October 4th, 2011 / 3:50 am

Ben & Amy Read Chapbooks: Gchat Edition

My friend Amy Lawless and I like to read chapbooks and review them on the internet. We used to write these together, while drinking wine and watching TV. We live in different cities now, so we did this one over gchat. Here are our recent reviews. We hope you buy these chapbooks:

The Wichman Cometh by Ben Pease (Monk Books, 2010)

Construction: 7″ x 8″ black matte cover with sweet-ass fonts, interior images by the poet

Sample Poems:

1.) VIII, XII, XXV at Notnostrums

2.) “Chateau Wichman” at Paperbag


Ben:  ok how bout witchamn first
Amy:  K
Ben:  it’s like an epic slaker poem right?
Amy:  It’s narrative
Yeah total slacker narrative perfect summer beach read
Ben:  heh perfect summer beach read yeah
Amy:  IT’s like The Right Stuff meets
…Judd what’s his name outside from
that 80s movie
Ben:  breakfast club
Amy:  Yeah Breakfast Club
fist pumping
Also the images – Pease made them himself
almost like he made it
using MS-Dos
It’s also truly American
Ben:  O yeah they are like inchoate pics of the Terminator and the Deathstar or something. I don’t really know what they are but they look rad
Amy:  Heh heh
Yeah have you seen his hair
Ben:  naw
Amy:  Ha
Look at the back cover
instead of a blurb
it’s in “Back to the Future Font” “Blade Runner Font”
it says “The Wichman Now in 3D and Future-Proofed from Oblivion”
Ben:  he told me he spent days finding that font online
Amy:  It shows
he got it
Ben:  it was like a quest to find that exact font from a huge catalog of “video game” fonts or something
Amy:  This chapbook is cinematic
Ben:  good one
Amy:  Seems odd that this chapbook
was written by a Columbia graduate
It throws up all over Keats’ negative capability
(proud of that one)
Ben:  that’s a good blurb


Polaroid Parade by Paige Taggart (Greying Ghost Press, 2011)

Construction: 4″ x 6″ beige cover, fits in your pocket

Sample Poem:

She’s slipping into September’s hay. Let this be a lesson in cereal cipher, in scissors and eyes near the bath, or all hell breaks loose. Colors presuppose existence, and her paleness is pale, it’s yellow, it’s starch, it’s opaque and she wants to open the light. Solid maneuvers around the trawl, let this loose lesson take guidance. Have weariness, cradle it comfort its raw-arch. Let the vegetables be made into dinner, let the carrots have eyes. She sings a vague song in a vague way, in a lumberyard on a hot day in September when the colors are all bending and she’s become light refracting.


Amy:  k
So Polariod Parade…
Ben:  yeah its like a long discontinuous poem
Amy:  Yes
Paige’s poems are intensely aural, especially these ones
she’s really into the sounds
Ben:  I like it when paige say stuff like “I’ve blown so many people”
Amy:  Right
Ben:  I dont think she says that in this chap but she says other revealing things
Amy:  “I recollect that I won’t be collecting lovers anymore.”
The title is perfect for a paige book
Ben:  good one
Amy:  because many of her poems
seem to be descriptions of how she sees the world (duh)
Oh more sexiness:
Ben:  yeah when I think of polaroids I think of like seedy, grainy pics of halfnaked bodies
Amy:  “We rolled French-cigarettes and French=kissed them to the hammered shut heavens.”
Right and Polaroid film no longer is being produced
I imagine a window opening
and a Taggart poem being the noise i hear
and then the door closes
and there are still Taggart poems
like a faucet
Her poems are like someone said “accelerative”
and i think that’s the most prescient thing
one could say
beginning? end?
No mattah
That and the vowels
Sent at 3:11 PM on Wednesday
Ben:  One time I was meeting Paige in Thompson Square Park and she was writing and it looked like she was in another dimension, like everyone in the park was moving at a different speed. That’s how I think of her poems
Amy:  Yeah there is an authoritative perspective = like a visual artist. I’m also reminded here in this collection of Chris Tonelli’s GRAVITRON poems
this word that keeps repeating
and is almost a character
Also I love that paige was writing in Thompson Square park.  She loves watching heroin junkies
Ben:  heh
Amy:  heh heh


Typing Wild Speech by Dana Ward (Summer BF Press, 2010)

Construction: 8.5″ x 5.5″ cover with picture of Ian Curtis. Our copy is slightly fucked. The image in this post does not reflect the quality of the actual chapbook.

Sample Excerpt:

After a while we started making out. It seemed like we hadn’t made love on the couch in forever. We were having such a lovely time I had to focus elsewhere for a moment so as not to lose my cool. It was like in old movies where the man zooms in on baseball scores to hold on through all the overwhelming pleasure. Instead of baseball I thought about post-human life & what exactly that meant, & about the categorical collapse of the human, of the species as we’ve framed it not really existing, & of hetero-normativity & death-drives & bodies & queerness & of fearful reproduction & how we felt so good, how our sounds were moving out of that goodness through the spaces between us with our sexy squeezing eyes & opened mouths. Then one of us finished & we were laughing & sighing & I told her I was thinking about theory while we fucked but that it was only so we could keep going & we started laughing harder & you’ll see how dense I can be when I tell you that the tidiness of this did not occur to me for weeks.

(Correction: the cover picture we mention in our discussion is actually a pic of Ian Curtis and not picture of that dude who played him in that movie about Joy Division.)

Amy:  The cover was instantly compelling: Ian Curtis from Joy Division
Ben:  sorry internet is fucked
Amy:  hot bedroom eyes
Oh its ok
Ben:  I thought the dude on the cover was Ian Curtis for the longest time
Amy:  IT’s really a dual narrative: the friend died and Ian Curtis died
Yeah it is
If you do a google image search of Ian Curtis
it’s him
Ben:  but it’s the actor from the movie poster of the movie about Ian Curtis
Amy:  it’s like the second row
Oh good one
Ben:  yeah right
Amy:  And it was the actor that made the narrator
of Typing Wild Speech
get his wires crossed
and reminded of his friend
Do you think that this poem was truly about Dana Ward’s friend who died?
Ben:  or something like that, yeah
Amy:  It brings up the question of honesty in poetry and truth
and regardless
it’s honest
Ben:  I’m pretty sure it was nonfic abou this friend
Amy:  But the topic of suicide is always fascinating to me in its profound selfishnes and unavoidability
Yeah I’m sure you’re rigth
like 1000 people a day kill themselves
But the dual narrative was truly exciting
And the connection was just as human
Ben:  it was really skillful, almost too impressive
Amy:  We are reminded of others
Right- almost too impressive
Like when the memories are coming out
of Geoff and his grandma
the details were too rich
to be made up
Ben:  uh huh
Amy:  Geoff was a beautiful character
a shiny star
Ben:  heh
Amy:  “To amuse me he’d affect a deep croon….”
that shit almost had me choked up
and I wasn’t even PMSing
Ben:  ha
Amy:  What do you think of it being prose
Ben:  he has a full length book coming out soon, but I can’t remeber what press is doing it
Amy:  oh rad
Ben:  I think Dana is a Prose writer
with like poetic intent
Amy:  And yet I felt this was a poem
Ben:  “he has the heart of a poet”
Amy:  Like the feeling and assigning meaning to it
that we don’t have words for
like near the end
Ben:  or something to that extent
Amy:  “Hell, I even thought the thing was pretty gread. But there was something esle at work I couldn’t describe, an over-sore space between my laughter & the object I couldn’t assign any meaning.”
Whether or not he uses line breaks, he’s still a poet
Ben:  or he’s just into defying categorization…. POMO
Amy:  yeah say POMO in a high pitch
Ben:  I was
Amy:  Like balls are getting grabbed against will
Ben:  ha
Amy:  totes


Here are some other episodes of “Ben and Amy Read Chapbooks”:

1.) Ben & Amy Read Chapbooks

2.) Ben & Amy Read Chapbooks: Holidaze Edition

3.) Ben & Amy Read Chapbooks: Lazy Summer Video Review Edition

If you’d like to send us your chapbook, we will read it and maybe review it sometime in the future. Send queries to benmirov@hotmail.com.


  1. St. Benny


  2. Z

      “Yeah there is an authoritative perspective = like a visual artist.”

      What do you have in mind when you say this?  What exactly is more authoritative about a visual artist’s perspective than a writer’s?  When, why, under what circumstances?

      Visual Artist, Who Always Found Writing Seemingly So Authoritative

  3. alex crowley

      Polaroid Parade feels good when you hold it, which makes re-reading it that much more enjoyable.

  4. Amy Lawless

      You know that feeling you get when you look at a painting and you don’t know what it is but you feel something and you don’t know what the artist did to make you feel that way but you’re pretty sure they did something purposeful to make you feel that way?  I don’t know how else to explain it but by telling you to look at something like this: http://www.oilpaintingshop.com/turner/35.jpg  . 

  5. Ben Mirov
  6. Ben Mirov

      Alex, this is great too. It’s a double-sided chap with Paige and Justin Marks called “Digital Macrame & On Happier Lawns”: http://www.poorclaudia.org/purchase/

  7. Z

      Hey Amy (and Ben), I do.  Totally.  Something that approaches a universal experience, or emotional resonance, but can’t be articulated in language without failing.  I don’t know if I know how to describe it either.  I’m sure there are smart books (philosophy) out there that talk about it and name it and call it phenomenology or something.  

      But doesn’t the same thing happen in productive/authoritative art across the board?  Isn’t that the difference between using inherited language and building poetry?  The difference between replicating an image and “painting”?  Is “good” or affective work always authoritative?  Because it is able to become something other than its parts.

      I just thought it was amusing and interesting that as a writer, you view that inexplicable sensation, as you experience it in visual art, as authoritative.  And I, as a visual artist, often marvel at the authority a writer possesses.  I like how we look to the other side of the fence and describe its grass.  With subjectivity, and authority.  : )