Thursday, December 31, 2009

The debut of a brave new void

In which there is here.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Other Room Interviews Sophie Robinson

The Other Room is a reading series presenting experimental writers at The Old Abbey Inn in Manchester. They also host a great online space, with videos, readings, events and more. Here they interview Sophie Robinson, author of a.

Sophie Robinson interview

Other | MySpace Video

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Reviews While I Was Away

I'm just back from Thailand, including Chiang Mai, which has changed (and not) since I was a student at the University of Chiang Mai in 1996. The "and not" is a nod to my friend Chalermchon Jitjindar who insists Chiang Mai the city is still Chiang Mai the city, though the University has expanded and there's a burgeoning art scene.

In any case, while I was off speaking Thai (a constant remembering and forgetting), others were writing excellent reviews of Figues titles, or otherwise giving nods:

Mó-lós-sús: David Shook writes about Paul Hoover's Sonnet 56: "It manages to question the naturalness and inevitability of free verse in the most elegant mode of criticism, art itself."

again: David Shook writes about Danielle Adair's From JBAD: Lessons Learned: "Portions of the journal read like poems, with occasional—and appropriately serving as reminders of the project’s purpose—interruptions for military terminology."

Feminaissance is picked as the "Book Cover of the Month" by John Sakkis.

Dennis Cooper picks Babyfucker as one of his favorite fictions of 2009.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

How To Write About Africa

Postcard from Kenya:
Uhuru Park, downtown Nairobi. A place for family gatherings, celebrations, and political protests. Also know as an urban location for poets on paddle boats to become spontaneous literary pirates. Ask Tony Mochama for details.

Uhuru means freedom:
Example, 1989 protest led by Wangari Maathai to cancel construction and foreign investment in the 60-story Kenya Times Media Trust business complex. Result, Maathai was forced out of parliament but the project was cancelled. Fast forward to 2004, Maathai becomes the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize as the founder of the Green Belt Movement. Environmental conservation + women's rights = continental change.

I am mzungu, an African Swahili word for white person. Someone who wanders without purpose, someone constantly on the move. See traders, colonizers, officials, and tourists. I am the mzungu who is trying to write about Africa.

Starvation & sunsets:
A place to start, Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina's How To Write About Africa (Kwani?, 2008). Binya is the winner of the 2002 Caine Prize for African Writing and founder of Kwani? He is a central nexus of Nairobi writers, poets, journalists, artists, filmmakers, and activists.

Let's now travel through Binya's conceptual text together to paragraph 3. You will need to put your camera down, get out of the jeep and stop looking for wild animals. Like any journey, you will return changed.
In your text, treat Africa as if it were one country. It is hot and dusty with rolling grasslands and huge herds of animals and tall, thin people who are strarving. Or it is hot and steamy with very short people who eat primates. Don't get bogged down with precise descriptions. Africa is big: fifty-four countries, 900 million people who are too busy starving and dying and warring and emigrating to read your book. The continent is full of deserts, jungles, highlands, savannahs and many other things, but your reader doesn't care about all that, so keep your descriptions romantic and evocative and unparticular.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Three things to listen to, and one to listen to and watch.

Lately I've been listening to readings and recordings from the Naropa Audio Archive, Penn Sound, and UbuWeb while I cook dinner, wash dishes, or clean the house. It's been nice to accompany these chores with this listening, though it probably doesn't do much in the way of me focusing in on one activity with presence. Still, I've enjoyed it, and have then been sharing some of the recordings with my students. In my listening, I have especially enjoyed:

* Judith Goldman's A Voice Box recording from the New Reading Series in Oakland this past June. She is such an amazing performer of her work-- slow, sometimes fast, as the writing necessitates. I like her Ceptuetics reading/interview too.

* Bhanu Kapil's Left Hand Reading Series/Boulder recording from 2001. She reads from The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers, from a series of stickers, and from what went on to be her current book on the wolf girls of Midnapore, Humanimal. I love Bhanu's writing, and I find her voice to be relaxing too. A kind of active resting place, where certain parts of oneself are traveling, and other parts get to sink down.

* Diane di Prima's July 1978 Naropa reading with Amiri Baraka and Robert Duncan (the whole reading is pretty great, and multiple times I've shared it with my classes). Among other things, di Prima reads an excerpt from Loba. Strong voice; fierce woman; one to look up to.

* Jesse Seldess' "End," from Little Red Leaves 4 . Another excellent reader/performer of his work, Jesse's video is just as satisfying to watch as to listen to; the way he taps the words he says, giving himself time to find them, and the rhythm that comes out of that.

Of course there is a lot more, but here are a few.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

How2: new issue online!

Launching a new issue of How2 journal
Volume 3, Issue 3

Featuring poems & papers from:
Elizabeth-Jane Burnett
Emily Carr
Christina Continelli
David Emanuel
Shannon Maguire
Julia Lee Barclay
Amy Sara Carroll
Laylage Courie
Bonnie Emerick

Jennifer Karmin in collaboration with:
Emily Abendroth
Diane di Prima
Phayvanh Luekhamhan
Daniel Mejia
Erika Mikkalo
Shin Yu Pai
Meredith Quartermain
Paula Rabinowitz
Jenny Roberts
Michelle Taransky

Featuring papers from:
Caroline Bergvall
Sophie Robinson
Nathan Brown
cris cheek
Laura Goldstein
Majene Mafe

Featuring papers from:
Carla Harryman
Laura Hinton
Christine Hume
J. Darling
Carla Billitteri
Renee Gladman
Austin Publicover

Aya Karpińska
Katie Clapham
Becky Cremin
Simone Gilson

Featuring poems by:
Jessica Wilkinson
Emily Critchley
Karen Sandhu

Jessica Wilkinson on Susan Howe’s Souls of the Labadie Tract
Emily Critchley on Lisa Robertson's Magenta Soul Whip

Arpine Konyalian Grenier:
Reflections on the First International Poetic Ecologies Conference, Université Libre de Bruxelles, May 2008

Featuring selected work by:
Susan Gervitz
Hannah Weiner
Rosemarie Waldrop
Lydia Davis

Saturday, December 5, 2009

When writing - Josephine Foster -

When playing Music - Emily Dickinson -

Graphic as a Star
She sweeps with many-colored Brooms -
"Massachusetts mountains
pearled spiderwebs"
A dark Festival, or under
a Giant leaf!
Beauty crowds me till
I die -
Clearer and clearer -
the Feet.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Gift Subscriptions

Now it's easy to share Les Figues with your smart, book-loving friends. Simply download the Les Figues 2009 Gift Subscription Order Form, fill it out, and mail it in.

Gift Subscriptions are only $60 for all 5 books in the TrenchArt Maneuvers Series:

TrenchArt Maneuvers (aesthetics)
Sonnet 56 by Paul Hoover
Not Blessed by Harold Abramowitz (forthcoming)
The Evolutionary Revolution by Lily Hoang (forthcoming)
The New Poetics by Mathew Timmons (forthcoming)

Forthcoming titles will be mailed to gift recipients as they are released. Wow! That basically means four packages for the price of one!