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Bruce Covey
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Oh, thanks, Mishari! I hadn't clicked on the link before now, but your blog looks cool. Thank you for the well wishes! Take care! Bruce
Thanks, Kevin! I'm glad my posts could generate such an extensive response. I have no problem whatsoever with your "gripes" as you call them and am happy to be in conversation! Underneath my irony, as I mentioned earlier, I was trying to make a serious point. But again, I have no special claims to the role of editor or award-giver. Anyone who sees a gap in award or anthology representation should fill that gap her- or himself. Again, thanks so much for your well wishes! All best, Bruce
Thanks, everyone, for your positive responses to yesterday’s post, both online and off! I’m happy I could help generate such a conversation! To clarify: The post was partially tongue-in-cheek, and the name of the awards was supposed to be silly and over-the-top. The $20 award was absurdly low by design. My point is this: If we feel the range of national awards or in-print anthologies doesn’t fully represent the communities of poetry we love, we, as editors and readers and poets, have the right to create new awards. And the prestige they receive is a function not only of the creator’s proclamation, but the degree to which they reflect contemporary poetry’s range and vibrancy. I’m certainly not uniquely qualified to create such awards or anthologies, but I will—that part of my post wasn’t ironic. You could create one too, just as David did several years ago when he started Best American Poetry. There was a need then—one that still exists today—except that today, there are so many more publishing poets. I was also serious about nominations—please continue to send them to me at! Thanks to everyone who sent names and titles to me already! For the official 2011 winners, please see the Coconut website and/or facebook page sometime around the end of January. Back to Coconut, I can now reveal one more secret: We’ll also be publishing Serena Chopra’s first full-length collection in 2013! Serena’s chapbook Penumbra is due out any day from Flying Guillotine. Here’s a poem from it, called “Force and Stress”: Force is that which stole your saw and tasseled its blade from my throat—a change in motion— stationary objects are unproductive. From everyday experience you know that if a door is stuck (stationary), you apply force to open it (get it in motion). To apply motion towards reset, structural geologists use the term stress, or the amount of you I find parched in my edges. The magnitude of stress is not simply fibrous. Not wild flower bouquets to hidden blades. Not the mystery of the purpose of depending on skin. Not to keep you out. The magnitude of stress is not simply us, but also relates to this door. Locked edges. For example, if you are walking barefoot on the beach, your feet lifting and folding sand, the weight resets the water’s fine composition of her shell-bits and fossil. However, if she would not let you sigh into her welcoming edges, if she clawed you from the shore and made you tread— You’d spit in her hair. Or journey to her gut and stomp up phantom clouds of dust. Now about me: My most recent book, Reveal, is just about read to go to the printer and will be available at the Coconut/Bloof booth at AWP. Please pick up a copy? SPD will have it too—hopefully by early spring. I’m also finishing up my next manuscript, Change Machine, which will have two sections: “Heads” and “Tails.” I plan to submit it to publishers just after... Continue reading
Posted Nov 26, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
Thanks Heidi and Stacey! I hope I've lived up to these high expectations! :) Bruce
Hi Nin! I share your feelings about the conference itself but love the opportunity to see so many friends and buy books. I'm happy to send you some of these if you'd like. Email me your address? Bruce
Hi Kevin and Marissa, Thanks for your comments! Kevin, I absolutely meant the name to be gimmicky, over-the-top, and difficult to remember. I also intended the dollar amount to be absurdly low. The point of my post was that we as informed readers and editors and poets have the right to create new awards if we feel particular poets or poetic communities are under-represented by the current award/anthology system, along the lines of what David did so many years ago in creating Best American Poetry. I'm sorry if the irony didn't come through more clearly. That said, I'm serious about the awards themselves and their selection processes. I, however, am not uniquely equipped to create an alternative award or anthology--my post was, in essence, a suggestion that, if necessary, we create new means of recognizing deserving poets, rather than criticizing existing selection processes. In the meantime, please send me some nominations? Bruce
This morning I decided to launch a major new poetry award, called The Super Important Totally Awesome Major Major International Poetry Award, with its easy-to-memorize acronym SITAMMIPA. It will carry as much prestige as the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, or National Book Critics Circle Award. Each year a staff of experts will choose five finalists from all the nominees, then I will mail out ballots to 50 prominent poets to vote for the winners (two categories: Full and Chapbook-length). Each winner will receive $20 from me, plus, most importantly, all the incredible prestige that will come with the award. I’m totally serious. Well, I mean I fully intend to give out the awards, at least. Please email nominations for the 2011 SITAMMIPAs to me at Winners will be announced sometime around the end of January, and I’ll send out checks just after. I’m certain we’ll get major, important coverage in all the major, important news venues. The idea for this major, important new award came from a conversation I had today with another poet about the ways in which awards and anthologies can fragment community by creating an artificial sense of privilege or exclusivity. I don’t think this state of poetry is anyone’s fault—it’s just that we all (well, many of us) have slipped into a mode of discourse in which we (readers and editors alike) equate a selection for an award or an anthology as some sign of objective superiority, rather than the opening gesture of a conversation. When Rae Armantrout (deservedly!) won two of the three major poetry awards, wasn’t it also an acknowledgment of the work of Rae’s poetry community? In addition to buying Versed, which is a terrific book, shouldn’t everyone also go out and purchase titles by Leslie Scalapino, Lyn Hejinian, and Carla Harryman? And/or other poets with whom Rae’s work has been in conversation? And bookstores everywhere carry these titles on their shelves? We can, in other words, become introduced to or begin to engage a particular poetry community through an award or anthology as entry point. Her waking state can be termed the true yellow cling peach of romance
 In a word, anatomy
 She will return as a harmless subject envied by none
 Neighborhood: abandoned former battlefield
 Social structure: artsy/inefficacious
 Favorite leisure pastime: whining/watching rented movies
 And the May month flaps its glad green leaves like wings
 They have been put in alphabetical order
 Like a piece of ice on a hot stove
 If it is a wild tune
 I threw away punctuation
 Never reject anything. Nothing has been proved
 Back into the city to find that lost serenity
 I woke from it. Nothing anywhere lacked definition --Lyn Hejinian, “11th Dream of July,” from Coconut Five And: Across sculpted surfaces glowworms manage excess with initials some call instincts and others choose to relish for their own sake. How many times has a gift become a crisis? Beatles do not ask this question. They ask another question. Will the debris linger on... Continue reading
Posted Nov 25, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
Well, it is Thanksgiving after all, so even though it’s a bit over-determined and even though I don’t really celebrate Thanksgiving for obvious reasons, I’m going to post some heartfelt poetry thanks by category. My guess is that you’re busy today with family and friends and parades and food, so to those lonely few who are reading this post today, drop me a line! To everyone who has published in Coconut magazine, and to everyone who will submit their work over the next year. Thanks to Coconut Book authors Reb Livingston, Gina Myers, Jen Tynes, Natalie Lyalin, Sueyeun Juliette Lee, Denise Duhamel, Amy Lemmon, Kimiko Hahn, Megan Kaminski, Molly Brodak, Angela Veronica Wong, Jenny Boully, Hanna Andrews, Emily Toder, Amber Nelson, and Christie Ann Reynolds. Thanks to new Coconut editors Kim Gek Lin Short, Danielle Pafunda, and Gina. Thanks to Coconut editorial assistants Jess Rowan, Christeene Fraser, Ken Jacobs, Hilary Cadigan, and Lauren Schimming. Thanks to extraordinary book designers Abby Horowitz and Megan Punschke. To those poets, endlessly generous, who host readings and publish and promote and review the work of others: David & Stacey, Reb Livingston, Shanna Compton, Steven Karl, Del Ray Cross, Amy King, Jonathan Minton, Lee Ann Roripaugh, Gina Myers, Matt Henriksen, Ana Bozicevic, Jen Tynes, Hanna Andrews, Brendan Lorber, Megan Volpert, Nicole Mauro, Larry Sawyer, Hoa Nguyen, Blake Butler, E. Tracy Grinnell, Danielle Pafunda, Joseph Wood, Susana Gardner, Lara Glenum, Daniel Nester, Didi Menendez, Brandi Homan, Matt Hart, Zach Schomburg, Brent Cunningham, Heather Christle, Julia Cohen, Kim Gek Lin Short, and the so many others I’ve missed. To all of the Atlanta poets and writers and organizations who make the poetry community here so rich and productive and various, just to name a few: Gina, Megan, Blake, Christeene, Jamie Iredell, Alka Roy, Laura Carter, Melysa Martinez, the Atlanta Poets Group, Poetry Atlanta, the AQLF, Randy Prunty, Laura Straub, James Sanders, Rupert Fike, Ashley VanDoorn, Jenny Sadre-Orafai, Casey McKinney, Jim Elledge, Kory Calico, Brigitte Byrd, Amy Herschleb, Franklin Abbott, Jake Adam York, Chelsea Rathburn, Jim May, Collin Kelley, Amy McDaniel, Christine Swint, Karen Head, Laurel Snyder, Tom Lux, Connie Stadler, Dustin Brookshire, Jessica Hand, Julie Bloemeke, Chad Davidson, Beth Gylys, Jimmy Lo, Ben Spivey, Dionne Irving. &, in absentia, Heather Christle, Chris DeWeese, Paul Guest, Amy McDaniel, Caroline Crew, Laura Kochman, and Ann Stephenson. & specially especially my Emory colleagues Natasha Trethewey, Kevin Young, Molly Brodak, and Alice Teeter. & everyone in Athens too, especially Heidi Lynn Staples, Laura Solomon, Andrew Zawacki, Jed Rasula, Lily Brown, Michael Tod Edgerton, Dan Rosenberg, Becca Myers, John Stovall, Sabrina Orah Mark, and Ed Pavlic. To everyone who has read at What’s New in Poetry, my reading series, over the past eight years. To my teachers and mentors. To all of my poet friends not mentioned above. To the poets whose work has inspired me for so many years: Ted Berrigan, Kenneth Koch, Alice Notley, Ron Padgett, Frank O’Hara, Lyn Hejinian, Leslie Scalapino, Robert Creeley, John Ashbery, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Amy Gerstler,... Continue reading
Posted Nov 24, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
In addition to the three collections available for AWP that I talked about on Monday, Coconut will be publishing six other new books in 2012-2013. Maybe more! I’m going to be working with a new printer and distributing through SPD, so hopefully the books will be easier to get while still looking just as nice. As I mentioned in a facebook post a couple of months ago, the goal of a poetry small press is always to makes sure financial losses don’t get TOO out of control—shifting printers and distribution while increasing the number of titles was a budgetary necessity for me. My previous model was too expensive. I’ve already mentioned two poets whose books will be out around the end of 2012—Hanna Andrews and Christie Ann Reynolds. Hanna is one of the founders of Switchback Books and a really amazingly smart and sweet and dynamic person. I couldn’t believe it when I learned her first book, Slope Move, was still available! I posted one of her poems (or, more specifically, an excerpt from a sequence) yesterday. I met Christie Ann at AWP, then heard her read (brilliantly!) at Steven Karl’s terrific backyard reading series in Brooklyn. Christie Ann’s poems are so explosively untidy—I think you’re going to love both of these new books. (I posted one of Christie Ann’s poems on Sunday). (If you can’t wait any longer, Christie Ann has a rockin’ chapbook out with Ben Fama’s awesome SuperMachine. You can buy both!) (And Switchback titles too!) Around the same time Coconut will publish Emily Toder’s first full-length book, the title of which is still to be determined. I haven’t yet met Emily in person, but she’s wonderfully sweet and brilliantly unconventional on the phone. Here’s her poem “On Sequins”: Sequins are mites of goodness lacking in the eyes. I personally have no experience with sequins. The history of sequins is that they were invented in 6th century Arabia for good reason. The etymology of sequins lies in the Arabic sikka meaning coin or die. In the 13th century the local public mint of the Republic of Venice was called la Zecca and produced 3.5 gram gold coins called zecchino. Repeating this word excessively they founded what we know today as the sequin. Today we know the sequin is made of traditional and nontraditional materials both. Traditionally sequins were chisels of foil. Nontraditionally they are the postconsumer plastic eyes of small mammals. That is nearly all we know about them. And that they were hot in the Reagan years. I have seen a sequin melt although that is a separate meaning I realize. I have seen a separated sequin I realize. Sequins are little entrepreneurs but globalization has been hard on them. There have been rumors they are made with gelatin which is hard to pull off in a globalized world. I would suggest sequins are not generally well looked upon in fact. They are hardly ever gazed at because it is uncomfortable and unnecessary. No one goes... Continue reading
Posted Nov 23, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
Yesterday I said I was going to talk about distribution paths for poetry, but mine certainly isn’t any kind of definitive word. We choose how we give and get our poems; we choose which poems we love and hate, both of our own and others. The cultural shift from canonicity to community implies that the notions of “poets anointed” or the “cream of poetry” are merely modes of discourse, rather than something objectively “true.” Editors choose the contents of a journal as forms of self-expression in the voices of like-minded poets from the same poetic community. Best American Poetry is an editor’s expression of a range of voices that sparks conversation about other great poems from the year, and what “best” means for each of us. For me, the most interesting journals and anthologies make loud choices—i.e., are able to recognize the extremes of their chosen aesthetic(s). I count BAP among the best anthologies. I count No Tell Motel, Court Green, LIT, Word For/Word, Jubilat, Jacket, No Posit, Octopus, Columbia Poetry Review, Aufgabe, Denver Quarterly, Anti-, Ping-pong, Tarpaulin Sky, H_NGM_N, 1913, Noo, Glitter Pony, Pank, Lana Turner, RealPoetik, Shampoo, and Weave as just a teeny few of many, many, many awesome journals being published today, in a wide variety of aesthetics (see the forthcoming “links” page on the forthcoming new Coconut for a more extensive listing). Let’s scare you up some drama. An 18th century peepshow. A typical entertainment of the time period. Take a look. Through this peephole. The dimensions pile on, revealing a poor paint job. There I was, fearless and standing on tables. Now I am something vivid. You are some thing. Seaward. What are whales? Why are whale hunted? In your sleep I start stealing your slow-ish motions. A puddle of pale blue on the floor. The most delicate patch of it. In the city their hands smell of oranges. Soon I will stop. Matching you stroke for stroke. I count the scratches on your back. I name them like ships. --Lily Ladewig, from “Shadow Boxes,” from the current Word For/Word The shift from canonicity to community implies that hard-drawn aesthetic “lines in the sand” are outmoded. “Experimental” and “traditional” are meaningless, with form and narrative and epiphanies and visual poetics and Black Mountain influences and lang-po influences all thrown into the same mixing bowl. In a room full of Frank O’Hara disciples one will find 50 radically different poets. Similarly, we need not feel ashamed if our poetic influences include, for instance, John Berryman among a dozen great NY School poets. This isn’t to say that all evaluative categories for poems must be defenestrated; instead, however, I propose that we consider relative value (originality, profundity) within the context of particular, vital poetic communities (or within the context of a single poet’s trajectory) as a more effective measure of greatness. Once in a while the contents are so varied that one cannot label a drawer. How to categorize the scrap of pulse and ankle length of... Continue reading
Posted Nov 22, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
Today everyone seems to be getting ready for AWP, including me. It’s funny to start so early—I usually wait till the last minute on everything. But as soon as one AWP ends, panel proposals—& the entire cycle of preparation—begins anew. Each year I seem to see nearly every poet I know. Or I note the absences. This year I proposed a panel on cognition, neurobiology, and memory, mostly with the hope of hanging out with co-panelists Amy Gerstler, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Lee Ann Roripaugh, Megan Kaminski, and Danielle Pafunda; AWP, having received more proposals than ever before, sadly declined (no bitterness here—I understand the challenge of accepting only a small percentage of submissions). I wish they had accepted Amy King’s panel on gender and publishing, however—it seems like the most important topic we face today in poetry. AWP is when all of our independently begotten communities—physical and virtual—get stuffed into the same city, and usually even into the same hotel, when unlikely cross-sections (and with them, new poetic combinations / aesthetic combinations) thrive. My favorite memories are of people—hanging out with Reb Livingston and Rauan Klassnik; having my fortune told (cards) with Jen Knox and Gina Myers; meeting Kristi Maxwell and Michael Rerick for the first time; reading for 1913 with Edwin Torres and Lynn Xu (and meeting Ben and Sandra Doller). This year Coconut will be cohosting two off-site AWP readings—Thursday from 6-8 and Saturday from 7-10. Thursday co-hosts are Shanna Compton’s Bloof Books and Amber Nelson’s Alice Blue; Saturday’s partners are Switchback (Hanna Andrews and Becca Klaver, eds.) and Horse Less Press (Jen Tynes). I’ve been sending out reading invitations over the past few days, focusing primarily on forthcoming Coconut book authors. Speaking of Coconut Books, if all goes according to plan, I’ll have two books and a chapbook printed and available at the conference. Megan Kaminski’s Desiring Map is first and almost finished—typesetting and design by Lauren Schimming. Megan teaches at the University of Kansas and is amazing—one of the kindest, most wonderful people I’ve ever met. Two of her three blurbs are in, and I’ll soon price out an initial print-run with Coconut’s new printer. Here’s one of her poems, each of which is untitled: loam of dreams metal coils tourniquet limbs tongues poke teeth soft flesh break like porcelain : dust carry in soft hands astonish soaked locales squawk metallic friction rub against each sparked body copper shavings The second new Coconut book will be Angela Veronica Wong’s How to Survive a Hotel Fire. I met Veronica at last year’s AWP, read two of her chapbooks, asked to see a full-length manuscript, and immediately fell for her work. She’s a terrific reader too. & a very, very fun person. She’s typesetting her own book, and Abby Horowitz will design her cover. The poem below is called “How to Start a Hotel Fire.” never pass up free matches especially the ones that are in a clear bowl on the hostess stand at a restaurant. these are easy... Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
I was talking with Gina Myers last week about generations of American poets and how quickly everything has changed—that there’s a new group of emerging writers and magazines and reading series that suddenly seems to view “us” as influences and precursors rather than colleagues. This is weird for me, because 1) I never really felt like I was part of a “present” that could have been interpreted as a “past,” and 2) I still think of myself as “emerging.” While I think my feelings are similar to those of lots of other 30ish & 40ish poets, I also think there’s something interesting happening with schools and canons and currency and community that hasn’t happened before. I was also talking to one of my faculty colleagues at Emory about “generations” of students—how the generation of this year’s students is so radically different than the generation of two years ago, and how that one was so different from the generation five years ago. This rapid turnover of attitudes, social stances, and psyches shouldn’t exactly come as a surprise—every time Apple or Google releases a new product, reality (i.e., cognition) changes. The iPhone 4S generation (people) will be succeeded sometime next year by the iPhone 5 generation, and the two groups’ approaches to the world will be different. Against the railing we/Against the railing we Are privy/Are pricey?/Are privy To time in the for-ever form Your loving me too long/Your loving me too long And longingly Jackie pointed her Soul Gun at my face and breaking habit With my body I lifted myself from My carbon copy cunt/My carbon copy cunt Pulled myself apart I come in triplicate/I come in triplicate But delicate as lipstick left out on the dashboard In August We caught ourselves feeling too much/ We caught ourselves feeling too much Of our atmosphere forgotten along With every oil spill this year --Christie Ann Reynolds A couple of weeks ago I read with Emily Kendal Frey at KGB and was introduced by my wonderful hosts—Matt Yeager and John Deming—partially in terms of my past—how Coconut (my poetry magazine and publishing company) had helped to set a new standard for online publishing, was very influential, etc. I was flattered to pieces but also (through no fault of my hosts!) a little scared—had I become a part of the past? Emily’s work is so smart and real and fresh. I like to think/hope that mine is too—the audience seemed to like my reading. & at the Stain series four nights later (Christie Ann, Steven Karl, and Erika Moya, hosts), people again seemed really happy with my poems. But then, generations—as a means of aesthetic characterization—have been replaced, haven’t they? Currency is the choice to engage, and community—replacing canons and schools—is the lattice one engages. “Movement” still makes sense, but only in the context of community, rather than the hitherto reverse. I’m “present” to the degree that I choose to speak in the (poetic) language of soon-to-be 2012. I’m “emerging” to the degree... Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
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Nov 19, 2011