Friday, February 27, 2009

Report on Pasadena

We live in a city of Wolves. On the inside of one of your teeth is a silver key that fits into a golden lock. Silver and gold are not important to you so the Wolves will try to convince you that the extraction won’t hurt any more than a root canal. This is not true. The Wolves will offer you their own coats in recompense. “Isn’t that a lot to pay,” you will think. But a true Wolf has more coats under that preliminary coat. It has coat after coat and they are all infected. The silver, which to them is a key to another safe, is for you, the safe itself. You are not old enough to know what is in there, but one day you will be. If you give it away you can expect a life without sunflowers, desire, breakfast pastries, hotel room service, or that boy Douglas who lives in the empty apartment and who watches you carefully – too carefully – for flaws.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Figs Reviewed

JoSelle Vanderhooft at The Pedestal Magazine reviews three Les Figues titles in one excellent article found here:

A Fixed, Formal Arrangement by Allison Carter
"By giving the reader several toys with which to play, Carter skillfully makes her points about the subjectivity of lived and read experience, the unreliability of narration and the ability of perspective and thought to shift without cause."

God's Livestock Policy by Stan Apps
"Apps excels at telling parables about God, many of which satirize, fantasize and bastardize the language of biblical parable and European fairy tale."

re: evolution by Kim Rosenfield
"Indeed, Rosenfield’s book is probably the closest a poet can come to melding the language of science and poetry so clinically and strangely"

Also, be sure to check out The Short Review for an interview with Axel Thormählen and Scott Doyle's review of A Happy Man and Other Stories.
"They often read less as stories, and more as a mixture of parable and philosophical tract and comic monologue—all poured into a soup pot and stirred by the likes of Calvino or Kafka or Bruno Schulz."

Sunday, February 22, 2009
















(what i have learned so far in 2009)

3 Txt Messages to Reviewers of Telephone

cell dont give mr relief thn rotary
a St. =/ st. =/ st-st =/ easy
sure uv hd the exp o hvy breath
chk the init, needs mor thx
if it come thru too easy, insp. the con
yr feeling, lk inspired by, is misint of

't. call' ie t. 1st, or yr bells pick up sigs
fk yr lng symph-o nr sigh
dont beg to desc yr getting it
amng tits < lik to inspire theatadapt-
Sttlr Ckbk, t.rousse

bt mani o index wld b > tele
if vag ear md appear+
dead bro > ref. shs nt thr,
yr t/f qz crit nons. nt til ov u
realits smar mist, ungrate amp
o grt bk w sm bnl roma

insp. by 8122436013

Telephone Book
Telephone Book

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Things to listen to soon:

1. This Saturday, February 21st at the Bowery Poetry Club Segue Series:


Melanie Nielson was born in Humboldt, Tennessee, grew up in Southern California, and lives in New York City. She edited Big Allis magazine for many years with Jessica Grim, and is the author of Civil Noir (Roof Books, 1991). Sara Wintz’s writing has appeared in Ecopoetics, Cricket Online Review, Interrobang?!, and on Ceptuetics. She co-directs, with Cristiana Baik, :the press gang:, publisher of Intricate Systems, by Juliana Spahr and One Might, by Karen Volkman. She lives in Brooklyn and works at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center.

2. Next Monday, February 23rd at the St. Mark’s Poetry Project:


Stan Apps and Russell Reed present "Princess of the World in Love," a song-cycle adapted from the book of the same name. Previous collaborations include "Oracular Vagina Takes Her Place Among World Leaders" (a series of operatic skits) and "The Book Beneath the Covers" (poems and drawings, unpublished). Stan Apps is a poet and essayist living in Los Angeles. His books of poems include soft hands (Ugly Duckling Presse), Princess of the World in Love (Cy Press), Info Ration (Make Now Press) and God's Livestock Policy (Les Figues Press). A collection of essays is underway from Combo Books. Stan co-curates the Smell Last Sunday of the Month reading series and assistant curates The Ups and Downs, a short-term art installation series. Dr. Russell Reed attended Baylor University and The University of Texas at Austin where he received his D.M.A in composition in 2005. While attending The University of Texas, he studied composition with Dan Welcher and Donald Grantham and served as the assistant director of The New Music Ensemble. Since graduating, Dr. Reed has received many notable honors and performances including a state sponsored performance and exhibition at the historic home of Alexander Scriabin in Moscow. In October of 2007 he premiered several of his new works for piano in recital in Monterrey, Mexico. Dr. Reed resides in Austin. Kareem Estefan’s writing has appeared in President's Choice, Rain Taxi, Sustainable Aircraft, and Boog City. From October 2007 to October 2008, he hosted Ceptuetics, a weekly radio reading/interview series for conceptually innovative poetry, which is archived at PennSound.

3. Next Friday, February 27th at the St. Mark’s Poetry Project:

Flim Forum Press presents: A Sing Economy
Flim Forum Press presents the poetry anthology A Sing Economy, featuring readings by Jessica Smith, Stephanie Strickland, Jennifer Karmin, Thom Donovan, John Cotter, Jaye Bartell, Kate Schapira, Deborah Poe, Eric Gelsinger, and editors Matthew Klane and Adam Golaski. Flim Forum Press provides space to emerging poets working in a variety of experimental modes. Other FF volumes include the anthology Oh One Arrow and The Alps by Brandon Shimoda.

Monday, February 16, 2009

From Queyras's Expressway

Lifted rudely from her very impressive and very new Expressway (Coach House) Sina Queyras’s Cloverleaf, Medians & Means is, like the Christian god, a three-parter with two embodiments plus an absent animus. The piece begins as a dialogic between A & B. Now A & B, as we know, often represent integers, and integers, as we know even more so, are always whole numbers whose elements are well-ordered, and whose ordering moves by addition. Addition is, as we've come to understand, our current fundamental problem: there’s too much of us, which leaves us with too little. And so A & B tell a story of infrastructure and the infra mince, wherein transubstantiations are diced and dicey, and there’s no comfort in the modern. Or there’s a specifically feminist discomfort in the way the mandate to make new has been embodied in the man:

A: Once was income levels measurements of perceived

Noise levels, probability of pollutants, percentage

Of truck traffic, thyroid levels and runoff acceptable, such

B: Levels! Much analysis of sentiment, surveys done, no

Lack of suitable data, measure location, men in overalls

Smoking, pavement uneven, concrete dividers zipping

A: and unzipping

I used the past tense, though should have stayed stuck in the present, for it’s the current that’s under critique here. Throughout the poem, these zipping and unzipping barriers—primarily to sentiment (though Queyras is invoking what Christine Buci-Gluckmann more accurately called the “senti-mental,” or felt cognition) and Euclidian specificity, i.e., to words and poems that play on all our stuttering registers—are pitched as a lopsided argument. There are no points between A&B. To this end, gerunds run into one another with a few well-wrought seams along our toll road, and the “ing” most frequently conjured is the terrible and banal “noth-” (What we make solid: nothing. What we invest in: / Nothing. / What we vote for: nothing.) But even in this select lament Queyras gives a nod to the slick and sexy substance of our absence:

A: Who can resist / the slide of modernity, of being elsewhere always, ahead of

Oneself, texting oneself—not to bring modernity into the poem,

Pristine modernity, the dream—but modernity leaks, modernity

B: Is uncontainable, because trans-nationalism presents no barriers

To the acquisition of self, or lease of self, layaway-plan self, because

Every transaction, even the most minute, considers

The implications of transactions, we don’t care for smooth rides,

We care for opportunities to change, you see? Liberty is

A: Defense of fees. The ability to charge a fee, liberty is worth

B: Changing for (we all agree)…

As you can see, all this ongoingness is goosed ahead by implanted end and internal rhymes, kept in close feet so the reader ticks to the mod metronome no matter what other siren calls (This poem stinks of dynamite. / There are ideas here you may not like.) But sirens will make you scoot to one side, and after a clipped back and forth echo (again, there’s no dialogue, or chorus, not properly, it’s a relay being run here, and in circles—the cloverleaf has no exit in either existential or exeunt terms), our integers combine to liturgize a list of commercial posts for commercial carriers, including Caution wide right turns, We hire safe drivers, and If you see something, say something. Practical pledges that read as red-ready campaign promises, more so as followed by a nod to Foucault, or Foucaultean anxiety (It’s the order of things that keeps her up at night). This “she,” as well as an errant “he” become proper placeholders: she serves as a finger that acts as a figure (pointing exists / The idea of everything), and he sets up a series of “shelves” that become selves, hung with harrowed hope, Christian by implication, nailed, gashed, and prone to transubstantiation, metaphorpoesis, that is.

(Clover denoting the trinity, and the good fortune in which you hope to be.)

Our messianic gash now flirts with Lacan, transsexing into pootangs and protrusions, then turning literally bold as A&B turn, like buds, to beauty. I’m over-indulging in name-dropping, like a rube at a posh party, but they’re all here, nibbling crudités, honing elbows, swapping bon mots and bone motes like it’s the middle of December, after the harvest, and now we’ve got Duchamp as Rrose Sélavy, because the ordinary is pronounced as basically beautiful as life itself as it triggers the tightening at the back of the knee. Ergo: Remain. The last word, and godamn if it’s not the command to stay.

And this remain leads to the other hand, A Memorable Fancy, where coda is punctuation, wherein our integers have been resolved into a she and he, our very own Didi and Gogo in thigh boots. She’s full of questions about how to get out, how to escape this constituency of self (while stepping over empty things that multiply underfoot), and he speaks, with an elephant’s unfortunately unforgetful mouth (Time is not as tame as you believe…). She presses the point, asking explicitly for guidance, a way to move on, and there’s a voice from a bigger and broken font that tells her she’s got all tools of the trade for finding one’s way, that is to say, meaning, and it’s menial, really, back-breaking stuff, digging, or hijacking, either which will work, or wont’, for there’s every chance of coming up empty. Flipping us up to Sisyphus, patron saint of poets and those who gather in groups:

It’s been done before? / Yes, but not necessarily by better.

True and true enough.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


I’m working on a series of poems I call “Wrecklogues”. They’re about paradisiacal Southern California — uber-trope of the built-over & over-built. My wrecklogues tip-toe & slog through this myth-bitten Golden State. What 'golden state'? — the sitcom-plotted fantasies of this place? Wrecklogues must owe as much to the TV travelogue as to the eclogue.

I think of the eclogue as the museum language one pokes around in during A Year [abroad] in Provence — winsome undergrad-speak about one’s native hicksville. Later comes the post-grad, pave-paradise drive to run over anything that un-avant-garde. One prefers les figues to ‘figs’, but more of that in future installments ….

When does nostalgia-cide become the only remedy for malingering mal du pays? It’s weird to be homesick for a place one's deriding in hindsight.. Whoever’s ‘sick of the old country’ [my translation] can find a way to counterfeit new origins in LotusLand.

But nostalgia sells; it buys us into the faux-pastoral’s Hollywood zip code, where we concoct mock epics of suntanned transcendence for export as if they were our crop, the fat of our land.

Just a couple days ago the heavy rain washed dirt into my swimming pool. Yes I have a swimming pool. (Bought the dream & not the farm.) The pool’s azure eye, perpetually staring at the sun, got mud in its eye. The wrecklogue of it admits the grit as grist, taking an animated swing at the Disneyland* of simulated picture-perfect Kodak moments. There’s fresher dirt in any sedi/mentation not that Astro turf.

What if this land of emigrés, faux-naïfs & plastic people is where you’re really from? How to shepherd that sheepish plot-line hook and by crook through this air-conditioned daydream factory? Stay tuned. I think it happens in episodes [“an incidental narrative or digression in a poem, or story, etc.” (OED)]. But not your father’s TV show.

[* “ . . . those whose phantasies condemn us.” Xeclogue, Lisa Robertson.]

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Les Figues: AWP

Come Visit Les Figues at Table 541 at the Bookfair in the Hilton Chicago. The bookfair is open to the public on Saturday, so tell your friends and family to come on by.

You can also catch Les Figues at any of these panels/readings:

Thursday, Feb 12.

3.00 - 4.15 pm at AWP, Hilton Chicago
Conference Panel: Writing Class / Writing Gender (Non-realist writing and social realities)
Continental B; Lobby Level
-Teresa Carmody, Saleh Saterstrom, Anna Joy Springer, Veronica Gonzalez, Amina Cain reading for Corrina Wycoff

7:00 p.m. at Curtis Hall, Fine Arts Building
FC2 Fiction Reading & Reception
-R.M. Berry, Alexandra Chasin, Christopher Grimes, Stephen Graham Jones, Affinity Konar, Lance Olsen, Vanessa Place, Matthew Roberson, Steve Tomasula, & Magdalena Zurawski,
(410 S. Michigan Avenue, 10th Floor, Fine Arts Building)

8.30 - 9.30 pm at Links Hall
Evening Reading: Launch of Sina Queyras’s Expressway
-Sina Queyras, Vanessa Place, Adam Sol, Kevin Connolly

Stay on at Links Hall that night for more excellent readings by Mathew Timmons, Harold Abramowitz, Amanda Ackerman, Lisa Janssen, Teresa Carmody, Matthew Klane and more. See Jennifer Karmin's previous post for complete line-up.

Friday, Feb 13.

12.00 pm (noon) at School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Reading/Conversation with Vanessa Place
(Joan Flasch Book Arts Collection , 37 S. Wabash Ave., 5th Floor)

6.30 - 11.00 pm at Links Hall
Red Rover Series "Experiment #26: A Small Press Showcase"
Featuring: Action Books, Effing Press, Flood Editions, Futurepoem books, Les Figues Press, Slack Buddha Press, Switchback Books, Ugly Duckling Presse. Readings by: Jessica Bozek, Amina Cain, Marcella Durand, Bill Fuller, Gloria Frym, Kim Hyesoon, Alta Ifland, Nancy Kuhl, Dan Machlin, Don Mee, Mel Nichols, Hoa Nguyen, Kathleen Rooney, Susan Schultz, John Tipton, Ronaldo V. Wilson.

Saturday, Feb 14.

9.00 - 10.15 am at AWP, Hilton Chicago
Conference Panel: Quantum Narratology (You Tell Me)
-Vanessa Place, Lidia Yuknavitch, Lance Olsen, R.M. Berry

Thursday, February 5, 2009

AWP events at Links Hall

FEBRUARY 12, 13, 14
readings & presentations
curated by Amina Cain, Laura Goldstein,
Lisa Janssen & Jennifer Karmin

3435 N. Sheffield Avenue
Chicago, IL

$5 each night
ongoing events / drop in anytime / last entry 10:30pm

CTA Red & Brown lines
7 minute walk from Belmont station
(left out of station, right at light, walk 2.5 blocks, enter at Newport)

Make It New - Infrawriting/Infrastructure

Eleven Eleven's Art School Confidential with Hugh Behm-Steinberg, Mairead Byrne, Allison DeLauer, Monica Drake, Joseph Lease.

TinFish Press & friends with Tom Orange, Craig Santos Perez, Ric Royer, Meg Withers.

Coach House Books with Sina Queyras, Vanessa Place, Adam Sol.

Flim Forum Press with Brandon Shimoda, Barrett Gordon, Laura Sims, Deborah Poe, Harold Abramowitz, Amanda Ackerman, Mathew Timmons, Matthew Klane.

Tag Team Reading with Mairead Case, Chris Cook, Daniel Godston, Steve Halle, A D Jameson, Timothy Krcmarik, Michael Marcinkowski, Timothy Rey, Chuck Stebelton. Audience participation! Open to all!

Ahadada Books / BlazeVOX [books] Jet Lag Reading with Jesse Glass, Jonathan Monroe, Elizabeth Murphy, Daniel Sendecki, Mark Spitzer, Robert Thompson & a few late-night surprises.

Friday Night in Chicago

Bottom Dog Press with "Come Together: Imagine Peace" editor Philip Metres, anthology contributors (Emily Bright, Hayan Charara, Alice Cone, Barbara Crooker, Angie Estes, Hedy Habra, David Hassler, Jennifer Karmin, Dave Lucas, Katharyn Machan, Robert Miltner, Lauren Rusk), and local anti-war organizations.

Red Rover Series "Experiment #26: A Small Press Showcase" with Action Books, Effing Press, Flood Editions, Futurepoem books, Les Figues Press, Slack Buddha Press, Switchback Books, Ugly Duckling Presse. Readings by: Jessica Bozek, Amina Cain, Bill Fuller, Gloria Frym, Lara Glenum, Alta Ifland, Nancy Kuhl, Dan Machlin, Jill Magi, Don Mee, Hoa Nguyen, Mel Nichols, Susan Schultz, John Tipton, Ronaldo V. Wilson.

Performance Ventures - Sound, Video, Hypertext, & Poets Theater

Multidisciplinary work by Chicago writers and artists Gwyneth Anderson, Justin Cabrillos, Laura Goldstein with Kristin Hayter, Amira Hanafi, Judd Morrissey, Edward Salem, Jennifer Sporcich with Aurora Tabar, Ni'Ja Whitson. This event is sponsored by the Writing Program at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Instant Reading with Adam Hart, Jennifer Karmin, Kevin Kilroy, Erika Mikkalo, Ira S. Murfin, Daniela Olszewska, Beth Snyder, Eric Unger, Timothy Yu. Audience participation! Open to all!

Tag Team Reading with William Allegrezza, Kristy Bowen, Nina Corwin, Jennifer Firestone, Kurt Heintz, Sheryl Ridenour, Sarah Rosenthal, Evan Willner. Audience participation! Open to all!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

officially on the firm

Peeler died on Sunday. Somehow, crowds the produce. Meanwhile, he was the constantly and shirts — the man related, said suit Clover. You’ve got no

about carrots, friends he made, just one like me who dances seventy-three pounds a year. Not before you buy, prod wad “machine”, The voice—a mathematician, a part kind of delight. For pitchman who no one believes, on Sunday in a year, or carrots, his fourth. And he told me was not his only, the facts, followed Ms. Peeler could tell where he’d been. Followed item to the United States. More than anything, potatoes.

As I worked through the skin of the less woody-textured edible taproot, I was reminded why I often shove aside the three other, fancier peelers.

pushy farmers weren’t convers/ prod weren’t pret
I used it just yesterday on potatoes
Julia on the cover and me in the middle- constant
wad of hands, his money-face, meanwhile,

I would also like to buy some, but can't get to New York! We will invite a peeler and carrots, to peel a temporary vegetable, so fish to confuse your gentle asparagus.
Your peeler, meta into beta, Swiss seeing in the dark.

Please Welcome: Diana Hamilton

For those of you who already have Kim Rosenfield's re: evolution, you'll notice a very smart essay immediately following the text, entitled "Out of the soup and the blue: don't everyone evolve at once." The essayist is Diana Hamilton. She writes about Rosenfield's use of science in re: evolution. Here's how the piece begins:

re: evolutio
n lets science have its say. Kim Rosenfield's ability to include mulitple voices without submitting any to the criticism of a single author(ity) enables her to appropriate text from several sources, mostly scientific ones, to create a remarkable democracy of perspecitive. Yet there's no defensiveness distancing the author from the voices just introduced, nor is it easy to come to a totalized understadnign of her text—an effort that might render the polyvocal effect moot, or mute, as the meaning-end would undermine the writing-process. These effects in re: evolution help elude the sort of conclusions reading expects, but they are also what make Rosenfield's poetry such an effective site for breaking down rigid systems of knowledge, including conventional analyses of poetry.

Diana Hamilton goes on to make many many excellent points, so many, in fact, that we want to hear more for her. So we've asked her to join in as a Les Figues guest blogger, and happy for all of us, she's agreed. Diana lives in Brooklyn and is co-coordinator of the Friday Night Reading Series at St. Mark's Church. Her poetry has been published in The Portable Book Reader 3: An Anthology of New York City Poetry, which you can download for free here: 53.pbr3.pdf

Welcome, Diana!

A festival ended.

And I think I am too tired to write about it, at least for now, though it really was amazing this last weekend, the readings and performances and videos by Tisa Bryant, Duriel Harris, Bryan and Jake Saner, ThickRoutes Performance Collage, and Chi Jang Yin. I performed too, mostly in darkness, with Rachel Tredon, and a recording by Amarnath Ravva called "Pyramid Lake," in which he plays the vina.

Above are two photos of ThickRoutes.