Contrapposto Action Queen
by Connie Scozzaro
Bad Press, 2013
$9 / Buy from Bad Press
Before I’d ordered the book, I listened to Scozzaro read “What Is Parents?” on the Claudius App and fell in love with the poem. I listened to it the way an eight year old listens to Beatles’ songs. I’d drag my partner in to listen to it and tried to dub the poem to a mix tape but it didn’t survive the transfer. “Isn’t this just the best?” I’d say, jumping up and down as Scozzaro read in a brave and insistent voice.
“What Is Parents?” is one of the more elegant ones. Her verses make adept shifts from a naïve diction to classy Rimbaud/Swinburne-esque lyricism. I like the tension between the vague, the true, and the fantastic in “What Is Parents?”
After this good work with something not mine,
I come home to you, we feed each other and laugh. I love you,
especially when we fuck really well, but probably
we fuck really well because I love you so much.
In the heart of the grass, a fountain rushes,
blood in the shape of a rose. For seconds
I understand birth, and the Incredible String Band
play their instruments
well. What is parents?
What are dreams?
These poems, and this poem, consider everyday ritual and material limitation, but also seem to mediate banal domestic desperation through an intensely personal kind of verse. In my reading, I like to think that the poems are able to capture the boundary between boredom and fetishization.
Contrapposto Action Queen is eight longish poems long. These poems are exhausting in the best way. Reading them I’m too full of ideas. The collection is so full of colliding images, unresolvable emotional states, and shifts in diction. Scozzaro is very good at eloquent and cool verse that isn’t afraid to betray itself with urgent brattyness. Her poems are exciting because they seem to constantly shift, from image to image, from the exact to the vague, as they unfold. From “Elena, Whatever: You Are But Dreaming”
Suitors buy her roses, or posies, which upon inspection,
are but mauve, petals trembling pools,
obscuring heaving shoulders on ahead.
Two or three swoon from daily collapse, this way and
that, to be in another world, to know
how to use your hands.
Write what pleases you, what displeases me,
black liver wobbles out the drain,
dragging itself on a few gross legs.
You are the hero of the bathroom mould,
blocked drain, streams of tangled hair,
you squirt, we get deposit back.
July 18th, 2014 / 10:00 am
Our people do other things (or “thangs,” which is the way I recommend saying that word), and here are some of them. Feel free to support Htmlgiant in new, exciting ways by engaging our contributors outside of this domain. All of their shit is hot, and you should love them as I do.
Blake and I have decided that I will be managing this site for a while.
If you’ve never heard of me, I started this site with Blake, I love the beach, own a high-end retail store, and have two wonderful children and a loving wife that refers to me as her “ladyman.”
Blake will continue to be the Executive Editor of Htmlgiant, and I will listen to him when he has something to say. He is my boss.
Up until this point, for the past 5-6 years, writers have published their own posts without having to get them approved. We changed this ten minutes ago.
This will allow us to address problems with content before it goes live, time posts appropriately, stop embedded video from looking all fucked-up, and generally make everything more cohesive.
What does this mean for you? Well, for one, you’ve got a new buddy! I’m your buddy! Other than that, it depends.
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I love you all, and thank you for visiting us at Htmlgiant,
The reading is over. You missed it. :( #YOLO
The most inflammatory sentence in the comments wins the 70 UDP books from their Full Moon Sale.
The winner will be chosen by either Blake or myself. I’m not really sure who. We just made this contest up a few minutes ago over email, and didn’t really plan that far out.
Good luck, and R.I.P. Gore Vidal! Loved that Caligula!
*UPDATE 8/02/12* I’ve picked a winner, and that winner is Scott McClanahan. Congratulations, Scott! You’ve won some books! R.I.P. Gore Vidal!
I’m really excited about this. The Southern part of the US needs as much love as we can get. It’s hot down here, and we’ve got mosquitos and no gay marriage.
If you live in one of these cities (Austin, Houston, New Orleans, Oxford, Tuscaloosa or Atlanta), or if you are feeling generous, you can donate money on the tour’s Kickstarter page here.
If you catch me in Houston, I’ll buy you a beer and we can talk for a long time about racism/sexism/Tao Lin.
Here are the tour dates:
July 11th – Austin, TX – Domy Books, 7pm
July 12th – Houston, TX – Domy Books, 7pm
July 13th – New Orleans, LA
July 14th – Oxford, MS – Square Books, 6pm
July 16th – Tuscaloosa, AL
July 17th – Atlanta, GA – Beep Beep, 8pm
My wife is performing today as part of Low Lives 3, an online international performance festival. It’s going on from 3-6 ET today on UStream, so if you’ve got some time and you’re just like hanging-out and eating a sandwich or watching your cat sleep, you should tune in here.
I worked with Sean Kilpatrick to make Dethcicle. I hope it looks okay in your browser, and I hope you enjoy it. It probably looks like shit on your Windows computer at work, and I can’t wait for you to tell me.
Our first publication is a Blake Butler story titled RICKY’S SPINE.
I feel like the piece-of-shit week between our two most fucked holidays, when we’re pretending to answer important emails and pouring schnapps into drinks we shouldn’t be pouring schnapps into, is a good time to “edit some spreadsheets” and read online lit journals. Maybe suggest some good online publications/issues in the comment section? I like sharing.
Happy piece-of-shit week between holidays!
This is the third version of the site in as many years.
We did some basic formatting to the posts.
We added TypeKit fonts to the site, because we were tired of looking at web-safe fonts. TypeKit is shitty on the iPad, so everyone there and the people on shitty and weird browsers will get to look at Impact and Gill Sans. Everyone else gets Chunk and Ratio.
We made the site “tighter” with less empty space. It’ll look good on your phones and fit on whatever screen you’re using, hopefully.
We added a Disqus commenting system, because the comments are a little out-of-hand. It is more complicated than the previous system, but has the potential to make things less anonymous, which I like. You can seem more like an actual person to me.
The ads at the top are for independent publishers only. The ad slots are $30 each, and there are two in each of the five spaces. We wanted to keep this cheap, for the people we love.
There are a few other things, but I’m tired.
There are a few more changes in progress, so if you notice irregularities, that’s probably why.
I hope you enjoy the site. It should be nice for a little while.
Special shout-out to Jereme Dean, Blake Butler, Jimmy Chen, Ryan Call, and my wife for help with the redesign.
If you have any questions, please email me at email@example.com. I’m here for you.
*Update* Disabled TypeKit on Windows machines until I can make it look nice. For now, only Mac users have pretty fonts.
Hi everyone, we’re about to go dark for the night. We’ll be a whole new HTMLGIANT (with new sponsors!) when we come back. In the meantime, why don’t you enjoy a refreshing Pepsi product?!
Excerpt from Pirate Talk or Mermalade, a novel in voices to be published this fall by Dzanc Press.
1718 – Nantucket Beach
I’ve seen boats as big as this whale. I’ve seen gryphons the same size, with teeth growing in even as they were taking their last breath.
You have not. And not a live one.
I’ve been to sea, I’ve seen all you’re supposed to, being at sea. I am sixteen, after all.
If you’d stayed at home, you would’ve seen to Ma. I’d be a pirate twice, with two voyages under me, if I didn’t have that.
Quit your carping. Go stand on its middle. Maybe it will release its wind if you jump on it.
For sure it will stink to heaven if I jump on it.
Let’s poke out its eye.
It’s a wonder you’re not tired of poking whales, a-roving on the ocean like you do, with all the new sail.
Here’s the stick–let’s do the eye.
Cap’n Peters says there’s luck in a whale’s eye. And money. Some men use saws on such as the eye, to examine the socket and take away the skull too.
You told this Cap’n Peters about this whale?
Cap’n Peters can see it himself. He’s anchored out beyond the neck, nearly done scouring the fresh-wrecked Abingdon. He’ll come.
Our greasy luck! Then the sooner it dies the better, and not for anyone else but us to collect it.
It’s alive all right. Look at the eye.
Help me with the stick. A donkey could haul it out, where could we get a donkey?
If we had a donkey I wouldn’t be walking the beach looking for rope to catch the mussels on, would I? If we had a donkey, you wouldn’t be shipping out every time the wind blew and leaving me here with Ma, myself only in short pants still and no cutlass.
We need a donkey. The smell alone will bring Peters.
Do you believe in whales? I mean, that they talk?
Two fiddles can talk. One calls, the other says Yes and then some.
Whales dance when there’s boats coming with harpoon.
The way pirates do on the gallows.
Not all of them.
They’re crying whales, not singing. Poke here.
They swallow the pennywhistle and dance on the tips of their tails on top of the water. And sing.
Whales cry about their future like all creatures worth killing. There’s a tear now, with Peters coming. Look–I can make it dance without singing.
Let it be, it’s starting to bleed.
I’ll let it be with a cut of the knife. If only I had a good one, if only Ma hadn’t sold that bit of a blade while I was gone.
She’s sold all her brooches, down to the tin-and-garnets.
She sold the true baubles after you were born—or gave them up, cleaned out by whoever she had after you had a father, cleaned out clean as a pike in a trough.
They use beetles to clean the skulls when they’re empty. Cap’n Peters says so.
Peters, Cap’n Peters–would he be the one seeing Ma now?
He’s seen all of her, if that’s your actual meaning. How huge those skull-cleaning beetles must be, so big they can’t walk after all that eating, beetles that could eat all of every one of the colonies.
Slippery here, whoa.
Cap’n Peters’ has got his glass on us now. There, over the wave.
Tease me like you don’t know he’s watching. Play foot-in-the-water. He’ll think we are but boys and won’t beat us then when he sees us.
We are but boys. If I only had a knife—
If you grouse and slaughter the whale before him and he balks and whines, Ma will tie herself to the rafters and I will have to cut her down. It’s a poor revenge for her living from one man to the next, though she swears Cap’n Peters is her utter last.
I told you to get her set right, to take Ma to someone while I was off at sea, a woman with a cure.
She wouldn’t go, she said she’d have no business with someone like that, she didn’t need no one other than Father. She talks to Father from the rafters where you can see the sea out the little window, she talks to you out that window too.
She doesn’t know who Father is.
This be true, but still she talks.
This fish is leaking like a ship come ashore.
Whale, it’s a whale, not a fish. And if you would quit your poking at the eye, it wouldn’t leak so much. Poking it like that makes the sound it makes worse.
You talk like a sea captain with your Don’t this and Fish that, a bloody captain, the kind I don’t take to.
It’s the life of the sea, you said. Yo, ho, ho, you said. You toe the line, you said.
I will give you another punch to match the first.
It breathes–hear it? Cap’n Peters says they are cousin to us.
I can’t hear anything while you blather on about Cap’n Peters.
I say we leave it alone because Cap’n Peters will pay us to chop it up. They’re bound to want the steaks and oil even if it be old, and some of the bone to hang hats on,
and bone for those who truss up the women.
That’s real work, all that chopping.
The bone is all I want–I can carve “The Apostle on the Desert” into the bone.
I can carve that–one cut meeting another.
You are a stupid boy. Look–it thinks it is a creature of the land now, it wriggles so, it wants to walk about on its tail. With the next big wave, let’s push it in with our backs.
Let’s kill it.
What’re you whispering?
Nothing. Die, die, or they’ll get you, you whale of us all, you fool whale.
You are whispering.
I’ll whisper if I want to.
The whale’s dead anyway. Why else is it up on the beach?
Not breathing like this it isn’t dead. Not yet.
Look, Peters is bringing hooks and axes. And a cutlass! There’s a knife.
It’s so soapy-feeling on the outside.
Pitchforks and pries. Let’s poke it through to the brain before they get here, let’s poke it to make it dead before they poke it, so we can claim it and get the bone. I am grown, after all.
Why do you cry like a girl?
I’m not a girl.
Whale-lover, then. Crybaby.
Listen to it breathe.
I can’t hear anything but Cap’n Peters and his men beaching loud like six blacks banging dishpans.
It’s breathing big.
There–I’ve got the stick through, no thanks to you.
It still breathes.
If I hang on it here and pull down, the whole side will rip and they’ll know it’s ours. Give me a hand–
Pirate Talk or Mermalade is Terese Svoboda’s fifth novel. Publisher’s Weekly called it a “jeu d’esprit of the privateer life.” It comes out on “Talk Like a Pirate Day.”