Thursday, December 23, 2004

Good news! After Zach's heroic efforts to get everything going, we're proud to announce:

Octopus #4 is here!

Poets like Sarah Manguso, Dale Smith, Aase Berg, Donald Revell, GC Waldrep, Barbara Guest, Brian Henry, Gabriel Gudding, Kevin A. Gonzalez, Seth Parker, Nick Twemlow, Pasha Malla, Kirsten Kaschock, Anthony Robinson, Johannes Goransson, Aaron Kunin, Matthew Shindell, Allan Peterson, Brandon Downing, Cyrus Console, Andrea Baker, Hope J. Smith, Clayton Eshleman, Kevin Fitzgerald, Emily Rosko, Michael Ives, Eugene Ostashevsky, Dan Kaplan, Thibault Raoult, Daniel Borzutzky, and Standard Schaefer.

It has reviews, interviews, essays and another recovery project by the Octopus editors.

Here are the details:

4 Reviews: Marcus Slease on Jon Thompson’s Book of the Floating World; Craig Morgan Teicher on Srikanth Reddy’s Facts for Visitors, Kevin Fitzgerald on David Miller’s Waters of Marah, and Zachary Schomburg on Charlie Foos’ Bending Spoons.

2 Interviews: Poems-for-All’s Richard Hansen and Flashpoint’s Bradford Haas

3 Essays: John Lowther on Jack Spicer; Jeff Encke on Linda Bierds; and Henry Gould on literary time.

The Recovery Project recovers Suzanne Gardinier and Paul Mann.

Zachary Schomburg and Tony Tost, co-editors
Denny Schmickle, design


This is my last issue as a co-editor (not counting the inevitable reunion issue), & I think it's a great one to bow out on. Props go to Zach who single-handedly did almost all the copyediting, proofing, web work and correspondence to make the issue happen.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Bronchitis and sinusitis. All I need now is entitilitis.

Working on "World Jelly." My best writing usually comes when I let myself, or force myself to, do things wrong. With this current project I'm trying to be a little more direct than I think I should be. The comment earlier about rockers just needing to be perfect for 3 minutes applies here; the two floating models for the World Jelly poems are Bob Dylan's "Just Like a Woman" and GBV's "Tractor Rape Chain." "Just Like a Woman" is one of my favorite Dylan songs; besides being a beautiful tune, I love the way tenderness and cruelty mingle together to make the song kind of creepy and also moving. I'm trying to get creepier in "World Jelly."

"Tractor Rape Chain" is another amazing number, with sadness and bitterness mixed together. The thing with this one, and other GBV songs, is the way the phrase "tractor rape chain" is pulled into the song right at the spot where you would expect some kind of statement of emotion:

parallel lines on a slow decline
tractor rape chain
better yet let's all get wet
on the tractor rape chain

speed up, slow down
go all around in the end

Not exactly something you can summarize or explicate, but it carries emotion (in the song if not on the page), especially as Pollard's delivery and presentation is completely wink-free, which is the trick I think: I follow Pollard into projects and territories that I don't follow say Stephen Malkmus or Brian Eno into, and this may be a large part of it. So I'm trying to introduce language as language at points where normally I would place emotion but to do so with something close to sincerity. Maybe the two biggest influences poetry-wise for me right now are Kerouac's haikus and Chris Vitiello's Irresponsibility. Many, many reasons why I love both of these texts, but one is that just about every haiku and every poem in Chris's manuscript manifest a sense of presence of the speaker, which might be what I'm ultimately trying to do in "World Jelly," create the sensation of an actual thinking and feeling human out of nothing more than language.

Driving here to Arkansas from Chapel Hill it was very exciting to listen to the oldies station -- I've been getting fairly obsessed with The Band lately, re-watching the Last Waltz again and again, re-reading Greil Marcus' Mystery Train. Just thinking about a 15 year old Robbie Robertson in Canada listening to this stuff and hitting the road. It all seems so mythic. We went to the Arkansas state museum in Little Rock yesterday where they have a terrific exhibit on popular music from Arkansas, artifacts from Sonny Boy Williamson, Ronnie Hawkins, Johnny Cash, Charlie Rich, Howlin' Wolf, Louis Jordan, Levon Helm. So it was exciting driving along thining about how this canon is so new, but strikes me as timeless; thinking about how the art form evolves itself.

One of the basic appeals of rock is the idea that if you're perfect for three minutes, you're in the canon. Listening to the oldies with that framework is pretty thrilling.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Please consider adding Spaceship Tumblers to your daily routine.

Poems in audio.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Mindy & Jeremy just had twin girls!

photo by Jake Anslin

Leigh & me are very excited for our buddies -- we're very excited to be godparents -- we're excited to drive up to Columbia to see Samantha & Addison. We just talked to Mindy who is completely feeling the morphine. Jeremy can't stop crying. Happiness!


I'm working on a chapbook-length project. Two, actually. The first I've been at for a couple weeks. Right now it's called "World Jelly." It's pretty unlike anything I've tried before.

this is an audio post - click to play

Aaron was sweet enough to dedicate a reading in response to my audio blog before. I liked his poem better. So I'm going to go with quantity. Click above to hear me read "Thwarping Swirl: I Got Milk."
this is an audio post - click to play

Click above to hear my read "Complex Sleep / Mercy Giant" from my m.s. Sex Hat.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


Early Christmas today -- traded in some old books and closeted records to get the good stuff before Marcus could.

The haul:


The Band, Stage Fright
Don Williams, I Believe in You


Joseph Cornell, Theater of the Mind (Selected Diaries, Letters & Files)
HD, Collected Poems
HD, Hermetic Definitions
Anselm Hollo, Outlying Districts
Robert Creeley, Later
Marjorie Perloff, The Dance of the Intellect: Studies in the Poetry of the Pound Tradition
Louis Zukofsky, "A" (!!!!!!)
Guillaume Apollinaire, Selected Writings

I got rid of half my books and CDs while a grad student to keep water, heat, etc. My library has doubled I think in the last year. I have app. 50 books checked out from UNC right now as well. The next year's purchases are pointed towards getting the big monolith centerpieces that I could only afford to check out before: "A" is taken care of, The Cantos, Bottom, Maximus, Geography of the Imagination are next, along with everything Gertrude Stein wrote. Robert Kelly's The Loom. More Raworth, Nate Mackey.

Friday, December 10, 2004

A review of Invisible Bride is tucked away in this PDF in the new issue of The Georgia Review.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Jackson Mac Low

1922 - 2004

Sweetness possess us
the plea of an elsewhere
inside the mouth

If the sweetness of occurring
was other than light
a beautiful stopping
that has been reached

These limits
are writing recovery
clarity is a mixture
making it visible

An imaginary circumference
centers the body

I’m pointing towards
a memory
of Jackson Mac Low

dec. 8 2004

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Wish List

1. They Said Lands, Islands, and Premises, Mary Margaret Sloan

2. Subscriptions to any of the following: The Poker, Skanky Possum, Chain, SHINY, Hambone, First Intensity, The Germ.

3. A Companion for Owls, Maurice Manning

4. Dents & Shells, Richard Buckner

5. All those newly released re-masterings of classic Can albums

6. Re-mastered Another Green World & Here Come the Warm Jets

7. Tony Tost, American Poet Poster

8. Any classic Don Williams or Charlie Rich albums on CD.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Dream last night that Leigh and I went down to Texas to see Pound. Got to the Pound homestead, which consisted of a number of wood shacks in a row. Guy Davenport was there to meet us, a lot thicker around the waist then I would imagine, smoking a cigar, very excitedly running back and forth behind the shacks pointing out flowers to us, telling us that "these are the only flowers in Texas." Went into one of the shacks and spoke very briefly to Hugh Kenner, who was showing us the pallets on the floor where other sleepers were, where Leigh and would be staying. Pound then came in, well-trimmed beard, dapper, and I ran up to him with a book (don't know what the book was. End of dream.

Listening to an amazing Duncan lecture right now. "I have absolute faith, a lunatic position . . ."
It's been over a month since I quit the coffee shop and have been doing text editing at home. One of the pleasure of this new job is listening to the Naropa audio archives while doing this. Some favorites so far:

Amiri Baraka on revolutionary poetry

Alan Gilbert on site-specific art

Allen Ginsberg & Ann Charters on Kerouac

Benjamin Friedlander on Celan

Charters & Ginsberg on Mayakovsky & Russian Futurists (great readings by Ginsberg on this one)

Lisa Jarnot, Lee Ann Brown, Bernadette Mayer reading (Jarnot's poems are the highlight)

Lyn Hejinian lecture on the search for knowledge in the western poem

Duncan just described a test where they gave LSD to spiders and the spiders couldn't finish their webs because they could see how they would end up ahead of time and so they got bored and "walked away."

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Re-reading, I think for the third time, Steve Evans' Fence piece and the responses. Just endlessly fascinating. Joshua Clover's response and the stance implied kind of terrifies me. I can smell the snickering. But I also don't want to be happily oblivious to what hierarchies I may or may not be perpetuating and endorsing.

As I find myself slowly moving from a sense of basically complete isolation as a reader and writer (up to the point of winning the Whitman my last week of grad school) to my current sense (I feel strongly a part of the community constructed by the Lucifer Poetics group & supplemented by Patrick Herron's Carrboro Po Fest & Ken Rumble's Desert City Reading Series; I also feel a community with Arkansans like Adam Clay, Matt Henriksen, Paul White who are engaged in similar poetics; also a lot of the bloggers) of a certain amount of engagement, there's this continuing internal struggle of placing myself in some kind of workable context. Reading the Fence-related dialogue feeds into my anxieties. Naivete and ignorance are wells for poetry but not for social contexts that attach themselves to it. Hermit is not an option, especially as my poetics becomes more defined and much more focused on the sites of poetry (social & imaginative for reader/writer).

Leigh and I have talked a number of times of starting a small, small super-micro press (maybe just starting with chapbooks) after our wedding.

Anyway, the impulse to this post: reading the responses, I found myself moved by these lines from Chris Stroffolino, especially with them appearing in such a hyper-critical context:

(Or whatever you want to call it) need not always be subordinated
to the context or the venue in which it is published

Happy Flarf essay news: excellent informative email with helpful links so I can go back and re-assess all my big generalizations and assumptions. I think I'm looking at several essays (a big general, hopefully eventually well-informed flarf piece, pieces on individual writers/projects).

I still think googlizing offers a unique task for the willing reader.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

it takes a village