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

Monday, March 26, 2007

About songs

I remember how necessary a new song would be, right then, on first hearing. How I couldn't not listen to it again. How I couldn't not try to sing it. How I'd hum it in the shower, in the car, when I got up, when I went to bed, when I was in class. How I worked at a store selling songs, but the not the ones I liked best. But still those songs too were good songs. Most songs were good. The bad songs even could be forgiven. I lived songs during the day and every night I went to see people sing and play songs. Every night almost, almost for five years for free as part of my job, oh was that fun.

And then.

I stopped.

And now songs are just songs. I like many of them, still particularly love the ones I remember living with. And new ones.

But they aren't as necessary as they used to be. For me.

That must be because I've found other musics. Or I don't need them to translate my emotions anymore. Or communicate mixed-tape style what I couldn't say. I guess.

I became a kind of expert on the subject of songs and it honestly dulled my liking of them after a while.

I wonder what else might be like that?

Dream animals

Are all of creatures, or of creatures who turn into and out of people.

One night I opened closet after closet, all with cats inside, sleeping on the shelves. Almost identical, mostly black. The game was to indentify the real cat. When he looked at me, I always knew.

Near the end, a cat-furred goatlike creature, but lambsized. Creamy white, with a tannish head and pink stripes along his ears and a pink band around his belly. He made a sound I cannot transcribe.

Last night: bears. Or rather, one black bear.

At first a very fat robin (seen lots of these in waking days recently, orangey-red chests and very round) sat on a fence chirruping. A small bear, to robin-scale, popped in beside him dancing around. Then he got big and ate the bird. Then he stalked the yard and grabbed a man through a plate glass window. I had just said to the man, be careful he's behind you out the window.

I knew the man, but haven't spoken to him in years, since he was mostly a boy.

Luckily, a bear would not actually crash through a plate glass window to eat a man. Nor would he bother to eat a fat robin.

What a relief.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


The views from my windows. The snow is gone. The rain is gone. There's some sun. A fat orange cat patrols the yard next door.

In the yard there are little bits of green. I bought some grass seed to fill in the holes. & a plant called a peperomia, & one called a kalanchoe blossfeldiana & have repotted my jade plant. A ponytail palm was killed in the move. The agave survived tho is worse for wear. Some purple shamrocks, a purple palmy thing unidentified, some oat grass in a crock, some catnip in another--these all love the windows too.

Still too cold to get outside with anything green, but I'll be digging up the side bed & putting in some compost so it's ready.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


That's how many unopened emails I have in my main in-box (so, not counting my work or household accounts where stuff like bills go).

Get ready to NaPoWriMo

Tell Reen if ya wanna play. She did a little chapbook last year with a poem from all the parti-cipants.

I'm gonna play as usual: post a poem/draft a day here, erasing it after 24 hrs. I never ever manage 30/30 but I try. Maybe this year I can?

Only one way to find out.

Raffle raising: A fundraiser for Frank

More info & updates here.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

New! Saints of Hysteria

This week in NYC there are three readings from this HUGE anthology from Soft Skull, each with a different cast of collaborators.

I think I will be at the Cornelia Street one on Wednesday night (I hope). Hope to see some of you there!

More info on the just-released book here. It was my last big hurrah (as project editor/book designer) for Soft Skull, and if I may say, is a terrific collection of rare and romping pieces by more than 200 poets & their friends.

Monday, March 19, 7 pm
Saints of Hysteria: A Half-Century of Collaborative American Poetry
Hosts: Denise Duhamel and David Trinidad
Readers include: Elaine Equi, Joanna Fuhrman, Noelle Kocot, Chris Martin, Jean-Paul Pecqueur, Susie Timmons, Karen Weiser, Susan Wheeler & Rachel Zucker

85 E. 4th St., 2nd Floor
New York, NY

Subway: 6 to Astor Place or F/V to 2nd Ave

Wednesday, March 21, 2007, 6-8 pm
Saints of Hysteria: A Half-Century of Collaborative American Poetry
Hosts: Denise Duhamel and David Trinidad
Readers include: Tom Breidenbach, Guillermo Castro, Ron Drummond. Tom Fink, Eric Gamalinda, Stacey Harwood, Jacqueline Johnson, Nathan Kernan. Timothy Liu, Bob Rosenthal, Daniel Shapiro, David Shapiro, Sparrow, Mike Topp & William Wadsworth

Cornelia Street Cafe
29 Cornelia St
New York, NY
(212) 989-9318
$6 includes a drink

Subway: A/C/E or B/D/F/V West 4th

Saturday, March 24 2007, 3:00 pm
Saints of Hysteria: A Half-Century of Collaborative American Poetry
with Jeff Conway, David Trinidad & others

Ear Inn
326 Spring Street
New York, NY

Subway: C/E to Spring Street; 1/9 to Canal Street; N/R to Prince Street

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Most of my blogging energy has been zapped by tasks or absorbed into backchannel conversations. Also I am writing an article about poetry on the internets.

& still getting ready to go to Philly for Frank's benefit on Sunday. HUGE thanks to the presses and individual poets who've sent their books to help a fellow when he could use it. (The real prize is you.)

I've got some new books I want to sit down with, try to articulate responses to (whatever they are).
One of these is Mike Magee's My Angie Dickinson, which is like one of those tiny sponges that expands into a big foam dinosaur when you add water. Open it anywhere and it's already careening along stomping woodland creatures and ripping the tops off trees. Very interesting how you can feel ED in his lines and dashes, but also feel something very (very) different. Her signature subtlety meets its funhouse mirror. Plus the cover is up there with The Anger Scale, a kind of stylized movie poster collage with bits of poems replacing the promotional copy and Angie Dickinson repeated in grayscale poses, with scriptwriting/director credits going to MM.

Elsewhere, Kasey has made a spot for folks to talk about what they'd like to see in a new writing conference.

& elsewhere, Mathias has made a step in the direction of a cooperative blog store for small presses & magazines.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

& I'd hafta . . .

. . . go with the Robot on this one.

Didn't (& must I? I guess I should, fine) read Logan's piece. (But also note from the snippet that apparently all critics are men. & so are all kings.)

Jordan's approach is why I like Jordan's criticism (even when we disagree), & also reading bloggers who talk about what they are reading.

No kings. No coins. & usually a more-right idea.

I'm a poet. & I'm a reader. It's just more useful.

Consider yourself tagged?

Andrea would like to know what you want from poetry.

Me too. (& I will also answer, but gimme a day or two. Busssssssy.)

When I made that list . . .

. . . I totally didn't put any Ashbery on there.

But really I could have easily put Some Trees or that multibook (which is how I read it) The Mooring of Starting Out, that includes the first five, or Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, even later books. I agree with Ron today that he doesn't get old for me, even when he's not getting new.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Mmmm, the smell of DIY freshness

F Fresh news at the DIY blog E

A roundup of neglected news includes new updates from Apostrophe, Black Ocean, Dancing Girl, Dusie, Effing, Horseless, Longhouse, Lulu, Octopus, & Ubu Editions.

I should be able to keep up better now that the move is over & we're all settled in. It's a theory.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Oh the weekly box

We've joined a community-supported argriculture program. Works out to about $14 a week for the duration of the season, for all the superfresh organic veggies we can eat. (That's roughly the cost of three clamshells of mesclun greens from the grocery, y'all, for arugula, basil, bok choy, snap beans, cilantro, carrots, lettuce, peppers, potatoes, pumpkins, watermelon, squash, scallions, radishes & plenty of those famous Jersey tomatoes. They even do tomatillos & jalapenos, so are suitable for Texan tastes.)

Can't wait for May. YUM.

This org can help you find a local CSA to join. Even in NYC.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Raffle raising: Fundraisers for Frank

You have heard about Frank Sherlock's emergency surgery, heart attack, meningitis, and lack of employment & health insurance, yes? If not, the alarming details are here.

Well, poets & friends are coming together to throw various fundraisers--all over the country! I'm helping with the Philly one, gathering books (and other prizes) to raffle off during the readings.

Event details:
March 18th,2007
at FERGIE'S PUB (1214 Sansom St)
4pm to 7pm on the 2nd floor

$20 suggested donation
(Everyone paying the $20 donation will receive a raffle ticket, and for each additional $5 will receive an additional raffle ticket. All day long we'll be raffling off books, tarot card readings and other prizes!)

HOSTED BY Jenn McCreary
BANDS, POETS & FILMMAKERS INCLUDE: Goodbye Better, Don Riggs, Christina Strong, Jessica White, Chris McCreary, I Feel Tractor, Dorthea Lasky, Shanna Compton, CAConrad, Ish Klein, Black Landlords

Our good friend Frank Sherlock was rushed to the hospital January 22nd with a sudden and mysterious illness which turned out to be a serious case of meningitis. He needed emergency surgery and also suffered a heart attack and kidney failure as a result of symptoms related to the illness. His friends have come together to help him at this critical time. We are reaching out to other friends and the poetry community on Frank's behalf. Frank's poetry page can be found here: FRANK SHERLOCK

from the Friends of Frank Sherlock

There are two or three others in NYC after that, I think (see details at PhillySound), and in fact there's already been at least one. Also Juliana Spahr is coordinating cash donations, which are, thanks to her org, tax deductible. (Again, see PhillySound if you need that info.)

Got anything to spare I could add to the pile?

Books from your press, your own book?

Any other goodies that would make good raffle prizes?

EVERYTHING will be raffled to benefit Frank, helping not only with eventual medical bills but his immediate needs. If there are any leftover prizes from the Philly event, they will be passed to one of the other coordinators for the next event, & so on.

Please email me for details on where to send yr stuff: shannacompton [at] earthlink [dot] net

(I'm not on many listservs, just two small ones. So please forward, repost, etc. at will. That'd help too. Thanks.)

& here I was just feeling relieved

. . . at not having tripped over any

(there's not another poet for miles, here)

(tho I did peep Paul Muldoon in Princeton)

& then, daytimes, three days per week, the Hudson & East Rivers like moats

me bobbing among, vicariously internettin, skipping readings.

maybe next week.


also: increasingly impatient with poems being overly poemy

or poemish. too much like poems. including mine.

(i see ron also appreciates poems that "show their seams," which i believe i (probably erroneously) will go ahead & take the credit for coining, since it's now in vogue & will surely surely make me famous & rich.)

poets should be more than Ben Stiller in that movie with his signature look,

& not a series of poses. what, that's news? no.


but: here're some poems that don't have such troubles,

those in day poems by mel nichols.

they're really too short to quote, lest i type out the whole thin chap to say what i mean,

but when the first began
it is blue there

roof pulls away from the

folding the curtain the sky

not a rose a folding a not

tremble bird in fuchsia

tongue pink bride

tangled in a white tunnel [. . .]

i forgot all about being on the train & even the existence of trains, tracks, night, places to go.

you could get one here.

also, i am reading Tom Raworth's Caller & Other Pieces from same; more about that later.


"As soon as you put a name to something, a lot of times people get turned off: 'Oh, that's what that is,' and they don't want to know about it anymore. You can see that they would be disturbed. But at the same time, if you don't know what you are looking at, you'd be surprised how beautiful things are,"
said David Lynch, in the NYT Style Magazine


I received Court Green 4 (which I am not in, no, so it was a nice surprise, thank you, Chicago), & so far have liked Judith Kroll (just to see her, one of my teachers from UT, twice recently, where's she been?), the first few lines of Judith Taylor's poem especially, before it began to go patchworky: "Sometimes she is irritated with her thing.//Some days she is a poet wearing a pink bra./Some days she is a pink bra." James Grinwis has some fine bits too, "the campus like a huge white carcass" & "Academy of the fist-sized bruise" though I have a prejudice against souls; I suppose it's my upbringing. Still. (I do collect by bits--somebody called me on it once. I think it was Jordan.) & Maggie Smith's poem "Let's Not Have a Meeting," well, I'm just going to borrow it whole:
Let's Not Have a Meeting

Let's not have a meeting
on how to have more effective meetings.
Somewhere it is just turning to summer.
Clouds click into place and begin
the business of raining. It's that precise.
Then the birch is a violin. Then the light
above the kitchen sink is a beehive.
There are too many sounds.
Let's not have a meeting to name them.
I'm busy making a life. It could be the wrong life.
Then all of the work will have been for nothing.
You shouldn't have driven. There is no breathalyzer
for sadness. Somewhere it is already summer,
and ivy has claimed half the houses. Here it is fall,
and my tree is the only one on the street
still with leaves. You shouldn't have.

About which I will just say, I love it, despite lines ten, eleven, and the word sadness. & Susie Timmons's "Arson" is also (really) a keeper, tho I think her longer lines should have been indented after the wraps, especially since she has shorter lines later--but this is not the poem's fault, just typesetting [so pull yr window out wide now for this stolen, unless the blockquotes ruin it, then use /]:

"I kept going closer and closer until I could feel the heat from the fire warming my face /
one of the firemen told me to move back, and I said /
it's an instinct, I just feel drawn to it. He said, I know. but you have to move back, you could get hurt /
but the fire was so warm and alive, a hot crazy animal.

I could read a whole book of that stuff. I also liked Jo McDougall's "One Horse Store" but am unprepared to say why.
I stopped at Elaine Equi's "Unisex Cologne" catalog copy poem (huh, appealing to my dayjob, it works, whaddaya kno): " BLACK FOREST [...] Makes anytime/feel like the middle of the night."

I haven't yet gotten into the political poem dossier. No telling how that will go, due to my own predisposition not to like my news and poems mixed. Eh, don't quote me, & knowing Court Green I'm liable to be proven wrong (again).

Info. (But the website is mistaken. #4 is the political dossier issues. #3 was the bouts-rimes.)

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Top* 10** Poetry*** Books**** That Most***** Influenced Me******

Yes, so, first, let's dispense with the matter of the asterisks, which I rebelliously am gonna give the key for at the top, not the bottom like some factitious hangers-on.

* Top in the sense of top of mind, top of bookshelf, or top as in "that's tops, pop" because my preferred lingo (and I do love lingo) is much older than me.

** I cannot count. Apparently. Watch. I routinely go over on these things or come up short.

*** You'll see.

**** Again, you'll see. The effect of these things I can equate to booklike.

***** An evanescence.

****** Ditto.

Without further, & oh yeah, also dispensing with hierarchy, so no numbers.

Anything, but first "Melanctha," technically a short story or possibly a novella, that reviled term, but POETRY for sure, then oh, well, let's see, everything else, but you can't go wrong beginning with (or revisiting) The Selected Writings by [one] Gertrude Stein & yes, I'm counting that as one bullet whaddaya gonna do.

The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara, more recently than you might think or I might admit except this once & anyway it seems like forever, first read it, in a period of solid days in 2000ish, twice & a half. Exclaiming aloud. Angry that nobody'd shown it to me before. That sounds practically slow-witted & isolated, I don't care. I'd even been in NYC 5 years at that point. I didn't know. Know I know & I am very very glad. & influenced.

The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens. Let's go back in time to oh say spring of 1988. I was awkward, stoopid, making many mistakes, but mostly, I credit myself now, because I was so busy LOOKING for something my tinyass little Texas town didn't have readily available. Aw yeah. Found it. Or a piece of it. (Shout out to Mr. Ray Langford.)

Is that ten yet? The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson. A hair, timelinewise, before WS, overlapping, but a much deeper obsession. At first. (A shout out to Linda Post, who wore a miniskirt to her wedding as documented in the pages of Seventeen & just happened to be my 11th grade English teacher. Bless ya.)

Kenneth Koch. I'm not even going to explain this one again, and if you'll allow "poetry" to include the books he wrote re: teaching poetry to children, lucky lucky lucky me. That & your indulgence, I'll make me some.

Now here I'll get way off-the-beaten, but Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. Circa 1985. I was a strict vegetarian for about 10 years, & still am about half so. Mebbe I should read it again, but I'm, um, chicken. Not poetry, well so what. You are what you eat, & I'm a poet.

Crap, I'm only down six. I've already started mentally revising & I've got a very late dinner in the oven, probably burning. So, lessee, really, I'd have to say that I feel like I'm choking on a test. Am I passing? Oh, wait, no grades. (& if I fail there's always the lake . . . for swimming & fireworks. Don't be so gloomy.) So, another "book" that influenced me/my life would have to be a short story called "A Jar for Yellow Jackets" by my husband, in a long-defunct literary mag, which you never read or heard of. He was 19 when he wrote it. I was 21 when I read it. But trust me, wow, was was it influential. & also poetry.

So, that's 7. The Collected Poems of Pablo Neruda. I don't really feel like explaining this one either, but suffice to say, I was in Mexico for longer than I should have been (oops, forgot to go back and finish that semester), relatively heartbroken (tho that seems silly now), & very soothed & bubbled up by these poems, their music and deceptive simplicity. I am still a sucker for them, 'specially in Spanish.

Uh, this one's a tie. A three-way tie. & again not poetry per se, nor can I limit myself to single books because, at this point, come on, you see it--I do this in GIANT GULPS: Samuel Beckett, Virginia Woolf & Edgar Allen Poe. Beckett placed me outta two years of college English. More time for elective poetry classes. Woolf & Poe gave me plenty to read, in the vast amount of time I had before I had the opportunity (literally) to branch out from the well-worn. An orangutan in a wardrobe--that still gets me. And The Waves. If I could do that, dying = happy.

Lastly, & also firstly, Leaves of Grass by Father Walt. Saint of the DIY & shameless self-promotion, the virtues of exuberance & expansiveness in a small, miserable sphere.

& a bonus, because I've already gone way over 10 & have 10 more to replace them with: The Oulipo Compendium edited by Harry Mathews & A. Brotchie. & also In the American Tree, editor Ron Silliman. & also My Life by Lyn Hejinian (rethinking: no, not really, not so much. I like it lots tho, which would be a different list, I guess.) & also Alice Notley except I'm still in absorption stage & not yet quite to influence. & also The Complete Poems of Lorinne Niedecker. & also. & also.


& ok, stalling, but mostly thinking. I will attempt to make a neat pile.

My trouble is I don't like lists. (That's my trouble?!)


& part of me is 100% convinced that those books that will influence me the most are some I haven't yet read.

Which is what I've been doing.

That, & going OUTSIDE.

& to my new favorite place in the whole world: the steamroom.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

The first issue of Ping*Pong is out, from the folks at the Henry Miller Library. It's got poems from K. Silem Mohammad, Jennifer L. Knox, Jean Vengua, Betsy Wheeler, and a buncha other folks, including four from me. Just started reading it, but Jean's feature (several poems and a prose piece) in the front of the book knocked me out. More on this one later.

Get it.

The Feminist Menace

That's what was printed on the tee shirt of a gray-ponytailed hippy dude at my gym yesterday, above a big old smiley face.