Thursday, September 04, 2014

My Lullaby

Laptop a-lap, sitting unglamorously in my Gap pyjama bottoms and sweating on the chestnut-colored suede couch in our humid living room while Angela and Vito sleep, and well after the time I might otherwise logically retire so that I can wake up and be ready to face another day of composition instruction and collegial repartee, something impels me to put pen to pixel or whatever. Is that tonight's curry dinner still lingering? Will my lower back still feel tight tomorrow morning? Shouldn't I be reading one of those unread e-mails from the various personalities at my son's school?

Clearly uninspired, the minutes trickle forth to the tune of a plastic Ikea clock in the kitchen and an electrical serenade featuring the refrigerator and masking the subtle rumble of air-conditioning from somewhere deep in the apartment building. Periodically, a car hushes along the unnamed street outside the compound. Here in this dark room only brightened by the screen in front of me, some kind of e-moonbeam lights my way.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Summer Catch Up

So Angela, Vito and I are back in Putignano, Italy at Angela’s mother’s house in the countryside, one of our usual summer destinations. We arrived on Thursday evening, and have not done much beside watch World Cup soccer since then. It has rained almost every day and really hasn’t been very summery whatsoever, so it has been difficult to get out, especially without a car of our own, but the down time has allowed me to read, reflect and rest a little. The cool weather, however, is a nice contrast to what we will return to in Doha in August. Two of Vito’s cousins are staying with us in the countryside, so he has been busy with them every day and hasn’t demanded much attention from his parents, which is a nice relief as the he and I have spent almost all of our time together over the past four weeks.

To start with, Vito and I left Doha, Qatar about one month ago and, after getting retrieved by my parents from the airport in San Francisco, California, have since fished with grandpa, camped in Big Basin State Park, spent a day on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, flown to Colorado to visit my brother and his family, watched a San Francisco Giants baseball game, and visited with family and friends. Our crowning achievement was a return trip to San Francisco to pick up Angela when she arrived on the 3rd of July. We stayed six more days with my parents in Roseville not really doing much of anything, and then left to continue with the next segment of another summer adventure.


We left our hotel near the airport at 3AM, returned our rental car, and checked-in for our 5:50AM flight. We flew from San Francisco to Newark, New Jersey and then, after three hours in the airport, caught our connecting flight to Rome, Italy. In Rome after not really sleeping much on the flights, we took a train from the airport to Termini Station, stored our luggage in the depository there, and walked to the coliseum, which is something that Angela had promised Vito we would do. By the time we arrived, the coliseum was swarming with hat vendors, Roman soldiers and tourists, so we didn’t have time to wait in the long line that was snaking around the ancient fortress, and then stopped for lunch before heading back to the station to take a train south to Bari. From Bari, we caught one final train to Putignano where Angela's sister met us. After about one week in the countryside, we left this morning for Pisa.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Oulipost Exit Interview

Jenni Baker, editor of the Found Poetry Review, asked participants to complete an exit interview for last month's oulipost challenge, which entailed composing a found poem each day of the month by imposing assigned constraints on material from my local newspaper. Now, a few days into my summer vacation, I find myself with enough time to formulate responses and, thus, offer closure to my own participation in the activities.

What happened during Oulipost that you didn’t expect? What are the best (or worst) moments for you?
I did not expect my wife to be so frustrated, but, often, it took all of the remaining time in a given day to complete activities, and that made for some conflict. Should I go to bed or read another post?

Strangely, as I was spending so much time on my blog—more time, in fact, than I had spent in the past seven years—I found myself looking back through my old blogposts. I could read an evolution in both my writing and personal life. I could relive and remember those events that I had blogged about so many years ago. I consider this a 'best' moment.

I am sorry that, in the midst of the challenge, I simply did not have time to read everything. As writing responses took nearly all of my free time in a given day, I had little time to read other responses. I intend to return to read the residue that escaped me on the first go around, but best laid plans and all that...

Looking for proper articles to use was obsessively tedious. I found that the constraints often broke the usable lexicon of a particular article too much. Lastly, it was impressive to see how other members of the group approached each task.

What does your street look like?
I live in a compound, as do most people in Doha. To cheat, I offer this picture in place of description.
Education City Community Housing, Lot 2, Zanon Circle, Doha, Qatar















Who is your spirit Oulipostian?
Because I posted at nearly the same time each day (along with others who were posting at or about the same time), I found myself returning to blogs by the same authors: Elizabeth Evans McNabb, Jody Rich, Massimo Soranzio, Douglas J. Luman, and Margo Roby, to name a few. I began to follow and interact with these individuals, however slight, with whom I was, previously, unfamiliar.

What are the top three poems you wrote during this project?
1. #24: "[So she'll soon.]"
2. #21: "rare vision"
3. #08: "Lewis Hamilton"
What questions do you have for your teaspoons? What questions do your teaspoons have for you?
Teaspoons are a noisy lot. They're full of questions and they tend to talk over one another, but I want to know if they are going to insist on oulipost collectable spoons. I don't use them for anything but honey when a sore throat kicks up. Do they need more attention?

What will you do next?
I have been working on a manuscript about Doha, and hope to bring that to completion, especially now that my teaching commitments have come to an end this semester. As my oulipost responses mashed up Gulf Times articles, I plan to review my responses for posts that I can integrate into the manuscript, but it seems like they took an alternate vein.

I would like to thank Jenni Baker for including me in the challenge. I am not sure how she found me out or why I was invited, but it was quite enjoyable, and I 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Oulipost #30: Patchwork Quilt

Comprised of lines and/or word from the previous 29 Oulipost challenge poems. My lines appear in order from the first to the most recent:

an international hassle-free experience
add or carry a word
but in a style of nature
the people found
some system
a fashion culture
for chimeras with special needs
in metametals
with real green signals
Ganesh
plans candy brand
a palatable phrase
rose
before submission
some minimize a vision
in addition to voluntarily forming a commitment
open-heartedly budding
S.O.B.
ministry members see celebrations
renouncing forms
buried in its soil
in an abaondonment
into the while
whenever we're well
during the week that featured
frequent expatriate directives
consumption
space
really wonderful

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Oulipost #29: Canada Dry

For today's challenge, I present the language from the Found Poetry Review website:
The name of this procedure is taken from the soft drink marketed as “the champagne of ginger ales.” The drink may have bubbles, but it isn’t champagne. In the words of Paul Fournel, who coined the term, a Canada Dry text “has the taste and color of a restriction but does not follow a restriction.” (A musical example is Andrew Bird’s “Fake Palindromes.”) Be creative, and write a poem sourced from your newspaper that sounds like it’s been Oulipo-ed, but hasn’t.
Words sourced from "Palestinian Heritage Week at Katara continues to draw huge crowds" in today's Gulf Times. I don't know why some words in the article title are capitalized while some are not. Anyway, it is difficult to come up with a process that doesn't seem processed. So, without belaboring the point any further, on to the subconscious constraints...

it's nice to learn about

continue

delighted beloved massive heritage

revive arranging lovers
Arab families     tools
researchers here are really wonderful

wish folklore stages
reflect the various end

Initially, I had written three three-line stanzas, but then I realized that I had imposed a restriction on the form. I tweaked the line breaks and the line and the stanza lengths, however, and left you with what you see...

Monday, April 28, 2014

Oulipost #28: Melting Snowball

A QNA/Doha article in today's Gulf Times, "ictQatar has succeeded in 'limiting cyberthreats' ", snowballed the following. As with the previous snowball, you can probably guess how this one works...

Telecommunication
Infrastructure.
Cyber-Security
International
Co-operation
Authorities
Guarantees
Awareness
Breaches
Coupled
Namely
Space
With
One
Us
A

Thank you Sortmylist.com for getting the words in order by size.