Sunday, April 27, 2014

Steven Karl's Dork Swagger

The daily= some theorizing
and punk music collapsing into bird
song, nostalgia,
Whitman in a Misfits shirt, dialectic
of real and fake gold chains,
recognizable forms allowing readers
to settle in under the surface
of references and tone, punctuation
like the swat of a tuned
snare drum, direct address
to a leaf with full sincerity, it's still funny,
the becoming-nature chaos
of everything that exists
represented by torqued
narrow lines spilling
down the page,
the notes are an amplifier for
the book which is a poem
which is a guitar mostly but also
a couple hundred lead singers we love
then don't take seriously,
the protest song is hidden in
the drone of the I Wanna Kiss You song,
the protest song is protesting against
itself, the protest song is a list of friends
represented by centipedes, the list
of friends becomes every-friend becomes
friendship becomes Frank O'Hara
loving everyone we love then talking
shit about them with us later, the point is
the cat still has fangs when it's purring,
the point is that the static is
vulnerability, the point is

"Bonfire getting low
Need more things

To burn"

Friday, February 8, 2013

Thanks for the Attention, Folks

Since I'm in the room anyway, I thought I'd link to a few reviews that some very kind folks have written about some of my little chapbooks fairly recently.

I was happy to get some book love from my adopted literary home of Canada  in the form of a review by Rob McLennan.  He was nice enough to write about THE SKY THE which came out on (the AWESOME AMAZING FUN DEATH DEFYING) Serif of Nottingham Press. Gary Barwin pilots that ship and he makes beautiful book objects. I couldn't have been happier with how it turned out. I actually still have some copies left, so if you are interested in a copy, let me know. The review is here along with many other solid ones.

I was also overjoyed when Eileen Tabios wrote about May Apple Deep which came out last year on good old Horse Less Press.  Tabios is the master behind Galatea Resurrects where a lot of fine work finds a home. Thanks to Tabios for the kind words she pens here:

May Apple Deep also found its way to the great Trane Devore's eyeballs and he was nice enough to review it on Goodreads, for which I am grateful. That review is here:

Thanks to y'all reviewers and to all the folks who bother to read weird cyborg pastoral love collages and such.

The Next Big Thing

I have been ignoring this corner of the internet, AND I was tagged by the lovely Laura Goldstein to take part in THE NEXT BIG THING.  Thanks to Laura for thinking of me and thanks to y'all for bothering to read it.

What is the working title of your project?

Right now, the manuscript doesn't have a title. Maybe y'all could suggest one. The main character is named Nel, and so I'm sure that will come into play somehow. Often I know the title of the book looooong before I even have all the poems written, but for whatever reason that is not the case this time around.

Where did the idea for your book come from?

I was digging through the detritus of old notebooks and found a couple character sketches, a few handfuls of lines. I'm sure old bad Sci Fi movies and old bad Westerns were involved, but the notebooks were just set aside and I'm not really sure where the spark came from any more. I've wanted to write something hybrid for a while and I think that was part of the impetus too.

What category does your book fall into?

Sci Fi Western Epic in Verse (and prose)

What actors would you choose to play in a movie rendition of your book?

I think we'd need Lori Petty, Gene Hackman, and the voice of Tom Waits, oh, and the original Trigger.

Can you give us a one sentence synopsis of your book?

Cloned human slave develops supernatural abilities in a sort of aural Farraday Cage kind of way, and faces violent oppression from patriarchal evil Overlord type, complete with the weird social commentary that only Sci Fi can offer.

How long did it take you to write your first draft?

This is always an impossible question for me. I work from old notebooks, and then write into what's there, collage it, chop it up, etc. In terms of focused time, I put together a solid draft in a few months time.

What else might pique readers' interest about your book?

There is a character who is physically a bird cage and birds, requiring a certain number of birds inside himself in order to walk, talk, be sentient, etc. Think hive mind. There is also a sex scene that may not make it past the censors.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Point, I Think It Was Missed

The link below is bell hooks take on Beasts of the Southern Wild which is making its rounds on the interwebs.

While I admire hooks, and turn to her writing/thinking about teaching time and time again, I think in this piece she is in the grips of a theory. Almost everything she states as a negative, as a brutal critique, as what everyone else, but *her* is missing, is exactly what makes the movie powerful.

Is it harsh, and disturbing? Yes. That's the point. Is gender performed in troubling ways, and are we forced to constantly interrogate it? Yes. Isn't that a good thing in contemporary cinema?

Is crazed violent patriarchy put into sharp focus in the film? Yes. Does it go un-critiqued? No. Are there (GASP) black and white folks living in a spot together who also have a handful of conversations about the oncoming storm and the possible destruction of their homes, rather than caucusing on their racial relations? Yes. This doesn't seem off/wrong/bad to me.

In other areas, such as the eroticism of the child, I think she's just wrong. The small child with great hair calls up Buckwheat? Wrong. Watching the film is akin to watching exploitative reality tv? Wrong.

OR rather, if the above statements are TRUE, it's more due to the particular audience than anything the film brings forward. hooks talks about the audience with whom she watched the film, and how they laughed when Hushpuppy accidently burns her house down, and hides from the fire/her father in a box. Is it enough to say *I* didn't laugh? Or that no one in *my* theatre did? I don't see any humor carrot on the stick in that scene. If an audience laughs, they're messed up. The scene is terrifying.

The film as a whole hurdles our simple social world and gets to deeper worlds through magical realism. I didn't see it as being about Katrina really at all. If it IS about our shared social world, and I think it is, it's about the one that's brewing out in front of us. There's plenty storms that hit that part of the world. There are even more that hit all of us all the time.

What the film does well, I think, is show the world through the child's pov. Race and class are active in that. But a child's pov erases the nuances and politicization for which hooks so badly wants to dress the film down.

If one of her main points is that the film isn't "feel-good," or that viewers who watch it as such are jacked up, then I'm with her. But "pornography of violence"? Not so much.

Friday, September 7, 2012

I hope that y'all know the poetry of Merrill Gilfillan. It's mostly amazing and inspiring and perfectly weird and real.  I give you exhibit A:

I came to Gilfillan's work when I was falling in love and I'm sure that colors my take on it. BUT. He has an amazing ear, and the logic of the poems is loose enough to float / contort / defy expectation.  They are also logical enough to feel like wonderful conversation.

Fellow Horse Less co-editor Erica Howsare has a pretty great review of my favorite book, Small Weathers, here:

Gary Barwin, a poet I also admire, has a thoughtful review of The Seasons here: 

The poem that Barwin features proves that Gilfillan can even pull off the infamous "I-Saw-A-Dead-Animal-And-Then-The-World-Was-Amazing" poem.  That ain't easy; it's like trying to write a GOOD pop song.

John Latta discusses and presents several poems from The Bark of the Dog over here (a million years ago, but I'm better late then never):

In short, I felt compelled to tell you that if you haven't already, check out that verse slinger.

Also, the above is an anomaly of nature. So are you.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

In keeping with the theme of thoughtful, weird, and beautiful, I'd like to direct the whole internet's attention to a gem of a chapbook, a peach of a review, a love child of a review site, and a retro robot.

First, the chapbook:

Then the review and the review site:

Lastly, this little trespasser in the uncanny valley of our smallest mountain range.