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Yeah, the tour’s been over a week—but real life intervened and this is the first chance I’ve had to catch up. After several hectic days back at our jobs, it’s a bit of a letdown to look back on how much fun we had on the road. I mean, it’s been seven long days since we’ve spied any Truck Nutz or hit the Ruby Tuesday salad bar. I was glad to come home, but I also miss meeting new people every day, hearing poems every night, and laughing in the car with Jen, Pete, Bruce, and Sandra. Even asleep I’m still dreaming we’re in the car, following the Blue Dot of our GPS to the next gig. Photo left: Sandra Simonds, Bruce Covey, Shanna Compton, Peter Davis, Scott Sweeney in Tallahassee, FL Despite the time lag and what it’s probably done to the accuracy of my reportage, I don’t want to miss the opportunity to tell you about the last couple of events, (with a little help from Peter)... • [Continued from previous post.] After our Philly fun, Jen caught her return bus and Pete and I drove back to my house in NJ. The next morning I turned in the rental car, and really, I was a little sad to let it go, especially since on the way to return it I discovered it had a sunroof. (Thanks for the smooth 3200 miles, hybrid Camry!) My mood lifted though, when the rental agent said “So that’s ten days…but ehhh,” waving her hand, “let’s just charge you for a week.” Charmed, I tell ya, no tickets and upgrades everywhere. With no real driving to do that afternoon, we relaxed for a few hours, catching up on some emails, doing some laundry, talking at length with our spouses, soaking up the at-home vibes after all the hotel flurries. Then it was time for our visit to The College of New Jersey. We found the campus easily enough, were directed by friendly students to... ...parking and the student center, and found members of the student writing group setting up the room. I think I read first, then Pete. That’s usually how we do it—his poems are funnier, especially in these books. We did a little Q&A and gave interviews to the school paper, The Signal. We covered many topics, like mustaches, babies, and teen feelings. Afterward, as is customary for a "book tour," we sold and signed books, thanks to obliging students. (College kids bought more books than anyone on this tour—busting several myths about their general apathy, reading inclinations, and financial situations. By all outward signs, lots of people actually like poetry. Well, all right!) Then we walked the campus a bit, and asked Enrico Bruno, the student writing group’s president, to fill us in a bit more about what they’re up to at TCNJ: Post-event interivew emailed and edited several days later, then edited and posted several more days later Peter Davis & INK president Enrico Bruno fondling the campus... Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
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We're in the home stretch for the book tour--with zero speeding tickets, since that sheriff in OH let us off with a warning. For the last three nights I've slept in my own bed, but hustled to evening events in Philly, Ewing, NYC. Our approach from Baltimore to Philly marked a sort of homecoming for me, even though I don't actually live there, but 45 minutes away. These folks always make me feel at home. [Cont'd from previous post:] Baltimore wa s less eventful than DC, and we can just leave it at that. I'm behind on these reports as it is! On to Philly, where Debrah Morkun has been hosting the New Philadelphia Poets series for the past three years. Philly has a lively and friendly poetry scene--with tons of enviable energy!--so be sure to browse the links in the sidebar there at NPP to meet some of the poets. The 2-hour drive was easy that day--for me and Pete, anyway. (Jen had to take a bus down from NYC, which reportedly smelled.) So, fresher than usual, we hung out at Fergie's Pub upstairs with CAConrad, Ryan Eckes, Nicole Steinberg (newly transplanted), Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz and Shappy (also newly transplanted), and other friends, then read our poems along with Nicholas A. DeBoer (pictured left). After the reading, we talked Nicholas into an interview, asking more about his own work and the activities of his press (with J. Townsend), con/crescent. Turns out Nicholas is also recently relocated to Philly; hmm, I'm sensing a trend! Here's what we learned: Bloof: Nicholas, your reading was powerful stuff, and I really enjoyed the way certain words and phrases repeated and looped through the three pieces. I noticed you apologized to Ezra Pound--can you say how your pieces relate to his work and how he is an influence on you? Can you please remind me of their titles? Are they from a series you're working on? NB: I'm not actually in apologetics for Ezra Pound, but rather for myself. In the creation of The Cantos Pound didn't make excuses for his thinking, or his task until the late 1960s. So, part of my act in the practice of writing my own long poem was to offer an apology for the time of its writing, an apology that vibrates into the future of where time is situated. In a sense, it was to create a further vulnerability for the reader. The pieces I read were Pale Quotidian Canto (CXV115), A Fog of Speculum (CXIV114) and Lunar Natatorium (CXIII113). The series was started in February of 2008, with a rough draft of the 120 pieces in July 2008. These first poems help comprise The Singes, which is 11 poems long and took about two years to "complete." The practice of the work was to take the Carol F Terrell companion to The Cantos and make narrative notes, that I would then write response pieces of and to. The action is to not merely put forth a... Continue reading
Posted Sep 25, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
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"...so please fill this giant bucket with money." --Maureen Thorson, co-host of In Your Ear (pictured below) In the resonant black-box theater space of DC Arts in Washington, Peter Davis & I read poems (duh) with M. (a.k.a. Magus Magnus), who's promoting his new book from Narrow House, Verb Sap. Let me be honest here: It's hard to report retrospectively. The readings have started to blur together a bit in my memory. It's Day 10 and we've each read at least that many times, heard each other that many times, heard a dozen other poets as well. All with the buzz of the road in our ears and dulled by too many late nights/early mornings. Not to mention fraying bundles of nerves. This DC performance was 3 days ago and already evaporating. But I can say with absoluteness that M.'s reading was energetic and enjoyable, his book is strikingly designed, and I'm looking forward to spending some time with it once this crazy trip is over. Pete and I had fun with our readings too, and each read a poem by Jennifer L. Knox since she couldn't get back down for this one. Books were miraculously sold and swapped. DC's many friendly faces included Mel Nichols, Cole Swensen, Reb Livingston, Cathy Eisenhower, Leslie Bumstead, and other friends, poets, and former students, along with series hosts Maureen Thorson and Buck Downs. (Buck's also got a new book called Ain't Got All Night, coming very soon!) Afterwards we did the usual drink-and-dine at the place next door (the name of which I can never remember), where the discussion turned to serious matters like... ...butter and religion. These times are the best part of our trips, for me. Reading poems and selling books are awesome, but I also love visiting my friends and hearing what everyone is up to, what they are writing, how their kids are doing, who they've pissed off on the internet. In person. For as long as I can keep my eyes open. There were so many poets, we couldn't choose just one to interview. Also, we were having so much fun we kinda forgot. (Please click those links above to meet them.) Then Maureen solidified her status as World's Greatest Host by baking us a vegan chocolate cake. And as the afternoon turned into evening, the guys watched football while she and I talked poems in the kitchen. Somebody, I won't say who, polished off the Backpack Gin. The next morning, triumphantly and in glorious weather, we jogged around the Capitol, to the left (which is to say clockwise), pointing out stray Republicans (evidenced by their fashion choices) and a couple of camera crews. We speculated re: the probability of snipers and hidden spycams. We identified a handful of fruit trees. Then we packed our bags for Baltimore...only to find an empty curbside where the rental car had been! For a few moments, we panicked. BUT BLOOF CANNOT BE STOPPED. I took several deep breaths and called/emailed/texted Maureen's... Continue reading
Posted Sep 22, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
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Saturday, at about 11:00pm, we arrive in Raleigh, after driving from Tallahassee. We dropped off kindred spirit Bruce Covey in Atlanta and off we fled, through the hills, through the stoplights and gas stations, through one O’Charley’s and one Ruby Tuesday’s, racing against the time, hoping to arrive as soon as is possible. We discussed the viability of Worm Holes and the hope that the blue dot on Shanna’s GPS would jump ahead, skipping us along the highway, and making the shit go quicker. Ten-hour drives are long. They take at least ten hours. Those ten hours feel exactly like 666 minutes. But when we arrive we are happy, setting ourselves up with a Gin and Sprite and retiring to our rooms to just do nothing. But now I’m writing. But at The Warehouse (the venue in Tallahassee) the reading was excellent. Fellow Bloofer and Atlanta reading companion, Sandra Simonds, organized the reading at a cool venue that was like a cool bar in Texas. In fact, Shanna said, “This is like a cool bar I used to go to in Texas.” It was large and there were wooden rafters and a long back porch that made you feel like you were waiting for a train. None of our photos really came out all that well. This is Scott Sweeney though, trust us. Among the many kind people we met, was Scott Sweeney, [PDF from BlazeVox 2KX] who read with us and runs Grey Book Press. Scott was vivacious and kind and had a very well-dressed wife. His life in poetry goes a little like this: Scott had a 10th grade creative writing class that was great and thus he wrote lots of “horrible, horrible, horrible” work, which certainly makes a great deal of sense. By senior year, his excellent teacher brought him from writing “serial killer short stories” to the more enjoyable “serial killer poetry.”) Later, (like in, and after, college) Scott felt a vacuum which resulted in him founding Grey Book Press, which selfishly allowed him to read and publish some good poems. He named it Grey Book because he wanted something that was “unadorned” and reflected how “poetry should stand on its own.” It was also “fuckin’ awesome” and fun and very enjoyable. Besides, if he didn’t get involved more seriously in poetry he might have ended up in a “post shoe-gaze rock band.” This, in and of itself, might not have been a bad thing. On the other hand, it might have been a bad very thing. As it stands, there he was in Tallahassee, with us, not looking at his shoes, just poeming it up like a motherfucker. Amen. --Peter Davis Continue reading
Posted Sep 20, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
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Columbus, Muncie, Nashville, Atlanta, Tallahassee...so it's Day Six of the book tour. (Each morning I have to count.) Each morning we wake up in a hotel, remember where we are (FL), calculate the number of hours we have to drive (9+), and hunt up the nearest Starbucks (.5 miles). Where are the driving directions? GPS has become the most important item in our poetic toolbox—without it no poetry readings will happen. When we're punchy with highway miles, phrases from billboards (or dangling Truck Nutz) send us all into riots of laughter: WOW WOW WOW CAR WASH. SPICY CRUNCHY JUICY GENIUS. HARDEN’S TAXIDERMY SNAKESKIN KOOZIE $65. What, we wonder, is a "primitive" baptist church vs. the usual kind? (Whatever their theological differences, physically primitives must be smaller; in sparsely populated areas there may be three or four within just a few miles. Congregations of 10, 20 maybe? Or maybe disguised meth labs?) In the afternoons, we check into new rooms, change our clothes, choose from among our poems, gather fresh copies of our books, and warm up our voices. Where are my shoes? No, my other shoes? That first night in Muncie's faded like a dream. We're tired but happy, always ready to do it again. (I will speak of Nashville, actually. Because it was fun to hang out with Nancy McGuire Roche and to meet Andrea Hewitt-Gibson and Elvin [the filmmaker whose last name I neglected to get]. Checking into our hotel, we got caught up in the somewhat confusing wake of the Tennesee Titans’ departure from the same location. Beyond that, I will just wonder aloud the following two things: 1) Why are bookstores often the least comfortable venues in which to read literature aloud? And 2) Why didn’t I have the sense to cancel that event when the staff neglected to return my emails? Peter is at least as high a security risk as Meghan McCain (who appeared there the night before.)) On to Atlanta, where Sandra Simonds joined the tour. She, Peter, Jennifer & I read at Emory University for the What's New in Poetry Series hosted by Bruce Covey. (You guys know him; he's blogged here before, and is the editor of Coconut, as well as the author Glass Is Really a Liquid, very shortly forthcoming from No Tell Books.) The campus at Emory is leafy and lovely. We heartily consumed vegan eggplant curry and tofu lettuce bundles at Doc Chey’s with grad student Caroline Crews (a visiting scholar in Emory’s exchange program). In the audience at Few Hall we found a few dozen of Bruce's creative writing students, along with poets Heather Christle (a current fellow at Emory and author of The Difficult Farm from Octopus), Howard Miller, and Julie Bloemeke (see interview below for links). Sandra, Peter and Jennifer performed with their usual liveliness and connected successfully with the crowd, by all signs. (A room in which actual enjoyment of poetry is evident is one of my favorite places, I mean come on. It... Continue reading
Posted Sep 18, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
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Ed note: This is the first installment of the bloof books' road trip blog. Check back often for updates. Details here. Last night Muncie, Indiana; tonight, Nashville, TN.-- sdh We've come a long way, baby. Seriously, that drive from Newark to Columbus yesterday was a really, really long way. (Tallahassee to Raleigh will be worse.) We got in so late, that our trip to Tip Top Kitchen & Cocktails for local wine and vegan muffalettas is all kind of a blur. The guy "pleasuring himself" in the street downtown, unfortunately, less blurry than we would like. It's like we packed a week into yesterday. We also stopped at a discount chain and bought shoes. Somewhere in Pennsylvania, I think. Jennifer L. Knox, Peter Davis & I kicked off our book tour tonight with the first reading in Muncie, IN, at Ball State University. We've been to David Letterman's alma mater three times now, and it's always a lot of fun. Since one of the things I enjoy most about these trips are all the new-to-us poets we meet, I thought I'd introduce a few along the way. Tyler Gobble & Cody Sean Davis: Mad for Plaid Brief totally unplanned interview of questionable depth with Cody Sean Davis Cody, when did you begin writing Poetry? And/or, what about Poetry attracts you to it as an artform? 10 or 11. I like the freedom.* So, you're a student at BSU, right? What year and what are you studying? Junior. Creative writing. What's the best poetry experience (reading, writing, otherwise) you've had lately? This reading. [Cody opened the reading tonight, as winner of a student contest.] I got to say some stuff I wanted to say. If you could have a poem published anywhere, where would it be? The New Yorker. Can we get a link where people can see some of your work online? Sure, I'll send you a Facebook message with the link. [Here it is.] Slightly more planned (and repetitive) interview of questionable depth with Tyler Gobble Tyler, thanks so much for everything you did to help organize our reading. [Tyler distributed flyers, sent FB invitations, organized the student contest, bought cookies and punch...and even showed up.] When did you begin writing Poetry? And/or, what about Poetry attracts you to it as an artform? Two years ago, seriously. At 14 I wrote journals with "poems." So, you're a student at BSU, right? What year and what are you studying? Senior. Creative Writing. And you're the president of the student writing group, right? What's it called again? The Writers Community. [Here's the link to their blog.] What's the best poetry experience (reading, writing, otherwise) you've had lately? My first public reading, at the bar above the [now closed] MT Cup [a coffee shop near]. What draws you to poetry, in particular, as an artform? [Tyler gave a cohesive, eloquent answer about how the internet has allowed him and his writers friends to feel connected to what's happening all over. Which I... Continue reading
Posted Sep 14, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
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Sep 10, 2010