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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Snowing, but not sticking

Off and on.

Have had to cancel our plans for this evening due to flu. Blue.

But still hoping to make tomorrow's big party.

Here's the line-up:

32nd Annual New Year's Marathon at the Poetry Project

3-4: Bob Holman, Shanna Compton, Jose Angel Figueroa, Ethan Fugate, Yuko Otomo, Michael Lydon, Susan Maurer, Nicholas Powers, Gina Myers, Don Yorty, Lauren Russell, Courtney Frederick, Denizé Lauture, Bob Rosenthal

4-5: Merry Fortune, Steve Cannon, Marc Ribot, Rosa Alcala, Tan Lin, Susan Landers, Foamola, Joanna Sondheim, Hassen, Bruce Weber, Prageeta Sharma, Bethany Spiers, Paul Catafago, Aaron Kiely, Marianne Shaneen

5-6: Philip Glass, David Mills, Brenda Iijima, Huang Xiang, Patricia Spears Jones, Too Much Light Makes the Baby Blind, Kazim Ali, Kimberly Lyons, Steve Dalachinsky, Paolo Javier, Lourdes Vazquez, Donna Brook, Bob Hershon, Ted Greenwald

6-7: Filip Marinovic, Latasha Diggs, Ammiel Alcalay, Lo Galluccio, Dorothy August Friedman, Rebecca Moore, Shanxing Wang, Chris Rael, Bill Kushner, Cheryl B., Jim Neu, Charles Bernstein, Anne Tardos, Tyehimba Jess

7-8: Adeena Karasick, King Missile, Christopher Stackhouse, Maggie Dubris, Lenny Kaye, Avra Koufmann, John Giorno, Ange Mlinko, Murat Nemet-Nejat, Penny Arcade, Dana Bryant, Ed Friedman, Yoshiko Chuma, Steve Earle

8-9: Willie Perdomo, Elliott Sharp, Kimiko Hahn, Todd Colby, Taylor Mead, Brenda Coultas, Edwin Torres, Edmund Berrigan, Anne Waldman, Tuli Kupferberg, Eileen Myles, Eric Bogosian, Patti Smith

9-10: Rodrigo Toscano, Jackie Sheeler, Janet Hamill, Keith Roach, Hal Sirowitz, Elizabeth Castagna, Judith Malina & Hanon Reznikov, Tracie Morris, Mercedes Roffé, Brendan Lorber, Wanda Phipps, Stephanie Gray, Sharon Mesmer, Drew Gardner

10-11: Douglas Dunn, Jo Ann Wasserman, Gillian McCain, Steven Hall & Arthur’s Landing, Tonya Foster, Tom Savage, Jenny Smith, Joe Elliott, Vicki Hudspith, Mitch Highfill, David Vogen, Tracey McTague, Paul Lafarge, David Henderson

11-12: Marcella Durand, Alan Gilbert, Monica de la Torre, Joshua Beckman, Jen Benka, Nathaniel Siegel, Katie Degentesh, Douglas Rothschild, Charles Babinski, Karen Weiser, MacGregor Card, Brad Will, Greg Fuchs

12-1: Brian Kim Stefans, Erica Kaufman, Dana Maisel, CA Conrad, Jessica Rogers, Frank Sherlock, Corrine Fitzpatrick, Stacy Szymaszek, Anselm Berrigan.

The Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church
131 East 10th Street
$8 general admission
$7 for students & seniors
$5 for members

Friday, December 30, 2005

Kevin Sampsell interviews Jennifer L. Knox

...over at the Powell's Books Blog.


...to make it to the marathon on Sunday. I'm supposed to read in the first hour and I have been really looking foward to it.

Right now though, it still looks iffy. This flu's got a real mean streak.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Jiggedy jig

Home from a swell Texmas, where it was sunny and 80 degrees yesterday and an incredibly pleasant 70-75 the rest of the time. Egg nog on the back deck in shirtsleeves is pretty freaking nice. My mom and sisters remain gorgeous and funny. My father-figure entertained us with tales of Australia, China, and Montana and stocked us up on crysanthemum tea. My brother-in-law languished under the influence of a stomach virus, poor thing. My nieces & nephew amazed everybody with moon shoes and spy kits and glow sticks, props hardly equal to their various talents.

Unfortunately...nieces + nephew = fevers + achoo.

Or perhaps I was poisoned by Mr. & Mrs. Wiggle in front of us on the plane, whose magical infant apparently excepted them from common courtesies.

Either way, I'm home today imbibing Airborne, sucking on Zicam, and simmering a giant spicy sausage [veggie*] stew. And I was actually looking forward to going to the office since I only made it in one day last week during the strike.

Still, hello Brooklyn. We missed ya.

*[This post has been modified because I have since gone vegan. Ever considered it?]

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Ahem. Your neurosis is showing.


Gonna try to work from home if freelance job can send me files. Day's pay just not worth a 3-hour 50-dollar commute to go 10 miles. Walking that far in below-freezing temps? Uh, nuh unh.

The strike is emphasizing the feeling I always have about the tail-end of the year: lots of waiting around, but lots of wondering why, since what's next is more of the same.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The post that was here...

...has expired.

This post brought to you by the TWU strike

Wow, getting around today is going to be one giant pain.

My sister apparently made it to the airport to catch her flight to Texas. Early enough in the morning she could still get a car and she didn't need to go thru Manhattan.

Getting over for work is gonna be a bitch... not going to happen.

I don't think I'll even attempted it.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Make it stop!

I know this isn't very cheerful/seasonally appropriate but I LOATHE x-mas music.


It's too bad I'm not a programmer...

...because The Descent of Alette would make a totally awesome video game.

Fight your way through a series of subway cars full of the blur-faced homeless and menacing suit-clad businessmen until you reach a linked maze of caverns populated by serpents, headless women, owls, bats, and legions of the dead in this action-packed single-player adventure game. As Alette, you must confront and kill the superpowerful Tyrant, without destroying all of creation, which is somehow part of his body. Your guide through this under-underworld is a sadistic owl who may or may not be the spirit of your long-departed father. You'll collect a bit of blue stone, drown in a hellish lake, grow a beak, and be implanted with a talon along the way, and perhaps learn to fly. You'll need to amass a hefty arsenal and rebel against your feminine nature by assuming your animal self for your final showdown with the Tyrant, and to survive the fragile new world that dawns upon his death.

So if you're a programmer, and you want to develop game scripts based on epic poetry, and pitch the idea to the publishers who will quickly come up game tie-in packaging and see skyrocketing sales for these adventuresome tales, my email address is in the top-right corner.

Saturday, December 17, 2005


I think years are too short. Days are too short.

In fact, I don't enjoy Time at all. The way it presses in, diminishes, sneaks away.


Tomorrow is my birthday. I got my gift early. It was a surprise.

My last guitar was a hand-me-down.

This one is just beautiful!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Strike mostly averted...with happy poetic consequences!

The partial transit strike seems to be only affecting buses in Queens at the moment, which is good news for us, because it means we can and certainly should go see Stephanie Young & David Larsen & Brandon Downing at Teachers & Writers Collaborative dealything tonight. I just got all three books--Stephanie's a few weeks ago, and the other two just arrived yesterday. Here is just one of many kick-ass poems from Stephanie's Telling the Future Off. It's so great, it doesn't even need a title.

I take my leisure wherever I can
like I am cherry blossoms

a wall of trees blooming
without regard to season.

I ate a mango in winter.
Cherry flavor.

I bloomed
and I bloomed and I bloomed.

This much
and no more?

A crowd in the breeze
delicate print body

and I
to suit you with violent declarations.

Triumphant, your head
stuffed into my apron.

Baby lamb butts thigh.
Thigh to baby lamb:

embedded in the covers

a dream in the forehead of blossoms
and each more than the next

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Oh (!) but physically...

...the quotation marks resemble a doubling effect, halos or psilocybin tracers. Mutliple outlines, blurred, a visual image Notley uses with some frequency. Cars and rooms and caves also have curved walls.

I'll try to find you some supporting words.

This a-ha moment brought to you by Billy Blanks.

Update: Here are some words I found, as promised.

[...] "'Where are" "my companions?'" "'You are" "your

companions--" "your companions" "have temporarily" "become you'"
"I saw that" "my hands' outlines" "we several" "& seemed blurred"
"Likewise" "my arms & legs--" "I looked plural" "'But my eyes are"
"unified,' I said," "'my vision single," "my mind single" "Inside I

feel like" "one person'" "'Of course," "he said" "'That is the only way"
"to know & see," "through one person's" "mind & senses" "But in this
place," "in these depths--" "a cave network, as you will find--"
"what you see" "pertains to everyone'" [...]

Something to read at lunch

Jordan on Alice Notley's Coming After at Constant Critic.

Taking things apart

Still reading The Descent of Alette and also holy moly Petroleum Hat by one Drew Gardner. (Y'all might know him. More on that one when I'm done.)

And I just finished My Life in CIA by the charming hero Harry Mathews and it is the bomb; read it just for the couple of times Georges Perec appears if you're into that Oulipo jazz. But you should read it for more than that. For one, the sex scenes are great. There's not much poetry in it. But poets who don't read novels kind of freak me out. I love tuna fish and arthouse documentaries but tuna fish forever, or just one kind of movie? Nah. Go flip some pages in a more rapid fashion. Read paragraphs just once for a change. Pay a different kind of attention. Harry pretended to be a spy! He makes covert drops with one hand and pulls your leg with the other!

The ongoing temptation to tinker with AN's quotation marks is a tough one to overcome, for me. (Don't forget what I am doing here. I read and uh, write about reading, like a writer, not like a reader. This is why I don't write reviews.) I want to take the thing apart and wonder about those parts and imagine a new arrangement and completely ignore the author's intention. That this particular author's intention is so insistent makes me all the more rebellious. I earned my first D in conduct at 10 yrs.

Again, snatch an Alette if you have a chance. And if you live in NYC or some other city with a subway system, read it there. Each poem is a car, then a cave. I recognize the multiplicity Alette experiences--the kind of intensly asserted self-awareness harnessed to utter anonymity. It's city living. And it's also, agreed agreed, feminine.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Hello cookie


Reading Alice Notley

I read Coming After a few weeks ago, and I have picked up The Descent of Alette and given it another try--the first try having been unfortunately stymied by my reaction to the quotation marks. I do understand them, and have gotten used to them mostly, but they still seem intrusive to me, like being read to. While it is interesting to me to feel the disparity in how I would hear the phrasing if not being so micromanaged, it's still somewhat affronting. I dislike audio books for this reason, and honestly, sometimes, some performances of work I know well. Still, we all direct readers in this way, with punctuation, with line breaks, with space. We use these and other devices to create a poem that will be heard by the reader the same way we hear it ourselves. The goal is to make the experiences as close as possible. Isn't it? And I am enjoying the book, and her phrasing, even when forced to ventriloquize against myself. It's a less solitary kind of reading, if that makes sense. I think my main objection to the quotation marks is not the new purpose she assigns them--to indicate her measure, the cadence of phrases--but that their traditional purpose is so at odds with this new purpose. It takes a bit of retraining (uh, perhaps particularly for someone trained as an editor/copyeditor) to read this book. Even reading each chapter/poem/piece twice or three times, and being halfway into the book, I can't help but hear some of the phrases, particularly the one-word and shorter adjectival phrases, as being enclosed in "scare quotes"--one of my least favorite abuses. It's a valence I don't think the author intends, so I find it problematic. Also, where there is dialogue the marks are just ugh a nested mess. Notley's note on the marks makes good sense there at the beginning, on its page, and she knows she's being controlling: "If I had simply left white spaces between the phrases, the phrases would be rushed by the reader--read too fast for my musical intention. [...] Finally they may remind a reader that each phrase is a thing said by a voice: this is not a thought, or a record of thought process, this is a story, told." Notley is so concerned (to generalize from this statement and a few of the essays) about her voice, that I find myself asking (as a reader, in this case) "Where's my voice?" Her anxiety about controlling the way I read her comes through. And I feel necessarily less like a collaborator in the experience of reading the poem. It's uncomfortable for me.

Which is not to say that I am not marveling at runs like this one (to chose a random example):

"I walked" "into a car where" "everything was membrane-
like" "thin-membrane petal-like" "& veined"
"Fetus-like" "fetus-flesh-like" "In shades of pink" "purple black &"
"brown" "Thin" "reddish veins" "Fetal flower" "soaked in

subway light" "The car walls were translucent" "orchid-
flesh" "The seats were & the floor--" "All was naked flesh"
"We were naked" "A fetus" "delicate" "tiny-faced," "eyes closed,
concentrating" "curled" "almost spiraling," "floated high" "in the

air." "We sat naked on our" " membrane-like" "tan benches"
"All of us" "smooth & wrinkled" "brownish, or"
"darker," "or paler," "palest" "were as if" "within a flower"
"as if" "within us" "This" "This is" "simultaneous," "I understood"

"Uncontrolled by" "the tyrant" "Someone else"
"in all of us" "is this lovely" "fetal flesh," "flower skin"
"We are being this" "this flower" "And then" "the flower
vanished" "I was clothed, there was" "no fetus" "Gray subway car

of people" "riding quietly some sleeping" "Someone's earphones"
"turned up too loud" "buzzing wire" "vaguely song"

In her essay on The Descent of Alette in Coming After, "The Feminine Epic," Notley says "I don't think you can write a real epic (as opposed to the twentieth-century Big Poem) without some, even a lot of, regularity of line. I wanted something regular, but also catchy--not some prosy long-line spinoff of the what-had-come-before; I'm afraid I wanted something all my own. As I worked on the first part of Alette, the line of the previous two poems evolved into something I could depend on, not think about, have to invent while I was inventing the story. I needed more freedom to tell the story than a constantly changing metrics would allow me. Thus I arrived at, and stuck with, a four-line stanza, each line of which usually consists of three to four feet or phrases[.]"

One thing that's particularly fascinating about reading Coming After, much of which is Notley's articulation of the feminine and its intersection with poetics, and The Descent of Alette is that in Alette she chose to work with 1) the epic model which is 2) a narrative stucture 3) a regular metric (tho her application of both regular and metric is idiosyncratic) and 4) allegory (the Tyrant and Alette being symbols as well as characters, particularly the Tyrant) and in Coming After talks about these choices using phrases like "freedom" and "all my own."

Here is where I get to a point. I'm trying to write a long, somewhat narrative, not-exactly-a-novel-nor-a-poem book now, with a principal female character. One the problems I am attempting to solve is how to write accurately (oh more to be said about accurately) about the historical past (as opposed to the autobiographical past, which is more forgiving) without hobbling it with been-there-done-that methods. Results? Giving myself the same template as Notley gave herself for Alette, I'm not sure that I wouldn't feel so oppressed that I couldn't write at all. I have had to admit (and not for the first time) while reading Notley, that my feminism is, uh, reluctant. (I'm no longer talking or thinking about her; this is personal now.) I resent the pressure I feel (and have always felt) to make my gender an issue in or focus of my writing. As much as I admire Notley, I bristle at some of her feminist bristling in Coming After, and similar bristling by others, not to pick on her. If this were an essay and not a blog post I'd give examples. I realize I'm not saying this well. I don't mean I disagree, don't understand her, or am unempathetic. I simultaneouly accept (identify with) and reject (deny the truth of) the circumstances of being a woman poet she describes. Part of this is no doubt generational. And maybe part is wishful thinking.

Update: In looking up the online store links to give you impulse-clickability I had a hard time finding The Descent of Alette. It's a shame, but the book seems to be out of print. Hello, Penguin? Anybody home?

Thursday, December 8, 2005

Well, I missed it, after all.

Instead of celebrating Kochmas at the Church, I was enjoying the Collected Tapas of Casa Mono: frisee and manchego, duck with capers, Spanish jamon, pumpkin and chevre croquetas, duck egg with truffles and salmon, surrounded by lovely bottles.

Or, rather, that's what I was doing in the hour we had to kill before Kochnukah, but then I realized I'd left my keys at my office uptown.

Dinner was lovely, but I regret. Please do report.

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Shafer Hall discovered in Jakarta!

Red, Catlike Animal May Be a New Species
Published: December 6, 2005
Filed at 8:36 p.m. ET

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) -- A stealthy catlike creature pouring very strong but still sorta crappy drinks was photographed by camera traps on Borneo Island and is likely to be a new species of carnivorous poet, the World Wildlife Fund said Tuesday.

If confirmed, the animal -- which has dark red fur and a long, bushy tail -- would be first new carnivorous poetic species discovered on the island since 1895, when the Borneo ferret-badger bard was found, clutching a manuscript of ballads scribbled on turtle hides. That particular ferret-badger bard went on to win Jakarta's highest literary honor, before scurrying off to lick himself in musky places.

Cameras set up to photograph wildlife in Kayan Mentarang National Park on the Indonesian side of Borneo island have twice captured images of this new poet, said Stephan Wulffraat, a Dutch literary critic who is coordinating the WWF's research into the species.

''We have consulted several Bornean poetic experts. Some thought it looked like a lemur, but most were convinced it was a new species of poet,'' Wulffraat said. ''Until we have a live specimen in our hands, we can't be 100 percent sure. Now, I'm only 90 percent sure.''

Since 1994, researchers have found more than 360 new species on Borneo island, most of them fiction writers and memoirists.

My spider sense is tingling

Something is about to go very wrong.

Imaginary Poets tonight at Poets House

...was a good time.

Monday, December 5, 2005

Pretty Young Thing coming (back) to town in January!

Danielle Pafunda just wrote to say she'll be in town January 21 to read at the Frequency Series with Sabrina Orah Mark, Lara Glenum, and Kristen Kaschock. (I'm excited already.)

If you've got a slot for Danielle around that time, holler. She'd love to read for you!

Saturday, December 3, 2005

Jen Bervin's a non-breaking space

If you haven't yet experienced this new
online book from Ugly Duckling, do it soon.


Thursday, December 1, 2005

Registration now open for Spring Chapbook Workshop

The Chapbook: A Poetry Workshop
Course number NWRW3255
The New School
A 15 session(s). Wed., 6:00-7:50 PM, beg. January 25. $545.00
Open enrollment for noncredit & credit students
Instructor: Shanna Compton

For a number of poets, the chapbook functions as a primary literary unit--serving as the ideal publication outlet for a long poem, themed selection, or interrelated sequence. Chapbooks can provide poets with something to sell or trade at readings, span the gap between (or before) full-length collections, and create an opportunity to extend the creative process into the making of a physical object. In this class, we'll approach the poetry chapbook as a discrete entity, full of innovative possibilities in terms of length, thematic concerns, and aesthetic, looking at the form as both readers and writers. Workshop sessions alternate with discussions of books on the reading list, and as a final project, each student completes a chapbook manuscript. We'll also discuss publishing options, including small presses, specialty printers and book arts studios, DIY production and distribution, and chapbook contests. (3 credits)

Reading list includes recent chapbooks published by Ugly Duckling, Burning Deck, Booklyn, Faux Press, Pressed Wafer, Evil Twin, CyPress, Sardines Press, the Poetry Society of America, New Michigan Press, & other presses.

Register online or by phone, fax, or mail.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

If you're not reading the other blog...

...you might be missing lots of announcements re: DIY and micropress publications. Do you have it bookmarked or blogrolled?

And stay tuned for info on the poetry chapbook workshop I will be teaching in the spring at the New School. It starts January 25 and is 15 weeks. Registration begins soon.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Monday, November 28, 2005

Speaking of mainstream media coverage for poetry...

...Maggie Nelson was just on 48 Hours over the holiday talking about Jane. In a completely freaky turn of events, the police finally solved Jane's murder while we were in the process of publishing Maggie's book--a mixed-genre-but-mostly-poetry look at her aunt's life. If you missed the show, you can read the report (or a version of it?) here.

48 hours might just be interested in the sensational murder mystery angle, but Jane is a formally innovative, moving piece of writing. Promise.

Monday, November 14, 2005


Be good. I'll be here.


balls need
surfaces to bounce

happening? Throw
yourself at walls

mad knocks
Still walls still

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Home & ready to read one last time...today at 2:00!

Shanna Compton & Jennifer L. Knox
with Tom Haushalter
Saturday, November 12 at 2:00
Frequency Series
Hosted by Shafer Hall w/ Sam Amadon
Four-Faced Liar
165 West 4th Street

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Jacques & Juliette

Poet and food writer Juliette Rossant posted my poem "To Jacques Pepin" (and called me on its lying line) over at Superchefblog. If you're a foodie (Tony, Jordan, Matt) you'll want to make superchefblog a habitual stop, for sure. Very yummy stuff.

Thanks, Juliette!

Monday, November 7, 2005

Proof that we are doing what we say we are doing...

...here, courtesy of Clay Banes.

Snow showed = no show

GIANT bummer. We did not make it to Ashland today. We made it as far as the Target (truly an all-purpose destination, with excellent cell phone reception, road atlases, comedy CDs, inclement weather supplies, and clean restrooms) in Redding, CA. Kasey called to say the pass over Mt. Shasta might be closed due to freakishly early snow, and indeed the Highway Patrol said we could probably only get to Ashland today "if we could fly." Alas, we are not so skilled. We started to ignore this "official" advice, but my friend Jim even went online to view the Mt. Shasta live web came--a solid swirling mass of blizzardness. He lived in Ashland for 4 years and said that without chains we'd uh been fools to attempt that shit.

So craptastic crankiness ensued, plus Santa Fe Chopped Salads with sides of Tortilla Soup and Two Chicken [Veggie*] Tacos (crispy), until we realized Ashland will endure for us to visit it another day. Seventy-eight phone calls later, we found lodgings in Vallejo, CA and turned the Chevy Malibu wagon (in Champagne) southward. But we will get to Ashland someday. We will not be defeated. Some of you dear readers may remember that Mt. Shasta has tangled with me once before and lost. (JetBlue finally did do right by us, so now they rock again, but SHASTA SUCKS. What a blowhard of a mountain! Damn!)

PS: Jen reports that the drugstore next door to the Ramada Inn has safety caps on all the liquor bottles, which are removed at the register. Apparently, some people can't wait.

PPS: Oh, and last night we saw David Hess--albeit not for nearly long enough.

*[This post has been modified because I have since gone vegan.]

Just a quick one before we go...

Greetings from the West Coast. Just realized I haven't reported on the two readings so far, Saturday night in Santa Cruz and last night in Berkeley. Both were fantastic (thanks for coming, all!) and we met lots of nice new folks and sold some books.

Santa Cruz is a beautiful city--complete with sea lions lolling around under the pier [photos to come] and an amusement park on the beach. S & I stayed at a great place with gorgeous garden and a little patio. Even got some writing done. Jen stayed with her friend Nick in San Jose, who came down for the reading too. Hit all but one bookstore in town and scored Creeley's Collected 1945-1975 (lots of stuff I didn't have, including pieces published only in magazines), The Vandals by Alan Michael Parker (our Davidson, NC host a few weeks ago), and best of all, Lush Life by Bill Berkson. It's #623 of 750 copies, from Kenward Elmslie's Z Press. A bit of foxing on the back cover, and a scar from an antitheft tag inside, but for $9 I couldn't pass it up. Also, Jim Maughn suprised me a copy of his DIY chapbook With Out Much. (Don't know if it's available for purchase, but if it is, I'll add the link to the other blog!)

Then yesterday we drove up to San Francisco, where we immediately hit City Lights (and I got Captive Audience by Bob Perelman, A Thousand Devils by Kasey Mohammad--Jen and I fought over it, I won--and Susan Wheeler's novel Record Palace. Damn, I love that store. Noted with delight Justin's chapbook displayed face out in the consignment section! Wanted to also get the Koch collected, but thought better of packing it. Then Cafe Vesuvio for a beer, an Italian joint up the street for lunch, and coffee from Cafe Trieste before heading to the hotel for a little nap. The reading last night was great fun--despite one INSANE dude in the audience heckling, harrassing, and stinking up the place. Got to congratulate Ilya on his amazing award in person, meet Pappy Rob's friend Bree (sp?), Jen's friend Roxy, hang out with Chris Stroffolino, and finally meet Clay, who's a doll. Went for a few drinks at Beckett's (deep-lined portraits of the writer everywhere and Irish-style snugs) till I got terribly sleepy. Perked up for some pool-sitting after our 30 minute Bart trip.

In a bit we head up to Ashland to see Kasey. Jen's gonna freeze because she packed for CA and Texas, not Mt. Shasta. And the forecast all the way up 5 is rain turning to snow in Ashland this evening. But surely we'll spot a Target from the HOV lane...

Saturday, November 5, 2005

Matt Madden's 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style

Matt Madden's new book 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style has just been released by Chamberlain Bros. (an imprint of Penguin) with a fantabulous cover and interior designed by Charlie Orr (naturally). You might remember some of these comics from LIT. Following the example of Oulipian Raymond Queneau, Matt renders the same simple story in 99 stylistic variations. The book's amazing, and beautifully done. Peep at some samples here, and then click on over to Powell's or your local bricks-and-mortar store to get your copy.

Ron Hogan (of Beatrice.com) has written a great launch party report at in his Galley Cat column at Media Bistro. (And thanks for the link, Ron! Nice to meet you. Good luck with your book's launch next week, as well!)

Five stars for Danielle Pafunda's Pretty Young Thing...

...from Kevin Killian at Amazon. (Thanks, Kevin! And if you're one of the few poetry peeps not reading Kevin's reviews at Amazon regularly as you sashay through the blogsphere, check them out. Click here to see the complete list of nearly 1000!)

Friday, November 4, 2005

My third leg helps me balance! (Updated, and with no time for one of those cute little maps.)

California & Oregon, here we come.

Jennifer Knox & I take off again Friday AM today, heading for the West Coast.

If you're anywhere near Santa Cruz, the Bay Area, or Ashland, OR, we'd love to see you!

Saturday, November 5 at 7:30 PM
New Cadence Series
Hosted by Jim Maughn
Louden Nelson Community Center
301 Center Street
Santa Cruz, CA

Sunday, November 6 at 8:00 PM
Pegasus Books
Hosted by Clay Banes
2349 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, CA
(510) 649-1320

Monday, November 7 at 7:00 PM
Emergent Forms Series
Hosted by K. Silem Mohammad
Southern Oregon University
Hannon Library
Meese Meeting Room #305
FREE for students, $5-10 for public

Tuesday, November 8 at 2:00 PM
Informal colloquium
Hosted by K. Silem Mohammad
Southern Oregon University
Decker Writing Studio
Central Hall, 3rd Floor (Room 240)

(After that, Jen takes off for Austin, where she'll be reading at the University of Texas (details here). The husband & I are tacking on a few vacation days in Northern California. Aw yeah.)

We'll all be back on 11/11, and hope you local folks will then join us for our homecoming reading:

Saturday, November 12 at 2:00
Frequency Series
Hosted by Shafer Hall w/ Sam Amadon
Four-Faced Liar
165 West 4th Street

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Poem from Clay Banes

i shelved your book
next to billy collins
and jennifer's book next
to ted kooser.
so don't say i never
did anything for you.

the weather in california
will be lovely, and in
oregon it will rain.

[Thanks, Clay! See you in Berkeley!]

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Getting there...& more tour reportage

Making actual progress. Started on the laundry so I can pack (again) and got all the trip details and confirmations sorted out (again). Got a catsitter and finished the essay that's already past due (though it's way too long; still, I can cut that down by tomorrow).

But I still haven't had time to tell y'all about all the fun we had in Milwaukee with Cam and Sarah and Scotty and Matt, and with Kelly at Broad Vocabulary, and the multiple Pauls and Johns. Or about the ridiculously sized crazy cocktails at At Random (those photos don't do the place justice, trust me--it's so David-Lynchian in there, signed crooner photos on every wall, white flocked plastic poinsettias, and lots of tinsel, elderly couples mixed in with the hipsters) or the fantastic food and tons-of-fun reading at Cafe Lulu.

And I haven't had two seconds to tell you about our visit with Anne-Marie, Mark and their beautiful sons in Oak Park, or anything about the reading at the very swank Green Mill. (Really wish we could've stayed for the slam. Alas, given the um, circumstances, it wasn't an option!)

And I wonder if I'll ever have a moment to transcribe all the great lines I plagiarized from Gabe, Lucia, Robbie & Michael after the reading (in a gallery full of candy-pink pop-up books and other art over which I wanted to linger) in Normal, where all the students eat only pizza and hot dogs.

Ah well. These brief snippets will have to do. I do have a few more pics to post, and I've promised myself to take lots more photos on this third trip. Perhaps the weather will cooperate. Digital cameras are computers after all--they don't like rain!

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Hyperbole or totally f*cked?

I owe about 47 people approximately 83 things. By Thursday PM.

More coffee please!

PS: The security guard in the lobby is asleep. Attack now!

Sunday, October 30, 2005


A magnolia pod, on the UGA campus, Athens, GA.

UGA, Athens, GA.

Sports bar, Athens, GA. All "dawgs" all the time.

More magnolias.

Detour through Great Smoky Mountains National Park, somewhere near the NC/TN border.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Safety Orange Awards

Jen & I have decided to give Safety Orange Awards in various categories to the outstanding folks & cities we've visited on our tour. Stay tuned. They'll be announced shortly after our homecoming reading on November 12 here in NYC.

Every day there's a Creeley memorial...in my mind.

So I'm going to this TODAY and you should too:

Reb Livingston, Max Winter & Rob Ostrom
Saturday, October 29 at 2:00
Four-Faced Liar
165 West 4th Street (near 6th Ave.)

Take the B/D/F/V or A/C/E to West 4th. Map.

Friday, October 28, 2005

How freqy are you?

Reb Livingston, Max Winter & Rob Ostrom are so freqy that they're reading opposite the Creeley memorial tomorrow. Well, kids. One can't be everywhere at once. I'll be at Frequency with the aforementioned superstars and my pals Shafer and Sam. (The memorial reading starts at 1PM; Frequency starts at 2PM. So come on over when you can't find a seat! The Freq is always free and we have a bar.)

Jen Knox is also reading tomorrow, with Katie Degentesh, for the Segue series at the Bowery Poetry Club, a little after the Creeley memorial. (4PM) Gonna try to catch that too. Details here.


Heh heh. S'long jackass.

Things I learned on my book tour

Still haven't had time to report on the last few cities of the tour-so-far. Too much to do to catch up after being away so long. Probably I'll get to it sometime this weekend. But here're a few things I picked up along the way, in case you find them useful.

1. Wisconsin is the only state in which I have ever been accused of not drinking enough. Tip: Hold an empty bottle and pretend to drink unless you want somebody to force one on you or find you suspicious.

2. The Midwest is much more lax about speeding and other traffic violations than the South and Northeast.

3. Mars Cheese Castle[*]

4. There are indeed plenty of reasons to visit Muncie, Indiana. (Peter Davis being one of the most compelling.)

5. It is possible to burn one's mouth on a salad.

6. Rest stops are the creepiest places on the planet, daytime, nighttime, no matter. Even a Burger King with an out-of-order toilet and no TP is better.

7. Midwesterners (except Chicagoans) like their pizza on a thin crispy crust, and cut it into little squares, even from a round pie.

8. There's a big difference between a poet performing and the host just talking...and talking...and talking. And if there are more than five rules, and the explication of these rules requires several minutes plus multiple signs, it's probably not possible to have any fun.

9. There is not a single available parking space anywhere in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

10. 7 hours is about as much driving as I can personally perform before I start to hallucinate.

11. Gabriel Gudding did not study martial arts for nothing.

12. I thought EVERYBODY read Ron Silliman's blog. Turns out, I underestimated!

*[This post has not been modified, but I have since gone vegan. Yeah, I miss cheese, but this book has made it nearly painless!]

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Home is where the decent coffee is...

...among other things.

Got back to Brooklyn around 5:00 yesterday. Whew! Roadweary, but glad to be here.

Reports on Milwaukee, Chicago, and Normal to come, with perhaps a few photos. (Didn't take many. The rain and cold meant I had umbrellas and scarves and coats to carry.)

In the meantime, Gabe Gudding has posted a brief report on our Normal reading (which was lots of fun) here.

More more more later. Gotta get to the freelance desk.

We'll be around here till November 4, when we leave for the West Coast!

Monday, October 24, 2005

General American vs. Texas Smoothvoice

Thanks to Geof Huth, for pointing to my MiPo MP3 poems!

UPDATE: Oops. Link fixed. Sorry about that. And hello from Normal! No time to blog about Milwaukee and Chicago yet. Might have to wait till I get home or tomorrow night, when we don't have a reading. Now's naptime, see?

Ball U Daily News...

...with a follow up to the "National Tour Stops in Muncie" teaser article in last Wednesday's paper, here.

Greetings from Oak Park! More later. We go to Normal today to see Gabe & co.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Funcie, IN

Had perhaps a little too much fun in Muncie last night. Ouch. "If one does shots, they should always be tequila," said someone who looked and talked a lot like me.

But the MT Cup reading was fantastic--lots of students, lots of laughing, lots of books sold for gas money. Peter Davis is tons of fun and an excellent host. If he invites you, jump at the chance to visit Muncie.

No coffee yet...or at least none that counts. Gotta go get that, and do two class visits before we hit the road for Milwaukee. Jen's a star there, so that will be fun times ten. Later.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Hopping off TomHop...

...who in turn is hopping off me!

Take a peek at Tom Hopkins' short story beginning with a line from my poem "Will That Be All, Mrs. Kickboxer" here.

Tom gave me that title for the chapbook challenge which grew into Down Spooky. I wrote the poem, now he writes a story. Delightfully dizzying!

(The multitalented Mr. Hopkins is also subbing at Jen's job and parrot-sitting Gobi while we are away. Thanks, T! Would you like anything from Indiana? Wisconsin? Illinois?)

The Red Roof Inn really has a red roof...

...and we are in Ann Arbor, where last night we read at Shaman Drum. Ray's intro was magnificently flattering and funny and had some vampires in it and I wish I had a copy to show you. He's the best, and doesn't even make a mess when eating buffalo wings. The store was dreamy--the poetry section is bigger than my Brooklyn bedroom, which is small for a bedroom, but big for a poetry section. I got The Collected Poems of Ted Berrigan right away, because I might read some of those along with my own stuff for the NPR station in Normal.

Met Joshua Edwards of Canary fame. (Thanks for coming, Josh!) And a good crown of UMich students and one dude in the back who laughed so loud at Jennifer's poems he made the 14-hour drive completely worth it.

Thanks to everybody who came out and bought books. And if you missed it, we each signed a stack that Ray says he will handsell to you convincing you that's the only way to prove the existence of your human soul.

Gotta go. Muncie, here we come. Will Jen read her Muncie Man poems? Only one way to find out.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

We're off...again...

First, thanks to all of you who came out to Cornelia Street last night. It was a treat to discover Michael Montlack's poems live and in person, and to read with David, whose final Paris poem-in-progress was a wonder of "At the time" and "In Retrospect" call-and-response. (I hope to read it again soon, and take a peek at some of the collages he's been working on.)

Working a half day today and picking up Jen this afternoon. Here's the schedule for the Midwest. If you're out there somewhere, please come say hello!

May not represent actual highway route. I'd need to add little cop cars with flashing lights for maximum accuracy.

Second leg: Ann Arbor, Muncie, Milwaukee, Chicago & Normal

ANN ARBOR, MI: Wednesday, October 19 at 7:00 PM
With Jennifer L. Knox
Shaman Drum Bookshop
311-315 S. State Street

MUNCIE, IN: Thursday, October 20 at 8:00 PM
With Jennifer L. Knox
Ball State University
MT Cup
1606 W University Ave
(765) 287-1995

MUNCIE, IN: Friday, October 21 at 10:00 AM & 11:00 AM
With Jennifer L. Knox
Ball State University
Class visits

MILWAUKEE, WI: Saturday, October 22 at 1:00 PM
Booksigning (no reading) with Jennifer L. Knox
Broad Vocabulary
2241 S. Kinnickinnic
(414) 744-8384

...and later that night...

MILWAUKEE, WI: Saturday, October 22 at 10:00 PM
Reading with Jennifer L. Knox with music by DJ Flavor Dav
Cafe Lulu
2265 S. Howell Ave.
(414) 294-5858

CHICAGO, IL: Sunday, October 23 at 7:00 PM
With Jennifer L. Knox
Green Mill Cocktail Lounge
4802 N. Broadway Ave.
(773) 878-5552
$6 cover
We're featuring at this open slam. Come early to sign up!

NORMAL, IL: Monday, October 24 at 8:00 PM
With Jennifer L. Knox
Illinois State University
Beaufort Street
Center for the Visual Arts
University Galleries Room 110
(309) 438-5284

(We might be recording some poems for the local NPR affiliate in Normal, too. Stay tuned for details.)

UPDATE: I just want to show off this poster below, which one of the students at Watkins College of Art & Design in Nashville made for our visit there during the last trip. Isn't it fantastic?! We totally felt like rock stars. Jen signed them all "Good Luck in Prison." Unfortunately I've misplaced the designer's name, so I can't give her proper credit.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Soft Skull blog, yo.

Dear blogosphere,

Soft Skull Press now has a blog. I am ahooting and ahollering between shouting "well, it's about time, dagnabbit." I know you are too.

So you should probably bookmark it, and email it around, and link it up in your blogroll right now, so you don't forget. And check in all week, since Richard Nash has promised lots of dynamic lit dish re: the Frankfurt Book Fair and its attendant internationally bookish madness. Just think of him as our own Hunter Thompson, our fearless publisher on the loose in Europe, clad in his leather pants, sporting his wild curls and sexy Irish accent.

Now, who'd wanna miss that?


Review of Down Spooky

Been too busy to breathe, or even read your blogs (and O how I miss you all!), but Peter Davis just shot me an email to say Ron Silliman reviews Down Spooky today!

Wow. Now that's what I call a real kick in the pants. Thanks, Ron, for your wonderfully generous reading and for your support, which means the world.

Oops. Cornelia Street reading starts at 6:00 tonight!

Thanks to all of you who came out (and bought books!) at the Ear Inn and Four-Faced Liar yesterday!

Yesterday I got word that the reading tonight is actually at 6:00, not 6:30. (Though I suspect the Cornelia Street Cafe is no different than most NYC venues and the actual start time will be at little later than announced? One hopes. I work till 6:00, but I guess I'll leave a little early.)

NEW YORK, NY: Monday, October 17 at 6:00 PM
Shanna Compton, David Lehman & Michael Montlack
Cornelia Street Cafe
New York Quarterly Series
29 Cornelia Street
New York, NY
$6 admission also buys a drink

Hope to see some of you there, before Jen & I hit the road again tomorrow. Whee!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Now even more blogrollicious!

Please welcome Steve Roberts with whom I read yesterday. He's a swell fellow, and you just might see a DIY chapbook by him soon.

And stop by and say howdy to Clay Banes, who will be hosting Jen and me in Berkeley in a few weeks, at Pegasus Books.

Curtis Petty, whom we met in Nashville at Watkins College of Art & Design has hung his shingle here.

Finally, take a peek at Oliver East's Rolling Stock Press, a DIY chapbook operation out of Manchester, England. Oliver's also being added to the resource links at the other blog.

If I've missed you, shoot me an email or comment below.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Gringo radio!

Who ever said Friday was a slow news day?

MiPo Radio is also podcasting Jennifer's poems from A Gringo Like Me, also recorded by Laurel when we were in Atlanta. If you've not had a chance to hear her perform live, now you can. Note: she ain't worksafe.

CLICK HERE to hear Jennifer L. Knox read "Reticence in the Afterglow of a Powerfully Frisky Fit," "And Now a Message from the Sea Horses Whinnying in our Mailbags," "Hot Ass Poem," and "The Role of Taffy" from A Gringo Like Me, Soft Skull Press, 2005.

Me in MiPo

The new issue of MiPoesias is up, guest-edited by the incomparable Tom Beckett. What a cool surprise! I thought it wouldn't be ready till January.

Contributors include fellow bloggers Nick Piombino, Amy King, Jonathan Mayhew, Jilly Dybka, Eileen Tabios, Jukka-Pekka Kervinen, Alex Gildzen, Br. Tom Murphy, Jean Vengua, Stephen Vincent, and many more! Lunch-break reading for at least a week.

And I've got four poems in there, all accompanied by MP3 recordings (in which you can hear the jangling tags of Dave the Dog). Plus an interview conducted by the lovely Miss Laurel. Grab your headphones and check those here.

Thanks again to Tom, Didi, Laurel, and everybody else at MiPo! It's a treat to be a part of the amazing groove y'all got going on.

Ki-ki-ri-ki! Some kindly crowing...

...from the Crucial Rooster.

Thanks, Reb! You're one wily journalist. Had I been aware you were in rooster mode, I would have bribed and schmoozed you, plied you with complimentary mezzes. Wink nudge.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Doings in DC...

...as captured en foto by (the fiercely fun and fantastically funny) Reb Livingston.

I'll add my own report and more tour highlights as soon as I wake up from this stupor and remember the English language.

Home again, home again, jiggedy jig

Just got back to the house about an hour ago. Jen drove bravely through the torrential rain all morning, unruffled by the second speeding ticket. (I got popped pretty good yesterday near Bristol, VA. OUCH! That really digs into the booksale money.)

But we're safe and sound in Brooklyn, if somewhat sleepy and damp.

More soon...

Monday, October 10, 2005

Minor snag

Woke up really early this a.m. with a sniffly-sneezy thing so took some Advil Cold & Sinus, but on an empty stomach which made me totally sick right in the middle of our class this morning.

Missed lunch and took a power nap. Feeling better. Jen's bringing me some soup. Gotta shake it off before the rest of today's stuff!

Adam with his fake mustache* & Jilly who loves circus freaks...

...have posted reading reports about the festival yesterday. (Thanks, y'all! Fanstastic to meet you in person.)

This morning we'll be visiting a class at Watkins, then having lunch with Nancy Roche, then a Q&A at 4:15 and reading at 5:15.

After a little more than a week of this travel, I can't help thinking that I am glad this is one of our final mornings of in-room hotel coffee. The creep (creamer powder) is ineffective, and is mostly corn syrup solids.

I guess it's a Monday thing too, but I've already started thinking about all the things I have to do when we get back...before we leave again on the 18th.

*See his Blogger profile photo.

Sunday, October 9, 2005

Strategy meeting for the Southern Festival of Books

this is an audio post - click to play

"Joy in the Life of Words"...

...is how our reading at the Southern Festival of Books here in Nashville this afternoon has been billed. In Davidson, NC we appeared as "Two Tall Poets." Hey, I'm just glad folks are showing up. You can call us whatever you like.

Been in Nashville since late Friday night. We drove from Davidson in solid rain, through the Appalachians--gorgeous, fog rising off the trees. Stopped and got some apples and hoop cheese[*] at a place just before we crossed the TN state line. We detoured through Pigeon Forge, TN, of Dollywood fame (and Louise Mandrell's Theater) where we stopped at Huck Finn's Restaurant for all-we-could-eat catfish[*], chicken[*] & sides. Yum. "Can I get you some more chicken or fish, baby?" asked Sheila the waitress, pretty much singing it like a twangy old song. Huck Finn's is the restaurant the Cracker Barrel wishes it were. The guitar player was pretty good too, though I preferred the old stuff and the rest of the dining room seemed to like the contemporary covers.

Yesterday we had some barbecue[*] at Jack's downtown. We tried to go to Arnold's but they were closed--maybe today. We also hit Hatch Show Print--amazing letterpress and art printing of show posters, tee shirts, postcards, etc. They have a shop online too: right here. Hoping to meet fellow bloggers A. D. Thomas and Jilly Dybka at the festival later.

The first hotel we had here in Nashville, a cheapy deal, turned out to be a little too cheapy deal. YUCK. And I was almost eaten by a pitbull in the parking lot of the liquor store on Dickerson. So we moved over the Hotel Preston, a giant improvement, and we're moving over to the Millennium Maxwell house this afternoon, where Watkins College of Art & Design has been generous enough to get us a swanky room. We're doing a q&a and reading at Watkins tomorrow. Then we're off again Tuesday morning for the nation's capital to see Maureen, Sandra, Carly, and maybe hopefully Reb & Deborah for the last stop on this leg.

Also--we just added Normal, IL to the second leg, for Monday, October 24. Details to come. (Thanks, Gabe!)

*[This post has been modified because I have since gone vegan. If I can do it after formerly eating like this, anyone can. Wow.]

Thursday, October 6, 2005

Wanna go to Nashville?

this is an audio post - click to play

Busting the Audioblogger cherri

this is an audio post - click to play

Jon Lovitz is on teevee and we are in Davidson, NC

[10:16 AM] Whew! Not much time for bloggin' in Athens, GA. After a great Monday night reading at Emory University, we had some barbecue[*] and deafeningly loud blues with Bruce and Laura, then jumped in the car and headed for Danielle's, punchy as hell. We threatened to audioblog, but it seemed too much trouble to find the phone. Highlight from the reading: Jen says, "I've never read in a library before. In fact, I've never been in a library before. That's why my poems are like this."

Little Hazel wowed us with her newborn beauty, and while she and D went for their mommy and baby adjustments, Jen & I went vintage shopping downtown. We had some incredible food at Wilson's: chicken[*] and dressing, green beans, yellow squash, catfish[*], yams, collard greens, unsweet iced tea. We also visited the campus of the University of Georgia, where the administration building's facade read "DANTE. GOETHE. ETC. ETC. SHAKSPEARE." Jen went into to ask about it. "Just a really expensive mistake, that missing E," he admitted. The magnolias were amazing. The bartender across the street, fence-post dumb. Jen: "You know, if you gave us a 5 and five ones instead of a 10, we could tip you." He: "Uh, that's okay." So be it, dawg.

The reading at Little King's Club was fun and the dudes playing bluegrassy alt country (banjo!) afterward were really really great, kept cracking jokes about playing spirituals in celebration of Rosh Hoshana. Apparently the AC was so loud during my reading people had trouble hearing until they cut it off, despite the sound system. But the place was huge--exposed brick, big windows, nice chairs, big wooden tables. A similarly sized space in Brooklyn would have been either impossible or packed with 4 times as much furniture. Two beers = under 5 bucks. And [dark vegan*] chocolate eyeballs.

Yesterday we arrived in Davidson just in time to drop our stuff at the hotel and head to the first of two Q&As with students. Did another one at 4:00. Then [veggie*] sushi. Then a performance workshop at 10:00. The students seemed mostly intersted in slam-style performance poetry, so I wasn't much help. Jen carried that one, for sure. I was really a zombie by that time anyway. Alan Michael Parker is a brilliant teacher (and writer), and he's really working us, making the most of our time here. It's fun though. The students have been terrific--great questions. I got two today that stumped be however, from AMP: 1) After the visit, what follow up questions would you expect students to have about anything you've said here in the last two days and/or your book, and 2) what questions do you hope students would be asking themselves after reading your book/after your visit. Uh, yeah. My brain turned to instant pudding. No negative capability left in that there bucket, kids. [Feel free to give it a stab yourself in the coment box below. I said I'd phone it in.]

[4:28 PM] We're on a break now, after another class today at 1:00. We've got a dinner at 6:00 and the reading at 7:30. It's a kinda odd--though obviously pleasing--experience to see people walking around with our spanking new books under their arms (it's a very small school) and our faces are plastered on posters all over campus. We find this sort of hilarious. [Also worth a chuckle? My new one-star Amazon review. Thanks for your opinion, man. It means so much to me.]

There's an ABC Liquors, a Coin King Laundry AND a Target all on the same road as our hotel, and rumors of a lake nearby. But it's raining in Davidson, so no pictures yet. The campus is beautiful--the original buildings more and a century and a half old--and we were encouraged to fondle a Rodin (feeling his handprints in the musculature) in the brand new art building, guarded by Herb's Balls. The whole experience makes me wonder the following: if I hadn't learned to do my own laundry in college, would I be the same poet I am now?

Hey, it's my little sister's birthday today. Happy birthday, Camron!

*[This post has been modified because I have since gone vegan. Another old post that proves if I can do it, anybody can.]

Monday, October 3, 2005

Bubba's in Charlotte

Oh, and we had piles of pork with a perfect spicy-vinegary sauch for lunch yesterday at Bubba's Barbecue in Charlotte, NC. A completely accidental and totally yummy discovery. WOW.

*[This post has not been modified, but I have since gone vegan. Another old post that proves if I can do it, anyone can.]

Greetings from sunny Atlanta

We spent the first night on the road with Clover & Cochran near Goshen Pass, VA. (That's not the right town name--but Jen's asleep.) Lots more fun than a roadside motel, what with the screened porch, the burgers, the beer, and the huskies, and the river beavers. (Also got to peek at Clover's studio--her work really knocked me out.)

Then yesterday, we drove on into Atlanta, where we're staying with Laurel, her hubby, her cat Hassle, and Dave the dog. The reading at Java Monkey was tons of fun; the open mic was packed and the crowd and participants were about as a diverse a group as I have ever witnessed. Bruce made it over and we also got to meet the lovely and talented Laura, whose giggles were totally contagious. If you're ever down this way, drop by to say hello to Kodac Harrison (and bring a couple of poems).

Gas prices are murderous, as high as $3.09 and that doesn't even include a free car wash. I did notice the pay-at-the-pumps offering the opportunity to donate to the Red Cross for hurricane relief.

Today we're hanging out with Laurel and tonight Danielle joins us at Emory University for the next reading. We brought the first copies of her book with us in the electric blue Chevy Cavalier. Can't wait to show it to her.

Photos to come.

Saturday, October 1, 2005

We're off...

(May not represent actual highway route.)

First leg: Atlanta, Athens, Davidson, Nashville, DC

DECATUR, GA: Sunday, October 2nd at 8:00 PM
With Jennifer L. Knox
Java Monkey
205 Ponce de Leon Ave. #5
Decatur, GA 30030

ATLANTA, GA: Monday, October 3rd at 7:30 PM
A triplet with Danielle Pafunda & Jennifer L. Knox
Emory University
Joseph W. Jones Room
Woodruff Library
540 Asbury Circle
Atlanta, GA 303022

ATHENS, GA: Tuesday, October 4th at 7:00 PM
A triplet with Danielle Pafunda & Jennifer L. Knox!
VOX Reading Series
Little Kings Club
223 Hancock Avenue
Athens, GA

DAVIDSON, NC: Wednesday, October 5th at 1:30 PM, 4:30 PM, 10:00 PM
With Jennifer L. Knox
Davidson College
Class visit, Q&A, and performance workshop
Davidson, NC 28035

DAVIDSON, NC: Thursday, October 6th at 7:30 PM
With Jennifer L. Knox
Davidson College
C. Shaw Smith Room
Alvarez College Union
Davidson, NC 28035
More info: 704-894-2202
(Also a workshop and some other stuff. Details to come!)

NASHVILLE, TN: Saturday, October 8th
With Jennifer L. Knox
Southern Festival of Books
(We will just be wandering around the festival this day.)

NASHVILLE, TN: Sunday, October 9th at 3:30 PM
With Jennifer L. Knox
Southern Festival of Books
Tennessee Performing Arts Center
Poetry & Drama Stage
505 Deaderick Street
Nashville, TN 37243

NASHVILLE, TN: Monday, October 10 at 5:15 PM
With Jennifer L. Knox
Watkins College of Art & Design
Brownlee O. Currey Gallery
2298 Metrocenter Blvd.
Nashville, TN 37228
More info/directions: 615.383.4848

WASHINGTON, DC: Tuesday, October 11 at 7:00 PM
With Jennifer L. Knox
Chapters Bookstore
445 11th St., N.W.
Washington, DC 20004

Friday, September 30, 2005

At last!

A Google searcher seeking "spooky poems."

Breakfast, by the way...

...is what I shall make for you if you are housing us during the tour. Rise and shine, y'all. Because I am a whiz in the kitchen.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Scanning the illustrations...

...for an upcoming SSP book, and I just can't resist.

I still need to clean up the edges, but aren't these great? BIG thanks to Archie Rand.

I really really hope...

...to meet this goat in Georgia.

Friday & Saturday...

we'll be packing and getting on the road, so I'm gonna miss this. But you should go.

A Benefit for Hurricane Katrina [& Rita] relief efforts

Friday from 6:00 PM at the Bowery Poetry Club
Saturday from 1:00 PM at the Poetry Project at St. Marks Church

Performers include [at the BPC] Anti-Folk scene, Amiri and Amina Baraka, Marc Ribot, New Orleans poet Kalamu ya Salaam, Eric Bogosian, Dean Bowman, Bob Holman, Anne Waldman, Peter Stampfel, Sonny Boy, John Kruth, Suheir Hammad, Willie Perdomo, Reverend Jen, A Brief View of the Hudson, Kevin Powell, Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou, The Georgettes, Beau Sia, Taylor Mead, The Howl, Jose Angel Figueora, Ewuare Osayande, Wallace Rooney, the O'Debra Twins, Third Party (Say Word?!?), and Surf Burlesque hosted by Miss Angel Drake featuring Liz Maher, Sarabella, Nasty Canasta, Bunny Love, Belle Morte and Velocity Chylde, and [at the PoProj] Toni Morrison, Cecil Taylor, Yusef Komunyakaa, Dael Orlandersmith, Anne Waldman, Denize Lauture, Suheir Hammad, Roger Kamenetz, Steve Cannon, Bill Martin, Eddie Bobé, Moira Crone, Hal Sirowitz, Patricia Spears Jones...and many more.

There's gonna be a book sale too, featuring donated books from a mess o' presses, including Soft Skull. Check both sites for more details!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

My to-do list...

...is as long as I am tall.

If you need something from me before October 12, speak now kids. The slippage is astounding.

I think Jen & I will be able to report a bit from the road. Maybe not with photos tho. My laptop + dialup = $#%*&@!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Monday, September 26, 2005


Down Spooky is now available for purchase from Amazon!

You can also order it directly from Winnow.

Bookstores and libraries may order it from Baker & Taylor.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

REMINDER: Tonight!

(Click for larger view.)

The very first copies of Jen's book are coming from the printer this week arrived yesterday! Hope to see you there.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Go, Jason!

Jason Schneiderman is featured in Robert Pinksy's poetry column in the Washington Post. (If you can't click through, you'll have to set up a username/password.)

Good news & bad news

Good: Rita has been downgraded to a 3

Good: S's family is safely all out of the Beaumont area and creeping steadily toward the DFW area

Bad: Rita's turned east and is heading straight for their homes

If you are, like I am, sick-unto-loathing of those doomsday freaky CNNers and their ilk, maybe try the Weather Channel. They are slightly less punch-in-the-facey.

Or check out this meteorologist's (whose early resignation was just accepted by his network--so many talk shows, so little time!) site which explains in detail his theories concerning the Yakuza mafia, a Soviet secret weather machine, and weather-related catastrophes as "inside jobs."

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Dear Texas,

Brother-in-law, sister-in-law, their two kids, her mother and her grandmother evacuating now. Not sure about S's parents yet* or any of his uncles or grandparents. (S is in Chicago for work today but will be home this evening.) Technically, their towns (Kountze, Silsbee) lie just beyond the outer rim of the "at risk" area, even for a Category 5. They are north of the main flooding zone, above I-10. But that's too big a gamble.

My mom and my sister and her family are much further north (Arlington, Temple) and are not in any danger.

*UPDATE: S just got a message that his mom & her husband are heading for Dallas.*

*UPDATE: S's dad and stepmother are also heading north, probably to my mom's.*

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Walt Whitman's amazing expanding beard

I went to see this on my lunchbreak yesterday, because I am a sucker for manuscripts/handwritten letters/faded photos/ephemera and as a saint of the DIY, WW is a giant in my personal pantheon.

His cursive script is as expansive as his line, and I had to wonder if his training as a printer/typesetter and the 9 x 11 trim size (guestimate, I couldn't measure through the plexicubes) of the first several editions inspired or freed up his charateristic long line--"the longest lines of blank verse ever published to that date," according to the program. He ranged all over the page and very infrequently resorted to indenting a wrapped line--not something he could have done in a smaller book (and he designed most editions of the books himself, and all the frontispieces and title pages, covers, spines, bindings)--a physical consideration I'd not entertained before, but it occured to me immediately when I saw the books.

He never considered anything finished. Retitling. Rewriting. Pasting revised forewords, prefaces and new or rewritten poems right into his own copies of the printed and bound books. Layers and layers of them, pasted sheer sheets in shades of cream and brown. His inkings are sure, and even his penciled documents confidently scribbled. No hesitation in that hand. First words as bold as later crossings out.

His handwriting increased in size and flourish as he grew older. He wrote his mother letters of several pages, filled front and back, with inky meandering, boasting, and stories. Oh how the man could boast and bluster. A truly beautiful thing. And in the portraits how his beard grew and grew and grew.

In Elkton, Maryland, newspaper Whitman ran an ad that falsely claimed he'd been seated next to Abraham Lincoln on the night of the assassination, hoping to drum up a bigger audience for his Lincoln lecture that evening.

Whitman was the first to refer in writing to baseball as "the American sport." He loved the game.

In William D. O'Connor's copy of the 1855 edition, there's a penciled underline on page 29, beneath the line "The scent of these arm-pits is aroma finer than prayer." And in the margin to the left, two penciled exclamation marks: !!

Other attractions include an original edition of Ulysses [comparitively yawny, I've seen the MSS in Texas (of all places wink)], some DH Lawrence MSS on Whitman, a terrific photo of Sylvia Beach & James Joyce once owned by the lady herself. Lowlight: a manic, annoying stage-whispering woman imploring her husband over and over and OVER for a credit card which he refused to relinquish. Walt stared her down from every wall and won.

Go see it.

Something by Sharon Olds I wish I wrote.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Austin alert

Oops. AWP 2006 slightly overlaps with the infamous SXSW music/film festival.

If you are going to the conference, and want a convenient room downtown, I'd book now. The Hilton still has rooms in the conference block as of this morning. A couple of other places I would have preferred are either all booked up or not accepting reservations this early (puzzling, but true).

Monday, September 19, 2005

Note to self:

Don't get me wrong. I love men. I like baseball. Even the spam has grown on me.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Note to self:

Psst! You're paying attention to all the wrong things!


In the American Tree, edited by Ron Silliman [I got through all of "West" on vacation and have been slower due to so many interruptions since I got back, just entering "East." And here is what I want to know: Why in my 10 yrs of formal literature/writing education I was never assigned this book rather than the freaking Norton for the 10th time? Huh?]

My Life by Lyn Hejinian. [See question above.]

The Manikin by Joanna Scott [A gothicky romance in the gothicky romance tradition, but with her own stamp. A creepy old mansion filled with eccentric millionaire dames, quirky subversive servants, lots and lots of freaky taxidermied animals including a totemic snowy owl, and young gothicky romantic ladies flirting with the love that dare not speak its name and overcome with a parallel desire to be modern. Not as taken with this one so far as by her Fading, My Parmacheene Belle but here, too, her sentences are wonders. Sniffy little scents of Henry James.]

The Best American Poetry 2005

And I just finished Hard-Boiled Wonderland & the End of the World by Haruki Murakami. [I enjoyed it greatly, though the contortions to which he had to resort because of his decision to use only nameless characters were kinda grating. And it was not as asskicking as The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, if you will permit me such a hifalutin critical term.]

Friday, September 16, 2005


I have reluctantly resigned from my beloved indie press, for which I simply do not have enough time and attention to spare anymore. I will always be a Soft Skuller in my heart, but officially, I will just be finishing up the books I have already started and am privileged to work on: debut poetry books by CAConrad, Ron Palmer, Danielle Pafunda, Jennifer L. Knox--all of which are just almost out--and two collaborative projects with enough poetry all-stars to make your head spin. (We're, sigh, they're doing an American edition of Christian Bok's Eunoia next spring, too, so it won't be 25 bucks to import from Canada anymore, hooray.) Then it's on to new projects. I'm not saying what...yet.

I hope you will all continue to support SSP's brave, essential, culture-broadening indie projects in fiction, political nonfiction, memoir, children's books, and the little bit of insanely excellent poetry the press will continue to contribute to the scene!

Update: This means, actually, that I will still be working for SSP as an editor at large until sometime next year, through the publication of Saints of Hysteria.


Some of you may have noticed a retardation of the once rapid rate of reading reportage here at the blog formerly and still sometimes known as Brand New Insects. There are several reasons for this, one being I have been too busy to go to many lately, another being the summer season is traditionally slight for such events, and another being an uncomfortable scrutinizing of reported events, the fishbowl or big picture window effect.

So I was gonna report on the Tarpaulin Sky reading I saw last weekend but then didn't. I was gonna say how I enjoyed all of the readers, particularly the amazing Mrs. Staples who read a poem with an epigraph from one of my poems and what a blush-pooling-in-the-dimples wonderful surprise that was and Michael Gottlieb's long catalog-copy list poem re: September 11, 2001 which took a thread of American consumerism and teased it into an actual emotional tangle. It was an object object object chant until some human beings human being human beings got collated in toward the end. I was choked up by catalog copy! The kind I write everyday!

I was not going to report on the reading last night since everybody knows who was there and nothing "off-book" happened but might as well. Everybody read the one poem in the volume except Ashbery who read his contribution as well as one new unpublished poem that I think I would have enjoyed had I not been busy thinking "I'm next I'm next I'm next." It was a lovely evening, despite an attack of nerves. Apparently the larger the group of poets the more panicky I feel and this is perhaps, in addition to the availability of social lubricants on tap, why I prefer venues like Pete's or the Four-Faced Liar. Still, a wonderful occasion, very ceremonious if somewhat chilly and luckily I had Jason Schneiderman (and his poem "Moscow") to snuggle and Paul Muldoon could read the telephone book and make it sound like a best American poem. He read Donald JUSTICE's weird little poem and it's a weird little poem. Edward Field's poem about his prostate brought down the house. The audience totally loved Stacey Harwood's poem "Contributor Notes" and told her so. Susan Wheeler impersonated her mother. Speaking of mothers, Vicki Hudspith, reading her poem "Ants," looked like a younger version of mine who is gorgeous and that's a frivolous thing to say, but I can't help remarking. Matthew Yeager's poem about a very large ball of foil was terrific and my nonpoet sister's favorite. I could only see the top of Marilyn Hacker's glasses over the podium from where I was sitting in the front row. A small personal posse went with me out for Mexican after skipping further officiousness. I regret not getting my book signed by everyone but there's only so much a girl can manage while doing her best not to pass out or slip on her new heels (like she did outside of the 4th floor restroom) in front of American Poetry. Jennifer Michael Hecht is glowing, so you know what that means, and she said she knows Anthony Bourdain, another of my chef crushes so he knows I gotta thing for him because I admitted it in my backofbook note.

And also I went to see the Million Poems show this week, but you should read Drew's report. Drew left out that we had planned in advance to go all Jerry Springer and I was supposed to cry on cue and maybe throw a chair. I thought Jordan's tale of circling round and round Ithaca but being unable to reach it was quite simply mythological. Oh, and my curse word was "c*ntweeds" but that's not actually my favorite. That's a secret. [expurgated]'s was "d*uchebag." Somebody wrote "pigf*cker" and another person wrote "c*oter" which Jordan didn't seem to know was the same as "p*ssy"--I think it must be regional, I have only heard one other person say this. One of Anselm's onthespot lines was something like "I was so upset by having to write a line containing the word 'c*nt'...[long pause]...that I thought of [expurgated]." And I have to agree about Leslie Mendelson and wonder why I didn't buy her CD and spend all night reminiscing about the old days in my room singing along to Olivia Newton John whom I then wanted to grow up to be so much that I saw Grease 14 times.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Last night

Launch reading & celebration for The Best American Poetry 2005
Hosted by guest editor Paul Muldoon & series editor David Lehman

With readings by Shanna Compton, Elaine Equi, Edward Field, Leonard Gontarek, George Green, Marilyn Hacker, Matthea Harvey, Stacey Harwood, Jennifer Michael Hecht, Vicki Hudspith, Sarah Manguso, D. Nurkse, James Richardson, Jerome Sala, Jason Schneiderman, Susan Wheeler & Matthew Yeager

Tishman Auditorium
New School University
66 West 12th Street
7:00 PM

UPDATE: The event is free for New School faculty, staff & STUDENTS with IDs.

Also, I just heard that Mary Karr and a special surprise guest whose name rhymes with Fawn Lashtarry will also be reading.

I will be onstage for approximately a minute and a half, so please don't worry if you can't make it. I promise you will get SICK of hearing me read this fall. :)

Monday, September 12, 2005

Across Sick





Note to self:

Every statement is a manipulation.

Moral outrage is exaggerated self-confidence.


There seems to be some kink in the supply line. And not the fun kind of kink.

In other news, happy anniversary to the robot, my favoritest blog.

In other news, the news is still unbearable and people do keep running their mouths.

In other news, I went to a fantastic reading this weekend. And forget that silly stuff I said here earlier about why I'm not blogging about it.

But, upward, onward, oh up on on.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Representative Faker

"We finally
cleaned up
public housing
in New Orleans.

We couldn't do it,
but God did."1

Frequency, now more frequent for fall than it was when it was off for the summer!

The fall Frequency Series kicks off TODAY. Tarpaulin Sky presents Robyn Art, Jen Benka, Michael Gottlieb, Heidi Lynn Staples!

And please bookmark the new site and welcome Sam Amadon as Shafer's new co-host!

Thursday, September 8, 2005

Poem Beginning with a Line by Tom Beckett

[time's up]

A decade in NYC

Next month will be the tenth anniversary of the big move. We flew an airline that has since fallen bankrupt from Austin to New York City on a crisp day in mid-October. My little sister and her boyfriend moved up from Dallas last week and while watching them navigate the torturous process of what we call acclimating to the city I can't help but think of our own first weeks here, their age and even less prepared with no family here, just a couple of friends and a mere pittance to live on while we interviewed at job after job, rented ourselves out as waiters and bartenders, were bumped from crosswalks by cabbies, schelpped books for a certain behemoth chain, lived in a tenement apartment on the lower east side with a toilet in a closet a bathtub in the kitchen and a nonworking oven with a warning tag from the gas company. Much less glamorous down there than it is these days: the pellet gun to the window I received as payback for a flip remark to a teenage neighbor I threw my Collected Auden at him but he only laughed oh and the heroine hooker on the doorstep. Yes. New York. I hated you then you made me cry and I hated you worse when you began to snow and snow and snow and the blizzard of nintey five covered everything with white until the dogs came to make their golden pissholes.

Oh city. Oh decade! Oh me.

Captured in a Caption

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Elected Despicable

didn't go
right? [Blink. Blink.]1


...to Janet & Eileen for pointing to the recent found poems. I can't believe some of the things that come out of these folks' mouths. The manner in which they [and really by "they" I mean all politicos and publicos, not just the hateful ones] empty and pervert words hurts my poet feelings.

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Give displaced kids books

Dick (without) Decorum

I mean,
you have people

who don't heed
those warnings

and then put people

at risk as a result
of not heeding those warnings.

There may be a need
to look at tougher penalties

on those who decide
to ride it out

and understand
that there are consequences

to not leaving.1

First (Class) Lady

Almost everyone I've talked to
says we're going to move
to Houston.

What I'm hearing--
which is sort of scary--
is they all want to stay in Texas.

Everyone is so
by the hospitality.

And so many of the people
in the arena here,
you know,

were underprivileged anyway,
so this--this heh heh--
is working very well for them.1

Monday, September 5, 2005


On the one hand,
they're just t1ts.

On the other hand,
they're just t1ts.

Sunday, September 4, 2005

Jesus, people!

And I do mean that literally.

Yes, the Red Cross is technically a "faith-based" operation. But I really don't think now is the time to quibble about who believes what. Personally I don't give a damn. 95,000 107,400 (and counting) people are being sheltered and mostly fed, not preached to. Good enough for me. No doubt the Red Cross volunteers are praying--terrific. Who could possibly be offended by that?

There are certainly other organizations. The important thing is to help if you can, and to do it now. The NAACP has a hurricane relief fund, for instance [also there's toll-free number on their home page], and ACORN (which already does lots of good things for NOLA and other cities) has a direct donation link up now--but their local office has been destroyed and they themselves are refugees. Here's MoveOn.org's housing effort.

PS: F*ck Pat Robertson. I'm sure God is as baffled by him as the rest of us are.