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My Favorite Live Nude Poetry Book I Read in 2012

It's Thomas Patrick Levy's Please Don't Leave Me Scarlett Johannson

Give it a purchase and a nice review somewhere. Here's why:


O Scarlett I couldn’t look you in the eyes at the diner because you were wearing your apron like a too-small bath towel and I just knew you had a blue Chevy S-10 in the parking lot and my god you were certainly the sexiest person I’ve ever seen carrying a slice of pie to a booth in the back room and even then I knew that you were not real but I kept wiping these drops of coffee off my chin and kept looking around as if there were someone other than you to look at and finally when I left you came after me moving in a rush that smelled of purple candy and when I turned around you were already in your truck and the radio was already moaning MY HEART IS IN MY SHOES and your small fingers were holding a cigarette out the open window and you left me alone with the spatter of wetness your truck’s exhaust left on the cement and I swear the spatter w…

Jack Gilbert Dead

I heard about this on a poetry listserv from one his close friends.  It doesn't seem to have hit the mainstream media yet. This is a fairly recent article by John Penner celebrating the collected poems. It's a sad damned day for me.


BERKELEY — In a spacious, humane skilled-nursing home, a man sits with his elderly neighbors arrayed in their wheelchairs as Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald sing. Several guests arrive to see the man, and after the last note of "Cheek to Cheek," one of them takes up a microphone and reads a poem. The reader, startled by a resident's pained moans of distress, stumbles over a word or two of "Looking at Pittsburgh From Paris." He finishes, and the man brightens in his chair and points at his heart, mouthing to a visitor holding his arm, "Me?" Yes, Jack Gilbert. That's yours. The poet is 87 and small in his wheelchair, mostly unable to talk, his brain diminished by disease. He is dying. But as for anyone with A…

Poem Draft

Eggs from Anywhere
The codicil to my third will (the official one) reads: One, don't give nothing to anybody. Take the money in cash and throw it under the mud-packed wheels of your car in the bumfuckingest place you can find. If you can find a place that was on reality TV, cool.
Two, don't eat the nachos from Chili's or the eggs from anywhere; they are related in that ingestion might kill a weak woman or a tweaker man. I wish the birds would not twitter in my ear when I make decisions. It's fucked up enough in here. I wish for
you, number three, the magic number, that all the days of your life you will find roses in the tassels of your horse's mane billowing out into better metaphor and a landslide of clean fill that temblors down the back roads of the choked creeks that yield orange rocks, no fish
but the pretty stones stained with runoff and the greasy pizza pieces left over by a million students who sit on the banks stoned thinking that they're feeding t…

Poetry Publishing in the Post Publisher World

Thanks to Anny Ballardini, for bringing this to my attention.


Dead-tree publishing has been in a quiet, lumbering crisis for many years now. Publishers are understandably confused over their role in a world that exchanges information freely and is stocked with e-book readers and high-tech print-on-demand services provided by some of the largest book sellers in the world. Writers are beginning to challenge the notion that a traditional publishing house is some beneficent entity that must be courted and deferred to. Even the idea of the publishing house, a disjointed amalgam of money lender, talent scout, editor, manager, publicist, ad company and printer, seems challengeable now in a way that would have seemed inconceivable twenty years ago.
But nowhere is the entrenched hold the traditional publisher deeper and more enduring than the field of poetry. While ersatz fan-fiction tops the best-seller lists for mass-market paperbacks, poetry, even in a crass or bastardized form, is largely …

Food for Thought: Women Who Write Poetry and Poetry Criticism (Roundtable)

I am intimidated by poetry criticism because I've spent most of my adult life reading fiction and sometimes writing about fiction. As I age, I've been reading much more poetry and much more poetry criticism, which, given my relative lack of experience with the forms, has left me formulating (what seem to me to be) dumb questions, and trying like mad to find answers that make sense. One of the things I've thought about consistently is the role gender and sex play in my reading and in the litworld at large.

Nearly all of my favorite poets are women (my favorite fiction writers are almost exclusively male), usually somewhat combative as regards sexual and gender roles, and aggressively intellectual (and is that a complex idea?? that the women I reference would pillory me for as merely another example of sexism?? like, why can't women be aggressive in the same way that men seem so comfortable with without being labelled as shrill or dykey or, well, you get the point? at lea…

MFA Poem--for Mather Schneider

via Ron Silliman and Tom Clark:


I’ve heard people argue that there’s an awful kind of poem
called an MFA poem, and usually these people who hate MFA poems have never earned an MFA, so the MFA poets argue vehemently in defense of their craft and their MFAs, and I, an MFA poet try to agree and say, I’m on the MFA’s team. We’re right and they’re wrong. Nah-nah-nah-nah-nah. But the truth is, well,

there is a certain kind of poem I was taught to write when I was earning what my husband calls my mail-order degree from a low-res program in the Northeast.  And I guess I would call this kind of poem an MFA poem, though the truth is, I never learned to write one very well (though this is one of them, or is trying to be), but I do see them everywhere now, these MFA poems, which I despise, not because the poems are bad but because I was taught how to write them by this asshole professor (he was such a creep) who was abusive to women, mostly, fucked with their heads if not their bodies, you know the …

Poetry on the Brink? Marjorie Perloff

Dejà vu?
What happens to poetry when everybody is a poet? In a recent lecture that poses this question, Jed Rasula notes: The colleges and universities that offer graduate degrees in poetry employ about 1,800 faculty members to support the cause. But these are only 177 of the 458 institutions that teach creative writing. Taking those into account, the faculty dedicated to creative writing swells to more than 20,000. All these people must comply with the norms for faculty in those institutions, filing annual reports of their activities, in which the most important component is publication. With that in mind, I don’t need to spell out the truly exorbitant numbers involved. In a positive light, it has sanctioned a surfeit of small presses . . . to say nothing of all the Web-zines. What makes Rasula’s cautionary tale so sobering is that the sheer number of poets now plying their craft inevitably ensures moderation and safety. The national (or even transnational) demand for a certain kind o…

NaPo #4

Yeah, I know.



Kissing Tolstoy, a Brave Act
Today the trees rustle like people in hell,
every leaf a broad hair on Tolstoy's chin and lip

You have a third-class ticket to the afterlife
and the legend bends down for the buss.

Tiptoe to reach him and remember all
those lovely words sent to die in the ether

when he goes or when you go. Tell Turgenev
and Dos to back the fuck up. He's your man,

Sonya and your grip on his short hair
is tighter than comfort would normally allow

but this is no ordinary marriage and after the kiss
I look into your eyes and feel myself desiccate.

The wind takes me east and west but never north
I am air and wind and sun and rain all at once

as I disappear into a wave of butterflies.

NaPo #3

I'm close to catching up, I swear.

John Wieners Advises Against the End


I met John Wieners last night alive as you or me.
On Joy Street the light backfired from windows
screened and shut against the lean wind thrown
up from Cambridge Street and the tea-house
we had dinner in, me & John. I asked him about
the Hotel Wentley poems and he gently brushed
me off. I have new things now, he said, showed me
a blank page with a ripped out newspaper snapshot
of Marilyn Monroe. Can't you see it? he said. It's, well,
it's not much but it's better than dying
. We sat in his
apartment after. You're so cynical, he said, hands flitting
like a slowed-down hummingbird, like something that
won't last another moment. I want some ice cream, he
said. And watch out for your friend there. He motioned
to my silent companion, Death. His poems don't suit you.

NaPo #2

Third Wheel Blues


Cockatrices in the bedroom!
I told you that shit had to stop,
no more calling animals in
when your surfaces elude the mind.

Some stars streak across the sky
delivering bootylicious nuggets
of light from years and years ago.
I bet they saw the Stones in Boston.

That night Keith shot up onstage,
and they played Sister Morphine
three times before anyone noticed.
I fell in love with you late on an Aerosmith

tour when Skid Row opened and Sebastian Bach
challenged us all to smoke a little Mother Nature.
Now you've broken the hymen of our time
together with a strong hand and a rubber glove

I feel as if I could unsay all those negatives and
you would jump on my back for another ride,
rolling our trousers and walking through the muck
of the Duck Pond in the Common at three am

when no one but homeless people are out
and you feel free to crack jokes about the Dead Pool.
It's a safe bet I still love you and the way the fine
hairs on your arm still …

NaPo #1

Guess what I was doing all day?



Big Mutt Blues
Don't want no Bichon Frise, no beagle howling too. My good German Shepherd, done flown the coop. I got no luck but bad luck, the damn Basset peed. 2000 bucks to buy a Pug? What the fuck is wrong with me?
                I want a dog, a big old mutt like you used to see,                 Shed like a mofo on my sofa, chase the kids off my street.
Lost my John the Conqueror root, all the ladies say. just slide that big-eyed puppy over, they line up for days. Them hotties wearing Ugg boots, got nothing for me. 'less they get down with this big old clown, they just crowding my scene
                I want a dog, a big old mutt like you used to see,                 Shed like a mofo on my sofa, chase the kids off my street.
At the end of the night now, stumbling home mad drunk, My woman meets me at the back door, calls me a little punk, I can't argue with her, that much is true, But I walked in a slick old grin and an ankle-biting coc…

Coming Soon--NaPoWriMo!

Watch this space. . .new poetry for NaPoWriMo!



New Poem Draft

It'll disappear in a few days; get it while you can.


*poof*

Sawnie Morris Interviews Joan Houlihan at Boston Review

This book, and 'The Ay' look extremely interesting.



Joan Houlihan’s third book, The Us, is a fifty-one page sequence of poems recounting the story of an imagined pre-historical culture. The narrative focuses on one of the culture’s members in particular—in a sense, its first true individual—“ay.” Although the book is mythological in its scope, it is lyric rather than epic in its approach, proceeding not with heroic pomp and encyclopedic comprehensiveness but instead with lyric delicacy and attention to carefully chosen particulars. The Us is not monumental, nor is it meant to be.
The Us begins with a table of contents, an “Argument” (which is in fact a synopsis), and a list of the cast of characters. These three elements serve as guide to a vaguely familiar yet unnamed country and time where the living is primitive and the people’s speech is rendered in an English unlike any known before—a broken, thorny idiom that scrambles the linearity we associate with traditional heroic n…