Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Review of My Chapbook "Ringing": Porn? Boring? Trying to Con the Reader?

The following review's on Goodreads:

"Well, I read it twice, trying to find what is good about this and I have to say, I can't. It sounds like porn that is slightly poetic. It is one step above porn because of word placement, syntax and phrasing, but all the c--ts, etc, and the rest of the sex -

I'm not against sex in life or poems, but I found it boring. Or like I was supposed to be shocked.

However, I do think it's trying to say something. I had a few impressions but I won't say. Still, I feel like I'm being conned with this book.

Not saying poetry has to be pretty - not at all."

okay, some comments from me now

--This is the 2nd time that Ringing (in its young public life so far) has been called "boring." Are these two readers on to something?

--Some people don't like the taste of, let's say, raw onions. That's the way it is and most of them are not going to change. But, again: boring?

--If I'm writing a kind of "porn" then it's a strange kind, made (in addition to sexual language and imagery) of violence and religion, surreal and jagged. I guess, though, that there is porn like that. (?) I am not, in any way, reinventing the wheel.

--Trying to con the reader? All writing is of course a kind of distortion. A kind of manipulation. But am I more than the ordinary poet-sheister?

--And, lastly, I appreciate the fact that Nanette read through the poems twice. It seems she gave them a chance. Fair enough.

Poetr! (at the airport)

Poetry! The ruined old figure of a woman in a wheel chair puts it all in perspective. And I think of the cats-and-dogs fighting. Smoke rising. Stars and dust. In the light of my body I think and I feel. In the shield of my love. Hear, O Israel! (God comes with all this thinking. And, all around him and inside him, like leaves burning, or leeches-- death.)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Blake Butler thumbs up "Ringing"

Blake Butler Thumbs up "Ringing" on his blog today

"Can I say I love Rauan Klassnik? He has a new ebook out, RINGING, from Kitchen Press, that does new things for ebooks, both in form and content. (a) the book has its own url, which I love, and the book is offered as html text only, a printable version, and in flash with illustrations by Ron. Two innovations for ebooks there that make this project exciting before you even begin to read.

The content as well is classic Klassnik, with brash sex and convulsive imagery. I am going to walk around for the next few weeks repeating the line: "Birds like planets——all ripped up." like Rain Man.

He seems to make these little aggressive forts inside of words, half throw-uppy and often childish, half ornate and/or sublime. The closest artist I can think of to compare to Klassnik is Pasolini, for their carcrash sex powerlight and their clear care among the 'profane'.

Here is a page from the book that exhibits this to me:

Curled up against each other we licked and sucked till we came splashing in each other’s faces. A chimp’s running down through the streets in the rain. Suddenly he pulls into a doorway where a woman’s undressing. We must have looked so cool——arched back, waving. Columned. Spired. Domed.

I like how this works in shifting between high and low, gross and high, etc.

Another wonderful read from someone doing something new"

And this means a lot to me because I really respect Blake's energy, taste, ideas, writing, brain, etc, etc....

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Animal Planet

Here's what I jotted down while watching the Animal Planet this afternoon before I snoozed off:

"Some people are like bats waiting in the darkness with their ugly little faces and their ugly little teeth. Bats, hanging upside down in the darkness. Soon they will fly into a barn and suck a horse's blood. They may poison it. Kill it even.

They don't know how to be any different. They think they are good. Wise. And right. Huddled together, in the darkness, with thousands of others just like them.

The Hells in some old paintings are similar. But in those people know they are in Hell. And know too they are depraved."

I woke, later, to the wonderful chattering of my parrots and cockatiels.

New Review of Holy Land

Coinciding nicely and exactly with the release of my Kitchen Press Chapbook "Ringing," a new, and brief, review of Holy Land has just appeared on Goodreads:

"Someone let me borrow this terrible book. I wish I could wipe the stink off my hands."

It's great to see that the book's getting around!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My E-Chapbook "Ringing" (from Kitchen Press) is now LIVE!!

I am pleased to announce that my e-chap, "Ringing," is now LIVE

I want to thank Justin at Kitchen Pressfor all his help in getting this together, (revisions, ideas, etc,...)

It was a pleasure working with him.

There's a lot of debate on E-chapbooks. Personally, as you might guess, I think they're good. Or, at least, they can be.

and, I must say, I'm very excited about this release....
very excited !

If interested, please check it out:

Rauan Klassnik----Ringing

Any comments there, or here, are appreciated.
(well most of them, probably, anyways....)

Some Thoughts on Divas & Death: Madonna, Paulina Rubio, Gloria Trevi, etc

1) We have a big view of the mountain. An Ibis is flying across it now. Paulino Rubio has a voice like pure blue water crashing white against the rocks. Forcing itself white into rocks. So stupid and childish. Willful. Like three pigeons above me. Hawked soon. Ultimate beauty. Wildness. A child in the wilderness. Eve, in the garden, with a weed between her teeth.

2) Madonna, just look at yourself. Or look at the dragon-figure of Sophia Loren propped up at the Oscar's. Like the Statue of Liberty's skeleton. Like Frankenstein. Look also at Meryl Streep, beautiful woman. Guido, my German friend, says, Madonna, your voice is thin. But you are still, I am sure, too much for me. But look, please, at Sophia Loren. I saw a picture of young Sophia, posing for Emilio Greco. She's seated. Hands clasped. Eyes aglow. It's black and white, but colors are exploding in me. The portrait Greco's drawing looks nothing like her.

3) The building of a Diva-- Gloria Trevi. Everyone loves a comeback (especially from such sordid circumstances) and this one proves that you CAN dress up a pig, lipstick, etc. After the building builds up a bit of speed and momentum it goes crashing harmlessly through all the glass doors...All aboard!

(She reminds me a bit of Tina Turner.)

4) Peter Murphy's Crystal Wrists. I have felt in twilight grief my blood clanging out of me like ice. And I would walk up into clouds. This is the music playing.

5) O-Zone--- Let's paint our chests red and yellow and green and dance. Let's feel up the trees. Grow tails. And swing the sky. Happy and high as a bright red jelly bean.

6) La Quinta Estacion-- more top-40 Mexican music. Walking through a market and out on to a plaza and handing out white plastic flowers. My wife thinks this music sucks. I think she (La Quinta) is a pied piper, red hair and all. And I'd follow her to the ends of the earth, my long tail twitching, gnashing down, and gushing down into wet oblivion.

7) Let's go into the jungle, in a canoe, just you and me. Like sugarcane, death's so dark and so sweet. My fingers are swollen. Eyes throbbing. We are paddling, you and me. Colors, all day dark, now get darker. Stars like a skull in a graveyard. Perhaps its a greyhound's skull. O, those days under the trees watching them race (and the man on the loudspeaker asking if anyone had any "spare cats")! Your voice is a shawl. The back of your hand against my cheek. When I'm dying, play this music, please.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Holy Land in Philadelphia, D.C and Brooklyn (upcoming readings)

Here are my next readings:

1) Philadelphia
Chapter and Verse Reading Series
this saturday, February 28 08:00PM
620 S. 9th St (between South & Bainbridge)
reading with CA Conrad and Mickey Hess

2) Washington D.C.
Sova (Coffee House)
thursday, March 05 08:00PM
1359 H Street - NE
Reading with Reb Livingston and Contessa Riggs

3) Brooklyn, NY
Pete's Candy Store
friday, March 06 07:00PM
will be reading with John Ebersole, Dan Magers & Sara Michas-Martin

I'll be reading poems from Holy Land as well as my chapbooks Ringing, Dreaming and All the Messiahs.

Ringing is due out any day now, from Kitchen Press
Dreaming in the summer, from Scantily Clad Press
All the Messiahs ??, from ??

Monday, February 23, 2009

Poet or Fiction? (standard MFA-Mixer question): Chilango Drowns

Chilango drowns. "Chilango" means a guy from Mexico City. Kind of a derogatory term.

But, never mind all that.

I'm playing a new game now. Each time I see one of these dead-body pictures I'm going to ask myself the question "Poet or Fiction?"

Here I think it's quite simple.

You can't tell by looking. Or can you?

Okay, let's get serious now.

The fact that he drowned (couldn't swim) and that he had a seizure all point to Poet-Poet-Poet-Poet-Poet

BUT, he is a Chilango... Mexico City...and since Mexico City is the largest city in the world, and it is indeed a big deal, means something, has importance, currency, etc, then this guy was obviously Fiction....

Sunday, February 22, 2009

My Favorite Moments from E's Live from the Red Carpet: Academy Awards

(no, it's not Miley Cyrus' outfit, but I do like the following comment:

"You can take the girl out of the corral, but you can't take the corral out of the girl. No matter how fancy you dress her up, this horse-faced-no-talent-Gussie-Mae still belongs on the farm!!"--(on the comments feed at Yahoo where I've linked her pic))

seriously, my favorite moments are

Flipping to the live bullfighting from Mexico City during commercial breaks. The other red carpet...with its own mickey-mouse personalities, flowers, and sequins, and cameras flashing...

Brian Johnson's "Torch Lake"--- Good Writing, but Not Exciting (a mixed review)

I've read Brian Johnson's "Torch Lake (& other poems)" three times now and I have very mixed feelings about it.

In a nutshell: it's good writing (sometimes very good) but not exciting (not all the time, but most, or a lot of it anyways). See, even my nutshell is qualified and complicated.

In the book's third poem "Postcard: Patio in Nice" Johnson writes "I am doomed" and then a bit later "It is a heavy curtain." In the 2nd poem (Mexico) of Section II, "He Lived in Exile for Many Years..."-- we encounter "stray dogs and laughing kids (that) make you think that your moment has gone, and it has."

In a generally bleak book this 2nd section, the middle section, is the bleakest. And the problem with the bleakness (generally) is that it's not like Kafka's bleakness which is filled with humor and often great and surging sexual tensions. ( in fairness, i must note that Johnson does give us a bit of the sexual tension... just a "bit" though...)

And the bleakness isn't Weldon Kees' knife-in-the-smile bleakness either.

I found wanting, more and more, to break out of the muted bleakness.

"Twentieth Century Music" (one of the last poem's of the middle section) ends with
"One eats the acid fruit.
One likes the exploded view."

This is what I was wanting, hoping for, expecting. The kinds of hits of acid Kees or Kafka give you. They don't come often enough though.

The book, especially in the middle section, also reminds me of a Faulkner character. I'm thinking of the old soldier in Light in August (i think) who sits in the twilight and into the night. A bleak sad figure. But Faulkner's character is lit up and disfigured by memory's horses, gunshots, etc.... In Torch Lake "I search vainly for an episode of war, a moment of awe, a visitation at dusk..."

In all fairness, some of the poems are exciting. Some at the beginning and quite a few toward the end. Poetry that tries to break out of the sadness and depression-writing that, unfortunately, hangs over and suffuses the entire collection.

Standout poems (for me):
"Olive Drab"
"Synopsis of Nights"
"Self-Portrait in Jar"
"Bread and Circus"

I'm guessing that some of the best work in this collection was made when the author was distracted from himself.

I think many people will really like this collection. I've just now emailed an old friend in Dallas suggesting he try it.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Seven Pounds-- a review (?)

I think Jorie Graham described Stephen Berg's prose poems as "beautiful, beautiful poetry" or something like that.

Well, I think (I'm a sucker for a well-made tearjerker) Seven Pounds is a beautiful, beautiful movie and I'd like to buy it so I can just enjoy it rather than spend so much of the time trying to figure things out. And without some of the skepticism I am naturally inclined to and for which the seeds herein (Seven Pounds) were sown.

But I'm cool with all that for the first time round. I think I watched the movie pretty much as its makers wanted me to.

Again, it's beautifully made. Especially the last ten or so minutes when you know exactly what's going on. The music and the visuals are wonderful and manipulative, wonderfully manipulative (break out the violins, boys, break them out!) and I was fighting back, without complete success, tears.

In the car on the way home I remembered how afraid my brother was before his bone marrow transfusions (except for the first one) and that made me cry some, quietly, leaning towards the window.

And then I thought of the guy on Goodreads who asked me "why bleak? what does bleak do for you?" (or something like that) in response to a note a posted about Weldon Kees.

I think I explained about Kees. Whatever.
Fuck it. Just fuck it.

When I Moved to Nevada (James Iredell)

One of the books I snagged at AWP is Jamie (James) Iridell's "When I Moved to Nevada." (Chapbook from Greying Ghost)

I thought it would be a while before I'd get to it (I have a tall stack of books behind my bed, some for interviews, some to help me sleep, narcotics, etc...) but today I pulled it out and I am glad I did.

I read some of it in bed, some of it in my recliner, and some of it in the bath,---and it's really wonderful. Like really good Denis Johnson. Like Jesus'-Son Dennis Johnson.

Here's an excerpt (one of many passages that really struck me):

"..we stepped over a thin dark trickle in the gutter. The stream ran up a short driveway and into the alley. It ran into the side of the man who'd been stabbed. He lay on his side, his breathing like a puppy's. People stood around passing cigarettes, but no one seemed to notice the guy. Jess and me agreed: get the hell out of there. But instead we knelt, our palms against the man's shoulder. 'Don't worry,' we said. 'You're going to be just fine.' "

(the section quoted above has kind of a Gabriel Garcia Marquez feel to least the first three sentences do...)

"When I Moved to Nevada" is filled with snow, drugs, stars, bars and music.

It made me think (though it's very different) of Jon Leon's "Hit Wave" but, really, this book is very and wonderfully Denis Johnson. Good Denis Johnson. If you're a fan of Jesus' Son then Jamie's chapbook is definitely for you.

AWP Chicago 2009: My Last Post-- 5 Drawings

I think I am done with AWP now. I have written. I have slept. I have taken my medication. And I have apologized. I am done. (O, whatever).

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

AWP: Visions I Saw and Did Not See

1) A train full of drunk genius poets spouting their shit (Sam Pink, Blake Butler, etc)

Drunk or not-drunk they were drunk!

2) Our waitress at the Tapas bar. Imagine Terry Hatcher squished down to about 2/3 her normal size. And her voice twisted up a bit.
Damn, she was sexy!

3) At Myopic, the sensitive and rugged figure of Larry Sawyer.

4) the Empty Bottle's crouched-over and sing-song watermelon-and-grapefruit poet. (Bravo!)

5) Joshua Harmon, ample-eyebrowed, making friends with the world one ant at a time.

6) The piece of Art over our table at the Tapas restaurant. In primary colors only, a bear standing behind a dolphin. A sexual position. But he's just taken a huge chunk out of the dolphin's back and red's pouring down.

7) Grey-haired Steve, musicologist, slamming his fist down on the table, as he proclaims The Smiths the band of the 80's (the Beatles the 60's, the Stones the 70's).

8) John, I think, darting in and out of people's legs (clutching a camera) like a wary rabbit.

9) A former teacher of mine hobbling around like Quasimodo. And I tried to feel bad for him. I did. I truly did.

10) A well-dressed bum (through a long, sad window) swearing at a lamppost for an hour and a half as the snow came down slowly.

11) The "suburban" and "ecstatic" Seth Abramson

Crow or Eagle

This may or may not be the cover of a Chapbook that Paula Cisewski and I wrote together on one or two Megabus drives last Spring (between Chicago and Cincinnati and back I think.)

We let the poems sit for a long time and returned to them only recently. Just before AWP.

And we were both like Hey these are pretty good.....

So, we'll be looking to get this published soon (self-published even....)

with this or a more beautiful cover,.....

AWP: Things I was Tempted to Do

1) Execute a rat.

2) Rub Goransson's head till theory, like sable-colored bees, came pouring forth.

3) Throttle that strange Omnidawn guy. Yeah that strange guy with the strange face trying to entrance and entrap you with his eyes and strange offers of "Gourmet Chocolate." Creepy.

4) Buy a bunch of Shane Jones' Light Boxes, take all the pages out, carefully, and then stitch them into a giant balloon and float away.

5) Say "are you going to buy it or what?" to that lost, sensitive soul who stood reading "The Man Suit" at the B.O. booth for 20 minutes. In fact, I said nothing. In fact (2), he bought it. In fact (3), it was probably only a minute or two (that was one of the many times I was tripping on my own juice).

6) xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

7) Lock myself in my hotel room and watch Poem Videos all day long. Especially CD Wright's profound little piece about the bottle of green liquid and Paul Muldoon's wise Hedgehog. Yawn.

I did actually enjoy some of these.

But I think I enjoyed the fluttering little bird in the "O" most.

8) Use the word "prick" more often.
O, hell, I probably said it 50 times.

9) Start a book contest where the finalists have to fight to the death in a Coliseum filled with drunk bloodthirsty writers and me, of course, with my thumb ready.

10) Browse the bookfair's tables for poems to submit to the various categories of SPD's bad poem contest. I'm convinced that all the real winners of this contest have already been published. That no one could deliberately come up with shit as bad/good.

11) Go up to my room and watch porn.

Seth Abramson--Nice guy, but confused,...

Over on HTMLGIANT today (the beginning of their Mean Week 2) Blake Butler makes the connection between Sex Ableton (House-Mouse Cock) and Seth Abramson and asks if I've gone too far. Have I? (added December 2010)

---(old post)----

Seth Abramson seems like a very nice guy. Now and then I've looked at his blog,
The Suburban Ecstasies, and though I think he's a bit wordy and a bit anal (a former lawyer) I do think he has a good heart.

His obsession and ideas about how many people come to his blog is a bit strange though. I'm also interested in how many people come to my blog, but I think I'm a bit more realistic than Seth in understanding what a traffic monitor's numbers mean.

Seth has just posted the following on his blog:

"3179: Number of unique visitors to this site today. 14,929 in the last week.

Fact: Less than 1% of those who use TSE services donate to the site.

Needless to say, I offer my heartfelt appreciation to that less than 1%."

to follow is the comment I just posted to that post:

"these numbers are very impressive... but, Seth, how many of these people are coming to yr site and leaving right away ?

A lot of people come to my site because one of my posts from a while back is titled "St. Peter's and the big cock contest." Someone in the United Arab Emirates, for example, (there seem to be a lot of Arabs interested in cock contests) enters "cock contest" or some such into a search engine and they end up at my blog.

Perhaps, like this, a lot of yr traffic is incidental.

I believe people are indeed following and reading your blog.

But, c'mon do you really think that 14,000 plus people this week alone have come to yr blog for its poetry ideas and resources ??"

If you're interested in Seth's ideas and the resources and services of the Suburban Ecstasies check it out. And consider donating.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Killer Buses (the scourge of PV)

the local blue and white buses of puerto vallarta are killers. I've heard tell of children (and others--- but children spikes the blood hardest, doesn't it?) run over by wild lunatic bus drivers, but this is my first photographic evidence.

an old lady done in by Bus U-63.

The problem is that drivers here don't get a salary. Or if they do it's a small base one and because they have families to feed, alcohol to drink, and the church to stand in and give tithing to they want as much business as possible.

And there are always lots of buses driving the same route at the same time so they're racing like crazed Mice-on-wheels (a bad Speedy Gonzalez image) to get to the next stop first.

And, so, lots of people are dead. Dead. Dead. Dead.

Suicide--another Dead Body

Man shoots himself in the head.
At a friend's house.

I want to shoot myself in the head. Feel it all.
And walk away unscathed.

But who doesn't want that?

Monday, February 16, 2009

My Love!!---AmericanWay's Adam Pitluk

It's amazing how close I feel to Adam Pitluk. You might say we are like brothers. But "lovers," to be truthful, feels more correct.

I remember when I was single and my assistant would announce a call from a new girlfriend. That's the same sort of surging anticipation and yearning that strains in me now each time I go to read the latest Editor's Note over at AmericanWay (American Airline's in-flight magazine).

It doesn't matter that I've called Adam's writing "retarded" and "piss-poor" and that he's called me (anonymously) a "cock" and a "dicknose." There's clearly something beautiful between us.

O, God, Adam, Yes!

And, this time, I'm only going to quote one excerpt from the new Editor's Note:

"I think a Cleveland championship would rank right up there emotionally with the birth of my children." (talking about the Cavaliers).

And I'm right on board with Adam here. When South Africa defeated Australia in the one-day and 5-day cricket test matches down under I felt as good as when my first Love Bird eggs hatched. (Those hatchlings, though, sadly, didn't last long.)

I'm not going to say you should check the rest of the Note out. It's pretty boring. Or maybe it's just the love-shaded glasses my heart's wearing right now. (warts and all, ya know).

If you do want to see my critiques of other Editor's Notes by Adam Pitluk then just click on one of the labels below. The first one's where I called the writing "retarded" and "piss-poor" and though I didn't realize it at the time it was, evidently, love at first sight.

O, Love is such a strangely splendored thing!

Next Interview-- Rebecca Loudon re her book "Cadaver Dogs"

For those of you who are interested the next interview on this blog will be with Rebecca Loudon regarding her fascinating book "Cadaver Dogs."

From the gangland violence of AWP to----

the gangland violence of pacific-coast first i was disappointed that this picture wasn't in color on the front of the paper i usually buy. but, i'm warming up to it. death, death, O death!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

"Fuck Off," etc: 12 Quotes from AWP

1)A nice and crazy woman bought a copy of my book.
Told Geoff Bouvier he was brilliant.
Told me to "fuck off."
Said she was "tired of sucking Paul Muldoon's dick."

(not sure in which order these 4 things happened.)

2) "No one's doing what I'm doing. I'm the most passionate writer here."

3) "If you buy a copy of it I'll draw you a boat."

4) "We're headquartered in Boston. Have offices in Chicago and New York. But we kick ass everywhere."

5) "Reading Holy Land's like getting punched. Reading With Deer's like getting knifed and then pissed on."

6) "She wrote it during an 8-week Ecstasy binge."

7) Reb Livingston (one of the most quotable people I've met):

"I need to coat my throat."

8) "I just wanted to say hello and tell you thanks for doing such a great job with my poems."

9) "Finger or thumb?" (kind of like "Tea or Coffee?")

10) "I'm way too important to talk to you. O, did I say that out loud (followed by a loud burst of fitful cackling laughter)."

11) "He wasn't as much of a prick as I thought he'd be." (Samson Starkweather regarding a well known--a very well known--poet)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Why Men Go to Strip Clubs (AWP survey)

One of my friends (Reb Livingston) has an interesting notion about why men go to strip clubs. So, I asked some people at AWP. Here are some answers:

1)--To give away singles.
--To stimulate the economy.
--Because it's there.
--To fill up the pool.
(Frank DePoole, Barn Owl Review)

2)--Bachelor Party
--Bachelor Party
(Matthias Svalina, wit)

3)--To fill my empty hole with sadness
(Sarah Wickline)

--Lather (Loufa ?)
(somewhat coy QAE representatives)

--to laugh
--to hand out buttons
(Ben Engle of Front Porch.)

6)--Because it feels good
--Because they like nudity
--Because it's on the way home
(Bill "The Hawk" of Intell Security. Bill's the guy who checks badges at the entrance to the bookfair. Bill says he was a writer but he quit because, he says,
"I like to eat"

7)--O, Man!
--They're great places to score Meth
--A deep craving for watery overpriced drinks
(Hugh Behm-Steinberg, Eleven Eleven, etc)

8)--To give their money away
--because they've got nothing
--to droop over their beers
(a West Conn. State University Spokeswoman)

9)--lack of sexual experience
--the dirt and the lighting
--in hopes of finding true love
(Noah Falck, elementary school teacher)

10)--they're doing it ironically
--they want to date strippers
(Joseph Hall, the angry reviewer, particle physicist)

--it's by the airport
--because it's hard to pay for sex there
(Dan, a friend of Chris)

and,... Reb Livingston says (loud and often) that men like to go to strip clubs so "they can take it up the ass."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Stroking the long stem of the cala lilly (Dreaming Ron Silliman)

I'm sad. I don't have any full-blown Silliman dreams to report. Some fragments, yes. But they make me even sadder. Like finding bits and pieces of the bible.

1-- I walk into my bedroom and Ron Silliman's jerking off on to my pillow. "Relax," he says. "I'm just spelling the alaphabet."

2-- I'm called into a room to identify Ron's body. They pull the sheet up--It's my dad. His eyes open. He stands up. We hug.

3-- I'm on a park bench next to Ron. He's duck-feeding. A big goose walks up. A very mean looking one. "This is it," Ron says. "This is it."

4-- We're going to hear Ron read. But what's this? We're on a safari jeep and we've snuck up on an okapi. Shhhhh, a voice whispers.

5-- Ron's in a kitchen making a peanut butter and jelly sandwhich. He's in his bathrobe and slippers and he looks so humble. I feel as though I'm intruding on a scene in a novel. "It's the only way," he mumbles. "It's the only way."

And then there's a really fuzzy fragment involving Shane Jones and his Light Boxes (i think.)

All these weeks in bed exhorting with all heart Ron Silliman into my dreams and this is all I have to show for such devotion. (sigh)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Action, Yes

the new Action, Yes is on-line now

this is what Johannes has to say about it on Exoskeleton:

"It is very big. Some figures and frameworks will be familiar (but hopefully not too familiar) to readers of this blog.

It includes two "automanias" by Swedish poet/performer/novelist Sara Tuss Efrik.

It includes several pieces addressing "the gurlesque", including texts by Lara Glenum, Dodie Bellamy and Aaron Kunin.

It includes work by Tina Darragh and P.Inman, whose work Mark and I have talked about on this blog.

It includes poems by James Pate as well as his essay on Clayton Eshleman.

It includes two poems by Clayton Eshleman, including one dedicated to Laura Solorzano (who is about to give a reading here on the Notre Dame campus).

And a whole bunch more,including work by such participants of this blog as Angela Genusa, Christian Peet, Ron Klassnik and Evan Willner."

I'll add that the Lara Glenum essay in it centers round the Aase Berg Guinea Pig poems....

Monday, February 9, 2009

Anna Nicole Smith-- Decadence, Kafka, Obesity, Truckers, Accountants,...

Two years after her untimely (?) death, a special on Mexico's "Society" Channel. My wife says that the word she's translated for me as Society carries more of a "snobby" aspect... anyways,...

Why is Anna Nicole so popular? (this is how i spend my pathetic life)-- I think it's a combination of soft, fat and hard surrealism. An exhausted pathetic decadence (bring me her dead body!). But more of that later.

1) (First, the obvious). Blonde hair. Big breasts. Truckers and accountants everywhere want to cum all over her.

2) She had the intelligence and maturity of a below-average 12-year old. This, of course, increases the allure.

3) Scandal-- she married an 80 yr-old oilman billionaire. Everyone (man, woman and beast) loves a scandal.

4) Her weight gain. People were disgusted. A cloud of derision hanged over our ruined world. Really? I think the truckers and accountants were even more inflamed.

5) She had lesbian affairs. Enough said.

6) She lost weight. Made a comeback. Everyone (man, woman and beast) loves a comeback.

7) Americans are the most obese people in the world. Mexicans 2nd. But within a decade there' going to switch places, like two fat fucks spooning. (And this does not mean Americans are getting think. Here there are 6 taco stands on every corner. McDonalds are blooming. When KFC first opened a few years back the line was an hour long. Salads here are a rare as hen's teeth.)

8) She was a poor small-town girl who made it big. Everyone (man, woman and beast) loves a rags-to-riches story.

9) She died young (?) and way too soon. And everyone unfurled their tinsel flags screaming "Tragedy." From every hill and rooftop in this ruined world. "Tragedy." "Tragedy." Everyone (man, woman and beast) loves a Tragedy and this was a big fat fucking Tragedy.

And, so, enter Anna Nicole--
All the arrows of decadence pointing into her fat ass. Fat, leaking, foul-mouthed Anna. Ample-busted. Ample-assed. Ample-thighed. And ample-tongued. What are we fighting for in Iraq? For Anna. Of course.

But what about the soft, fat and hard surrealisms, eh? O, Christ!-- let me be! Right now I'm imagining Ana crawling up on to my desk. Looking deep into my eyes. Playing with her hair. Kissing me on the nose.

I've been reading Kafka's "The Trial." Yes, the world is a maze and a hell. But it is also damned funny. Indeed, what would the Trial be without some deranged groupie stroking your hands from time to time.

Some people don't understand how Kafka could laugh while reading his work to a circle of his friends. Some of them put this down as nervous laughter. It was not. One of the world's problems is that some people have absolutely no sense of humor.

Se Mato de un Balazo

Man shoots himself to death. Hand still in the finger-pointed, "bang bang"
position......And is that a glass of milk or a candle?

I'm wondering also if he was shirtless because he didn't want to get blood on it?

On an unrelated note, my dog (Chuy, which is the nickname for Jesus in Spanish) has an upset stomach and didn't eat anything this morning.

Friday, February 6, 2009

on the other side of the interview

i answer a few questions about prose poetry, the blog interviews i do, and my forthcoming chapbooks on No Tell's Blog (with Kurt Geisler)

Floating in the Marina

Some people have a taste for death. Are drawn to it.

Drawn to images of it.

Some cultures don't encourage this. Don't cultivate it. Some do.

Mexicans just love death: blood, skeletons, the grave, etc, etc,...

Here's the cover of today's local paper: a drowned American (about 70 years old they report) found floating in the marina.

If you're interested in seeing more of these newspaper covers click on the Mexican Newspaper Gore tab just below this post.

AmericanWay's Adam Pitluk Continues to Deliver!

Adam Pitluk, the editor of AmericanWay (American Airline's inflight magazine), is definitely one of my favorite living writers. Not necessarily one of the best. But I can't think of another writer whose work I more look forward to. (and lucky for me it comes out every two weeks.)

Gone, gone, gone---
gone are the days I called his writing "piss-poor" and "retarded."

Adam Pitluk is a showman, wordsmith, philosopher, psychologist, etc, etc
And I can't get enough of him....

Anyways, here, in the issue featuring Paula Abdul on its cover, are some excerpts from his latest offering, "Opposites Attract:"
(to get the complete Adam Pitluk reading experience click here)

1) "The memory is a fascinating instrument -- especially when coupled with the elements of time and space."

This is the first sentence of the Editor's Note and it shows once again that Adam likes to start off with a bang.

Bang! Bang!

So damned clever and so damned profound.

2) "I can remember third grade with more clarity and precision than I can all of 2005, and third grade was 25 years ago. Perhaps in 25 years, 2005 will creep back into my long-term memory, but in 25 years, I’ll be 57, so it’s hard to say."

weird. just weird. but gorgeously and fantastically weird.
and, yes, Adam, it's "hard to say."

3) "The days since the Abdul radio era have turned to months, and the months have turned to years."

Such a beautifully wistful tone. Reading this I can't help but think I'm in the presence of a master!

"the Abdul radio era"--- brilliant!

4) "Paula has resurged once again as an international phenom. Say what you will about her continuous metamorphosis as a household name..."

Adam at his best. No commentary needed.

5) "The music still isn’t my particular brand of tea, but each and every song of hers triggers a pleasant memory of my old life."

I love how Adam fearlessly disfigures cliches and adages.

6) "My old life helped me grow to understand that life throws curveballs."

a master of the succinct universal truth. i've got goosebumps.

7) "Still, I admire the life she’s lived and the memories she’s given me, and for that, Paula is forever my girl. There. I said it."

atta boy, Adam!!

And you, Adam, are forever my boy. There. I said it.

And, damn, do I feel good.

You are a drug, Adam. You are a drug!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Benjamin Button: A Review (?)

More like Benjamin Boring. How many ways can you spell "Boring?" (My wife makes spaghetti many ways and it's never boring). And how many ways can I compare this to Forrest Gump? But Forrest Gump is so much more temperate than this spoon-fed summer's day. (Don't forget Titanic, Rauan. O, Rose! O, Rose!)

Okay, I saw Forrest Gump so long ago. At the Galleria in Dallas with Danny Dever. (Danny where are you now? In Phoenix still, feeding the masses?)

Okay, there are some beautiful scenes of Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett in their characters' primes (you could call them cheesy but I was filled with bright crayon sunset colors) but, god damnit, couldn't these have come 30 or 40 or 50 minutes earlier.

The pygmy character--- Jiminy Cricket !
Captain Mike---- Loo-tenant Dan
Daisy--- Rose. Ginny.

Hummingbird flying up out of the ocean--- ooooooooooo

And of course I didn't appreciate being brow beat by the anti-Dylan-Thomas-dying-of-the-light message.....okay, let's just sit on the dock, and watch the sun go down, and die.........yawn....

Note: while writing this I've been listening to young-lass (and young-ass too I guess) Amy MacDonald's "This is the Life." And now Cinco Minutos by Gloria Trevi. Trevi's made a comeback. She was in jail for helping whore out her dancers, or something like that. In one of her new songs (not Cinco Minutes) she dares the listener (presumably a younger man) to prove it to her. "I am the original," she scream-croons.

Gloria Trevi just oozes greasy trucker sex.

I got a bad feeling when I was in line to buy two tickets for Benjamin Button (screen 12, 8:05 PM, Cinepolis in Pitillal-- before Cinepolis and the adjoining shopping center there was a cockfighting ring here. this reminds me of the Kink's "Come Dancing.")

So, I got the bad feeling when I looked at the posters for "Bride Wars" (two cafe-knife wielding starlets) and "Marley and Me" (Jennifer Aniston hoisted up in Owen Wilson's arms. O, what chemistry !! I want to see them together on the big screen !!)

But, all in all, I am glad for the experience.

Another Version of At Sea

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Eleven Eleven

a few of my poems are now up at the new issue of Eleven Eleven

these are all in my chapbook "Ringing" (forthcoming very soon from Kitchen Press)

A New Stupid Drawing (At Sea)

my first drawing in what seems like ages.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Some Thoughts on Katy Perry's Hot N Cold

--It is indisputably a masterpiece.

--It’s so damned popular: why? After the first 31 questionable seconds it’s pretty much like walking through a children’s party blowing soap bubbles.

--PMS. Bitch. Who doesn’t love a hot foul-mouthed bitchy girl?

--On the first day of my Sophomore creative writing class (taught by Phyllis Janowitz who is still there in Ithaca 20 years later, and I’m here writing about Katy Perry. Damnit, life is strange...) we all introduced ourselves. One girl was studying Marine Biology. Another said she was in a band: but not stuff you hear on the radio that’s just got “a hook in it.”

There was an Asian guy who wrote a poem about catching fireflies. He and the guy next to him couldn’t stop giggling. I’m pretending now that he’s Tao Lin. EEEE EEEE EEEE

--My German friends say they have (in German of course) a phrase for a song you can’t get out of yr head. That’s stuck in you. It’s something like “song-worm.” They also have a phrase for people who sit for hours in the same place at a party: cushion-farters.

--On the beach today a stunt-man with Farrah Fawcett hair (his wife, incidentally, is a stylist) and beautiful blue eyes told us about his ideas for making some Mexican-based porn.

He’ll bring a camera down and all we have to do (like they do in Hollywood) is put an ad in the paper a week before. He plans to revolutionize the porn industry: 90 degree shutters, car crashes, “ramping,” etc,...

At the end of his pitch he said “I hope you’ve learned a lot from me today.” He also said he knows more than 50% of the directors in Hollywood. This means, I guess, he’s average. He’s a really good guy and his friends call him “Web.”

--Seconds 28-31 of Hot N Cold are absolutely sublime.

--By the fish market in Palermo (or maybe it was Catania. O, who the hell cares, you fucking name-dropper) I heard Hot N Cold.

Standing there in the slime, staring down at a dozen kinds of Octopus and Calamari I was so damned happy.

--I am thinking of Katy Perry in the Hot N Cold video, lifting her wedding dress as she pursues, with vigor, Jim Morrison.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Interview with Shane Jones re his debut novel "Light Boxes"

To follow is an e-mail interview I’ve just finished up with Shane Jones re his novel “Light Boxes”

Here's the Bio Shane's provided:

Shane Jones lives in Albany New York. LIGHT BOXES is his first book. He's also the author of I WILL UNFOLD YOU WITH MY HAIRY HANDS (Greying Ghost 2008) and two forthcoming books, THE NIGHTMARE FILLED YOU WITH SCARY (Cannibal Books) and THE FAILURE SIX (Fugue State, Jan 2010). Shane blogs at

"Light Boxes" is available at Publishing Genius

RK: Reading "Light Boxes", especially at first, made me think of M. Night Shyamalan's "The Village," and, often, I felt as though I was watching a movie kind of like "The Village." Because of the lush and beautiful yet sparsely rendered visual imagery. And also because of the mood and feel that your style and voice generates and embodies. A sense of foreboding, too, in the beginning, and then again every time things take a turn for the good. Paintings too, specific and imagined, came to my mind repeatedly. Paintings made primarily of large swathes of undiluted primary colors. Or sometimes mainly whites. In a recent interview on this blog Johannes Goransson said that Aase Berg is influenced by B-Movies (addressing her lover as "leatherface" from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre). Certainly you've been influenced by other writers (more to follow on this later) but can you talk about how the visual arts have influenced your work, specifically "Light Boxes?" And if you don't think you've consciously tried to draw from these other arts can you please, anyways, talk about some of the movies, paintings, etc, that you are drawn to?

SJ: Paintings play a major part in my writing. Sometimes I think paintings have influenced me more than some writers have. I make a strong point in looking at every issue of New American Paintings and going to and seeing what is new there. Painters just blow me away with what they can do. I think it's important for me to look at art in order to write. The images that paintings can produce are so visceral and strange that my mind just begins exploding with ideas. Not all the time, but when a really interesting piece of art hits, I immediately think "wow, that's incredible" and I want to write something new. I wonder if this answers matters at all. My girlfriend just asked what I'm doing and I told her and she asked "why are you so selfish." Now she's talking to the cat and saying "Yes, he really is a selfish man." So yeah, paintings are really important to my writing that maybe a few dozen people will read this year.

RK: Structure. Milan Kundera, in one of his essay books on writing (The Art of the Novel ?) tells about the hundreds and hundreds of pages of preparatory and side notes Dostoyevsky would generate for his novels (unless he was trying to make a quick deadline for some quick cash). Notes sketching out plot and character. Pages and pages each for different "matches" or "foils" for an existing character. Some used, many discarded. Kundera said that anyone who couldn't understand this had no concept of what goes into the making of a novel. "Light Boxes" is meticulously structured, all the way from the care in the selection of words and making of phrases to the overall architecture of the book in which the point of view is constantly changing from one character to another (but by no means haphazardly or sloppily.) Also, near the end of Light Boxes you give us a description of the writer's workplace containing "the stacks of papers, the fragments, the half sentences and abandoned dialog" which suggests in its organization and disorganization most crucially a striving towards organization. Can you talk about the making of this book? (a bit more of a glimpse of how, specific to you and this book, the artist brings a kind of order out of chaos.) And, if you want, can you tell us what in yr striving was most difficult?

SJ: I wrote the first part of the book in April of 2007. Pretty much just the first page. But with that first page the whole book kind of unfolded in front of me and I knew exactly what it would be, from who February was, to the structure of the short chapters, to the feel of the imagery. I just hit it. I probably could have written the book in a few weeks but I was working a lot of hours at a book store. So each morning I'd get up and write two sections. And then maybe another section on my lunch break, then another at night. I wrote about 120 of these little sections, some out of order. What was interesting is that I knew what the book was going to be like, but I didn't really write it in order. I changed speakers, action, all that. Then I kind of cut and pasted it together. It was a very collage like experiment and I think that comes through in the book -- it's a tight structure but it also feel organic and kind of loose. I love that. Almost all of the book was written that summer with some changes in that fall. As far as what was most difficult, probably finding a publisher. I have to go get cat food now. I told my girlfriend "i'll stop being selfish now." She said "okay."

RK: Kundera, again in one of his essay-books, says the great and true novelist, in order to be a novelist, goes through an anti-lyric conversion (Lyricist meaning, I think, "I-centered." Lyricists being poets.) after which, Kundera argues, he/she is able to describe things as they are. Joyce hit on this also, famously, when he describes the writer as being off to the side paring his fingernails. But Joyce also, I think, suggested his wife take on a lover so that he could feel extreme jealousy and be able then, presumably, to write about it. In the middle of Light Boxes you've made a strange and wonderful little section where you list great artists who've channeled sadness into great works of art (fantasy worlds). In yr novel you manage, I think, to maintain a distance from your subject(s) but I get the feeling that, here at least, you're a lyric-novelist, not a novelist the way Kundera describes him/her. Am I right or wrong or both? Or kind of? Any thoughts, response, to the above, general or specific, would be appreciated.

SJ: I'm twenty eight years old and I started writing when I was 18. For the first few years all I wrote was poetry. Really really bad poetry. I was into Bukowski and Hemingway (I went through a period where I read all of his books) and I had this really lame macho thing going. All the writers I looked up to were these "manly" drunks writing about women and drinking and how shitty life was. Now, that's okay, there is a lot of that kind of writing that is good or interesting or fun, but the thing is, I'm a skinny white kid from a middle/upper class family who was just going off to a private liberal arts college. It was bullshit what I was writing. I'm probably not answering you question but it's okay. I knew I wanted to write something more and then did bad short stories like Raymond Carver knock-offs. I went through this whole period of copying the "realists." I don't know why. Eventually, and this is just in the last two years or so, I started really exploring my imagination. I have a good imagination and I wasn't really using it. Things just started to come together for me in terms of my writing and feeling comfortable with myself. I let poetry back in that I was pushing out before (an example being Anne Sexton). Does this even come close to answering your question? I think what I wanted to say was that LIGHT BOXES contains a lot of poetry. It's poetic in a sense.

RK: One of the things that I really like about Light Boxes is that you're not afraid to risk being sentimental. "Precious" even. And in fact there are many moments and gestures in Light Boxes that are just flat sentimental. But you counterbalance these sweet, delicate moments (often very beautiful too, I must add) that on their own, strung together, could create a gooey effect, with brutal and cold hardnesses. Roughnesses. And by this I mean things like the wonderful and, to me, absolutely essential character of Caldor Clemens. Or the brutal and messy way February is finally disposed of-- completely unlike the stylized, almost sweet, way in which this is envisioned. And all in all, this makes for a great mix. The writing culture (or gestapo-- workshops, etc) has lots of rules. Like you shouldn't mix metaphors. Like you shouldn't use the same word in close proximity to itself. (I'm not, of course, talking about prepositions, articles, etc, here). Use synonyms instead, it says. This, of course, is bullshit. Lots of terrible writing comes from breaking (or being ignorant of) these types of "rules" but they can be broken (and often are) to great effect. How, though, would you respond to critics who might feel that some of Light Boxes is too "precious" or "cutesy?" And yr thoughts, please, on what I've noted above: re rules, etc.

SJ: This is a really good question. I think the sentimental feel and being precious is really important to the story and all of my writing. I think this comes from liking children's stories and fairy tales. If critics feel that some of my book is too "precious" or "cutesy" that's fine with me. I actually like that. I think those things need to be in more books. I also think LIGHT BOXES has some really strange and dark scenes, so yeah, when you balance it with the more sentimental lines, it kind of works. You kind of get this breather. One thing I always see in "experimental" books is all these wonderful lines and bizarre images and it's really great, but it just keeps going. There are books that are just flat like this. I don't want to name any books specifically, but sometimes I wonder where the heart is. One writer that really balances the precious with the imaginative and strange is Jesse Ball. I've learned a lot from his two books on that front. As far as your mention of the "writing culture" and workshops I don't really care that much about that. I've done workshops before, one with Lydia Davis, and I didn't really learn anything from it. It pretty much just depressed me. A workshop would probably destroy my book. It would leave with little broken legs and a bloody nose. Poor little Light Boxes. See, I'm being cutesy there.

RK: Calvino and Garcia Marquez are two of the authors you list as having channeled sadness into fantasy worlds. Those guys, and their like, seem, quite obviously, to have influenced you, and to a great extent. Calvino's story "The Distance of the Moon" is similar in many regards to "Light Boxes" and when the hot tea from Selah's dropped tea cup burns "a path through the snow from our front door and down into the town" and then, immediately after (though at the start of the next section/chapter) Bianca is found I thought of how the blood from a dead character in One Hundred Years of Solitude curls its way through the streets of Macondo, up stairs, into the Buendia house, etc. I know the influence is obvious, and acknowledged, but can you please humour me and talk about it a bit. And if you're in the mood (and the cat's not hungry and your girlfriend's not around, or sleeping perhaps, and you're feeling good and selfish) tell us about other authors, of this sort or different, that you've admired and learned from. And how also you've broken away from their example.

SJ: 100 Years of Solitude is one of my favorite books of all time. I think that book really changed me, and I think a lot of the tone of LIGHT BOXES comes from Marquez. I remember reading that book and just being blown away. It was like someone poured lava into my hands but I could hold the lava. After I read that book I wrote the beginning to LIGHT BOXES. So the influence was great. Something happened to my brain, connections were made. It's funny you mention the Calvino story because that was also a big influence. Sometimes I think he's arrogant, but his imagination is unmatched. From Calvino, I learned how brave his imagination was, and that it was okay to write a book like LIGHT BOXES. I mean, in "Distance of the Moon" he has characters in a row boat going out in the sea to where the moon is so close that they lift ladders to the moon and climb up and onto the moon. It's incredible. It's mind blowing. I wanted to write something like that. I wanted to install that sense of imagination and vertigo and surprise but make it my own and I think I've done that successfully. I think authors like Calvino and Marquez just allowed me to more imaginative, which is one of my strengths, that before reading them I wasn't using properly. As far as breaking away from their examples, I think that was just a matter of staying true to myself and my personality and what I was comfortable with. So in comes the playfulness, the short chapters, some of the lyricism, etc.

RK: We talked about how Light Boxes is both dark and sentimental. I'd like now to talk about "humor." There were some moments in the book that I thought were absolutely hilarious-- strange off-beat really-damned-funny sort of funny. One example's an early scene with the children and the owls: "Now if you don't sir we are much enjoying ourselves by playing with these owls." These morsels of humor, for me, are brilliant and I'd love to see more. Is this something you're just now getting into your writing? (it doesn't seem to fit in with the brief writing synopsis you gave above). And can we expect more of this in the future. Any general thoughts on humor,etc, also appreciated.

SJ: I never really thought about the humor aspect of the book. I think there are a few kind of funny moments, but I never laughed out loud while writing those scenes. I was probably just having fun. I think Caldor Clemens is a ridiculous and humorous character. Fugue State is putting out my next book and there are some funny moments in that, but nothing major. The moments are probably more dreamy and strange than humorous. I think there are many moments in LIGHT BOXES that are light and kind of playful so maybe that's where some of the humor comes from. Most of these moments would probably just provoke a small smile for the reader. A little sense of delight and wonder. Humor is probably one of the hardest things to write. To actually really be funny in a piece is very difficult. At least I think so.

RK: Where do the priests go? Going through the manuscript for the 2nd time I wrote several times in the margins of early pages of the book: so, where do the priests go? I might guess that the priests disappear because the book moves into greater imaginative territory of making, destroying, abducting, etc. And here perhaps priests are nothing. But talking like this makes me feel like I'm a teacher explaining things. I might also say the priests are a casualty, among others, of the organic (your word) form of the book. That is to say the book just sorts of grows into a place that does not include priests. Can you tell me more about these priests and where they've gone? Use this space, if you want (I'd really love you to), to play a little more Light Boxes make-believe and tell us where the priests are.

SJ: The priests are a complete creation by February and February controlled them. So once the demise of February comes to, the priests disappear. They perish with the old town and everything that February created. If I was to venture back into the old town with February and the priests, I'd envision the priests living in the woods in a kind of elaborate tree fort, playing games with birds and each night huddling around a fire and writing out a report of the days activities. They would experience great levels of happiness during the day when they walked from tree to tree and feel severe sadness at night when everything was quiet and cold.

And, Three for the Road:

RK: Tea or Coffee?

SJ: Coffee.

RK: Palm trees or Thorn Trees?

SJ: Thorn Trees.

RK: Cum, shit, spit or blood?

SJ: Cum.