Monday, October 25, 2010

Food For Thought

So I've been thinking about this blog for a while. Thinking, not doing. Which is a constant theme of mine. One of my favorite things to do when I'm not writing/reading poetry is cooking and baking delectable items. I figured I might as well install a feature I will call "Food For Thought" as part of my plan to keep up with my fledgling blog, and perhaps to spark a duel interest in poetry and comestibles, a tried and true tradition. So without further adieu, I will present to my dear readers FOOD FOR THOUGHT, and what better way to begin such a venture than with an American favorite, apple pie.


This all started with a trip up to New Paltz for some serious apple picking. We picked so many apples that our bag broke. There is an unequivocal Edenic experience to be had from picking apples from a tree and eating them then and there. This intertextual act is more apt upon offering up your shiny pectin prize to your partner, especially if you are a woman and your partner is a man. And oh, the sin is good. The sin is especially good if you then take man's first disobedience from Eden into the kitchen and bake that shit into a steaming pie.

I absolutely hate recipes that permit you to buy pie dough. What kind of world is this where that's okay? Crust is the best part about pie, in my most humble and correct opinion, so you'd better make sure you don't do something dumb like buy dough. Don't give me crap about how you don't have a rolling pin; I used a cup and that seemed to work just fine:

Pie Dough:
2 cups flour
1 Tblsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
6 Tblsp. butter (cut your butter into six pads)
6 Tblsp. vegetable shortening
6-8 Tbsp. ice water

Mix your dry ingredients using a dough mixer. Add the butter and shortening and mix. Should look crumbly. Add the ice water, stirring in one tablespoon at a time. Your dough should be moldable in your fingers. You can test its volume by rolling it into a ball. If it doesn't crumble, you're good to go. It should be just past the point of crumbly. Roll your dough into a ball, wrap it up in plastic wrap, and put it in the fridge for half an hour.

Apple Filling:
5 tart apples
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
2-3 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger powder
dash of nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs. lemon juice

Peel and slice apples; place in bowl of cold water and lemon juice. In another bowl, mix all other ingredients. Add the apples. Done.

Mold your dough:
Slice your refridgerated dough in half. Sprinkle flour on your mat, on your dough, and on your rolling spin/cup/improvised cylinder. Basically, sprinkle flour like it's snow on Christmas Eve all over any area that so much as makes contact with the dough. Roll each half until flat, but make sure your perfectly well-meaning land of dough doesn't stick to the mat. Lining your mat with parchment paper may just do you wonders. Line a 9' pie pan with first layer of dough. I like laying the bottom layer a little thicker than the top layer so it soaks up all that juicy filling. Fill your pan with your apple filling. Repeat rolling process on second half, and lay over the apple goodness. I placed my top layer over the pie in segments in order to have a really flakey crust, but you can do whatever you'd like, so long as there's a little breathing slit.

Bake your pie at 400 degrees for 50-60 minutes. Let cool for twenty minutes. I sprinkled mine with cinnamon. Now, dear readers. Devour.

Friday, October 1, 2010

And speaking of neglecting this blog...

—NEWS! I have actual news—

Remember all of five minutes ago when I posted that amazing poem by Timothy Donnelly?

Tim's agreed to do an interview with me!

—More News!—

Remember all of forever ago when I wrote that post about book titles that I found especially fine?

Sasha Fletcher has also agreed to do an interview with me!

More to come. Soon.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Rumored Existence of Other Poetry Collections

Recently, I ordered five poetry collections, which, upon delivery, I tore through with wild abandon. It has become increasingly difficult to write a poem, to even imagine writing a poem. The sheer idea of constructing a poem to exist in some quantum space is, in itself, an exercise in pathos—no, actually, you know those wonderful daguerreotypes that depict a person in the midst of spewing a face-filled cloud of ectoplasm from their maws in a fit of spiritual possession? It's an exercise in that. That's kind of what I imagine is happening to poets around me as I dumbly sit with pen in hand, waiting for the paranormal to take plasmic form in my mouth. Anyway. Since the inception of the blog, the goal has been to provide the nectar of writerly wisdom. (Nectar may or may not include ghastly plasma.)


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I'm alive--I guess--

I will as I always do, with the guilt-ridden acuity that comes with being a slacker in pursuit of some kind of excellence, apologize for my near month-long silence. It turns out that I have been doing nothing at all to possibly excuse myself of this inactivity; I am merely practicing nothing, still being matter myself, still able to clean moldy bathtubs and everything! Since we last spoke however, I've read Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart, This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and am now up to page 350 of Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, the latter of which feels abso-fucking-lutely interminable. Despite the monstrosity in book-heft alone; despite the rather exhausting diatribes people would find themselves standing before me spewing on what DFW was really trying to do with this "piece"; despite the dense, long-winded chapters siphoned through nearly incomprehensible street verbiage matched only by dense, long winded chapters siphoned through mad, conspiracy-theoried scientific language that has so plagued my reading experience; despite these, I'll call them humps, there is some of the finest, most beautiful prose I have ever read.

But this isn't really a post about David Foster Wallace. This is more of an assurance post, to say that I am in the process of lining up more interviews, and that I'm not going to post my Joanna Klink review in full here because I've decided to submit it to a few magazines instead. I'm sorry that I can't stay true to you and only you, blog.

I'm also going to be teaching a class on the contemporary line, so I may post my ideas here every once in a while for you, dear readers, and my theoretical students. So just be on the look-out for that.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ben Marcus, the inglorious, unheroic, nobody

I finished Notable American Women by Ben Marcus yesterday. Here's a challenge: read this book and as you're reading it, try to explain to people what it's about. They will look at you like you are describing a very new, very complicated, very unappealing sex position, and maybe Snoop Dogg's there watching from a throne. Regardless, you will be met with, let's just call it, skepticism. As a precautionary measure, it's usually best to show these skeptics the paperback in question. And as prospective readers are wont to do, they will flip over the book to read the usual false, showy superlatives attached to any book of merit: Incredible!, A fantastic journey!, ____'s best yet! Usually as unreliable as a shroom-head's description of a tree. Just a guess. Even someone as dubious as I am about such things (in case that wasn't clear), I was immediately smitten with Marcus. Here's the back of the book:

"Ben Marcus is a genius, one of the most daring, funny, morally engaged and brilliant writers, someone whose work truly makes a difference in the world."—George Saunders

"How can one word from Ben Marcus's rotten, filthy heart be trusted?"—Michael Marcus, Ben's father

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Current books in my bag

In case you were wondering, these are all great.

Interview with Anna Journey

A year and a half ago, I worked as an editorial assistant at The New Criterion. One of my jobs was to send the famously irascible poetry critic, William Logan, books for possible review. New books would come in from publishers all over the place. In this case, it was an act akin to leaving your baby out in the Savannah, with lions and cheetahs and hyenas running around searching for pink soft chewy things to eat. I liked going through the new books, for obvious reasons. Usually though, I'd peruse the book and feel uninspired, place it back down, and that would be that. I had been trying to work on a series of poems called "Quarry is a Place for Nesting" (it didn't work out) when what book should arrive but a book called If Birds Gather Your Hair for Nesting by Anna Journey. There was a feeling of almost sisterhood, with our similarly felt utliziation of a word like 'nesting'; so much of a wry conflation of maternity and a post-modern age's sensibility. I did my usual dance of opening the book in order to scan it for possibly exciting language. I read the first poem, "Adorable Siren, Do You Love the Damned?" I read the first poem. I read the first poem. I read the first poem. Almost immediately, my poem, which had instantly seemed so kith on the surface, became wildly inferior to the beauty, control, and wile of Journey's work. I remember being most drawn to the closure's sex-and-violence grace, which made me feel like something in me was slipping off into a crag:

...I'm drunk

though I won't wear heels, honey, or I'd fall

for anyone. I'd fall devil

over heels over edge over oleander
over open mouth

over birthmark over forked

tongue over forked tongue
that turns on mine.

The experience of reading this book made me want to trade in my diction for arcane tools and demented flowers. I remember wanting very badly to know this person, or at least make myself known to them. After I got into the contact with her, her name started popping up everywhere, whether in the literary journal Parnassus, or on random websites lauding the book as part of a best summer reading list. She's a poet of decadence, flare, trickery, and come-hither, someone with whom music and character are on equally intense lyric plains. I knew that speaking with her would be fun as hell, and all of its sexy devils. And with all of the sharp, irresistible language in her poems, this interview revealed to me the very level balance between her attention to language and her intellectual prowess in Contemporary Poetry, which are also earnest and smart as hell to say the least.