmine, of green tropical places seen across and beyond a snowy desert. I hope that this little card, waiting to go out to the mail, in my personal mail outbox, will bring you joy.

Pictured above: Full collage (at top of blog post) then back of collage, detail of back of collage mini collage, and then the collage in its enveloppe in my entryway waiting to be taken outside and sent to Brem & Lisa.

Pictured below: details from 40's Postal Project 1, then another version of the full collage:

The 40's Projects: An explainer...

For this, my 5th decade, I decide to start the 10 years with one dedicated to 4 (one for each preceding decade of my life thus far) creative/critical word & image projects. Further ideas welcome, but the current projects are as follows:

1) Postal project: make 40 original A5 collages and mail them out to 40 people. Focus: making with words & image, and not holding onto the creation. Time jettisons us forward, despite ourselves. It feels now like perhaps it is accelerating, or that the fire of my 20s is only visible but no longer palpable as I enter this next decade. But that may be only perspective, and hopefully an erroneous one. Play is important. And part of creative play is knowing how nothing is precious and everything is precious. Being in the moment of making is the key here, and then passing that moment to others. So, I will make collages from words and images and mail the originals to one person. They can then do what they want with them. This said, I hope that the recipients will not toss my work in their trash bins! In fact, I hope that in each case the recipients will also mail a collage item back to me, and will also take a picture of the collage in their home that I can add to my posts here. As I go, I will post images of my collages, as here, on the blog. I will print out on A4 paper photos of both sides of these collages and put them up on a wall in my new home. At the end of the year, it should be covered by 80 sheets of A4 images of these cards.

2) The Century Variations (12): write 1 "variation" poem a month on a poem from a different century starting from the 1000's and ending in the 21st century. That is 12 centuries, 12 poems. This project was inspired by listening to Jerome Rothenberg talk about and read from his Variations on poems he wrote himself some decades back. It made me excited to explore time and altered perspectives, and I also wanted to revisit poems from different centuries, perhaps discover new ones while looking for the texts I want to work off of each month. I have not yet decided whether these will be posted to the blog or not... we will see how I feel on that. This project is about history, and being part of, touching, pasts far greater than my own short lived life. Entering into the stream of history's wealth of words and works and passages of poetic development. Critically, I am already worried about how I can possibly select from an entire, rich century one work to work off of, but that, too, will be the wealth of the project for me as a reader.

3) 40 mini reviews. The goal is to do 40 mini reviews on this blog between Dec 5th 2010 and Dec 5th 2011. These reviews will be of poetry books in French or English, Lit magazine issues or may even be close reads or reactions to even a single poem. I want to engage with the work I am reading, but also share here in this ephemeral cyberspace with potential readers of the books and poems I am encountering. Anyone that wants new chapbooks or books read, or magazines read as part of this project, feel free to mail work to me at 24 rue Ste Claire, 68100 Mulhouse, France! I hope to discover new work, to think about transformations--and future(s)!!!

4) 40 aging characters: The goal is to write this year 40 tiny pieces using different "characters" obsessed with age, exploring time, age, aging, agism, youth, midlifeness, generations, perspective on generational change, etc. in fictional or poetic ways. Thus the little texts, which again I will likely post at least half of here, will be Flash fiction / vignettes / prose poems or mini stories. The focus for me is to overobsess about age through these characters, but also to observe and take note of age around me, of time, of the ways it is and is not visible on the bodies of others, and of myself.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Staircase Hall (from the Leighton House poems, summer 2010)

"The Staircase Hall": Poem written in Leighton House Museum, London, July 2010 for the art opening / reading. The poem was written for this space, so I overlayed the image with the text. Click on it to make it more legible if you need to.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Tears in The Fence: JUST OUT with my article on John Parker's poetry

The newest issue of the UK magazine, Tears in The Fence, issue Number 52 (Issn 0266 5816) is OUT!

It includes my newest in a series of articles for them: "Of Tradition & Experiment IV: Women in John Parker’s Vietnam War Poetry: Labellum Danang" by Jennifer K Dick (pp 103-108) which includes a selection of never before published prose poems by John Parker!

The issue also includes a wide variety of poetry by writers such as Anne Blonstein, Shelia E Murphy, Ian Park, Lisa Mansell, Carrie Etter, Glyn Hughes, Peter Hughes, K V Skene, Robert Sheppard, Chris Torrence, Steve Spence, Estill Pollock, Giles Goodland & more!

Prose by Dave Newman, William Gilson, Mick Fitzgerald, Tracey Iceton & more!

Translations of the poet Andrea Zanzotto by Anthony Barnett, and

critical writing:
on Jack Spicer by Ian Brinton,
on Brenda Hillman (a response poem!) by Nathaniel Tarn,
on Michael Haslam by Peter Riley,
on Mary Palmer by Norman Jope,
on Lynette Roberts by Frances Spurrier,
on Steve Spence by Fred Johnston,
and reviews of books such as the anthology "Infinite Difference: Other Poetries by UK Women Poets, (edited by Carrie Etter for Shearsman Books)" reviewed by Mary Michaels

--and finally--

the issue includes a closing commentary from the editor, David Caddy, preceded by an article on Reading and Dementia by Sarah Hopkins!

In short, the issue is packed with delicacies to nibble on by a fire on these cold late fall evenings!

Order yours now: at (for UK/Europe:) David Caddy, 38 Hod View, Stourpaine, Nr Blandford Forum, Dorset DT11 8TN, England. Subscription information : 18 pounds for 3 issues, 30 for 6 (= a 2-year subscription) or purchase a single issue for 7 pounds. For pounds, you can subscribe by sending a check made out to TEARS IN THE FENCE to David Caddy.

For USA subscriptions, you can send a check made out to Deane Laczi, 714 Souith 12th Street, Lafayette, IN 47905 with 20 dollars for 3 issues, or 8 for a single issue.

In France/elsewhere in Europe--send to David in the UK.

For questions, inquiries about payment or submissions, email

Monday, October 25, 2010

Jennifer K Dick on video: Poetry readings & an interview

For those of you who want to hear a bit of whatever, see a bit of whatever--here goes. I must say, I stumble, I fall, I blurrrrrr a bit in some of these, but here are a few videos that seem to be out in the universe, mostly of work that I have been doing and which is only going to start being sent off this fall. Yep, stuff from the Orph/Eury collection-in-process. Hope that you will be forgiving of the stumbling in the readings! Here is the first, of one of the poems: or try clicking the photo which I think I have linked directly to the video that was so kindly posted by Laura Mullen (click her name to go to her poet's page homesite) The bright of Spoken word is certainly exciting to watch!!! These first two of these are from the VIMEO video site run/hosted by Laura Mullen who filmed these just last week in Paris at David Barnes' Spoken Word (click to go to their blog & participate in future events) up at Cabaret Populaire/Culture Rapide on the high hill above Belleville (103 r Julien Lacroix). Here is the second of these: and again I think that if you want to click the photo, it should take you directly there:
Also from the same series of poems in process is this the second of the videos from the gorgeous Avol's books bookstore (click their name to go to the store!!!) in Wisconsin from last spring (April) when I was in Madison visiting Sean Standish. or click the still here for a direct connection to the video (this one has a lot of stumblings in it, and then gets cut off.... but ah well.)

Here is the first vid from Avol's. In this, I am reading a few poems from Fluorescence and from the New Pony anthology that had just come out. or click directly on the photo--it should link you to the Youtube video directly.
Finally, for anyone who has not seen it, this is the Youtube video, thus a shortened version, of the interview with Cole Swensen. It was completed originally in a long version at The Continental Review:

Mulhouse: arrival & setting up house (sept 1 to now!) Jonathan Regier & JKD road trip!

One might say that moving is a long, arduous process. One friend told me that on some list of "traumatic things" that we do willingly in life, moving ranked in the top three as a life stressor, alongside breaking up or losing someone. So, losing Paris is what this has been. But also gaining a lot of room to breathe & a perspective on other options here in France outside Paris living. When I received the letter informing me that I had been hired here at Uha (Université de Haute Alsace) it is true that I was of two minds--ecstatic because I wanted the job and it would be in "real" topics--lit and civ--subjects I can really get into and love working on with French students. But of course part of me felt the immediate sting of leaving. I had been living in Paris since 1999, and had also lived there in the mid-1990's. My only forays into living out of Paris while in France were some time spent in Lyon and the 3 months at the residency in La Napoule--where I knew I was only temporarily away from the city, and where the sea lapped up practically against the door (who doesn't love that?!?) So, I thought, Mulhouse. My one visit at that point had been for the audition, where I stayed in a clean, efficient hotel B&B. One of those slot-you-into the space generic places that are cheap & excellent for overnights if on business. It was off of the Porte Jeune shopping mall place (a kind of red eyesore) and underneath the Tour de l'Europe (another eyesore--with evidence about halfway up of a fire in an apartment and yet the apartments around that burnt-out window remain occupied--as in these 3 pictures). My vision was rather drab of the town.

So, I got online and started looking a bit into here--and found a lot of things that made me excited to simply discover another place. There were lovely parts of the town, & many more things to do than it had appeared on my one quick visit (in the rain & for the interview). And so, thrilled about the job, & sure that it would do me good to force myself out of the habits I lived in in Paris, I decided to get a place in Mulhouse and give it a go.

This is where "the pleasures of Mulhouse" really do begin. Because space is scarce in Paris and plentiful in Alsace. There is a lot of greenery in the center of town and when I came to look at places, I found that there were lots of spacious ones near cafés, grocery stores, bars and centers to see movies or go out with friends. In other words, Mulhouse would be a little adventure, though certainly one that is much sleepier than the urban racous riots of Paris. A little less craze... not necessarily bad.

New outlook, despairingly pricy moving costs for movers and I decided "ROAD TRIP". And with the great great help of all my friends: Anne K, Jérôme M, Sylvie and Carole B, Carole P, Patricia, George V, and MORE! I got everything into the rental van from Rent à car and Jonathan Regier & I headed off into the night with out map, mappy itinery and all giggles. We left around 10pm, so the traffic around Paris was quasi-inexistent. We drove & talked & watched our signs. Around 2h30 in the morning, debating whether to rest someplace or keep going for the all-nighter experience, we stopped for treats at a truck stop only to learn--between the truckers playing video games, lounging on massage chairs, or playing games where you shoot things with a plastic gun--that we had missed a turn awhile back and were now in Macon. (photo: me holding up map saying "what!?!?!!! An HOUR south of our route at 2:30am!!!") OOPS! So, more giggles & we decided it was a sign that we should STOP. JR had never had the "pleasure" of seeing an F1--so, since there was one at the next autoroute turnaround (which we had to take to get back on the route going in the opposite direction of where we were!), we stopped in there. A voice through a loudspeaker let our van through the protection gates (always a reassuring feature of F1 and Etap motels when one is trekking around with one's life in a car!) and then autochecked in without seeing a soul anywhere. Dead tired, we tucked ourselves into our very very green and little twin beds--after a few more photos while laughing in our overexhausted state (wise to have stopped!). In the morning (pictured here below) we forced ourselves up early &--unshowered, as that would take too long, though after the physical work of moving the night before & our drive we were getting kinda ripe or at least looking worse for the wear--we caffinated & breakfasted (note that the first pic is pre-coffee, second is after a few cups!) at the F1 countertop then headed back round north of our Macon detour. It was lovely, in fact, to drive in the early morning and to see the countryside as we approached Mulhouse. As we drove into town we had lots of laughs as we spotted the first commerces--and their very Germanic / Alsacian names: as here Le Schweitzer! There are also many lovely, colorful buildings (mine is red, but here are some of the neighboring ones: baby blue and reds, and one of JR in front of a yellow building). It is quite easter-egg cheery, and I am certain that mid-winter, with the grey and snow, it will in fact be so much more cheerful here than in Paris. (Thus I encourage all of you there in Paris to come here for a visit!!!) Everything got tossed into the apartment, boxes all over, so we were ready for a shower. But, alas, the hot water had not yet heated up! We were not ready to be ice cubes so we returned the unharmed van (pics of joy here!) in Dornach (a suburb--but about 25 minutes walk max back to the center of town) and then strolled around in the bright day.Back in the center of town, we continued our explorations through the pedestrian area of Mulhouse, enjoying beers in the sun at the Place de la Réunion, where we visited the inside of the Temple, and then had yet more beers (the driving was over, after all!!!). Over the days following, we also checked out the great Libanais resto on the corner by me (here we are below in photos seated on the little terrasse which is pretty much in the street) and a few other spots. We spotted some of the nearby wall art (car because this is the city with the massive automobile museum--yet to be visited) and halted briefly before some random shops and along curved streets (pictures here below). We also admired the old Synagogue, which I look out on from my windows. (Here is picture of the front of Synagogue, followed by one where my building can be seen on the left and the back of the synagogue is partially visible at the right): My tram stops at Porte Haute which is by a fittingly poet-related bar called Le Bateau Ivre! But moving is a long, slow investment process, where my role is that of the leaking bucket--new insurance, hookup fees, deconnect fees, etc etc. The long, slow road to being able to buy any furniture! Thus the lovely temp "sofa" was the sleeping bag and featherbed that JR had had as a bed.: Come Oct 1st & "payday", Stephanie, Cynthia & I had a trip to Freiburg's Ikea. It was my first ever experience in Ikea. Giant, blue & yellow box that, once inside, felt like it would never end! We picked up a few things & I got furniture ordered for delivery--shelves and couches! Then I waited for another week & a half before the delivery came. It was supposed to include putting together of the big, red couch but the 2 German deliverymen said "No" & then we argued & it was all me being irrational at the explicable / predictable inability to communicate across 3 languages (German, French & English--my version of the last two, & their version of German & English). They kept saying "Not putting togeher. Sign here, & we go". I tried to explain I had gotten the delivery with a "putting the couch together" agreement, but they would not budge. I pleaded saying in my own broken English "Me, just one person" as if that said everything about the entire helplessness of my situation. But they threatened to take it all away again so I signed and sighed and then there I was. And Freiburg's Ikea helpline? Not accessible to me, a non-German speaker. So, suddenly I found I had "furniture" and yet I did not.

I had gigantic cardboard boxes filled with promises of furniture that only someone who had other someones to help them put them together could make emerge out of the cardboard into a lifeform representing couch, shelves, couch. Despair. At this point, a month and a half into the moving process, I just thought "I give up".

But then I put out a distress call to the lecturers who I have been spending time with and was SAVED! Within less than a half hour (now, if that is not a change from Paris!) Tom and then Lauren came by to help. Or rather, I think it was more that I helped Tom--while Lauren built a CD rack all by her lonesome (I have the pride to say I also managed that yesterday--these smallish tasks for those of you who are endowed with the gift of building, well, we who are not endowed with such gifts cherish our little ability to construct the pre-fab shelving! I must say, it is an accomplishment, if only a small one!) Within a few hours, there were the red and white couches and a blue CD rack all working!!! And then, off to Le Mans & then Paris I went for a conference then reading event. So, the other shelves remained stacked in the middle of my room. Until this weekend when Carole B was here on vacation and I put her to work (so kind of me, eh? No, really, she volunteered). Again, in little over an hour we got the 4 larger bookcases up, and then last night after she had headed back to Paris I finished the 2 other CD racks and a smaller bookshelf. Here, you can see the process as it has emerged. The "home" in the making. My own experience of what gets made fun of in that old "Choose Life" speech at the start of Trainspotting. Yep, DIY moments of my middle aged self. Ah well, in some ways I guess I am a conformer. But hey, it is going to make it easier for me to find the books, and now I have great couches to lounge and write on. So, for anyone wanting to see my home: here are a few pics.