June 2011

i’m a bullhole cliche / assshit: An Interview with Victoria Trott

When I started reading online literature, sometime in mid-2008, I discovered a short list of bloggers/writers (Tao Lin, Ellen Kennedy, Zachary German) with similar attitudes and approaches to literature. Later, when Muumuu House was established, I found, among them, a new name: Victoria Trott. I read her poems, her blog, and it was all very strange, funny, and poignant. On Halloween 2009, I met her at a late night get together in (where else) Williamsburg. She seemed quiet, estranged, grinning aimlessly. By then she’d sort of disappeared from the online scene, leaving behind only a few publications (not to mention an unreleased forthcoming issue of German’s now-discontinued litmag), an altered moniker, and a lot of questions. In late 2009, she created a hilarious, ingenious Twitter account, and in summer 2010, a wonderful new blog. Finally there was some clarity, openness, continuity, but still, I was curious. Last fall, I compiled a list of questions I had for (and regarding) Victoria in a Gmail draft. Then I emailed her some of those questions, commencing a slow correspondence,  spanning three months. Here are the results:

David Fishkind: Hi Victoria, How are you?

Victoria Trott: Hey David, someone bought me breakfast today and I took half of a Ritalin, I feel pretty good. How are you?

How did you get involved with online literature? Or maybe, what is your time line of involvement?

Here’s a timeline of my involvement with online literature, which has the stuff about blog switching, I think

2007 – high school sophomore, read Hikikomori on Bear Parade. showed Tao Lin’s blog to my friend, she said “amoeba ass?” and laughed with a puzzled face.

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Author Spotlight / 48 Comments
June 30th, 2011 / 7:21 pm

If Wishes Were Fishes I Would Be Allergic

And now for a book trailer for Myriam Gurba’s Wish You Were Me from Riley Michael Parker, a trailer notable for its revolutionary use of pillow suicide, lampshade helmets, and slapstick vulgarity:

Web Hype / 4 Comments
June 30th, 2011 / 2:38 pm

Reviews

“Get Well Seymour!” by Joe Meno, Or: Let’s Talk

When I was charged with the task of contributing to this superneat project hyping Akashic Books’ redux of Joe Meno’s short fiction collection, Demons In the Spring, I felt entitled. For years I’d been a pestering cheerleader for Meno’s novels, The Great Perhaps and The Boy Detective Fails. Although the former got a fat, excellent review in the Times, I still felt Meno was somehow criminally under-heralded, a vital voice in need of a louder advocate. So when I got the chance to be that advocate, to ruminate on one of the collection’s stories, “Get Well, Seymour!”—a sad, excellent tale about cruise ships, inevitability, and psychosomatic parrots—here’s what I did:

I sat on the assignment for five months.

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4 Comments
June 30th, 2011 / 2:20 pm

Great Moments in Literature

Perhaps as a neighbor for Christopher Higgs’s “What Is Experimental Literature” series, we should compile a list of neat, uh, experiments. I’m thinking: What are your favorite tricks in literature? Let’s make a list. Here, I’ll scratch the meta surface. The comment box is “there” as a repository for your additions and complaints, as usual. READ MORE >

Craft Notes / 75 Comments
June 29th, 2011 / 7:04 pm

What is Experimental Literature? {Five Questions: Dennis Cooper}

According to his official bio, Dennis Cooper was born, he grew up, he wrote, he attended, he transferred, he was expelled, he met, he attended, he then attended, he studied, he founded, he lived, he moved, he began. And now he currently spends his time between Los Angeles and Paris. Harper Perennial will release his newest novel The Marbled Swarm in November 2011, and next month they will be republishing Horror Hospital Unplugged: his 1997 graphic novel collaboration with artist Keith Mayerson. He blogs at denniscooper-theweaklings.blogspot.com.

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Random / 16 Comments
June 29th, 2011 / 12:20 pm

Where can we go now, motherfucker?: An Interview with A. Minetta Gould


A. Minetta Gould was raised in the mittens by a beautician. She’s since transplanted herself to the West where she worries herself with rust, the epic, and pagination. She’s the managing editor for Black Ocean and edits the journal Lonesome Fowl. She is the author of two recent chapbooks: Arousing Notoriety (Publishing Genius, 2011) and Dutch Baby Combo / The Boys are Talking about Restlessness at Five-Points (Spooky Girlfriend Press, 2011).

Nathan Logan: I first remember encountering your work in elimae, and then in the fifth issue of Caketrain. Your poems seemed strange in the best kind of way—in both issues, no other poets seemed to be up to what you were doing. It is a hard feeling/observation to quantify. Do you see yourself as writing in/out of some tradition—do you get your cues from any specific poets or schools of thought?

A Minetta Gould: I think the poems you saw in elimae and Caketrain work outside any poetic tradition for a very simple reason: I didn’t know anything about poetry, really. I started writing poems when I was 20 or 21, and I started publishing when I was 21 or 22, and I hadn’t yet realized how to examine the tradition. I was influenced by play, by being anything but the tradition, and had no desire inside myself to learn about it. The first books of poems I read were by kids—people who were maybe 25-30—from small presses. The first books I can remember buying are Jason Bredle’s A 12 Step Guide (whoever has that please give it back) and Laura Glenum’s Hounds of No (which also is no longer in my possession). I had no clue what was going on in those books, but I knew I liked it, and knew I wanted to be weird. I didn’t have time for dead white guys, the 1970s, or, heaven forbid, craft studies.

Then I turned 25 in my first year of grad school and realized it’d be super dumb of me to keep fooling myself into thinking weirdness came from ignorance. I started with the big buzz dude’s, the Surrealists, and have worked my way around the scope of what it is I think I may do. At this point in my career (I think I’m referring to an academic career here, not some sort of poetic one) there are several names/traditions that obviously have an influence on my writing: Lyn Hejinian, Mina Loy, Russell Edson, Charles Baudelaire, Paul Celan, etc. I’m intensely interested in the Lyric due to my intense studies with Martin Corless-Smith, and will probably never let those dirty little tricksters of the Surrealist Movement go.

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Author Spotlight / 13 Comments
June 28th, 2011 / 3:03 pm

Greatest freak out ever

In 2009, a young man named Stephen became very upset when his mother cancelled his World of Warcraft account. Should you deride a child for being so invested in the sub-parallel world of the internet, I ask what you are doing here. His brother Jack recorded what ensued inside the former’s room, which most of you have seen. It is entropic, cathartic, and harrowing. At one point, Stephen attempts to insert a remote control “up his ass,” which is less a comment about shitty television than a residual impulse from one’s anal stage (1-3 yrs) in psycho-sexual development. I wonder what shows Stephen watches at night, the distance from the world he feels as gathered by the talking faces. This contributor will note his sculpturally toned young body; the contracted neck muscles of taut anger; the stately plant of his right arm; and the eager arch, while not exactly graceful, of his hip, as he invites the inadament object into this being. Myron’s “Discobolus” (450 BC), of grace and harmony of the human form, has been since critiqued by both art historians and athletes as a rather inefficient way to throw something — but art has never been about distance, but rather, nearness. To touch a marble body is to feel cold unflinching flesh, the timeless detached heart of mere form. To get inside a person, you may as well be a remote.

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Random / 20 Comments
June 28th, 2011 / 2:18 pm

Here Are Some More Things

When Poetry received that $200 million endowment from Ruth Lilly, I wondered what they would do with that money and how they could possibly handle such a massive gift. The Chicago Tribune has an article discussing what has happened since “the money arrived.”

A while back, Christopher Higgs posted about some bookstores he visited in Chicago and a pretty intense discussion followed about independent bookstores and business models and the like. This recent New York Times article about how independent bookstores are now trying to capitalize on author events, is an interesting follow up to that conversation (via Jac Jemc). I don’t think I would pay to attend an author event but I do try to buy a book when I do attend readings.

At The Awl, five writers talk about the tensions of book titles. It’s surprising how often writers have to change their book titles. I guess the moral of the story is to not get attached to that name you call your book.

A lot of people are sharing this article but it’s worth another mention. Jose Antonio Vargas writes, for New York Times Magazine, about his life as an undocumented immigrant.

Some writers offer practical tips on writing a book.

Everything here is worth a look.

If you’re into Harry Potter, there’s going to be a magical website called Pottermore where you can buy an invisibility cloak and tickets for that one special train to go to Hogwarts and fans can write within the Harry Potter universe even though that has been happing since the nascence of the books anyway. Harry Potter e-books will also be sold. Wingardium Leviosa!

Aaron Burch mentioned Grantland on Facebook so I checked it out and I am really enjoying the site. There’s all kinds of interesting writing, not only about sports. He has a great write up on Hobart’s new Tumblr.

Over at The Rumpus, Elissa Bassist interviewed writer and sex-positive feminist Susie Bright. The interview is also well worth the read.

Maud Newton interviews Kate Christensen for The Awl. The phrase “inner dick,” is used and that’s just one of many highlights.

Roundup / 13 Comments
June 28th, 2011 / 2:00 pm

The Indie Lit Summit 2011: Baltimore/DC Edition

On July 16th, 2011, editors and writers from the Mid-Atlantic region will gather in Washington D.C. to hold a one day summit called the Indie Lit City Summit. The effort, spearheaded by Dan Brady and an organizing committee, one of the Barrelhouse editors, is designed to bring together small press editors for a day of brainstorming, problem-solving and exchanging ideas for how small presses and independent magazines can work better, smarter, harder. Dan and I had a conversation about the summit, what’s planned, and how editors and writers (and other interested parties) in other cities can plan their own summits in the future.

How did the Indie Lit Summit come about? Who is involved in planning the summit? Who will be attending the summit? What do you hope to accomplish?

Two years ago I went to the Nonprofit 2.0 Unconference, organized by bloggers Allyson Kaplin, Geoff Livingston, and Shireen Mitchell. Beth Kanter and Allison Fine, who wrote The Networked Nonprofit, were the keynote speakers. After Beth and Allison’s talk, we broke into sessions that were self-organized by the participants so the topics were focused on what the people in the room wanted to learn about. We covered everything from blogger outreach to social media ROI to engagement strategies. It was great and I thought to myself, I wonder what would happen if you got the whole DC literary scene together and we had this big knowledge exchange about what works, what doesn’t, how much things costs, how to do things better, how to work together, and how to build a community for ourselves in which everyone is a resource to everyone else.

I chewed on the idea for about a year and then started to sketch out what I thought would have to happen to organize something like this. I kept it to myself, though I talked to the other Barrelhouse guys, Adam Robinson, Maureen Thorson, Mark Cugini, and a few others and it seemed like this was something we should do.

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Events / 5 Comments
June 27th, 2011 / 2:00 pm

Oh that playful Fugue

So, Fugue Magazine published a new issue with the theme of “Play.” (Tx to A. Monson for the tip) And play Fugue did (I encourage you to see excerpts online), with the authors of the issue. Enter the always seriously playful (and badass), Michael Martone. In the words of Fugue‘s editors:

One of the pieces included in the issue is a series of footnotes written by Michael Martone that runs throughout the footers of the issue. When we accepted this piece and when we designed the issue, we saw Martone’s contribution as a separate piece that happened to be playing with form in the same way other pieces were playing with content. We did not consult the other contributors to let them know the way Martone’s piece would run in the issue simply because we did not anticipate that writers would be upset, or see the piece as a violation of their art.

Well, some wordsmiths got writing-pants-n-wad about this sort of play. Not funny!! is what they said. The writer Lia Purpura sent in a lengthy letter of rebuke, posted for all to see by Fugue. Purpura writes (and a whole lot more–read the letter–she’s sort of pissed):

My work is not a Petri dish in which another writer may culture his work. My work is not a vehicle for a theme. It is not a means to an end. It’s not a stage upon which another may act out his piece. It’s not a field for a game of hide-and-go-seek. My essays are not raw materials to be remixed, recast, reconstituted, cut, spliced, manipulated or mashed up. I am an author and I am not dead.

Well, alrighty then. You can play with blocks and matches, but lay off the words, people. Right? Or waaaayyyy wrong-headed. Clear-sighted advocate or stick-n-mud? Obdurate authors or defenders of the holy grail? You people write and read. What if Fugue did this to your words? What if you were mashed-up with the shape-shifting Michael Martone? What do you think?

Random / 220 Comments
June 27th, 2011 / 12:04 pm