"To bring the poem into the world / is to bring the world into the poem."

Saturday, November 5, 2011



There was a lucky part of the Great Recession; it made the poetry part of my life much bigger. In 2009, a notice went around work (I work at middle-sized public university in financial aid and do all sorts of financial literacy counseling for student borrowers in order to keep the default rate low) that asked people to volunteer to reduce their work hours as a way to save the campus money. I’ve always been good about living below my means and socking away money into my retirement, so I raised my hand to participate. I now work a four-day workweek (in exchange for a 20% pay cut), and get to keep my health benefits (which is important as my husband is self-employed). I don’t save extra retirement money anymore (which is somewhat worrisome), but it seems like an okay swap for now.

I worked this new schedule in 2009 and 2010. When my assistant had to take a medical leave in 2010, I went back to five days for a while, but now it’s back. It’s been a fluid win-win for my workplace and me all around.

I now have three uninterrupted days in a row every week to go down any poetic or artistic rabbit hole I choose.

The schedule leaves me with time to pursue all my “poetic feast” activities (the idea being that if we all add something to our poetic world, to our poetic feast, we have all sorts of amazing and delicious things to dine on – Reb Livingston is just one of the many generous poetry people who teaches this by her example). So I can curate a reading series; co-curate an electronic journal; and co-edit (with Deborah Poe and Sam Truitt) an anthology-in-progress of local innovative poetry. I’ve also been working on a longterm collaboration with the architect and visual poet Scott Helmes, and finally got around to making a blogged archive of my visual art. I am also President of Century House Historical Society, home to the Widow Jane Mine in Rosendale, NY, where we have all sorts of arts programming in this natural amphitheater space (including 21 years of the “Subterranean Poetry Festival”).

And of course, there are my own poetic and visual adventures: poetry, artist’s book and object making, encaustic painting, printmaking...

The Great Recession set up a situation where I can say “yes” to many, many things that make my own work bigger.

Detail from an "Untitled BookBoxObject"; more info HERE



"We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave ....You can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark —that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”
- Hunter Thompson

I live near the Hudson River and have spent a ridiculous amount of time trolling its shores, collecting all sorts of things it tumbles and spits out. Hundreds of broken blue insulator pieces, pieces of dishes, odd glass. My best find ever was a single porcelain doll’s arm that I wore on a chain for many years. I also spent many summers on the Jersey Shore doing the same thing: searching for the beautifully seaworn and broken.

This rogue financial wave that broke over all of us left a flamboyant and appalling wreckage that we can play with in our work. I am definitely exploring new things, shaped by new tools since the Great Recession. Its wave washed in, and now I’m faced with all this incomprehensible flotsam that bobs around the internet and I’m making found-object art out of it. I know the Flarf folks have been doing this for years, but now I’m compelled to work with it too, spurred on by my friend Lynn Behrendt’s honest and challenging work with these materials.



Elvis was an electric zoo, burnt belly fat

(after my poem “Ella Etruscan Olives Burnt and Sien(n)a” – as suggested by Google)

Moss enchanted language tombs
The gods wear jewelry on their museum visits
What were their origins?
What was their outlook on the afterlife?
Oracle ointment, pentacost, Orientalizing periods

How many calories are in New York?

The tongue offers a sugared money, a sienna-ed sun
Indifference burned and smelled like antifreeze
Angulate tortoises, blistered lips
Peace bruised sin in the dictionary
This shocking story was shattered and soggy with virgin swimmings
And since you can’t escape me, do I ever cross your mind?
And since I am dead I can take off my head
My name in math, in nougatine
Nouvelle vague, a bias generator
Birds mimic the sympathetic nervous system
Matter is classified as a pair of boots
Her fact practice, shards of vinyl spirits donate their bones

The day passed like a chapter summary
Only steers and queers come from Texas
Only straight girls wear dresses
Only one state has no McDonalds
Only one state has no national park
Only stupid cows text and drive
Time became stale with stunt bikes
There are online stuttering activities in maroon
Morale-grey, cyber-November is the color of noodles

Nightingales weep at the consequence of meaning
How do I capitalize the moon?
How can I keep from singing? Or slapping?
How can I get taller? Or make more money?
How clean is my house? How could my hair grow faster?
Could my saucepans bring on menopause?
Black sunburned purple yellow
Closed, washed out, blurry, watering, beyond seeing, bleeding
Are your eyes too small for contacts? Can your eyes be transplanted to a friend?
Pawn stars, recruited and funky, be my escape

Facebook is a tickfree field

When bored or reading, dieting, ovulating, raining, running
the weather is thirsty for Adderall
When they are caught, they are thrown away
Do our jobs reminisce over us after we’re gone?
These lines should be caged at night
Flying dramawiki noble masters made of meat
Eggmen tucked into cannons
Zombie imitators are also sons of god

Charming gardeners of the underworld
Are thongs comfortable? Are the seasons capitalized?
Are the Poughkeepsie Tapes real? Are the Knicks in the playoffs?
Are the colon and the large intestine the same thing?
Coyotes are moving to Winnipeg

                  Stars from hottest to coolest
                  Star Trek uniforms
                  Starling eggs

Starless and sunless ballrooms, and their failed light

Smoothing methods, statistical manifold, sampling theorem
This is a notational form of decay
He subtracts from her surface brightness
Optic citation, meridian, her belly her skin
On Monday or in Monday grammar
Throw best price thresher shark
The miles are threadless, thrillist
Let’s throw knives and throw pillows at her cancer
Struggle tabs, her blood was silver
Sloe slip rings, sliding doors, slant drilling
Dressed in slats, strangle wisteria
What materials are your fingernails made of?
Widows weaving wreathes, wattle whistle, wide brimmed
She said, “Money is like us”
Mooncake phases, a sonata, a palace filled with chattal
Swoon, sow, sorrow
Two slowniks sewn together – what is their moonsign compatibility?
Snow White, her salted lovesickness, wings and roots
Curating Tanya’s disasterous electric circuits
A taxidermied alchemist teaching lesson in Go
Bourbon under the stars
A halophile is responsible for spoiling juices
Egyptian agriculture, washing pictures, Moses wasps

                  A traveller’s anthology
                  A god
                  A history
                  A novel
                  A river

Turner painted the water in our bodies as
porcelain graphite castles
There is an ossification in Bone Lick Park
An ivory orchard full of oracles, possibly tucked in
Wig runescape, cracked wasabi, glass powder
The rain on your skin and you do it anyway
This song is sick and this why you are fat
It might be that I’m holding your hand but holding it a little too loose
Fossils and towels, the smell of shade
A town called Alice or Panic
A cocktail of sand, brainticket black, pineal gland
Lightheaded, sequential type unconnected, sensebowl
Surroundsushi, superfood suppression
Both atomic bombs, 4 years on an island, his wife, a tornado, rabies
Neverland necrotizes, an unmediated decay
The 10 commandments or 10 things I hate about you or 10 ragas to a disco beat
10 raw eggs, 10 raw potatoes with a longjaw mud snapper
Linseed oil and lemon bars and lettuce wraps

There are some letters spacing out in every word
There is a white heart whispered in every story
Name when all the continents were together
Name when you die
Name when I arrive
Name when a bowl is not microwave safe

A billion Chinese jump and one body part is injured – which one?
Lemons, white rice, pebbles and moss, cherries, onions
Her arms amputated around me
Heavy weak numb tired tingly on fire, like home
They are asleep, they are burning,
Something is stuck in my throat, in my eye
Somebody is stuck in my chest, is crawling on my skin, is staring at me, is biting me
The structure of falling asleep, in my rearview seas



Photo by Elizabeth Bryant

Anne Gorrick is the author of I-Formation (Book One) (Shearman Books, 2010), the forthcoming I-Formation (Book Two), and Kyotologic (also from Shearsman Books, 2008). She collaborated with artist Cynthia Winika to produce a limited edition artists’ book, “Swans, the ice,” she said, funded by the Women’s Studio Workshop in Rosendale, NY and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Images of her visual art can be found at www.theropedanceraccompaniesherself.blogspot.com


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