Birthing…

I forgot about this kick-ass picture Jennifer Firestone and I posed for some year or so ago (Well, mostly she’s kick ass and daring while I ride her coattails here!). That is, I forgot until I got word of her new book, HOLIDAY. Then, I thought that celebrating this book would also be a means to showcase the above.

But don’t let the photo override Firestone’s new bliss! Eileen Myles writes,

“Jennifer Firestone’s Holiday makes big sense to me. It make me think largely about why I like anyone’s writing – and sometimes it’s as simple as this: I like its physicality. I like its jumps. Holiday is extremely private, extremely active. It’s notebooky in the best sense of the word because I feel privileged to get these fractured views of how Jennifer Firestone moves around the world. Her style at times is telegraphic (and insatiable) like Ginsberg. Let me say Gail Scott and Ginsberg. Also why do we bother reading. Why do we want to trail around in anyone’s else’s mind at all. Jennifer asks:

‘Is it worth
going down these steps
are the bottom rooms worth it?’

I say yeah. Enthusiastically yes.”
—Eileen Myles

I’d say she’s right on the money, and here’s a poem to further tempt you to it:

OR

Away it is creeping to find out what to do

It tunnels to a home that burns at the tip

Art barely gave

Sand was vast

All vacations fused

Red flags disappeared

There was wheat and fog

–Jennifer Firestone, HOLIDAY

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Stellar Audio of Megan Volpert, Deborah Poe, & Laura Mullen

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For some excellent poetry readings, perk up your ears here:

Deborah Poe – http://odeo.com/audio/17981583/view

Megan A. Volpert – http://odeo.com/audio/17981433/view

Laura Mullen – http://odeo.com/audio/17981483/view

Enjoy!

Never a More Generous Man

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Never a more generous man have I met than poet and friend, Matthew Rotando. I take great pleasure in singing the praises of his first book of poems, THE COMEBACK’S EXOSKELETON. I wish you could all know him too, as you will find that once you fall in love with this collection, you will long to meet the person who has such zest for life as well as an eye not afraid to behold our evils. It’s really a lovely collection — and I’m not just saying that because I’ve been waiting for years for it to appear. You should throw caution to the wind and take up this EXOSKELETON! Discover how well dresses up your own worldview!

What others are saying:

Incorporating the density of Spanish surrealism and a sprawling Whitmanesque line, this amazing first book finds Rotando engaged in a poetic biathlon which draws equally from maximal and minimal traditions. There are tight, economical poems, free verse forms derived from the sonnet, poems leaping about the page, but my favorites are the wonderful prose poems tumbling over and under themselves toward gnomish statements that feel both didactic and self-parodying. –Tim Peterson, from the Foreword

The rich, exultant writing in Matthew Rotando’s first collection is both comic and cosmic. Lyrics steeped in the Latin American literary tradition disclose what might be called the surreality of reality in contemporary American culture, while cadences of Stein and Barthelme make the prose poems in The Comeback’s Exoskeleton ring with laughter of great philosophical depth. This is a writer unafraid to love and to err, and to do so with irrepressible grace and humour. To read such unapologetically joyous work is a tonic for melancholy and a prescription for wonder. –Srikanth Reddy, Facts for Visitors
And a few short poems from the collection, though there are many longer ones to gleefully sink into:

THE OCTOPUS MAN, TO HIS SON

 

Son, watch the way the eaves bend when you breathe.

They move the way a star would

If you could corral water into spheres.

 

Shadows play in the paint under the floor:

Tentacular spirits!

They will hold your cages and laboratory equipment.

 

Your time as a human is near at hand;

I am repealing all the old regulations

Regarding prostrations and guttural pronouncements.

 

There will be things called Souvenir Shops;

Bring back an “I ♥ Mt. Rushmore” keychain for your mother.

 

~~

 

TOM DEVANEY, LON CHANEY

 

I snave this heaking suspicion

That the poung yoet, Tom Devaney,

Is really the mold oviestar, Lon Chaney.

If lou yisten to the way they laugh,

Or notice their hartling, storror movie eyes,

You’ll sefinitely dee

That they’re both obvious dasters of misguise.

 

 

AMY, I’M GOING TO CALL YOU THE TROUBLE GIRL

 

I like trouble. I like to shoot watermelon seeds at passing barges. I wanna

put Elmer’s Glue in your hair and make it stick straight up. I wanna go

down to the docks and kick some ass! Your shoes small like skunk. And

so do mine. If we were lizards, I bet we would both be geckoes with

sticky round fingers. A friend is someone who decides to find you out.

Let’s have a broken bottle party! A Chinese dude, Shih-Wu, said, “Pine

trees and strange rocks remain unknown to those who look for mind

with mind.” So let’s not bother. Let’s just walk arm in arm through a

crumbling metropolis, clacking castanets.

 

–From THE COMEBACK’S EXOSKELETON by Matthew Rotando

 

 

In the mood for one more? Try this one, complete with a nearly naked pic!

☻☺☻☺☻☺

Daisy Fried’s Poetry Exercises

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Daisy Fried on Poetry:

* I’ve never found an explanation for why poetry, apparently alone among the art forms, is asked to do more than be itself.

* But poetry’s the High Art which is also democratic: inexpensive, portable, reproducible, quickly consumed (except for epic and very difficult poetry), requiring only literacy to participate. So maybe it’s good that poetry carries this extra burden, even if it means that the idea of poetry is more necessary to people than individual poems, and that people tend not to pay attention to what’s happening on the page. But this doesn’t explain why the superfluous demands are often made by educated poetry experts. I doubt most poets, good and bad, political or not, put these demands on their own work. Why should we make them of poetry in general?

* Words matter. Use is not function. War and Peace makes an excellent paperweight; I’ve used it that way myself, after reading it. The function of War and Peace is greater than its many uses. So too poetry. Bad poems are often more useful for healing, persuasion, and celebration than good ones. They lack that rich ambiguity which Keats called negative capability, and so fail as poems. Take, for example, bad 9/11 poems, at which I do “sniff the air.” There are good 9/11 poems. The degraded Romanticism of the mass of bad ones often amounts to decorative displays of the poet’s own sensibility. Such displays may be emotionally or politically useful, but who needs them? They seem to claim authenticity for individual experiences derived from watching TV—and fail to ask the question, why do these people want to kill us? Good 9/11 poems sustain the possibility that America was both victim and guilty. I believe 9/11 solace poetry has given support, however indirectly and unintentionally, to the Bush administration. Solace poetry is to serious poetry as pornography is to serious art. Sex pornography has its uses, even positive ones, but nobody confuses it with serious art about love. The difference between solace porn and sex porn is that solace pornographers seldom seem aware that they’re making pornography. Shame on them.* Poetry matters. Great poems don’t always fit categories of usage: Martial’s hilariously filthy invectives, Dickinson’s apolitical lyrics, and, despite their stupid fascism, Pound’s Cantos, all function as great poetry. Meanwhile, the four of us write poems. We might begin by intending to be merely useful (I never have). But at some point the poem takes over, makes requirements of us instead of vice versa. That’s the moment of poetry; poems exist to let readers share in that moment. So our focus on mere use strikes me as odd: is this really all we know about our poems? Why exclude ourselves from our own readership?

* Enjoyment matters. Poetry is fun! I mean this seriously. In “Lapis Lazuli,” Yeats insists on the gaiety of human existence alongside its tragedy. Yes, there is terrible suffering; we are all going to die. And when, on the carved lapis lazuli, a man “asks for mournful melodies;/Accomplished fingers begin to play;/…their eyes,/Their ancient, glittering eyes, are gay.” The gaiety of great poetry reinforces and deepens our humanity. That’s personal—and therefore social. Forget that, and we forget poetry’s true function.

–from “Does Poetry Have a Social Function” @ The Poetry Foundation

Listen in on a conversation I had with Daisy Fried HERE: powered by ODEO

A POEM A DAY BY DAISY FRIED

1. Write a ten-line poem in which each line is a lie.

2. Write a poem that tells a story in 18 lines or less, and includes at least four proper nouns.

3. Write a poem that uses any of the senses EXCEPT SIGHT as its predominant imagery.

4. Write a poem inspired by a newspaper article you read this week.

5. Write a poem without adjectives.

6. Ask your roommate/neighbor/lover/friend/mother/anyone for a subject (as wild as they want to make it) for a ten-minute poem. Now write a poem about that subject in ten minutes; make it have a beginning, a middle and an end.

7. Write the worst poem you possibly can. Now edit it and make it even worse.

8. Poem subject: A wind blows something down. Or else it doesn’t. Write it in ten minutes.

9. Write a poem with each line, or at least many of the lines, filling in the blanks of “I used to________, but now I_________.”

11. Write a poem consisting entirely of things you’d like to say, but never would, to a parent, lover, sibling, child, teacher, roommate, best

friend, mayor, president, corporate CEO, etc.

12. Write a poem that uses as a starting point a conversation you overheard.

13. First line of today’s poem: “This is not a poem, but…”

14. Write a poem in the form of either a letter or a speech which uses at least six of the following words: horses, “no, duh,” adolescent, autumn

leaves, necklace, lamb chop, Tikrit, country rock, mother, scamper, zap, bankrupt. Take no more than 13 minutes to write it.

15. Write a poem which includes a list or lists-shopping list, things to do, lists of flowers or rocks, lists of colors, inventory lists,

lists of events, lists of names…

16. Poem subject: A person runs where no running is allowed. Write it in ten minutes.

17. Write a poem in the form of a personal ad.

18. Write a poem made up entirely of questions. Or write a poem made up entirely of directions.

19. Write a poem about the first time you did something.

20. Write a poem about falling out of love.

21. Make up a secret. Then write a poem about it. Or ask someone to give you a made-up or real secret, and write a poem about it.

22. Write a poem about a bird you don’t know the name of.

23. Write a hate poem.

24. Free-write for, say, 15 minutes, but start with the phrase “In the kitchen” and every time you get stuck, repeat the phrase “In the

kitchen.” Alternatively, use any part of a house you have lots of associations with-“In the garage,” “In the basement,” “In the bathroom,” “In the yard.”

25. Write down 5-10 words that sound ugly to you. Use them in a poem.

26. Write a poem in which a motorcycle and a ballerina appear.

27. Write a poem out of the worst part of your character.

28. Write a poem that involves modern technology-voice mail, or instant messaging, or video games, or… 29. Write a seduction poem in which somebody seduces you.

30. Radically revise a poem you wrote earlier this month.

I Dig It

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Jennifer Bartlett’s DERIVATIVE OF THE MOVING IMAGE

Jennifer Bartlett’s first book, with its most compelling title, DERIVATIVE OF THE MOVING IMAGE, is somehow not what I imagined it would be. I mean, there is shadow play and fondling of the slippery parts of relationships, but how can a first book reveal the mastery found within? I am envious and happy to have made this tome’s “moving” acquaintance. You would do well to spend a winter night curled around it too. Here’s one and a third to get you started:
 

JOHN, ONCE AGAIN I FALL INTO THE REALM OF UTTER PERIL

The body has its own form of chaos, a solar system
through which it moves. When you touch me you
become a smaller part of this balance and it is
unclear whether it is skin or the idea of skin you are
reaching for. When I shake I can feel your temptation
to wound me, to tack me down like a saved, dead
insect. If my spine were not a question mark. If my
hands were not flutters.

~~~

FROM A PARIS HOTEL ROOM

It was the spring after my sister died that I began to notice
the moths. They would follow me from room to room beating
against the window shades or showing themselves in the one
tiny patch of light as I dressed for the day. Some days, some
hours, I would count as many as twenty and still they held no
significance for me. I saw them as many see the trees that line
the highway, just passing objects.

… [con’t]

–From DERIVATIVE OF THE MOVING IMAGE by Jennifer Bartlett

If you thirst for the rest, you’ll have to go here and do a little dance!

Enjoy!

~~~

  1. Jennifer Bartlett Says:
    February 26th, 2008 at 10:47 pm eAmy,

    Thanks. What a great surprise! I feel like the queen of England!

AWP New York City

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Photo by Brent Cunningham, who voted me the one to “Most Likely Blog About This Blog.”

~~

* Ana and I hung out at the AWP bookfair for one day only. We paid no money, but luckily, I got to share a table with Cannibal, Kitchen Press, and Soft Targets. I saw lots of nice books, though I had no money; moreover, I chatted with lots of pleasant poets — too many to recount. But you should certainly see a few photos of said poets here.

* I’m sorry I missed Daniela Olszewska, who stopped by my table and left her chapbook for me while I was wandering. Thank you, Daniela!

* The always lovely Matthew Zapruder gave me a poetry bus t-shirt.

* William Howe slipped me Tom Orange’s “American Dialectics” hot off his Slack Buddha Press.

* Cannibal Books dropped Dustin Williamson’s “Exhausted Grunts” into my little hands.

* Matt Hart handed over “B^Sides” by his band, Travel. I’m looking forward to hearing what sounds emerge …

* John Deming passed along his Dusie chapbook, “Toadous,” forthcoming.

* Jennifer Bartlett stopped by with a copy of her most gorgeous “Derivative of the Moving Image.”

* Billy Collins came over and offered me his “dirty” candy bar, pictured below, which I accepted. I then offered him my latest book, which he politely accepted. I asked him to please not take it if he was going to give it away. He said he would read it and left. True story.

~~

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Let’s Go Out Past the Party Lights

If I had a woman, I’d play this Tom Waits’ re-make for her.

If I had to live in the suburbs, I’d pick North Massapequa, former home of Christine Jorgensen, who was the world’s first publicized sex change star.

If I had to live in North Massapequa, originally settled by the Native Americans of the Algonquain language group, I’d choose a house ten minutes from the ocean and the Wantagh nature trail.

If I had to live ten minutes from the ocean, I’d explore the vineyards of Long Island and take the LIRR into Manhattan every other weekend.

If I had to read up on such “surburban” living, I might go here:

This fascinating study of the suburbs of Long Island, New York (and by analogy, those across America) arose from the authors’ daily commute from Manhattan to SUNY Old Westbury, which is near Levittown, one of the earliest and perhaps the most famous of American suburbs. Initially they had imagined suburbia “as an anaesthetized state of mind, a no place dominated by a culture of conformity and consumption.” Their research quickly taught them otherwise. While Picture Windows does document a growing obsession with middle-class consumer goods, like the televisions that came with 1950 houses at Levittown, it disrupts the myth of suburban serenity to reveal “a rich and stormy history” of political and social conflict. The planners and visionaries of suburbia, as the authors attest, tried to create a place “where ordinary people, not just the elite, would have access to affordable, attractive modern housing in communities with parks, gardens, recreation, stores, and cooperative town meeting places.” Shunning the “snobbery” of cultural critics who deplored the “neat little toy houses on their neat little patches of lawn,” Baxandall and Ewen find much to celebrate in the burgeoning suburbs. Most of those who flocked to the new towns had been crowded into city slums during the depression and war; they never questioned the architectural conformity of the suburbs, but only rejoiced in the chance of owning their own brand-new homes, places empty of anyone else’s memories and rich with potential. Picture Windows is a quintessentially American story, told with skill and conviction. –Regina Marler

Or here:

Le Corbusier’s vision of the future had come true: “The cities shall be part of the country; I shall live 30 miles from my office in one direction, under a pine tree; my secretary will live 30 miles away from it too, in the other direction, under another pine tree.” What that vision omits, of course, is the 5 or 6 million people in between, each with his or her own pine tree.

“…you are brilliant and subtle if you come from Iowa and really strange and you live as you live and you are always well taken care of if you come from Iowa.” Gertrude Stein, Everybody’s Autobiography

Or Brooklyn, or Baltimore, or Buffalo, or Stone Mountain, or Massapequa, or, or, if.

~~

3 Responses to “Let’s Go Out Past the Party Lights”

  1. Gary Says:
    January 7th, 2008 at 9:37 pm eWhile you’re on the topic, don’t forget Candy Darling, who lived for a while in Massapequa Park.
  2. Jim K. Says:
    January 8th, 2008 at 5:41 pm eThe move made. Hopefully a lot of
    commute drag is gone from life.
    Seems a bit like Cape Cod, at least
    the low, gradual part. Been for a shufti or two,
    looks like. Nice place!
  3. Amy King Says:
    January 11th, 2008 at 7:07 pm eCandy Darling! I didn’t know!

    It’s a lovely area, though not as busy to the naked eye as Brooklyn…