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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Noting some interviews of note

In case you are wondering 1) how Twilight Zone episodes inform contemporary poetics and/or 2) why, as a poet, you are baffled and unhappy and what you can do about it, I recommend these:

Tom Beckett's with Kasey Mohammad

Kevin Thurston's with Buck Downs

Now available: PERCAPELLA

From the foreword by Christopher Connelly:

"Applying our critical acumen to the often woefully undisciplined field of poetry was simply a challenge Mr. Nester and I could not resist. To bring the rigor of science and the grace of mathematics to the poem was our goal, and I would have to say we exceeded even the wildest of our own expectations. 'You can't have an idea that's too big!' I remember shouting to Dan at one particularly trying point during our collaboration.

"Our 'laboratory' was the dingy, dimly lit conference room of NYU's Expository Writing Program and, occasionally, a bar. Our only instruments: a virtually antique typewriter, Dan's laptop, and an illimitable ability to conduct thought experiments. Sometimes we worked with the lights off and laughed because we felt like refugee scientists developing some secret weapon that, when unleashed, might turn the tide in the war of words."

Dan & Chris signed copies of the chapbook last night in an infamous tavern in "the Village." The heady admixture of literary genius and cheap booze prompted the authors to extemporize "value-added" verbiage for most inscriptions, such as totally inappropriate come-ons, ill-advised advice, too much information, shrink recommendations, get-well wishes, and assorted illegible silliness. Who knows what your copy might say?

Get 'em while they're hot.

You will also be able to get them direct from Nester's new site real soon.

(As always, I'd love to trade ya for something you made/wrote/found on the street. Just shoot me an email.)

And yes, yes, we are working on a reading/launch party.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


A really wonderful review of LIT 10, courtesy of Chris Murray (whose own poem in the issue is stellar, too).

Thanks, Chris!

Oh, and did I mention yet: LIT now has a blog. (Many improvements to come. Stay tuned.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Can't wait...

...to go back to Maine for a long lazy vacation in August.

But now I don't have to just twiddle my thumbs at home: I get to go to Chicago for a long weekend in July. Yippee!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Half Empty/Half Full catalog

Finally getting around to putting up a catalog page for the micropress. Please bookmark it.

Percapella just needs the authors' autographs and will be ready to greet you with its sunny cover and collaborative hijinx. I will let ya know when it's ready-set-go.

Many refinements (and more projects) to come too!


An unpleasant but necessary task. I am rebuilding my email lists because when I switched over to Thunderbird I could never get the old address book to covert. (Tip: Do not clean out your inbox. Ever. You might discover that you owe apologies to half the world!)

Anyway, if you would like to be on the list(s), shoot me an email (see upper right) or leave a comment. There are two lists: one for NYC-specific stuff like readings and book parties, and one for general announcements like readings outside of NYC, new Half Empty/Half Full chaps, and other newsy bits. These are my personal lists: addresses are not shared, you will get no spam. (The Soft Skull events lists--which are totally separate--are here.)

Saturday, June 25, 2005


Take the MIT Weblog Survey

Things I learned: I practically live online. I do not like the telephone--at all. I send more emails on the average day than, oh, any sane person should. My primary reasons for starting a weblog and the way I actually use it overlap somewhat, but maybe not as much as I would have thought. The primary reason for me developing this whole site, including the blog--to teach myself some basic web design skills--was not listed as an option. There were not any questions that took evolving motivations into account. Hmm.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Green gazpacho (for Chris Murray)

I made a huge batch of this last weekend and have been slurping it daily since. I no longer remember where I got the original recipe but I'm sure I've modified it anyway. It is definitely one of my favorite chilled soups. I drink it out of a glass and have even had it for breakfast. Delicious.

Green gazpacho

2-3 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
1 green bell pepper, seeded & chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded (optional) & chopped
1 small bunch of seedless green grapes (about a 1/2 lb.)
3 scallions, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
4 slices of good [vegan*] white bread, crust removed (light wheat will work--a day-old baguette is perfect)
a small handful of chopped cilantro (1/4 cup or so)
a small handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley (ditto)
good pinch cumin
good pinch coriander
tiny pinch cayenne pepper
2 tbsp lemon juice (bout half a large lemon)
1 tbsp white wine vinegar (or more juice instead--it's fine)
1 cup vegetable or chicken broth or stock
3/4 cup plain [soy*] yogurt
salt & pepper to taste
avocado sliced or cubed to garnish

UPDATE: Oops. I forgot the [soy*] yogurt. Gotta have that!

If all this stuff is already chilled from your fridge, this could not be easier.

Run the bread under the faucet for a second and then squeeze all the water you can out of it. Slice the grapes in half (otherwise they will just spin round and round and not puree). Throw everything in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. If you like, you can reserve some of the chopped veggies and grapes to add to the puree for more texture. I like it drinkable, so I don't do that. Garnish with avocado cubes, and even some creme freche or [Better Than Sour Cream*] or hot pepper sauce if you have it. Sometimes I also add a serano or jalapeno, but I am a Texan, ya know. Serve cold!

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

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Tour update

Added Nashville & confirmed Berkeley & Santa Cruz! Woohoo.

Details (so far) on the readings page.

Update: Just added Ann Arbor too! Yay.


Nester's back...but without the b-word. Word.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Another Spooky on the loose.

Thanks, John!

And Caroline Knox writes to say she got her blurber's copies too. The ones I flung toward France (at Harry) haven't yet landed.

Complete writer-to-reader circuits are electrical, y'all. (And naturally more sparky when yr readers are so kind.)

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Just started

MFK Fisher's An Alphabet for Gourmets

Just finished

Michael Ruhlman's The Making of a Chef

Read, salivate, cook, eat. Ruhlman was transformed during his time at the Culinary Institute of America from a food writer-pretending-to-be-a-culinary-student into the real deal: a cook. The same blizzard made me wanna hightail it back to Texas in winter 95-96 served for him too as a pivotal point: he had to drive from Brooklyn Tivoli to Hyde Park on icy roads or remain "just a writer." Book's funny too--the author sneezes his way through an unfortunate flour allergy during his bakery stint. He interviews each of the lunatic chef instructors: One lived in a teepee for two years in the mountains of Colorado and sagely advises him on the importance of having a good sleeping bag. Another talks about fond de veau lie for hours. The garde manger "goddess" is a self-taught cook who talks gender roles in the ideal professional kitchen while using "y'all the way the way a writer uses a tab key to begin a new paragraph." Another admits that despite his eventual certified master chef status, right out of culinary school he was almost fired two days into his first job. During one particularly hellish service, the author finds himself diving away from a near collision with a manic chef toting fifty pounds of flaming logs in a metal tray from wood oven to grill. All of the instructors and most of the students exhibit the kind of passion for their vocation that would be absolute assholery in a banker, stock broker or marketing guru (for simple instance). Good stuff.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Yummy class

Just signed up for this.

Update: Rats. The class is canceled. Oh well.

The poet I like most but understand least:

Laura (Riding) (Jackson)

Safety first

(Last week at Mezcal's in Park Slope.)

We found a safety vest hanging near the bathroom and D convinced me to wear it while swilling margaritas.

When we left it at the table three hours later, the busboy came running out waving it: "WAIT. WAIT. You forgot your VEST!"

Friday, June 17, 2005

The Return of the Concho Belt


Just saying.

I prefer to think of my interest as overlapping.

Welcome to my bibliomania.

Trying to slim-down the bookshelves--just a little. Thinking I could stand to get rid of a few things. Yet. Yet the book-I'll-never-read-and-didn't-even-pay-money-for-and-don't-like-regardless hovers uncertainly over the box. Don't even get me started on books by Important Poet of the Past Whom I Might Just Have to Reference Quickly at Some Point in the Future but Whose Entire Collected Is Already on the Internet.

I have lovingly covered books in acetate (all hardcovers receive this treatment) that I do not believe are worth the paper they are printed on.

And how did I come to own three copies of Dylan Thomas's Collected Poems. They have different covers, that's how.

Must...drop it...in...box.

Isn't it funny?

How sentences aimed not at you hit you anyway? A magical indictment coming down from someone who doesn't even know you're alive!

Buck that shit, my friends.

I'm alive tho.

How're you?

Today is Friday and sitting by the open window is no-better-word-for-it nice.

Poetry as insurance

The summer fiction issue of The New Yorker contains an advertising insert by AIG (American International Group, Inc., an insurance company) called Well Versed: Poems for the Road Ahead: Inspiration for Young People of All Ages.

Yes, Robert Frost is in there. Guess which poem?
And Rudyard Kipling's "If."
And "First Fig" by Edna St. Vincent Millay [which I find perversely humorous].
And Rilke's "The Future."
And "Ernest Hyde" from Spoon River Anthology.

Then there are three contemporary poems (the only ones with copyright attributions) to round things out.

The only copy inside the little booklet is the poetry. Each poem is accompanied by a colorful painting. It's 5.5" square and saddle-stapled.

The copy on the back--one would think--should serve to tie together the message about just what poetry has to do with insurance. But it doesn't. "In life, there is no substitute for experience. The same goes for your money. 85 years of helping families...." Etc.

Somebody pitched what amounts to a chapbook poetry anthology to an insurance agency as a way to market their services to "young people of all ages" who read the New Yorker...and it flew.


Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Uh oh

Someone in Italy is searching my blog for "School of Quietude."

You won't find that term here! (Oh, well, I guess you will.)

A view re: reviews

I tend to just ignore or quickly dismiss the zing zing reviews, the antirecommendations, the trashings. What use? There's enough in the world to prevent me from reading already.

What I like and find useful is the piece that makes me excited about a book or author or idea or genre. Doesn't have to be all praise; don't misquote me.

What I love is when they make me change my mind. They say "don't dismiss this" in a way that makes me go "OK!"

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Viral marketing

Provoking the blogosphere's annoyance by writing that blogs are annoying...in a print journal.


Monday, June 13, 2005

Just finished

If you like New York City history, art, architecture, cursing, Irish gangsters, blue-collar tough guys, misty-eyed tales of the Old Country, Tamanny Hall, cursing, guns and gun-running for the IRA, crooked cops, gun molls, the Empire State Building, cursing, shootouts, car chases, money laundering, and mayor's girlfriend's nieces named after me, you'll LOVE Empire Rising.

Seriously, TK has written a damn excellent novel. Another friend when asked for her opinion said simply, "I can't think of anything I like better." Right on.

Your summer reading is waiting for you. (Sorry, no paperback yet.)

Ack! Pyschobilly freakout!

It was one thing to witness the Ramones lease a song to a Budweiser commercial. At least it's an unpretentious beer, and cheap.

But...Reverend Horton Heat as the soundtrack for the lastest Boston Market ad?!

Too much!

I dreamed snow.

Sunday, June 12, 2005


David: Please take care!

Jordan: Happy birthday (and feel better)

Everybody: Whatcha up to? Slow weekend here. Not much accomplished except planning stages. Feeling flat about that, or rather alternately low and high. Enjoying the faux breeze alternating with hot sunshine. Even flip-flops will give you blisters!

Friday, June 10, 2005

By the way...

I apologize to any of you who read the backsass that briefly appeared in this space yesterday. I was attempting to rib but maybe poked a little too hard. I'd had a couple of Mezcal's margaritas with Nester.

What was I saying, for those of you who missed it? Oh, just what the robot always sez better.

Pardon my drool

If you are a New Yorker and you eat meat [I no longer do*], you have the opportunity to taste my [formerly*] favorite barbecue this weekend in Madison Square Park. Skip the sausage. Skip the poultry. Go for the beef brisket. Trust me. The Salt Lick rocks.

IF you have room for seconds, get some of Ken Callaghan's Blue Smoke 'Cue. He let me tour his kitchen once and passed a quadruple-Texan taste test! His brisket is smokylicious.

(Thanks to Reen for the heads up!)

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

NOW AVAILABLE: Half Empty/Half Full Broadsides

Half Empty/Half Full created a series of limited-edition poetry broadsides featuring the work of Soft Skull poets for BEA 2005. Each is 13 x 19 on archival-quality matte watercolor paper printed with acid-free ink.

The broadsides are $6.00 each + $4.00 for Priority Shipping (for up to 4 broadsides). Please click PayPal separately for shipping charge. Thanks!

Please note: these are not letterpress broadsides. They are printed on a high-resolution ink-jet printer on heavyweight matte art stock. They most closely resemble watercolor paintings.

1. Jen Benka's "Order," from A Box of Longing with Fifty Drawers
6 copies remaining, signed & numbered. SOLD OUT!

2. CAConrad's "Poets Refine Money," from Deviant Propulsion
6 copies remaining, signed & numbered. SOLD OUT!

3. Jennifer L. Knox's "Spring and Still Some Short" from A Gringo Like Me
20 copies remaining, signed & numbered. 5 overruns (not signed). 1 defective (minor error could be trimmed or covered w/ a frame).

4. David Lehman's "Jim & Dave Defeat the Masked Man" from Jim & Dave Defeat the Masked Man
20 copies remaining, numbered (not signed).

Shipping for 1-4 broadsides via Priority Mail. (Sorry US only. Click ONCE for up to 4 broadsides.)

Tuesday, June 7, 2005


How in the world can "sad culvers" be taken to mean "erect [male] nipples"?

The thought of erect nipples as pigeons (their beaks perhaps?) is some image. Perhaps raising associations of pigeon's (or dove's) milk? Though bird milk is not milk, per se. Pigeon's milk is tied to a traditional April fool's joke. Is this a joke?

"Culvert" would make another kind of sense, being a drainage or other kind of ditch or tunnel (like the kind cows pass through under a road from one pasture to another--we call those culverts). But I suspect no mistake.

Calvers? As in that which calves. More bovines. 'Nother pasture.

Hugenormous dictionary & internet no help. Puzzling them pigeons. Move on.

Bookish abandon

Received a bouncy bounty of ordered books in the mails recently in anticipation of ACTUALLY HAVING SOME TIME THIS SUMMER TO DO SOME NONREQUIRED* READING, including Josh's new one which is my my my just astounding coming out of the envelope. There's no picture on the Spineless Books website and only minimal descriptive copy, so all my expectations were focused on what would be inside the book. But the book itself is a poetic experience. Very beautiful. Stunning even. It has a hot bod. Perhaps I will photograph it for you. Looking forward to that one very much.

Also packages of reissues and some classic (if I may) avanty theory and some MUST READS from my evergrowing new & old MUST READ LIST, which has a category for "Blogosphere General" that is a catchall for all the books that ripple through your virtual pages. I love how the books wash up to me from you. Thanks.

And still anticipating that lovely little pile from Effing. It's almost like being in love with someone who doesn't requite--pining for these books I don't yet get to read. An achy almost broken feeling but with just enough juicy bright hope. If only summer would look my way. We are meant to be.

Maybe I should retitle my list UNREQUITED READING, hmm? This is a bodice-ripping post.

Oh, soon. Perhaps when I have more time to read I will also have more to TELL YOU. Kiss kiss.

* Not in the sense of being inessential, no way; rather in the simple sense of not for work, pay, research, or other obligation. Best kind.

Sunday, June 5, 2005


1. BEA is really really boring and even annoying. Except when somebody comes to the booth and gets all excited about one or more of the books. Or when yr poets are signing their broadsides. Or when a sl0th goes by in a diaper.

2. The inventor of the Magnetic Poetry Kit is, by his own admission, "not really into poetry." Sean McNally suggests "Maybe he's just really into magnets."

3. Shafer Hall & Matthew Thorburn are still plenty poetical, even if you walk in moments after they've concluded their reading. As is Maureen Thorson, hours before her reading. Poetical is an enduring state. And it comes with chipped ice & soda!

4. Glengarry Glen Ross is [still] fantastic [again].

5. Oh, and in case you missed it Saturday:

Saturday, June 4, 2005


"...[T]here is no failing in writing, which is, after all, not really a test to be graded by others; which is, after all, a vocation/avocation of, and vacation from, externally defined Life." --Steve Tills (who's back at the Black Spring blog)

It's official: I'm an author

Friday, June 3, 2005

Spooky mojo

I will be sure to let you know (Dan) when books arrive, but I have just heard a wild tale of Texas weather that more than excuses the slight delay.

A riproaring gullywasher with a lightning whip, thunderous spurs and um hoof-sized hail galloped through Austin this week, zapping computers (via the cable connection, despite the surge protectors!), throwing trees at cars and spitting flames from household outlets for a distance of 2 ft.!

When Texas has weather, it has weather. The same storm is responsible for the lightning that set the Oasis restaurant ablaze, ripped the roof off an apartment complex in my hometown, and made a godawful mess of the purdy little city of Fredericksburg.

Property damage aside, the good folks are fine...and the spookies resting innocently in their boxes are not letting on that they'd anything to do with the storm.

So light a candle for the UPS man and have a slicker handy, because they're supposed to be shipped this way today.

Thursday, June 2, 2005

BEA kick-off party TONIGHT!

You don't have to be involved with the retail or industry sides of the bookworld to enjoy a good show...so here's the scoop on the Soft Skull/Broken Pencil BEA Kickoff Party:

Free stuff! Andy Friedman! Tennessee Jones! Derek McCormack! More!

Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

I am printing the first of the broadsides now...

& they are totally HOT!

Facing it

I don't know if this [what? feeling? complex? neurosis?] has anything to do with what Josh was saying yesterday, but Sunday was the first time I had been to "Ground Zero" since before September 11, 2001. And it was on accident, on my way to a wedding in Jersey, transferring to the Path train at the completely rebuilt WTC station (which I purposely avoided last time I went to Newark "Liberty" Airport even though it meant taking the very long way around).

From the station you can see the...well...the hole in the ground where the buildings once stood, through open meshwork panels with NYCentric slogans printed on them. You are in the fucking hole. The station is beautiful and clean and it is even sunny, airy, fresh feeling. People are snapping photos, taking video.

It hadn't occurred to me that I would be there. I stopped moving. I moved when I found the escalator beneath me. I cried. I couldn't help it. I sniffled up quickly and stood on the platform joking till the train came. I boarded the train and sat with my back to the hole. We pulled out of the station. I breathed.

On September 11, 2001 we were living in Long Island City, Queens, near the East River, with a stunning view from our kitchen of the Empire State Building and half-way down the length of Manhattan. From the waterfront park a couple of blocks away we could see all of the island. We'd been in the neighborhood a little more than a week. That's where I was standing, on Pier 4, when the towers fell and for a long time before that watching them smoulder. Crumple. First one. Then the other. No TV screen between me and it. I heard it. Smelled it. Got it in my eyes. A woman fell to her knees next to me and nobody moved to help her. We moved back to Brooklyn a few months later. I didn't want to look anymore.

I just wasn't ready to see it. I don't know if I'll ever be ready.

Can't write it either. Can hardly read it.

Ooh ooh...Oulipo!

People, you MUST have this book. Finally, the revised and updated edition of the Oulipo Compendium, edited by Harry Mathews & Alastair Brotchie is being released by Atlas Press. Click here for the details and preorder your very own for a discount!

I have the earlier out-of-print edition of this book and have photocopied it and loaned it to death. I may just order 5 right now for gifts.

What else can I say? You have no choice. Obey the Oulipo.