Saturday, December 29, 2007

Here Comes My Meteor

Chucking the future
for a bygone shadow
leaving the antlers of
history on the table
as the only evidence
that nothing resembles
these particular shadows
as much as Happy Days
what will you
say to the man mirror
who grins like a
tortoise in a desert
can you Black & Decker
this economy
smiley face IM
Apollinaire knew in
Zone, life no longer
new car smelly
something so
perfect about a
block of ice in which
the zeitgeist
dances, suspended
like a Rx

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Silver Wonder Press

Silver Wonder Press here in Chicago has just released Lee Ranaldo's "Hello From the American Desert" with an introduction by New York poet Todd Colby. The Silver Wonder Web site is looking really good. My chapbook "Disharmonium" will be the next book published in Silver Wonder's chapbook series. Many thanks to Chris Gibson for the exceptional job he's doing with Silver Wonder -- it's definitely worth it to buy some of what's offered on the site. Silver Wonder rocks (literally). Have a look.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Beneath the Eyelids—Storm

—after Robert Kelly

Meloncholia mise-en-scène,
aloof, these branches
pushed upward no-
thing hums, these
à la carte?

Look, to be
seen as if then to raze
from memory some
loam belonging
to speech starting
carousel of womb,
making sense
of time, sotto voce.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

More info. on the Observable Books Reading Series.

Here's my holiday greeting to the city of Chicago in the Trib.

And an audio file of one of my poems read on Bob Marcacci's MiPo Radio. Happy holidays to readers of this blog. Thanks for checking in.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Even Without Bumpers

—for Lina

I love you as the fissipalmate foot of an Ibis loves the water.

I love yóu even when mísplaced accénts cause havóc.

As the fruit bat’s wingspan, reaching nearly five feet, slices the night air, dropping like the USS Missouri onto a plate of black rose petals, I love you.

I love you the way I love a fine cartouche.

I love your.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Forget About The Wild Swans at Coole

Most ancient toxicologist, sun,
wears a uniform called morning

left right left right left right
the armies are advancing

nectar of war in the shield’s reflection
the sunlight on the horizon

gazing into the dungeon of the possible
this prison we’ve constructed of longing.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Jan 3, Kate the Great's, Steve Halle, Adam Fieled, Melissa Severin, Larry Sawyer & Lina ramona Vitkauskas

I'll be reading Jan 3 at Kate the Great's bookstore, 5550 N. Broadway, Chicago, 7 pm with Steve Halle, Melissa Severin, Adam Fieled, and Lina ramona Vitkauskas. Nosh and sip refreshments too.

P.F.S. Post has an incredible array of poetry up including John Tranter, George Bowering, Amy King, Lars Palm, Daniel Nester, Noah Eli Gordon, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Steve Halle, Catherine Daly, Simone Muench, and Anselm Berrigan among others. Have a look if you've never done so.

And many thanks to Philadelphia poet Adam Fieled for P.F.S. Post and also for including us in his floating reading series.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Is MiPoesias the coolest magazine in existence? The team of editors here at Me Tronome think so. It's nice to see that chivalry isn't dead. That's Ken Rumble in the photo being helpful. I'll be reading with Ken in St. Louis in the near future in the Observable Books Reading Series. While you're online read some of the new poems up at milk.

Oscar Country for Old Men

Houston - we have Flarf, I mean lift-off.

Will Flarf be making an appearance this Sunday at Myopic books? It's possible. Come down to see what it's all about. THIS SUNDAY (Dec. 16) we have

Anne BOYER was born in Topeka, Kansas, in 1973. She was raised in Salina, Kansas, and educated in the public universities of Kansas. She is the author of The Romance of Happy Workers (Coffee House Press, forthcoming 2008), Selected Dreams with a Note on Phrenology (Dusie Collectiv, 2007), and Anne Boyer’s Good Apocalypse (Effing Press, 2006). Along with K. Silem Mohammad, she edits the print journal Abraham Lincoln. She teaches at the Kansas City Art Institute and lives in Northeastern Kansas with her daughter Hazel and the cat Ulysses.

Michael CROSS edited Involuntary Vision: after Akira Kurosawa's Dreams (Avenue B, 2003), and is currently editing an anthology of the George Oppen Memorial Lectures at San Francisco State University. He publishes Atticus/Finch Chapbooks (, and his first book, in felt treeling, is forthcoming from Tucson, Arizona's Chax Press. He is currently a doctoral candidate at SUNY Buffalo.

K. Silem MOHAMMAD is the author of Breathalyzer (Edge Books, 2008), A Thousand Devils (Combo Books, 2004), and Deer Head Nation (Tougher Disguises, 2003). He has also co-edited and contributed to two books in Open Court's Popular Culture and Philosophy series: The Undead and Philosophy (2006) and Quentin Tarantino and Philosophy (2007). He co-edits the magazine Abraham Lincoln with Anne Boyer, and he maintains the popular poetics blog Lime Tree (
I have tickets for the upcoming Lebowski Fest here in Chicago. I can't wait to see No Country for Old Men. Javier Bardem is supposed to be the best screen psycho since Hannibel Lecter.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Of Diving Bells and Butterflies

When you're as famous as Julian Schnabel you get to show up at Cannes wearing your pajamas. From the director of Basquiat and Before Night Falls we now get The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. I'm looking forward to seeing the story of Jean-Dominique Bauby, an editor of French "Elle" who was almost completely paralyzed after suffering a massive stroke at the age of 43. Despite his condition, referred to as locked-in syndrome, Bauby eventually learned to communicate by blinking his left eyelid. He dictated his memoirs to his assistant based on an elaborate alphabet communicated by blinking his eye.

If Bell is as good as Basquiat and Before Night Falls it will be imminently watchable. Schnabel treats the silver screen like a big canvas and uses big swashes of color and dreamlike sequences to illustrate the lives of his characters. There's usually just the right mix of ingredients in Schnabel's surrealist cocktails.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I'm included in the third issue of Vanitas . . . Vincent Katz's magazine.

Here's an interesting excerpt of an interview with
Aram Saroyan conducted by Pirooz M. Kalayeh. Saroyan's one-word poem "lighght" is one of my favorites. Unlike most poetry, poems such as this to a certain extent do require that the reader "gets it."


PK: In your poems, the word and image are simultaneously united. This blend creates an interesting shift in perception. In a sense, it requires a different way of looking, and that, for me, is a different way of being. I am often attracted to art that brings me such a moment of connection. Thank you for that.

I remember looking at a Jackson Pollock painting, and feeling a similar way. For one brief instant, there was a lack of thought. In that space, was the experience itself. It was akin to a "What's that smell?" moment. Of course, the "smell" was simply my previous conception of "looking" being dropped for some actual face-time with that moment.

Is this what you hope to achieve with your pieces? If so, how do you go about a poem's conception with such an intention in mind?

Aram Saroyan: I remember when I was a teenager my dad took me to the Museum of Modern Art in New York and I saw a work by Franz Kline for the first time, and I thought, this guy has really gone out of his way to make something ugly. The ugliness is probably what shifts the way you think, or the way you are, for a moment—I think that’s what you’re talking about. The poems by me you refer to are probably the ones in Complete Minimal Poems and they’re now forty years old. When the book came out I read it through from cover to cover a couple of times and had a number of different ideas about it. One was, it’s about a young man in his room and at the door of his room.

I didn’t have any particular conception I wanted to get across when I wrote or when I write today. I think artists think with their work, not before they go to work. After I finish a piece, I always wonder, does this work.

Eventually, after many years (or maybe it was just a couple of years), I realized that Franz Kline’s work was the height of elegance. So it changed and/or I changed.

PK: I hear you. Franz Kline. I never went deep into his work. I remember seeing a couple pieces at the MOMA and The Philadelphia Museum of Art. I remembered that Jean Michel Basquiat cited him as a big influence on his work. I didn't stop long enough to stick with him though. I was busy checking out Cy Twombly. I didn't really like it, but I didn't dislike it either. I think seeing his pieces made me feel that kind of "ugly" you are referencing. I don't know though. I tend to see pretty in ugly and ugly in pretty. I don't know. I get so confused sometimes. It's not a bad confused, but simply a blending I suppose.

Were there any other visual artists that changed on you?

AS: I always loved Warhol. And Donald Judd. When I saw the first Eric Fischel at a Whitney Biennial in the 80s I thought, oh, that’s ugly. I didn’t like it. And then, sure enough, of all the painters of that epoch like Salle, Schnabel, etc., I started to like his work the most. I think Schnabel’s movies, especially Basquiat, are wonderful.

Warhol was such a great colorist, so inventive and elegant. I think I picked that up at an unconscious level. Later on you realize what it was that got you. His protégé, Basquiat, is also an extraordinary colorist. And sometimes he does great things with words. Like he has the word milk with a little copyright sign beside it. Exactly how insane our global corporate rigamarole has gotten.

When you live in New York, as I did, minimalism like Donald Judd’s work is terribly appealing. It balances the environment. I think I had to get out of New York to write differently. The environment is transgressive. Either that or I’m just a natural born country boy.

PK: Genesis Angels: The Saga of Lew Welch and the Beat Generation is a fascinating book. It reads very much like fiction. In fact, there were several times where I wasn't quite sure. In fact, it almost reads like an autobiography. Why did you decide to write in this style? Was it to capture Lew in a way that a traditional biography couldn't?

AS: There’s a first draft of that book, a more traditional, rather academic biography, which I reread recently. There’s a lot of direct quotation from Lew Welch—interviews and correspondence mostly—and that’s the best part of it. After I reread it I took some of the Lew Welch parts and made a solo performance play of it. It would be great I think for someone like Liev Schrieber or Joseph Fienes. But that first draft was, the Lew Welch quotes aside, a bit dull. So I rewrote it as a sort of Kerouac novel. Some of it is novelistic and/or autobiographical: I was trying to capture the spirit of Lew and the people around him, the Beats.

PK: You say a Kerouac novel, and I definitely feel that. There is that mad rush. At the same time, it's still very much you. I don't see Kerouac's long dash in continual use. You also vary the speed of your sentences by throwing in the occasional one or two-word sentence. Was this an intentional move? Was there a reason that you stayed away from the long dash continually and non-stop as Kerouac did?

AS: Kerouac was a writer I felt I had to come to terms with, and Genesis Angels was my moment of reckoning, so to speak. The book was written a chapter a day and not greatly edited by James Landis, my editor at Morrow. I suppose my technique is a little different, but the idea was to let go and write what came to mind. I started it right after my wife Gailyn gave me the verdict that the first draft was a tad dull. We were living in Bolinas and it was a beautiful day. I was crestfallen, but somehow energized too. As I walked back into the house to start the book again, I looked up the sky and thought to myself, “Just this blue” [meaning the color of the sky]. It’s interesting because the second draft written quickly in my version of Kerouac’s “spontaneous bop prosody,” told a more complex story than my first draft, which was ostensibly more reflective and took much longer to write. Probably I was laying the foundation, familiarizing myself with the story, so that I could then take off.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

I know by now you must've read all of Time's 100 Best Books of 2007.

This morning finds me rereading some of John Solt's poetry. And tonight I'll fight the Chicago ice and go see Kristy Odelius read at Quimby's.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Jean Cocteau (1889-1963) was a poet, novelist, dramatist, designer, boxing manager, and filmmaker. Although he has been criticized for having his hand in too many artistic pies, I’ve always liked this particular poem.


Preamble (A Rough Draft For An Ars Poetica)

Let’s get our dreams unstuck

The grain of rye
free from the prattle of grass
et loin de arbres orateurs




It will sprout

But forget about
the rustic festivities

For the explosive word
falls harmlessly
eternal through
the compact generations

and except for you


its sweet-scented dynamite

I discard eloquence
the empty sail
and the swollen sail
which cause the ship
to lose her course

My ink nicks
and there

and there

and there


deep poetry

The mirror-paneled wardrobe
washing down ice-floes
the little Eskimo girl

in a heap
of moist Africans
her nose was
against the window-pane
of dreary Christmases

A white bear
adorned with chromatic moire

dries himself in the midnight sun


The huge luxury item

Slowly founders
all its lights aglow

and so
sinks the evening-dress ball
into the thousand mirrors
of the palace hotel

And now
it is I

the thin Columbus of phenomena
in the front
of a mirror-paneled wardrobe
full of linen
and locking with a key

The obstinate miner
of the void
his fertile mine

the potential in the rough
glitters there
mingling with its white rock

princess of the mad sleep
listen to my horn
and my pack of hounds

I deliver you
from the forest
where we came upon the spell

Here we are
by the pen
one with the other
on the page

Isles sobs of Ariadne

dragging along
Aridnes seals

for I betray you my fair stanzas
run and awaken

I plan no architecture

like you Beethoven

like you
numberless old man

born everywhere

I elaborate
in the prairies of inner

and the work of the mission
and the poem of the work
and the stanza of the poem
and the group of the stanza
and the words of the group
and the letters of the word
and the least
loop of the letters

it’s your foot
of attentive satin
that I place in position
tightrope walker
sucked up by the void

to the left to the right
the god gives a shake
and I walk
towards the other side
with infinite precaution

What would win your vote for World's Worst Book Title? Let's not indulge in any Pooh bashing though.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Upcoming Poetry @ Myopic Books

Sunday, December 16 - Michael Cross, Anne Boyer, & K. Silem Mohammad

Sunday, January 27 - Joel Craig & Philip Jenks

Sunday, March 9 - A Night of Translation ... Mark Tardi, Daniel Borzutzky & Jen Scappetone

Sunday, April 20 - Kathleen Rooney & Elisa Gabbert

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Americans are reading less, but studies show most will still invest seven minutes of their time.

I hope you'll check the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday (Nov. 27th). I wrote a piece for the Tempo section about the Chicago holiday season. It just happens to be seven minutes long.

Monday, November 19, 2007

It's interesting to hear Ubu Web's audio recording of Le Pont Mirabeau. Apollinaire may have had the most interesting personal life of any modern poet. It's remarkable that this was recorded in 1913. Here's the lyric as sung by the contemporary Irish, folk-rock band the Pogues.

Pont Mirabeau

Below the Pont Mirabeau
Slow flows the Seine
And all our loves together
Must I recall again
Joy would always follow
After pain

Let night fall, let the hours go by
The days pass on and here stand I

Hands holding hands
Let us stand face to face
While underneath the bridge
Of our arms entwined slow race
Eternal gazes flowing
At wave's pace

Let night fall, let the hours go by
The days pass on and here stand I

Love runs away
Like running water flows
Love flows away
But oh how slow life goes
How violent is hope
Love only knows

Let night fall, let the hours go by
The days pass on and here stand I

The days flow ever on
The weeks pass by in vain
Time never will return
Nor our loves burn again
Below the Pont Mirabeau
Slow flows the Seine

Let night fall, let the hours go by
The days pass on and here stand I.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Why not help me finish this poem? I got to the last word and couldn't think of anything that fits. If you send me something that works, I'll use it and send the co-authored final out for publication. Act now.


Plea to the Grasses of North America

Let me lie down upon you
grasses of North America
caress your shallow root systems
grow dormant in
extreme conditions
and given to intermittent watering
during prolonged drought conditions
spread moderately.
Let me lie down upon you
grasses of North America
we won’t require
supplemental irrigation
we will tolerate one another’s
shadier areas.
Let our love be tough as bahia
grasses of North America
blue as Kentucky
and tolerate traffic like Bermuda,
but perhaps our stems are
decumbent (creeping) and slender
and produce long but require
very intense management.
Regardless we will
be most resistant to
grubs, armyworms,
chinch bugs, mole crickets,
and sod webworms.
Most certainly we will resist
sod webworms and mole crickets.
Let me lie down upon you
and drift off to sleep forever,
grasses of North America,
unless you would rather
that I observe you from
atop my _________*.

* Transvaal Yorkshire Terrier, John Deere 9410 Combine, dromedary, Austin Healey, spire

Thursday, November 15, 2007

There were some discussions going on last night at North Park University about the work of Whitman and Dickinson and whether their work represents two antithetical poles in American literature. I was glad to see that twentysomethings in poetry classes still talk about such things. I've tended to side with Dickinson, if such a competition exists (it doesn't). She was best able to write the condensed type of poetry I tend to gravitate toward. Whitman could have easily been a novelist. Leaves of Grass encapsulates America in its rhapsodic long lines, but Dickinson mapped some inner places that make her work more mysterious and interesting.


FOR each ecstatic instant
We must an anguish pay
In keen and quivering ratio
To the ecstasy.

For each beloved hour
Sharp pittances of years,
Bitter contested farthings
And coffers heaped with tears.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Upcoming readings

I'll be reading my poetry at the following locations in the near future. There will be no gesticulating. I'll leave that to Anne Waldman. I love Anne Waldman.

Nov 28—Lewis University, Romeoville, IL, 2pm

Jan 3—Kate the Great's bookstore, 5550 N. Broadway, Chicago, 7pm

May 1, 2008—Observable Reading Series (with Ken Rumble and Matt Freeman), 7260 Southwest Avenue, St. Louis, MO, 8pm

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

This Sunday @ Myopic Books

Myopic Books in Chicago — Sundays at 7:00 / 1564 N. Milwaukee Avenue,
2nd Floor

Sunday November 11 – Yuriy Tarnawsky

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
On Yuriy Tarnawsky's work:

Yuriy Tarnawsky is a bilingual Ukrainian-American writer, and the author of 19 collections of poetry, seven plays, nine books of fiction, a biography, and numerous articles and translations. Yuriy Tarnawsky's LIKE BLOOD IN WATER is a fascinating account of the creative and destructive arts. Taking inspiration from music and the visual arts, Tarnawsky crafts a dense work of allusive prose and simple storytelling. The author interweaves reality with dreams and fragmentary thoughts, diffusing the elements of lives that are anything but mundane.

What reviewers have said about LIKE BLOOD IN WATER:

"LIKE BLOOD IN WATER is an incredibly complex, beautiful, and frustrating work. It is less about story than craft, a fact that I found alternately exciting and confounding. Like each of the mini novels, 'Screaming' is broken into a series of interrelated sections, sometimes using poetry or even scripted dialogue. Piecing the sections together, choosing what to show and what to keep hidden, is what Tarnawsky does so well; by writing only the minimum, we as readers are forced to help him create the story, weaving it together and filling in the blanks. One need only read a small section of 'Screaming,' though, to recognize Tarnawsky's enormous talent as a writer, and to understand that no basic plot synopsis could do his writing justice."

—Andrea Chmielewski, Bookslut, June 2007

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I remember seeing Star Wars for the first time,
but it wasn't like seeing Breathless for the first time.
I was breathless when I watched Raging Bull for the first time,
but I was a raging bull when I watched Clueless for the first time.
I was clueless when I watched 8 1/2 for the first time.
I was 8 1/2 when I watched Snow White for the first time.
I was snow white when I saw Halloween for the first time.
It was Halloween when I watched High Noon for the first time.
I remember seeing King Kong for the first time.
It was in The Apartment that I saw The Searchers for the first time.
In Modern Times, a Taxi Driver should consider The Graduate and
go Singin' In the Rain On the Waterfront with The African Queen,
instead of this route I took classes with a Psycho from Chinatown on The Grapes of Wrath. Someday I'll be An American in Paris but for now
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? Rocky and The Wild Bunch
rode in on The Streetcar Named Desire to fill their Jaws
with The Best Years of Our Lives.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Clearly, It's Not So Clear

Ashbery is the most well-known poet in recent memory. How he achieved this is somewhat of a mystery, however. His poetry is indecipherable.

In 1977 Ashbery had recently won the National Book Award, the National Book Critics’ Circle Award, and the Pulitzer Prize for his collection, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. Like his cohort in the New York school, Ashbery is given to painterly abstraction and to appropriations of the language of everyday life. His poetry is famously difficult; as he then wrote, “It isn’t absolutely clear.” Here's my review of the Vermont Notebook.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

This Sunday @ Myopic Books

Myopic Books in Chicago -- Sundays at 7:00 / 1564 N. Milwaukee Avenue,
2nd Floor

Sunday, October 28 - Arpine Konyalian GRENIER & Gene TANTA

Born in Timisoara, Romania in 1974, Gene TANTA immigrated to Chicago in 1984 with family. He earned his MFA in Poetry from the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 2000. He translates contemporary Romanian poetry and makes visual art with found materials. Mr. Tanta's Publications include: Epoch, Ploughshares, Circumference Magazine, Exquisite Corpse, Watchword, Columbia Poetry Review, and Saints of Hysteria: A Half-Century of Collaborative American Poetry (two poems with Reginald Shepherd). Currently, he is a PhD student in Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee where he is also the Art Editor for Cream City Review.

Arpine Konyalian GRENIER holds graduate degrees from the American University of Beirut and the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts, Bard College, New York. Her work has appeared in How2, Columbia Poetry Review, Sulfur, The Iowa Review, Phoebe, Fence, Big Bridge, Milk and elsewhere, including several anthologies. She has repeatedly been chosen finalist for the National Poetry Series and the Greg Grummer Award, has two published volumes of poetry, and a chapbook is forthcoming from NeOpp Pepper Press.

Myopic Books is one of Chicago's largest used bookstores and a cat lives there and they don't allow cell phones.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


As a Chicago transplant, I’m still acclimating. Especially during these brief autumn moments, which usually seem much more like winter than they should—or as I remember Ohio autumns, which had some longevity. Fall (in Chicago) is no longer the time for reflection that it used to seem to be. There’s simply too much going on. Tonight for example there are more poetry readings going on around town than I’ve ever seen in my six or so years of living here. The Chicago staple--Around the Coyote Arts Fest--is winding down tonight with readings and exhibitions. Jesse Seldess is appearing in the Red Rover reading series, Chuck Stebelton is reading tonight, and Noah Eli Gordon and Joshua Marie Wilkinson are reading at
Myopic Books tonight at 7:00.

If that isn't enough, next weekend there will be a mammoth reading as the publication of the new anthology, THE CITY VISIBLE: Chicago Poetry for the New Century, will be celebrated on October 20th at 7:00 p.m. at 3617 W Belle Plaine Ave, Chicago, IL. (Gethsemane Evangelical Church—yes, in the church).

The readers will include:
Nick Twemlow – Robyn Schiff – Johanny Vázquez Paz – Joel Felix – Peter O’Leary – Garin Cycholl – Chris Glomski – Simone Muench – Cynthia Bond – Kristy Odelius – Lina Vitkauskas – Larry Sawyer – William Allegrezza – Jorge Sanchez – Tony Trigilio – Jennifer Karmin – Ray Bianchi – Kerri Sonnenberg – Eric Elshtain

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Here's an interesting article about Dylan's poetics of voice.


This article seeks to examine the literary pleasures derived from Bob Dylan’s songs, paying special attention to how Dylan’s poetical texts are performed and rhythmically rewritten by his voice, as well as the ways in which Dylan uses the songs to “write himself” through the creation of numerous and competing personae. Close reading of the lyrics, this article argues, must therefore be supplemented by a “poetics of the voice” and a detailed analysis of the theatricality of his “games of masks.” While a stylistic approach to the lyrics reveals a thrust towards writerly openness and new poetical idioms that fuse oral traditions with high poetry, the aesthetic and semantic uses Dylan makes of his voice are equally sophisticated. A study of Dylan’s “masks” will show that the artist uses archetypal poetic identities (prophet, trickster, man of sorrow, and so on) as fictional figurations of himself offered to the audience.

"Their monument sticks like a fishbone
in the city's throat."

I've never dug Robert Lowell's poetry but I found myself thinking of his line from "For the Union Dead" while in Washington DC last week. Lowell's patrician imagery and metaphor has always rubbed me the wrong way, but there are a few lines from his poetry that really work and resonate with me. I also caught myself thinking of Langston Hughes and the famous meeting between Hughes and Vachel Lindsay at the Wardman Park Hotel in DC where Hughes was employed at the time (which makes me think of when Jean Michel Basquiat entered the restaurant where Warhol was eating to try to sell him his "ignorant art" postcards).

Plus thinking of Hughes (being from Lincoln, Illinois) seemed logical because the ghost of Lincoln looms large in our nation's capital. I've always thought Hughes to be truer than Whitman to the cadence of America.

Here's a pic from the "Haunted Washington" walking tour I took, which was kewl. The ghost of Dolly Madison is scheduled to appear again on the porch pictured in the photo above sometime soon.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Pay attention

Is an explanation more useful than the object itself? Certainly not when it comes to poetry, otherwise we get.

"The eight-line poem frustrates expectations about poetry. It stands like a small aside, a voice suggesting in rather emphatic terms, 'so much depends upon,' that the seemingly simple, often overlooked elements of life are what really matters. In fact, the short aside is akin to the wheelbarrow and 'white chickens' in the poem--essential, but easily ignored. Pay attention, the speaker advises, to the ordinary, to the quotidian."

But how many have had to turn to an exegesis to decipher what is probably Williams' most straightforward work?

Do poets have some mental faculty that makes them more able to derive some kind of satisfaction from a series of words without a literal meaning? Maybe poets are predisposed to appreciate the conceptual aspect of writing and the spatial aspects of poetry because of their biology? I prefer Stevens to Williams whatever that means. There's nothing like a good cigar. No one needs to explicate that. I think Frank O'Hara had it right "But how can you really care if anybody gets it, or gets what it means, or if it improves them. Improves them for what?"

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Poetry @ Myopic Books, Chicago

Sunday, October 14 - Joshua Marie Wilkinson & Noah Eli Gordon

Sunday, October 21 - Chris Green, Tony Trigilio, & David Trinidad

Sunday, October 28 - Arpine Konyalian Grenier

Sunday, December 16 - Michael Cross, Anne Boyer, and K. Silem Mohammad

::::Myopic Books, 1564 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622, ph 773.862.4882::::

Sunday, September 09, 2007

flaming as Russia

spidery Autumn


sunflower erupting like applause


the fool who streetlights


tsunami pronounced tastes like

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I'm Not There

Now they're saying Shelley's politics "verged on the totalitarian." You can't fit a genius into the cookie cutter, but they'll keep trying, I guess. Mozart was a sillypants, but he wrote some mediocre tunes that people still waste their time on and Shakespeare was a sophomoric dreamer. Thus spake the New Yorker: A Magazine for All and None.

Burning man was burned too early by this weisenheimer.

Another stray City Visible review by Rob McClennan, interesting Canadian poet and publisher extraordinaire.

When I finally retire, I'm going to kick it in Yambol, Bulgaria. Don't ask why.

Daniel Borzutzky and Lina ramona Vitkauskas are my favorite poets in Chicago. Notice I didn't say "Chicago poets."

What would Dylan do? I know what he won't do. He probably won't go see that movie, although you know how I feel about Cate.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Readings @ Myopic Books

Chicago is known for Sox and Cubs, gridlock, Vienna Beef, furniture dealer Al Capone, Old Style, and guess what? ...poetry. Check the Myopic Book's blog for the latest news on what's happening next in the Myopic Books Reading Series.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


It's good to see that Poems-for-All got a little mention from Ron Silliman. The catalog is pretty impressive. These matchbox-sized books are really remarkable. I was glad Richard Hansen published my poem Crossing the Meridian. I got a big manila envelope filled with many little booklets. I first heard of his press because of Hansen's Poets & Writers interview. Despite the size, the production value of each is better than some full-sized books of poetry I've seen lately. Is bookmaking the lost art? In the past few years, Richard Hansen has published these folks. Whoa.

d.a. levy
Ted Joans
Robert Creeley
Roque Dalton
Peter Kropotkin
Charles Bukowski
Vladimir Mayakovsky
Jack Spicer
Bertolt Brecht
Anne Waldman
Arthur Winfield Knight
Kit Knight
Douglas Blazek
William Blake
Jack Hirschman
Delmira Agustini
Peter Orlovsky
Patti Smith
Allen Ginsberg
Dr. Seuss
Henry David Thoreau
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Robert Burns
Tom Waits
Ruben Dario
Pete Seeger
Tuli Kupferberg
Jack Micheline
Ko Un
W. H. Auden
Larry Sawyer
Harold Norse
George Harrison
Steve Dalachinsky
Michael Basinski
William Wantling
Jean Arp
A.D. Winans
Lyn Lifshin
Richard Brautigan
Diane di Prima
Gerald Nicosia
Kenneth Patchen

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

People are scooping up old LPs at record rates these days. There's no need to fear the latest phase of the retro craze. Sometimes new technology isn't necessarily bettter, it's just more convenient. iPods seem like old news now, but throwing an original pressing of Led Zeppelin IV or any James Brown
on the turntable causes some real excitement because vinyl's fuller sound really does make for better listening. Physical Graffitti is still my favorite Zep. But nothing compares to Quadrophenia for thrills, spills, and chills. The first Bob Marley and Miles Davis I ever heard was on vinyl and I think that added to the experience because I would sit listening to it and just stare at the album cover after reading the liner notes. Who does that with a CD? Anyway, from Chicago to Tennessee, vinyl is selling again. I'm glad I listen to jazz, because hardly anyone buys it and there's more left over for me.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


(This just in)
From the dark side
of an illustrated moon

a volcano destroys
all sentences
without religion.


Another Love Poem

We wear nothing but the air between us.


Late Night Movies

A train emerges from your
Mouth. Across the platform of our lives
Your lips are melting igloos. Could our
Conversation be any colder? Spring sparrows
Noticed it, your skirt of complications.
Your stilettos stab the pavement like my heart.
I crossed great waves to find you and dove
Into an ocean of metaphysics to discover
Your home there at the bottom. You lounge inside an
Echo. Your fragrance is eternal: I can’t escape it.
Did I try to escape? That’s exactly what I can’t
Remember. I’m shackled by the freezing
Rain on my window, deliriously silent.
Who am I, who are you? These are questions
We ask the hours. Each of them.


Dear Lorca

I love to Friday

through the thunder in the wall.

Ghosts spill

out across the carpet.

In the rain God nails

secret meetings.

Foreign Junes

skin lush jungles.

Humility is a vole.

Notice the chocolate horizon.



Wear the blue sweater of memory.
The days ahead won’t be easy.

Make a world noise:
the future is already here.

Advertising turned us into mosquitoes.

Galaxies in the distance still sculpt
the gism of the void.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

It's good to see a review of The City Visible (which includes yours truly) up at Book Slut.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Hallelujah Fruit Bowl

Thank you for your reliability.
I could always count on you to
maintain your even temper, as you
held the few remaining oranges
and a banana or two. You no
doubt heard my random muttering
in the kitchen on bad days, perhaps
a “goddammit” slipped out
once or twice, as I nearly cut my finger
or a pot boiled over. But you sat
there steadfast, performing your
duty so calmly. I salute your
temerity in that somewhat
frenzied nook, neighbor to
the toaster, but ultimately
without peer.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The anxious, clammy, and paranoid film choices of Paul Giamatti? (You have to skip the Sprint ad.)

Chicago's finest in riot gear is needed to disperse poets at a Printers' Ball? They could've just announced that the liquor had run out.

Ward Churchill can be fired after all.

DNA tests might have proven him innocent, but it's too late for poet Darrell Grayson.

Fully awake at Black Mountain College.

John Yau speaks with Rosalyn Drexler about art, capital "a."

It's time for another Best of the Net.

How to write the McPoem.

Here's an interesting interview with Kenneth Goldsmith re: Ubu Web.

A road is the end of the nomad.


We seek indigo theories
to explain our gravity.

As humans we pain.
Captives of perspective.

Mystique, in league with
altitude, resists.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Piano's Assassination

To sing but never to hum again along the vine

lining consciousness with fangs each

several lifetimes long our fingers hanging

like dove grey icicles, shapely tentacles that
sigh in the jelly dark

eyes like two terriers she danced into
view and multiplied.

Before I
knew it she had one times ten made two

several pipelines along a shoreline like a finger

the czar of sleep lie freezing
and unannounced as a pink priest

blessed evening fell gently on the town
lobsters and invitations falling all around
but even if we star on separate shows

on separate channels

silently swimming, almost unaware
our photos are so far Mafioso

but all we know of the piano
we loved so well.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Flood Table

If I could rewind your anesthetic
tell the forest leaves to quit their labor
then among clocks I would quince
and there aren’t enough thieves
in the ocean to construct twelve years
but my unemployed fork
will never be the same without your amber.
Here in the studio of wings
umpires drip sequined rumors.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Spirit of Reality

For Pierre Reverdy poems were self-sufficient objects, or “cristaux déposés après l’effervescent contact de l’esprit avéc la realite” (crystals deposited after the effervescent contact of the spirit with reality). The Cubist Poets in Paris anthology (ed. L.C. Breunig) was a bargain because its inclusion of Raymond Radiguet makes me think it really is complete. So a Saturday morning reading Cocteau, Apollinaire, Cendrars, and Radiguet takes my mind off the Printers’ Ball last night. I was having a pretty good time until the Chicago police forced everyone to leave—apparently the building code at the Zhou B. Art Center doesn’t allow for hundreds of poets and publishers to stand around drinking and talking about one another. Oh well. The choir singing an a cappella version of Frank Black’s “Where Is My Mind” was a nice touch.

I’m looking forward to the new issue of Ocho. Amy King and Didi Menendez are amazing. Everything they touch is golden. The latest Ocho is edited by Adam Fieled though. Thanks, Adam. You do great work with P.F.S. Post and I’m sure the next Ocho will be major league.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Souvenir of the Mountains*

The year’s rotting twilight
reddish memory wanted to get rid of them

photographs are cozily at home
famous paragon’s amorous adventures

naughty girl in a filthy shed
the great lagoon lives in the tiger

there is a glory to nicely
his knocker was iron impeccable

people who keep their mouth shut
have been painted green

as soon as possible on her
her luxurious grave of generous conversation

and I murmured around in circles
the metallic landscape with incredible lucidity was wrong

with great haste less pleasure
I don’t remember the answer

the black automobile of days is waiting.


*appropriation of lines from Adolfo Bioy Casares’ Selected Stories.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

For Thinking What You Live

Truth came early in the throat
a blanched monkey, stout as birth
hellborn and helpless these months
ache like inconspicuous stems
holding grapes filled with echoes.
My pleated lives really feel
cycloptic beasts who, greenish, need
and we’re brained and dying among false
trembling whys. Could nature be our
how, or are we helpless as unbranched
maples lining a driveway we’ve never known
staring upward into now?

@ Myopic Books this Sunday

Myopic Books in Chicago -- Sundays at 7:00 / 1564 N. Milwaukee Avenue,
2nd Floor

Sunday July 22 – Gene Tanta & Evan Willner

(Note. Gene Tanta will present a roundtable discussion on contemporary poetry.)

Evan WILLNER is the author of "homemade traps for new world Brians" (BlazeVOX [books]), a 7450-syllable worksome of whose poems have been published recently in 6x6 and Jubilat. Having recently completed/survived a Ph.D. in English at Boston University, he now teaches at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Gene TANTA was born in Timisoara, Romania in 1974, and immigrated to Chicago in 1984 with family. He earned his MFA in Poetry from the Iowa 's Writers' Workshop in 2000. He also translates contemporary Romanian poetry and makes visual art with found materials. Mr. Tanta's Publications include: Epoch, Ploughshares, Circumference Magazine, Exquisite Corpse, Watchword, and Columbia Poetry Review. Currently, he is a Ph.D. student in Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee where he is also the Art Editor for Cream City Review.


Sunday August 12 - Jason Bredle & Matthew Guenette

Sunday October 14 - Joshua Marie Wilkinson & Noah Eli Gordon

Myopic Books - 15 years of innovative poetry in Chicago

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Arrivederci, Modernismo

I'm just digging in to "Arrivederci, Modernismo" by Carter Ratcliff (Libellum, 2007). I'm glad Vincent Katz sends me the latest. His press Libellum and his journal Vanitas are both prime examples of why small press publishing is flourishing in the U.S.

Write to Vincent at 211 West 19th St., NYC, 10011 if you'd like to submit. Vanitas is a gorgeous magazine and Libellum is kewl.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Untranslatable Glyph with Clouds

-for Edwin Denby

When my eyes look for an end to form
we may find orange morning in the darling blood
when the sheets are wishes and the fan comes swarming
plunge your hands into sleep's enormous diagnosis.
I am your patient on that unspeakable floor
when the clock squirrels sanity I posture my ice
as we wish these things time is our breeze.
we leave our pillows upon the sea.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Monday, July 09, 2007

This Sunday at Myopic Books

MYOPIC POETRY SERIES -- a weekly series of readings and occasional
poets' talks

Myopic Books in Chicago -- Sundays at 7:00 / 1564 N. Milwaukee Avenue,
2nd Floor

As part of the Printers' Ball Reading Series . . .

Sunday July 15 – Daniel Borzutzky, Becca Klaver, Brandi Homan, & Mark Tardi

Join us for this unique event at Myopic sponsored by POETRY. Poets will read groundbreaking selected work from the Poetry archive including Zukofsky, Ashbery, Eigner, Creeley, Stein, Sexton, Wakoski, & Berrigan . . . at random. Beverages will be served (and served again).


Sunday July 22 - Evan Willner

Sunday August 12 - Jason Bredle

Sunday October 14 - Joshua Marie Wilkinson & Noah Eli Gordon

Myopic Books - 15 years of innovative poetry in Chicago

Saturday, July 07, 2007

A few important days in the life of Holden Morrissey Caulfield, a tall, skinny, highly critical and depressed sixteen-year-old who academically flunked out of Pencey Prep boarding school. . . I was thinking recently about the most famous, least famous (yet brilliant) poets and writers, not necessarily neglecterinos. I was also thinking about what poets and writers are the most well-known in the eyes of the public at large. If someone on the streets of Manhattan were asked about The Great Gatsby or Shelley or Ron Silliman or Edgar Allen Poe or Bob Dylan or Frank O'Hara where is the line of demarcation? Odds are that the average Joe on the street could not name the author of The Catcher in the Rye, or the author of Howl, or the author of Harmonium. Does everyone need some knowledge of the main works of literature to have an informed opinion and who's to say? Certainly Salinger's mystique was cultivated by his genius as a writer but also because of his elusive qualities. [Garbolike, he just vants to be left alone.] Some great books have worked their magic on our social subconscious in very subtle ways. Some works really only register with other artists. In byegone days, Rod McKuen sold many books. My copy of Listen to the Warm was bought nearly as a gag gift yet didn't go unread. Some of my favorite "sleeper" artists include Ray Johnson.


Maim scar decimate confuse obliterate
lie prevaricate confabulate tear shoot hang
bomb incinerate beat stab torture
blast burn muzzle cripple wound punish
vivisect torment crucify bully misinform
perplex obscure confound shame disgrace
fluster moider embroil disturb jumble
disturb discriminate antagonize bludgeon
scapegrace dictate domineer tyrannize
inflict terrorize disturb rape pillage
plunder ravage overrun sack spoil
maraud vandalize loot pervert humiliate
mortify supress evade mystify cover-up
deceive falsify devastate wash rinse repeat.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Occasional Distant Emergencies

We are told that among that obscene
dawn there are hideous pleasures hiding.

A study in disregard is permanent. Yes,
poetry is boring, but my poem has cats.

My poem is a lobster catch, verbena, some
impudent wry perception involving the moon.

God, I’m sick of the moon and all it portends.
I’m sick of the moon appearing in poems.

In so many words, fuck off, moon.

O, my naked cheese cover yourself with
a cracker and bombard my lips with passion.

Monday, June 25, 2007


Aaron Belz mentioned me in a poem, which makes me feel honored.

Everybody Polka

The well-oiled machinery of night is a cackling jade huddled cellphonic masses
as a friend on the ceiling makes the most deceitful
bartender. Like Norse gods, weigh credit cards
spend retirement sums as large as trade deficits.
My compadre with the olive suspenders and ample bosom
lifts a glass of sarcasm to the heavens and launches an epistolic invective
that Chicago in all its blustery charm cannot fathom
although we in our
and they in their
and me and my ubershadow cannot
in this year of our political apathy
simply stand here amid the techno induced stupor
of these
and refrain from the thought that the
years are passing us like taken cabs as we,
stunned, pass from our daydreams into summer software.
In the stereo dark we are invisible as eyes
and long for stuff
because props make the man and the waves form a sea of

Saturday, June 23, 2007

John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia recorded live in Spain is a spectacle. Paco de Lucia's playing has me thinking of duende. There's a moment on this clip during his first solo when the audience reacts and an electrical current runs through the room for a moment.

What interests me about the idea of duende is its nearly unidentifiable nature. From most definitions comes the idea that one can have duende without technical skill. Federico Garcia Lorca embodied duende because of his mystique and became the most oft quoted personage on the topic. "Thus duende is a power and not a behavior, it is a struggle and not a concept." Even so it's hard to resist thinking of it as a concept for the sake of discussion. The psychological state or mood produced by many of Lorca's poems embody duende in their searching, mysterious quality. It's the record of a life lived in the balance that's interesting, or a note played bent.

Black pony, big moon,
olives in my saddlebag.
Though I know these roads,
I’ll never reach Córdoba.

Through the plains, through wind,
black pony, red moon,
death watching me
from the high towers of Córdoba.

Ay! What a long road.
Ay! What a brave pony.
Ay! Death, you will take me,
on the road to Córdoba.

distant and alone.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Mlekowoz Cafe in Krakow.

Yes, I struck incredible Floridas
That mingled flowers with the eyes of panthers
In skins of men! And rainbows bridled green
Herds beneath the horizon of seas.



If the voice of Charles Baudelaire isn't the voice of modern poetry it is probably the voice of Arthur Rimbaud. I prefer Rimbaud and admit that his prose poetry is not something I return to on a regular basis. I almost view him in a light similar to Whitman in that his writing forms some shadowy foundation upon which everyone else works. The unique qualities inherent in the works of these two are inaccessible and shouldn't be imitated. There is the spirit of Rimbaud in Lidija Dimkovska's Do Not Awaken Them with Hammers that I really like. Nothing in it resembles imitation though and that's what's so interesting about it.

All the energy being expended over Salmon Rushdie's new award seems ridiculous to me. I've never read the Satanic Verses and probably never will. Someone should tell the crazed protesters that all literary awards contests are rigged anyway. Mr. Rushdie, just when you thought it was safe. Wait, weren't you just on Conan O'Brien the other night? You were knighted? WTH

Silliman does a good job contextualizing The City Visible but I don't get Chicago's reputation as the Rodney Dangerfield of cities. I guess there are poets who move to New York to feed off its literary history to give themselves some of sort of credibility because of their new mailing address. I thought the Internet had done away with all that. I couldn't care less if a writer is from New York or Akron --if I think the work is important.

Ok. Now this has me really wondering. Yikes.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

And here I am reading in character as David Hasselhoff.

It's good to see some reviews of The City Visible out there. Even Ron Silliman is talking about it now. OMG.

Someday I hope to see the Great Firewall of China, the pyramids in Egypt, and Notre Dame. Oh yeah, the great firewall just keeps people in China from looking at Flickr, which I thought was a harmless, photo-sharing site. I'm glad the Chinese gov't is there to squelch free speech, it's not like they're up to any wrongdoing themselves.

I'm really enjoying Lidija Dimkovska's Do Not Awaken Them with Hammers lately. It's worth ordering from Ugly Duckling Press.

A Heaven Beside Me

A heaven beside me is
revolving, a planet a window
a façade of confusion.
Poor landscape
a mouse with a pipe
playing electric ocarina
isolates my psyche.
What an uncanny picnic
this sparkling silver air.
Like a first date or
skyscraper juggling a desert
there is a beauty to ice that
only a statue understands.
O silence,
how we must
squeeze restaurants
of their conversations.

Monday, June 18, 2007


And the moon upon the sea

upon the surface of an eye

a traveler in the dark

lost along the way

rides upon a wind

each day heaves a green sigh

invisible as a scent

omnipresent as time.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The story about the closing of Antioch College has me thinking of Rod Serling. Serling was one of Antioch's more famous alums, along with Coretta Scott King, Rick Ocasek (rock group, The Cars), Sylvia Nasar (author, A Beautiful Mind), and Mark Strand (poet). The year or so I lived in Yellow Springs is a good memory, so I'm wondering how Antioch's closure will affect the town. When I make occasional trips home I usually stop in the laid-back oasis of Yellow Springs for a saunter through Glen Helen and a stop in Ye Olde Trail Tavern for a bite. The ultra-serious Dave Chappelle is Yellow Springs' most famous resident these days. Years ago when I lived in Yellow Springs I ended up at a gathering at the house where Serling had lived during his Antioch days. I had to go upstairs to see the room where he stayed. The homeowner had tried to keep the room as Serling had kept it and some of the belongings were supposedly those he'd left before his move to California. I wasn't surprised to find much Shakespeare.

"The play's the thing
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King."

Monday, June 11, 2007

Life at Kentucky Fried Chicken

Once I saw in a backroom that there was
a room behind that which was behind that room.
When I told everybody that the backroom wasn’t
really the hindmost room in the building and that
in fact there was another smaller room inbetween
the room they thought was the backroom and the
actual backroom they didn’t believe me.
Not only that, I was sent to the backroom, their
idea of it anyway, as a sort of punishment. They
asked me to think really hard about why
they thought it was necessary to send me
to the backroom and that questioning the
location of the backroom was something
that just wasn’t done. I walked off and thought
"I wonder if anyone has ever mentioned this
as a comment in the suggestion box"
so I went over and unlocked it and
inside was a note that read "this food sucks.”

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Why So Enormous

There is a logic to breathing that I know so well
here is the darkness where the mirrors hide.
Where are you waking, walking so?
The city is a Smith & Wesson covered in noon.
There I discover the parallel moon.
The light, crazy ivy, is oblivious to waves.
It covers our hummingbirds in delirious flames.
My pizza is a plaza where I meet no one.
The silence there is a tribe of ice.
My shoes ache as I wait for the bill.
A woman files her nails with a miniature spell.
The sky is so wide that I’m offered a slice.
Soon we will march upon a desert and hum.
My pizza is a plaza where I meet no one.

Oh Yeah

And another thing

a candle balanced
precariously on my tongue

could be mistaken for the
pronunciation of your name

or mine, it's all the
same to me whether
you kill me with the
kind salutation that I am

of your race
among whales
and fish of the sea.

And these
air bubbles between us
pay attention
we breathe the
same air

are microcosms
in the gaps of our conversation

what lotus blooms, where all are lost in space

chasm, greet me
as I open usual doors

these stars, galaxies
when you advertise
pavement into speech.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Tell all your friends. My chapbook, Disharmonium, will be published by Silver Wonder Press in Chicago in late fall 2007. Contact Chris Gibson at P.O. Box 146399, Chicago, IL, 60614 to order a copy.

Why do I miss the 80s? I miss the goofy rock videos.

A friend of mine swears that Dylan is our modern-day prophet, foretelling of our climate woes and altercations in the middle east (think "After the Flood," "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall," and "Infidels"). His detailed notes on the subject made me want to listen to Subterranean Homesick Blues again, but that's as far as I got.

George W. has stomach problems of late. Could it be that he's finally realizing that he's the most ineffectual U.S. president in history?

I had the chance to go through the archives at Poetry Magazine the other day, which was a really amazing experience. The Printers' Ball is coming up, which should be cool. Don't miss the gravity-defying event at Myopic. It will be full of surprises!

So, most say that Aishwarya Rai is the most beautiful woman on the planet (Angelina who?). I still say it's Cate Blanchett. Personality counts dude. Rumor has it they're casting CB as Bob Dylan in an upcoming biopic. Weird.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Blaise Cendrar's Prose of the Trans-Siberian and Little Jeanne from France was one of the first books of poetry I came across when I first became more serious about reading. At the Fairborn, Ohio library I also found the Anchor Anthology of French Poetry with translations of the work of Nerval, Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Valery, Apollinaire and others. I had read those two books as a kid before I read Leaves of Grass. There's something about Cendrar's poetry that makes it seem like he's just having a conversation with you.

This page doesn't take full advantage of the interactive capabilities of the Internet to re-create experience but it's worth a look, too.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Glib Olympics

Who cares about the heirloom anyway? It doesn't go with anything and besides it looks too Rilke, desperate and alone. My shoes are more Neruda punching the pavement in tangerine triplicate as we ply the city with drinks and keep up our damn drilling, somewhere (down there) we will eventually find our raison d’être. You recline into another plush comeback and remind me that our paths have crossed for just this reason. Double-parked on a junket to WTF.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Wound Farmer

A regular Nick to your Daisy
watching it glisten like a meteor shower

televised in a block of ice.

There is an iffy cocoon
of these afternoons by the swamp.

I’ll milk the shadows of melancholy.

We’ll bathe in gender politics.

Femme fatale, decline all drinks proffered.
I left my sense of humor in my other suit.

You had a breakfast of bees.
Migratory birds applauded your rare frequency.

Perhaps we should’ve checked with the national
weather service about our feelings, before we let them fly.

At the English garden there you found
wan Snickers wrapper, sign of civilization.

Time has feathers, but we, too shy, seem
forever left to linger upon the lips of an hour.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys

The article up at the Poetry Foundation site had me thinking of my own early attempts to write songs based on the lyrics of Elvis Costello, Tom Verlaine, Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, and Marc Bolan. Cut me some slack I hadn't yet read Frank O'Hara. Beyond the trite or simply flat inbetween lines of many rock lyricists are bursts of real brilliance and insight that rival some of the most memorable lyric poetry ever written. Of course, the banal and simply pretentious sounds not half bad when backed up by a stack of Marshalls. As the groundbreaking sounds of some of the best music of the 1960s (garagebands galore) gave way to the decadent irrelevance of bands like the Eagles in the 1970s, rock music moved beyond its roots and became something else entirely. Some bands teetered between the bluesy roots rock that had started the phenomenon called rock 'n roll and the fusion based noodlings that marked the beginning of the end for quite a few talented musicians.

As rock bands began to be called supergroups, they took themselves a little too seriously and left what was genuine by the wayside. Before bands like the Ramones emerged on the scene to reclaim rock 'n roll and return it to what it had always been, there were certain songs that weren't so cheesy they couldn't be appreciated, mainly because the lyrics rang true and offered some kind of insight typically not found on the FM dial. Traffic's music has always been hit or miss for me, but I've always liked The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys because it defines the time period after Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues so well.

If you see something that looks like a star
And it's shooting up out of the ground
And your head is spinning from a loud guitar,
And you just can't escape from the sound
Don't worry too much, it'll happen to you
We were children once, playing with toys.
And the thing that you're hearing is only the sound of
The low spark of high-heeled boys.

The percentage you're paying is too high priced
While you're living beyond all your means
And the man in the suit has just bought a new car
From the profit he's made on your dreams,
But today you just read that the man was shot dead
By a gun that didn't make any noise.
But it wasn't the bullet that laid him to rest was
The low spark of high-heeled boys.

If you had just a minute to breathe
and they granted you one final wish
Would you ask for something like another chance?
Or something similar as this? Dont worry too much
It'll happen to you as sure as your sorrows are joys.
And the thing that disturbs you is only the sound of
The low spark of high-heeled boys.

If I gave you everything that I owned and asked for nothing in return
Would you do the same for me as I would for you?
Or take me for a ride, and strip me of everything including my pride?
But spirit is something that no one destroys,
And the sound that I'm hearing is only the sound
The low spark of high-heeled boys.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

"Chicago" Poetry

Ray's comment raised some questions for me. If experimental poetry is in some renaissance in the city/region, is it being written from a specifically Midwestern viewpoint? Is experimental poetry "regional" in the U.S. any more? What schools of experimental poetry are there in the city and who are the poets associated with them? Do the different poetic groups in the city depend on economic or academic standing? Are different groups really open to each other? What experiments are being done here that are not being done other places?

Anyone want to offer an opinion?
posted by bill @ 10:22 PM 9 comments

At 4:49 PM, Larry Sawyer said...
Random thoughts here...this recalls Kerri's comment re: shared geography vs. aesthetic differences? I think internal observers would probably be more aware of aesthetic differences and categorize along those lines and outside observers would tend to lump Chicago poets together according to shared geography. I personally think a little community building is a positive thing. I seem to note shared aesthetic allegiances among Iowa grads--not making a value judgment about it--and then, of course, there are divisions among the poets here, definitely, regarding stylistic and aesthetic allegiances. Perf poets being at one end of the continuum and page poets at the other? But setting it up as a dichotomy is simplification to an absurd level. There are many varying gradations inbetween. I've been living here for approximately 5 years now and feel much more at home than I initially did--I view bumping into the same groups of talented poets at various local venues as a blessing. I'm not one to quibble to the point of absurdity, most interesting poets I've met here are using collage tactics, colloquial language, somewhat surrealist juxtapositions, and various disparate elements mined from various media sources to make their work jump. I don't think many of the poets I admire around here worry much about whether their work is accessible, they operate on simultaneous levels of thought. I'm not sure many Chicago poets I know necessarily consider themselves "Chicago" poets either--seems limiting to apply the label. But this is America and marketing is key! Is there a craft vs. inspiration argument? It's possible to write oracular poetry that's also very experimental or else to write experimental poetry that seems perfectly comfortable to never leave the page. At some point any reading is a performance of some kind. One may choose to mutter barely audible poems but if the work is solid most audiences I know would still respond to it. Gabe Gudding recently gave a soft reading and was so masterful that one strained all the more to be sure to catch every word--is there a recipe for anti-performance? Can we figure that out and play off audience expectations? Is there now a Chicago school?

At 1:02 PM, Ray said...
I think that there are certainly some groups that have similar interests and concerns and then there are groups that are in dialogue some not.

Here is how I view Chicago poetic groups and some of these groups are in dialogue and some are not.
All of these groups have good poets and I think that it makes our city quite rich in poetic presences.

Here is my assessment of the subgroups within the "experimental" world of poetry in Chicago/Milwaukee anyone I left out please forgive me in advance.

Academic Experimental Poets:

Type of Poet: Tend to be full time professors or teachers.

These are poets who are marginally or completely experimental and can be interesting but who do live within an academic setting. This is the best marketed group in Chicago poetry.

S. Reddy
Arielle Greenberg
Tony Triglio
Dan Beachy Quick
Robyn Schiff
Bill Allegrezza

Non Academic Experimental Poets tend to be a little more daring than the academics but need to work harder on self marketing.

Type of Poet: Well educated but not teachers of poetry primarily

Chuck Stebelton
Kerri Sonnenberg
Jesse Seldess (Left us)
Mark Tardi
Ray Bianchi
Larry Sawyer
Roberto Harrison
Dave Pavilich

Hyde Park Poets/CPP/Danny's
a group that is very similar to the Academic Experimentals but they are either not academics or are Graduate Students and tend to be in dialogue with everyone. Strong Duncan influence here.

Matthias Regan
Eric Elstain
Peter O'Leary
John Tipton
Joel Craig
Michael O'Leary
Mary Margaret Sloan

UIC Poets, this group should be larger but I dont know all the name they are not experimental poets but they are not mainstream either there are many Steven's devotees they are more traditional and tend to use experimental forms and usages but are not easy to stereotype.

Kristy Odelius
Garin Cycholl
Simone Muench
Michael Anania
Mary Bittinger
Chris Glomski

Slam Poets/Hip Hop Poets

This is a mixed group some are totally Slam oriented and some are more talented and do other things two of my favorites in this group are Krista Franklin and Tychimba Jess

Therapeutic Poets

Finally there are a whole ocean of poets who could best be described as hobbiest poets or therapeutic poets and I dont know these poets well and much of their work is focused on self rather than poetry as art.


I think that all of these groups are in dialogue to a degree. There is not that much to say with the Therapeutic group since their concerns are different. I think that one area where all four "experimental groups" are weak is to be in dialogue with those poets like Krista Franklin and Tychimba Jess who are fine poets and who tend not to be from the same background a real outreach should happen on this front.

At 5:00 PM, Larry Sawyer said...
What is considered "experimental" is a mutating concept, so it may be interesting if we make an attempt to define our terms. Is experimental: Olson’s poetics as “open field”; Pound’s emphasis on image above all else; the worldwide Surrealist emphasis on experimentation and bizarre juxtaposition; the Beats emphasis on controversial subject matter, raw presentation (i.e., first thought=best thought), and line length governed by breath unit; disruptive syntax and avoidance of the lyric of Language poetry; maximal actualism of poetry like that written by the late Jim Gustafson; talky-quirky, city surrealism of Frank O’Hara; abrupt variation in diction and tone (latinate and slangy words commingled) of the New York School? Does any of this apply any more?

Flarf? Certainly HTML and Internet use, not to mention the proliferation of the poetry workshop has affected the course of poetry in the United States. I usually assume that experimental does not include poetry that relies solely on contraversial subject matter with a disregard for craft. I've had Clayton Eshleman tell me that he goes through hundreds of drafts per poem. Cid Corman told me that producing a poem consists of excising all superfluous words. Is there a re-emergence of the lyric? Are sound poets being the most experimental. Obviously what was considered experimental in the days of the Don Allen anthology no longer applies, although I gained much from reading that book way back when. What's next is what I want to know. I'm genuinely amazed and constantly excited by this idea called poetry and all its permutations.

At 6:30 AM, Ray said...
Experimental is a throw away term. I prefer to look at contemporary poetics in the following way.

Out of the Pound tradition there is a profound use of many sources and a sense of history as poetry.

Pound's work comes out of that sense. So as contrasted with say Williams who was concerned with the everyday and using that to create new ways Pound and his followers are concerned with bringing our shared poetic history and a dialogue with other languages into the poetic conversation.

Duncan and the SF Ren people along with many Black Mountain poets do this well.

The best examples of this kind of poetics I have found recently is Chris Glomski's new book and Lisa Jarnot's Second Book (for its complexity).

I also think that there is a profound avant garde sense that does not desire this dialogue with other cultures or languages. This sense might be called Steven'sesque even though this is simplistic.

There are allot of 'experimental' poets who are not concerned with history or our poetic past or other languages but more with a sense of poets on a mission.

There are an aweful lot of these poets around. I think that it is easier to be this way since it requires less reading and can be more focused on self experiences in a non confessional way which also comes out of the Whitman tradition.

I think that to use contemporary MFA programs as a way to define the poetic 'tribes' so to speak is not helpful because it is too simple.

Chris Glomski for example went to Iowa MFA but his work is really aesthetically in the Pound/Black Mountain camp. He has much more in common with say Duncan than with Jorie Graham who was his teacher.

A poet like Garin Cycholl has many influences. His work could be a fusion of many things not least of which is a sense of the land and geography which is usually absent in contemporary poetics.

Another poet like Jesse Seldess has much owed to Stein and her sense of language and repetition and little to do with any aesthetic other than his own and Jesse went to Iowa as well.

So what is an experimental poet? My friend Joe Ahearn defined it this way and I cannot think of a clearer definition;

Concerned with Language non-confessional the postmodern sense that we can fuse traditional forms with non traditional forms fluidly.
a profound dialogue with other artforms. A dialogue with the actual and the non actual to create a new sense of language and poetry.

Regarding the internet I think the only difference between the Internet and years ago when poetry magazines were printed is a sense of access. Poets today can get their work out but the sheer volume of garbage has hurt the critical structure of poetry and I think that this has not been good for the artform the need for critical structures is the key thing needed for poetry. Someone needs to think about whether or not the poetry that is lauded is really interesting? I find allot of the poetry that is award winning boring and banal. I also find that allot of Post Language poets to be formulaic in their writing but they are getting published by intertia and reputation.

At 10:30 AM, Kerri said...
sorry i've been out of it lately. stil l waiting for a chance to collect my thoughts about last week's kenny goldsmith reading which i'll post here.

all of this vocabulary is very tricky, and part of what i want to say is that so-called experimental writers by my definition engage with the conceit that language is an imperfect system, an illusion of certainty that makes the whole endeavor of taking it up as one's artistic/expressive medium kind of absurd. writing that is not written with this (liberating? baggage?) in mind seems to lack a crucial dimension that I, as a reader, miss. This writing, that some may term non-experimental, conventional, school of quietude, etc. is best defined by my eye and ear as work that operates under the assumpion, the trust really, (in) of language as an authoritative tool. Authors that consider themselves masters of this medium, and masters of their readers' experience have always seemed to me a bit deluded.

similarly, i once attended a fundraiser for a local literary organization that situates itself within the traditions of identity/performance/declarative poetics. readings and mingling occured that made me and the fabulous and now in egypt dawn b. feel a little out of place. the director of the organization came over and asked us if we were poets, and then what KIND of poetry we wrote. that question still stumps me. dawn replied for the both of us, "postmodern." i'm not sure if this was any more definitive than "experimental" "for the page" or any other designation, but it seems the least problematic of all the terms kicked around so far/usually.

At 11:05 AM, Kerri said...
let me go back to a few of bill's initial questions, good ones. just when one thinks they can provisionally resolve the issue of what constitutes the "experimental" there's another issue of what constitutes regionality to a poetic school. i think it's more difficult than 10, 20, 30 years ago for geographic locales to develop a sense of poetic school because a. americans are very migratory, poets even more so, i.e. how many poets in sf or ny are born and raised in either place? are midwesterners more rooted to a sense of place? a lot of us seem to have a hard time leaving this region.. what keeps us here? (our highly developed "family values?"!) b. the post ww2 growth of the college industry that brought education to outposts that typically are not urban centers, or other traditionally artist communities. u.s. poets relying on these insitutions for work take on a nomadic lifestyle as a result, and add an interesting dimension creatively to one's sense of place. c. a unique sense of place is increasingly hard to come by in much of the country where the franchise landscape makes houston look like rockford (il) look like mesa (az) look like... a dearth of places, mostly older cities like chicago and ny, seem poised to blunt this homogeneity at the level of their local culture and thereby have more to offer writers/artists taking up questions of place in their work.

At 9:12 PM, Larry Sawyer said...
More random and forgive me if I stray too far from, ahem, the topic at hand, but I found an interesting Pound quote that had me thinking a bit more about the nature of what could be called "experimental."

--As for experiment: the claim is that without constant experiment literature dies. Experiment is one of the elements necessary to its life. Experiment aims at writing that will have a relation to the present analogous to the relation which past masterwork had to the life of its time.--

This reminded me of Ray's comment that there are experimental poets here in Chicago relatively unconcerned with the history of poetry or history in general. To understand the relationship that past masterworks had to the life of its time would require some understanding of the social context in which these texts were written. I think to a certain extent the attitudes of some younger poets, including their ambivalence regarding poetry of the past, reflects our consumerist culture where something that has only existed for five or so years is considered "old." It may be that it's natural that personal taste guides one to read only what one likes, consuming only the new, versus expending the effort it would require to study omniverously the poetries of the distant past or world poetries. I admit that writing poetry has shortened my attention span but it has not decreased my interest level.

It may be, going in another direction here, that poets who have no understanding that language in itself is a faulty construct and that narrative is at best a fallacy will forever write confessional or therapeutic poetry but by increasing their knowledge of what has come before and subverting it they may begin this process of renewal that could be called experimentation. I do see that there is a group of poets here in Chicago interested in innovation who understand that mere stylistic effect is not enough and that a focus on the malleability and plasticity of language must be grounded in an understanding of history, or at least literary history, in order for a work to have real social relevance. I think it may be that an awareness of all this is a distinctly Chicago viewpoint right now among poets here who are attempting something different in their writing, only because there may have been a lack of this viewpoint in this city until fairly recently, thus a "renaissance."

There are poets across the nation attempting something similar but there is a confluence of individuals here who are bent on innovation and they all seem to be of the same age range? The common denominator is aesthetic standpoint in a general sense versus using the locale of the city of Chicago as subject matter in the work. It may just be happenstance that so many interesting poets are now calling Chicago home.

At 11:49 AM, Kerri said...
The review of Ted Berrigan's Collected in the Poetry Project Newsletter has been reprinted on Silliman's blog today and it strikes me as relevant to some of the points Ray has brought up on the definition of innovation in poetry, the role of class and employment sector one's in poetics and poetry community, the role of history in innovation, etc.

I thought this bit was of particular interest, probably because "unkempt" sounds like a fitting description of my own activity.

Quote is from film critic/artist Manny Farber: "Good work usually arises usually arises where the creators... seem to have no ambitions towards gilt culture but are involved in a kind of squandering-beaverish endeavor that isn’t anywhere or for anything. A peculiar fact about termite-tapeworm-fungus-moss art is that it goes always forward eating its own boundaries, and, likely as not, leaves nothing in its path other than signs of eager, industrious, unkempt activity.”

At 12:12 PM, Kerri said...
on the charge that a lot of poetry being written today is not concerned with history, i disagree. while overt quoting from the iliad may have fallen out of f(l)avor, my sense is that there is more history, literary and, uh, the regular kind, pressed into allusion than i credit myself with being able to detect.

kind of like how the colbert report expresses a progressive viewpoint through the manufactured lens of a conservative slant, i think a lot of postmodern poets advance a keen knowledge and sensitivity to history with the informed structures they build on top of it. If I spend enough time I can usually find it peeking through the shutters, or perhaps history is more appropriately the hvac system in this scenario/contemporary practice.

maybe i just want to be talking about the colbert report and architecture and this has been a fiendish tangent. apologies.

Post a Comment