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Death Centos by Diana Arterian

Death Centos 300dpiDeath Centos
by Diana Arterian
Ugly Duckling Presse, 2013
24 pages /  UDP Page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When my 12 year old daughter rolls her eyes at me, I tell her stop it. I say, stop it. You shouldn’t treat me like that. I’m going to die someday.

She says, Mom, I know.

My husband says, Both of you, stop it.

But I can’t. I can’t stop. So I tell her, we’ll be dead forever. Just think about that: forever. Infinity. All of time. And we are only alive for a little second of it, and we barely even get to know each other, and you want to waste the little time we do have being alive rolling your eyes at me.

My husband says, Please, Sara. Not this shit again. Don’t say that.

Jeez, Mom. Seriously. I know we’re going to die.

But you don’t get that it is really soon. I could die tomorrow. So could you.

My husband says, Stop. No more. Stop saying that shit tonight. Just not tonight. Let’s just watch a show together, and enjoy our evening. Please, he implores, not tonight. No death stuff tonight.

The book of poems, Death Centos, by Diana Arterian is a book of poetry made by collage and with constraint. Arterian has created a mixed tape of famous figures’ final words. Her poems pull the final phrases of famous persons from their resting places of mythology and arranges these phrases into poems. Death Centos, conceptual in conceit or not, is a book of poems that is rich and profound. The author doesn’t seem as displaced as in most pieces of conceptual writing. This contributes to a feeling of stability within the text. The poems are full of hearty material. The words are the actual final words of folks before death. Most of the folks quoted carry some importance in the trajectory of civilization. These words lend to the power of the poems, but that isn’t the whole story. The arrangement of the words is of paramount importance. I am not a poet. And because of this I can consume poetry in a way that allows my mind to form ideas from the poem, or access to the subtext in a way that feels more mystical than an outright technical analysis would. I’m talking about feelings here. I feel that the work is good. I feel the poems are strong. I felt stirred by them, and provoked. I take this to mean that art is working.

In the first poem “I” in the section LAST WORDS OF THE DYING there is a list at the side of the page highlighting the people whose words have been arranged in the poem: Ludwig van Beethoven, Frederic Chopin, Thomas Edison, Franz Ferdinand, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Victor Hugo, Timothy Leary, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Theodore Roosevelt, Tom Simpson, Rudolph Valentino. There are only ten stanzas in the poem and the punctuation defies orderliness. There are no clues here, just a list of contributors. From the first I realized there would be no real correlation between the order of the contributors, and the poems’ inclusion— or, if there was, it would be more work than any book of poetry should be. I found myself wanting the poem to align with list of personas so that I could figure out who said what at the end of his life, but Arterian wasn’t going to let that happen.

Perhaps this description of my experience with this conceptual piece of work seems pedestrian to you. I think though, that my experience is worth talking about. For so long I felt shut out of conceptual work. That is a huge part of the culture to miss out on. Conceptual projects and poems intimidate cultural consumers. MFA programs like the one I went to are rife with what could be either interesting experiments or half-hearted attempts at grabbing some attention. You have to get close to tell the difference. Only now, years after school, do I find myself brave enough to get close, to engage, and to speak about the work. However, by no means am I an expert. I am a dilettante.

Arterian’s first poem taught me how to read the rest. It taught me what to do from the first. I think this says something about the accessibility of her work. About the potential appeal. Not everyone is going to care about poetry, but everyone should feel welcome to engage. I think that the content of Death Centos is inviting. Macabre, yes, but death is coming. To each of us. And “this is the fight of day/and night.” This is a space of common ground. This is a book of inclusiveness. This is a book of successful appropriation where the original text adds up to so much more than any of the snippets.

Each of the poems begs to re-read. There is a smoothness despite the punctuation. The poems flow and drip. Arterian is a master at moving you down through poem at a steady pace. In the poem “V” in the first section of LAST WORDS OF THE DYING three names are listed down the side: Warren G. Harding, Frida Kahlo, Martin Luther King Jr. I read the poem “V” three times in each voice, letting each one of these famous persons own the words of the others in a vision of their respective deaths.

Make sure you play “Precious Lord”
tonight—play it

real pretty. That’s good.
I hope the exit is joyful

and I hope to never

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1 Comment
July 4th, 2014 / 10:00 am

Reviews

25 Points: His Master’s Voice

Lem_HisMastersVoice
His Master’s Voice
by Stanislaw Lem
Northwestern University Press, 1999
199 pages / $16.95 buy from Amazon

1. I first read Stanislaw Lem after seeing an anonymous review of The Cyberiad on HTMLGIANT.

2. I’ve read two of his books. A year or two ago I read Solaris, then last week I read His Master’s Voice.

3. His Master’s Voice, published 7 years after Solaris, echoes the earlier book in pleasing ways. The most obvious to me was that neither ever directly answers the mystery near the heart of each book. A reader will not definitively learn the nature of the ocean on Solaris, or what the letter from the stars says.

4. HMV places human failure more centrally than Solaris. The narrator of HMV, Peter Hogarth, is (after the fact) a complete pessimist about humanity’s time facing their impossible task.

5. The book is philosophical, often profound. For example: “Our ability to adapt and therefore to accept everything is one of our greatest dangers. Creatures that are completely flexible, changeable, can have no fixed morality.”

6. Or, “Psychoanalytic doctrine reveals the pig in man, a pig saddled with a conscience; the disastrous result is that the pig is uncomfortable beneath that pious rider, and the rider fares no better in the situation, since his endeavor is not only to tame the pig but also to render it invisible.” Hogarth does not have much love for psychoanalysis throughout the book.

7. Lem would eventually focus most of his effort on writing philosophical essays and abandon the novel. Knowing this made it hard to separate Lem and Hogarth during these tangents.

8. Something I find particularly engaging about Lem’s writing is his way of introducing the reader to complex scientific and technological ideas on which he was likely not an actual expert, and doing so with authority. I’ll come back to this.

9. At one point in the book Lem uses Hogarth and another of his characters as mouthpieces for his own personal views of pulp science fiction. Lem was famously not a fan of most of his contemporary genre writers, and when the character Rappaport hits a wall in his research he resorts to reading a stack of apparently mediocre SF—“expecting variety, finding monotony.”

10. One of several reasons Lem gave for no longer writing fiction was his inability to keep up with the increasing number of papers being written on the cutting edge of science. This meant that he could no longer keep writing books involving cutting edge ideas with the sense of authority I earlier admired. Maybe he feared that without that he would be just another indistinguishable pulp science fiction author.

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3 Comments
July 3rd, 2014 / 12:00 pm

Catalog of ri¢h poets: Carabella Sands

Ri¢h like a ¢ockaroach scrambling and fighting other lesser insects for a bite of discarded pizza ¢rust. Ri¢h like a fifty ¢ent soda. Rich like a fire poker in the bottom. Rich like green eyeshadow all over your face. Carabella Sands is a ri¢h poet, and if you ever saw her reading poems laying on a concrete floor, you would never have any doubts about it.

carabella
photo credit

Pornography

I hugged your boyfriend last night
He felt real good and warm
I tried to connect my brain to yours
All the way in Disney World
So you could get an image
Our bodies
A leading center
And imagine your bodies
I wanted you to feel him
And need to come home

ABOUT THIS POEM

Fuck. This poem is about love obviously. Feeling so good about hugging someone that you feel bad someone else doesn’t get the chance to do it. I don’t know how to write an “about this poem” Can’t I pay someone to do it for me?

Carabella Sands is the ri¢hest poet ever. She owns the sun and most other stars. Her Tumblr is made of platinum and diamonds.

Random / 4 Comments
July 2nd, 2014 / 2:29 pm

ATTN: Ink Press Productions Summer Micro-chap Contest 2014

Tracy Dimond sent me all the details about another opportunity to submit new work this summer. If you got a manuscript perfect for the micro-chap contest, you best pounce on this one:

Inkpress

Ink Press Productions is thrilled for summer and for our first ever micro-chap contest judged by Joseph Young!

What is a micro-chap? We’ll be looking for more than just a short collection. As Joe says,

The micro-chap is a form in itself. It’s not a shorter, or more condensed, chapbook, it’s a book with its very own aesthetics. What can a series of 7 very short poems or 6 tiny stories, do that 50 poems can’t? What are its limitations, and what are its possibilities?

I’ll be looking for a chap that would do just that: push against its edges, try something it might not know how to do.

Submissions will be open July 7-21. The winning chapbook will be announced by August 1 and then published in a handmade edition of 50 books to be released at the end of August.

To submit, email 10 pages or no more than 250 words in one document to inkpressproductions@gmail.com

There is no fee for submitting; however, we encourage anyone sending their work to check us out: buy a book, some merch, or show your support by making a $5 donation to Ink Press!

Random / 1 Comment
July 2nd, 2014 / 9:00 am

Reviews

25 Points: The Fun We’ve Had

thefunwevehad
The Fun We’ve Had
by Michael J. Seidlinger
Lazy Fascist Press, 2014
168 pages / $11.95 buy from Amazon

 

1. I want the cover of this book framed and hung up in my room.

2. Recognized and accepted that this novel was going to end in tragedy from the beginning.

3. They either brought a really shitty oar on this terrifying adventure, or that guy doesn’t know how to paddle. (It breaks within the first few pages.)

4. Life lesson from this novel: coffins don’t make good boats. (No shit.)

5. Imagined this book as one of the little “skits” in the film Heavy Metal with “Fade to Black” by Metallic playing in the background.

6. After realizing that Seidlinger was using the five stages of grief as a plot device, I immediately thought of a Robot Chicken skit where a giraffe gets stuck in a sand pit.

7. The Fun We’ve Had is an extreme form of marital counseling.

8. How the hell did these people get into this situation? (This can be taken as both a literal and metaphorical question.)

9. I want to know what ocean these people are sailing through—and don’t tell me it’s the “sea of life” because that’s bullshit and you know it.

10. Seidlinger doesn’t believe in long paragraphs. He wants to jab you with short one-liners that make you question everything.

READ MORE >

2 Comments
July 1st, 2014 / 12:00 pm

Reviews

Hustle by David Tomas Martinez

Martinez.HustleHustle
by David Tomas Martinez
Sarabande Books, May 2014
84 pages / $14.95  Buy from Amazon or Sarabande Books

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hustle, David Tomas Martinez’s debut book of poetry, is a cry from the street written with developed-over-time, intelligent style with pace the and moxie of a tom cat. The opening poem, placed even before the table of contents and dedication, “On Palomar Mountain” establishes a theme that will carry its way throughout this four part collection of poems as it begins, “The dark peoples things//for keys, coins, pencils / and pens our pockets grieve.” Those three things their pockets lack are the book’s foundation. Keys, coins, pencils and pens tell a story with nothing but “a lighter for a flashlight” that is begging to be told. It is the story of the bold but shed in a sensitive light as the poem ends with a “walk into the side of a Sunday night.”

While fairytale readers and romantic poets might object to Hustle’s style, those with their boots sunk deep in urban black-top pavement will resonated with the jazzy, up-beat rhythm of Martinez’s lines. Lines chopped short and neat with stanzas generally organized into few line bunches compliment the underlying sentiments of the words as the narrator (presumably Martinez himself) declares ownership of what is to be presented in the opening poem of section one:

A car want to be stolen,
the night desires to be revved,
 
will leave the door unlocked,
a key in the wheel well
 
or designedly dropped from a visor.
 
A window will always wink
to be broken by bits of spark plug
or jimmied down the glass.
 
This is mine.
Where is the window to break
Iin your life?…

Literally inviting the reader to break into the life of the story, Martinez teaches the reader to hot-wire, jimmy-rig, and break an entry into the rest of the book. Clearly, the man in in possession of a story that needs to be told. Have no doubts about it, this is Martinez’s own story. Collectively, the poems become a memoir, highlighting details of the poet’s life which some might find shocking coming from a well-spoken, educated individual.

To tell his story, Martinez organizes the book into four sections. In sections one and two, he continues with the themes that have been established in the beginning of the book while incorporating the facets of growing up ruff which are often overlooked. The importance of a (dis)functional family life, for example, is first mentioned in part II of “Calaveras”

Yes, families are supposed to be circuses.
Accept is, and accept that the acrobat’s taffy
of satin will twirl, and the bears in tutus will spin
over the exposes in the warped wood
and cracks in the waxy linoleum,
all the while your grandfather will yell
“You no like it, go in the canyon and eat tomatoes.”

READ MORE >

2 Comments
June 30th, 2014 / 10:00 am

Reviews

GUANTANAMO by Frank Smith, Trans. By Vanessa Place

guantanamo-frank-smith-vanessa-place-cover-front-featureGUANTANAMO
by Frank Smith
Translated by Vanessa Place
Les Figues Press, July 2014
160 pages / $17  Buy from Les Figues or SPD

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a law student, I feel that the most important demographic that this book should reach is law students—but for various reasons, it will never reach them.

When reading Guantanamo, I thought back to my Constitutional Law class and our discussions of the constitutional rights of foreign nationals. We learned about the debate through the lens of Guantanamo, specifically Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRT), which was challenged on constitutional grounds. As the introduction of this book informs, prisoners in the U.S. are guaranteed habeus corpus relief from unlawful detention. Such relief is generally called for when there is no knowledge of charges by or evidence against the detained person.

The introduction by Mark Sanders talks about translation and how Frank Smith drafted this book in French based on actual interrogation reports. It implies that there is no text under the text, only layers of translation with no correct source document: not only is there the language barrier between the author and the interrogation, but there is also the communication barriers between the Middle Eastern citizens and the U.S. interrogators. Law is very much the same way in having no definitive text. It is a mosaic bible made and revised by humans, primarily rich white American men (even still!) in this country. And yet, those who endeavor to work in it have their very human blind spots, such as the war vet in class who did not want to reconcile with “terrorists” having rights—that the Supreme Court should not pander to terrorists in giving them due process in our courts of law.

The text itself revolves around a trinity of ambiguity, vegetables, and the United States of America. The ambiguity in the writing comes from the use of the French pronoun on to show the absurdity and inhumanity of Guantanamo’s process. You observer a recurring narrative that the reader is unsure of is two continuous characters or two general bodies: (1) “the terrorists”; and (2) “the administrative body conducting de facto trials.” Vanessa Place translates on in a variety of permissible ways depending on tone, or not, or maybe creating her own tone in an unsettling way. Sometimes we are pronounless.

Asks if has family ties with known terrorists in Pakistan.
Answers exactly what kind of ties?
Rephrases the question, asks if any relatives have ties to terrorists in Pakistan.
Answers has no family in Pakistan. How could this be?
States has “kin” who is a member of a terrorist group responsible for attacks in Uzbekistan.
Answers no one in the family has any connection with any terrorist group in Uzbekistan to speak of.   (p. 3)

And so on. Not only does this stylistic choice call to attention the human machinery at work here, but it also creates a haunting, disorienting effect. Who are you supposed to believe? There is no human face that you are supposed to recognize here. There are combating facts which simply do not add up. And here, unlike the real U.S. criminal justice system (for all its flaws), there is no plea bargain to a lesser crime, there are no charges. Your reward for confessing to being an enemy combatant is to remain there, indefinitely, perhaps forever, even if really you were just growing vegetables, at the wrong place and at the wrong time.

The whole book goes like this, in deadpan call-and-response, with occasional breaks into a very sparse poetry, absent of any embellishment. It is not quite as dry as the interrogation proceeding, but only not quite.

“The man, his wife, and his mother still believed
they were being taken to Uzbekistan
but when they reached the other side of the river
a Tajik man informed them that they were actually
entering Afghanistan
and that they would have to fend for themselves,
that Tajikistan had effectively decided
to get rid of its Uzbek immigrants
Some families attempted to object
because they did not want to be abandoned there
but they were threatened with death
if they did not stop complaining.
The man believes they were then
in the area of Ahmed Shah Massoud.” (p. 53-4)

The author instead uses this break to tell the straightforward narrative of the de facto defendant(s), in broken up third-person prose, as if these defendants were not allowed to tell their stories directly and that the only voice which spoke for them was the voice of Allah. Their voices are suppressed, and simultaneously horrifying and bland. They are made bland. They are ruled by the farming of vegetables, caring for their families through agrarian life, until they are expulsed then tricked by ill-meaning “friends.” These narratives are frequent and often in this book, and probably in life too. Yet they are rendered “boring” and unaesthetic. I think this is important.

And at the end, nothing happens. Not in this book, or in the thing it is modeled after as conceptual art, until the shifting mind-mass of law went in the direction of abolishing the kangaroo courts, and setting some of the particulars free. The undangerous ones. Hopefully—but how are we supposed to know?

The worst kind of ambiguity, yet depicted flawlessly.

***

Rory Fleming is a rising third year law student at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He is also a writer of prose and poetry.

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June 30th, 2014 / 10:00 am

How Are Publishing Genius Submissions Going?

I used to do occasional “inside baseball” posts about running a small press, like this one from four (!) years ago. I guess it’s been a while. I find them clarifying, and usually after I write one I change something about how I “do business.” With that in mind, here are some numbers and thoughts related to Publishing Genius’s book submissions currently and throughout history. This year’s open submission period ends at 11:59pm on Monday.

Last year Publishing Genius didn’t even have an open period, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t accept books from submissions. It’s just that I was still working through 2012′s manuscripts. There were about 400 that year, and it took me too long to figure out my responsibility to each one. It’s really hard to honor every book, and I think I was intimidated by the force of dreams coming at me like a big, wet wave. I know the excitement of finishing a writing project—big or small—and the intense hope that comes with sending it off. READ MORE >

Behind the Scenes / 7 Comments
June 28th, 2014 / 1:05 pm

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

Reviews

I HAVE TO TELL YOU by Victoria Hetherington

indexI HAVE TO TELL YOU
by Victoria Hetherington
0s&1s, June 2014
151 pages / $6 Electronic. Buy from 0s&1s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s a questionably selected excerpt from Victoria Hetherington’s I Have to Tell You available as a preview. It’s from the point of view of a college woman sitting around smoking weed with friends. Written with great veracity, this is as interesting as being the sober listener of a high college student retelling in detail her conversations (not very). Only when the excerpt culminates in the woman’s reflections—

Sarah shows us different kinds of pandas on her iPad and we all feel electric with desire to leave evidence of our presence like she does, inscribing her life, and by extension ours, with enormous and funny and beautiful retellings of what has been before; we want to have forever the unspooling, quick-melting specificity of this perfect evening – we want it just as she might tell it, someday.

—is the writing characteristic of Hetherington’s excellent first novel as whole: graceful and poignant, often redolent of Annie Dillard’s sparing prose rising to beautiful abstractions, open to the everyday’s influence on personal narratives.

I Have to Tell You is a catalog of pain splintered into multiple characters’ points of view in chronological episodes. Their story is told predominantly through first-person narration, but also through shorthand journal entries, emails, and google searches. It is a litany of voices trying to understand and rationalize their pain to themselves. Some may be put off by this agonizing, but it is not facile, solipsistic, or ironic agonizing—it is instead Socratic, a desperate dialogue with hurt, loss, impending death, and the social devaluation of aging. But all this pain talk is not to say Hetherington isn’t funny or clever, which she often is; writing about pain in fiction often benefits from humor, especially when it’s the pain of white middle-class Torontonians.

Hetherington’s characters indulge in their suffering, which becomes an act of resistance to what creates suffering. Cocaine abuse, erotic desire incommensurable with politics or friendship, an aging woman who gets plastic surgery because she sees in her own reflection the face an acquaintance makes at the moment of death; these self-destructions are resistances, announcements of the pain that goes hand-in-hand with living fully in the world. Their experience of misery is reminiscent of an old saying of Chinese criminals about to be put to death: “In twenty years I will be another stout young fellow”. It’s a proud act that challenges suffering by embracing it scornfully, acknowledging its cyclical pervasiveness.

Suffering in I Have to Tell You also recalls the Western biblical mythos surrounding gender and reproductive organs. Menstruation as God’s punishment is the biblical explanation of a biological phenomenon present before the Bible. Circumcision is a covenant God makes with men in order to arrange for divine dominance of their reproduction. One is an explanation. The other is a prescription. Here, women are punished simply by existing and must find meaning in light of this. Men are made to suffer (or subscribe to suffering) in the name of meaning, for some supposed higher and vaunted power. Similarly, men in I Have to Tell You see their suffering as a cosmic agreement in order to secure some noble identity. This is the case for a character who ascetically and sentimentally makes the woods his home as he prepares for death. Conversely, women are made to suffer merely by existing; they seek a way of explaining and living within the pain from which, being that of culture and stemming as far back as childhood trauma (as in one character’s teenage “relationship” with a strange abusive older man), they cannot escape but can perhaps revolt against. This is not to say the book has an uncomplicated rift between how different people experience pain; everyone, of course, experiences pain and everyone experiences it differently. But the distinctions Hetherington draws between the attitude and culture that surrounds male and female pain in I Have to Tell You, even the self-proclaimed feminist men (who, we see through one character’s specious arguments, still just don’t “get it”), rings true.

Despite their shortcomings, Hetherington respects her characters with an unassuming commitment to unironic truthfulness, showing great proficiency for writing in different voices that speak through a variety of media, woven together with beauty and coherence. The inclusions of technology lack clumsiness or forced cleverness; it’s an organic outgrowth of her characters’ natural assertions or understandings of identity. If there ever is a “Great American Novel” (a probably stupid concept) this is how it should look—but of course it’s Canadian.

***

Joe Hogle lives in Pittsburgh, PA. He is also known as poopsmithey, Ronny Cammareri, and  ~LEATHA WHIP~. You can read a hypertext story and some of his poetry here.

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June 27th, 2014 / 10:00 am

Buk–Everytime

I talk to you on the phone you tell me I’m a great

writer

and everytime I read you in print you’re putting me down.

 

What is it with you?

 

the knifer

buk 3

 

I presume you are either Steve Richmond or Harold Norse.

I’ll have to presume it’s you, Steven.

there is nothing wrong with your writing—Or Norse’s.

it’s when you guys get outside your writing that you

often get depraved and nonsensical. I don’t want to

say it, but I will, and check it out if you please.

I asked Martin sometime back to print both you and

Norse feeling that you both deserved it. I have backed

both your and N’s writing—in forwards (forewords) to

your books and even by word of mouth over a bottle of

beer. and I don’t do it out of good feelings or comradie,

I do it because I believe in the artistry of your work.

then Norse attacks me in print (indirectly), asserting

that I have come between him and Sparrow, ruined his

chances when I have done just the opposite. I am not

out to get anybody; you guys are ridiculous. stick to

the facts. and on those 300 poems you showed me that

night, babe, since you hardharp it so much—most of them

did happen to be bad. all right, I’ve written some bad

ones too, plenty of them. we run into slumps of spirit

and life…now, do you understand? I say you’re

a very fine writer but you’re too jumpy about movements

in the fog. relax. I defended your work against a

certain guy you know quite well who said you couldn’t

write.                       (over)

 

HE CAME BY A WEEK AGO

 

I told him that I thought you were one of the most

powerful and original writers alive. I don’t want

to tell you these things but you fore ce me to. now

if you’ll get your head on straight and get into

doing the WORK you’re capable of instead of imagining

I wish your beath death, then we’ll both feel one hell

of a lot better.

 

I hope you’re getting some good ass and some love

and that the lines are falling into place. I’ve come

off a couple bad days drinking but am back to getting

all things now. stay with it. Some day it will come to

you    it has now. you don’t know it. get your teeth

into the typewriter ribbon.

Sure,

BUK

 

p.s. I’ve moved. you ever got any need to phone, o.k., it’s 661-7754.

Random / No Comments
June 27th, 2014 / 8:13 am

Reviews

25 Points: Black Cloud

bctumblr_mwiqgbZ70p1royaq8o1_1280
Black Cloud
by Juliet Escoria
Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2014
144 pages / $13.95 buy from Amazon

 

1. Juliet Escoria, as a writer, is like a birthday present you didn’t expect to get but secretly hoped you would.

2. It’s hard to pick a “favorite” from Black Cloud—but my top three would probably be “Heroin Story”, “Reduction”, and “I Do Not Question It”.

3. I feel like I know all of Escoria’s characters. I empathize with them. I care about them. I want to fuck up all the shit that made them miserable because, to me, they deserve better.

4. There are stories within these stories—little hints into the lives of these characters that stick with you.

5. Playlist for this book: Gary Jules’ version of “Mad World” on repeat.

6. Feel like Escoria is a new-age Bukowski but is extremely new and original at the same time.

7. These stories seem so real that I can’t decide if Escoria actually lived through all this or not. (Probably took experiences from her own life to build around these stories—that’s obvious—but I’m more so troubled with the idea that her life has been that awful thus far.)

8. Declaration: Black Cloud is the best work produced by a new, young writer this year and I challenge anyone to top it. (Spoilers: you won’t.)

9. Black Cloud makes you realize how good your life is.

10. Sadly, a lot of Generation Y can relate to the absence of fathers in this story collection.

READ MORE >

3 Comments
June 26th, 2014 / 12:00 pm

suarez

Biting is despicable, of course.

But how many writers, in the throes of creation, wrastling that dark angel, have resorted to biting?? Have chomped down on the Muse’s neck or shoulder??

Or perhaps the Muse is the biter, spurring us on to inspired action?????

(and, note: it’s ok to be a Creative First Responder in a World Cup biting incident. But not in a shooting tragedy. . . . . .O, where do we draw the line ??? . . . . O, poor Luis… O, poor Seth)

suarez2

… Seth=Luis … Seth=White Knight ….

Reviews

The Fun We’ve Had

thefunwevehad
The Fun We’ve Had
by Michael J. Seidlinger
Lazy Fascist Press, 2014
168 pages / $11.95 buy from Amazon
Rating: 7.9

How do you write a thrilling and entrancing Alt Lit novel?

Start with a chorus of disembodied voices telling us that “the waves are helloes; the incoming storm the sincerest goodbye. Like every single one of us, they are holding on. We held on until we could no longer hide. No one can hide out at sea.”

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June 24th, 2014 / 12:00 pm
Colum McCann

Colum McCann — Transatlantic

……….what was Colum McCann, National Book Award Winner, thinking when he posed for this author pic ??

“I am profound. I am sooooo profound.” —  ??

“This is sure gonna sell a lot of copies!!!” —  ???

“I have been translated into 35 languages!!” —??

“What would James Joyce say about this???”  — ?

“Is this really a good idea??” —-  ????

“The scarf’s the clincher!!” —-  ????

______________________________   ???????

Reviews

Lucas de Lima’s Wet Land

wetlandWet Land
by Lucas de Lima
Action Books, March 2014
108 pages / $12-16  Buy from Action Books or SPD

 

 

 

 

 

 

The premise of Wet Land is almost impossibly weird: it’s a book-length response to the death of Lucas de Lima’s close friend Ana Maria, who was killed by an alligator. Written mostly in all-caps, the poems are delivered by a narrator who frequently takes the form of a bird, ruminating on Ana Maria, the gator, and the act of writing itself. Early on in the collection, de Lima describes the act of watching a televised reenactment of Ana Maria’s death: “IN THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DOCUMENTARY THE ACTRESS LOOKS/NOTHING LIKE ANA MARIA;/THE OTHER ACTRESS LOOKS NOTHING LIKE HER FRIEND.” Here, de Lima sets the tone for many of the tensions that characterize this collection. It’s easy to criticize this kind of tasteless reenactment—to see it as a byproduct of a violent, media-obsessed culture. But in Wet Land, de Lima turns the lens on himself, exploring his own anxiety about being complicit in the reappropriation of tragedy.

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June 23rd, 2014 / 10:00 am

Reviews

Inclusion in Ed Steck’s The Garden

garden_cover_giantThe Garden
by Ed Steck
Ugly Duckling Presse, 2013
104 pages / $14  Buy from UDP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If the Romantic model of the garden is cultivation, then the Post-War model is invasion. Robert Duncan inquires of that famous, primordial garden, “is it dream or memory? homeland of the pleasure principle in the libidinal sea, an island girt round with forbidding walls?”[1] And of ornamentation, William Carlos Williams reminds us “that the bomb also is a flower.”[2] The multiflorous gardens of Ronald Johnson abstract whole histories for admission into their horticultural field. Rampancy, tended by besieged consciousnesses, overruns “the old garden-ground of boyish days.”[3]

The degradation of idealized forms is, of course, a hallmark of post-modernism, but the temptation of placing the world within the garden, or enlarging one’s garden infinitely, enacts a dialogue of control and ownership that becomes problematic for any anti-imperialistic project. Similarly, there is the risk of oversimplification that an artist runs when attempting to account for the volume of media produced around the event of war. Ed Steck’s The Garden: Synthetic Environment for Analysis and Simulation, published by Ugly Duckling Presse, continues the erosion of privileged space begun midcentury with an all-important newness equipped to navigate the bizarre landscape of the 21st.

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June 23rd, 2014 / 10:00 am

squid
how do you pass the time at Poetry Readings ???

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