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Mark Cugini

is the editor of Big Lucks and the curator of the THREE TENTS Reading Series in Washington, DC. His first chapbook is forthcoming from Ink Press.

“Publish work you do not understand. Stop sending messages that say ‘We absolutely loved this, but can’t quite wrap our heads around it.’ Take it around. Stop coveting. Stop having dinner in a glossy photo album. Nudge over in your mind that anyone wants you to billboard a new story by Richard Bausch or Joey Lawrence whoever else. Don’t be afraid to take a shit. Stop worrying about where things are headed. Stop looking for the next twitter, or the current twitter.”

Blake Butler, “Lit Mags as an Empty Mob Scene & yes I know this is an oink,” the post that changed my life.

Whas’Poppin: July

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July’s a funny time because of vacations and America and hot dogs and home run derbies. It’s also funny because sometimes you are born and everyone wants to get together and just be born together (see above). It’s also also funny because who has time for anything anymore.

Here’s the shit that was the shit this month.

READ MORE >

Roundup / 7 Comments
July 31st, 2014 / 12:23 pm

CALL TO ACTION: if a person invites you to their author/book page less than 24 hours after you’ve accepted their friend request, block them and report them for spam.

Whas’Poppin: 6/27/14

A2

 

This was a big week for Kim Kardashian, who recently became my BFF in an iPhone game. It was also a big week for poetry because–like Dan Gilbert–poetry can’t stop won’t stop.

Don’t worry, I’m still here.

——-
I.

mouth mouth mouth

some words onto righthere  rises eyed
from under  full lift my arms hold
(this weight of you)

Alexis Pope, “(soured)” (Leveler)

II.

I heard the mothers
call me trash. Beyond

me lay some other
me: a supine body

in the summer heat.

Caylin Capra-Thomas, “The Mine Fire Speaks” (Boiler)

III.

My greatest flaw is that I’ve granted my future-self permission to question myself at any time.

Michelle Dove, from “Alt Vices” (ILK)


IV.

Jon tells me
about a girl
who wants

to put her hair
inside his
belly button.

It’s a thing

Rob MacDonald, “Fetal Position” (interrupture)

V.

I want to teach this song
to the children we won’t make.

Ruth Awad, “Shame, Abridged” (Diode)

 

Roundup / 2 Comments
June 27th, 2014 / 12:00 pm

Whas’Poppin: 6/20/14

 

;p;

All weekend I was in New York, which is like AWP all the time (((minus the one time they had turkey legs ((although I’m sure if you put your mind to it you can find a turkey leg in New York (although maybe not because that seems to be a “country” fair type thing and believe it or not I didn’t see a damn deer until I was 18 years old so what do I know)))))). I got back to DC on Sunday and at work on Monday I gchatted Mike and I says “Sucks, dunnit” and he says “wha” and I says “not being there” and he says “TRU.” Which was a little confusing, since it wasn’t really that memorable of a weekend, but then I saw that Lauren Russell interviewed Dana Ward at Hot Metal Bridge and Dana said:

“I can’t imagine writing, or thinking at all, without doing so somehow with others, especially those friends permissive enough to co-create, & then perpetuate, a space where its ok to fuck things up by writing stuff that might say really really stupid shit, change each other’s minds, & then still be around no matter, going on doing writing, not writing at all, keeping up with one another out of need & love, for the specific forms that people make, so doing.”

And then at that point the cab rides and the dad shirts and boxing gloves made a little more sense.

——–

I.

Before I begin to say what will be the thing that will be the first
thing you hear today, let it be known: we are all in distress.

Erin J Mullikin, “Naked On The Internet” (Alice Blue Review*)

II.

Every day I exercise and I tone and I skinny myself into a spectacular hell

Natalie Eilbert, “Freaky Friday” (at COVEN, Brooklyn, NY)

III.

& ask again & my uncle out in the field with the spade & my uncle out in the ditch with the spade & I went into the lake & thought about the farm & I went into the lake & made my will & all of the farm to my brother & my sister in the house & my father in the ditch of his fields & the goats up in the mountain struggling with the grass.

Lisa Ciccarello, “I only thought of the farm” (The Volta)

IV.

I have gotten good and high, you see.
And I do sometimes try
to be at least
a little pretty.

Joshua Kleinberg, “Yorick” (Spork)

V.

I could cry at anyone’s home movies.
Bruised haircuts, inflatable pools—
I would score them all in B minor.

-Kathy Goodkin, “Ancient of Days” (Dreginald)

———-

xxx

*K, so that’s the link to the poem and doing that removes the nav frame. Here’s the link the whole issue but that link isn’t going to work forever, because it’s just a link to the main page and one day it’s gonna have a completely different issue, so if you’re reading this in 2039 and you can’t find this poem, give me a call and we can find it together.

Roundup / 1 Comment
June 20th, 2014 / 10:03 pm

Whas’Poppin: 6/13/14

lilpennyknicks

OK, we spend a shitload of time talking about books in this piece and just about absolutely no time talking about all the free-ass online “content” (LOL) that exists in the world and that seems weird and absurd considering that me and 3.7% of you wallflowers used to read this thing (and other things) in Google Reader and now that’s not a damn thing anymore but you’re a thing and I’m a thing and the follow lines are the thingiest things I got googly-eyed over this week yanawahmean.

——–

I.

The law does not say sorry. The law says get inside with our skin but do not leave home without it.

Gina Keicher, “Naked On The Internet” (Birdfeast)

II.

I will also admit
how moved I am
by instrumental versions
of terrible songs
in restaurants and that
I’ve never understood
why at the end
of the nightmare
the murderer and I
eat a meal together.

Anne Cecelia Holmes, “If You Ask I Will Tell You” (Sink Review)

III.

If toilets flushed forwards

there’d be more poets.

-John Ebersole, “Until My Stomach Is A Microchip I’m Not Impressed” (BOAAT)

IV.

a new myth in which my hands are put down
at the wrist. where the bone is cut off at the elbow
and thrown to the hounds. a new constellation
where a boy drags his dead dog across the night sky.

-Sam Sax, “Hands” (Smoking Glue Gun)

V.

Perhaps I cry because I can’t believe how much there is
that I don’t believe in
Whatever I am, please look later

-Monica McClure, “Skunk Hour” (GlitterMOB)

———-

Oh boy and check out the new issues of Anti- because the whole this is just whoa.

Roundup / 2 Comments
June 13th, 2014 / 1:02 pm

You know how to “apply for an nea grant,” but you’re totally over it.

wow

The new issue of Better is fresh off the CSS sheet.  I really wanna read the whole thing, but how am I supposed to not toy around with Glenn Shaheen’s text-based poetry game for the rest of my life?

You call out from your bed in the dark. But you are alone, so so alone. Mainly because your last roommate was such a pain, always complaining about you leaving your dishes around, but, like, you’re a poet! You don’t have time to carry your dishes to the sink like some businessman. Of course you were kicked out of that apartment.

Poor all of us.

 

Web Hype / 3 Comments
February 19th, 2014 / 1:58 pm

Reviews

25 Points: Kristen Stewart’s “My Heart Is A Wiffle Ball/Freedom Pole”

1. Plenty of celebrities have graced us with their beautiful words—Ally Sheedy’s Yesterday I Saw the Sun (Summit Books, 1991) teaches, “My insides slosh about like a nauseous ocean/It takes great gulps of air/Words from religious books/And Diet Cherry Coke to quiet the sound.” It is the wisdom of these cultural leaders—Jewel, Charlie Sheen, Suzanne Somers, Alicia Keys—and—James of House Franco, the First of Her Name, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Lady Regnant of the Seven Kingdoms, Protector of the Realm, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, Mother of Dragons and Mhysa.

2. Tell me your viscera have never once plunged in an ocean of corn syrup, have never one transformed into Wiffle®.

3. You cannot.

4. One job of the writer is to introduce neologisms into an otherwise very boring world. Alien space bats. Webinar. Astroturfing. Wardrobe malfunction. Brangelina. Affluenza. Kismetly. We need strong literary leaders like Kristin Stewart to push the next evolution of poetics.

5. How far does the looking glass reflect? Joyelle McSweeney, in a similar intense study of Stewart’s linguistics, noticed this: “‘kismetly’ is also a kind of inverted mirror writing of her own name (the k, i, s, e, t, the w inverted to m,)!”6. Similarly observed—is “Marfa” not a reference to Dan Flavin’s untitled (Marfa project), 1996?

7. Is it also not a reference to Atlanta’s MARTA terminal—or rather—the struggles of language—how the word distorts with a mouthful of blood, bone…freedom. Is this not done in the tradition of the great picaresque novel? Marfa, Marfa, beautiful Marfa! How the words travel like a train down the digital page—digital as moonlight!

8. The all-too-prosperous poetry market is overcrowded with the same bland literary journals publishing the same poets over and over. We need venerable institutions like Marie Claire to spread the gospel. Poetry from J-14! Poetry from Cosmopolitan! Poetry from Martha Stewart Living! Poetry from Golf World! Poetry from Handguns Magazine!

9. The future is now. Step the fuck aside, Blah Blah Review.

10. Why is “neon” a word that is exclusively owned by Beatniks/wannabe-atniks?

11. Should not words be owned by those with the most money? Basketball players, actors, meteorologists, CEOs—are these not the people in our community who should own the word “neon”?

12. As the great mathematician Robert Smith (later incorrectly attributed to Benjamin Franklin) once stated—”all cats are grey”. If all cats are grey—therefore—all moonlight must be digital. All bones are capable of being sucked pretty. All organ pumps are abrasive—and therefore (by Smith’s deduction)—can be perforated.

13. It is in our nature to spray paint everything that is known to us—this is fact—but what of the things we do not know? We require philosophers such as Stewart to guide us.

14. Both mythologically and scientifically-verified—devils are never done digging. They have also been observed in their natural environment 1) challenging mortals to fiddling contests 2) challenging deities to turn stone into bread and 3) challenging poets to write the best damn poetry they can write.

15. Stewart also writes—and take note—”He’s speaking in tongues all along the pan handle.” The “pan” in this line is a reference to the devil in the previous line—pan = Pan, the flute-playing god of the wild, who was later transformed (through the same ‘religious books’ Sheedy cites in her manuscript) into the Baphomet-envisioned devil we all know and love today. Iconoclast!

16. Iconoclast. Baphomet. Celebrity. Poet. Poet. Celebrity. Devil. Vampire. Wiffle® ball.

17. Freedom.

18. Do you believe in freedom? Do you believe “celebrity” is a different brand from “poet”. Why do you believe this, when you wish your poetry brought you celebrity?

19. Who decides how the Venn diagram overlaps—Kristen Stewart or you? Did you star in the world-renowned Twilight film franchise?

20. If “My Heart Is A Wiffle Ball/Freedom Pole” had been written by a darling of the New York poetry scene or your favorite MFA professor-cum-shaman, would you not have come running in its swift defense? [see 23.]

21. Would you not have come running in a pair of Balenciaga sneakers and sheer Zuhair Murad gown screaming?

22. Can you afford those things? Are you comfortable? Are you a poet? Are you a celebrity?

23. If yes, it’s a good poem. If no, it’s a good poem.

24. In a Yahoo!Answers (India Division) post from 6 years ago, user “Brainz” defined the opposite of Freedom as “slavery, captivity, imprisonment, confinement, restraint, among others!!!”. If you are not for the Freedom Pole, if you are not for the independence of poetry, of Kristen Stewart’s uninhibited language, of the right of every man, woman and non-binary gender person to sip a Starbucks Venti Frappuccino® Blended Beverage while tapping away at a 15‑inch MacBook pro with Retina display—then you are the enemy. An enemy of freedom—of poetry—of the world.

25. As fellow celebrity, philosopher and poet Billy Corgan once mused, “The world is a vampire.” This is certainly something that should be familiar to you of all people.

25 Comments
February 12th, 2014 / 5:56 pm