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Mike Young

http://mikeayoung.tumblr.com

Mike Young is the author of Look! Look! Feathers (stories), We Are All Good If They Try Hard Enough (poems), and the forthcoming Sprezzatura (poems again). He edits NOÖ Journal and runs Magic Helicopter Press. Visit his blog at http://mikeayoung.tumblr.com. He lives in Northampton, MA.

Providence is scary but at least there is a library

Dylan Little, Manager at the Providence Community Library, is clearly lying to us.

Random / 4 Comments
March 19th, 2014 / 12:00 pm

Help APRIL out with Reverse Fan Mail!

670px-Perform-a-Reverse-180-in-a-Car-Step-3One trick I do to coax up sleep is I let my mind do whatever. Like I figure that’s what it does when I sleep anyway, so why not let it out early? A porch-like transition into the backyard of dreaming. Sometimes what it does is a picture of someone carrying a pie tin to the river. Kneeling in the shallows. Other times—last night specifically—it did a succession of closer and closer zooms onto a very elaborate game of bowling. Specifically the windup was elaborate, and the ball was small. Also the pins seemed irrelevant. In 2014, I encourage you to let your mind do whatever you want. I mean whatever it wants. Shit. Not off to a good start.

So I will reverse course entirely and find something else to talk about: Reverse Fan Mail from APRIL. APRIL of course is a crafty bunch of Seattle folk who are dancing the good dance for Authors, Publishers, and Readers of Independent Literature. I’m pretty sure that’s what APRIL means without even looking it up. They’re that good! They do stuff like host book clubs, festivals, expos, reading bar crawls, and generally make Seattle seem fun and utopian to those of us in New England surrounded by leftover-mashed-potato-looking snow.

To do all that fun stuff, they need a little help. Yes, it’s that kind of post! But they give you stuff if you send them skrill. They have people write poems for you. They have people draw things for you. That’s Reverse Fan Mail. Hell, I’ll write you a poem. It says so right on the page. So will Stacey Levine, Ed Skoog, Joshua Beckman, Matthew Rohrer, Mark Leidner, Ryan Boudinot, Rebecca Bridge, Jac Jemc, Wendy Xu, Jane Wong, Rich Smith, Ted Powers, Peter Mountford, Drew Swenhaugen, Amber Nelson, Megan Kaminski, Richard Chiem, Matthew Simmons, and Doug Nufer.

What I’m saying is you should click here and give some $$$ and get lazy-ass Leidner to write you a poem about dreaming and bowling. Originally this whole post was going to be about how one time Leidner texted me “patient B43 tested positive for PVTA,” which is a Western Massachusetts themed joke that I decided would alienate people and lead to less money for APRIL. So I thought: what’s less alienating than Western Massachusetts? Dreams. Futures. Elaboration.  Click here to donate to APRIL, get a Reverse Fan Mail, it’s for a good cause, they’ve got a great 2014 Festival planned. Help ‘em out. Get a poem. Get a drawing. Give your slippy mind a new year present.

Web Hype / No Comments
December 30th, 2013 / 12:46 pm

20.5 “Books” I Found Especially Beautiful in 2013

Johannes Göransson said on Facebook that one thing he doesn’t like about the “list”-based idea of criticism is: “that you can’t challenge it. You’re not allowed to say: No this list is mediocre or whatever. Then you’re not a nice person.”

Here’s a list of books I’ve only read four of but find especially aesthetically pleasing. Be a nice person.

***

Brandon Brown – Flowering Mall – Roof Books

Dana Ward – This Can’t Be Life – Edge Books

Graham Foust - To Anacreon in Heaven and Other Poems – Flood Editions

Roger Luckhurst – The Shining – BFI Publishing

Vladimir Nabokov – The Eye – Vintage

READ MORE >

Haut or not & Web Hype / 4 Comments
December 22nd, 2013 / 8:42 pm

“It must be good to run / the show like that.”

If this relationship is going to work—and no one really cares if it does; I mean, ships have jobs; relations are just the second attempt at lations—you’re going to have to accept the fact I’m going to post about some new issue of an online magazine when it rains.

This time around it’s Wag’s Revue, and specifically in Wag’s Revue the rompy and potluck-ish poems of Rachael Katz and the Grace-Paleyish-wise-laughing-at-how-many-generic-varieties-of-Lemon-Pledge-exist-in-our-hearts story called “Palmistry for the Modern Age” by Hannah Pass.

Though I’m not normally a fan of faking book technology online, I think I like the navigation of Wag’s Revue—though I wish the fake-page-box were a little bigger and the font weight wasn’t so extreme. But the editors say they are working on a site redesign, and I am really interested in how declarative the reading experience is. Like it’s very “hark! this is how you shall read.” Which seems against the stream in a way I respect, like when you touch your friend’s antique record player and they snap at you “that’s not for touching!” And you’re like, damn, I respect that.

Respect for yourself by reading Rachael Katz’s “You Girls Are,” which I’m going to go ahead and call the best new ode I’ve read in months of leaves.

Web Hype / 1 Comment
November 22nd, 2013 / 11:58 am

“Really expressing my innermost feelings and desires, all of which are unique and special and totally worth experiencing”

Funny-and-Lazy-Animals-7You know that crazy old internet will quickly become a substitute for that lumbering old sun, and I is in the reeds of readyhood. First I will read Drew Kalbach’s spot-the-freak-on essay “Information grab, or what the internet is doing to my poems” over at Actuary Lit, which says which poems are lazy (more lazy poems, please!):

“He’s not being, he’s just nudging and winking. That’s how your poems are lazy. I mean, that’s how my poems are lazy, while they comb through, collect, materialize, and instantiate themselves. These poems are block quotes without the HTML tags. Even when I’m expressing myself, really expressing my innermost feelings and desires, all of which are unique and special and totally worth experiencing, even when I’m doing that I’m stealing from someone else: their form, their words, maybe just some cadence that I heard. Is this just a restatement of intertextuality? Maybe, but intertextuality doesn’t pay enough attention to ctrl+c and ctrl+v. Three finger movements are enough to steal anything. Is that how lazy your poems are? I mean, my poems aren’t lazy so much as they point their fingers at anything but themselves.”

No points for harrumphing about “lazy” poetry until you read the entirety of Drew’s essay and the stuff he links to (I mean c’mon, think how hard your thermostat would work before it would make a comment).

And then shifting gears: great poems and stories in the well-designed new Beetroot (are circles the new white space in web design?), which I dunno if my favorites in there are lazy or not, even this new positively connotated idea of “lazy,” but they are full of travel and danger and white particle that part like Jello and adzuki beans and bird riding and pee filtering and nobody’s body doing the body things your body does.

So those are some things you can read, and how you should look when you read them is like the squirrel that I found doing a Google image search for “lazy winter animal poetry.”

Web Hype / No Comments
November 13th, 2013 / 3:15 pm

“It’s the hour between dogpark / and field full of shit”

Your windy mountain, my windy Monday: either way is a perfect place to catch up with Catch Up‘s new fourth issue, which features poets I already knew I liked writing poems that make me continue to like them (like Sandra Simonds and Catherine Wagner and Anne Barngrover) and poets I’d never heard of but now like based at least on their poems in this magazine (like Josh English, hat tip for the post title, and Gary L. McDowell).

There is fried chicken in one bed and sleeping in the bathroom. Comics! Acid mantles and blackwhite sermon flashes, for sure. But also nectarines and shy watchdogs, so yeah.

It seems like this magazine has been around for a little bit already publishing huge issues full of interesting stuff. I wish they had a terrible gimmick where they called themselves Ketchup every other issue, but that is just because I haven’t eaten lunch yet!

Web Hype / 1 Comment
November 4th, 2013 / 2:21 pm

“Perhaps if I avoid critical reviews (not merely negative ones), what I acknowledge is that I am afraid that I will actually be read carefully, deeply, and that the results will complicate my endeavor. But surely a complication of that sort could materialize (with any luck) in one’s very next poems. It might improve them.”

— Joshua Marie Wilkinson’s thoughts on poetry criticism over at The Volta are I think legitimately splendid, of a shiny clarity, and they make me feel shitty about how often I’ve let opportunities/invitations to do more nuanced critical work slip by because they promised to take more time/work than manic imploring.

“I am not opposed to poems. I love poems. I love people who write poems, passionately. But the SOCIAL ROLE OF POET is a disaster, just like every other social role. The struggle is for the end of roles, for the end of the division of labor, for the end of the gender distinction, for the end of identity as it exists. Free relations, not roles. Poems made by anyone who makes them. No poets.” — Joshua Clover has one point and it’s about rabbits

Win free books to celebrate three years of Flying Object. Also watch a pie video.

Y’all y’all y’all what if they made pumpkin spice American Spirits, I would shut down my self-governance, I would sit inside buying raffle tickets, like buying a million, and winning all the books. All the books? You can win the books. That’s real.

Flying Object is a wonderful place in Hadley, MA where lots of sweet things happen. They’re teaching young writers, they’re hosting residences, they’re throwing pies on faces.

They are three years old and they’re throwing another huge party and even if you can’t go, you can win an insane amount of books for a simple raffle ticket of $5. Remember last year? You maybe did this last year too and maybe won some great stuff. Buy a couple tickets. Shroud your luck in more luck. Support Flying Object! Win books! Smoke out of a pumpkin! Do at least three of these things!

Press release after the jump with embedded pie video. READ MORE >

Contests & Events / No Comments
October 3rd, 2013 / 11:00 am

“Here, the obsolete game-as-medium lights its fires with the levity of camp. Its “new aesthetic” texture makes a tragicomic figure for contemporary poetry: an anachronistic genre of gaming while Rome burns—or dreaming Rome might burn, while in fact the empire goes on using stuff up outside as usual, pleasant or painful, awful but cheerful, the deflector shield quite operational when your friends arrive.”David Gorin at the Boston Review considers the perverse negativity of those crud-ducks over at Claudius App, whose reading this Saturday 9/21 @ 9PM @ Reena Spaulings with Geoffrey G. O’Brien, Ariana Reines,  and Keston Sutherland

you should definitely avoid, because just look at this animated GIF below they made for it that links directly to the Facebook event, which supposedly 118 people are going to, and look, I’ve been to Brooklyn, 118 people don’t even live in that pie shop, so, yeah, sure, keep murdering your brother, Claudius, it’s not like we don’t all know he’s the real king, and it’s not like we’re not going to keep putting slippers on your hands so you rub your eyes with your slippers when you wake up:

9-21

 

You might have read about the golden age of online book clubs, but have you heard that those genius kids at APRIL in Seattle are starting their own book club? You should click here and read about it.

Sign up for $30 and get three sweet books in the mail over three months. Seattle folks: you can talk about the books with other attractive brains at the Frye Art Museum Cafe every month. You have to RSVP, so that’s important. The first book is our own Matthew Simmons’s excellent Happy Rock, and the meeting in Seattle is October 6th at 2PM.

Lovely first part of a conversation for your crisp Saturday between Peter Gizzi and Clark Coolidge, hosted by Flying Object on March 29th, 2013.

Highlights include:

prodigal geology; Aram Saroyan getting stoned and staring at the word “oxygen”; being hungry and new; getting to Heaven and everyone saying “Hey, not bad, kid”; the only composer who was at his centennial concert; writing sonnets without thinking about it; the imprints of giant poems; musical lifts; Robert Lowell stopping in the middle of a poem and going “And this is the important line”; losing words to your handwriting; riding signals; improvisational notebook sizes.

Are you excited for Berl’s Poetry Book Shop’s new permanent location in DUMBO? I am. Poetry trivia and book art exhibitions: yes. Contrary* to all the chemical hazing and missile rattling, it feels like there is a nice breeze of new poetry-heavy bookstores opening all over (see: So & So Books in North Carolina). Plus I’ve heard about people starting their own Mellow Pages style small press libraries in Oakland and Austin, and Vouched has a new San Francisco wing, with an Austin wing coming soon, I think. Where else? Let’s make a Lonely Planet Cool New Book Places in the comments.

*(I know, I know)

“All duty is dream all you are is wildfires”

skinteam_mediumwebHi, y’all. In June, I and my helicopter friends in our helicopter hats released a lovely weird novel called The Skin Team by a Canadian gentleman named Jordaan Mason. I haven’t told you about it yet, but now I am telling you about it. There’s a way you can get it for free at the end of this post. First read the post to see if you’d like it, right?

The novel is about three people, two boys and a girl, turning into each other and out of each other. Also touching. There are sick horses and a Power Company on fire. Sad dads and gone moms. Also some rivers and games of tag and lightbulb vomit.

What I’ve been telling people is that it’s like if Dennis Cooper re-wrote The Virgin Suicides, and Dennis himself was all “Reading The Skin Team, you would never suspect how difficult it is to write even fairly about such things, much less with Jordaan Mason’s radiant emotional grace and super-deft detailing and flawless style.”

So far it’s been called “a psychedelic, haunting, genuinely queer experience of adolescence” (Xtra!and an “incendiary novel, impressive in both style and its poetic language” (Largehearted Boy) and that it’s “carried in sentences that together feel close to the same long slow gravity you might have felt exploring a strange relative’s house as a child” (our own Ryan Gosling at VICE). My favorite new lit blog Actuary Lit says “The Skin Team brims with flesh made electricity, of sick bodies warped by technology into health.” And Vol. 1 Brooklyn says that it reminds them of a guy the FBI thought was the Unabomber: “Like William T. Vollmann, Mason tears apart familiar relationships and conflicts to illuminate them in some newfound fashion.”

And you know it’s real, because some people have said negative things too! They think it has too many metaphors or the prose purples or it gets too confusing (“when every sentence strives for preciousness, they risk monotony” from the Heavy Feather Review), which could also be true, who knows! Let it not be said that our helicopter isn’t into dodging rockets. Evasive maneuvers are fun! Criticism is good. Hype is soda.

I tried to explain in a sincere and full disclosure way about why I love this book over at The Lit Pub in an interview with Jordaan. During his answers, he gives a great primer about the three characters, talks about bipolar disorder, destroying the logic of science through unnaming, and “trying to describe this complete separation of my body from everything around it and from itself. ”

The reason I’m telling you about The Skin Team now is because you can get it for free if you want to play a little game where you get a map in the mail and you draw on it. Otherwise, you can get it the normal way, which would also be awesome. If you feel like it’s weird we have bodies, especially when they’re in the woods and inside other bodies, and you want to read about bodies in a book that makes their weirdness feel like it kind of works (like how a singing saw sounds), I’m guessing you’ll like The Skin Team. Thanks!

Contests & Web Hype / 2 Comments
August 26th, 2013 / 12:03 pm

“I’m not sorry, it was the kind of year I would have raised all of hell to keep him around.” — raging hard as a hungry stomach noise on “How We Killed Whitney Houston” by Eric Tran at Hobart

“Besides: to learn to use her mind’s energy against itself, she would have to add new content. Even if it was content that might eventually ease the burden of having content, at this point, she is so overwhelmed with the content she already has, she thinks she cannot take on any new content even if it’s promised that the new content will help her.” — from Evelyn Hampton’s “The End of Content” over at The Collagist; no one does clever and sad at the same time like Evelyn Hampton

“I started a micropress, published my own chapbook, and got in a car to drive around the country promoting it at any place that will return my e-mails and phone calls not because I think the system is broken. I just think the system is bigger than it appears to be.” — from a really entertaining and no-lavender-aerosol take on DIY micropublishing and touring by Ryan Werner at Passages North