f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

February 8, 2006

i’m just not that weird (honest)

Filed under: viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 11:11 pm

How embarrassing for a so-called “creative,” curmudgeonly pundit-
haijin: I’ve been Weird-Tagged and can’t come up with any examples
of “weird habits” of mine, much less five of them.  Although I just might
end up with a plethora of examples, I think I’ll email a few friends and
family members to see if they can help fill my Weird list.
Meanwhile, a little background on getting tagged: Ellen M Johns,
of the Coffee Granules weblog, reached all the way over from the
UK, and tagged me at dagosan’s haiku diary — apparently during
her very first visit there (yes, pretty forward, indeed).  Ellen was
tagged by poet and author Pris Campbell.  At Pris’ surprise-filled
Songs To A Midnight Sky weblog, I learned that Ellen is waiting to
see whether I, and the four other males she tagged, “have risen to
the challenge!!!”  Great, more performance expectations.   
boy writing flip
Reading about Pris Campbell, I discovered that she — like myself —
has been living with CFS/CFIDS (chronic fatigue immune dysfunction
syndrome) for many years.  On her website About page, Pris begins
her story:
“I didn’t start out as a poet. I wanted to be a novelist until a
major illness wiped out  that idea. On September 23, 1990,
I woke up with a severe case of what was later to be diag-
nosed as CFIDS. . . .
When this illness hit, I felt as if I had been transported to a
place I no longer recognized.”
Although I have talked about my having CFS at this website (mostly
in the context of having to stop posting or switch formats to conform
to the illness’ limitations and frustrations), I have not said much about
the great transformation this illness has caused in my life.  Of course,  
I bet my astute readers could figure out what it might mean to lose
one’s profession and livelihood, all financial security and most social
contacts.  Nor have I discussed the dispiriting aspects of having a mere
“syndrome,” that sounds trivial, doesn’t make you “look sick,” and offers
no roadmap back to good health.
                                                                                         napper gray sm
Prior to CFIDS, Pris had been a ‘health nut’ and former clinical psy-
chologist, who was an aspiring author.  She biked daily, kept a garden,
and was active with friends and in the community.  If you are at all
curious about this illness, which has greatly affected the lives of hun-
dreds of thousand of people (plus their families), I recommend that you
read Pris’ story — and her tips about how to relate to us CSFers.
One thing Pris and I appear to have in common: an appreciation for
the insights and values gained living with this illness.  When I thought
I had to give up “ethicalEsq” (the prior name of this weblog) for good,
I wrote something worth repeating (if only for my own edification): 
I know that some of the new friends I’ve made out there in
Web Log Land are a little worried about me and my health,
but they shouldn’t be.  I’m not seeking sympathy by telling
personal details in this public place.  I’ve learned some very
important lessons while dealing with a serious health condition
over the past decade, and I’m glad to have learned them and
lived them.   Besides discovering my own inner strength, I found
out that there are things far more valuable to me than the typical
American symbols of “success” — power, influence, recognition,
I still haven’t learned how to pace myself, to avoid doing my body harm
in a constant hyper-weblogging mode.  Maybe Pris can share some of
her experience with me. 
On the other hand, perhaps she can lend me a few “weird habits” so
I can get this darn List done.  Soon, Ellen (honest).
tiny check  Speaking of poets, here are a few
poems from Lee Gurga that fit my mood tonight:

arc of a rubberband
back and forth across the room;
winter evening
coyote moon sn
first snow —
little boy laughing
in his sleep
the sky black with stars —
coyote tracks up and down
the frozen creek
lee gurga from Fresh Scent (1998)   

sought: haiku-sans-e

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 4:45 pm

Thanks to a comment at yesterday’s bummr posting, from Pat M.,

I just learned about Georges Perec‘s 2005 novel A Void (translated

from the French by Gilbert Adair):  As the New Yorker explains:

NoER  “Here is a true tour de force: a novel without

a single letter E. The translator’s dazzling re-creation

of the French original conveys the author’s near magical

cleverness while preserving an underlying seriousness

that makes this book much more than a curiosity.”

A Void‘s publisher says:

A Void is a metaphysical whodunit …. It is also an out-

rageous verbal stunt: a 300-page novel that never once

employs the letter E. Adair’s translation, too, is astounding;

Time called it “a daunting triumph of will pushing its way

through imposing roadblocks to a magical country, an

absurdist nirvana of humor, pathos, and loss.”

Not only has Perec saved a lot of e’s for us to send to Robert Soble’s   NoEN

Flickr trendoids, he has also inspired me to attempt this game on

a very micrio scale — with my own haiku.  I quickly learned how

difficult eschewing that vowel can be.


Looking through the hundreds of haiku and senryu that dagosan

posted at f/k/a last year, it became clear that not using e’s does

not come naturally — none of my poems was e-less (even though

they are almost always shorter than 17 syllables).  Today, with a

little struggle, this paltry example arose from the depths of my


our long

bathtub soak —

almost a full moon



My Schenectady neighbor, Honored Guest Yu Chang has a

name that promises e-lessness.  Nonetheless, out of approx-

imately 50 of his poems that have appeared here, only one

has no e:


rough landing

the warmth

of your hand


  Yu ChangUpstate Dim Sum (2004/I




I’m going to search my Yu Chang collection to see if I can find

more.  Meanwhile, I’m asking all the haijin out there to submit, by

email or as a Comment, some haiku-sans-e.  Please don’t cheat by

resorting to extremely truncated poems.  Let’s make 9 or 10 syllables

(as in the dagosan example above) the minimum.   One tactic

might be taking one of your favorite haiku and re-writing it without

an e.


Everyone is invited to join in this exercise, but if you don’t know what

we mean here by “real haiku,” please read is it or ain’t it haiku?” for

a quick lesson. (Yes, the Haiku Police are on patrol.)


If the book is as good as the critics have suggested, Georges Perec hat tip small

deserves a hat-tip for his achievement in A Void.  I’ve got about

299 pages to go to catch up.   Now, it’s your turn.



update (Feb. 8, 8 P.M.):  For a brief glimpse of the wit and erudition

that won George Wallace, and his Fool in the Forest weblog the

Blawg Review Award 2005 forBest Personal Blog by a Legally-

Oriented Male Blogger,” see his Comment to this post, which

is a pithy, positive review of A Void, with special emphasis on the

excellent and most difficult translation performed by Gilbert Adair.

haiku-sans-e updates:


tiny check – previously published:



of the old man’s




                                                                                     A Void, by Georges Perec – NoER


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