I am temporarily parking archived blog posts here while I redesign my site and change servers. For current content, please visit blog.shannacompton.com.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Do me a favor?

If you have my softskull email address in your address book, please update it to the address at right or the earthlink account?

I'm going to begin phasing that address out. The inbox is spamtastic!

(For now it will forward.)


Saturday, May 27, 2006

OK, those notes are up.

I'll have a few more notes on Monday, plus some pics of other people's work and my other smaller projects to wrap things up.

[This post has been modified--recipe removed--because I have since gone vegan.]

Friday, May 26, 2006

Have a great holiday weekend, everybody.

I should be able to catch up with the rest of the letterpress notes before we take off tomorrow, in case you are following. It's been quite a week!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Thanks, Chattanooga!

(Dunno how I managed a place in that company, but hey, I'll take it.)

Day 3, minus the repetition that will be day 4

And you can see one of the test proofs I ran of the roman lines, plus the paper color and texture I'm using for the broadside.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Man, this class is exhausting . . .

. . . but it sure it fun.

I thought I could come home in the evenings and work on the anthology some more, preparing the rest of the proofs, & maybe even get a few submission packets together, uncase the typewriter to revise the girls, but no way, Jose. Yrs truly is pooped.

She's also filthy!

I did manage to get some press time in today after all. Exciting.

Notes in the A.M., probably. I need a break from all these pesky letters.

Day 2 notes are up.

Monday, May 22, 2006

It's called the Irish Good-bye.

It was so lovely to meet you you were brilliant I loved the long poem will you sign my book thanks for the swap next time I hope we have longer to chat I gotta get going tell me about how you made that song out of Kasey's poems & ha ha I did or didn't recognize you you look or don't look anything like your profile photo I will email that to you when I get home I will be sure to let you know what I think of it this was a good one yeah I can't wait to get your comic I just wanted to introduce myself I'm sneaking out gotta catch the Q to Atlantic I haven't had dinner yet O I didn't see you back there how are you or the N to Pacific I have class in the morning

My letterpress class starts today...

...& I will be reporting on that over here this week.

Here's a cool article on the broadsides made by Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, WA, complete with pics. (I'm hoping to do another broadside series soon (after A Slice of Cherry Pie) like the ones I did last summer for Half Empty/Half Full.)

The first 100 or so pages of the proofs (for the lingering SSP hugethology) are with the editors as of yesterday, so tonight I'm going to hear some poetry.

Someday, one of us will have to figure out how having a week off work like this, since it feels more like real work, can become the rule instead of the exception.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Multiple choice

It must be exhausting to be:

     1) a curmudgeon

     2) a paranoiac

     3) right all the time

Friday, May 19, 2006

Gilbert Sorrentino, 1927*-2006

Just saw the notice on Ron Silliman's blog.

Speaking of books that blew me away in college, Sorrentino's Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things was assigned for my Philosophy in Litearture class (taught by the dude in the guayabera rapping about the tower shooting in Slacker). I have read more of his fiction than his poetry. Will have to remedy that.

I like this quotation, from this interview (which Ron points to):

"An artist makes things. All else that he does, in his role as an artist, is incidental, accidental, or peripheral. If he worries about being an anachronism then he should quit writing and do something else."

*The Dalkey Archive site has his birth year as 1929.

Last night I finally saw Last Year at Marienbad.

What have I done with my white feathered dressing gown & my rococo getaway?

Reading Robbe-Grillet in college (picked it up at somebody else's house & put it down hours later, stunned, while the party went on around me) was akin to My First Beckett or Every Single Stein. Don't know why I didn't watch this till now. Exquisitely excruciating. (Yay for the cable being out.)

Also reminded of my intense affair with Robert Pinget, circa '97-'99. ('If you like David Markson & Alain Robbe-Grillet, you'll LOVE Pinget.') I have several books of his left to get lost in.

I'm starting to plan my summer reading. Yippee.

& yes, I finished the dang layout. Now I am drowning in the proofs. But those shall be flung from my desk before the weekend is through!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Helpful suggestions, tag-team style

For "poems about having sex," "love poems to someone else's husband," "poems sent to someone else's husband" & "having sex poems," see: The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel & Homewrecker

For "cute poems about bunnies," see: The Viscious Bunny Translations by William Allegrezza (& also this new review of same by Tom Beckett)

For "poems on photos of evil & devil," try: some Black Metal poetry, courtesy of Graham Foust & Mathias Svalina

For "poems of congratulations on a new job" and/or "goodbye poems for a coworker," see: "Ode to the New Girl at the Office" by Jennifer L. Knox (from A Gringo Like Me. Also available at Amazon.)

For "thank you uncle and aunt poems," see: "Poem for Kim & Trevor" by Shafer Hall

Not sure about "poems about plate techtonics," but I bet Albert Goldbarth has covered that at least once.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Testing. Testing.

[An evolving post, moving up front again.]

Process is ir/relevant in the following sense*:

If a poetry were a garment, the poem would be what is known as the right side.
The process would be the construction details hidden on the seam side.

The right side requires a seam side. Sometimes a garment's construction is part of its right side. For instance, raw-edge detailing, frayed or distressed effects, an "authentic" patch, or decoratively serged or otherwise exposed (displayed) seams.

The right side and the seam side can be the same side, in this sense. But in that case the right/seam side is constructed by virtue of an additional undisplayed seam side.

From the point of view of the sewist seamstress [sorry for the built-in lady, but tailor won't do], the seam side is not irrelevant. The seam side is the right side. The right side and the seam side are mutually dependent & equally essential.

From the point of view of wearer--the garment's user--is the seam side, those details that are not displayed right-side, relevant? (*Maybe relevancy is the wrong attribute, unless we talk about users & makers.)

Does the wearer ever need to acknowledge/examine details without a decorative right-side function? The garment still hangs together & fits if she does not. Might she be interested to know how the garment works? Will that make it a better garment?

And I misspoke before about process = construction details. Or rather I contradicted myself right away. Process does not equal construction details. Construction details, as we have seen, can be displayed right-side, concealed seam-side, or both. All activities that go into the garment's construction are process. Process is obviously relevant in an existential sense.

Many times you will meet something in denim that has been "broken-in for authenticity." Sometimes right-side construction details perform the same kind of function.

The first example I come up with as a work that might show most of its construction details on its right side would be Under Albany. Just one iteration.

Google-assisted Flarf might be one example of some construction details being displayed on the right side. A poem in a traditional form (like sestina or metered sonnet) might also be displaying construction details; but we'd need to talk more about functional vs. decorative seaming, and to what degree the formal elements are either or both.

That's too large a swatch--to say "Google-assisted flarf"--but I mean some of the poems that are up-front about containing sampled language, such as those in Deer Head Nation. Others may sound sampled, but not really be sampled--and those might be "broken-in for authenticity." It may be impossible to know in some cases if a poem is (partially or wholly) sampled or not, authentic or "authentic." (I'm concerned about this word authentic because I don't mean the opposite would be fake & I don't mean it as a value judgment. A frayed hem is a frayed hem; what we're concerned with is whether it frayed through wear over time, or if it was assisted by some applied technique.)

Jenny Boully's The Body might be another example of "authentic" detailing I meant earlier, in that its footnotes refer to an absent right side, which probably never existed. But I'm not really sure yet, and it's been a couple of yrs since I read the book. I'll have to think more about that.

Kasey remarks on "the seamy side of life" and I also recognize that "seamless" is an approbation, but let's try not to read seams with those connotations in mind for now [inserted:] reading seams with those connotations in mind may also be interesting.

What is process without tools or object? That has been one person's (Lbehrendt at the Limetree comment thread) quibble with this metaphor. I don't think I understand pure process in that way. (The action of making is where I derive the greatest pleasure in my own writing--but I also derive pleasure from the end result, & also from the pleasure others take in the end result: the made object. Yes, I am privileging pleasure. You don't have to.)

I am still playing around with the sewist metaphor and might not like it myself when I am through. We'll see. I happened to be sewing when this occurred to me a few days ago. Here's a set of statements characteristic of this blog at mynamedotcom: I am becoming more aware of the constructedness of my poems, & I'm moving toward a greater emphasis on constructedness in my poems, & I am drawn less than I was in the past to smoothing them or making them appear seamless. I am not only interested in their construction; I am simultaneously interested in displaying their constructedness. More generally speaking, I like displays of constructedness--what I am calling seaminess--in others' poems because as Thomas Basbøll said at Limetree, thinking about how a poem works is part of reading it. Or it is for me.


I'm wanting to back off the examples I've given now, a little (thus, the tiny type). I need to think more about this before I try to apply it.


Patrick Durgin (at Kasey's comment thread) asks about the class structure of this model:

The seamy underbelly of stable, lyric subjectivity is structurally too similar to sweatshop-style exploitation to ignore, don't you think? I mean, what are we hiding--and why are we hiding it, for whom, in whose interest--when we deem the gleaming surface the "right side"?

I am thinking of a wholly different kind of sewist, certainly not sweatshop labor. (I do work in the fashion industry tangentially, as a copywriter). I am thinking of the kind my grandmother was; she "took in" sewing for individuals, as well as making most of the clothing for her family. She also worked in a shoe & boot repair shop mending & stitching tooled leather goods. The sweatshop model (or even if we supposed an ethically responsible factory model) is too large for my purposes. Poems are not mass produced. There's no roomful (or razor-wired fenced enclosureful) of sewists turning out multiple copies of the same thing. The economy of the sweatshop model is a wholly different one. But I'm glad Patrick brought this up, so I could clarify that. (Maybe tailor would have been a better word than seamstress/sewist to begin with, as a way of brushing aside the exploited-labor connotation.)

I don't consider the seam side "the underbelly" or read "right" in "right side" quite the way Patrick has been, as superior to the seam side. As I (eventually) worded it above, the sides are mutually dependent and equally essential. "Right side" is a sewing term that simply means the side that is presented, worn on the outside of the finished garment. The messier construction details are generally concealed in a garment, & I've spooled my way around to talking about the decision to reveal (or not conceal in the first place) some of those details.

"Right side" can also refer to the printed side of a fabric, as opposed to the unprinted reverse (which is usually called the "wrong side," but I don't want to introduce "wrong" as the reverse of "right" here). The right sight of a garment and the right side of a fabric do not have to coincide. I made a dress in high school once using the reverse of a printed fabric because I liked the way the weave was accented over the pattern. (I actually wore this dress in my senior picture. Maybe I'll post it, if it's not too embarrassing.) I made the wrong side the right side simply by choosing to display it.

To approach Patrick's question from another angle: is concealing a poem's seams an ruling-class/elitist behavior? I don't know. I guess it could be a gesture of condescension in cases. If conventional [revised from "mainstream"] lyrics tend to conceal their process seams in favor of a smooth, neat right side, maybe so. But I am imagining readers who prefer poems with right sides like this appreciate the neatening. It seems that some readers argue that a neat right side is best, and some that a messy or process-revealing right side is best.** (We're back at taste (fashion sense), but the metaphor's still holding up OK for me.)

Alternatively, some poems could be so simply constructed--a straightforward lyric meditation that moves as one developed thought, or a brief epiphanic narrative with a single metaphor, for example--that there's not many messy seams to conceal/minimize/decorate in the first place.

If seamy poems have a less seamy/smoother seam side by virtue of some of their seams being displayed on the right side, does this mean smoother poems have seamier seam sides. Uh, not necessarily. Metaphor breaks down there. Ah well.

&, if some smooth poems do have intricately seamed seam sides, does this mean that seamy poems have smooth poems as their reverse? This is a little too binary a construction for me, that every poem has two possible right sides, a seamy and a smooth.

[**More, probably, later.]

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Before I go

I have lived in New York City for 10.5 years, but have never been to a baseball game.

That's just stupid.

In fact, the last sporting event I attended was probably a Lady Longhorns basketball game in college.

Next week at the DIY blog...

...I'm going to be reporting on a class I'm taking at the Center for Book Arts. I'll be doing Letterpress I: Hand Typesetting. (Been wanting to take this for a couple of years now, but had to rearrange my freelance schedule for a whole week finally to do it!)

We'll be making small pieces. Not sure what I'll choose to set yet.

This guy Jon Keegen just took Bookbinding I with the same instructor, Nancy Loeber. His co-blogger Barbara Zuckerman also took the class at some point, & has been busy making 2-inch artist books.

Nancy Loeber apparently also teaches stab-binding classes for kids at various orgs & libraries. (Kids LOVE making paper & binding books. I've actually taught those things myself. Totally fun.)

I was looking for a report from somebody who'd taken the letterpress class, but didn't find one. This artist made her letterpress hangtags at CBA.

I've already done some book binding (basic saddle stitching, Japanese stab bindings in a couple of variations, etc.), though I'm sure a formal class would still be helpful. So maybe I'll take one of those too, later on. I'd like to take a polymer-plate printing class too. & boxmaking. & Coptic binding. & & &...

I'm really excited. I bet that surprises you. ;)

Monday, May 15, 2006

Stanley Kunitz, 1905-2006

That's not a typo.* The man was 100!

About a decade ago I attended a 90th birthday party celebration for Stanley Kunitz. I think it was the first poetry reading I ever went to in NYC. (I'd only been here about a week or so.)

I saw him a few times after that, at his own readings, on 12th Street near the New School where he apparently had an apartment & just 'round about. He was warm & funny, always smiling. His love poems to his wife (even if his style is not your cuppa) have always moved me. & he gave us Poets' House.

Farewell, Mr. Kunitz.

*Uh, except it was a typo. I put 2005, i/o 2006. Whoops. He passed yesterday, May 14.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

More later

I'm thinking of my Mamaw Rose today because it's Mother's Day. She rarely remembers whom she's mothered, these days, but she's still kicking at, what, 98? As she would say, land alive! [Her strongest swear I ever heard was to call a misbehaving cousin a "little wart."]

She worked as a seamstress most of her life, after leaving the farm.

But I gotta hurry & squeeze out 26 more Quark pages if I'm gonna go see Jen & Ada at the Zinc Bar at 7:00.

Steve Almond resigns from Boston College to protest Condeleeza Rice's planned commencement address

A little more on the matter, at his site.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

So many, so little

After tomorrow I might just might I hope I may I hope I might be able to pass the first set of proofs on this absolutely huge anthology to the trio of editors for their first look. Much shuffling through many disparate originals in four states shall ensue. Ancient mags shall be consulted. Libraries shall be ransacked. Corrections shall zip through the ether in all directions toward their bulky target.

If there's one thing that's more logistically complicated than an ginormous poetry anthology (which is uneviably so & thus I am always amazed by them), it is a ginormous poetry anthology of collaborative work reprinted mostly from out-of-print or faraway sources from more than 300 authors (2-23 contribs per poem x 150+ poems). Figuratively speaking there will have been more than 600 hands on this 400-page baby when it is finally born. My copyeditor hat is drooping on one corner aweary. My typesetter hat has been ripped to shreds over so many formatting, uh, puzzlers. My book designer hat is at a jaunty angle 'cuz zee thing, she look so hot. Thanks be that I did not have to choose the dang poems too!

Yes, very exciting. But I'm also excited that after hopefully tomorrow I will be able to read something else for a while.


I just checked every post (ever) on this here blog for misusages of effect/affect.

I didn't find any.

Probably because one day in the past I already did this kind of search & corrected any errors.

I'm going outside now.

Friday, May 12, 2006

"Waiting with the Dead" by Jennifer L. Knox...

...will be broadcast on WGLT's Poetry Radio this morning at 10:00 AM Central/11:00 Eastern.

Go here, then click "WGLT Live" in the upper left corner to listen in with Windows Media Player (which also works on Macs).

(It's just a single poem, with a musical intro & outro, so maybe tune in a little early so you don't miss it.)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Dear googlers,

To those among you searching for information re: "tuna consum[m]ation," I think that's illegal in most states.

As for "was John Keats happy about writing poems"--it's a very good question. I think it's safe to assume so, yes.

I'm not sure I'm qualified to speak on whether "nostalgia addiction is dangerous." I recommend making the most of what's in front of you.

Glad to be of help!

She's deranged (in the best way)

Soft Targets has launched

The debut issue of Soft Targets features work by Carla Harryman, Paul Killebrew, Catherine Wagner, Linh Dinh, Dan Machlin, Lara Glenum, Ben Lerner & etc.

5.75 x 7.25
288 pp.
50+ contributors
w/color artwork + mini-CD
hand-numbered License to Live insert
$10 via their website
(or 192 Books in Manhattan
& Quimby's in Chicago)

Edited by Daniel Feinberg & Dan Hoy

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Also last night

Marjorie Welish (whose reading was also enjoyable, as was Laynie Brown's) wore a long-sleeve jersey knit (or double-knit) turtleneck dress in taupe with a black lacquered triangular brooch pinned over to one side.

Later I asked Jerome Sala if he was reminded of Star Trek too.

He said no.

Hello, California!

My eagerly anticipated copy of Bay Poetics arrived yesterday.

Also in the mail: a beautiful painting (thanks, TF!) & some tear-inducing hot sauce (thanks, MT!)

My mailbox overfloweth.


I'm gonna miss the show tonight, rats. Will YouTube provide another shot of rare wry Rae? I hope so.

Reading report

Rae Armantrout was freaking delightful.


Another Sense

"You can tell 'em

in the old songs
where verbs stand around,
between hungry ghosts.


Woman in a sing-song voice:

"I coulda gone
to the fabric store

but what but what but what but what


Relive the dream
with Grace Slick.

Light stays light

but "toward"
becomes unclear.


Bush stumps
for agenda

amid giant redwoods.)


I don't mind
I'm in hell

I can learn it
again and again"

Audience:* HA ha hahaha. [Smiling, nodding.]

RA: [Smiling, laughing too.] Oh, I love reading in New York.


RA: [Reading from one of 2 new MSS, so line breaks are guessed, phrasing approximate]


What if
I were turned
on by words

like "scumble"

What if
I maneuvered
conversations so
that others would
pronounce them?


What if "of"
were such
a hot button?

Audience: [More delighted noises]

* Erica, Stacy, Rachel, Sina, Lee Ann, Jerome, Elaine, Tim, Cori, Brandon, Brenda, this blogger, etc.

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Call it like you see it, kids.

I don't know all the details of the specific dispute that provoked this open letter, nor anybody involved, but I admire the re/action of the community affected.

(Nicked from Jessica.)

I keep reading poems I like...

...over at Aaron Belz's blog.

I don't think it's a coincidence.

Blogger is acting a fool


Hey, Drew has been reading DS with his eyes, ears & nose for trouble. (Dude, thanks. I really appreciate yr notes!)

Our anthem

Today's poem by Jennifer El Knox at No Tell Motel is the one I was dying to have to hand a few weeks ago to plaster all over your comment boxes with wheat paste and/or a staple gun.

Monday, May 8, 2006

Good news

I think I figured out what I am doing wrong.


(Actually, I've been meaning to get that anyway. & I even passed the well-suited vibrant-lipsticked author in a subway passage fleetingly the other day. An omen surely. (Hi, Sina.))

Jennifer Knox is wrecking the room at No Tell Motel

All week. Unless they kick her out.

Sunday, May 7, 2006

Your typesetter hates you

Yes, you. Forget everything you ever learned about typing two spaces after periods, exclamation points, & question marks. (Unless you are really working on a typewriter.)

Ever deviant, with real love, waiting for you

Jordan likes CAConrad's Deviant Propulsion.

I guess now's a good time to mention Conrad's release party in NYC, scheduled for Saturday, June 17th at 3:00 PM at the Bowery Poetry Club, with music by Jessy Delfino & more poetry by Jen Benka & me too. (Yes, I'll remind you. It's my job.)


Subtext here is: book must be good for people to spend money on it without cajoling.

Left out: all the freaking fantastic books that people still don't went to spend money on without cajoling.


Thursday, May 4, 2006

File Under: Good Old Fashioned Bragging

TWO Soft Skull poetry books were finalists for 2005 Pen Awards, neither in the poetry category. (Sneaky, eh?)

I've been wanting to spill it for weeks.

Jane: A Murder by Maggie Nelson was a finalist in the memoir category & Conductors of the Pit by Clayton Eshleman was a finalist in the translation category.

Cheers all around!

Here's the complete list of finalists & winners.

Familiar Dysfunction

in a
comment box shop

to get
a rise, still

to ignite
any passion. Sad.

Too small

Poetry books are too small. For instance, I was was reading Jen Tynes' The End of Rude Handles a few weeks ago, put it down somewhere, on a table or shelf or desk, stacks were shifted, rooms were straightened, new stacks built up teeteringly, & now can't find it. Anywhere. I scan stacks & rows & piles & schmears of skinny spines repeatedly without luck. Cannibal too; I remember opening the envelope on the way out the door. Never saw it again. The Canary? Oh it's in there. I just can't see where. I didn't even know until a few minutes ago that I had a copy of Geri Doran's Resin. & if it's a chapbook I'm looking for, forget it. Luckily, I can usually manage to get through one of those at a single go.

The stacks plot against me.


NaPoWriMo wore out my blogskills. I got nothing.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

I got tickets...

...to see Stephen Colbert. I filled out the form a couple of months ago & forgot all about it.

Not till July tho. Right when we get back from Montana.

Welcome, Stephen

Stephen Baraban has a new blog. Check it.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Laurel Snyder made me blog

I AM: always this excited about something, yes.
I WANT: efficiency AND flexibility.
I WISH: wishing helped.
I HATE: cruelty, particularly for sport.
I MISS: being a kid. (I missed it then too.)
I FEAR: there's not enough space to tell you.
I HEAR: less than I used to.
I WONDER: what will happen & then I try to find out.
I REGRET: when I've acted like a jackass.
I AM NOT: religious, in any organized sense.
I SING: all the time. I've even woken myself up.
I CRY: yes, I do.
I AM NOT ALWAYS: patient.
I MAKE WITH MY HANDS: poems, food, books, music, lots of messes.
I WRITE: less well than I would like.
I CONFUSE: busy with fulfilled sometimes.
I NEED: nothing more than what I've got, but...
...I SHOULD: make better use of most of it.
I START: many more projects than...

Monday, May 1, 2006

Goodbye, NaPoWriMo!* See you next year!

Fancy logo by Maureen Thorson

Whew! Made it. 30 poems in 30 days, just barely making the last one around 11:30 PM last night.

I think I'll keep going with the series "For Girls." We'll see. Got 17 of those now.

Hoots & hollers for the rest o' y'all, too. I really enjoyed reading along.

*How NaPoWriMo works around here. See Maureen's sidebar here for an ever-expanding list of other NaPoWriMers.