What? This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.
I’m sorry Sean Lovelace or Ander Monson (whoever really gets the credit), but you can’t use Amazon to host a literary magazine.
Please remove your stupid journal immediately. There is no editorial control. People are just writing all willy-nilly. It’s been around for more than seven months and someone submitted as recently as two hours ago. It should have died by now.
Meanwhile, my story was posted in the beginning and only 3 people found it useful.
This is exactly what’s wrong with indie lit. No one can read my story because too many other people are writing and all the editors are freaking crazy.
Whether by fate, chance, contingency, purposelessness, irrelevance, or best
of all, uncertainty, we are thrown around, sometimes
at each other, and no matter whether the narrative is plot-based
or character-based, we are thrown from each other
in the end, carrying borrowed being, turning round
and round. “I’m going to color outside
the lines of reggae,” A proclaims; scenery makes a difference
and with it a new personality, but what about the dog
gazing rapturously into A’s face? It’s clear that he or she is alert
to small phrasings as well as to the water level
in the creek. But, in the end, he or she will drown
in the type of creek it seems to be, a flow of sympathy
over rocks, silt, the bones of a mule, past
laurel trees and sunbathers, under suds
and water-skeeters, to Mexico and the Pacific
and to xerox — as if that would keep things
in print. To pull experience out from under
the floating oak leaves would be an act of ingratitude
and betrayal. But to meet K and M would be an honor
and a pleasure as long as no one expects me to speak.
– The Fatalist, pp. 71-72
Darby Larson has posted about Mean Week over at his blog. I like Darby. He is good at arguing things, and he thinks hard about things. Many of his comments on blogs are very thoughtful, and I usually read them and think I should make my brain smarter in order to respond to them.
Darby on Mean Week:
I don’t think mean week has been mean, by my definition of it. The problem is that if it were mean, then there would be consequences. Friendships would end, would have to be mended over time, would depend on a puppies and rainbows week just to heal.
Maybe we could learn a thing or too from Gridskipper, a travel blog, that had its own Mean Week back in 2007. Apparently, they traveled places and were mean to babies.
Where is everyone?
Yes, friends, there’s a new issue of NO: A Journal of the Arts out. It’s #7 and it’s–as mentioned above–awesome. The first poem in it is “Treatment,” a poem by Heather Christle, which I was lucky enough to hear HC read at The Lucky Cat in Brooklyn last Friday. There are collages by Keith Waldrop, printed in glorious full-color; excerpts from Richard Foreman’s notebooks (“I make things so that I will have to explain–to myself–what I have done.”); and new work from folks such as Rae Armantrout, Ann Lauterbach, Kate Colby (with what I think is an erasure of Thomas Hardy), Thalia Field, Lyn Hejinian, Nathaniel Mackey, and many more besides.
Here’s a short poem by C.D. Wright from the issue-
Back Forty Poem
a barn held up by a pitchfork
surrounded by field on field
of wildflowers, butterflies,
cow pies, beyond which,
the snake-infested woods
the high-voltage fence
the big-stripe inmates
And here’s two lines from Ann Lauterbach’s “Ants in the Sugar (Blanchot/Mallarme)”
arousal from stupor lifting its head
to be silenced and to begin again
And now since I can’t find any of Waldrop’s collages from the issue online, here’s an entirely unrelated one that he did with Clark Coolidge-
October 15th, 2008 / 5:07 pm
Coincidentally, the weekend before Mean Week, a book of essays from a poetry journal called The Reaper arrived for me at the public library.
The Reaper had it’s own little Mean Decade from 1980 to 1989, and it spent that time skewering poetry as it was and poets of note, and suggesting to readers that narrative poetry was the way out of the ever-widening gap between poetry and its readers. It helped give birth to the New Narrative movement. And New Formalism.
Fascinating stuff, really. Fussy? Maybe. But impassioned. Happily argumentative. Willing to call people out, too. Kind of like Justin’s critique of Valzhyna Mort there below this post, too, in that they dissect poems line by line and call bullshit when bullshit needs to be called—especially when the poets in their sights sail through a line without regard for accuracy.
I’ll post a few choice quotes this week. First, though, The Reaper’s Non-negotiable Demands in all their glory:
1. Take prosody off the hit list.
2. Stop calling formless writing poetry.
3. Accuracy, at all costs.
4. No emotion without narrative.
5. No more meditating on the meditation.
6. No more poems about poetry.
7. No more irresponsibility of expression.
8. Raze the House of Fashion.
9. Dismantle the Office of Translation.
10. Spring open the Jail of the Self.
Each demand is explained in the essay. I would encourage you to pick up the book to read them.
Keep in mind, also, that posting about The Reaper is not a full endorsement of their critique. On the other hand, my poet friends: fuck you, read this.
I like new journals. I like journals with their own aesthetic and who invent themselves primarily because they want to put words in the world: words that likely would not have found a way to get read if that journal hadn’t existed. There can never be too many high quality journals. A node is a node.
Though not all new journals, or even existing things, seem bent for these reasons. It seems semi-frequent, and perhaps most pointed to the world of poetry publishing, where you see a tendency to publish well-known names and no one else. Scanning the contributor notes of certain journals you can often see what I now will call the EDITOR / MULTI-BOOK / DUH NAMED EFFECT.
When this effect is applied, it means the journal has been infected wherein all the words published in their particular nook are 90-100% consisting of writers who are themselves the editor of a journal, who already have one or several full length books out at indie presses, or are a combo of both, being a name that literally most everybody in the publishing world is already very familiar with. They don’t both with searching for new voices, with including some people as yet unexposed who can then be read as others can to the journal seeking the ‘bigger names,’ no, everyone in the journal is someone who likely would have little to no trouble getting their work in almost any existing poetry journal already out there.
So then the question is: Why do you exist?
In the face of all our current praising and cataloging of the good, HTML GIANT is proud to announce now that next week in our hands will be known as Mean Week. I mean, yeah, it’s fun to praise a lot of things, but sometimes you should be mean.
So all next week, we’re being mean. We might be mean even if we like you. We might be mean in a rotting hatred of your mother. We might expect you to be mean back.
It can’t be all lambs and roses. Mean Week is real.
Ryan Call, you’re going to have to find a way to be mean.
Sam Pink, let’s fight.
Today a little girl called me a giant.
November 5th, 2010 / 11:15 pm
I. Two Days After Whateverdaythegrammystookplacethisyear
I was taking about sex with a new person when I said I was annoyed choking is not on the table as an option. Then I said my ex’s name and remembered how she loved it.
“Oh, I know,” came his Freudian drip. I then punched him pretty hard on his arm, but without being violent. I was kind of upset, but I also knew he didn’t mean to hurt me, his tongue just worked faster than his brain in that moment.
The weird thing is, Billy was probably the victim in all of this. During a time we were trying to be over I surrounded myself with friends who weren’t shared, friends who didn’t let me respond to her manic pleas for reciprocity. So I saw the blocks of texts arrive, and I ignored them, but not because I wanted to ignore them. I was still forcing myself to not respond. That’s when it happened. I know because we eventually got back together and she never told me. But one day I went through her phone and saw her bragging texts about Billy and how he fucks like a rabbit and how the best part of it was that Billy was my good friend. She was bragging about it, but how unfortunate was that? She, who I successfully ignored, intentionally turned to someone else to hurt me for ignoring her. “Positional play is the maneuvering of opponents into the forced clarification of their (but not your) tactical lines of action,” and that was what she was doing. But we all got played in the end, thankfully including her.
Sometimes we do things for unclear reasons. Maybe because they feel good. Is that a reason? I think so, especially when I do the things. Is it worse when the sex is perfect with an idiot or when the sex is boring with a genius? I dunno, but I hope to have less of it and try to make it meaningful.
There is this mix I was listening to recently and it is very good, but I have a problem with it: it closes with a juxtaposition of Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me A River” and Britney Spears’ “Everytime.” Hopefully, I need not clarify why that poses a problem, but if I must let me say I have a problem with myself for feeling sorry for Britney, when she was the one doing things for unclear reasons because they felt good. “This song is my sorry,” is a fucked up lyric to be used in a pop song when it is truly personal, and in Spears’ case at that time it was. 
You might remember my friend “Billy?” You probably don’t, so here. We grabbed lunch together last week, it was pretty fun. We got Ramen and talked about stuff on a broad scale: the things we are doing for money, the people we have been getting naked with and, naturally, cultural ephemera. An ephemeron we addressed for example was the Grammys ceremony and how we felt about some of the performances and awards. Of course neither of us was able to watch past the first half, or perhaps nothing of note happened in that half. We shall never know!
What we do know: Billy is dating someone seriously, and she is taking him a lot more seriously than he is her. She is “intense” and “confrontational.” She senses what they both know. Basically what he is saying is that he is not up for it. He likes her, but she feels for him in ways he doesn’t. I tell Billy to tell her that he knows her intuition is right. To stop playing along and pretending he doesn’t see what she is right to notice their “thing” is missing.
Must we pass over in silence what we cannot speak about?
THE *REAL* GRAMMYS, HAPPENING EONS BEFORE THE SUPERBOWL
I watched them with my friend who will not be told when she must cease thinking about Beyonce’s net shorts. (“i hate how everything moves so quickly. it’s like just because a few days have passed doesn’t mean i’m not still thinking about the grammys. sure, not MOST of the grammys. but i’ll be thinking about her netted costume for a WHILE. why does the internet want everyone’s brains on fast forward?”)
I could not believe how fortunate it was that I happened to be near a television! I was casually complaining about life to a dear friend on a Whateverdaythegrammystookplacethisyear when all of a sudden… Beyonce! I never fully get how award shows work, their purpose and how the selection process works for who gets nominated for what. But if they start with Beyonce, I am totally mesmerized and willing to watch with full attention and the occasional loud “OH MY BEYONCEEE!” There were multiple of those, and people on the receiving end of Beyonce’s electric chair were electrified, as expected, jumping up and down their couches everywhere, unless they lived on the West Coast, and thus were penalized for their decision .
The *Real* Grammys seem to be organized by a panel of Ladies… who Love Cool J. Why is he the presenter? Why do they keep Doin’ It (feat Leshaun)? The sartorial negligence of the Cool James was apparent as he momentarily shared a stage with an immaculately dressed First Husband of America. Let’s just say there were no ZZZs in Jay-Z’s perfect outfit, and even less ZZZs were there to be found in the way the Presidential couple looked like while performing together during the *Real* Grammys, intoxicating everyone with their intoxication.
The deep blue sea of sartorial hmmms deepened further when our favorite Neptune decided to hide his crown under a hat, and all of humanity wondered: “Pharrell. Why!” He was still perfect, and at least wasn’t being ridiculous like those dudes who must have been sweating balls in their anonymity protecting helmets.
But looks and looking supa dupa fly are not all that matters in music these days. The young musicians have set up the bar mad high, where only Lordes can fly, and your prepackaged Dark Unicorn won’t fly you there despite its hypnotic beat (gah, this hasn’t happened to my brain (?) since when Gwen Stefani was cheerleading) that encourages obsessive repeat-play.
If the producers of your album aren’t Illuminati, you might have to join a circus. In the words of pop-princess (does she keep being princess until Madonna dies?) Britney Spears: “There’s only two types of people in the world: the ones that entertain, and the ones that observe.” Pink misunderstood the distinction and thought being observed was synonymous to entertaining, but acrobatics are all the ZZZs Jay-Z was missing that night. Except for her thigh strength, which so wow, very anti-ZZZ!
Anyway, time to get serious-y. Let’s address the thing that agitated most of us about the *Real* Grammys: Kendrick Lamar—who was, is and will always be objectively the best in everything for which he was nominated—didn’t win anything. Then the band (is Macklemore a band? or just that dude with the two-year old Freeman’s Alley barbershop hair a solo thing?) made the crass, gross error of trying to recognized their (his?) inferiority by sharing the thought with all their fans. This literally felt like a violent slap to everyone: (1) the people who might have thought Mackleduders deserved to win stuff, (2) the people who wanted Kendrick to win stuff and were frustrated he didn’t, and (3) let’s not even think about all the other very sensitive and insecure artists who were both nominated and lost and not even publicly recognized by the true winner of stuff they lost as the ones worthy of winning.
To think this band (or dude? I really have to find out at this point!) would even consider considering publicly sharing a private message he sent which should have been private, because eww band or dude, get a publicist! The negative criticism they (or “he,” whichever is correct!) have received is totally deserved. Bad apologies are in poorer taste than not apologizing at all, and this one was a very selfish and self-aggrandizing one. The reason this “apology” really sucked was the way it was portrayed and whored out via social media. There is a Kendrick song called “Real.” It is greatly introspective and reflective, further showing where in the “real nigga” doctrine Kendrick falls: he is not obsessed with appearances in a way consuming his music’s production.
The song stresses the importance of showing up, of being “real” in a way that is vulnerable:
The reason why I know you very well/ cause we have the same eyes can’t you tell?/ the days I tried to cover up and conceal/ my pride, it only made it harder for me to deal
[*end of serious-y chunk*]
Speaking of #Unapologetic, sources close to the Barbadian queen of pop Rihanna have revealed to TMZ the star watched the show at the comfort of a new planet she recently purchased. While she is considering Stay-ing there a while, TMZ has learned that Rihanna used telepathy to support her bestie (hmm. Cara?) close friend Katy Perry during her Grammys performance. “Where have you been?” thought Katy in the secret illuminati witchlanguage she shared with Rih, and then she felt the transcendental high-five from afar.
Then everyone bought things and companies were so, so happy! Well, almost everyone bought things. Mostly women who wanted to wear all the beauty products that made their stars look like stars. Men would have to wait for a sports event, like last year’s Beyonce performance at the sports thing which made Janet Jackson a star.
In conclusion, the *Real* Grammys didn’t really change anything, but that’s okay. Because the Grammys rarely do that. It is mostly public opinion that shapes who the big figures are in culture, and all the individuals who are nominated for these awards have acquired a level of respect as artists significant enough to see Taylor Swift going hard to Kendrick live, which is fine and great and super, but remains besides the point. When our cultural curators shift our attention to something silly, even if this silly something is endearing and well-intentioned, they (the curators) have taken our attention away from something else.
Who chose the direction to focus on Swift—and more extensively—before showing us an enthusiastic Hova? Probably the same exact person who gave Macklemore the award. It wasn’t me. But if it were me directing, I would have focused on the performance exclusively, out of respect to the person on stage. If a majority of the population only likes stuff because other people like it, then please save the stuff I like from getting Grammys!
III Nine Days After Whateverdaythegrammystookplacethisyear
He felt sad, he said. It was the morning after he stopped hating himself for being kinda in the gray area for so long in private. The night before he had send me a text: “It’s over. A little back and forth but we both agreed it was checkmate. Broke up in Central Park, lol. It went so well/ was our first real convo. Probably the best convo we ve ever had. I feel surprisingly sad.”
I was really proud of him. And of me, for challenging him to be upfront about his lack of genuine want in his relationship. But I also felt meaningless. I wasn’t even able to arise in my person the decency Billy was finally able to come up with for his new ex.
Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent, I guess.
 I know this with certainty, because this was the first song Spears wrote. She wrote it with a woman named Artani, who then went on a Greek reality-talent show, called “Fame Story,” which everyone in Greece watched at the time because we were trying to not focus on our faltering institutions as a nation.
Artani was dealing with a breakup while Britney was trying to face the new Justin Timberlake as an ex, who had released “Cry Me A River.” The song was personal, and “Everytime” was a vulnerable response to it, but how vulnerable was it really, when it was a pop song and it was created for everyone? Doesn’t that take away from it in serving a purpose as being a meaningful apology? I think it did/ does/ forever will.