Dorothea Lasky’s third poetry collection, Thunderbird, begins with the lines “Baby of air / You rose into the mystical / Side of things”—which immediately prompted me to hum Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic.” It wasn’t a great start to reading this book, but what I realized was that it wasn’t the word “mystical” that brought a song to mind so much as it was the lyricism of Lasky’s writing. As I hummed on, I recognized that the language of “Baby of Air” works through patterns, creating emotion tenor through lines that build on each other. A few lines later, Lasky writes, “People cannot keep air in / I blow air in / I cannot keep it in.” These lines are not typical, flowing lyrics packed with sound play, but are instead a series of seemingly simple phrases that amass meaning through repetition. At times, Lasky’s lyricism even has a blues-like effect in lines like “O you are already there / O you are already there / My brother tells me, you are already there.” Even in this opening piece, poetic lyricism and song come together to form both voice and emotional resonance to carry the reader through the rest of the collection.
However, Lasky’s language does not end at simple repetition. Mixed with this lyric quality (and sometimes at odds with it) are straightforward statements that strike the reader through their baring of the intimate. At times, this approach takes on the negative association of confessionalism—the self-indulgent statement of personal emotion that shuts out the reader—however, at Lasky’s best she filters this private emotion through straightforward statement, creating for the reader a realistic portrayal of human (universal) feeling.
December 21st, 2012 / 12:00 pm
Due to Betty Freidan’s pet rooster, or, as Mayor Bloomberg calls it, “Hurricane Sandy,” a lot of things were discombobulated, including The Poetry Brothel.
But now The Poetry Brothel has been rescheduled for this Sunday , 17 Nov. 2012. It will be from 8:00-1:00 at the Backroom on 102 Norfolk Street.
There will still be magic, music, burlesque, tarot cards (which I still don’t believe in), and tons of public and private poetry readings.
Dorothea Lasky and Ariana Reines will be there. So will the Princess of Brattydom, Carina Finn, and the Princess of Spanish Harlem, Jennifer Tamayo. What will happen when these two royal figures collide? Will it turn into a girly, more fashionable version of the exciting Israel-Hamas war?
Also, while I’m on the topic of prostitutes, I want to cite one of the most intriguing prostitutes ever (besides Elizabeth Taylor in Butterfield 8): Vivian Ward, played by Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.
Vivian’s long curly red hair is really fairy tale. If it would’ve ran for president of the United States of America I maybe would’ve supported it.
If you aren’t entertaining the possibility of viewing Pretty Woman right this second, then you are like the shop girls in the movie who are rude to Vivian/Julia, which means you are a brickhead.
So… please consider coming to The Poetry Brothel and contributing to a theatrical and glamorous poetry event.
Here’s another picture of The Poetry Brothel’s madam, Stephanie Berger:
by Dorothea Lasky
Wave Books, 2012
107 pages / $16.00 buy from Wave Books
1. Wave Books made a hardcover edition of this book with a pink cover but it is sold out on their website.
2. The only time I’ve seen Dorothea Lasky read was at last year’s AWP (Chicago) where she read in a theater and everyone clapped when she read and thought she was great (I also thought this).
3. After the whole reading was over there was a dance party and Dorothea Lasky was dancing nearby and I told my friend Chris that I liked her poems and I think she heard me and I turned to her and said something like, “Sorry, I’m talking you like you aren’t in the room or something.” She just smiled because she is a nice human being and poet.
4. The title of the book and all the poem titles are typed in what seems like a medieval font–like something one would see on stained glass windows.
5. “I Like Weird Ass Hippies” is probably the funniest poem title in the book (she read it AWP).
6. “I make hell to live in / I make hell”
7. “The world doesn’t care” is a poem that tells the truth and is not complicated; everyone should read it.
8. I am listening to Allo, Darlin’ and writing this and I feel this band is a good soundtrack to Dorothea Lasky’s poems.
9. “Let’s sit in a sea of flames / And I will never put the fire / Out of you” is something I wish a woman will tell me someday when she is talking to me, not reading the poem in which Dorothea Lasky writes it.
10. A person says, “Is this America?” in a poem titled “The Room” and I think lots of poets ask this important question. READ MORE >
November 8th, 2012 / 1:01 pm
On Sunday there will be a Poetry Brothel.
It will be held in The Back Room at 102 Norfolk Street, which is in the Lower East Side.
The Brothel will start at 8 and end at 1.
There will be masks, music, tarot readings (which I don’t believe in, but still), burlesque, magic, and lots of poetry.
All guests may purchase private readings with the poets, which include the splendidly shrill Dorothea Lasky and the plucky Harlem princess Jennier Tamayo. Also available for a private reading is Carina Finn (the East Village princess behind The Bratty Poets), Ariana Reines (if you haven’t read Mercury then you don’t have proper priorities), myself (Ann Romney 2012!), and lots more.
Throughout the evening, each poet will also give a public reading.
Please come and support poetry that is theatrical and fabulous.
Stephanie Berger is the madame of The Brothel. This is what she looks like:
For further information or to purchase tickets in advance please click here.
It made me very happy to read the various responses to Part 1, posted last Monday. Today I want to continue this brief digression into asking what, if anything, the New Sincerity was, as well as what, if anything, it currently is. (Next Monday I’ll return to reading Viktor Shklovsky’s Theory of Prose and applying it to contemporary writing.)
Last time I talked about 2005–8, but what was the New Sincerity before Massey/Robinson/Mister? (And does that matter?) Others have pointed out that something much like the movement can be traced back to David Foster Wallace’s 1993 Review of Contemporary Fiction essay “E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction” (here’s a PDF copy). I can recall conversations, 2000–3, with classmates at ISU (where DFW taught and a number of us worked for RCF/Dalkey) about “the death of irony” and “the death of Postmodernism” and a possible “return to sincerity.” Today, even the Wikipedia article on the NS also makes that connection:
I wasn’t surprised that my Monday post, which was ultimately about reading & applying some ideas from Viktor Shklovsky’s Theory of Prose, mostly generated conversation about Tao Lin and the New Sincerity. I knew that would happen even as I wrote it. So I thought I should take a post to clarify my thoughts on “the whole NS thing.” What follows will be a mix of fact and personal reflection.
In the first post in this series, I outlined Viktor Shklovsky’s fundamental concepts of device (priem) and defamiliarization (ostranenie) as presented in the first chapter of Theory of Prose, “Art as Device.” This time around, I’d like to look at the start of Chapter 2 and try applying it to contemporary writing (specifically to the New Sincerity). As before, I’m proposing that one can actually use the principles of Russian Formalism to become a better writer and a better critic.
1. Super thrilled to hear via twitter that Coffee House Press will be putting out a new collection by Brian Evenson, Windeye. Hopefully by 2011? No date word yet, but Evenson is the kind that I go stand in line for. If you haven’t read the titular story yet, it is gorgeous, and available via PEN America.
2. At Electric Literature, Melissa Broder interviews Ryan Call about, what else, litblogging.
4. The Complete Recordings of Gertrude Stein Reading Her Own Works @ PennSound
6. At Ubu, Doug Nufer’s Never Again, a 163 pg. novel with no word appearing more than once, which I discovered after an awesome conversation wondering if such a thing existed with Heather Christle and Christopher DeWeese, both of whom have books coming from Octopus in 2011 that I am also mega excited for.
So, for weeks now I’ve been promising excerpts reviews of contemporary poetry books and lit mags by students in my Deeper Poetics class. I’m consistently surprised and delighted by what they’re up to. Here are a few snippets:
Helena B. on Darcie Dennigan’s Corinna A-Maying the Apocalypse (Fordham U. Press, 2008)
Dennigan’s book doesn’t have anything so cheap as a moral. But in the crystalline strangeness and unfamiliar beauty of all of the poems; in the relationship between the poet and a young child (who may, in fact, be the child-self of the speaker herself) who each need the other desperately, and who agree to last; in the speaker’s wry and insistent and self-deprecating self-awareness (that can be found in nearly every poem but is most noticeable in “Eleven Thousand and One” and “Interior Ghazal of a Lousy Girl”) is some reassurance: that the world has already ended, that the world is always ending, and that we are still here. This is the kind of book that ruins me for doomsdays scenarios. May the ending of the world be half this beautiful.
Brandon V. on Lisa Jarnot’s Night Scenes (Flood Editions, 2008)
Lisa Jarnot’s Night Scenes begins with an epigraph out of Robert Duncan:
O, to release the first music somewhere again,
for a moment
to touch the design of the first melody!
Night Scenes is aptly preluded: sound and meter govern the poems in this collection. Jarnot pens the lyric—through implicit in the lyric poem is the myth of the proto-lyricist and first poet, Orpheus, and his songs of loss. Jarnot crafts scenes of sprawling fields and forests restful and bucolic and bathed in stars; these scenes, however, are as a dream, sung from a distance, projected like moonlight onto the page from Jarnot’s ostensible (as first seen in the poem “Bar Course Excise Insensible”) home in Brooklyn. Night Scenes is a searching, a reaching for that lost first music—and Jarnot takes up the task jubilantly, finding her melody in the wonder of the sensuous natural world.
November 9th, 2010 / 4:52 pm
David NeSmith has epublished a new haiku thing, from his El Greed comics. He’s taking comics and haiku off the page. He’s putting wardrobes on the page. I don’t know, you figure it out.
It’s been up for a bit, but Maureen Thorson’s review of Tan Lin’s Seven Controlled Vocabularies and Obituary 2004. The Joy of Cooking (Airport Novel Musical Poem Painting Film Photo Hallucination Landscape) is so good that I read it and immediately bought the book. Now the book has arrived, and I’m trying to like it as much as I like the review. It’s ambitious in its extratextuality. Its beautiful in its conception. But its wtf in its words. I don’t know, you figure it out.
Gee whiz, here’s an exhaustingive Bookslut interview with Dorothea Lasky.
Don’t forget: Telephone Journal giveaway ends tomorrow. Leave a comment, win a book.
I once heard a scholar use the term “project” as he introduced another poet at a reading. He went on and on: “Her project echoes Dickinson’s project [blah blah blah].” The comparison seemed fine, but I wasn’t really sure the poet in question really had a “project” per se. Nowadays, poetry critics and scholars often refer to an entire body of work by one poet as a “project,” but I don’t think poems work that way. I think poems come from the earth and work through the mind from the ground up. I think poems are living things that grow from the earth into the brain
Don’t forget tomorrow, Wednesday, at 9 PM Eastern (that’s 6 on the west coast!), Dorothea Lasky will be reading live here on HTMLGIANT from her soon forthcoming second book Black Life (which I read this weekend, and good god), so be sure to come and tune in, in your living room, or wherever!
During the reading, Wave Books have kindly offered half price copies of her fantastic first book AWE, and we’ll be giving away two free advance copies of Black Life. In the meantime you can still subscribe to the 2010 Wave Books Package, full of magic and new. Go! Then come back tomorrow at 9 Eastern!
The 2nd edition of our Live Giants live online reading series, originally scheduled for tomorrow with the inestimable Dorothea Lasky, has unfortunately needed to be pushed back due to some personal constraints. Instead, Dottie will be reading here, live on the site, next Wednesday 3/3 at 9 PM. Please update your personal reminder devices accordingly. Those who have seen Dottie read know that this is not to be missed. In the meantime, you can use this leeway space to, if you happened to have not, acquaint yourself with Dottie’s AWE, truly one of the most fun and heartraw books of poems I’ve read in a long time, or to get excited for her soon forthcoming second book, also from Wave Books, the excellently titled Black Life. I’ve already begun digging in, and let me tell you: hold onto your head. See you next Wednesday!
Great deal running over at Wave Books for subscriptions to their 2010 releases, $75 including shipping for everything they are putting out this year, which is a lot. Do see:
The Wave Books 2010 softcover series is now available for glorious pre-order. The year’s series includes new full-length collections of poetry by Michael Earl Craig, Timothy Donnelly, Dorothea Lasky, Geoffrey Nutter and Mary Ruefle (her anticipated retrospective Selected Poems); a limited edition hand-sewn book of prose by Caroline Knox; bibliographic pamphlets by Garrett Caples (on minor Symbolist poetry) and Noelle Kocot (a personal discography of seminal music); and other publications and ephemera to be revealed. The 2010 series presents the most expansive annual catalog yet of Wave Books publications, and is readily available here: http://www.wavepoetry.com/catalog/82. The first volumes, Lasky’s Black Life and Nutter’s Christopher Sunset, will light upon your hands in Spring.
A steady stream of new languages to my door, yes please.
BONUS: Here is Ms. Lasky reading a poem on Weird Deer.