|May 1999||Café Society's Poetry News Update|
a rec.arts.poems picnic organized in Massachussets by
Robin Sommo and Bettina Callaghan, Summer '98
|Marek Lugowski, born February 15, 1959, Warsaw, Poland, works
currently in computer programming, analysis and design at Northwestern
University's Institute for the Learning Sciences. He has been doing
this since August 1992.|
Marek graduated with an MS in 1984 in Computer Science from Indiana
University, and worked until 1990 on his doctorate, without ever
finishing. During that time and later he worked in the industry
(Texas Instruments) and the academia (University of New Hampshire) in
the fields of neural networks and artificial life technology.
He likes to think that his computer immersion shows in his poetry as
precise treatment of language. For example, he spent the 1983-1984 year at the Massachussets
Institute of Technology's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
accompanying Douglas Hofstadter on his sabbatical, translating and
corresponding with the Polish Science Fiction and philosophy writer
Stanislaw Lem, as well as learning about fluid analogies, an area of
research by Professor Hofstadter and a model of how humans think.|
Now, as a poet and editor, Marek writes and posts poems on rec.arts.poems, as well as edits a small volunteer-staffed press, A Small Garlic Press, a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Illinois Corporation. At ASGP Marek co-edits its magazine, Agnieszka's Dowry (AgD) http://www.enteract.com/~asgp with katrina grace craig. Other members of ASGP perform webmastering and other tasks such as minding the accounting and finances.
Marek also contributes editing and poetry to CrossConnect, a journal and a paper anthology at Kelly's Writers House at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.
These days Marek is a translator of modern literature from the Polish, concentrating on the late great Halina Poswiatowska. His translations can be readily found on rec.arts.poems through DejaNews.com and other internet browsers. Marek is hoping to publish these translations as a facing-edition book, together with the original Polish.
A Small Garlic Press in its three and a half life-span has put out 22 titles, all of them beautifully and professionally printed chapbooks. They can be obtained directly or as special order from Amazon.com or any bookstore via Books in Print.
ASGP started in 1995 with Marek's own first chapbook, Utah Poems. His second chapbook for ASGP is Selamat Jalan, Mate, his poetic impressions from Indonesia and Australia. It is one of the 1996 ASGP books.
ASGP's current officers include katrina grace craig (VP editing), jen jensen (webmaster and VP technology), and Rene Rivera (treasurer). All of the officers of ASGP live far apart from one another, except Marek and Rene who live in Chicago. Several other people help ASGP as friends. All are geographically dispersed. ASGP is a true Internet press in all its manifestations.
In addition to his ongoing translation of Halina Poswiatowska shown only on Usenet, Marek has translated a play with embedded poems of Agnieszka Osiecka, "The Drunken Hare", as well as 25 poems of Wislawa Szymborska (with Joanna Trzeciak). The Halina Poswiatowska effort is a multi-year on-going one, all the way back to 1990: 324 poems have been shown on rec.arts.poems, together with the original Polish, for inspection and to facilitate scholarship. This is a pro bono effort, dedicated to scholarship and making Halina Poswiatowska's poetry available to the American reader in a clean, idiomatic American translation.
Marek's own work, collaborations with other authors, both on-going and past, polemic, criticism, amusements and all manner of lexical intercourse can be found often on Usenet's rec.arts.poems. An occasional poem or featured collections have been solicited by and placed in Beloit College's High Beans, The Astrophysicist Tango Partner Speaks, Imps in the Inkwell, Loose Ends, Conspire, UPenn's CrossConnect and Poetry Cafe's Anthology, and a handful of little presses. Marek's earliest multi-poem installation is to be found in the 1982 Collage, the creative writing annual anthology of Northern Kentucky University, Marek's alma mater.
|Poetry L & T:||When did you first start writing poetry, Marek, and what inspired you at the time?|
This question should be addressed to my mother -- she is my best fan and
archivist. I suppose in some early grade of grade school or other, in
Polish. But I can categorically answer that it had to entail women. My
fellow third grader women, that is. And our fabulously long-legged woman
teachers, towering over us.|
I rememer love notes smuggled in class containing all sort of figurative language about our forces advancing. Looking back it's amusing to me that I co-opted military language to be my language of love. I hope this is amusing, anyway. Military love, victimless but full of conquest...
|Poetry L & T:||Yes, it is a fun way of looking at it. And did poetry help you conquer the old enemy of teenage self-consciousness, in approaching girls?|
|Marek Lugowski:||Certainly not! I think writing about women and chasing them go hand in hand as they do with any shyness about it, teenage or otherwise. I should simply say that women were and are the main theme - themes? - of my poetry.|
|Poetry L & T:||As a bilingual poet, do you find that some Polish words have a rare beauty or qualities that do not translate so well into English?|
|Marek Lugowski:||This is necessarily true and goes both ways. I should note that I am
skewed towards being an American English poet. My command of the
lexicon is far better in English. This is why I dare translate only
from the Polish to the English - in literary translation.|
I recommend Douglas Hofstadter's various writings about translation and analogies in this regard. When one can't get it right directly, one has to artfully step back and try a different route to render the problematic idiomatic meaning via different target language. I am a great disbeliever in the "untranslatable". Things should at least be explicable -- and I am restricting myself to Polish and English, since that is all I know.
|Poetry L & T:||What do you find is the hardest thing about poetry translation?|
|Marek Lugowski:||Getting the thing finely right. There is an overarching sense of best choices. I am not saying that there is always one best choice, but there clearly is a concentric target, or perhaps lumps of concentric targets, and one can fall further from grace than closer. :)|
|Poetry L & T:||No doubt the early days of "A Small Garlic Press" going online were exciting. Was it easy putting the first chapbook into production, or do you have any cautionary tales for anyone going into similar ventures?|
|Marek Lugowski:||Anyone going into printing poetry is clearly in it for the trouble of it. :)
It's very rewarding in trouble, especially with the printers. Printers,
I am convinced, are a diabolical invention to keep publishers from thinking
they are demigods.
Our first venture was not on-line poetry. It was in fact Utah
Poems, my first chapbooks, and we premiered it at the Underground
Press Conference in Chicago at Depaul University in the summer of
1995. It was great fun. Preparing the book for print and fussing
with the cover as copier art was a great deal of fun, too. I lucked
out in hooking up with a fellow expatriate Pole for printer and he was
very good, so much so I was left unprepared for what was to come
since, which is to say, 22 lovely books. :)|
Cautionary tales? Nah. Do it cuz you want to. In our case it involved incorporating as a non-profit organization and obtaining ISBN numbers and printing digital-direct from files on Xerox Docutechs. Every one of these items, some perhaps incomprehensible to our readers, felt like a martial arts degree of attainment. Are we black belts yet? :)
|Poetry L & T:||I was impressed when I went to the website. I like the corporate style as well as the poetry. Who designs the covers and format of the books?|
|Marek Lugowski:||We as a group do a lot of second-pass deciding but I suppose I should take credit for most of the books. LeeAnn Heringer when she was part of the press also designed some. I suppose it was mostly LeeAnn and I switching off on things. But now it's just me. On the other hand, we all generate art for our covers or ask outsiders or our authors for elements of same.|
|Poetry L & T:||What special qualities do you look for in the work of a poet wishing to be published by ASGP?|
|Marek Lugowski:||It's simple: Both katja and I have to love it. People without a strongly discriminating sense of I-love-this have no business editing poetry. This means predominantly rejecting things. It gets downright agonizing when rejecting almost-shoe-ins. Sometimes katja convinces me, and sometimes I katja. I suppose it's like refined fishing. You basically wait and reject - keep catching 'em and throwing back.|
|Poetry L & T:||Is there any bad writing habit that really irritates you, making you reject a poet almost immediately?|
|Marek Lugowski:||There are too many to list. Compare the process to shopping for produce in a supermarket. But really, given that our on-line issues are open for public inspection while we fill them with acceptances, it is exceedingly difficult to complete them. Most submissions will be immediate rejections. Then we agonize endlessly over the ones we care about.|
|Poetry L & T:||To tie in with this month's poetry theme, Marek, what is your personal definition of poetry?|
|Marek Lugowski:||I don't have one. I used to joke that poetry is anything with a title,
underlined all the way to the right, everything tabbed in two tab stops.|
Looking back it's not so much a joke but a bleak formalist definition that has some utility. It's the "what is good poetry" that makes sense to ask, anyway. I would then try to answer it as whatever succeeds in transplanting the mind. I have a firm sense of loving poems. Perhaps I edit a press and co-edit its magazine because doing so is the most economical answer to your question. There is simply no lapidary answer. I answer by doing.
|Poetry L & T:||Would you say that while we can analyse each other's work, looking too closely at our own might endanger the spontaneity of inspiration?|
|Marek Lugowski:||No, I would not say that at all. I am all for looking closely. And if someone's spontaneity of inspiration is that fragile as to become endangered by looking too closely -- they are second-rate as creators and need to beef up that aesthetical backbone of theirs. I am simply against pat encapsulation.|
|Poetry L & T:||Who is your favourite classic or modern well-know poet and what do you like about their work?|
|Marek Lugowski:||Anne Sexton. I like how it puts me in her mind -- or should I say, her mind in mine.|
|Poetry L & T:||Lastly Marek, do you have any advice for anyone wishing to begin writing poetry or poets wishing to be published for the first time?|
|Marek Lugowski:||Sure. Come to rec.arts.poems and write the bejesus out of yourself.
Sooner or later you will get approached by various participating e-zines,
or possibly earn forever-lasting ridicule. I've seen both happen.|
Rec.arts.poems is a spontaneous free marketplace albeit full of flowing sewage. Yet that is one of its strenghts - flowing sewage is a mark of accessibility. The economics of writing poetry as a newbie indicate a total absence of market, unless one goes out to read one's poetry at open mikes or some such. So by posting to rec.arts.poems one gets a leg up on readership - and possibly on criticism. Go for it.
|Poetry L & T:||Thank you for the interview, Marek.|
POEMS BY MAREK LUGOWSKI
in eggshell, egg moment one i spy you out you with a blonde smile i latch onto your prairie warmth like a kiss anxieties of recognition vanish i want to kiss you we lock our cold warm hands moment two we're in the yale marble eggshell nearby, the cubist egg of old books is incubating stacked memories under sodium glowing behind glass so does your white courduroy and your white knit sweater and your wheat prairie hair your reflections let me know what not to bump into moment three we have pizza and beer we are aware and aware of our supreme fit we glow like coals, like pizza oven coals our prairie warmth is one flame now this is the seventh hour of ours moment three be train station goodbyes i do kiss you, delicately, deliciously, not enough it's there in my bearhug i do love you i know moments can be so © Marek Wojciech Lugowski 13 December 1988 Greenwich Village, New York City at three and one time only you've such a slender wrist dawn i can brace it enclose it encircle it my thumb opposes its fingers and meets them see, middle ring index even the little one. you've such a mauvemelt voice dawn i can stir it recall it imagine it or furrow it into a sunlakegleam with a quip or a pun. you've such a shiny gown of black dawn i can lift it let go of it twist it or tuck it behind your bonsai ear sweep across its curtain, my hand a key of geese against your rising sun. not quite the northbound key, maybe for your eastborn secrets dawn but i do talk dusklakeloud and i do handsomely show against you. you've such an erotic arch dawn like the one in st. louis i went to see at three and one time only. to enter you to cross the sacred line of you to make that special find of you or hang around you watch you race in soft reflections suffuse me, run your course through me in turn to warm you smoothen you cherish you obey all physical laws with you while stirring you with that special gift of unjaded fingers to so accompany the stars whose sound-off we await some 19 years on average stars who measure our time heedlessly boiling off their hot coronas like there's no tomorrow. the stars are astride abright even in the lightstained skies singing mightily if off-key (doppler shift) heard only faintly in st. louis at three, somewhat crisper in santa fe at two. nonetheless these sunken drunken stars potluck their choicest stories for our dim sung dinners b.y.o.ing light as always glistening, glowing, gliding blackbodies cascading like pointilistic water, smoothening the bone within you smoothening the bone within st. louis our ornery mothers, these stars, steady and explosive corrosive stars crosseyed under our checkered flags like the surly bulls at the floodlit mesquite rodeos the checker waves them in with stationary tiles in standing waves of liquid artificial life they file in under no protest like cattle unwavering in their staunch mute opposition. embarrassed by our stars' stubborn drinking we look the other way, referring to their fiery belching as twinkling. given such brouhaha, how am i to petition these stars for a discrete dispensation from gentle protocol and a special spicy permission to befriend your stationary pores all of them without limitations and exclusions a heartrending heartpounding admission. what sweet ache it would be to cross underneath your arch, maybe -- stars permitting to enter you, yes -- stars twinkling to cross your sacred line, perhaps -- stars flying with my own. arrest that thought. perish its consequences. there is a wonderful reason for the protocol to hold. it's a green day where i write from i breathe in the smell of morning roses and afternoon lumber though she's not here to remind me i stand so reminded on my wobbly own. you're such a star, marek... oh dawn i did inhale you exhale you eclipse you in a christening hug i did not write these inflammatory words to mock. this is not enough of a communion for us two i know. one of these days one of these... like canadian geese only slightly off course we shall go, take the hajj to st. louis at three and one time only to court and spark the bone within st. louis with our shared birthday thirteen years slender no match for any cosmic wristhold and for a moment of peace and infinity of commitment glimpsed forever thataway though here unknown in this space beneath the bone we shall glimpse for a moment of good for unbordered yet bounded love (says stephen hawking) for euphoric ether in volume sold to educational institutions at a discount for once that instant for ever and ever and ever (okay, okay -- for 19 raised to the 31st power) and there we will be told by the steering committee and we will believe them welcome home and we will properly welcome our home. Marek Wojciech Lugowski 10 - 14 May 1990 Evanston, IL / Cincinnati, OH / Lake Monroe, IN black pepper grrrl (one. two.) i met a grrrl and her name is not important. i've been thinking of her. but now i can taste. this grrrl on my mouth. the grrrl glows like jaunty-arsed black pepper. i know cuz i just had some. just had some. just now she's glowing me hot. and i wonder what if she can't sleep. just now. would that not. one. she couldn't sleep here. would that not. two. be asking no fair. Marek Lugowski one. two. September 1994 Chicago, Illinois wed17feb99 when nothing poignant or funny comes to mind the first next thing that comes to mind is to ask the psychtrix to relent and do away with the daily poem dear psychtrix although you won't see this until monday at 5 i dearly ask -- am i not well enough already? don't i strike you as having healed? i would like to return to my happy blocked state occasionally punctuated by a brilliant poem i find that this daily scheduled writing is maybe okay for my fans and lurking perverts but is taking me out of the contention for the really fine occasional poem like too much steady sex like being marrieds Marek Lugowski 18 February 1999 Chicago, Illinois
The winning poem will be hosted in audio/graphic performance format at
her site (read and designed, as much as possible, by the poet). She will
also help the winner to launch a site at geocities or a similar free
space with the poem if desired. May 31st is the deadline for
submissions. Since Katja is not charging a contest entry fee, unfortunately
there is also no prize money for this contest. But her site has hundreds of hits on a regular basis and your poetry could have a chance of being seen by publishing editors.
This issue features an interview with poet Marek Lugowski, an American/Polish poet who is a regular on the newsgroup rec.arts.poems. As editor of the online "A Small Garlic Press" website, he has some interesting comments for anyone wishing to bring out a poetry chapbook for the first time.
There is also news of a poetry competition, which closes at the end of May. It is all about animated or performance-based poetry. See Katja's banner, above.
The theme for this month's poetry section is the definition of poetry and what it means to each contributor. Many thanks to all who sent in their work. I have enjoyed reading all the submissions.
Any comments on this issue or back issues can be emailed to me on the link at the bottom of the page.
JOSHUA P. HILL was recently interviewed by Welsh poet Mop from alt.arts.poetry.comments on her April edition of The Cauldron, which also featured above picture. More of his poetry can be found on the site and on the alt.arts.poetry.comments newsgroup.
MY RECENT POEMS IN REVIEW|
© Josh Hill
A tea club poet laureate,
A fat gray-bearded beatnkik dude
A weary aged courtesan,
If you were birds, the lot of you,
Could I encompass in my unstaved line
Until, that is, I hear your noble line;[email protected]
JAN SAND, poet and illustrator from New York, is a regular contributor to Poetry Life & Times. and the newsgroup alt.arts.poetry.comments. A great deal of his work is about animals, or science fiction.
To see more of Jan's poem and illustrations, visit the November '98 issue of Poetry Life & Times, and scroll down past the Editor's Letter.
© Jan Sand
Words are the footsteps
THE POET AND HIS WORDS
The words gather at the poet's feet.
There are days when I go hungry for ideas.
Other times, I sit, a sleepy lion in the sun.
published in various internet journals:
Café Society Guest Poets,
the June '98 Pigs 'n' Poets,
Michael Stephen's Avalon,
and the Nov~Dec '98
Wired Art From Wired Hearts.
Her column for
Ellavon: An Ezine of Basic Culture,
is titled Rural Route Two.
Two of her essays are included in
Mother Voices, an anthology published by
Rose Communications in March 1998.
Julie Damerell 1999
A hole I didnt see
A silence I didnt hear
A hunger I didnt feel
|W o r d s O f A r t |
© John Holt 1999
Mention the subject of "poetry"
There are even those who think
But... I'm from Essex
and writing it involves creativity,
In "poetry" one may contemplate,
And when a nation's conscience sleeps
To read more of my poetry visit:
Back Issues of POETRY LIFE & TIMES:
Mail me on: [email protected]
with any poems, comments for the letters page, news about your poetry site, or forthcoming poetry events.
Mail me on: [email protected] with any poems, comments for the letters page, news about your poetry site, or forthcoming poetry events.
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