poetry/fiction/lit type stuff

Books Books Books

Yes indeed, just what the world needs, more books. Well, actually, yes, the world does need more better weirder books, methinks, and so I’ve started a publishing — company? cooperative? club? cadre? — some kind of tiny organization meant to produce and disseminate print and digital books. More reasons why at www.pskisporch.com. Wow, CDs. I might actually be halfway through listening to all my CDs, in order, as has been the occasional purpose of this blog for most of its life: 574) Midnight Oil: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 (forgot how great this was); 575) Brahms: The 3 Piano Quartets; 576) Richard and Linda Thompson: Hokey Pokey; 577) einstürzende neubauten: Silence is Sexy; 578) Los Lobos: Kiko (thanks); 579) Ethiopiques: Ethio Jazz and Musique Instrumentals, 1969-1974; 580) dredg: el cielo; 581) Michelle Shocked: Short Sharp Shocked (hell yes); 582) Los Jubilados: Cero farundulero; 583) BR-549: BR-549; 584) Tom T. Hall: Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 and 2; 585) Outkast: Stankonia; 586) NRBQ: Peek-a-Boo, Best of; 587) Traffic: The Collection; 588) Michelle Shocked: Deep Natural; 589) Belly: star; 590) Sonic Youth: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star;  591) Patti Smith: Banga (good on ya); 592) Kolveri…
Read more

Pots and Pans and Poetry Books, too

Possible Crocodiles, by Barry Marks. Brick Road Poetry Press, 2010 The Coal Life, by Adam Vines. U of Arkansas Press, 2012. One of the things missing from a lot of the current poetry I’ve read is a strong sense of personality, that the poem in question is not simply a slight variation of the last one and the next one, but emerges from a sensibility unafraid to take chances, look the fool, leap into a crevasse…. I guess people are thus everywhere, not just in poetry: people tend to establish their personhood within a fairly limited set of largely environmental parameters, and even the biologically determined characteristics tend to find expression through cultural norms. If you like the predictability of people, and I think many people do, then this is a fine state of affairs. If you are more neophilic, as I am, then you get bored quickly and turn small talk snarly and weird at any opportunity. I am willing to grant that we live, in the USA at least, in a very conservative, corporatist, conformist period of history, but I’m not sure that accounts for the relentless predictability of so much art, and so much poetry, produced in…
Read more

poem for dolores

Poem For Dolores   The worst part of grieving is waking up the next morning and they’re still gone, your love, your friend, your ambitions, your ideals. And that still, in the little house beside the stream, in the penthouse looking down into the the cities’ maw, in the trailer that rattles in the wind, still, you have to get up and make fucking breakfast and the breakfast tastes stupid because breakfast is stupid, more of the ubiquity of living, it all happens here and most of what happens isn’t worth a shit.   But really the worst part of grieving is waking up weeks later and forgetting that they’re still gone and you’ve had breakfast and read the paper and are on your way to work before you realize your grief is slipping away like everything else, back into the stream, into the city crumbling, into the wind and all that the wind carries away.

Things I Find Beautiful Today

…compassion, that certain Slant of light, the sound of ocean waves (especially at night), the taste of metal, pixie haircuts, well-informed people arguing to consensus, mushrooms, thunder, Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn speaking to one another, Fernando Rey diving into the latrine in Seven Beauties, scissors, home runs that hit the foul pole, nil-nil draws, old televisions imploding, necks, the poems of R.S. Thomas, the smell of cut grass, broken teapots, A Death in the Family, my wife trying to figure something out, seedlings, wheelchair lifts on buses, birdshit that’s turned pearly blue, vines on the abandoned house across the street working their way through an upstairs window. CDs listened to recently: 554) Suba: Sao Paolo Confessions; 555) Mandrill: The Best of; 556) Buffalo Road: Through the Sun; 557) Southern Culture on the Skids: For Lovers Only; 558) DJ Vadim: USSR: The Art of Listening; 559) Swervedriver: 99th Dream; 560) Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares: Vol 2; 561) Moloko: Do You Like My Tight Sweater?

Publishing Conundrum, Help Requested

A friend and I have been bantering about the state of publishing in general (and literary and young adult publishing in particular), thereby crystallizing, for me, a bundle of questions I need to think through. First among them is, why do I want the books I write to be published? Other questions branch off that one: what do I want a publisher to provide? Who do I want to reach with my writing? Do I care about prestige and awards and recognition? My production and distribution ethos, as distinct from my artistic ethos, is based on the punk/DIY, mimeographed and stapled world of the 1970’s and 80’s. If you wanted to have a concert, you found a room and put on a concert, if you wanted to make a record, you made a record, and so too with magazines, books, and so forth. Quickly enough, sympathetic people began distribution networks, then other people smelled money and co-opted the same, but the premise was always that art was local and anyone could do it. This meant lots of people made bad art, but so what, people always make lots of bad art, some of it just has more slick packaging. So,…
Read more

Charles Potts: Inside Idaho

For a few years, at the tail end of graduate school and the nose end of my post-graduate life, I wrote many reviews and essays about poetry, most of them very critical, some of them snarky, some even caustic. I’m not sure now why I chose to write that way, other than the books I was reading really did leave me feeling dry and uninspired, but soon enough the job of trashing even poems that I genuinely loathed became a chore. So, I stopped, but lately I have again felt the urge to write about poetry, instead of just writing poetry, to find some contemporary poets whose work I can dive into, read deeply, and learn something from. My only agenda is to try and stay away from the standard reviewers tool box: no poetic genealogies (unless absolutely necessary), no armchair psychology, no breathless-but-nonsensical praise; even if I dislike a certain kind of poetry, I will at least try to learn to read and judge it on its own terms. Then again, I might have another agenda, one (or more) that I’ve hidden from myself, and at least one goal of this project will be to investigate my own preferences…
Read more

Dogs Dream of Dogs

I just finished re-reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night, though the last time I read it was 20+ years ago, so there wasn’t much “re-“ in the re-reading. I remembered Dick finding out Abe North died, and I remembered the “crazy” passages that were supposed to be Nicole’s stream-of consciousness… and then I was stunned to discover, on the last page, that Dick’s exile to the U.S. included a long stay in Lockport, of all places. I’m fairly sure I didn’t even know where Lockport was 20+ years ago, and now I live here. So. The page after the book’s ending, the author bio page, indicated that Fitzgerald earned enough writing that he not only lived well, but lived very well, traipsing around Europe, following the moveable feast around. The idea that one could make a living at all as a novelist, as any kind of artist, always gives me a twinge—I’m jealous, because I have had to work at other things all my life on order to have the time and space to make art. Then the feeling fades, quickly, as I realize how necessary all that other work is to me as an artist and human…
Read more

Reading Cowper on the Beach

I went to the beach twice this year, once to Destin, FL, for a friend’s wedding, and once to Rockport, MA, just because. And that’s the part that still confuses me a bit, the “just because,” the raison de la plage, and not just the reason for the beach, but for vacations in which doing nothing is the goal. Vacations crammed with activities are equally puzzling, and the reason they confuse me has to do with what they are vacations from. If I am following correctly, the message is this: most people’s lives–your life, sayeth the adverts–are stress-filled dashes along the edge of an emotional precipice, and we need to either spend a week or two each year being vegetative, or a week or two consuming as many “fun” activities as possible. A blend of the two is optimal for some people, a morning laying in the sun, reading trashy novels, followed by lunch at some over priced and over decorated joint, followed by jetskiing, then dinner, then dancing in a schmaltzy disco so everyone else can watch you dance while you watch them dance, then…. the activities are another way of becoming vegetative, of course, but don’t most people spend a…
Read more

July Art Squirrel

Several apparently unconnected events connected themselves recently, or maybe I’m just glomming them together, but no matter: first, my lovely wife came to tell me there was an injured squirrel at the bottom of our driveway. Injured it was, seemed its back was broken, so though it tried desperately to get away from me, it only ended up spinning itself in a circle, like Curly did in the Three Stooges, but with the added horror of a broken spine. I had to run an errand, so I lifted the squirrel onto the grass where it would be a bit more comfortable and where I wouldn’t run over it with my car. The image of the squirrel spinning itself stayed with me as I drove downtown, coloring everything I saw: a woman crying into a cell phone, another woman crying and sitting on the steps of a church, a man limping down the sidewalk in front of the hospital for a smoke, a geeking kid in a doorway searching the empty street… I’m sure I passed happier scenes, but these were the ones I noticed, seeing the squirrel changed what my mind was letting in, altered the emotional locus of what…
Read more

Two articles

That are interesting to read sequentially, or at least they fell upon me that way and I found them thus: Larry Sanger Joseph Wood The first article outlines a kind of anti-intellectualism exhibited by the hipster/geek/digerati tribe, and the comments section provides, not always intentionally, evidence to support the argument. The second article is about contemporary poety in the US, careerism, and ideology, and the comments section follows a similar pattern, leading me to think that the problem is less anti-intellectualism and disdain for knowledge than it is intellectual balkanization and disdain for any kind of knowledge but one’s own, at least as evidenced in the comments sections of blogs and articles. And while I don’t want to create a taxonomy of blog comment types, I do see a connection between intellectual balkanization of the type seen in contemporary poetry and the way internet-enabled crowd-based opining–maybe “cloud critique” is a better term–has sharpened social exclusion. As I recall, part of the promise of the internet was that it would expose more people to more new ideas, make them more flexible and inclusive, rather than exclusive…. whoops.  Resisting this ongoing reshaping of our discursive selves, fighting the cloud, that’s the trick…. CDs listened to: 457) D’Angelo: Voodoo; 458) Orb: Orbus Terrarum; 459) Trio: Da Da Da (love…
Read more