Latest Posts

New Book

Oh such a lax blogger I’ve been. And shall continue to be for a few days, stopping now only to advertise a new book I’ve done with an artist friend. Instead of doing the usual reading tour, I’m going to try and upload some videos of images from the book and myself reading them (unless I can get someone with a better voice to do it), we’ll see how the virtual book launch goes… Announcing the publication of Conflagrations: Poems and Images an emblem book by Mary Leary and Marc Pietrzykowski Print: $17. 74 pages. ISBN: 1478159340 / 978-1478159346 Official Book Launch November/December 2012, by Pski’s Porch Publishing. Available soon now from Amazon.com and other retailers. Emblem books were all the rage during the 16th and 17th centuries. Pski’s Porch Publishing sees no good reason why they shouldn’t be all the rage in this young century as well. In an emblem book, image and poem are paired, producing a composite art where each element somehow amplifies or complements the other. This relationship might be comical, didactic, obscure, ambient, or all of these at once–the way each pairing constitutes a single work is left largely up to the reader. That said, there are…
Read more

Fall and What to do With It

The strange, broiling summer has given way to a strange, schizoid fall season, my nose is a-flutter with ragweed, and the blankets on the bed have multiplied. I have no idea how much of the erratic weather of the last few years is due to global climate change, and how much of that is due to human activity, but scientific consensus seems indicate the answer to both questions is, “a lot, maybe less, likely more,” and so another fuzzy layer of anxiety is woven into the zeitgeist, a future of refugees and food shortages, a JG Ballard eventuality seems more and more likely. Or, I’m getting older, and was already cynical to begin with, and all the wonderful potentiality embedded in the future will flower in ways I cannot imagine, let alone anticipate. Perhaps a human life is just long enough to think the whole species is going to shit, and that’s somehow an evolutionary advantage… ah well, doesn’t stop me from wanting to make a spectacle of myself in various ways: I read recently at a local bookstore to launch my first novel and nascent publishing company; I’m having a pub crawl and reading on Saturday, just because; I’ll…
Read more

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

Another Next Step: Publishing

After publishing three books of poetry with fine, generous small publishers, I’ve decided to start an imprint (Pski’s Porch Publishing–website coming soon) and publish my own writing. Why would I decide to destroy my literary career this way? Well, because “the publishing world is changing,” as they say. And they’re right, but what kinds of changes does this godawful cliché refer to? The rapid spread and corresponding low cost of on-demand printing? The proliferation of eBooks and eReaders? The explosion of internet-based distribution networks? Or the acquisition of big publishing houses by even bigger international conglomerates? The right answer—yes, all of these—begs a further question: are these changes good for us? If “us” means authors who prefer to maintain control of their work, and of everything involved in getting that work to readers, then again, the answer is clearly “yes,” as long as their eyes are clear and their ambitions aligned with what self-publishing can offer. Even the bit about the traditional high cotton publishers getting eaten by media conglomerates affords an opportunity, since they will likely, in pursuit of profit rather than quality, continue alienating readers who want something more, thereby helping increase the audience for more challenging work….
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

Describing Utopia

I posted this a while back on Facebook, but I want to have it up here too, so: W. H. Auden included the following questionnaire in his book of essays, The Dyer’s Hand. It’s meant to make potential critics think about what sort of Eden (his term) they envision; I prefer “Utopia,” but the point is the same. So: describe the following characteristics of your Utopia: >>>Landscape A very steep mountainous region sloping downward through a wide plain, leading to the ocean. Marshes on one side of the plain, forest of Redwoods on the other. Plenty of streams and rocky bits throughout. The ocean region should have one pristine beach and one very deep harbor, otherwise cliffs and crags. >>>Climate 2 Months of winter (Dec/Jan), including at least 1 heavy snowstorm that makes everyone have to stay home and drink cocoa. 3 months of summer, including at least 1 blazingly hot day that makes everyone have to snooze and drink lemonade. Spring and Fall should be pleasant, something like the Mid-Atlantic US or southern Europe. The occasional roaring thunderstorm. >>>Ethnic Origin of Inhabitants As varied as possible, including the search for new genetic material in outer space. >>>Language All local…
Read more

Stuffs and Things

I’m exhausted with coverage of the Republican party flaming out in the US, and I don’t even watch TV. It does seem clear we are witnessing the death rattle of the GOP, hence all the coverage of conservative heads discussing what bulbous phoenix will rise from the ashes… and like I said, I don’t even watch TV, or listen to the radio much, but I get enough out of the corner of my ear to put it all together. Then again, I don’t care: not about Republicanism, whether or not there need be such a counterweight to what Democrats and progressives propose is a topic for another day. It’s the coverage I’m sick of, it’s tawdry at best, and downright depressing in a worry-about-the-fate-of-the-species manner. But, it’s in the air, so to speak, and that’s my excuse for thinking about media coverage of the Republican primaries, circa 2012, when reading this tidbit: the motion performed by us in consequence of irritation, are owing to the original constitution of our frame, whence the soul or sentient principle, immediately, and without any previous ratiocination, endeavors by all means, and in the most effectual manner, to avoid and get rid of every disagreeable…
Read more