This is Amy Lawless's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Amy Lawless's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Amy Lawless
Recent Activity
Call for applications: The NYFA Immigrant Artist Project is pleased to announce the call for applications for the 6th Cycle of our flagship Mentoring Program for Immigrant Artists. The 2012 Mentoring Program will pair emerging immigrant artists with artists from the NYFA Fellowship Program. Our NYFA Fellows will act as one-on-one Mentors to their Mentees for a period of six months. They will help them in gaining broader access to the New York cultural community by sharing ideas, advice, and resources. Mentors will also guide Mentees in achieving one or more specific goals and objectives. This year’s cycle will take place from April to September of 2012. Along with the services and resources of the overall Mentoring Program, we are pleased to offer five Van Lier Fellowships this year! This award will provide eligible Mentees with a modest stipend and added professional development support. This is a competitive program that is free of charge to accepted participants. The first five cycles of the Mentoring Program were highly successful with participants advancing in their careers and forming lasting bonds with their Mentors and other participants. This program is accepting applications for the following areas: Architecture/Environmental Structures/Design**, Printmaking/Drawing/Book Arts, Crafts/Sculpture, Digital/Electronic Arts, Nonfiction Literature, and Poetry. If you're eligible, apply! Here's a link to the application. Continue reading
Posted Dec 18, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
Greetings from the fortress of solitude, a tiny room on the roof of a building in Brooklyn. Much like the character Blanche DuBois (my arch enemy), I am alone with my thoughts... a misunderstood artist sitting in a room alone pretending to be angry at my mother. However, unlike Blanche DuBois, I don't have shitloads of "stuff" that follows me around in dusty, unwieldy trunks. Come to think of it, I do indeed have a lot of clothing that I must donate to Goodwill, but because I'm markedly not a disgraced woman of the night, I uh...I uh... well this extended metaphor thing is getting really bad. Moving on... So now that Cyber Monday and his ugly older stepsister Black Friday are shrinking in the rear view mirror of my calendar....I can skip to the favored younger child: LAST-MINUTE SHOPPING! Sure it's not even December yet, but Ye Ol' Organized Freaks out there are already completely finished with their shopping. The rest of December is a mere daymare filled with a blank expression-filled pressure cooker of crowds -- or in the pursuit of the avoidance of these crowds. Oh it's almost too late!.....(I lift my lifeless wrist to my forehead and arch my neck back.) I'm here for you: for you friendly poets and friends of poetry and poets out there like me who haven't begun your shopping and are looking to shop for the poet in your household. Please check out these poet inspired gift ideas. In other words, these are all things that I, Amy Lawless, want and I was inspired to write about. You can backchannel me for the mailing address of my fortress of solitude. (Just kidding!) Here's what I look like without the following presents (note: completely asleep, perfect bangs, and delicate spectacles): And here's what I look like once I get the presents (only slightly more awake, perfect vision): So let's get right to the recommendations! 1. Augury Books has set up an "Indie Gogo" account. I'm pretty sure Indie Gogo is Kickstarter for the people who...haven't heard of Kickstarter before. But more importantly, Augury Books are raising money for their line of cool books and chapbooks. If you click here, you'll view a cute video as well as a list of the books that Augury is going to put out this year: B.C. Edwards' chapbook, Paige Lipari's chapbook, and Patrick Moran's book. These are books that I'm excited to read and (therefore) you should be excited about these pieces too. 2. The latest and last issue of Supermachine! Here is a link to buy it here. I'm thinking your cool younger cousin might like this. It's cutting edge poetry. I fell out of a train station one day and ended up at the release party and I heard really rad readings from the content of the magazine from Sampson Starkweather, Dan Hoy, Bianca Stone, Dan Magers, Ryan Doyle May, and Jackqueline Frost. I wish I could lift my arms from being lazy. Then... Continue reading
Posted Nov 29, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
This just in from H_NGM_N Books: "For months & months, right up until he passed away earlier this year, we were working with Paul to reissue his book IN BALTIC CIRCLES. We all wanted to get it just right. Now, we’re excited to say it’s almost here. Preorder the book now; we expect them to ship before the end of November." Matt Hart writes "Paul Violi needs to be read (and taught) MORE—with incredible seriousness and with serious delight. He was, hands down, one of our best poets—inventive, adventurous, original, and resourceful—his poems always pushing the boundaries and expanding the possibilities of what poetry could be, while simultaneously reaffirming at every instant exactly what poetry has always been: singing in the service of the infinite." Hell yes, Matt. Preorder here if you know what's good for you. Continue reading
Posted Nov 7, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
I was delighted to be invited to participate in Six Non Lectures. The evening will be a surprise in many ways. Check it out! It look fun in that terrifying, surprising, enlightening way! Please come out! Here are the details. Read on! -AL Friday, September 16 · 8:30pm - 10:30pm PS 122 9th Street and 1st Avenue New York, NY In collaboration with THIS RED DOOR @ PS122, "Six Non Lectures" will feature six contemporary poets lecturing on topics they have arbitrarily selected for each other and are non-experts in; each lecturer will have only 48 hours prior to the event to receive and prepare their assigned topic. The lecturers will read alphabetically: Adam Fitzgerald Simone Kearney Amy Lawless Eileen Myles Roger Van Voorhees Joe Weil Each lecture will last approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Light boozing will take place and be highly encouraged. BYOB. ~~~ MEET THE POET LECTURERS ~~~ Simone Kearney’s poems can be found in Post Road Magazine, Elimae, Maggy, Sal Mimeo and Supermachine. She was a recipient of the Amy Awards from Poets & Writers Magazine in the fall of 2010. She works as a lecturer at Rutgers and Pace University, and writes for the Thierry-Goldberg Projects gallery in the Lower East Side. She is also a visual artist, and lives in Brooklyn. Amy Lawless is the author of Noctis Licentia (Black Maze Books 2008) and a four poem pamphlet from Greying Ghost Press. Her poems have been recently published or are forthcoming in No, Dear, Leveler, LIT, Catch Up Louisville, Forklift, Ohio, and Hail Satan! Contemporary Writing and Images from Hell. She has been named a 2011 New York Foundation for the Arts fellow. She was born and raised in Boston but lives in Brooklyn. Eileen Myles was born in Cambridge, Mass. in 1949, was educated in Catholic schools, graduated from U. Mass. (Boston) in 1971 and moved to New York City in 1974 to be a poet. She gave her first reading at CBGB's, and then gravitated to St. Mark's church where she studied with Ted Berrigan, Alice Notley and Bill Zavatsky. In 2007, she published Sorry, Tree (Wave Books) the latest of more than a dozen volumes of poetry and fiction including Chelsea Girls, Not Me, Skies, and Cool for You. Her most recent book is The Importance of Being Iceland: Travel Essays in Art, published by Semiotext(e) in 2009. Joe Weil has three chapbooks, and three full length collections of his poetry out there, the first chap book introduced by the late harvey Pekar, and the most recent full length book, The Plumber's Apprentice, put out by New York Quarterly. Weil also plays piano and has composed works for and played with the jazz saxophonist Sweet sue Terry, as well as Vick Ruggerio, lead singer and key board player of The Slackers. He currently teaches at Binghamton University and is married to the poet Emily Vogel. For more information, check out the official facebook event page here. Continue reading
Posted Aug 29, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
Guy Pettit recently started a poetry music label called Unicorn Evil Records with Michael Barron that is worthy of much admiration. I wanted to hear all about it and share my findings with you, so I conducted a short interview with Guy. My questions are italicized and his answers are....not italicized. Why did you and Michael Barron create this record label? Michael and I, through the course of normal conversation, discovered that we were wanting to do similar things - that is, put poets on vinyl. I had already recorded Lucy Ives reading the entirety of her full-length book Anamnesis (Slope, 2009) with plans to press the recording onto 12'' vinyl. Michael was planning to do the same, but in a split 7'' format, with James Copeland/William Rahilly on one side and Alex Phillips/Bill Gillim on the other. It was serendipitous and I think that as soon we discovered the other's project we knew we should be working together. How did you and Michael choose Lucy Ives and James Copeland & Will Rahilly / Alex Phillips & Bill Gillim for your first round? I had heard Lucy read a couple of times and I was drawn to the effect her voice had on how I experienced the poem (Anamnesis is one long poem); she sort-of assumes both a robotic and deliberately unaffected voice, in terms of emotion. And I thought hearing that focused my listening to and being moved by the poem. That is all to say that I thought the book should be heard in addition to being read and what better way to hear it than on vinyl. As for Michael's decision to ask James Copeland/William Rahilly & Alex Phillips/Bill Gillim --- I think they were both working on performative pieces that included sound effects, music, video, etc., which Michael was familiar with and wanted to get out into the world. What is so special about vinyl? I mean I have my own ideas about the tangible art object, but what do you think? For me, vinyl seems like it has a better chance of surviving than other forms of media. Physically surviving, I mean. That's important to me. I think when you publish or record or film something you are documenting it, and if it's your intention for that thing to be around for as long as possible, you want to consider the resiliency of the medium you're using. It also sounds really good and is fun to play. You know, it's more memorable to put on a record than to search through your itunes playlists. Plus, vinyl and letterpress, which we used to print the jackets, are complimentary. They're both visually striking. Using both is also an attempt to preserve two means of production that are going extinct --- letterpress more so than vinyl ---- for no good reason. Unless efficiency is a priority? But for who's sake? So, one is a 7 inch and another a 12 inch? What's up with that? 12" fits more... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
Kings of the Fucking Sea, Dan Boehl's new poetry collection from Birds LLC, is a phantasmagoric adventure about dissolution, loss and pirates. I talked to him about the role of painters in his work, the considerations in putting together a first book of poetry and his writing process (which did not involve a parrot or an eye patch). Can you explain the plot of the Kings of the Fucking Sea? Hmmn, yeah. I can explain the plot. There is an unnamed man in his thirties who works at an art museum. He is married. He owns a house. He has a dog. He feels trapped in his life and wants out. So, one day he skips town and ends up joining a crew of polleros, human traffickers. These polleros are Kings of the Fucking Sea. First he smuggles Mexicans into the US through Galveston. Later he smuggles Chinese. At first this work is freeing, but pretty quickly he recognizes the evil in the practice of human trafficking, of making a living taking advantage of the hopes and fears of others. As he thinks about this the Kings find an abandoned boat in the ocean off the coast of China. The boat belongs to a rival pirate crew, the Cobra Sombreros. Locked in a shipping container are a dozen or so Chinese people who have been suffocated and cooked to death by the sun. The Kings are not without honor. Seeking revenge, they go to war with the Sombreros, attacking that crew in the islands off the coast of Asia. Though the Kings are outnumbered, they destroy their rivals. Many people die, and the Kings hang the bodies of their enemies from a tree. And the Kings celebrate their victory. They receive medals, are paid, and they dance with whores. But the unnamed character remains uneasy, and his thoughts drift towards home, the life he left, and he wonders if there is any real difference between his life home and his life on the sea. But it hardly matters. As the Kings embark on a new voyage their ship is attacked by Megamouth, an unworldly shark with breath like god’s very navel. Everyone but our hero dies. Our hero washes ashore onto an abandoned island, a broken resort hotel on the beach, washed out by a tsunami. Using the debris he finds on shore to fashion a raft, he sets back out onto the ocean, searching for home. At least I think this is the plot. Not all of this account is in the poems, so it is open to interpretation. Can you tell me about the persona you use when you read poems from KFS? Persona. Funny. My press mate, Sommer Browning, just said in an interview at Faster Times that she does not regard poetry readings as performances. Well, I do, and when I read I try to communicate to the audience the darkest, most shameful place inside of me. I try to show them the shame that is... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
We put this post together in like ten minutes. Adam Day, Badger Apocrypha (PSA Chapbook Award chosen by James Tate) Construction: It’s got the classic PSA style look. Really well put together nice low-gloss cover. Fits in your back pocket. The cover looks like hair. Critical Analysis: Sample poem: Mrs. Speaks She stands before a window speaking with a friend, she shifts like compost collapsing beneath a dress in summer heat. On her nose a wreck of warts that glistens in light like elvers. She’s remembering out loud: “When the workers marched Badger came home to find Henry had my skirt up past my garters, and a leg of lamb hot on the table. And I told him? Eat up before it gets cold.” In the half-light, the way the shadows played his face, he looked like a bearded woman. But, Badger was a bullock. He took me hard by the arm, on a night walk, watched an owl snatch a cat from the road. Badger mewling and hooting beneath stuttering streetlights, watching with the subtle giddy smile of a retarded child. Christopher Salerno ATM (horse less press) Construction: Green like money. It’s a basic 8.5x11 folded paper, surprisingly economical for a collection of poems about money... oh... now we get it. Critical Analysis: Sample poem: $$$$ Lost, I check the time on my receipt, let it guide my walk. At what point does a memory rob the new of its newness? There is a yogurt lid in the mud (not mine). I walk and walk until I reach the stores. I wait in long lines. Flickering my lighter. I sort of burn a girl’s braids. The smoke is sweet like a popsicle. Though sweet for us depends on our following the flame into the dim. Forget what I’ve said about being lost. I love. I put these sentences in order to make money. Ben Kopel, Because We Must (Brave Man Press) Construction: It’s a Brave Man Press Coin Library Book. It’s tiny, sturdy, and has a nice letter press cover. Critical Analysis: Sample poem: Dead Bird Tattoo What bird could be held on the hand in your arm static a suburb before— & yet here I am with you not rotting. Micah Ballard and Sunnylyn Thibodeaux, Doubloons (Auguste Press / Lew Gallery) Construction Collages by Micah Ballard on the front and back covers and the interior. The whole book was printed in a small edition “for our friends and family Mardi Gras 2011.” The typeface is some old typewriter. Critical Analysis: Sample poem: There is a portal of light behind the bedroom door wonder if it leads to the ocean or to the Marigny Will Lorca get lost on the other side? The moon smiles high in the meadow Jupiter, two panes aside wonder about living in New Orleans how I’m terrified of roaches how Amselm politely called them waterbugs so much can be swayed by language, but not that The portal of light stretches next to a poem... Continue reading
Posted Jun 5, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
“‎It’s yeah, it’s an understatement, you know it’s. I’m sorry man I got magic and I got poetry at my fingertips most of the time and this includes naps." -Charlie Sheen I’ve been thinking a lot about the VIDA count and Eileen Myles' amazing essay in The Awl. Specifically these lines from the Myles essay: "But here’s the actual problem. If the poetry world celebrated its female stars at the true level of their productivity and influence poetry would wind up being a largely female world and the men would leave. Poetry would not seem to be the job for them. I think that’s the fear. Losing daddy again! Plus women always need to support, I mean actively support male work in order to dispense with the revolting suggestion that they are feminists." I have realized for some time that many of the books I buy are written by men or boys. Why is that? I suppose didn’t want to seem like I’m a pussy myself. I suppose I wanted to be taken seriously as a poet – not a female poet. This is an ugly realization that I am proud to express. It should not be “revolting” to be a feminist. I was also thinking a lot about this poem/blog post that Ariana Reines wrote on her blog after AWP – I can’t find it now so I can’t link to it. [Found it: click here.] Ariana is a totally fearless writer who I’m sure many of you love already. She was hungover on a bus (or at least that was the voice she was using in the poem/blog), and she discussed all kinds of amazing things, but one of them was how males have very little problem talking themselves up, especially at a place like a writer’s conference. “Here’s what I’ve done. Here’s where I published. Here. Look. Look at me! Acknowledge I exist.” At AWP, I was pretty much too shy to talk to anyone I didn’t know already, which is a huge shame because I’m a raconteur. What Ariana and Eileen have to say really touch me. That giant spider is the female. That little spider is the male. Now I don’t think we will or can stop supporting all the male poets we love. But perhaps we can support each other—more. It’s not ugly to be a female poet. Is the following ugly?: Three weeks ago I was PMSing REALLY BADLY and I lay in bed watching “The Kids Are All Right” on my laptop SOBBING. Total chick movie. Total Hollywood. My uterine lining was dying to shed. (Is that gross or is it just the truth?) Somewhere, some executive knew that that movie would appeal to intelligent women. Why should I be ashamed of my experience? Why should I keep that a secret? It’s the truth. It’s my wound. Hey look at it. I exist. Look at this! It’s not standing in the corner at a reading with three guys wearing outfits that are... Continue reading
Posted Feb 26, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
Click on it for the full details! Should be awesome! Continue reading
Posted Feb 17, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
Brandon Johnson assembled this poem for Mike Tyson from his own quoted speech. Now I present it to you. MIKE TYSON'S AMERIKKKA I’m just a dark guy From a den of iniquity A dark shadowy figure From the bowels of iniquity I wish I could be the Mike Who gets an endorsement deal But you can’t make a lie and a truth go together This country wasn’t built on moral fiber This country was built on rape, slavery, murder, degradation and affiliation with crime I’m too stigmatized in this country I want to do something That will have a tangible effect on people I live in a world where I’m not too media-friendly I would never be a success story in this country +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ I’m addicted to perfection Problem with my life is I was always also addicted to chaos Perfect chaos There’s no one perfect Jimmy Swaggart is a lascivious character Mike Tyson is lascivious But we’re not criminally At least I’m not Criminally lascivious You know what I mean I may like to fornicate More than other people It’s just who I am ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ I sacrifice so much of my life Can I at least get laid? I mean, I been robbed of most of my money Can I at least get a blowjob Without the people wanting to harass me And wanting to throw me in jail? Don’t be surprised If I behave like a savage I am a savage Who am I? I don’t even know who I am I’m just a dumb child Who’s being abused and robbed by lawyers I’m just a dumb pugnacious fool I’m just a fool who thinks he’s someone Then you tell me I should be responsible Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
Dude, did you go to the Dean Young Benefit? I didn't either. So put down your self-flagellation devices and click this link that will transport you over to Coldfront where D.J. Dolack had the wherewhithal to record it and post it and then email me that he posted it. Yay D.J. Also give Dean Young some of your money, otherwise what's the good of SCIENCE? HAHHAHAHAHAHHA. YAY SCIENCE! WHOOO HOOOOOOO! It's important to use science to keep the people we like and love here as long as possible. Oh right the link! CLICK HERE. To read about Dean Young and make an online donation, please visit his page at the National Foundation for Transplants. Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
Why isn't ANYONE talking about the Frederick Seidel poem in the New Yorker in the January 10, 2011 issue? Why does it have to be me? I barely showered today. I was at the liquor store at 3:45 pm. I'm not camera ready! To preface:....I know as a woman I'm supposed to be all mad and signing petitions about how there are barely any articles written by women in the New Yorker. I totally get that. I totally do. Women ROCK and should be featured more in magazines that sit on coffee tables but are barely read. But this poem by Seidel is fucking phenomenal. It was brought to my attention by my friend James who emailed me because it reminded him of me and I'm a half-blown narcissist (as are we all, except those of us who are full blown narcissists). So i read it because I'm so "busy" that half the time my New Yorkers just sit on my coffee table (especially if all the articles are written by men *wink*... So i read the Seidel poem and I love Ooga Booga. Doesn't everyone? If you don't, there's something missing from your life. You just don't realize you love it yet. What's great about "Rain" is that it not only is a poem about our current world (Forget journalism! I just read a poem perfectly distilling 2010!): Greece's stone filled pocket suicide, and the obsession with Twilight. I mean that's basically last year, eh? The other beautiful thing about it is that it's written in longish lines that all rhyme, but because I'm a little thick today I didn't even notice that until the fourth and last stanza. Here are a few choice lines from "Rain": It's the recession. It's very weird in New York. Teen vampires are the teen obsession. Rosebud mouths who don't use a knife and fork. Germany at first won't save Greece, but really has to. It's hot in parts of Texas, but rain drowns Tennessee, people die. It's the euro. It's the Greek debt. Greece knew It has to stop lying, but timeo Danaos, they're Greeks, Greeks lie. I mean it's really daffy, but it's lovable daft. The last stanza holds some of the most heavy-handed end rhymes since Daddy (LOL), but sometimes we want to end with a bang and not a whimper. (Pour your heart out Tom Eliot!) Also, why aren't more poets listening to the WTF with Mark Maron Podcast? Marc Maron, a Jewish comic who is constantly in a state of self-doubt and disrepair, interviews comedians twice a week. Wait wait stay with me. I know you may not like comedians. Dude i know. What's more annoying than someone who's trying to make you laugh? But these interviews aren't really that different from talking to your poet friends. I mean what's the point of life? We poets create poems. They write jokes. There's this "THING" we do that we aren't sure why we do it (we certainly aren't getting... Continue reading
Posted Jan 14, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
Doing last minute Xmas shopping? So are we. Here are some "artisanal art objects" you can purchase straight from the hands of their makers. Impress your friends and family with your good taste and access to independently published literature. [Note justifying poems is super "in" right now, but TypePad isn't quite on to the trend so apologies if the poems don't look exactly as they do on the page. We tried!] Mark Leidner’s Willie (Minutes Books, Quarterhouse Books) Poems: The titular “Willie” is a funny, funny persona poem about the kind of egotistical shit that only goes on in the heads of the Ivy League educated. “Memoirs of a Secret Agent” is exactly the kind of sci-fi poem we have been trying to write for two years (at once the mouthfeel of James Bond and classic 60s television show “The Prisoner”). “Things to Call Water” is a beautiful language-loving list poem that doesn’t make us want to commit murder-suicide to annihilate all list poems. Construction: Hand drawn covers that look like they were conceived by a bunch of prophetic kindergarteners. Our copy has a Sharpie drawing of planet Earth on the cover with expensive lookin’ paper on the inside. Willie My best friend at Harvard was this really sagacious engineering major named Willie who studied psychology in his spare time. He’d invented a new way to analyze personalities he’d dubbed ‘The Egypt Test.’ Subjects were asked to clear their minds, and suspend them of all conscious thought, then he would ask them, “What’s the first thing you think of when you hear me say the word…Egypt?” Most people responded, “Pyramids,” or “The Nile.” After the test, Willie would explain that if you said pyramids, you were partial to artifice, geometry, and the mind. If, however, you answered Nile, you favored nature, sexuality, and believed organic things to reign supreme. When Willie did the test on me, I took forever to answer. Nile or pyramids, pyramids or Nile, Nile or pyramids! I couldn’t decide. The truth is, both popped into my head at the exact same time. When I confessed this to Willie, thinking I’d failed the test, he said, “No. You are the third category. You reject my simplistic dualities, and see beyond the mind-nature dichotomy… into the truth of things.” I wiped my tears on the sleeves of my blazer. Willie gave me a hug. He was my best friend at Harvard. Foul Feelings, Brian Kalkbrenner (self-published) Reading Foul Feelings feels like someone is secretly building a lazy tunnel inside of you by using as few words as possible and dildos and body parts. Sometimes it’s like someone’s hitting on you via Craigslist and sometimes it feels like reading hundred syllable haiku truth-bombs. Construction: perfect (?) bound. Most poems are justified for a clean look. Most importantly, the book fits in your back jean pocket and prominently features suggestive horses on the cover. from Foul Feelings If you ever look at a picture of a hurricane or a video... Continue reading
Posted Dec 22, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
Here are some chapbooks we like. Maybe this will make you read them. The End of Waste and The Harrowing Halychyna by Curtis Jensen Self-published. See Poems: Welcome to the greatest “zine” moments of the year. The typos do not detract from the enjoyment of this chapbook. Obsessive editing can be really annoying anyway. Sandbox in Hell V1.2 is a great poem; coupled with the visuals of cow/boar/horse/deer skulls creates a "bad-ass" feeling. Construction: Feels like a skate/punk/straight-edge/vegan recipe zine your little brother photocopied at Kinkos back in high school. Probably goes well with Black Flag or Gorilla Biscuits. Deer skulls a-plenty. SANDBOX IN HELL VI.2 You are Sisyphus, Not pushing the rock, but in the sandbox. Really not many likenesses except that Whatpowers may be have doomed you here, From now until the rest of whatever. The trick is that there’s nothing under This sandbox, nothing but a way out Six inches beneath your big dumb feet, Nothing but a change of scenery. You’ve geen given a flat-nosed shovel. You’re on your hands, you’re on your knees. You’ve choked way up the shovel-handle: You could cut through the ceiling below. Maintaining the level sand around you, You are diligent in senseless effort; You motor your perpetual doom; You are in this eternity, youre in it On your hands and on your knees; You bring about your own impulsion, You’re in the sandbox with yourself Till all the lights at last go out, Til maybe even after that. Whether your sandbox surface lays plumb Has no bearing on your place in torment. You being you, you’re there with yourself. *** Aquarius Rising by Ben Fama (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010) Poems: If Baudelaire had been a new agey hipster he would have written some of these poems. One of the poems is titled "Glitter Pills." After a quick Google search we found out glitter pills are pills that you take if you want your stool to sparkle like a mirror ball at a discothèque. We imagine the affect to be similar to consuming Aquarius Rising. Construction: It’s very beautiful; made by Ugly Duckling Presse. Hand-sewn binding. Glitter Pills To live a serious life that’s a fucked up thing I would have to rent out a cabin beneath terrible angels if I get old wipe the dust off my tits I should have a serious log cabin the cabin’s name is Ben Fama find directions on the internet when you want to leave you can I’ll stay there just me and my heart bigger than the sun *** Pluto by Maggie Wells and Polaroid by Dan Hoy (Wrath of Destiny, 2010; Wrath of Destiny, 2010) Poems: Awesome poems. Feels like these poets are self-actualized individuals. Construction: Dude, where’s the rest of my book? <These are no longer available due to Wrath of Dynasty are extremely limited editions. No copies will exist in two weeks because they will disintegrate. Such is the passage of time. But here are youtube trailers of Hoy's... Continue reading
Posted Nov 1, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
This week, New York Magazine published a list of actor-writer-film director-producer-painter James Franco’s favorite poems. “It has been found again. What ? - Eternity. It is the sea fled away With the sun.” --Arthur Rimbaud I can remain silent no longer. What stirs my heart is what stirs my heart. While any attention to poetry is necessary and good and a long time a-comin', James Franco is making us look bad, my dear human race. And poetry is not the virgin sitting hopeful in the corner. It used to be that each man and woman did one thing apiece. Joseph was a carpenter. Left Eye does the rapping. Chili and T Boz do the singing. A guy named Mungo was a rapist. The world made sense. Each person's task was performed with love and affection or anger [Mungo]. But then there are the exceptions: Lynne Cheney, Leonardo Da Vinci. The Renaissance Man, The Renaissance woman. Sure, it can be argued that the female sex is itself Renaissance, able more easily to multi-task than those with dicks, but that's not my point. There are certain professions we can digest as fitting alongside another. "A poet who teaches" tilts the scales of many poetry magazine biographies. "Car mechanic-racer." "Actress-singer" “Yoga instructor-vegan chef!” These dualities make us nod and smile. We get it. We live in a monotheistic society. One nation under God -- singular. Hell even the Christian God supposedly divides his duties into three so he won’t appear to be too overloaded with work. But hey, wait, aren't our celebrities sorta/kinda also our national gods and demigods? Don't Americans look toward Jennifer Aniston still to find out whether it's OK and how to suck at romantic relationships? And don't we still check in with Britney on occasion to make sure how not to do our hair? Isn’t the whole point of Alec Baldwin’s brother Daniel to be fatter and in AA? And so, another profession emerges "singer and mentally ill person" or "actor and philanderer." And what about those fascinating to watch because they are so grand and even talented: Lady Gaga, Oprah: the "singer-activist" and "talk show host-humanitarian." It’s exciting when someone steps and walks freely outside of their comfort zone and succeeds. But James Franco, isn’t there a limit? I don’t write this as a “hater” or “player hater” or to diminish Franco in any way. I’m just shocked. They call him an endless hyphenate and you know what, America? He’s making us look bad. Here: look at me. I’m a poet who teaches. It makes sense. This is what writers do. Other writers do it. Here’s an entirely inappropriate and illogical analogy that will prove my point. Look below at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Well obviously, James Franco sates all of these needs. James Franco invented this triangle. Are you hungry? Try some Franco! Feeling unsafe? Try Franco as a personal bodyguard. Feel unloved? Pop in Milk! What a doll! Don’t feel high off all that weed? Smoke... Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
GHOST MACHINE by BEN MIROV Here is a recommendation/email correspondence/review of Ben Mirov’s GHOST MACHINE. It is available from Caketrain! I emailed Ben because I was really excited about his book. He loves spam! Hey Ben, I'm reading Ghost Machine and a review is brewing in my head because I am a reviewer now. These poems make me so depressed! I'm so glad you found C. a.k.a. got her back! [the poems depict a heart-wrenching loneliness after a break-up] Can you email me what you were thinking when you wrote them. They sort of seem like they're written in a solipsistic manner (some are regular poems, some lonely collages of the other poems, some take lines from other poems)--that isn't an insult, I just wanted to use the word sollipsistic. Give me a break here and help me. Am I right? Cuz I'm like "Wow, This is DEVASTATING." Take your time. I know you're on vacation. Something tells me you may have blogged about this--if so just send the blog entry and don't waste any more time and I’ll read that. This book seems to tell the story of a devastating breakup with of course the Mirovian spin—hilarity, heartbreaking self-loathing, etc., self-referentiality... Obviously i won't write that in my review of your book. "Hey this guy HATES HIMSELF!-- and I'm his friend so I KNOW!" Wait don't most poets hate themselves? So far my favorite is "Ummmm Machine" -- and I can see why the "EYE sequence" would be the most loathed. I don't loathe it but it is essentially the speaker of the poems spinning his wheels, re-editing lines and pieces of the surrounding poems into utter ennui -- his life is rendered meaningless. The lack of serotonin causing such pain from this breakup have turned man into Machine, he can't create, he can only edit, only spin wheels in his mind. A ghost of his previous self. He feels nothing anymore. It's funny that love does this. At this point I'm writing this email assuming it MIGHT actually be the review. I never write emails this long Another I loved was where you take the person out of the poem about the park. That was one of my most favorite lines. We talk so much about not mentioning the fact that your poem is a poem in the poem, but you're talking about what you're doing in a poem 2, 3 pages later. You're the man doing this. I have to say, you've grown up a lot and I am proud of this work, proud of you. Best, Amy Believe it or not, a day later, Ben replied! (Grab some popcorn. This is good!) Amy, I wasn't thinking anything when I wrote GHOST MACHINE. Maybe I was thinking something like, Life is essentially meaningless, but in a vague way that didn't connect to anything concrete. I don't hate myself. I generally feel ok about my "self," or feel neutral about who I am. I don't hate the period... Continue reading
Posted Jul 28, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
I picked up an amazing chapbook by Sampson Starkweather at AWP in Denver way back in April called The Heart is Green from So Much Waiting. I only got around to reading it two weekends ago, and it was stunning. Daniel Magers' Immaculate Disciples Press in Brooklyn, NY produced this handmade book, and what can I say? From its poems to its layout, to its hand-sewn binding I was impressed! Each poem is titled with a roman numeral, and each poem roughly fits into the theme of the "super hero." What I liked about these poems is that they're smart and yet also very near to the memories of our [we who grew up into the 1980s] now-fatal childhoods--the voice these poems are written in is familiar, casual, and smart. The co-mingling of the near--playing with toys, fifth grade, the way power was held in our imaginations as we played with our superheroes when we were kids, and the deflation of not holding any such superpowers any more...once we grow adult and reality sets in. My favorite poem is reproduced here (with permission of its author): LXXIV Invisibility is easy; if I could have 1 super power it would be fucking you, or maybe to be you, fucking me. I’m speaking of own(h)ership, the betweens and in- sides, the 2 tiny indecisions of the thighs, the boundary of to-know, sacrilege, tougher than water, another thing to be broken. Inside, we’re all made of laughter and exploded feathers— in the 5th grade, Ms. Lawson pulled a crow from my hair, which, on being found out, thrashed and cried and explained its fear of being an animal of white snow, of disappearing into the blank endlessness of thinking, which is why I scream with a skull full of excrement and a wish to kiss the livid throat, the crow that cries from being found. Super heroes never had to deal with ideas like these, so it’s with this radio lodged in my neck that I set my frequency to suffer, extract in increments of night, any memory until I’m alone with the would-be trees, black forest of vespers and pure thought, I resettle into someone else’s shadow and in order to feel closer to you— touch myself. What does it mean to turn green? I can't help think of Superman and his kryptonite, but I'm sure some nerd would mention the Green Lantern, and some other references I was too busy playing "Barbie Whorehouse" to pick up on.... Heh heh! The final poem in The Heart is Green finishes on an evocation of the rain muse, i guess: "Rain, sing me into this ocean." And there, it ends with what can only be transformation [drown? die? blank page? growing up?]-- hell, what's the difference?Thank you Sampson, for writing such an exciting, spellbinding chapbook! The Heart is Green from So Much Waiting is available here.: . Hurry now. There were only 150 printed! Continue reading
Posted May 31, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
On Sunday, I had the pleasure of touring Miss Emily Dickinson's house [called the Emily Dickinson Museum] in Amherst, Massachusetts. I was fresh from nearly eight hours of graduation festivities for my sister, who just graduated with honors from UMASS Amherst, a college famed for its off campus pizza, enormous brick library, and beautiful grounds. First we toured the gardens. Emily loved her garden, and I can see why. The grounds are sprawling and open, plenty of room to think and get lost in. The flowers were lovely, though it seems a little early in the blooming season for New England. It was a beautiful spring day, and even I could find nothing to complain about. Here's an inexplicable black and white photo of me with the 'rents in Emily's garden. The true glory can only perceived in person so this is, perhaps, me teasing into forcing you to go for yourself! Here's a photo of me down the road near her brother Austin's house, mocking the beautiful exhibit of Emily in conversation with Robert Frost, who oddly lived (years later) across the street, no doubt lovingly aware of this. But they tore down the place Frost lived, and built a police station. Ha ha ha! Who's the man now, DOG! The staff of the Dickinson house is blooming full of nerdy exhuberance. My party only had an hour to take a two hour tour and we were convinced, perhaps by the sheer economy of these ladies' salaries, but hopefully by their love of the docent's life to do as much of the tour as we could. Jane, our lovely tour guide, talked about how Emily thought publishing was the mortaging off of the mind. I tried to find the direct quote online, but failed. Perhaps someone has it? In any case, i was impressed. Despite the common undersanding that Emily was a famous recluse, she seemed quite social. She was a famous cook - her father would only eat bread made by her hands. Thank god for modern bakeries! If my dad needed a baguette, I'd have to throw my hands up in cluelessness! We didn't get to tour her brother Austin's house. I guess I'll have to go back at some point. Anyway, thanks to the lovely Emily Dickinson museum and its people for a wonderful time! Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
Peas cannot be eaten with ease. Amy Lawless, Age 8.
Hey Kids! I thought I'd offer a Happy Mother's Day note on my mother, or "Mama" as I affectionately refer to her, or Carol Lawless as the world affectionately and legally refers to her. My elder sister Molly dug up this photo of our mater, matron. (I'm not even using a thesaurus!) In this photo Carol is preggers with Molly. Look how pretty she is! She is still just as pretty and interesting as she was in this photo. In fact, if Molly hadn't said this photo had her in it, I would think the photo was taken last year. Despite our ups n downs (A.K.A. when I was a teen), my mother is the reason I love poetry. Though not a poet herself, my mother read me many many poems from a book of verses for children [with surprisingly heavy themes like Frost's "Death of a Hired Man]: "'Warren?' she questioned. 'Dead,' was all he answered." Mama also prodded me to write my first poem when i was 8, which won "Honorable Mention" in the Cricket Magazine poetry contest.... a one-liner about how much I hated peas... which in some way led me here. I saw there were some melancholy postings on those mothers who are gone from this earth. I'm lucky to have my mother healthy and causing tons of Lawless commotion (heh heh) in Boston, Massachusetts. I love you Mama! Love, Amy Continue reading
Posted May 9, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
I recently read a really awesome split book by Dan Hoy and Jon Leon called "GLORY HOLE | THE HOT TUB," published by Mal-O-Mar. The book is a beautiful square, pleasing to hold with simple (how you say....?) colored line art on each side for each author's half of the book. Think of a 45 rpm record, but each side is a hit, and each side is by a different artist. Lennon/McCartney if you will, only these two guys don't have to write in the same house with the other guy's wife hanging around caterwauling..... Though that would be kind of a fun experiment... But I digress. Most poets' egos would not allow them to split a book. The man may want it but the ego wouldn't allow it, but these two poets are above that. Hell they're in their own worlds. Jon Leon's work reminded me of Frederick Seidel's masterpiece "Ooga Booga" (which you have to read if you haven't already) in the best of ways. No, it didn't cop Seidel's vibe. No it didn't steal Seidel's essence, but it served me with such a high MPH of personality and West Coast-ery, I lost my breath half way in. Leon lives in California. No, not that one! The one in the Carolinas. Get it, McFly? It's called LIVING IN CALIFORNIA IN YOUR MIND. And no, I'm not high. But I wish I were. Here's a piece from "The Hot Tub" that explicates my point, daddy. Lazy as I am, I chose the one aptly titled "CALIFORNIA": CALIFORNIA I'm standing on the corner of Martin and McDowell. I pinch my crotch as a limo rolls past. A bank of fluorescent lights accentuates the whole thing. In my head I'm rolling back the years. I go into a vacant building that's empty, pop some batteries into my Walkman, and dance myself to tears. When I walk outside there's a train. I get on it. See? This guy literally can be anywhere in the world and he's in California. Masterful. Flip this bitch over and it's just as good! A glory hole is when a guy is in a bathroom and there's a hole in the stall and he..... Oh [blushing], you know that already. Dan Hoy is the guy who came up with the phrase "hate on life" and you've been following his work since 2004. I know that's a lot to take in, so just think about that over the weekend. Dan is intensely best friends with personae poems. The personae of Dan Hoy. I thought there was a difference between the narrator in his poems and Dan Hoy the man, until I became friends with him and realized how intensely honest these poems are. Dan's poems will make you STOP hating on life, and that's the point. Here's the titular poem from his debut book. GLORY HOLE I eat steak every day because it's them or me. The masterpiece is the frame I hang around my neck and shove... Continue reading
Posted May 7, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
You haven't heard of Hissa Halal? What's wrong with you? Hilal is a Saudi woman who's one of the finalist in the Persian Gulf reality television show called "The Million's Poet" [THINK AMERICAN IDOL FOR POETS]. She recites her poems weekly for a voting television audience and guess what? Her poems are pretty revolutionary, considering her stance. What stance does this woman whose only visible body part is a slit on her face take? Well, she is against violent arab extremism (YAY!), she's against the oppression of women (can't hear you under all that heavy wool, honey!), and she's against censorship! While the extreme members of Islam have issued numerous Fatwas against her (all in a day's work for some no-lifer Arab extremists.... I picture lazy extremists sitting on their couches scratching their balls, issuing fatwas at a blank wall and an uncooperative remote control....). No but seriously, having death threats made on one's life is no joke, and needs to be taken seriously. Halal is standing up for all the NORMAL non-terrorist members of Islam who are saying "Listen, hey - you know those guys who ran that whole 9/11 business-- hell we think they cray-cray too!" Wow Halal is super important! She's living [for now...] proof that poetry is necessary, it has a message, and has pulled its head out of the oven/ass. Think there should be an American version of "The Million's Poet?" Read more on Halal here and here. See ya! Love, Amy Continue reading
Posted Apr 6, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
Ah, the Omega, my last day of guest blogging at The Best American Poetry. Thank you, Stacey and David for allowing me to be me here for seven days! I had the time of my life. I'd like to leave you with a poem my friend Maggie Wells wrote and sent to me while she was living in Paris last year. I understood this poem to be an account of an ex-patriot's observations near Notre Dame de Paris. I post it here with her permission. Mass We met for Mass at Notre Dame under the clouds of the French, inside the cold roll of Le Seine. Our bones needed God. Our bones had been hitting the bones of others under the skirt of skin, so many bones in collision; the soft whisper of God was the necessary cartilage. The center of the skeleton is actually the forehead. Applying Holy Water here, just in the center, just an index finger dab, will allow God in. He will seep in there, whisper to the skull first. The shoulders will slump with white swirling air, the gut free of the fist grabbing at it, kneading it like Challah. Should the Holy Water drip to the tip of the nose, you will not breathe God. God can only breathe you, and he will only sing to your bones, play them like a harp to match his perfect pitch. Kneeling was the only choice. It was the place the body lead us towards, our eyes avoidant of each others, our chests always pointing in opposite directions. The royal blue streaming from our hearts outward was never intertwined. When it was pale, it was more fluid. The darkness of the color has sent the expulsion into a rage. Kneeling is for God and Sex and speaking to children. Kneeling is for prayer, for keeping the body still, allowing the electric royal blue its force uninterrupted with gait or saunter. The ceiling of the church rained black gold; it stuck in our hair—covered us like northern snow. There is no reason to speak under black gold, in this place, surrounded by the humming glow of candles in circular dances with the dead and the living. When the procession comes, the smell of bodies and sage also arrives. The smell of flesh under robes, le fleche d'or, the wetness of it in battle with the smoke yet in harmony with the booths wherein humanity pulls off at least one mask and slaps it against the wall. The smack of mask can be heard under the choir swells, coming from nowhere we are allowed. When the church falls quiet of Earthly noise, a priest sweeps the stone floor of the masks that were removed, he does this in private, telling no one of the sadness he collects. -Maggie Wells OK so I don't know about you but I'm sick of being indoors! I know you're all so inspired by my blogs you just want to sit in one place... Continue reading
Posted Mar 20, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
Dear Everyone, So, it's more cool stuff, you want? I can't hear you? I think I hear the sibilant yessssssssssssssssss the crowd. All right, all right. Settle yourselves down. It's coming it's coming! 1. Firstly, here's a lovely poem by Alex Smith. Fortune Cookie The story of Nietzsche and the horse— That Fred was walking down the street When he saw a man brutally beating his mount, So he walked up, pushed the man away and then, having stopped the abuse, Turned to the horse, wrapped his arms around its neck, and began to cry— Is often told as the tale of a man finally losing his mind to late-stage syphilis. But anyone who has ever known a horse knows that Fred was not a madman, But a man of exceptional sanity. Lucky Numbers: 00291 510805 22555 2. I'm really looking forward to the release of this: Against Religion is a collection of Lovecraft’s writing (from letters mainly) about religion. This is what Sporting Gentlemen, the publishers, wrote about Lovecraft: Against Religion contains the major writings on religion, materialism, and spirituality by master horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. Including an introduction and notes by celebrated Lovecraft scholar S.T. Joshi and a foreword by noted atheist and writer Christopher Hitchens, this essential editions brings a new voice to the religious debate, and Lovecraft’s clairvoyant writing on the topic is as prescient today as it was during his lifetime. H.P. Lovecraft is the author of numerous weird tales, among them The Call of Cthulhu. His recent inclusion in the Library of America marks his unique contribution to the horror genre, and his continuing influence on writers in all genres today. S.T. Joshi is the author of H.P. Lovecrtaft: A Life, and the leading scholar and editor of Lovecraft’s work. Christopher Hitchens is the New York Times bestselling author of God Is Not Great, and editor of The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever. It should be out next week—and here is a link to where it is on sale now at Lulu: 3. Here is an awesome poem by Angela Veronica Wong. I'm always a fan of Veronica's work, especially her narratives! She is the author of two chapbooks, All the Little Red Girls on Flying Guillotine Press and to know this on Cy Gist Press. boys in uniform ironing is my least favorite household chore and i am not particularly good at it. my mother says men are better at ironing—something about having more muscle. it is christmas day and my father is shooting at squirrels on his roof. i spent the day watching someone else’s children. living alone is bizarre; for dinner i had a potato and a handful of dark chocolate chips. yesterday i had cherries and oatmeal. sometimes i read the words attempted acts of terrorism and i think: goddamn i do love those white boys in uniforms, hair cut short, shoulders like kansas. they are dusty faces and rolled sleeves, obedient and respectful: the way i... Continue reading
Posted Mar 19, 2010 at The Best American Poetry