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Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Two years old this month, I guess. I just realized it. Thanks for your visits, comments, encouragement, and etc. I mean it.

I had a gun pulled on me in New Orleans once...

...but I also got married there. Despite your many flaws, NOLA, I love you. Goodbye Napoleon House. Goodbye Marisol. Goodbye Kaboom Books. Goodbye Central Grocery. And best of luck and wishes to your million citizens, friends, family of friends, NOLA bookfair pals, and the rest. Mississippi River, I love you too, despite. It's hard to know what else to say.

UPDATE: I know you don't need me to tell you, but I am going to anyway. If you can afford it, please click here to donate to the 2005 Hurricane Disaster Fund administered by the Red Cross.

Approaches to Needlework Theory

[Scroll down to Monday.]

I am digging this poem from No Tell Motel by Clay Matthews. I like it because I am surprised, via it, at myself--that I can tolerate a conceit so "pretty" sustained over so many lines. I'm finding I've mostly lost patience for that kind of thing because so often such threads are overdone, pushed too hard, embroidered to the point of gaudy. In this case though, I felt myself fall at first into a predisposed groove but I couldn't stay there.

A pretty personal reading and more about my prejudices than the poem, I suppose. But I like it.

Monday, August 29, 2005


The AWP panel on DIY publishing I proposed (with the help of some genius poets & writers) has been accepted.


Just added!

Jen Knox & I will be paneling and book signing at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, TN on October 8 & 9, in conjunction with our reading at Watkins College of Art & Design on the 10th. ROCK.

Also, I'll be reading with Danielle Pafunda at the Ear Inn in Manhattan on October 15. (Woohoo--class of 2002!)

And the Shaman Drum Jen-and-Shanna event in Ann Arbor, MI has moved to October 19th.

And I'll be reading for Christine Hamm's new series at the Bowery Poetry Club in Manhattan on November 16.

And again with CAConrad (whose amazing book Deviant Propulsion is coming soon!) at Lucky 13 Bar here in Brooklyn on December 4.

Eventually, all these will be put up here and of course of course I'll remind ya.


Friday, August 19, 2005

Thursday, August 18, 2005

1.5 hours left

And I am so faking it.


"Putting this anthology together has been a great pleasure, calling into play the usual range of problems, aesthetic and moral, which every editor with a conscience faces, continually, to offset his presumptuousness. Who knows why we selected whom we did? Does knowing a poet help you understand his work any better? We happen to know almost all the poets in this book (there is one we have still to meet), and most of these poets know each other as well. Obviously, as editors we're going on the assumption that these aquaintances and friendships, these sharings of tastes and affections, are going to go a long way toward giving this book a sense of solidarity. It would be facile as well as misleading to see these poets as forming a 'School,' to pass them off as a literary movement. Fortunately, most poets of any interest these days are so enlightened that they automatically reject, in their lives and work, the unhealthy idea of being part of a literary movement. Like water off a duck's back, such abstractions roll back into nothingness.

"Are New York poets new realists, or dissociated from any sympathy for the wretched of the earth? Are they drifting into a penumbra? Or do their sleek attractive surfaces glide by in the light? Have they freshened up the diatribe? Have any of their collaborations produced beautiful corpses? Are New York poets a diploma elite that buries its children? Are they merely tasting the ripest apple on the table, in the air? Is it a dereglement de tous les sens? Or has it become, peculiarly Americanized, only a 'leaving-out business,' a taking-away process? Have they generated a whole vocabulary of forms, a new sestina, new collages, cut-ups? Is it 'deep gossip'? Why have the old copula been expunged?

"Perhaps we do protest too much, but this is to prepare ourselves for the gruesome possibility of the 'New York School of Poets' label, one which has been spewed forth from time to time by some reviewers, critics, and writers either sustained by provincial jealousy or the bent to translate everything into manageable textbookese. Very few of the poets in this anthology were born in New York City, but many of them live here, and of these, many plan to leave, temporarily or otherwise. [...] The fact remains that New York has remained for all of them a fulcrum they continue to use in order to get as much leverage as possible in literature, a city where they met and continued their lives together, whether they came from Cleveland or Newark or Cincinnati or Providence or Tulsa. And although the New York School tag is an alarmingly useless one, it does remind one that many of these poets met in schools, at Harvard, Columbia, NYU, or the New School, sometimes as undergraduates taught by Delmore Schwartz or in poetry workshops taught by Kenneth Koch, Bill Berkson, or Frank O'Hara. The crisscrossing of friendships is surprising and inspiring, like telling someone to see a certain movie and, incredibly, they too like (or hate) it.


"When we had very nearly finished our selections of particular poems, we began to think about the editorial paraphenalia which ordinarily accompanies such anthologies, in the back, afterthoughts. We quickly decided that manifestoes and statements on poetics were in this case unnecessary. Besides, most of the poets in this book would probably decline, with a smile, the invitation to write anything as eternal as a manifesto. In addition to this reticence, most of us would recall Frank O'Hara's Personism manifesto with a gleeful shudder, realizing it is a hard piece to top and that it in many ways speaks for us all:

"["Personism: A Manifesto" by Frank O'Hara reprinted here.]


"[...] We will content ourselves by saying that you might find any kind of poem in this anthology; that is, there has never been any kind of hard and fast notion of how a person ought to write. If he wanted to write a sonnet he could do so without feeling that someone might look at him sideways, even if his sonnet did have fifteen lines, or fifteen thousand lines. The freedom to work with traditional forms and syntax, and the freedom to work with them freely, to use them as the Muse dictated, or to ignore them altogether, is one of the most cheerful things about these poets; with them, the idea of opposing the tradition of the old to the tradition of the new is positively ludicrous.


"[...W]e suggested an incredible number of titles, all of them useless, among which were The Heavenly Humor, Very Good Poems, Great Feats of Harmony, Great Feet of Hominy, Loomings, Ugly Ellipses, An Agreement of Poets, Malign Machinations, Shasta Daisies, Up Against the Wall, Fear Among the Legs of a Chair, Poetry Without Fear, Lyrical Bullets, Pansies Freaked with Jet, Fleurons and Tailpieces, The Understatement of the Year, Alarming Upheavals, Le Meilleure Choix de Poemes, Of Manhattan the Son, Treed Again, A Museum of Modern Poetry, Magic City, Goodbye to Strange Phantoms, Moving Rampss, City Lights, etc. But wit has its end, and we came to that end."

--Ron Padgett & David Shapiro
New York City, June 1968
An Anthology of New York Poets

Having nothing whatsoever of my own to say...*

* I used to be distressed by these blank periods. Not writing. No poems, no prose, no collaborations (sorry Emily!!), no nothing just now. But I'm not distressed. Just waiting. Have learned that these usually come just before big bubbles rise and break. I hope to have a wordless mind for most of vacation.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

This time next week

Maine Escape 2005. Just gotta make it to Friday...

Da bidness

The always charming Felicia Sullivan charmingly rants about her slush pile. Like F, I particularly relish harrassing emails from folks I've had to turn down--as well as the ones that come from folks so sure they'll be turned down they harrass me in advance! And I cherish the cranky correspondents especially that misspell my name or refer to me as "Sir." I'd also like to add to Felicia's list the Crazy: the writer who really should be seeking psychiatric treatment rather than literary recognition, and the Repeat Offender: the writer who has already been rejected so many times that an envelope with his name on it (uh, haven't met a woman who does this...yet) actually elicits groans when it arrives. I've even been commanded by one writer (from whom I was forced to accept the worst single poem I have ever published) to send multiple copies of an issue to various agents and book editors on his behalf after it was printed. As if!

Tom Hop also has a few related words of wisdom to share, from both sides of the slush.

Dear editors everywhere, you are all insane to put up with such abusive, narcissistic, delusional, pathetic, ungrateful bastards. Good on ya.

Monday, August 15, 2005

"This dress will go perfectly with my ass boots."

Writing fall fashion copy and seeing indeed lots of purples, plums and dark greens in shoes and boots for women, just as Miss Meghan predicted. (Metallics are hanging in there too.)

But I really want to note that Naturalizer has a suede wedge tall boot they'd like me to call the "Arsey." You'll be slightly disappointed to know, perhaps, that I have opted to edit that ill-advised name.

UPDATE: Sigh. After a meeting, I was asked to revert to "Arsey." So look foward to September, when you can purchase some assy boots to go with your gauchos.


I was reading Ron Padgett's Great Balls of Fire last night and died laughing at the third poem in this, his debut collection--an obsessive and/or absent-minded sonnet called "Nothing in That Drawer."

Nothing in That Drawer

Nothing in that drawer.
Nothing in that drawer.
Nothing in that drawer.
Nothing in that drawer.
Nothing in that drawer.
Nothing in that drawer.
Nothing in that drawer.
Nothing in that drawer.
Nothing in that drawer.
Nothing in that drawer.
Nothing in that drawer.
Nothing in that drawer.
Nothing in that drawer.
Nothing in that drawer.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Calling Ohio! Calling Tennessee!

Are you Columbus? Cincinnati? Toledo? Or anywhere that's convenient to do between Ann Arbor, MI or Muncie, IN by car?

We need to fill a couple of gaps in the tour schedule.

We'd also like to book something between Davidson, NC (near Charlotte) and Nashville, TN. Maybe Chattanooga? Knoxville?

All tips re: reading series & venues greatly appreciated! (The Soft Skull contacts are skimpy to nonexistent in these areas.)

Living up to its name

And how!

Note to self:

Bafflement can occasionally be useful.

Like pointing into a mirror?

But I want to say thanks to Allen for his reading of one of my poems. So, thanks.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


"Every time I try to read some of this book before bed, it puts me right to sleep."

"What is it?" [Shown book.] "Oh. Well, no wonder."

"Maybe I'll take it with me on vacation."

"On vacation? That doesn't seem like vacation reading."

"Well, it's the only time I'll be able to get to it."

"But didn't you just say it was horseshit? Why do you even want to read it?"

"To know exactly what kind of horseshit. And because I haven't yet."

Friday, August 12, 2005

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Please note:

In an effort to reduce chemical pesticide use, many grape growers are now using spiders as a natural method to rid crops of insects. Occasionally, you may find a cobweb--just rinse it off and rest assured that your grapes are most likely pesticide free.

False advertising

Every anthology editor believes that the material they choose is the best [of whatever genre, theme, geographic region, ethnicity, etc.].

Therefore, all anthologies that do not proclaim their contents to be "best" are in fact being coy.

Sunday, August 7, 2005


I may never do anything else. [Refreshes every 20 seconds. Damn Kasey for the link!]


As it says here, I am not currently reading poetry (nor anything else) for Soft Skull. We are full-up poetrywise through 2006. (And I personally am not comfortable signing books for 2007, because honestly, I don't know where I will be then! If you've received a response to a query from another staffer, cheerfully ignore me, as I speak only for myself.)

Just so you know!

Saturday, August 6, 2005

Note to self:

Man is fester?

You know who rocks?

Sean Cole, that's who.

I needed a recording of Jen Knox reading "Hot Ass Poem" and not only did Sean have one from the Boston Poetry Massacre last year, but he put it on a CD and FedExed it to me.

Now that is what I call rocking.

Thanks, Sean!

Thursday, August 4, 2005

I remember...

+ +

...reading I Remember a few years ago when the Granary edition came out, but I couldn't resist picking it up again right after I put down Joe. Also reading Kenward Elmslie's Agenda Melt and pulled out Anne Waldman's In the Room of Never Grieve to give it a thorough going through. (Been browsing in it since Marchish.)

Just finished (well, a few days ago)

Ron Padgett's Joe: A Memoir of Joe Brainard

UPDATE: Coincidentally, Chris Fischbach just emailed the news that Coffee House Press's summer sale is on. That means you can get Joe (or any of their other totally hot books--such as Ray McDaniel's Murder: A Violet or Anne Waldman's collected) for 35% off right now. Get thee to the web site.

UPDATE: Laughing aloud on the train reading this book, laughter of delight. It's not just about Joe, but also Ron, Pat, Ted, Kenward, Frank, Joe LeSeur, Warhol, et al. Deep reminiscences touched off by the grit and hunger pangs of the gang's early years in the Lower East Side, meals of happy-hour pretzels, walking blocks blocks blocks blocks blocks blocks blocks to work, feeling hickish in the big city, boozy woozy but minus the pills and Pepsi. (Yeah. I don't miss our own Ludlow Street days one bit, nor early Williamsburg either.)

Also suddenly amazing to me that I have shaken hands and raised glasses with a few of the folks. Gotta love New York, despite it all. This book is so personal, but not just because I identify so thoroughly. It is also the sweet way RP tells the story and how you can hear Pat chiming in from down the hall.

UPDATE: We've been contemplating a move out of the city (but within commutable distance!) and this book almost made me reconsider, reminding me of all the things about NYC I love (romanticized or not). If you are at all interested in the NY School generations of poets (or painters) it's a must-read, and it was the perfect follow up to the Berrigan sonnets.

Note to self:

Somebody sure is paranoid.

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Note to self:

Basically, even getting out of bed in the morning is a manifestation of extreme arrogance.

Psst! Bookstore friends...

Down Spooky is now available for wholesale order from Baker & Taylor Distributor.

Title: Down Spooky
Author: Shanna Compton
ISBN: 0976472643
Publisher: Winnow Press
Publication date: September 1, 2005

I hope you'll consider ordering a copy or two for your store. And if you'd like some (beautiful) Down Spooky or Winnow Press postcards or bookmarks for the front counter or display table, shoot me an email. Thanks!

(And for the rest of you, Amazon has the preorder button activated, as does Winnow. Powell's and Barnes & Noble should have theirs up soon. Links in the sidebar.)

Monday, August 1, 2005

Wanted to, but didn't

...catch this last night. Just too exhausted. Went to bed early (then woke at 4:00 to finish Joe with the aid of my LED booklight (both of which are totally great)).

Oops, sorry to diary.