Monday, July 28, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
If you’re a young writer and thinking of going to school, then this is a short story-line about what it took for me and what I found and kept along the way.
In February 2001, I got out of the Army after three years of jumping out of planes. C-CO 2/325 AIR, 82 Airborne (the AIR stands for airborne infantry regiment), based at Ft. Bragg NC. I took a trip back to Texas, where my father lives in a small town outside of San Antonio, where I went to high school (Boerne TX). I stayed with him a few weeks and showed him my first writings, first poems, short stories. I had some money for college from the GI Bill and had heard of Naropa when I was a kid, wanted to go there. My Pop called me on a Saturday to come over to his house and when I got there he had the application printed out in little stacks on the floor. I told him “Dad they only take the cream of the crop there, they’re not gonna take me.” He said “Gary, fill these things out and we can see what they say, you never know” and he was right. I got a phone call about a week later for an interview. The lady on the other end of the line’s name was Samantha Wall, she asked me a few questions about myself, how often I wrote, what I liked to read, had I ever been to Boulder? She was kind to me, to this day I know that without her my life would look radically different, I owe and think of her often. She took the time to help me put my ducks in a row and get accepted to Naropa. I remember being outside my Pop’s house and screaming my poems in his yard, rain coming down around me, neighbors peeking through the curtains.
I had three hundred dollars and an old car (which I abandoned when I got further west) I left Texas for Colorado in the early morning. Landed in Boulder January 2nd 2002 and went to Naropa’s campus right off and just walked around. Rented a room from a lady in the paper. The woman’s mother had been part of the Jim Jones Cult and died in the mass suicide of his followers in the 80’s. She had been a teenager when the group left from San Francisco, her and her brother stayed and survived but lost their mother. I lived with her for a month but she wouldn’t let me smoke in the house, so I moved into a small place with Sean Burke, who I had met the first day at orientation. Sean liked that I had about five hundred books of poetry and prose, he would sit on the floor and just read for hours. Our friend Todd D’anna moved into the flat at the end of the semester. The place was small but we didn’t need anything, we had food and paper, mostly just goofing off but learning about poetry, which none of us knew much about. I mean, we had been writing with no direction, no education or real history pertaining to poetics. Still putting in the work, still gulping white paper.
I studied for the next four years with some of the best writers and poets this country has to offer. I learned from Anne Waldman (who taught me that I’m ten feet tall inside), Lorenzo Thomas (I was his last TA at Naropa, learned about voice), Maureen Owen (taught me about the series poem and poetics in general) , Jack Collom (taught me I could write anywhere and anything, collaboration with anyone, finding poetry while teaching and listening to children), Anselm Hollo (the big dog, I just listened to him and tried not to say anything stupid, read and reread his poems like I do even today) , Steven Taylor (my first poetry teacher, told me that it was up to me), Jill & Reed Bye (who tried to teach me meter and prosody, helped to build my ear and make me a better man in general), Bhanu Kapil (who taught me about beauty), Keith Abbott ( taught me prose and film writing), Bobbie Louise Hawkins (who taught me how not to be a shmuck all the time, lessons in dignity and class), Akilah Oliver (what it takes to keep going and how to hold your head up high), Junior Burke (how to see the picture from many points) so many people gave me a hand.
Every student I encountered taught me something. They are writers and poets that made a difference to how I see and interpret poetics and writing: Jamba Dunn, Emily Crocker, Andy Peterson, Leann Bifoss, Amy Matterer, Jessica Rogers, Stefania Marthakis, Liz Guthrie, Jeremiah Bowden, Sabrina Calle, Tom Peters, Tyler Burba, Rob Giesen, Kevin Kilroy, Jennifer Rogers, Celeste Davis, Meredith Forbes, Roy Montez (from childhood). Too many in this lineage to count and name, look for them in the text of the future.
What I want to articulate is if you’re a young writer sitting in a two-horse town or a tenement with screaming children and want badly to go to school, then I know something about that. I know if your dirt poor and want to write, a path can appear to you. Or if your wealthy but awkward and think money is a crutch, I know about that too. I know about what it takes to change the course, to make a sea change. I think I learned about courage most of all during my time at Naropa, just having the courage to live my life. The sojourn not the destination is what became important to me and is still important to me today in Brooklyn.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Cover collage created with original artwork by George Schneeman and Ambrose Bye.
Pick it up from SPD, Here
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
(Granary Books, 2008)
Lewis Warsh—luminous waltz. These writings possess an otherness, an alterity that persists as they switch from verse to prose to poetry. The introspective narrator achieves a sui generis quality, unlike anything you’ve read before.
Sometimes structures surface. “Consecutive Sentences” suggests non-sequiturs, but Warsh pushes the ball forward by repeating words or themes. Similarly, by hopping from pronoun to pronoun in section 13 of “The Flea Market at Kiel,” he frames the reflecting pond. The traces we follow aren’t strictly linear since “we’re changing contexts at full speed.” Still, it’s clear someone is talking directly to us: “Finish this sentence…."
The poet draws from copious notebooks, making observations that toggle between philosophical and pedestrian. His convincing balancing act admits the proposed and the overheard.
“Or more to the point,” the poems resonate. The titles of the thirty-five poems are laconic and catchy: “Flight Test,” “Disorderly Conduct” and “Last Cigarette,” But the poems are proliferous as Warsh circles his target and reports in from advantageous vantages.
You can get wonderfully lost in these poems where “We float out past the reef & the rocks.” Present and past commingle, propelling the words into the future. Memories, places, people and experiences are banked. The poet’s steady voice kindles them as he breathes through the lines.
Cristina Peri Rossi,
State of Exile
(City Lights Books, 2008)
Li Po, Ovid, Dante, Tsvetaeva… what a venerated tradition the exiled Uruguayan poet, Cristina Peri Rossi shares. When her searing work was banned for criticizing government brutality, she fled the juntas of the ’70s and began a journey without a destination at the age of 31. “Exile is a blind river winding from country to country.” The poems are so intensely personal that they remained private for thirty years.
“Rage… pain… compassion… sorrows…” are the stuff of this heartrending but gutsy collection. The sea, ships, maps and birds haunt the pages. Poverty, nostalgia and despair are painted with direct, terse strokes. Even language, a poet’s best friend, now unfamiliar, reinforces the numbing isolation.
The dream of returning, testament to a fierce love of country, offers false hope in a world where “we lose what we win/ and what was won/ is lost in the flight.” Peri’s spirit soars in spite of the crushing anguish.
A diary of displacement, loaded with disappearances, the spare works cut as they catalog loss. Every smallest thing is missed: “a chair/ a lamp/ a blooming privet/ the sound of the sea/ all lost, // weigh as much as Mama’s absence.”
Finally, Rossi notes in her forward, she has made a home in Barcelona and finds “redemption in love.”
Sleeping If Off in Rapid City: Poems, New and Selected
(Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2008)
A good poet can take you on a trip and make you feel like you’re right there. A great poet gets in your blood—you become the bard. August Kleinzahler casts his landscapes with just the right combo of big words, colloquial phrases, colors, names, flora and fauna to remind you how poetry can be closer to life than any art form.
Using every kind of language, from pithy clichés to startling invention, Kleinzahler renders the world with stylish pizzazz, registering the decay while championing the character. From boarded up Dairy Queens and old factories to “what was once the amusement park”—a theme of loss permeates, casting a Romantic gloss over all.
Portraits of humanity and nature call out like a semi’s horn as we travel along Route 9 or I-95. Hobbyists, actors, alkies, janitors and couples populate the delicious discourse, along with geographical, geological and gastronomical particulars. In “Traveler’s Tales: Chapter 12,” Kleinzahler asks the burning question for all of us who want to believe: “What is the function of art in society today?” Maybe it’s to keep language sharp, spry and supple and supply us with a notion of the sublime. To nail the right detail, e.g., the “spindrift of grunion spume,” and to conjure a spellbinding “atmosphere of mystery.”
Check it out Here
from A Filmmaker’s Handbook
My legs, the actress cries in despair, they are so very strange. Cut to three lines on a shoulder or expectation. Cut to an organ of the body not instrument falls. Falls into the stomach or where you don’t consider her. The color red plays to herself in the mirror. Arrives as loops we are caught in. Pull through clay. Red is a color you dig through. Name six things that repeat. Railroad tracks lay down and convenient chains increase traffic, make it harder to get around town. The French suggest long shots in a cramped apartment. Birds offer brightly colored flowers and beetle shells. The actor rolls a cigarette. She watches his hands. He pulls at his chin in the mirror. He feels old. She says, I love you or I need a ladder. No large movements made. The film should end. In a town she has never been or the actress looks directly into the camera.
The new town was placed in the film before we arrived in the actual new town. The similarities astounded. A chance for happiness. With arriving the director opened up a notebook from years earlier. I write from notes she said I do everything from notes. Then she realized how large. A field and yes there were still stars up there. Enough shots of the actress arriving and leaving as singular. For the first time the director saw arriving as two. The camera work had become overwhelming. As seen from a car. Blue and green. Blue and green. Two eagles a good sign. But what of all this rain. Too many props and no baby in this scene. The actor said lightening will usually do you in. The cast looked for clues in their stomachs and in junkyards. The director’s films had connecting themes. Could we have built from there? An unfortunate deer twitched on the highway. And we never order any mannequins for this film. I ordered them three years ago. I say get Blondie on the phone. Tell him I still feel lucky and meet me at the diner. He knows which one. I have heard new ideas on building.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Memorial + Sight Lines
Monday, July 7, 2008
Believe it. The drive upstate was beautiful, several shades of green along the road. Wonderful, tranquil, forests, fresh air, very meditive. We (myself, Amy, and Simon) pull up to the drive way around a little curve in the road. Drive took about three hours , we arrive and jump out:
Brenda and Atticus, are by far the coolest people I know here. Atticus is wearing a straw hat and looks, no shit, like Errol Flynn. Brenda reads a poem for Brad Will, who we lost in Mexico to a fascist regime, thug motherfuckers who rape Mexico from the inside out. Brenda’s poem is heartfelt and stands in place of her friend who I’m sure is around this house in spirit.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Erixon has managed to infuse the deep sense of nature presented in this beautiful collection with our waking walking world. His lyric and economic value of consonant clusters and rolling vowel sounds break into a new crest from page to page. A truly rare and totally wonderful book.
- Gary Parrish
Dust and Breeze is an American novel with a European ‘soul’ resonance, a study of human beings at rock bottom. One can very well call it existential – It is concerned with how we ought to live our lives. --- Today the base, deconstructive elements dominate the arts. Peter Lucas Erixon attempts to show how a reconstruction of worth and meaning can come about. Dust and Breeze is a song of praise to dialogue.
Magnus Ringgren, Aftonbladet
Erixon’s prose explodes in the skilful scenes which surround Michael Burkin. --- The pictures become denser and press upon us with implacable clarity. --- It is easy to like Dust and Breeze. It is an original book about a recapturing of life, melancholic and urgent, strong in its hesitation, weak in its entrenchment, near to life in a way which is characterized by first hand experience. It is a story to take seriously, to linger with.
Heidi von Born, Svenska Dagbladet
The language is beautiful and without ornament, accurate and demanding and in my reading the author takes yet another successful step ahead in his ever changing writing. --- Strict and ascetic as always, one can say that he discusses the personal responsibility, the social life and the ego’s need to heal wounds, forgive and go on. It is seriously meant and therefore none the less heartening. A song to life.
Tomas Larsson, Östersunds-Posten
To purcase from Trombone Press click Here
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Granary Books ($17.95)
The Riot Act
Bootstrap Press ($15)
glad stone children
Farfalla Press ($16)
Mark Terrill writes in his introduction:
Despite their differences in age, lineage, and poetic temperament, these three poets, and especially these three new collections of their poetry, have much in common, and provide an exemplary overview of what’s happening at the cutting edge of avant-garde contemporary American poetry. All three poets have been greatly influenced by the New York School and Language poetry, as well as by the Black Mountain and San Francisco Renaissance poets. A common denominator that runs through all three poets’ work is their use of montage and pastiche, extending and refining the techniques originally employed by the Dadaists and the later cut-ups of William Burroughs and Brion Gysin, as well as Ted Berrigan’s great cut-up masterpiece, The Sonnets. (Indeed, the presence of the late Ted Berrigan seems to hover over the work of all three poets.) Another shared legacy is that of the Language poets’ foregrounding of the material aspects of language while moving the concept of an authorial “I” to the background, sometimes eschewing the idea of a central narrator or even a linear point of view in its entirety. On the other hand, all three of these poets are also comfortable with first-person narrative monologues, proving that they are not locked into any particular poetic dogma or regime. In this era of post-postmodernism, the perception of language, both as material and vehicle, has gone through many changes, and these three poets are acutely aware of those changes, as evidenced by these three new collections.
Want to see Mark Terrill's Rain Taxi review in its entirety
Philip Good, Bernadette Mayer, Pierre Joris, Nicole Peyrafitte, Peter Gizzi, Tom Gizzi, Brenda Coultas, Simon Pettet, Dave Brinks, Ed Sanders, Harris Schiff, Phil Johnson, Nanette Morin, Eric Sweet, Frank Sherlock, Gary Parrish, Douglas Rothchild and Sam Truitt.