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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Ménage à menagerie

Summer reading at the DIY blog

F DIY Pub Web Ring is fresh E

Sandra and I have both been updating over there. More, and even more, to come. Catching up just in time for your break. Flex your PayPal fingers and get shopping. (I've got at least a week of excellent mail heading my way after my minispree yesterday. Isn't that just the best?)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Lovely weekend so much outdoors hardly inside at all with Maureen & Charlie & David & Stacy & Dot & Mr. Benchley & my honey. Canoeing (deer, frogs, geese, turtles) bbqing a couple of farmstands (strawberries, tomatoes, asparagus, flowers, there were goats and ducks and rabbits and a very tiny horse and a very decrepit old sheep, there are pictures) a walk in the park (we spotted a deer) a rainstorm a power failure some candles but nobody knew any ghost stories.

Now I'm back at work and trying to finish up some poetry things, an essay for Poet's Bookshelf 2, my Dusie chap, the resizing of A Gringo Like Me for its Bloof edition, and working on For Girls. Then there is the reading (been reading novels) Anne's Selected Dreams and Alice Notley's Alma, or the Dead Women and Danielle's My Zorba (oh!) and Maureen's Applies to Oranges (oh!) and the Dusie chaps that have so-far arrived, two more novels (new DeLillo, new Murakami, go now) after or during that.

Summer is here. I can tell because I'm piling up books for the porches and wearing my seersucker jacket.

Friday, May 25, 2007

2 new editors at the DIY blog

As of yesterday afternoon, Sandra Simonds and Jess Rowan are new editors on the DIY blog. So look out. (And send them your stuff.)

We'll be doing better at keeping up, and posting original reviews, etc. ROCK.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Reb on publishing standards & poems as commodities


Listen to i-outlaw version 2.5 now, featuring Charles Bernstein, plus poems by:

Ren Powell
Luis H. Valadez
Amy Bernier
K. Silem Mohammad
Amber Nelson
Steven Schroeder
Emmy Pérez
Erik Rzepka
Tim Martin
Shanna Compton

powered by ODEO

Sunday, May 20, 2007

From PGW's Chapter 11 to Soft Skull Press's new chapter

Or something like that. Here's the scoop direct from Richard, but basically the deal is that Soft Skull is being acquired by Winton Shoemaker, which is also acquiring Counterpoint Press. Soft Skull and Counterpoint will be restructured as imprints of the larger organization, and Richard will be overseeing both.

In a way, I will always be a Soft Skuller. I never did quite get out the door until this past April, when my last project was finally completed. I found it hard to leave because, of all my experiences working in publishing, from large press to teeny, whether as a publicist, editor, book designer, reading series curator, freelancer, or Associate Publisher, my time at Soft Skull was the best and most fulfilling. Without Richard's innovative strategies and uncanny knack for scrappy miracles, SSP probably would have disappeared completely years ago. He'll continue to do what's best for Soft Skull and Soft Skull's authors, without a doubt. (Best of luck, darlin!) Shifts in focus related to the press's growth, my own theories about what works and doesn't for poetry publishing, and everything we learned along the way lead to my decision to found Bloof Books to continue the kind of poetry publishing I did there, something I wouldn't have been ready to do without Soft Skull and Richard's encouragement. So it's all gonna work out fine.

As Richard notes, Soft Skull is *not* over. And they deserve and can really use your support now! He's offering 40% off EVERYTHING now at the Soft Skull store.

So I'll take this opportunity to suggest you pick up some of the poetry, if you haven't. For instance, there are only 9 copies of Jennifer L. Knox's A Gringo Like Me left in stock. After those are sold, Bloof will be rereleasing the book in a new edition (yay!) to match her forthcoming Drunk by Noon (yay!). (The other Soft Skull poetry titles will continue to be sold and distributed as before, no worries.)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Ask Me About My Poetic Career

The podcast is up at the Poetry Foundation website. [Direct link.]

As it happens, I don't really believe in/value the notion of career when it comes to poetry. I'd prefer something like "how to build an audience" or "how to reach readers," which are more in-line with my ideas about small-scale publishing and DIY. Business is business and poetry is best served by those with goals other than the bottom line, is what I'm getting at. Ideally, poets should be more active, less passive, about offering their work through ways that do not compromise it by entangling it with the demands of the publishing industry's idea of marketability. Keeping a poetry blog or making a personal website on the internet is simply one way (a pretty effective way) a poet who might never attract the likes of Knopf can proceed. It's a healthier alternative to sitting around whining about how nobody reads poetry, poetry doesn't sell, American culture ignores poetry, etc.

As for the notion that readers need gatekeepers to either A) protect them from the untamed wilderness of the internet, or B) enlighten them as to what is deserving of their attention, that's very much at odds with my own practice/thinking. Some editors, presses, magazines and institutions do view their missions this way, true. As a result it's imperative for anyone interested in poetry (as writer or reader of the stuff) to seek out alternative sources, in addition to those bearing an official stamp (which are, after all, a good place to start). Why the hell not go directly to the poets themselves?

Just wanted to make sure I was clear on those two things, in case I wasn't. It's actually tougher than it seems to be coherent with a big mic in your face, though Curtis made it as pleasant as possible. (Witness the mess I made of Reb's poor poem when I tried to give it a close reading on the spot. HOO HOO WHEE!)

Anyway, here are the links to the stuff I mention, should you be here a'lookin:

Reb Livingston's blog Home-Schooled by a Cackling Jackal
"Retention" by Reb Livingston in Kulture Vulture
Her chapbook from Coconut

Flarf: Mainstream Poetry
Katie Degentesh's book The Anger Scale
Combo Arts
"Life Is a Strain for Me Much of the Time" by Katie Degentesh (scroll down)

The Continental Review

Nicholas Manning is editing this new video journal. Looks like a promising format, and I like the idea that there won't be issues, per se, but continuous updates.

Linh Dinh's is my favorite piece so far (click the globe in the left sidebar--permalinks for individual videos would be nice). I like the juxtaposition of the unrelated imagery and layering of the audio tracks. Both expand the experience, rather than simply illustrate the poem.

Which reminds me to also mention Flux I Share.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Subscriber data vs. website visitors

From the LATimes summary of the lit bloggers vs. book review section crtics (via Ron's linkfarm today):

"Still, the numbers are telling: The literary blogs are reaching a small audience. While larger newspapers have hundreds of thousands of subscribers, the Elegant Variation, for example, has an estimated 5,000 to 7,500 hits a day, while Champion's Return of the Reluctant is averaging 40,000 visits a day."

This psychic statistician is amazingly able to determine that all the hundreds of thousands of subscribers to larger newspapers *actually read* the book review sections. (And, jeez, do we need to explain again the difference between "hits" and "visitors"?)

With a book-focused blog equipped with a sitemeter you don't need to be psychic! You *can* actually tell who's reading what, for how long. There's zero evidence that higher circulation in print = more readers. Just ask all those copies of Oprah's book club selections.

(Here's the link if you wanna read the article, but I really just wanted to gripe about that one part. I'm with Maud Newton, et al on this one: why the competition? There are plenty of books to go around, and lots of great stuff that gets ignored by the so-called "major" outlets. Plenty of great stuff that gets panned too. As I commented to Curtis Fox yesterday (recording a podcast to be posted soon I think), poetry bloggers didn't get all up in arms about this particular controversy because these papers, GASP, are *already* not reviewing us. Just one more reason I read the blogs. They fill a gap.)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

My essay . . .

. . . (which used to be called "Hacking the Template: Poets as Open-Source Artists" but is now surprisingly called something else), is up.

(The new title makes it seem like the essay is about ME. But really it's about YOU, or OK, about US.)

If you've ever wondered how poetry books make their way from press to bookstore or reader, you should also check out Travis Nicholls' article in the same cover slot. Good info there, and fair questions. When business and art collide, things get tricky, eh?


Also, I have some other big news.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

I don't know what it is

But something, or things, make(s) me reluctant to write on the blog.

Perhaps I dug my head in too far writing my (still forthcoming, promise) essay.

Or perhaps it's because the weather has been so terrific.

Or that my mom is visiting this weekend.

Or that I have a garden with a table, and no laptop anymore, which actually is something of a relief.

Or that I am still busy nosing about in my new environment, reacquainting myself with how everything occurs at a slower pace.

Or that I am spending 8 hours a week at the gym.

Or that I am working a few more hours at my freelance job than before.

Or that I am daydreaming or reading on my commute, but have been indulging in fiction. And nonliterary (illiterate) magazines. (I will update the Good Books list soon.)

Or that I have been cooking with new vegetables. (Swiss chard rolls perfected, thank you.) Anticipating my weekly box, which maybe I will blog as an adventure, beginning later this month when the farm is open for biz.

Or that I have lost, momentarily one hopes, whatever portion of my excitement (for poetry) was formerly uncontainable.

I know that's not it.

But sometimes the light from these windows (we open and close them, stack them up and windowshade them) is a wan light, and not warm, and it makes me want to leave the room.

Also, there's this book I'm supposed to be finishing. And a chap I've not even begun.

Hey look! I wrote a post.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

A post

Sometimes you are really trying to get ahead, not with junk but ahead your Life. & there are all these tasks you've lined up for yourself, in the little boxes on the calendar. You love to see them filled for pages and pages and then want so much to see them empty. Mustn't stop to spell the nonroses. Drawing lines through things is almost more satisfying than actually completing them. Hang some pictures. There was an item on the list that said give it up. Or maybe it was give it away. Put some books away. Where they belong. But there still aren't enough shelves & the house doesn't have enough pictures yet. Make a dinner. Make a lunch. Turn on the dryer. Make a bed. Later, get in it.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Excess, elsewhere & the future

The papers from the Poetics of Excess panel have been published in the latest Action Yes here, including Anne Boyer, Lara Glenum, K. Silem Mohammad, Jed Rasula & Johannes Göransson. (Josh Corey's to come in a later issue, sez he.)

& speaking of what is being done elsewhere, the DIY blog is fresher than it has been in a while.

Re: the future, well, that will have to wait.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Oh. You're still here?

I kid! I am gonna finish my NaPoWriMos.

But I've been gardening.

I smell like mulch.

Mmmmmmmmmmmm, mulch.

While I'm out there getting dirty, keep your peepers peeled for the article I wrote about you, to appear soon over here. (Supposed to be today, but some delay or other. Soon tho.)

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

My talented sis

Buy some earrings from her new Etsy shop, so she can take me to lunch.

Lone Sand Tally's at Etsy

Endless loop

The first literary journals I ever read were those bigger-circulation, venerable, usual ones subscribed to by the libraries (public, community college, and high school) in my very small hometown in Texas. When I went to college, there were a couple dozen more in the libraries there. I read those too. I used them as a kind of map, & I had no idea that the territory they did not map existed. For the most part.

Now, here's the crazy part. I just peeped the contents pages on the websites of several of these same old mags. Many of the poets I remember from those journals are still appearing there regularly more than a decade later.

Those mags are still taking up most of the space in the PERIODICALS section.


Here's to all you little mag eds. Go little mags, go. Really, thank Jeebus for the internet too.

Speaking of which, I am catching up over at the DIY blog. (More to come later this week too. I'm not ignoring you, just behind.)