Author Spotlight & Contests
Book Giveaway: Applies to Thorson
Here’s a chance to win a copy of Maureen Thorson’s Applies to Oranges, which is one of the top five most beautiful books of 2011. No doy, it comes from Ugly Duckling Presse so that means it’s impeccably designed and intentionally detailed: good paper, letterpress cover, set in a typeface I hadn’t heard of (Bembo). But I don’t let that overshadow the poetry, which I first read and thought, “Damn, these are consistent.” They are the melt-in-your-mouth variety. You read one in a comfy chair after work and let it mellow. There’s an orange in every poem, and every poem is about 15 lines long and just one stanza. Earlier I thought the poems were quiet, but reading the book again now I realize no not quiet, tense. For instance, this sartorial sorrow:
If we had lived a hundred years, I’d say
give me washed leather, milliners’ pins,
Battenburg lace looped in orange silk.
Let me learn the politics of exclusion–
six hundred threads to the inch. In place
of island chic, a native’s pretend servility,
I’d dress to show that sorrow can harden
into a surface more starched than any collar,
more formal than the pleats of a skirt
as its hem dusts a dim corridor. It sets.
It makes creases I’ll never press out.
The good Maureen Thorson offered to give away three copies of the book, as well as three mix-CDs that she made. That makes three winners. To enter, write something in the comments around the theme of “Trouble in Paradise.” Here’s how Maureen casts the contest:
It’s summer, and that means vacations, and vacations mean sunny islands and such. A perfect match for Applies to Oranges, with its tourists and cruise ships and general tropical vibe. So I would like to give away three copies of Applies to Oranges, along with accompanying mix CDs, and perhaps some other goodies from the Big Game Books vault.
I propose that anyone who wants to get in on the action write a flash fiction, poem, or other short piece on the general theme of “Trouble in Paradise.” After all, being on an island doesn’t save the speaker of Applies to Oranges any grief at all, and sometimes you need a vacation from your vacation.
Maureen is vacationing in the mountains till July 1, so that’s your deadline. By the way, Maureen’s Big Game Books are the real deal, too. They were of the first little books I ever ordered back when and that pile still delights my shelf. Those tinysides don’t work like other books.
Tags: big game books, maureen thorson, Ugly Ducking Presse
By the way — this really is one of the top 5 designed books of 2011, as decided by a panel of 4 enthusiastic amateurs at AWP. The others in that number are, in no order, Campeche by J Edwards (Noemi), Ordinary Sun by M Henricksen (Black Ocean), Universe in Mini by P Somerville (FProof and I know, 2010), and The Cat. of Potential Literature by Segal and Mager, eds (Cow Heavy).
<3 ugly ducking so much
YOU ARE A BROKEN TOY
When I wake you are a broken toy, something smart as a pirate ship. When I was a pirate ship I was not so clean. I tired. I tried to swear to try to hold you brightly, the trap door smiling and the hard strings behind us like a scarf. Like a scarf I was a mistaken tail. I tied knots to hold us close together. WARM YOUR FINGERTPS you said. You said WARM YOUR PRETTY SMILE. I know the walls will keep from falling, I know the knots will weep. But how many times can I hold you, how many times can I toy with your heart and still so many ships are frail. I mean that you are the pirate ship, coming dark and mean. I mean that I will never find the perfect place to slip my most beautiful knot, frayed and flat. I come broken in the mint-condition box. I come wrong and tired, a bookshelf, a morning. A precise bottle. You are so much smarter. You were this morning, morning, morning. This mistaken morning.
Ok I’ll play!
I saw a crack in the garden where thousands of ants were building a lighthouse. I stared at their feet until a glow room grew inside of me so rotund it is a mansion. I don’t want to see no more of god’s brilliance. The sea is a trigger as is fire. Once I was a swimmer in need of plenty of fresh food. Now every day takes a new recipe to divert glare. In time you too may be an alien in your own secret control room. I wish you plastic and pills and plenty of mints. The objects of my affection are stuffed animals in windows, ink butterflies, moneyed holes. Anything with fins must be swapped for a gun don’t you see how grass grows in knives. History comes with too much skin and a black rose on its lips. Computers might be safe. Dahlias are out of the question.
THERE IS NO WATER
The sun is gorgeous worshipable hot and high. The sand is perfect, like softer than I could’ve imagined. Really nice. One or two trees, sure. Gazebo and catamaran. 14 beauties in small swimsuits, if only just alive. But there is no water and like not even rum or coconuts and parched doesn’t tell the half of it.
Trouble in Paradise
It started in the early nineties, back before the Internet, this old high school friend of mine started showing up whenever I masturbated, in my fantasies, I mean, I’d have my eyes closed and I’d be picturing this girl bouncing up and down on a dick I guess, I dunno, my imagination was never vivid enough to picture two people, or my imagination wouldn’t be interested in logic, it’d focus on the parts I liked most and scrap the uninteresting parts so I never was entirely sure whether the girl I fantasized about was bouncing up and down on a dick or what, and then Rich, my high school friend, he’d just sort of pop up, like stroll in onto the set, and he never did much other than stand there with his hands in the pockets of those ratty jeans he was known for back in sophomore year, smiling, sort of a “Pretty wild, huh?” smile, maybe rocking back and forth on the balls and heels of his feet, at least that’s how he started showing up, and I’d stop masturbating as soon as he showed up, and I’d just have to hope he wouldn’t come back, but he always did, and soon he started making little comments to me about my fantasies, like, “You like the big ones, huh, Frank?” or “No one makes those noises during sex!”, or maybe he’d honk one of the girls boobs, and the girl never did anything, Rich helped me realize that the woman in my fantasies was never anything other than a robot put together for no purpose other than to get me off, the asshole, Rich really wasn’t an asshole in high school which made it even more shocking, and this went on for like three years, everytime I closed my eyes and tried to masturbate Rich’d be there, so soon enough I was learning to ignore him, masturbate through his presence you know, and he’d stand there and watch me, and I’d have to focus on the girl, try to ignore him, I never once tried talking to him because I was trying so hard to ignore him, and soon enough I was able to come while Rich watched, it was jarring at first, yeah, but like anything you’re regularly exposed to, the shock wears off, you get desensitized, although it still bothered me, I didn’t think I was gay, I called Loveline once about it and got on the air and Adam Corolla accused me of being gay, I told Dr. Drew my situation, and while he stumbled for an explanation, Corolla jumped on the dead air to say in a really blunt voice, “Maybe you’re just gay,” and it got a huge rise out of the audience, who laughed and clapped, you know they really love it when they both laugh *and* clap, and I got really pissed off, I sort of lost control, I said to Adam Corolla, “Well maybe you’re the fag” and hung up, I still feel bad about to this day, but fortunately it stopped after the three years, my psyche somehow weeded Rich out, but those three years were weird for a lot of reasons, it made me question a lot of things, it feels good to be back to normal.
The sea is filled with sharks the shape of guitars. I thought we’d see hammerheads, but the water is music instead. Almost a mile out on foot, low tide is the stranger with the loneliest candy we have ever seen. He fights with me about everything he can think of: agreement is weakness, happiness for the braindead. The third of the pack has turned for the sand in hope of relief. The water won’t get deeper even as we try. The only way to drown is lay on your stomach, breath held. The sharks are babies, brown wet puppies of backboneless circling. This is the most exciting moment of my life and I am not even sure it is happening. People don’t walk out into water for miles. Sharks don’t rub ankles like housepets. I bend to my knees and grab the tail of the brown fish, afraid to reverse the flow of emotions, but unable to resist. I stand again. Dropping this creature down my throat, whole, seems the most obvious and memorable thing to do.
It is done.
I turn and lie down in the water again, tide standing still. Its beating tail still pumps inside me and helps propel me back to the dune line, the whale carcass and the cover of nothing.
* * *
water is music
the dune line, the whale carcass
cover of nothing
If a man in a white shirt and a tie catches on fire and
people—people being who they are—refuse to extinguish him, you’re on vacation. It’s trouble if the man strikes up a
conversation with you, flirts, billowing, tries to buy you a drink. Extinguishing his advances will, in effect,
extinguish also his melting there, and you, having extinguished him, will call
into question your actually being on vacation.
The trick, then, is to do what they say not to do, with fighting and
fire. And when he is doubly engorged, sooty
and ruining, you will have maintained your vacation and he will know,
undoubtedly, the level of your interest as he falls to the beach in ashes.
If a man in a white shirt and a tie catches on fire and people–people being who they are–refuse to extinguish him, you’re on vacation. It’s trouble if the man strikes up a conversation with you, flirts, billowing, tries to buy you a drink. Extinguishing his advances will, in effect, extinguish also his melting there, and you, having extinguished him, will call into question your actually being on vacation. The trick, then, is to do what they say not to do, with fighting and fire. And when he is doubly engorged, sooty and ruining, you will have maintained your vacation and he will know, undoubtably, the level of your interest as he falls to the beach in ashes.
(please remove former formatting disaster – thanks)
I want that thing!
QUICKLY AUTHORED POEM FOR CONTEST
There is no trouble in paradise. In paradise, there is:
-Freshly squeezed lemonade;
-No humidity. Or, rather, just enough humidity for sweating. It makes the freshly squeezed lemonade more appealing;
-Bona fide pleasure;
-Unlimited refills on the freshly squeezed lemonade.
Nick Francis, you got any books out or anything? Any way I can find more of your stuff? I like this little guy a lot.
Here’s my shot at winning Maureen’s beautiful book… and I promise, if I win, I won’t give it away!
GIVE IT AWAY
On the occasion of my forty third birthday I gave away all my material possessions. You, being the kindly reader that you are, may say to yourself “that is quite a gesture on his part.” And yes, it would have been, had I owned any possessions of value. As it is, I owned next to nothing, except for my books. Without a doubt, my books were my most prized possessions, of the few possessions I had, and I had been collecting them, more or less, for the past twenty five years or so. So that was quite a gesture. Now it may not seem like much to you, but I owned well over one thousand books at the time that I decided to give them all away. Many were hardbound, with dust jackets. Several hundred were modern first editions. Upon the occasion of my forty third birthday I had a quick drink, a pull of whiskey in a tumbler, then decided I had had enough of books, and the fools who wrote them. I gave my books to the college I had earned my bachelor of arts degree from. They were even kind enough to arrange for shipping. All twenty six boxes. I figured I had already polluted my mind with too many books, an overload of ideas that went nowhere once the covers were closed shut. I kept a few books on beekeeping, and The Complete Pelican Shakespeare, but that is all. By the time it was all said and done, I owned less than ten books. Perhaps you are asking why my forty third birthday? Why not my forty first, my thirty ninth? It is only because four and three make seven, and as we all know, numbers are so important, child.
I felt not the slightest pang of regret. I wouldn’t need them where I was going. Now I was free, truly free, to fly from the heaviness of the Earth, and from all the poisonous ideas that have, down through the ages, kept us here in the first place.
Indonesia reminded him of anthropology. Anthropology was his ex. She was part of a crowd of naked people taking drugs with low blood pressure he didn’t share. He hated Burning Man. The sex was subpar.
Why Indonesia he forgot. He wanted to see a pink tarantula but the skies rained only colorless insects. At this rate he would permanently vacation here.
From his hammock he watched endless ants steam across the equatorial earth. If he joined the ants he’d learn simplicity, humility, and social tact. As a kid he never killed bugs because he’d heard of reincarnation. He was thirsty.
His ex believed in a watery reincarnation she absorbed from a yoga studio near her apartment. Her spirituality was a shellacked coffee table he had in college. To him it was xenophobic.
Indonesian beer is cheap and cools your insides. If you pour it on your head it may cool your outsides.
When time to leave the hammock it was also time to dig beach holes and join the crabs. After a the wave receded he could run dig a new hole and wait for the sea to iron the shore smooth again. This was the foundation for a new humanism.
Once he discovered that even though his ex wore her sexuality like a fake tan, her skin still peeled like an orange.
He would kill a crab only to eat.
A happily ugly swan is a paradise. Running out of lasagna or black licorice would be trouble, though.
We made up sad stories explaining why we were here.
We wanted to fit in and all around us, misery.
I didn’t tell you you got me pregnant.
I thought you’d get the wrong idea.
You used words like honeymoon
and your ring said love in Arabic;
you didn’t tell me until we’d had sex.
I didn’t expect you to tell me at all.
We went swimming at midnight, before
you told me anything. The water buzzed
around you as though you conducted thunderstorms
and this was your secret. Whenever I’m on a lake,
I imagine the waves bring me a corpse –
always of a young woman, beautifully
preserved – not love letters in bottles
or treasure maps or starfishes. Bodies.
More than one, all floating uniformly
towards where ever I am. I’d never
tell you this. It’s not that I’m sad, love –
it’s just a story like all other stories
and like all others, it ends.
A Pigeon with mother of pearl neck and Staphylococcus limps
You can feel the silent and invisible life.
It is fingering your tips, igniting
sparks of pleasure deeper than night
illuminated by fireworks over ocean,
sounding in the distance. It is the lover
nibbling on the bone just below your ear
as you focus on the explosions.
It is the breeze between his lips
and your skin, colder than the salt
in the air. It is the sand beneath you.
Later, it will be starlight saturated
in curtains, bedsheets—a memory.
trouble in paradise
That orange was de
licious, but now it’s gone and
my hands are sticky
Thanks a bunch. Have an oldish self-published zine/chapbook available here:
That’s it, I’m a beginner.
Done. Looking forward to the mix, too. Lemme know if you wanna grab a copy of a zine or two of my own. Somethin’ to do.
Of course. I’ll email you.
I would like to have that book. So: here…
OUTLINE FOR A PATTERN FOR COMMUNAL BEHAVIOR
It is, foremost, an aptitude for recognizing patterns
and over four days the deck chairs’ minor shuffling
has demarcated the beginnings of an omen: AN OM.
The massive tourist rafts churn up a fine beige gravy
and to call this procession a wake feels improper
but is nonetheless fitting as a not insignificant portion
of these passengers will suffer cardiac arrest of a
gravy-based nature. But second and ultimately paramount
is that one must be cognizant of not only the pattern
as a formative mechanism but also as something normative
and—now this is the crucial step—to greet this awareness
with a despair/relief ratio of 70/30. If one were disabused
of this notion, well, the entire enterprise would collapse,
of this I am mostly certain. What gives me the slightest
shim of a pause is the general trouble with patterns
and this trouble is, succinctly, patterns are generally
patterned in a conic spiral and while one can suspect
that the vantage from which one assesses the patterned
as well as the degree to which nearly every action
is blatantly transfixed into series of automated
that one sits at the apex, the prickpoint, of this
there remains the slightest waver. When the busboy
cleared my dishes he neglected to make off with the
even the soiled fork—for which I was unutterably grateful,
silently, as such a glaring oversight can only support
my dearest suspicions. The burden I find lashed to my back
I embrace: many months careful budgeting enabled
my vacation, in which personal pleasure is the sacrifice
I bleed and lift high, for a pattern needs recognized
for its design to impress, and paradise needs trouble
to scoff and blink at. A final note: in mens room 4L stalls
an unruly message in segments adorns the floor. Leave it
for two days, then scrub. Paradise is to be enjoyed by each
and every all; that’s the trouble.
is this zine thing open to other beginner zines?
i’ve had one i’ve been wanting to pimp out…
Sure, danadonna. Throw me an email. Let’s exchange some literature!
nick, i bought yer other zine.
frank, i shot you an email.
A Postcard from ParadiseThe Melting Woman at the carnival freak show that hides its beauty in the dust bowl,flaunts the ugliness of unwanted foibles,Watches the sweat roll down from hinges of her eyes, crests of unfleshed lips, and a paused tremble at the finger tips before they pitter pater on dirty velvet.See how it displays the way wax kisses honey-combs. She’d say “It’s the same sound muffled boys make, the kind of tearsinvested when they figure out their mother loves them”And I would tell you to bottle them all, all the tears, in the smallest of green vilesso they would exist as the love letters you were too cheap to pay the postage for:on once white doiley tablecloths.You forget that’s why you now collect the matted hair from drains,braiding them with your heart into bows that you pin to street lights because you say that“ they’re the only thing that flickers.”
WHY DID IT FORMAT LIKE THAT?!!!!!!! please work this time….
A Postcard from Paradise
The Melting Woman at the carnival freak show that hides its beauty in the dust bowl,
flaunts the ugliness of unwanted foibles,
Watches the sweat roll down from hinges of her eyes, crests of unfleshed lips, and a paused tremble
at the finger tips before they pitter pater on dirty velvet.
See how it displays the way wax kisses honey-combs. She’d say “It’s the same sound muffled boys make, the kind of tears invested when they figure out their mother loves them” And I would tell you to bottle them all, all the tears, in the smallest of green vials,so they could exist as the love letters you were too cheap to pay the postage for:on once white doily tablecloths.You forget that’s why you now collect the matted hair from drains,braiding them with your heart into bows that you pin to street lights because you say that”they’re the only thing that flickers.”
disregard this stupid mistake please. thank you. *face palm*
eighty-seven degrees fahrenheit
you’re reading an old book that reminds you people used to say words like eskimo. it encourages you to imagine christmas in the tundra. five bright oranges passed to children in white snow and blue ice world. at the same time, you’re wearing your red bikini; kid glee and salt spray and sunlight slathered all over you, book starting to droop as you imagine the sharp crunch of ice ground under boots. the oranges would be five small suns passed hand to hand. alien: like you’ve moved from your chair to dig in the sand and found a bird’s skull. sweat traces a fingertip line from the nape of your neck to the base of your spine. no eyes, no beak, no feathers just a small ivory bone. if you had a pocket, you would put it there without thinking. they eat all the oranges: skin, flesh, seeds. it was a seagull once.
[…] were some fantastic responses to the Applies to Oranges giveaway contest. The comments to that post are like their own wonderful literary journal. And why can’t we […]
Looking forward to judging this contest again in ’12.