Archive for the ‘Evolution’ Category

Dim Sum: Tonya Foster & Evie Shockley
March 30, 2008



The following excerpts are taken from “Dim Sum: Tonya Foster & Evie Shockley — Braiding: ConVERSations: To, Against, For”

It would be one thing if poetry were made of words alone,
but it is not–no more than words themselves are.

 –Paolo Friere via James Scully (Linebreak 133)
…If essentialism means being able to name the rubrics within which we (women of color, African Americans, women, etc., etc.) may simultaneously be constrained, limited, subjugated by more powerful others and be nurtured, engaged, empowered by ourselves and our allies, then essentialism still has useful work to do in the struggle for social justice. I recognize the dangers it poses. I’ll stop identifying as an African American woman when most people in this society have stopped understanding me in terms of my proximity to those categories (and all the others that may be relevant to my subjectivity)–you first. Meanwhile, “networks of communities and…relationships” seems to be a productive model for describing my own activities in the world (of poetry). The focus on multiplicity potentially opens our eyes to connections that are predictable and unpredictable.
 …This move turns on the significance to BAM “black aesthetics” of asserting a (“black”) “self” in the face of the oppressive and dismissive aesthetic standards that have been imposed upon the writing of African Americans since the era of Phillis Wheatley. An important point related to the foregoing is how critical it is for us to recognize that sexism is racism, at times, without losing the specificity of either category in our analyses.

…Whether one believes that poetry can affect or change what readers believe, can articulate ways of seeing the world that could circulate in and shape popular culture, can mobilize people for political action, etc., or not, poetry represents an economy of ideas (political, social, aesthetic, cultural) in which the currency is more valuable than it is often given credit for being.

“I have become a lot more aware over the past year or two
how often gender dynamics operate in really screwed-up ways
within a community I had complacently assumed was a lot more
progressive and enlightened than it sometimes reveals itself to be.
Just at the level, for example, of how much men outnumber women
on tables of contents, or how women’s comments are ignored in blog
conversations, or how men get threatened and aggressive when women
speak up about these things.”

  –K. Silem Mohammad

…I’ll just add that the variety of forms that sexism takes is part of what gives it such reverberating impact: outright dismissals of women and women’s poetry; silence regarding the influence of women poets upon poetic traditions; lip service to the importance of poetry by women that doesn’t lead to structural change in the systems that construct and reflect what we value in poetry (the canon)–these are just a few of the forms in which sexism operates in the context of poetry. And, Tonya, of course, I deeply appreciate your extension of Spahr and Young’s observation about sexism to encompass racism and other structures of exclusion.

…If Audre Lorde is correct in saying that “poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought” (in her indispensable essay “Poetry Is Not a Luxury”), then it can be argued that envisioning and articulating what is desired but does not yet exist is one of the primary tasks–or, less prescriptively, primary opportunities–of the poet’s work.

…The very instance of thinking through the systemic reasons that result in or contribute to the inequitable representation of poets who are not white and/or not male will necessitate the consideration of factors that cannot be reduced to aesthetics, but have everything to do with aesthetics.

…I am arguing that avant-garde poetics need not be defined in opposition to either a discernable engagement with politics in the work or an interest in audience(s). Where did this avant-garde poetry/political poetry divide come from anyway? What motivated the surrealists? What motivated Dada? The high modernists? The Beats? The Language poets? Or should I be asking what distinguishes these politically motivated aesthetic movements from the New Negro Renaissance, the Black Arts Movement, the Nuyorican arts movement? And how does the most obvious answer to this last question relate to the notion of “a more radical feminism” and the intervention it could make in the world (of poetry)?

….I love Retallack’s concept of “pragmatically hybrid poetry communities” both because it seems grounded in immediate action and because it suggests the importance of seeking and forming alliances that don’t rely upon a mandated (false) unity around every possible issue of politics and aesthetics that might be raised.
…Can we accept and act on the idea that “transform[ing] the circumstances or conditions of others” may deeply involve transforming who we are and how we occupy the world (of poetry)?
–CONTINUED in “Dim Sum: Tonya Foster & Evie Shockley — Braiding: ConVERSations: To, Against, For”


3 Responses to “Dim Sum: Tonya Foster & Evie Shockley”

  1. Jim K. Says:
    March 2nd, 2008 at 5:12 pm eEver notice how Evie takes the foreground of
    pictures and the sound of readings? There is
    a direct presence. No other.
  2. Jim K. Says:
    March 2nd, 2008 at 7:43 pm eLooking over wrongs, I’ve noticed
    over the years that oafishness and
    subconscious deflection are often
    the cause than intention and aggression.
    Which is to say, maybe things are less
    deliberate, more subtle, but paradoxically
    harder to dig up. Just a thought from mulling
    the comments I’ve seen by editors of both
    genders for years. True Anthropology might
    find more natural things than the old wounding
    paradigms presupposed. If it could ever escape
    the hothouse of likely well over 100,000 trawlers
    trapped in an inland sea, and all the political
    3rd rails, that is.
  3. Jim K Says:
    March 2nd, 2008 at 10:05 pm eOops…I am out of sync with the
    aggressiveness thing that happened..
    sorry bout the babbling.

Who Thought of That?
March 30, 2008


** “The tooth-in-eye technique, pioneered in Italy 40 years ago …” [Blind teen to have parts of tooth, jaw inserted in eye]

** “The procedure used on McNichol involved his son Robert, 23, donating a tooth, its root and part of the jaw.” [Blind Irishman sees with the aid of son’s tooth in his eye]

**“The surgeons then remove the iris, the lens and the jelly of the eye that lie behind the cornea.” [Tooth used to save woman’s sight]

**“Former soldier Lionel James, 72, will be seeing in the new year for the first time in more than seven years – thanks to his eye tooth.” [Miracle operation restores grandfather’s sight.]


If we are so advanced, “What makes us so mean?” Ron Padgett ventures a guess in his new book, “HOW TO BE PERFECT,” in the long political poem:

What makes us so mean?
We are meaner than gorillas,
the ones we like to blame our genetic aggression on.
It is in our nature to hide behind what Darwin said about survival,
as if survival were the most important thing on earth.
It isn’t.
You know–surely it has occurred to you–
that there is no way that humankind will survive
another million years. We’ll be lucky to be around
another five hundred. Why?
Because we are so mean
that we would rather kill everyone and everything on earth
than let anybody get the better of us:
“Give me liberty or give me death!”
Why didn’t he just say “Grrr, let’s kill each other”?
–The first stanza, of many, continued in HOW TO BE PERFECT by Ron Padgett


Make More Lungs
March 29, 2008


Let’s play more than politics now – and hope that Bloomberg’s proposals, such as the million trees project, will see the light of day. The first tree was just planted a few hours ago in the Bronx, with only 999,999 more to go (by 2017)! Mayor Bloomberg and Bette Midler planted the Carolina Silverbell themselves!

Not so incidentally, major kudos to Ms. Midler for founding the New York Restoration Project on her own dime (or million plus) and for saving more than 51 community gardens in NYC (& boroughs) slated for sale to private buyers, under former Mayor Guiliani’s reign. She also promoted, funded, and participated in the clean up of public parks that had become severely polluted and dangerous. Cheers, Bette!

And now, Mayor Bloomberg follows up:

“Our economy is humming, our fiscal house in in order and our near-term horizon looks bright. If we don’t act now, when?”


* Accelerate the cleanup of 7,600 acres of contaminated sites.
* Provide incentives to building owners to recycle water for non-potable uses like toilet flushing.
* Increase the city’s trees by 1 million.
* Waive the city’s sales tax on hybrid vehicles.
* Provide cleaner, more reliable power by upgrading the energy infrastructure and retiring dirty power plans.
* Add a surcharge to electric bills to finance incentives for retrofitting buildings.
* Promoting bicycling by completing the city’s 1,800-mile bike master plan.
* Eliminating roughly 40% of locally produced soot.
* Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent.
* The new building code – which is expected to be adopted this summer – will provide rebates for many environmentally-friendly features such as improved ventilation and white roofs, which reflect heat rather than absorbing it and so reduce energy needed for air conditioning.
* The city plans to offer a property tax abatement for solar installations.

And last, but far from least, the proposed and hotly debated congestion tax. “Under the plan, passenger vehicles entering Manhattan below 86th St. from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays would pay an $8 daily fee. Trucks would pay $21.” I live in Brooklyn, own a car, and take the train into Manhattan on a regular basis. Sometimes though, I drive through to the Holland Tunnel on my way out of town. As a resident, I would happily pay the fee. I view the tax as an encouragement to use our vital and efficient public transportation system that is already in place, and I would like to see more folks using it, residents and out-of-towners alike. Other major cities such as London already pay the tax to their advantage. Bike riders would also find the streets safer. God knows, pedestrians would love to be able to cross on the light without a car bearing down on them to turn. Etc etc. Hope these things come to fruition, fingers crossed …


4 Responses to “Make More Lungs”

  1. Jim K. Says:
    October 9th, 2007 at 7:18 pm eHopefully there is sufficient new mass transit planned to
    offset this(?). Usually there isn’t, and downtowns
    lose things, or turn into a super-wealth address.
  2. Jim K. Says:
    October 9th, 2007 at 7:20 pm eCogeneration (making heat and elec. inside the building)
    saves over 50%. But various groups oppose it.
    I hope it is actually done with smarts.
  3. Jim K. Says:
    October 13th, 2007 at 5:17 am eSorry for 3rd post,
    but I found out: the Bloomberg plan does include
    incentives and a scheme for dealing with Con.Ed.
    so they can hopefully install some cogeneration.
    There’s the savings, but also the reliability of
    local power sources. I’d call it a reaching and
    clever plan now!
  4. Amy King Says:
    October 13th, 2007 at 10:15 pm eThanks for the info, Jim! I hope it actualizes cleverly too …

I Don’t Have Kids
March 26, 2008


And it doesn’t look like I’m going to have them anytime soon. I can live for me, me, me, which means I can consume, consume, consume! Maybe I’ve got a good fifty years left on this planet, so should I be concerned with the condition I leave it in when I’m stardust? I’m not leaving any personally-birthed people behind. And yet somehow, I continue to wonder why it seems I’m more concerned with what’s happening with the environment than people who have children — I really, really don’t get why news items regarding the threats against breathable air and the dramatic rise of asthma and allergies in children don’t seem to strike a chord of even remote interest, let alone fear, in our gas-guzzling SUV-driven country. It’s truly baffling. Aren’t parents invested enough to at least research the plausibility and hazards of that term, “Global Warming“? These two little symptoms I mention are just the tip of the iceberg. For a brief display of the top ten global warming stories of 2006 that will affect your children’s lives, take a look at this.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming parents – maybe trying to incite a little, but I’m not pointing any real fingers. Everyone is responsible; we are a communal species that shares the same life-sustaining planet. So why won’t our government step up with the rest of the planet now and take action? Because our economy might take a hit? Perhaps it’s time we all learn to do with a little bit less, particularly those with vested interests in big business. “The United States, with less than 5 percent of the world’s population, produces between a fifth and a quarter of the world’s emissions, according to government data” 1. If you learned that you or your children were slowly being poisoned through the drinking water so that we would become ill in fifteen or twenty years, even dying as a result, I bet we would all be up in arms, demanding the U.S. government take action, locate the source of the poison, and eliminate the threat – immediately. We wouldn’t wait for a projected date of fifty more years for a possible fix. I’m no alarmist, but friends, this is not an outlandish possibility.

Why does the Bush administration continue to vote in favor of profit while dancing around — and then giving the finger to — first the Kyoto Protocol and now the G8 proposal? Is the rest of the world wrong, including Britain? Are we that pompous? Ignorant? Flagrant in our sense of superiority? Can we continue to blatantly share our poisons with the rest of the world, disregarding their effects, so that we might remain the top economical power? Do we care that our children will reap the hazards of our apathy?

After the last election, even Christian evangelicals felt betrayed by Bush, who seems to be truly faithful only to those whose stock reports papered his campaign trail. Now, the Christian right is teaming up with scientists, both groups tolerating their differences in beliefs for what they now see as a moral issue rather than a political one. And yet, Bush continues to play monetarily-motivated politics with the future health of this planet. Are we going to let him carry on? Will our next president return to business-as-usual after the campaign promises fade? Between the pressing matter of Iraq and the long-standing neglected cooker that is global warming, we can’t afford to sit around waiting for someone to take the reigns and guide us. One of the people who has been at the forefront of getting Christians and scientists to come together on the matter, E.O. Wilson, has a few things to say on the matter that might motivate you (FYI – population growth factors in heavily too). As you become more informed and gear up to get your political voice in tune, there are also things that can be done in the present and in the midst of your daily movements – some practical suggestions found here and here.


My grandfather was an entomologist, whose specialty was ants. Likewise, E. O. Wilson is too:

Say you’re president. What’s your environmental agenda?

New, sustainable energy generation, new forms of transportation, conservation of natural resources and general improvement of the quality of American life with a simultaneous reduction in per-capita consumption of energy and materials. The president who exercised that kind of leadership would ensure his or her legacy for all time.

Somehow that doesn’t seem likely from any president, let alone a Republican.

Last spring I was invited to speak at one of the leading conservative think tanks, and I asked two questions: What is the core of conservatism if it does not include conservation? And why have the conservatives needlessly and destructively abandoned the moral high ground on the issue? We had a lively discussion. They essentially said the liberals are blue sky, they’re big talkers and dreamers, whereas conservatives are problem-oriented, practical people who keep the wheels turning and the world on course. But they’re not solving this problem. Too often they don’t even admit that the problem exists.

–from Salon

If atheists and the God-fearing can get on board, why can’t the dreamers and conservatives find that same common ground? It’s high time we figured out how.


p.s. Water? Do you and your children actually need it?

“Also, fresh water is declining around the world, with many of the aquifers scheduled to give out in the next several decades. The forests, estuaries, coral reefs, river systems and, increasingly, even the oceans are being either destroyed or seriously degraded.

The experts on natural resources around the world are in pretty much complete agreement that the world population as a whole is running down arable land, and the trend shows no sign of being reversible.” –excerpt from Salon Interview with E.O. Wilson


5 Responses to “I Don’t Have Kids”

  1. Jim K. Says:
    June 2nd, 2007 at 3:29 am eI get worried that the success of our
    boom-or-die economical (stock) system works
    because it taps into the warm-blooded, always-hunting,
    energy-intense animal. That means it taps deep…addicted for eons.
    But there will be serious reminders soon that we are running out
    of it all. The efficient must thrive, not the intensive. We need a scheme
    that drives that.
  2. Jim K. Says:
    June 2nd, 2007 at 3:32 am eBTW, if we really screw up the Earth and perish in big quantities,
    we will do what only the blue-green algae mats did when they
    loaded the oxygen into the air and poisoned themselves.
    Creepy to think that our aggregated smarts was no better
    than algae mats. They had the excuse of no brain.
  3. Sam Rasnake Says:
    June 2nd, 2007 at 3:38 am eStrong post, Amy. Thanks for this.
  4. SarahJ Says:
    June 11th, 2007 at 4:12 pm eHi –
    like your blog. i was reading with interest the anne boyle post, and then came down to read this. thanks.
    I was at the zoo this weekend and was glad to see people with children and babies because I remember when I had children it made me way more concerned about the environment and the future. I was pretty environmentally conscious to begin with, but kids brought it home to me like nothing else.
    yes, babies are being born like crazy, and mostly in countries where they think they can’t afford to make concessions to the environment if economic growth is at stake. it’s complicated and tetchy, because it’s hard to go somewhere like Africa and say, “well, you guys haven’t hurt the environment much over the past 200 years, and we have but please lay off all polluting activities right now.”
    if you don’t mind, i’m going to link to you.
    best, sarah
  5. SarahJ Says:
    June 11th, 2007 at 6:27 pm eboof, sorry, anne boyer!

March 26, 2008


PBS Gleanings today:

According to mitochondrial research, we are all descendants of one African woman. For those of you who weigh purity based on the one drop rule, you should understand that you too are black.

Apparently, the paternity thing is not an issue among scientists.


“Least Respected Dog” is the title of the dog that pulls the most weight but is the lowest in the pack for the Inuit people.

These amazing sled dogs can run the equivalent of five marathons a day.

The sled dogs can fall into freezing water and get out without problem – water that would kill a man in about three seconds.

They can also fend off polar bears, even fighting them when necessary.

–from “The Rise of the Dog” on PBS


I’m thinking a bit about the public space of virtuality today. Or the virtuality of public space. Today. Looking over Charles Bernstein’s “Electronic Pies in the Poetry Skies” January 2001 post to the Electronic Book Review, I thought I’d post a few statements, pulled from a larger list, for meditation value tonight:

* In some ways, the intimate space of email discussion can leave one feeling more vulnerable to animosity than in “live” settings, where the presence of others serves as a buffer.

* Freedom is never free.

* The Internet provides new opportunities for rumor, gossip, exploitation, and innuendo.

* In some of the new Internet environments, there is a fairly high tolerance for flaming, ad hominen attack, libel, and diatribe, as if resentment is a measure of honesty.

* The Web necessitates ever more editing, more intensive intervention, lest our alternative spaces be rendered vacuous, or desperate, by default launching people into the official flows of information.

* Yet righteous outrage is as likely to shut down exchange as provoke it.

* Web space is not so much disembodied as differently bodied. And those different bodies can be as scary as the demons that haunt our dreams for human freedom.

* While the proliferation of unmoderated spaces does of course allow for some of the otherwise unheard to speak, in the resultant din it may be impossible to hear them.

* We remain vulnerable to destabilization by agent provocateurs but also by provocative agencies within ourselves, our desire for purification through self-immolation.

* It’s not technology that will change the possibilities for dialogue but politics.

* If the discussion is always starting from scratch, the participants with greater experience may drop away.

* Public space requires protecting rights as much as allowing access.

* The contribution of small press publications is that they articulate specific, not general, aesthetic values; that they do not allow market forces to be the primary arbiter of value; and that they provide sharp contrasts with the otherwise available literature of the time.

* It may be as useful to participate in a conversation “over your head” as “at your level.”

–excerpts from Charles Bernstein’s “Electronic Pies in the Poetry Skies


Hey, did you get your daily dose of vote today? And did you see the beautiful company I’m in?!


11 Responses to “Evolutions”

  1. Robert Says:
    April 29th, 2007 at 4:40 pm eYou’ve pulled in to the lead. Must be that snazzy billboard.
  2. Amy King Says:
    April 29th, 2007 at 5:08 pm eHeh heh ~ thanks for the vote!
  3. Collin Kelley Says:
    April 29th, 2007 at 8:22 pm eI refuse to officially concede yet, but I offer congratulations. It was fun. )
  4. Amy King Says:
    April 30th, 2007 at 2:37 am eAnd congrats to you as well, Collin! You’re standing out strongly there too –

    It was fun getting to check out new people and their blogs~

  5. Collin Kelley Says:
    April 30th, 2007 at 3:22 am eAbsolutely. I’m linking you up on my blog.
  6. Helen Losse Says:
    April 30th, 2007 at 3:42 am eCongratulations Amy. It was the billboard to be sure.
  7. Julia Says:
    April 30th, 2007 at 5:18 am eWe have a winner. How do you plan to use your new title, Poet-Laureate-of-the-Blogosphere to change the world? I’m anticipating some sort of revolution. Or will you finally get around to feeding all those hungry kids in China my mom’s been telling me about? Don’t ever take that tiara off.
  8. Billy Blogging Poet Says:
    April 30th, 2007 at 12:07 pm eYou win, you win, you did it again
    A success is what I would call it
    Don’t let it be said, “Poetry is dead.”
    Your victory, surely must stall it.

    Congrats Amy, your victory was well earned and we shined a light on a few. I guess the billboard worked almost as well as mine


  9. Collin Says:
    April 30th, 2007 at 2:29 pm eOh, all right, I concede. lol Congrats Amy.
  10. Nick Bruno Says:
    April 30th, 2007 at 3:56 pm eBravissima! Well done.
  11. Jim K. Says:
    April 30th, 2007 at 4:57 pm eTada! ;-)