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Wednesday, November 27th, 2013


At Slate, Carl Wilson wrote brilliantly about Youtube comments and Stephanie Barber’s book, Night Moves, a transcription of the Youtube comments to Bob Seger’s song “Night Moves.” Here are the comments from that article:

Youtube aside, Bob Segar is truly one of the greats. Soulful, rockin’ and a great songwriter. One of the few who is equally believable as an all out rocker and as a tender, wistful balladeer. One of the greatest singers ever. He deserves to be mentioned in the same breath with Sam Cooke, Sinatra, Ella, Elvis and Aretha.
Coincidentally, Bob Segar was my very first real rock concert. I was 15 and I was blown away.
Side point to address the old vs new music conversation downthread: It is true that I will never experience music like I did with my 15 year old heart and all my musical memories are filtered through that 15 year old head that I lived in.
But now, I can listen to music with a knowledge and an understanding that I didn’t have then.
And I love that old stuff, but there is great new stuff too!
The Shins, Blind Pilot, Death Cab, Bob Schneider, Uncle Lucius, Black Keys, fun. and lots of others. Some will say that some of these are too derivative, but all music is derivative.
Sinatra, Thelonius Monk, Abba, Segar there are many, many more great musicians, singers, producers and songwriters in every generation.
To dismiss the current or the old as crap is the mark of a philistine who doesn’t really love music. They only love what music represents to them. Their youth,
And that applies equally to the fogies and the kids.

See, I always heard this on the radio as night NEWS.  I knew what the song was about. I just figured he was banging the girl working on the school newspaper with him.


Day One: An Amazon Joint

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

The publishing arm of Amazon announced that they’re going to publish a weekly journal called DAY ONE. It’s for the Kindle and will feature short stories and poetry. The first issue is now live. An annual subscription costs $20 but right now it’s only $10.

Their motivation for creating the journal is funny: basically, they say, sometimes it’s hard to know what to read next, “With so many things competing for your attention in this increasingly digital world … especially if you are looking for fresh voices and new perspectives.”

I subscribed.

The editor’s note from Carmen Johnson reiterates the mission, to “feed an audience of literature-hungry, time-constrained readers.” To do this, they went to MFA programs to find writers. They don’t name them, though this issue’s poem comes from Zack Strait, a student at Wichita State.

Along with Strait’s poem—called “Wrought,” and it is, heavily (“Grandpa could forge any object/from tobacco smoke//like a sideshow illusionist//when he worked for the Union/Pacific Railroad”)—there’s a short story by Rebecca Adams Wright called “Sheila.” Haven’t read it yet. It’s “22 pages” if your font size is the third smallest. Day One doesn’t list percentages like the other book I’m reading on my Kindle now: The Battle of $9.99, about the eBook pricing war against Amazon. However, this eBook is put together better than most, with easy jumping around and a nicer table of contents than I’ve seen on my Kindle Fire before.

There’s also a conversation between Strait and Wright. In the first question Wright asks about influences, and Strait says, “That’s a great question!” They seem very nice. The contributor notes are separated; there’s one for the writer and another for the poet. Maybe One Day we won’t have to distinguish the two  things. Day One does give equal attention to the illustrator.

It feels a little strange supporting Amazon this way, and having things I care about supported by Amazon. Strange reciprocity! Should it feel strange that suddenly Amazon—one of the biggest companies in the history of the world—finds something marketable about poetry?

Will Day One be as good as my favorite journals, like Hobart and PANK and Big Lucks? Will it be as edgy as the best online journals, like Robot Melon and NOÖ? Will it aspire to be more like VQR or New Yorker? Does Day One allude to Everyday Genius?

Would you publish with Amazon? I know there are a few htmlgiant readers who already do. How’s it going?

NYTimes blog series on poetry publishers

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

The NYTimes is starting a series about independent poetry publishers. The first interview is with Copper Canyon.

Flood Relief

Friday, October 11th, 2013


There was a flood in Colorado and NewLights Press, which specializes in high-quality handmade books, is giving all the money they make this weekend to help fix things. Their books are beautiful. You should check it out.

Big Lucks Books Wants Your Book

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Where were you when that journal Big Lucks announced that they were going to start publishing books? If you were on the Internet, you probably saw this news received to tears of great joy and unprecedented numbers of Facebook shares. That was fun. 2014 will bring books by Mathias Svalina, Carrie Murphy, Sasha Fletcher, Mike Young, and Mike Krutel. Nice list!

What’s more, starting today and going until the end of November, Big Lucks Books is reading manuscripts. They’re using Submittable, and according to the call for submissions, here’s what they’re looking for:

We want to read your novels, stories, poems, memoirs, and essays. We want completed works only: no excerpts, proposals, or elevator pitches. We want fizz. We want earnest. We want heartbreaking. We want innovation. We want provocation. We want our paradigms shifted. We want you to fuck us up.


Thursday, September 26th, 2013

coker AStephanie Barber’s movie DAREDEVILS (2013, premiering at the NY Film Festival next Thursday) is—among the many things that it is—a feature length narrative, and in itself an act of daredevilry. It is not an experimental film—that is, it doesn’t have much in common with the “traditional experimental film”—and it is a “movie” in the sense that it contains character development, relationships, dialogue, recognizable images, movement, music, and storytelling. The traditional three-act structure, however, is rearranged, subverted, and therefore not present to comfort you, and what’s more, the story demands your participation—and a rather rigorous participation. Like all stories, this one is a mystery, and you might say the involvement of the viewer in this story is similar to the mystery in which the audience sets out to solve the mystery. If reading the clues presented here will lessen your enjoyment of the movie, you know who you are and should stop reading now. Otherwise, read on. (more…)

The Original Narrator No Longer Exists: An Interview with Jeff Jackson

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013


Jeff Jackson is the author of the novel Mira Corpora, just released from Two Dollar Radio. He holds an MFA from NYU and is the recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and Baryshnikov Center. His short fiction has been featured in Guernica, The Collagist, the anthology Userlands, and performed by New River Dramatists in New York and Los Angeles. Five of his plays have been produced by the Obie Award-winning Collapsable Giraffe company, including Botanica which was selected by New York Times as “one of the most galvanizing theater experiences of 2012.” Of Mira Corpora, Don DeLillo says this: “I hope the book finds the serious readers who are out there waiting for this kind of fiction to hit them in the face.” And Dennis Cooper says this: “Jeff Jackson is one of the most extraordinarily gifted young writers I’ve read in a very long time. His strangely serene yet gripping, unsettling, and beautifully rendered novel Mira Corpora has within it all the earmarks of an important new literary voice.”


Michael Kimball: I’m curious about the way the title and author are presented on the cover. It’s not “Mira Corpora” and then “Jeff Jackson” as it is on the spine. On the cover, it’s “Jeff Jackson’s Mira Corpora.” It’s something I’ve only seen with movie titles, I think, and I’m wondering how you decided on that particular presentation.

Jeff Jackson: Two Dollar Radio was apparently inspired by movie posters when they came up with that presentation. There wasn’t any conscious strategy behind it other than to create something that stood out. I can see how it invites a deeper reading, though. Early readers have said the book’s prose has a cinematic quality (and I’m a huge cinephile) and putting my name before the title seems to reference that the narrator shares my name.


Lyndsay Coloracci, EXPLAIN YOURSELF!

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

For the next episode of “Explain Yourself!” in which a writer is challenged to respond to my question about their piece before this post scrolls off the page, I’m putting Lindsay Coloracci under the light. Lyndsay lives in Philadelphia, and I read her poems in the beautiful new issue of Shabby Doll House.

I find her direct address especially interesting—more interesting than usual—because the things she’s saying are more interesting than usual. I wonder what words she’s talking about, when talking about words that sound better articulated carefully. The line about kissing reminds me of Catullus. This line in particular gave me pause:

i am telling everyone that i just need one
non-painful experience and then that’s it

View more from “Explain Yourself!” here.



Monday, June 10th, 2013

Y’alls like pickles?

Why Did Mud Luscious Close? Getting busy with JA Tyler

Thursday, June 6th, 2013


Hello, here is an interview that I did with J.A. Tyler. We started it via email soon after the announcement that his press, Mud Luscious, would have to close down. It’s fairly long. First we talk about all the things he did with MLP, then we get into the nitty gritty of what happened that caused its demise. I really appreciate that he would do this. I’ve asked other presses to do a similar post mortem but they’ve declined. It’s not easy, I know. You run a press, you feel an almost paralyzing responsibility to the people you publish. You have a book that does well, you’re fucked because your responsibilities seem to increase. It’s not a thankless job, art — not by any means — but it’s a tough one. And the place where art intersects with business IS thankless unless your strength is on the business end of things. Anyway. Get into this interview. Remember MLP for its growth and its commitment and its problems.

Hi, J. A. How are you feeling? Would it be an understatement to say you’re sad?

Yes: Sad, overwhelmed, frustrated, sick. A million things all at once.


Well, we started this interview back in April, so it’s been a while. How are you feeling about things now? Is the remorse turning to relief? Have you started to get a glimpse of what a normal life can be yet?

Normal life, probably not. There is this residual layer of guilt that I presume will take much longer to unwind from wherever it is in me. I do see how much time I spent doing MLP related things, both on the “free time” I’m now allotted and in the size of the hole it left.