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Posts from the ‘poetry’ Category

Anyone Who Misses This Black Ocean Deal is a Crazy Person

I’m not kidding. I mean:

Subscriptions ordered before July 1st will receive

Hunger Transit by Feng Sun Chen (Spring 2012)
Fjords by Zachary Schomburg (Spring 2012)
Handsome Vol. 4 (Spring 2012)
Dark Matter by Aase Berg, trans. Johannes Göransson (Fall 2012)
The Moon’s Jaw by Rauan Klassnik (Fall 2012)

Gonna get mine as soon as my wallet gets filled back up again. Sigh. Moving is so expensive.

This is Just a List But Things are Still Breaking

  1. This book is on its way to me. I am so pumped. I love China Mieville and I can’t to wait a sci-fi-y book by him.
  2. HOARD YOUR INCANDESCENT LIGHT BULBS! I am. My husband and I are buying them all up. Why? Not for some crazy right-wing reason, but because, jesus, haven’t you noticed how ugly and depressing everything looks under florescent light? I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, for god’s sake. Energy efficient lighting depresses me. So does my face in the mirror under that awful flat dead glare.  The thought of a world without soft white lighting to read under makes me want to jump off a cliff. That is all.
  3. I’ve always thought most unpaid internships were a load of crap. As a middle-class kid working two jobs to pay the rent and tuition, I could never afford one in college and neither could most of my friends. Only the rich kids did internships, or the lucky ones who could find paid internships. Later, after college, I did an unpaid internship at a political firm which was pretty great, but still–you should get paid for work you do. Unpaid internships perpetuate an unfair class system where it’s harder and harder to climb up in the world if you don’t have certain opportunities available to you.  And the exploitation is getting worse today , when more and more “internships” are popping up where paid work existed before.  I’m proud that my union has only paid internships–and pretty well-paid, too.  If you’re not investing in people, then why should they invest their time in what you’ve asked them to do? You want quality–pay people for it. Anything else is exploitation. Period. So read the book, I guess.
  4. Who wants John Ashbery’s new translation of Rimbaud’s Illuminations? You’d better all have your hands up or you’re not my friends anymore.
  5. Just kidding to the second part of number 4. But seriously, I can’t wait for this book.
  6. Has anybody else put off reading Blake Butler’s There is No Year? If this book is like Scorch Atlas, I am afraid of not being able to write for much time afterward. I need to be writing now. Also, will I be as afraid of houses as I become reading SA? Alos will I become a little bit broken? Will there be pieces missing? I may not read this book by myself. I am so excited but it’s a scary thing to open those pages. Soon.
  7. Because we can all admit that there are some things we break our rules over (and mine are pianos clothes books and cars) we shall all now pause and salivate over this ’64 Alfa Romeo. Life is only bodies and things, after all, and one should be surrounded by beautiful things.
  8. Speaking of beautiful things, I have a reading room now. We made a reading room. It is lovely. I will post pictures the moment it’s made lovely enough for you all.
  9. My novel is progressing, slowly, slowly. I am really excited about it.  I think you all will be, too.
  10. Because we were so close to ten. Because of symmetry.


That’s right, kittens. Gotta tell you about a whole new thing over at Emprise Review. Yes, we know our site has been in maintenance mode for a while. Yes, we know it’s been a while since the last issue. But we think it’s been worth it. Truly. I mean, have you seen how great the site looks? That’s all thank to our Editor-in-Chief, Patrick. He’s done a fabulous job making this site awfully specutacular.

And now…drumroll please…THERE’S A BRAND NEW ISSUE! Yes, brand-spanking new and full of amazing amazingness by some of your favorite writers and some new ones who we think will become some of your favorite writers. Check it out, read the pieces, give the writers some love, won’t you? All of our issues have been amazing but I really do think this might be the tippy top of the heap so far.  Everything in it is nothing short of greatness.


Every Day
Cezarija Abartis

Periplaneta Americana
Michael Beeman

Now With 50% More Domestic Problems
J. Bradley

Tres Crow


Jen Gann

This Fog of Ash
Robert Kloss

The Lobbers Share Thanksgiving as an Asteroid Hurtles Toward Earth
Salvatore Pane

Bezalel Stern

Kill Yourself (viii)
J.A. Tyler


Sandy Longhorn


What’s Left Behind: Memories From A High School Yearbook
Sam Bell


Ars Poetica
Neil Carpathios

Sky Poem
Nate Pritts

Every single Wonderfort piece so far is amazing. So is this poem by Peter Schwartz.

It is called 104 F. I don’t know how to do the little degree thing on my computer. Hopefully Peter will forgive me.

His poem is beautiful and you should read it. It’s well worth your time.

“The Blacksmith as Hamlet”

I love this bit by Harry Martinson, from “The Makers of Perpetuum Mobile…”

It was all very different in the times of the old smithies. Then the village blacksmith never felt above doing some work on the perpetuum mobile. But that’s an old tradition vanishing with the new order of things: The old dream of a boundless wonder, created with his bare hands by some cog-wheel mystic who never gave up. I feel greatly for those things. There’s faith in the spirit of the solution, a superstitious belief in the shrewdness of cunning fingers. The blacksmith as Hamlet. “The time is out of joint”; but if I could only get back the knack of the wheel, I would be able to set it right.

I’m working on a set of writings about futuristic old-timey machinery.  A little like steampunk–but something more like magic by machine.  So reading this was like drinking in spiked honey. The maker out of his own time. The time where hands no longer make things, even if the hands outrace the mind. It gives me shivers.

By the way, I’m trying to get my hands on a copy of Martinson’s Aniara, which I am so excited to read I can hardly stand it.  But.  It seems to be out of print–any ideas? I see it’s on Amazon’s marketplace but don’t want to pay an arm and a leg…and I’d rather buy from a small press, of course.

New Post Up on Wallace Stevens at Big Other

It’s Wallace Stevens week at Big Other! I wrote about Stevens–one of my favorite poets: about his job, and what it meant to his poetry and his way of looking at the world. Stevens, I argue, is a poet of the imagination:

a lot of artists would rather do anything than work in what they see as the establishment (Academia is clearly another matter, for some reason). And it’s clear that they’d like to paint all great artists going all the way back with the same broad brush.  These are often the artists of the school that values experience above all, that say to be a poet you have to live as a poet. But Stevens was not a poet of the experience school. He was a poet who valued the life of the imagination above all else, and believed that all we need is contained within it.

You can read the whole thing here, as well as a lot of great posts on Stevens throughout the week on Big Other.

Links to Random Things You May Enjoy

Dark Sky’s November Web Issue has some fabulous, fabulous stuff in it, including killer stories by Dave Housely, Ravi Mangla, and Jimmy Chen.

There is a fascinating article on T.S. Eliot and lit crit in November’s Commentary.

Steve Himmer is interviewed by his new publisher, Atticus Books, here. A must-read.

I just added Eric Beeny’s new poetry collection, Of Creatures, to my teeming cart at Amazon.

If you don’t know about For Every Year yet, you really need to. Start with Chantel Louise Tattoli’s new story, which is amazing and terrific and many other superlatives.

Because everyone loves this stuff, Cliff Garstang’s Pushcart Rankings. Dunno if it means anything, but it’s always pretty interesting.

Bush was actually too lazy to write his own memoir. True story.

On Poetry, Contemporary Indie Poetry and My Total Ignorance

Believe it or not, I actually started out my writing life as a poet. And by started out, I mean I really didn’t write any fiction until maybe five or six years ago. I thought of myself as a poet. Which was funny, because in writing class after writing class I’d hear: “I think this poem is really a short story trying to get out.” So, finally, after hearing it enough, I started turning my poems into stories (often literally) and then started writing more stories and few poems. You can probably still tell from my writing style that I started out this way, if you really pay attention. It’s language first, always, and story/character/everything else second. Which is not necessarily good, but it’s the trap I always get stuck in because my first love was and is language. Which is why my first love in literature was poetry.

I fell in love with poetry when I was four years old, learning to read and reading poems with my mom and dad out of the still-in-print-I-think Poems to Read to the Very Young. Like all children, I loved the sing-songy nature of this particular poetry–and I still do have a great affinity for rhyming poetry, I have to admit.  I continued to love poetry. I went to school back when we still had to memorize poems and recite them, and I still remember most of “The Highwayman” and “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and “The Song of Hiawatha.” I learned John Donne and William Blake, still great favorites, in high school, and of course Dickinson (thinking then and now–how is it possible that this was written THEN and by a WOMAN and isn’t that amazing and wonderful and good?) and as an English major absorbed first the Victorians, the High Romantics, the Devotionals–Swinburne, Hopkins, Rossetti, Tennyson, Hardy. I fell hard for the Moderns, and I still read “The Waste Land” at least once a month. Yeats made me cry with the bigness of things,  William Carlos Williams was another “you can do that?,” Wallace Stevens become my perfect poet and the embodiment of everything I love in literature, Robinson Jeffers and Hart Crane were like sad echos of the High Romantics, Frank O’Hara made me laugh and find a kindred soul in my embrace of the city. I loved Sylvia Plath and Marianne Moore, was not and am not big on the Confessional poets but still loved some of Lowell despite myself, found in Charles Wright a love of language taken even to the next level, and in Ashbery the same but coupled with a genius I admired but knew I could never possess.  Howard Nemerov, Charles Simic, Elizabeth Bishop, W.S. Merwin…and this list only includes the English-speaking poets and not the French Romantics or some of my favorite Chinese poets, the great Polish poets, favorites like Paul Celan and Pablo Neruda, and so on and so on and so on. I love poetry and nothing else can calm me so well or make me feel so strongly that we have purpose, that things MEAN something.

But I know nothing, nothing, nothing, shockingly nothing, about contemporary indie poets. Nothing. I mean, I happen to have gotten my hands on a few books and know a few poets by sheer, mere chance–like Natalie Lyalin, for example, who is wonderful, or Molly Gaudry, whose prose poetry kills me, or Adam Robinson, whose poetry has expanded my notion of what that word means. But for the most part, I know nothing at all. And that’s a damn shame. How can I be so immersed in the fiction side of the indie lit scene, and know nothing at all about the other? Especially when nothing in the world gives me so much pleasure as reading a really great poem does? The taste in your mouth of a poem is like nothing else.  The pen-to-paper of it is entirely happy-making. I think I need to know more, though, before I embarrass myself by even trying.

Anyone have any suggestions? Who are your favorite contemporary poets? What poetry collections do you love and recommend for surveying the indie poetry scene? I need your help!

It’s Not Either/Or, People

You really don’t have to suck at your job or suck at your writing. You really can do both well. (Provided, of course, that in this lousy economy you can find a good job.) And this guy proves the point. Like Wallace Stevens, he’s a dedicated career man with a very private life of superb poetry. How cool is that?

Via Bookslut.

Toward a Poetry for People Who Have to Pay the Rent

Yet another entry in the “Is poetry relevant?” neverending debate/discussion. This one courtesy of Paper Cuts, which includes this interesting bit from Lipsky’s DFW tapes/interview/book.


Put it this way, there are a few really good poets who suffered because of the desiccation and involution of poetry, but for the most part I think American poetry has gotten what it’s deserved. And, uh, it’ll come awake again when poets start speaking to people who have to pay the rent.

What do you think? Has poetry gotten so cloistered, so far from the people, that it’s mostly irrelevant today? Can today’s poets make a comeback? I’m curious, and concerned, about this possible irrelevance and about fiction maybe sliding down the same path. I was a poet until I had a writing professor who asked me if I could write fiction. Sure, I said. I write both. The professor told me, Write fiction if you can. Someone may actually read it someday. Write poetry and the only people who’ll read it are other poets. Is that true? And why? Should you need a MA in poetry to read it?