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mission creek 2014

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Mission Creek 2014 and all its Art, Film, Music and Lit is almost upon us with Phillip Glass, Rachel Kushner, The Head and the Heart, Warpaint, Brian Evenson, etc.

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And this year HTMLGIANT will be part of the Litcrawl (Friday, April 4th) where Colin Winnette and Grant Maierhofer will read from their work featured on HTMLGIANT as part of an “Electronic Literature” event at The White Rabbit.

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(The Iowa Review, Red Hen Press, Hobart, Spork, Black Ocean and others will also be a part of the Lit Crawl.)

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Go here for full calendar

Reviews

25 Points: Is It My Body?

1gordon_kim_isitmybody_cover_364Is It My Body?
by Kim Gordon
Sternberg Press, 2014
182 pages / $18.86 buy from Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Kim Gordon the New York City artist is one and the same with Kim Gordon, bassist of Sonic Youth.

2. Despite her claim, “I don’t think of myself as a musician,” whether they’re “on hiatus” or not, the band’s music remains the central association by which readers are likely to recognize her name.

3. I’m no diehard fan of Sonic Youth. Although I do, after a fashion, dig their music and several years ago saw them play The Crystal Ballroom in Portland, OR.

4. This is no tell-all. Sonic Youth is more an afterthought than anything here, a near excuse to remain creative—though no less central to Gordon’s life.

5. Gordon’s reasoning for taking part in Sonic Youth: “Being part of a music culture or subculture appealed to me more than staying outside and commenting on it in a work of art.”

6. This book zooms. It’s a sonically charged brain charge; a light breeze to read yet nevertheless heavily informative. Contents range from Gordon’s first published texts from the early 1980s rather seamlessly on up to a conversation she had with sometime-fellow collaborator Jutta Koether, not even a year ago.

7. Gordon skirts the edges of official art gallery/curator talk, usefully dipping into its discourses only to flaunt her independence from reliance upon them to express her thoughts. While postmodern, avant-garde, theory-driven vocabularies and accompanying ideas are occasionally floated and tussled with, they’re smoothly exited from without distracting from the natural style of her writing.

8. Gordon tells of only useful and/or interesting things, both historical and eternal.

9. “One of the appeals of seeing No Wave bands in New York early on was that it was such a strangely abstract music. It was very free and very abstract. If you didn’t have any means to enter the galleries as an artist, being in a band was a way to be expressive and be independent of the gallery system.”

10. Unedited: “How many grannies wanted to rub their faces in Elvis’s crotch and how many boys wanted to be buttfucked by Steve Albini’s guitar?”

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3 Comments
March 27th, 2014 / 12:00 pm

POEM-A-DAY from THE ACADEMY OF AMERICAN LUNATICS (#16)

poem a day mutton
poem a day mutton date

tara

Tara Atkinson is a writer in Seattle. She is one of the founders of APRIL, a festival of small press and independent literature. Her chapbook, BEDTIME STORIES, is available from Alice Blue Books

 

        for Those

  About to Order

 
 

             by

 

  Tara Atkinson


Poem A Day TJ strip
 
about this poemIt’s a story in sheep’s clothing. // I had permission to take video of some sheep, but I jumped the wrong fence. // This was actually the first bedtime story I wrote, at least a couple years before the collection was going to be a thing.
 
 
poem a day mutton strip

note: I’ve started this feature up as a kind of homage and alternative (a companion series, if you will) to the incredible work Alex Dimitrov and the rest of the team at the The Academy of American Poets are doing. I mean it’s astonishing how they are able to get masterpieces of such stature out to the masses on an almost daily basis. But, some poems, though formidable in their own right, aren’t quite right for that pantheon. And, so I’m planning on bridging the gap. A kind of complementary series. Enjoy!

Poem A Day TJ strip

 

Author Spotlight / 1 Comment
March 27th, 2014 / 9:43 am

WTF Is Happening In My Shower

Behind the Scenes / 13 Comments
March 26th, 2014 / 12:34 pm

Reviews

MFA vs NYC vs WWE

cover_wtruckThe ring is sparsely decorated: a white mat with pleasant turquoise bands to hold the war in. The crowd’s looking at it. The lights go down. Chad Harbach walks out into the middle of the ring. The crowd goes silent.

He clears his throat. Points a rusty revolver at the ceiling. Fires it.

George Saunders crawls under the ropes with a folding chair and unfurls it, sitting down cross-legged in the corner of the ring. Chad Harbach has retreated to the announcer’s table. Meanwhile, Maria Adelmann walks onstage with her hands in her pockets. She looks out idly at the stage-lights, the thousands gathered in the stands. Suddenly Eric Bennett leaps into the ring with a sheaf of paper and clocks Adelmann in the head with it. He stands there, suddenly mournful, looking at what he’s done. George Saunders still sits on his folding chair with his hands in his pockets, looking mildly perplexed.

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2 Comments
March 26th, 2014 / 11:00 am

what r u having 4 lunch?

Reviews

Witch Piss

witchPWitch Piss
by Sam Pink
Lazy Fascist Press, 2014
112 pages / $8.95 buy from Amazon
Rating: 7.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Witch Piss is the bottom of a forty oz.

Witch Piss is a novel.

Witch Piss is published by Lazy Fascist Press.

Witch Piss is Sam Pink writing about a Sam Pink-like narrator.

Witch Piss is homeless men.

Witch Piss is “Y’gah be kiddin me.”

Witch Piss is a slurry of language.

Witch Piss is written in dialect.

Witch Piss is a man named Spider-Man.

Witch Piss is a girl named Janet in a dirty Depends.

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4 Comments
March 25th, 2014 / 12:00 pm

Ringing Bell

 

ringing bell

Ringing Bell. Have you seen Ringing Bell? I can’t believe I didn’t know about this film until a few weeks ago.

Ringing Bell (Chirin no suzu) is a Japanese film released in 1978 by Sanrio, the very same company that gave us Hello Kitty.

Ringing Bell is about a cuddly little lamb (“Ringing Bell”) who is always getting lost, and whose mother therefore outfits him with (guess what?) a ringing bell.

Ringing Bell’s mother warns Ringing Bell not to venture beyond the paddock, for fear of the wolf who lurks out there, being the mortal enemy of the lamb!

Can you guess what happens to Ringing Bell?

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Film / 3 Comments
March 25th, 2014 / 9:10 am

Reviews

HILL WILLIAM by Scott McClanahan

513yHSRDOAL._SY346_Hill William
by Scott McClanahan
Tyrant Books, November 2013
200 pages / $14.95  Buy from Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today was a day I skipped lunch for Newcastles.  It was 83 degrees outside and I nestled into a lawn chair with Hill William and a shirtdress that had no pants. As soon as I started and the beers grabbed hold  I wanted to tell someone about it because EMOTIONS so I thought I would tell Siri.  This is what she said back because she is like a parrot. Exactly like a parrot because parrots aren’t exact and can’t get everything right. But luckily there is a cage around them so you can’t hurt them easily.

I’m going to drunkenly live Siri Scott McClanahan’s Hill William

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No Comments
March 24th, 2014 / 11:00 am

pandas

………..what poetry “community” would be like in an ideal world………..

Spork’s Six New Books

spork mellow pages

available from Spork now — & at Mellow Pages

The handmade books of Spork Press are spreading across the literary universe, leaving the Spork collective ‘more psyched than ever.’

On any given evening, in the middle of any given week, just off of Fourth Avenue, you might stumble across the editors of Spork Press as they dutifully work on their next set of printings.

They might have music blaring out of the carport in which they work while they press ink onto boards using a half-century-old machine. They might be sipping beers, mixing and transferring music mixes onto cassette tapes. They could be listening to audiobooks, evening out the edges of their work—literally, with a belt sander.

(…..from The Tucson Weekly, “An Analog Experience”)

Yes, Spork makes beautiful books and recently debuted their 6 newest creations (“artifacts”) at AWP here in my backyard (Seattle, which is just across the lake from Kirkland, home of Costco, etc). The Tucson Weekly reports that AWP was a “huge success” for Spork, selling “more than 400 books.”

So, anyways, here is a bit of a roundup of Spork’s 6 new books with a bit of verbiage about each book and/or the author. (and, yes, I’m one of these 6 authors so if you think this is uncool, well, go ahead and sue me).

****************

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Roundup / No Comments
March 24th, 2014 / 3:00 am

Sunday Service: J. Hope Stein

Chapter 7.
Ballad of your Boss

Don’t hesitate to serve your boss.
Sit quietly and he will come to you.
The blessing of an employee
is in the corners of her mouth.
The blessing of a plot
is in its time of being worked.

When a great boss says “I kill you”
lay your head across his laptop.
Throw your documents in the river.
This is how we measure time.
The blessing of a plot
is in its time of being worked.

Do not despise small documents.
Do good for your body, but
there is no one who does not die—
Do not delay in your office.
The blessing of a plot
is in its time of being worked.

Be a cat in your boss’s presence.
Do not give a wary look
towards the elevator door—
You do not know the length of your life.
The blessing of a plot
is in its time of being worked.

Do not hesitate to serve your boss.
Do let linger without enquiry.
Put myrrh on your head, dress in fine linen.
Sit quietly and he will come to you.
The blessing of a plot
is in its time of being worked.

Bio: J. Hope Stein is the author of the chapbooks Talking Doll (Dancing Girl Press, 2012), Mary (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2012) and Corner Office (H_ngm_n, 2011). Her work is published or forthcoming in Verse, Tarpaulin Sky, Everyday Genius, Ping Pong, Web del Sol, movingpoems.com and Poetry International. J. Hope Stein is also the editor of poetrycrush.com and the author of the poetry/humor site eecattings.com.

Sunday Service / 1 Comment
March 23rd, 2014 / 10:00 am

Reviews

Actors Anonymous by James Franco

james-franco-actors-anonymousActors Anonymous
by James Franco
Little A / New Harvest, Oct 2013
304 pages / $26  Buy from Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

James Franco seems to want to be anything he can think of. He is an actor-writer-director-producer-musician-artist, as well as a PHD candidate. This novel, Actors Anonymous, suffers from the same desires that the author does; it wants to be every kind of novel it can think of. The novel-group of stories-abstract meta sentences is arranged in a sort of alcoholics anonymous style, with twelve chapters apparently representing the twelve steps.

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23 Comments
March 21st, 2014 / 11:00 am

Reviews

Autobiography of a Corpse, by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky: A fifteen-point primer on certain literary avant-gardisms

autobiography-of-a-corpse-371Autobiography of a Corpse
by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky
New York Review of Books Classics, 2013
256 pages / $15.95 buy from Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the beginning/ the Avant-Garde/ was just a silly thing/ Coconut-colored sidewalks/ Women with blue-white parasols/ tilting over backward/ or half backward/ in the beginning/ And then it grew, and became gigantic and hard/ Like a great, great stone, the Avant-Garde/ Like a great, great, stone that had usurped all of history—Kenneth Koch, One Thousand Avant-Garde Plays

In the beginning/ the Avant-Garde/ was just a silly thing/ Coconut-colored sidewalks/ Women with blue-white parasols/ tilting over backward/ or half backward/ in the beginning/ And then it grew, and became gigantic and hard/ Like a great, great stone, the Avant-Garde/ Like a great, great, stone that had usurped all of history—Kenneth Koch, One Thousand Avant-Garde Plays

 

1. The history of the 20th century avant-garde is a history of anxieties. And even as manifestos gave way to splinter groups, many things remained constant. A central tenant of this history came in the compulsion against modernity and the constricting social forces of advanced industrial capitalism. Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky wrote radical literary fantasia, and his work reflects many of the anxieties and themes that would develop across literary avant-gardes throughout the 20th century.

Born in Kiev in 1887, Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky moved to Moscow in 1922 where he worked as a lecturer and theater critic. From this time until his death in 1950, he secretly compiled an incredible body of fantastic novels and stories. These were not published in his lifetime, and owing to the damning soviet censorship, would not be published until 1989. This collection Autobiography of a Corpse, a selection of short stories was published for the first time in 2010, and an English edition came out from NYRB Classics in the fall of 2013. The collection, provocative and expansive, offers a look at many anxieties and themes that would come to define the avant-garde.

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1 Comment
March 20th, 2014 / 6:27 pm

Stuck in the Middle: Second Person and You

mirror

Ask ten people what they think about second person, and a good seven or eight of them will say that McInerney did it once, sure, and did it well, but outside of Bright Lights, Big City, second-person’s just a gimmick, is best left trapped in all the choose-your-own-adventure series from the eighties.

I can kind of understand this, too.

With stories, we have default settings: first- and third-person, with third really being the deviance from the norm, the deviance from first-person. First-person is our natural delivery method, isn’t it? If you’re telling somebody about the amusement park last week, you do it like: I was standing in line for like ten hours, and then this clown laughed at me and it had to be eight thousand degrees and on and on, I’ing your way into some perfect punchline of a conclusion. But you, if your name’s Jimmy, say, never go Jimmy was standing in line for ten hours, and then this clown laughed at him and it had to be like eight thousand degrees.

Note too with those examples that part of our natural mode for fiction, it’s past tense. This is because fiction is narrative, and narrative is selection, and selection is from pre-existing events, and events only pre-exist if they, you know, happened before.

It’s complicated.

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Craft Notes / 12 Comments
March 20th, 2014 / 12:31 pm

FRESH OFF THE NEUE GALERIE: “THE ATTACK ON MODERN ART IN NAZI GERMANY, 1937″

Picture 8

Last Saturday I went all the way uptown to Neue Galerie to see the first American exhibition on the topic of “Degenerate Art,” which will be available through June 30, 2014.  One of my favorite subjects during my ultra-brief academic career (aka “undergrad”) was the exploration of the factors that made the transition from the Weimar Republic to the Third Reich possible. Above all other realms, that of culture was the one that appealed to me the most in my studying of how the German people were capable of gradually dehumanizing “non-Germans,” and to what extent this process was a political construct smoothly created by the Nazis. Reactively responding to German people’s despair and economic insecurity, Nazis built an ideology that made it possible for Germans to replace fear with hate for anything different. I am still fascinated by the institutional curating of art performed by the government, and what it translated to in political terms to have government authorities declare the validity of certain art, while condemning the existence of other art.

Maybe you should go see it if you feel like it and happen to be in New York, even if the security staff is  unnecessarily rude. Especially if you are not familiar with what was presented as “Degenerate Art” and how it became a key tool in spreading Nazi propaganda.

My favorite thing about the Neue Galerie exhibit was the curatorial decision to dedicate the lower level part of the exhibition to a mourning ritual. Specifically, the curatorial team conveyed a sense of cultural loss by presenting empty frames in the place of artwork that was intentionally destroyed by  Joseph Goebbels’ Commission for Disposal of Products of Degenerate Art, the government body responsible to preserve the German identity.  An inventory which chronicles the status of what was labeled “Degenerate”  can be also found downstairs, listing more than 16,000 artworks the Goebbel Commission would destroy, exchange or sell.

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Craft Notes / 2 Comments
March 20th, 2014 / 10:00 am

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

Adam Fell’s “DEAR CORPORATION”

“…………Dream at night always of
your loved ones in danger. Wake tangled in
the gauze of your sheets. Draw yourself a
hot bath. Unhood the windows. It’s
becoming harder and harder to tell whether
the motion detector has been triggered or
it’s already morning. Try to practice your
breathing. Let the day open up to you with
the hiss of automated doors. Find something
in the near distance to look forward to. Hold
on. Even if the boot is crushing your fingers.”

—from Adam Fell’s new “DEAR CORPORATION

dearcorp-final-cover012414-55crop - Version 2
I met Adam Fell when I read in Madison, WI at the wonderful Monsters of Poetry which Adams helps curate. At dinner after the reading Adam talked about the huge demonstrations at the Capitol that he’d been a part of in early 2011. And if memory serves me Adam then talked about he then began writing the poems that now constitute DEAR CORPORATION (released last month, H_NGM_N Books). Poems, thus, that were born out of the feelings of anger, impotence, vulnerability, etc, that ones feels when at the mercy of something much bigger and colder and pure-predator.

“………………Distrust the
unconflicted, the unaccountable, the
unworried, the unwounded. Distrust your
own impulse to leave your love in the ruins.
Your pain is not the only pain, not the worst
pain. Your guilt is not the only guilt, not the
worst guilt”

—from DEAR CORPORATION

 

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Author Spotlight / No Comments
March 19th, 2014 / 9:00 am

Eight Imaginary Writer Residencies

image

Many writers are excited to sit on a train, shit in a moving closet, and eat microwavable food. I can understand the appeal of having quiet-time for consecutive days, looking through a window at a flashing landscape. We want to escape our daily physical space so badly, but also remain in a chair, so the Amtrak residency seems ideal for many. Here are eight other writer residencies if you’re not down with Amtrak but are looking for something different:

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Random / 7 Comments
March 18th, 2014 / 12:00 pm

WTF Is Happening in My Shower?

Inspired by the riveting journeys already undertaken by Adam R., Melissa, and Brooks, I thought I’d take you on a tour of my own humble shower …

01

OK so obviously I’ve got a lot of hygiene products; I’ll admit I’m a little obsessive. There’s a special story behind each and every one of them (à la Daniel Spoerri’s classic conceptual text An Anecdoted Topography of Chance), but I don’t know if you want to hear all of them. So I’ll stick to just the highlights …

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Behind the Scenes / 14 Comments
March 18th, 2014 / 9:00 am