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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Leaving a few days early, Monday...

...so we can spend a coupla 75-degree daze in da German Belt (research! & sauerkraut!) before the conference madness.

But I hope I hope I hope I can find time to get to this this weekend.

Realized my driver license (damn Yankees) expired on my birthday in December (which means, duh, I was driving illegally over Texmas) so ick I gotta go stand on line (damn Yankees) for hours at some point this too-short week. And do all the laundry despite a broken dyer (damn landlord) & oh yeah, layout an entire book of 160 poems.

Missed Copp/Corey/Sheers last night and Limon/Sheers Saturday but will definitely catch Limon Friday! La la!

Almost Austin

Been alternately excited and apprehensive about going back to Austin for the first time since I left in 1995. Reports are that it's changed so much I might have a hard time finding the Austin I knew in the Austin that's now.

But I'm looking forward to going here (too bad the pool will be closed for spring cleaning, because it's spring-fed and always the same temp) & here & here & here (which will provides an excuse to go on campus) & here if not here and very definitely HERE (first stop after the airport!) & maybe here or here. Maybe I'll go here even though the original store (see #10) probably eventually fell down. And here even though the original (see #4) is no more. (I'd mostly switched to Mojo's anyway.) And maybe get in a game of pool here. Even though I practically lived here, and we met there, I don't know if we'll get there. There's such a thing as too much nostalgia, y'all.

Monday, February 27, 2006

People passing

Sorry the blog is so deathy today. I don't mean for these posts to be sad. Just want to note they've gone.

Frederick Busch, 1941-2006

Fred Busch was one of the authors I worked with in my first publishing job. We met only a few times--once I spent the day with him going to bookstores all over New York City as he signed copies of his novel Girls, a book I loved. A couple of years later he very generously helped me out when I needed a recommendation for graduate school. I'd been out of school so long and didn't know anybody to ask for a recommendation, and he offered, and wrote me a great one, and some very sweet letters. He tried to talk me out of going, sort of, but when I told him why I wanted to he'd understood: I was lonely. He once ran up a bill so big while on a book tour (I suspect fine scotches in the hotel bar) that I had to cover for him. He was a poet first, though he said not a very good one in his opinion. He liked his fiction more. He told me how he wrote his first novel sitting on the edge of his bathtub with his typewriter on the toilet lid while his wife slept in the next room, in his off hours from his copywriting job. I got out of publishing and went to write copy not too long after he told me that story, though I didn't stay completely away, when I came back I did it better. I don't know how I missed the news till now. I wrote him last about a year ago but hadn't gotten around to sending him my book yet. I really should have. Bye Fred.


Those word strings are not generated by machines.

They are real human noises.

Sticky Vomity with emotion.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

[Not pictured]

I almost got to introduce Drew & Katie to Dan Hoy last night.

Almost. Alas!

The Lucky Cat

Lonestar bling.

Steve drinks all the Stella. Susanne hick-noirs up the joint.

Shafer & his naughty mustache dedicate their poems to 160 Driggs.

Reading The Bedside Guide to an appreciative glowing orb. Between f-bombs.

Twinkle, twinkle.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Texas Whoopass scheduled for this evening

An all-Texans reading featuring
Shanna Compton, Shafer Hall, Susanne Reece & Steve Roberts

Earshot Series
Hosted by Nicole Steinberg
The Lucky Cat*
245 Grand Street
(btw Driggs and Roebling)
Williamsburg, Brooklyn

$5 includes one free drink
(beer, wine or well drinks only)!

L to Bedford, G to Lorimer, or J/M/Z to Marcy

* Please note the change of venue for the Earshot series!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

More posts over there.

Sitting pretty

Incessant, please. Oh, moan. Oh, bitch. Oh, snipe & piss.

Oh. No.

Everybody gets a prize. It's called the Kenneth Koch Memorial Celebration of Awesomeness Award. You win it!

(If you're Carol Mirakove you also get this fabulous prize.)

The internet is the world's bestselling anthology. You've edited it! You're in it! You also have the hottest author photo!

And pièces de résistance, here is your book contract!

Darling kvetchfesters, you're the greatest!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The thing about long weekends...

...is that you want them to be even longer.

I never left the house. But this is totally normal. I don't know why I even bother to live in NYC.

I did get lots of work done. And was reading Robert Grenier, just like Gabe.

And cooked some good meals from this new cookbook.

Monday, February 20, 2006


A darling needs a hotel room to share or other accomodation in Austin for the upcoming you know festivities. She's swell. Email or comment below if you can help. Most of the nearby hotels are booked, and the situation she'd fixed fell through. She's having trouble.


Sunday, February 19, 2006

Divine Love

God rains his love down on us every day. But we don't feel that love, because our ego is like a giant umbrella that we hold over our heads. What we need to do is put that umbrella away in the ego's umbrella stand--then we will feel God's love. Ego's umbrella stand, in black walnut or mahogany. $7,500

Looky, Mike Topp has a blog.


I am so glad that Drew killed the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

I've always found that little f*cker creepy.

Signature poem

I've been asked to contribute my "signature poem" to an anthology collecting work by female poets who have performed at a particular venue. It will not have a silly title that will provoke blogwars or boobs on the cover, and the proceeds will benefit a nonprofit org. Happy to do it.

But how the hell am I supposed to decide which is my signature poem?

Do you have a signature poem? Is it "typical" of your work in some way? Or a personal favorite? Or a performance single?

Friday, February 17, 2006

A lovely review of Corinne Lee's Pyx by Andrea Baker

You can (& should) get a copy here.

Andrea's own Like Wind Loves a Window is a terrific book also. Click and obtain.

I've meant to tell you about both of these and have failed. Sorry.


Caught most of the frankly amazing interview with Dave Chappelle on Inside the Actors Studio last night. Looks like it will be playing again March 3rd. Don't miss it.

He and James Lipton are just fantastic together. Imagine Lipton talking about R. Kelly's penchant for pissing--now you don't have to! And Lipton even dances (trained in ballet) and drops a couple f-bombs. But more seriously, riveting. Dave lets it all out.


Reading Barbara Guest's Forces of Imagination right now, coincidentally. Never met her or heard her read. Missed out.

UPDATE: Charles Bernstein's blog entry contains a complete Guest bibliography. (Scroll down; he doesn't have anchors or permalinks.) No obit yet, that I can find. Ron has posted a nice piece about her today, as have several other folks. I love all the photographs, the one Ron & Kasey used, of her on a train, and the one at Tom Orange's place particularly. Beautiful woman.

Never "negotiate" with a reader by projecting the reader's aims into the poem, such as a "desirable subject."

Poet and reader perform together on a high wire strung over a platform between their separated selves.

Tension between the poem and the poet creates an empathy / this tension relies on and alters the plasticity of poetic language.

A poem stretches when Pressure on a word causes the poem to stretch. Go to the poem, observe, see if the word is consistent with the poem--never desert meaning for a word.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


So just in case you were wondering, yes it's even more nerve-wracking to read in front of Anne Waldman than John Ashbery. (Jeez said louise, she was wearing a silk kimono-sleeve blouse in my favorite color. Well, my first dramatic role as a child was Bashful the Dwarf you know and it stuck.) Rachel Blau DuPlessis defied our expectations by reading doggerel--real doggerel!--that was funny and playfully didactic, teaching us grammar and usage and formalism and stuff about dogs. ("If it's about hopping then why not make froggerel?") She also read a long section from Drafts (54 I think, books 2-15 or so with some skipping) that I'd like to pore over on paper. And even with the threat of FALLING ICE! hanging over our heads it was so lovely to see you there with your lady and meet you in person and fondle your pink cord jacket and take silly photos with you and catch up with you and I'm not going to forget it. I think I read the new stuff pretty well (considering it was the first time I had--the husband hasn't even read/heard it yet, I was testing) and I'm looking forward to reading more of it at this next reading and maybe since this one is a Friday night I will even stay and hang out afterwards and not be such a hermit:

An all-Texans reading featuring
Shanna Compton, Shafer Hall, Susanne Reece & Steve Roberts

Earshot Series
Hosted by Nicole Steinberg
The Lucky Cat*
245 Grand Street
(btw Driggs and Roebling)
Williamsburg, Brooklyn

$5 includes one free drink
(beer, wine or well drinks only)!

L to Bedford, G to Lorimer, or J/M/Z to Marcy

* Please note the change of venue for the Earshot series!

Oh also good dear people of Boston/Somerville/Cambridge/Alston, Jen Knox & I are coming to read at the Grolier Poetry Series on March 14. More 'bout that soon.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Get well soon, #4!

It's a powertool of some kind, I'm sure.

But the apartment upstairs sounds like it's blowing its gigantic nose.



Wednesday, February 15 at 8:00 PM at the Poetry Project

Shanna Compton & Rachel Blau DuPlessis

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

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


On anxiety

I agree with y'all about the prevalence of anxiety hereabouts (thereabouts?) but I guess what prevents me from getting too down is that much of it has little to do with (you know, like,) poetry.

What a snow!

Most pleasantly stranded in Maine an extra 30 hours, so we just got back last night.

I didn't take a single picture.

See you tomorrow?

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Maine in midwinter

Going for a few days & yr not coming. (Meaning the laptop has been gifted to my sister forever. Goodbye, fairwell!)

Media fast. Gonna hit bookstores (Casco Bay!) & restaurants (Fore Street!) & mostly our hotel. Celebrate his birthday & why not that silly romantic holiday. Look at boats. Boats in winter. Try to work on the new poems (if that's what they are).

Monday, February 6, 2006

What I mean is...

...that what works for other kinds of books does not work for poetry books. Business schmizness. All economies are economies. Supply, demand. This has been proven.

What does work for poetry books is poets doing.

The self-made closed loop works better than the "industry" for poetry.

"We" are able to find and obtain what we want, what we need, what excites us. This has been true and remains true.

But then there's the problem of "closed."

How did you get here? A teacher? An anthology? A library? A bookstore? An accident? The internet? Remember.

The first poem you touched was a different animal (fuzzy, adorable, mewling) from the one you're holding right now (alien, possibly reptilian with some kind of freakish tongue, a name for it doesn't spring immediately to mind).

How did you get so brave, so curious?!

You can eat yr corn niblets now honey. Here's yr Spork!

(Also available in a print edition--handbound & always gorgeous--under "Order/Buy.")

Sunday, February 5, 2006

Oh no that's not it &...

...for instance when I clip a found poem it does not = me = Barbara Bush.

No duh!

My husband who does not like to be mentioned here...

...(too bad) would love to kill my blog, but respects my deep desire to be undead.

Rejoice, blogzombies as I rejoice for the rezombied ways of the undead blogs. Phooray. Phewray.

Household tip

Bile washes right out with just a little soap and water!

Saturday, February 4, 2006






I have tried to go away and cannot go away.
It's an addiction (serious) but it's also lots about love.

Because you're here.
This is not a void.

Ways in which Jennifer L. Knox reminds Gabe Gudding of Desiderius Erasmus...

...are elaborated here.

Difficulties with distribution & the economic realities of publishing poetry

WARNING: Boring, possibly distressing post filled with generalities, which leaves out more than it includes, and that is also possibly redundant for many of you.

Clay Banes summarizes the trouble with poetry distribution, from the perspective of an independent bookseller, here. You should go look.

Before I worked in publishing, I worked in bookstores, both a big independent (BookPeople in Austin) and two chains (Hastings Records & Books in Austin and Barnes & Noble here in NYC). When I went to work in publishing, I first worked for a big corporate house (a division of Random House, now but not then owned by Bertelsmann) and then for Soft Skull.

So I have been thinking about this maddening problem for about a decade, as a bookseller, editor, publicist, assoc. publisher, and now as an author.

Small Press Distribution is a godsend--really, thank heaven for them!--but even what they are able to do is only a partial remedy. The chains such as Barnes & Noble (according to someone who works there now) can't be bothered to order from SPD, period. And the fees publishers are charged by SPD can be a problem for some presses too. Obviously SPD needs them to do what they do, but the presses are already having such a hard time they often can't afford them.

I'm not going to do more than mention the further problem of poetry's invisibility to bookbuyers at the chains and even the indies. Not all stores have the equivalent of Ray McDaniel or Clay Banes or Josh Corey (for example--I can actually think of several more good peeps! Thanks!) on staff. The chances are slim that bookbuyers not already interested in poetry will consider the section a high enough priority to look beyond (to use Clay's examples) Mary Oliver and Rumi. They simply don't have the time or economic incentive. It's not their job to be advocates.

All small publishers face this bleak situation. All the distributors and wholesalers--Ingram, Consortium, Publishers Group West, and even the much smaller Baker & Taylor, included--contract with publishers based on their annual sales. Too small = no dice. Gotta pay to play. And presses who are fortunate enough to sign with the bigger guys are generally prohibited from also working with SPD by exclusive contract.

The internet and direct-to-customer distribution will help some, for presses that can muster the resources for a website, fulfillment staff, and shipping. This is great news for micropublishers. And POD options just get better and better. I'm really encouraged by both of these things, and by the continuing trend of poets working to publish themselves and each other with care and dedication. But there're still a million miles to go.

Sadly, distribution is only one part of this nightmarish tale.

Above and beyond the cost of day-to-day operations of a press, in order to publish a book of poetry in the first place, an independent publisher* must find a way to pay...

1) the author, in the form of royalties (a percentage based on net revenues) or copies
2) the press staff (including editor, book designer, copyeditor, proofreader, production manager, and publicist usually)
3) permission fees for cover art, author photo, or reprinted material, if any
4) the printer and bindery for labor, cost of materials, and shipping
5) the distributor (which may also charge for warehousing, catalog fees, shipping, etc.)
6) wholesalers (like Ingram, Bookazine, etc.) for listing fees
7) marketing/advertising/publicity, including the cost of review copies and postage

...and has to figure out a way to do that for less than %50 of the retail price from the copies which are ordered AND SOLD (so minus returns, which she has to ship/warehouse again or remainder/destroy--that also costs $$), all without raising the retail price above what the market will bear. ($16 is about the max right now, for a standard poetry paperback?)

I'm quite sure I'm leaving something out.

Paper, printing and binding alone can run from $1 to $3 per copy, depending on various factors such as digital shortrun or offset process, paper, coverstock, binding materials, page count, trim size, and quantity (more copies = less per copy), etc. Every decision affects the unit cost. It can cost the same per unit to print a 48 pp. book of poetry as to print a 200 pp. novel. And guess which is more likely to sell out its printrun?

So what's left? Usually nothing, or less than nothing.

Some presses (think Knopf, Penguin, etc.) can afford to publish poetry at a loss for what's called a prestige factor. In other words, they don't usually make any money publishing poetry either.

Insane, isn't it?

And so are all the people who give it a shot anyway, all the publishers, all the booksellers, all the poets.

Now you know why.

Poetry is trapped in a system not designed to serve it. This shit is broken.

*Independent is defined as a for-profit press not supported by an institution, foundation or university, etc. Nonprofits typically receive 60-75% of their funding from foundation support. Lets all hope the goodwill money holds out.

Friday, February 3, 2006



Ask Me About Flarf!

Kiss Me, I'm Anonymous

I write for myself
(so why are you reading this?)

Hello. I'm Bic Pentameter.