The handmade books of Spork Press are spreading across the literary universe, leaving the Spork collective ‘more psyched than ever.’
On any given evening, in the middle of any given week, just off of Fourth Avenue, you might stumble across the editors of Spork Press as they dutifully work on their next set of printings.
They might have music blaring out of the carport in which they work while they press ink onto boards using a half-century-old machine. They might be sipping beers, mixing and transferring music mixes onto cassette tapes. They could be listening to audiobooks, evening out the edges of their work—literally, with a belt sander.
(…..from The Tucson Weekly, “An Analog Experience”)
Yes, Spork makes beautiful books and recently debuted their 6 newest creations (“artifacts”) at AWP here in my backyard (Seattle, which is just across the lake from Kirkland, home of Costco, etc). The Tucson Weekly reports that AWP was a “huge success” for Spork, selling “more than 400 books.”
So, anyways, here is a bit of a roundup of Spork’s 6 new books with a bit of verbiage about each book and/or the author. (and, yes, I’m one of these 6 authors so if you think this is uncool, well, go ahead and sue me).
March 24th, 2014 / 3:00 am
by Becca Klaver
Bloof Books, April 2013
36 pages / $8 Buy from Bloof Books
There is certainly a widespread fascination with Pop in women’s writing and performance today. From the Warholian Pop Vanessa Place Inc., to Lady’s Gaga ARTPOP album, women’s culture has embraced the “lowbrow” of POPular culture, it’s would-be nemesis. Lara Glenum’s Pop Corpse and Becca Klaver’s Nonstop Pop, are two such examples. In an endless purposeful regression towards their inner fucked up girly girl, Klaver and Glenum explore not only in the language of pop but also in the relationship between the paranoid nature of pop and the always already dead and doubted girl.
Glenum’s Pop Corpse takes place in a post-apocalyptic ecological wasteland—literally, an unda-tha-sea Little Mermaid remix that takes place in a world devoid of terra firma, an archipelago of “floating islands of plastic garbage.” The book follows an asexual mermaid named XXX on her quest to give herself a vagina by any means (cleverly troping on the desexed Little Mermaid, who perhaps didn’t only wish for legs)—whether this means self-cutting, visiting the Sea Witch, or killing The Smear, the philosophizing love interest. XXX is publicly shamed for self-mutilation, and quarantined in a “RE-EDUCATION CAMP 4 THE SEXUALLY DEVIANT,” where she films her own self-mutilation, presumable broadcasting it on the underwater internet. Written in dramatic form, and utilizing pop-slang and e-slang, here, pop is a language, a way of thinking, but it also predicates pain and suffering for the mermaids. In many ways, Glenum’s scoring of feminine affect reads like a transcription of a hyper-girly Ryan Trecartin film. The mermaids talk like they’re texting: “Ever since the ocean’s gone toxic and the earth’s been burnt to a crisp, she’s been totes sketch.” And the male characters have absorbed the ironic, sexist adolescent boy humor that dominates American capitalist entertainment discourse: “Try kissing one sometime. It’s like giving a rim job to a dysentery victim. With really long ass hair.” Yet, the language remains manic, and at times is theoretically lucid. For instance, an Undersea Denizen observes that the King and Queen of the Sea are “openly oppressing us by persistently courting/curtailing our lines of sight with the spectacle of their Vision Machines […] a culturally-produced spectacle that naturalizes highly specific forms of desire and consumption.”
It is these acute observations about the spectacle of commodity that Becca Klaver’s Nonstop Pop performs. In this way, Nonstop Pop always predicts loss, even when it does not explicitly perform it. In a neoconfesional meets Flarf vein, the poems are a mix of lineated reflections and prose meditations that struggle with the ridiculous demands of consumerism—“less treadmill, more Skechers Shape-Ups” and “I was like so … Geico/ And you were like so… Activia”—as well as a troubled attachment to a more adolescent, indeed girlish, relation with capitalist commodity—from “Schwarzeneneggery”: “She knows she’s not supposed to love it but knows that’s why she does […] she presumes to be a muscleman.”
September 16th, 2013 / 11:05 am
23 More People Who Made Me Care About Poetry in 2013 (From One of the Million People Who Will Make You Care About Poetry in 2013)
When I first moved to Manhattan in 2008, I roughly knew about three people in the entire city. I lived in a bedbug-infested apartment on 139th Street with a sugar baby, a Bubba Gump Shrimp waiter, and a digital retoucher. At the time, I thought I was going to work as an assistant in photo studios while applying to MFA programs on the side—a plan that ended up completely shifting (no MFA, au revoir photo world)—but that’s not what I’m here to write about. I knew nothing of the NYC literary world, especially that of poetry. One day I had wandered into a library near 103rd to check out some familiar books. I saw a flyer for POETRY DISCUSSION GROUP / TONIGHT’S THEME: DEATH and hung around, hoping to meet some poets. And talk about death, of course.
What I ended up was sitting in a circle with about a dozen people, myself the only person under 60. As one cantankerous woman pointed out—most of them were “sitting in god’s waiting room” & it was “foolish to romanticize death”. This lead to a shouting match between attendees. So there I sat, hands in lap, in a coven of curmudgeons, horribly embarrassed at how much I misgauged what I thought I would be participating in. This is not to say that these old folks couldn’t have schooled me. I perhaps have never witnessed a more intensely personal discussion of death with any group of strangers in such a short amount of time in such a public space. But my point is that geography is a strange creature, containing wheels inside wheels. I wanted to meet young poets in their early 20s who would show me who they were reading, where they were reading at, where they hung out. This Upper West Side library, much to my ignorance, was not that place. I didn’t find that niche for a long time, even though we all lived inside the same city. It took many misguided open mics and weird basement readings to find the people I wanted to be around.
In some ways, I’d say this year is the first year I’ve been asked to read at series that I didn’t have to creepily solicit (although I still creepily solicit). It wasn’t until my first chapbook came out last fall that people gradually stopped introducing me as “that guy who runs Moonshot“. Every day is baby steps, is one poem after the other. I think it’s important to highlight these gooey ‘writer journeys’ we hear about over and over again to show how people find their way to meeting writers and literary scenes they care about. It’s hard when you’re on the outside and suspect others are members of a literary cabal who are only interested in helping each other out. I’ve been there. I’m still there, in many ways. Not everyone who lives in NYC is geographically self-obsessed or entitled or had everything fall into their lap instantly. Does this even need to be said? It took five years just to reach a point where the lit projects I’ve started here (or been involved with) have been around long enough where it people come up to me and say they know who I am, what I do. It hasn’t gotten less jarring yet—maybe one day it will.
Perhaps this is why it’s equally surprising to find myself on a list called 23 People Who Will Make You Care About Poetry in 2013. It’s even stranger to watch people—in response to this list—echo criticisms I’ve made of NYC’s poetry scene—white, exclusive, cliquey, centered around itself. Except, in this case, I was included on an exclusionary list. I’m now that person. Numbered lists are incredibly tricky to begin with because they seem so incredibly final, as if there are no others. Here are the 23 chosen ones. There is a glib part of me that wants to say we should take these kinds of lists with a grain of salt, that wants to point out that media sites have to churn out dozens of these insipid listicles per day—but I know that will incise—and I recognize that it’s my privilege that would allow me such flippancy.
Girls are very estimable presently. Most of their comportments are catty, cute, and violent. For instance, Baby Marie-Antoinette composed a letter to the Boston Police asking them to kill her. Then there’s Marie Calloway, who holds on to dear dead roses. Also, Baby Stephanie — she twirls her trademark braid basically all the time, even when she bruises.
Here are some other things that some other girls are up to:
Baby Carina, a girl who converses with rainbows and tumbles about the East Village in sashes, is about to publish her first book, Lemonworld. She made a trailer for it that features, among other things, my Portable John Milton and her harp version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Never Go Back Again.”
Mattie Barringer, who dresses like a warrior pixie, reads Anne Sexton and discusses her body image plights with awe-inspiring composure. She was recently interviewed by the constantly cutting StyleLikeU.
Lara Glenum’s third book of poems, Pop Corpse!, concerns a Virgina Woolf-cum-Sasha Grey mermaid who can only caca out of her mouth: One of the loveliest lines from the book is: “Oops, I dropped my eyes inside yr boi panties.”
Lastly, is Baby Ji Yoon colluding with North Korea?
There shouldn’t be an AWP. There should only be one if it would result in me meeting Gina Abelkop. She is the publisher of Birds of Lace, a press that publishes books about girl groups, adventurous twins, and girls who justify murder in high school essays. Most Birds of Lace books fulfill one of the primary attributes of literature: They transmute the reader to magical, mysterious worlds of death, babysitters, and big hair. Gina and I could meet for tea (or vanilla cupcakes). We could discuss trenchant topics, like the veils in Meadham Kirchoff’s Fall 13 collection or Disney princesses. Why, we could even mosey to a Disney store (if there are Disney stores in Boston) and she could purchase an Ariel doll (because she’s a girl) and I could purchase a Buzz Lightyear doll (because I’m a boy). It’d all be rather idyllic. But according to the grapevine Gina won’t be attending this year. So I won’t either, which is fine, since the AWP is as disgusting as gay people, straight people, bisexual people, and Brooklyn.
On their site, the AWP claims to be “the largest literary conference in North America.” But the AWP has little relation to literature. Only around one percent of the attendees make literature. There’s just a tiny fraction who formulate texts that are monstrous and divine – that, like those German boys, possess the grit and glamour to wage war on basically everyone on the globe. As for the rest – the 99 percent of AWP people – they are not poets and they are not composing literature. They are not concerned with epic Emily Bronte or moody Frank O’Hara. They are a product of typical middle class capitalism, or, as Karl Marx says, “the bourgeois.” According to Karl, the bourgeois live off others’ labor. They acquire value through accumulation. As the bourgeois stockpile products their worth increases. This renders them reliable upon the proletariat who must toil night and day with very little rest to keep up with the insatiable, indiscriminate bourgeois.
A couple of days ago, the latest installment of Action, Yes made its debut.
For those of you who aren’t already aware, Action, Yes is the online journal wing of Action Books, a pugnacious press operated by Johannes Göransson and Joyelle McSweeney, who happens to be the reigning brunette bombshell of 21st-century poetry.
Also, Action Books has published one of the most outrageous collections of poetry ever — a collection that manipulates language to enchanting extremes. This bold book is entitled Maxium Gaga. Its author is Lara Glenum.
Back to this edition of Action, Yes… it has many notable participants. I’m going to supply some of them with outfits.
First, I’ll dress the editors, Carina Finn and Jiyoon Lee.
Poetry. The anthology GURLESQUE: THE NEW GRRLY, GROTESQUE, BURLESQUE POETICS brings together eighteen poets of wide-ranging backgrounds, united in their ability to push the aesthetic envelope through radical, femme, Third Wave strategies, and pairs them with visual artists who do the same. At the turn of the millennium, we are witnessing the emergence of a vital–perhaps viral–new strain of female poetics: the “Gurlesque,” a term that describes writers who perform femininity in their poems in a campy or overtly mocking manner, risking the grotesque to shake the foundations of acceptable female behavior and language. Built from the bric-a-brac of girl culture, these works charm and repel: this work is fun, subversive, and important. (New Release — order from SPD)
A rad video from an art installation featured at &Now and elsewhere, featuring text from Lara Glenum‘s Maximum Gaga. (When I saw this, it was attached in the belly of a wooden sculpture that looked like an enormous intestine.) Buy Maximum Gaga.
From Action Yes editors:
For the rest of the month of April, Action,Yes is open to submissions. So please send your art, sounds, words and ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include the word ‘Submission’ in the subject line.
This is our first open submissions period. We apologize to those of you who’ve sent us work in the past who we’ve not been able to respond too. It doesn’t mean we weren’t impressed with your work; it just means that we didn’t know how pick through the prodigious spam of our (old) inboxes to find it. So please send again.
Looking forward to seeing your work.
Meanwhile, if you have not yet dug into the new issue, holy shit. Probably one of my favorite all-time issues of a magazine, only or no. Too much good from 2x the freaks, including Dodie Bellamy, Lily Hoang, Angela Genusa, Elizabeth Ellen, Aaron Kunin, Lara Glenum, FLUXCONCERT, Matt Kirkpatrick, Rauan Klassnik, Mark Leidner, Sabrina Oren Mark, Christian Peet, Evan Willner, Girjia Tropp, a whole lot of other madness.
April 10th, 2009 / 12:09 pm