March 2009

Mean Monday: Baudelaire’s Preface to The Flowers of Evil

Another Drunk French Dude

Another Drunk French Dude

 Baudelaire was sort of mean-spirited. I would have liked to have gotten drunk with him, maybe just once though, and then probably I would stay away from him. But damn, the preface to The Flowers of Evil is brilliant. The dude was a first class asshole. Baudelaire would have liked when Brian Johnson sang, “you get into evil, you’re a friend of mine:” READ MORE >

Excerpts & Mean / 13 Comments
March 30th, 2009 / 1:03 pm

Free Words from Jason Jordan

Hi everyone, quick note here.

Jason Jordan, editor of decomp magazine, has been giving away free stuff over at his blog. This week’s free bag of freeness is full of Ninth Letter Vol. 4, No. 1. Jordan says:

To enter this contest, post something in this blog entry within forty-eight hours. I’ll put the names into a hat and draw one out.

So click over to the post and start commenting for a chance at the issue.

Contests / 3 Comments
March 30th, 2009 / 12:10 pm

Word Spaces (9): ‘Details’ by Alexandra Chasin

I’m happy to share the ninth post in our Word Spaces feature: ‘Details’ by Alexandra Chasin. Alexandra Chasin is the author of Kissed By (FC2 2007), a beautiful collection of unique texts, as she likes to call them, well worth your time. Her writing has appeared in Denver Quarterly, sleepingfish, West Branch, Phoebe, and online at DIAGRAM, Exquisite Corpse, and elimae. She currently teaches at The New School. For more about her, please see her bio at the FC2 site.

A few notes before the feature: ‘Details’ is Alexandra Chasin’s response to our standard prompt: take a picture of your writing area and write a couple paragraphs about it. In her email to me, Alexandra had said she wanted to try something a bit different. Great, I said.

Then I received the twenty-five photos and the accompanying text a few weeks later. As I clicked through the emails, looked at the photos, read the text, I could not help but think about Kissed By. The book made more ‘sense’ to me, at least my reading experience of it. Looking at ‘Details,’ I feel as though I know Alexandra Chasin a little more, which is a nice feeling, I think.

So I hope you enjoy the post as well and give some serious thought to picking up Kissed By. Reviews can be read at The Quarterly Conversation (my review), and here at The Short Review. You may also watch a video of Alexandra Chasin from the 2008 &NOW Festival of Innovative Literature and Art here.



Word Spaces / 24 Comments
March 29th, 2009 / 1:22 pm

The CIA Bought Me This Nifty Headband: Ugly Ducking Presse Stands Accused

In some dizzying crinkle of web logic, I’d like to share not only a post on another blog but the comment stream of that post, which features an interesting discussion of small press successes, funding, avant-garde tendencies, dissonance/dissent, and the CIA.

The post in question is Shonni Enelow’s spotlight of Brooklyn-based Ugly Duckling Presse, which publishes strange and exciting poetry, including lots of work-in-translation, and all in editions of carefully made book objects that preserve bookmaking as an art unto itself. They’ve published great books by Eugene Ostashevsky, Tomas Salamun, and Laura Solomon. They published Dodie Bellamy’s Barf Manfesto, which is terrific, and Aram Saryon’s Complete Minimal Poems, which won the William Carlos William Award in 2008.  That’s not the controversy. Controversy after the jump!


Excerpts & Presses / 25 Comments
March 29th, 2009 / 1:17 pm

Holy Sh*t file: “A radiocative cut in the earth that will not stay closed”

First of all, a big & hearty hat tip to Mathias Svalina for this- he was a real sport when I dicked around with iPod, and then he sent me this amazing and terrifying link to this essay by Tom Zoellner in Scientific American

Shinkolobwe is now considered an official nonplace. The provincial governor had ordered a squad of soldiers to evacuate the village and burn down all the huts in 2004, leaving nothing behind but stumps and garbage. A detachment of Army personnel was left behind to guard the edges and make sure nobody entered.


This was the pit which, in the 1940s, had yielded most of the uranium for the atomic bombs the United States had dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But it was more than historical curiosity. The pit had been closed and the mineshafts sealed tight with concrete plugs when Congo became an independent nation more than four decades ago, yet local miners had been sneaking into the pit to dig out its radioactive contents and sell them on the black market. The birthplace of the atomic bomb is still bleeding uranium and nobody is certain where it might be going.

Click through anywhere above to get to the full article, which is itself an extract from Zoellner’s new book, Uranium: War, Energy, and the Rock that Reshaped the World, which is just out now from Viking. The SF-Gate seems to have liked it.  Oh, and here’s Zoellner’s own website.

Author Spotlight & Excerpts / 2 Comments
March 29th, 2009 / 9:31 am

My First Look: The Legendary


At the risk of making some enemies and blacklisting myself, I’ve decided I’ll try to type honestly my reactions to reading new online literary journals that I’ve not before seen. Here is the first post in this unsteady series.

I’ll admit that I’m not too familiar with the online literary journal world. I tend to read only a handful of journals. I’m myopic in that way. But I’m also open to reading new ones, either at another’s suggestion or by my own discovery.

So I bring you online lit journal The Legendary, suggested to me by Brad Green. The journal’s url is ‘,’ so I’m expecting some raw shit, man. They’ve just posted their second issue, it seems.


Uncategorized / 55 Comments
March 29th, 2009 / 3:49 am

HTMLGIANT Presents: Coal in Your Stocking


The other night at Poison Girl, I met a poet named Christian, an aquaintance of Gene Morgan. Christian was out for the reading and also celebrating his having been accepted to the program at The New School. During a hiccup in the conversation, Christian asked about HTMLGIANT, saying he hadn’t read it since Secret Santa. I asked him why, and he said something like, “Well, I feel ashamed of myself. I never sent off a Secret Santa gift. I couldn’t figure out what to get her.”

So I told him he should still do it, he had time, why not send off a gift? It’s okay if you can’t figure out what to get her, I said. The idea is to send a surprise, something you admire and want to share with someone else.

Yes, he said. I understand, he said. Yes, I should, he said. He said he was sorry, and he wrote this on the back of a receipt to show his sorrow. He said that I should post it for everyone to see:


Despite this apology (is it sincere? can it be sincere with three exclamation points? the underlining? the ‘ya’ll’? the cursing? I don’t know), I sadly doubt he will ever send off the gift, though I hope he will prove me wrong.

Regardless, I’d like to present him with HTMLGIANT’s first ever Coal In Your Stocking award.

Christian, for your lack of effort, I say congratulations! Good luck next year in school, and while I hope the best for you, I also have to say this: may you receive lots of coal in your stocking during the holidays.

Now I throw you to the wolves.




I know all of this happened a while ago, but I can’t help but post this last bit: those of you who still haven’t received gifts, I’m sorry. Those who took part, but didn’t send off a gift, please please do that.


Mean / 22 Comments
March 28th, 2009 / 8:20 pm

Power Quote: Harold Bloom

If the essence of poetry is invention, as Dr. Johnson rightly maintained, then the classical Walpurgis Night shows us what poetry essentially is: a controlled wildness, a radical originality that subsumes previous strength, and, most of all, the creation of new myth.

The Western Canon , “Goethe’s Faust, Part Two: The Countercanonical Poem”

Power Quote / 10 Comments
March 28th, 2009 / 12:59 pm

Hi, My Name is Kathy Acker: Part 1


(Dodie Bellamy in Kathy Acker’s Clothing.) But I’m special. There’s something special about me as far as sex goes. There’s always been. You have to treat me that way or else get out.

What follows may not be safe for work! All excerpts are from Kathy Goes to Haiti:


Author Spotlight / 18 Comments
March 27th, 2009 / 6:37 pm


Cover to Cover: NOON, Part 1

Getting excited about the new issue of a magazine or journal is easy enough, but sustaining that interest is a more difficult proposition. Look at your book shelf right now- how many of the “awesome new issue[s] of” whatever it was at the time end up getting abandoned three-quarters, or halfway, or a third of the way through? Today I want to introduce you all to something that I hope will become a regular feature on HTMLGiant. (And not just a feature I write– any of us can do this, and on your own blogs, you can too.) Friends, meet COVER TO COVER, in which I (or YOU) walk the walk of digging your favorite journal by committing to actually read the entire issue from start to finish. For the first COVER TO COVER, I have chosen NOON #9, the tenth anniversary edition of Diane Williams’s and Christine Schutt’s perpetually awesome literary annual. I’ve chosen NOON in part because I just think they’re great (there are few magazines I would rather read from COVER TO COVER) but also because I think that literary annuals are especially dependent on a self-motivated readership, people interested and willing to engage with the publication over a sustained period of time. After all, this will be the “new issue” for twelve full months. 

After the jump, I issue my first report on what’s been read so far: Clancy Martin, Kim Chinquee, Brandon Hobson. Also, Augusta Gross’s artwork!


March 27th, 2009 / 3:48 pm