Showing posts from March, 2018


PB invited me to join him last Sunday to watch documentary on the US incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. Part of the 11th Annual Peace Film Festival, organized by Yumi Tanaka and a band of volunteers, Resistance at Tule Lake (2017) by Konrad Aderer was less about the resistance than about the remembrance of this infamous episode of American history. Tule Lake camp was where those who refused to answer, or answered no-no to, the government's loyalty questionnaire were sent. There was a special segregation center inside the camp for those judged especially resistant or disloyal. The government also mounted a campaign to persuade the prisoners of all ten concentration camps to give up their US citizenship and be deported to Japan, even though most of them had never seen that country. Fearful and angry, many Tule Lake camp inmates joined the pro-Japan faction called the Hoshi-dan. The film showed them running in squads and doing other physical exercises to train t…

Turning 48, or Post Your Birthday Wish, If You Wish, Below this Post

Turning 48, or Post Your Birthday Wish, If You Wish, Below this Post 

I’ll write one true thing a day in the week running up to my birthday.

John Ashbery is boring and I’d rather eat cardboard than read his poetry.

I’m a poor judge of character, which is my saving grace in making friends.

Angrier. Sadder. Heavier. I look at the young and am disconsolate.

There are no moral phenomena, but I have to act as if good and evil exist.

Last week I wrote a respectable poem about sex with a party of cyborgs.

 John Ashbery is boring but “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror” is brilliant.

Love, I have been under increasing pressure to make a false allegation.

 Photo by Guy E. Humphrey. I name it "Wallflowers."

Old Rendering Plants

We Love You, Charlie Freeman by Kaitlyn Greenidge. The premise is intriguing: a black Bostonian family, the symbolically named Freemans, join a research institute to teach sign language to a chimp called Charlie. The situation is set up for a scathing social critique of racism, some of which Greenidge delivers. The most effective, because the most moving, involves the allure of white trickery to a stern but lonely black schoolmistress. Nymphadora is the most searing portrait of the novel, and she burns the other characters out of the stretched canvas.

Old Rendering Plant by Wolfgang Hilbig, translated by Isabel Fargo Cole. Published by Two Lines Press, which I discovered at AWP, after Tim Tompkins suggested looking for its editor, and his good friend, Olivia Sears, this German novel is dense with the poetry of a wasted landscape. It is haunting, a nightmarish reckoning with history and holocaust. After reading it, I was filled with the excitement of imitating it, but found I could not…

Poems in BPR

I have three poems in Birmingham Poetry Review (Spring 2018 number 45), a publication of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The issue features the great poet Gerald Stern with new poems written in his 90s, and a perspicacious essay by Lucy Biederman on him titled ""And I Go On and On": Gerald Stern's Poetics of Protest." It's bracing to read about how Stern has integrated his politics into his poetics from the start. Some terrific poems in the issue. I particularly enjoyed Saara Myrene Raappana's "Heroic Origins" (it's about bees), Chelsea Rathburn's "The Corinthian Women" (who stood aside while Medea murdered her children), and Gary Soto's two Untitled poems based on Henry V 4.1.98-99 and the bard's Sonnet 150.9. Thanks, Adam Vines and Gregory Fraser, for accepting my poems. Annual subscription is only $10.

Hyphen Interview

THL and JEHL: If the city could answer your questions, what would you ask it? Why are these important issues to you?

JLK: Will you ever change your survival and authoritarian mentality, which prioritizes economic development and political control above all else? How can you be changed? Will you remember me? And how will you remember me?

THL and JEHL: Also let’s consider the reverse. What would your city ask you? Why?

JLK: Who are you?

Thanks, Tammy Lai-Ming Ho and Jason Eng Hun Lee, for the interview.