25 Points: Götterdämmerung Family BBQ

by Leif Haven

 

gotterdammerungGötterdämmerung Family BBQ
by Jasper Bernes and Joshua Clover
Commune Editions, 2013
read, print

 

1. I met Jasper Bernes at a café in Oakland. He was binding Götterdämmerung Family BBQ with a long arm stapler. Commune Editions is a new publishing venture organized by Jasper Bernes, Joshua Clover, and Juliana Spahr.

2. Jasper invited me to the Poetry and/or Revolution conference-taking place at UC Berkeley, Davis, and Santa Cruz. I went to a discussion on manifestos where Joshua Clover delivered hisDon’t Put the Rabbit in the Hat. Later, at “The Public School” Joshua and Jasper read fromGötterdämmerung Family BBQ.

3. If it’s not clear you can read this online here along with works by Juliana Spahr, Diane Di Prima, and Louise Michel.

4. Poems. These are poems. Don’t forget. They look like poems. They taste like poems. They’re also full of frenetic pop culture references and blatant political antagonisms. They’re fun, but they’re trying to fuck shit up all the same.

5. The line that got the biggest cheer / laugh / reaction from the reading was “I wandered lonely as a drone / That floats o’er jails and landfill / And monitors what we say on the phone. // It knows an amazing amount / About One Direction / And sexting with frenemies of / the public good, who burn in the sun // of total transparency, / brains open to the screen / Memories of one Friedrich von / Ludwig von Mises on scene…” Continue reading

STRANGE INTRUDERS

by Chris Moran

 

strangeintrudersbookcoverStrange Intruders
by David Weatherly
Leprechaun Press, August 2013
173 pages / $16  Buy from Leprechaun Press

 

 

I was initially hesitant to read this book and write this review. To even acknowledge the presence of these ulterior intelligent forces, to name them and to give them recognition is to give them energy through the concentrated power of belief. Belief has the power to move mountains, to create and destroy empires. Belief in these nightmarish boogeymen acts as an invitation to them, to allow them to infiltrate the psyche in some subtle way. Weatherly writes, “Traditional lore says that speaking about the djinn too much, or too loudly, will attract their attention and cause them to trouble you. They often take their time, lurking about and learning as much as they can about a person to decide how best to take advantage.” On this note, I encourage readers to explore this material with caution.

David Weatherly’s Strange Intruders is a chilling look at the ulterior intelligent forces that manifest as strange entities that have been encountered all over the world. Weatherly specifically examines black-eyed beings, Djinn, shadow people, the Grinning Man, Pukwudgies, shapeshifters, the Slenderman, and other nightmarish entities that come from the periphery. Weatherly focuses on these lesser-known entities that continue to unsettle, and Strange Intruders is revelatory simply because there is scant literature out there on many of these beings. Weatherly examines this rogues gallery of nightmarish entities as well as “the strange nonhuman presence” that accompanies these encounters. Continue reading

5 Points: Whittling a New Face in the Dark (by DJ Dolack)

by Rauan Klassnik

 

whittling

1) As you can see the cover of DJ Dolack’s just-released, debut collection of poetry, Whittling a New Face in the Dark (Black Ocean), has no text on the front cover (or the back, for that matter) and this is something DJ fought hard for. And that’s one of the great things about publishing a book through Black Ocean: the back and forth between publisher and author involves friendly fighting.

Yes, I speak from experience when I say that Black Ocean dialogues with authors on things both big and small. And this leads to much improved books. Continue reading

What Took Place Before the Bottom of the 7th in Game 2 of the World Series

by Seth Oelbaum

 

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Last nighttime the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Boston Red Sox in game 2 of the World Series, and their triumph made Baby Marie-Antoinette less woeful than she was on Wednesday night when the Cardinals lost (which they’re not supposed to do).

As with Baby Marie-Antoinette, I think the St. Louis Cardinals should win the World Series, and I also would be fine if their commendable closer, Trevor Rosenthal, wanted to be my boyfriend.

But this post right here sort of tackles another topic.

Before the bottom of the 7th inning, the Boston Red Sox commemorated all of the people who were blown up in the Boston Marathon.

They came out onto the field, and James Taylor sang a song.

This instance illustrated a theme from one of my favorite books, Frames of War by Judith Butler.

In this book, Judith distinguishes between greivable lives, like the people on the Boston Red Sox’s field, and ungrievable lives, like the Muslim creatures who continue to be blown to bits.

Being a boy, I like violence. But I don’t like phoniness, and it seemed to me to be really phony for all of these Boston Red Sox people to portray themselves as empathetic and moral-loaded and whatever other terms they might throw out, when, really, they’re only empathetic and moral-loaded to those who subscribe to America’s depiction of a grievable life.

Diadem: Selected Poems by Marosa di Giorgio

by Rhys Nixon

Diadem-Di-Giorgio-Marosa-9781934414972-200x300.jpg

Diadem: Selected Poems
by Marosa di Giorgio
Translated by Adam Giannelli
BOA Editions, Oct 2012
80 pages / $16  Buy from BOA Editions or Amazon

 

In Diadem, Di Giorgio’s prose-styled poems are a collage of images ranging from the surreal to the innocent and childlike. Shadows stalking about the farm house amongst rose gardens, God appearing as a face and speaking, and children performing plays in the garden. Giorgio speaks to us through these images, playing with them, distorting them, and living in them; she speaks of “The owls, with their dark overcoats, thick spectacles, and strange little bells”, and “Virgin Mary, enormous wing over my whole childhood and the whole countryside.” These images, contrasted with the speech-like prose style, paints surrealistic and beautiful pictures of culture, childhood, sexuality, and death.

“God’s here.
God speaks.”

As noted by the translator of the collection of poems, Adam Giannelli, these poems could be read as a novel, cover to cover, or on their own as individual pieces, and they would still have the same power and depth. The poems themselves blend and blur the lines between each other, in effect recreating an idea of recalling memories of the past; sometimes fantasy, sometimes all too real, and always fleeting and hard to properly pin down. Continue reading

An Interview with Sean Thomas Dougherty

by Justin Bigos

 

I first met Sean Thomas Dougherty at my first AWP conference, Denver 2010. I had been wandering the overwhelming aisles of the Book Fair, wondering what I had gotten myself into, when I found myself at the BOA table. A book called Sasha Sings the Laundry on the Line caught my eye. That mesmerizing title with the Eastern European name, the cover art of colorful dresses and towels hanging between sooty apartment buildings, a wedge of blue sky above – it reminded me of my old neighborhood of Midwood, Brooklyn, and when I picked up the book I read the name. This was a guy whose poems I had long admired, and I hadn’t realized he had a new book out. When paying for Sasha, the BOA rep behind the table asked, “Would you like Sean to sign it?” I told her I needed to get going, but then she pointed behind me: reddish hair under a cool hat, big hooded sweatshirt, pale blue eyes, warm smile: Sean Thomas Dougherty. Signing his book, Sean wanted to know my story right away. He lit up when I told him I was a college dropout. “You’ve got to put that in your author bio,” he said.

Sean and I have kept in touch since Denver, mostly via email and Facebook. Sean is hands-down my favorite Facebook presence. His barbs at mediocre poetry, his posts of music videos on his “Punk Rock Sundays,” and his constant promotion of indie magazines and presses, as well as of the poets he loves, is something I look forward to daily. When I heard Sean had a new book in the works, I contacted him about doing an interview. That book, Scything Grace, is now out with Etruscan Press. Dougherty’s poems sing of the tough realities of American city life, with a voice influenced by Lorca and Vallejo, Levis and Hull, but a voice truly all his own. He draws close the lives and deaths of those he loves, and sees and hears the stories of the American poor and working class all around him. His poems from the beginning have challenged the division between poetry and prose, and are loyal to nothing if not sound, and great feeling. Poet Dorianne Laux has written that Dougherty is a poet “of grand and memorable vision . . . the gypsy punk heart of American poetry.”

In the following interview, conducted via email over a few days last May, Sean and I discussScything Grace, the line versus the sentence, Li-Young Lee, and the duende. Continue reading

Jamie Iredell was a Fat Drunk Catholic School Insomniac

by Blake Butler

 

Now available for preorder from Future Tense (and for a limited time in hardcover) is freaky Jamie Iredell’s newest, an essay collection with the uncanny title, I was A Fat Drunk Catholic School Insomniac, funded by its even more uncanny cover:

iredell-catholic-web

Iredell’s essays never shy from getting up in the face of the nasty phases of one’s life, and how those phases make you into someone wiser, grateful to have survived. This book goes hard.

For a taste, check out his body-image-catalogying essay “Fat” at the Rumpus.

The Jade Cat

by Anonymous

 

jade9781446499313_p0_v1_s260x420The Jade Cat
by Suzanne Brøgger
Overlook Press, 2009
416 pages / $26.95 buy from Overlook or Amazon
Rating: 8.5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“All families are something something, lick your knees.” – Count Tolstoy

“The same phenomenon that makes the family so intolerable when you are young is precisely what makes it so fascinating when you are old: that concentraion of karma, old memory, and skeletons in the cupboard”– Suzanne Brøgger, The Jade Cat

 

The Jade Cat, by Danish author Suzanne Brøgger, follows the fortunes of the Løvin family (cosmopolitan Danish Jews) through the course of the 20th century.

Brøgger trades in melancholia, that old reliable bread and butter of Modernist anxiety. And like many great Émigré writers (Nabokov, Dolatov, Mukherjee, Gallant), she populates the novel with fetishes and talismen. Émigré literature trends towards interiors, landscapes of symbolic expression, in an attempt to recreate homeland or conjure the physicality of a lost homeland, and Brøgger nails the inventories of a family trying to hold onto something tangible.

She lists a dress, transparent black crepe de chine with sparkling rhinestone, rows of furs from gray astrakhans to sables, waffles on an electric iron, a popular nazi emblem on a collar, black butchers boots, 14 ties, 19 pairs of socks, five silk pajamas, two evening shirts, a dinner jacket, razor blades, and strawberry preserves.

But even as the Løvins would seek to build an understandable symbolic space, the objects take on a new meaning. Far from signifying a lost home, they come to mean displacement.

Accumulating objects becomes the object of a monomaniacal drive. The family creates a new home, surrounded by beautiful things, but cannot stop consuming. This is a very perceptive move by the author, and the images of a family desperately seeking something tangible in a wash of cheap materiality come off devastating.

As a final note, the plot of the novel moves for a time to a country called Afghanistan, sometime in the sixties. The interlude is brief, but notably, peaceful. The author considers the beautiful Kush and the bizarre sport of Buzkashi. I point this out only because the language of war would suggest no such place ever existed. Brøgger has the audacity to imagine peace.

LYMEN: Dispatch Two // Of Portland Poetry & Much-Needed Departures

by Garett Strickland

 

nowhere

(( Continuing from here … ))

THE END OF Portland had me in a coatroom under the stairs in my drug dealer’s house, woken every morning by terrible music, passed out nights holding a beer that would spill and soak my clothes and the bedding wadded on the plastic mat I slept on. I was tempted for my own amusement to read this as a condensation of my entire tenure in the city, tho to reduce my time to anything so emblematic would be an exercise in pointlessness.

The closer I got to my day of departure, the more I hated it there. Nevertheless I continued to attend the readings and socials that helped build the rancor I daily banged against.

Ogygia : : : long in need of true critique, a place grown fond of its reputation as pleasure island promised land, and suddenly crowded with poets in a downright Savage Detectives-style way, as tho it had never occurred to anyone to start a band, that *this* was the thing instead; an ongoing, obsessively polite dinner party during which the attendees occasionally excuse themselves to fuck in the bathroom. The main thing is to show up. To be seen wearing clothes. To be in the room with these specific people each week.

Ogygia, with its pervasive culture of DIY craft, has spawned one cottage industry after another. Poetry is no exception. Continue reading

Erin Lyndal Martin’s Response to the Anonymous Letter Addressed to Sandra Simonds in Response to Her Open Letter to The Poetry Foundation

by Rauan Klassnik

 

Dear Buzz Poet,

This is an open letter in response to your letter addressing Sandra Simonds’ open letter to the Poetry Foundation.

One basic fact missing from your letter is that you seem to forget that poetry is work: “The difference between poets and the general public is that some of us, like you, Sandra, are fortunate enough to have an audience and a platform to reach them. In today’s rocky economic climate, one governed by debt and political deficit, I do not think it is in the best interest of your audience or the poetry community to model such irresponsible behavior in asking for a financial handout from the Poetry Foundation to support the poets you hold in such romanticized esteem.”  Simonds has an audience and platform, mostly from within the literary community, because she has worked hard to build those connections through her work and social networking. Much of the work associated with poetry is thankless and unpaid; Simonds’ audience includes many of her peers who face her same financial reality. They may put in hours editing literary magazines that don’t make a profit, or they may write countless unpaid book reviews in an attempt to garner support and audiences for other poets.   They publicize and promote poetry.  Is it, indeed, a “handout” when one is asking to receive support from a foundation for forwarding the same work as that foundation?  The Poetry Foundation’s website says that they are “committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture.” Is Simonds, who writes, teaches, and reviews contemporary poetry not furthering the same agenda? Continue reading