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Ben Mirov
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Every now and then an essay comes around that captures an inchoate idea in poetry and amplifies and shapes that idea. Take Charles Olson's magisterial "Projective Verse," which not only explicates but embodies the poetic principles it talks about. Dan Hoy's newly minted, THE PIN-UP STAKES, over at Montevidayo, is one such essay. In brief, Hoy talks about the relatively new coupling of poetry and the marketing of poetry, (via social networking, blogging, publicity stunts, etc.) thereby defining an emerging poetic category of "Image Artist". According to Hoy's assessment, image artists fall within a category of poet that uses poetry as a platform to create a "strategic framework" and or brand for themselves. (Disclaimer: I am the current poetry editor of LIT Magazine and will become editor-in-chief next issue, so if you hate thinly veiled self-promotion, please skip ahead.) The current issue of LIT Magazine is days away from being printed. We are going to have a release party at Housing Works in NYC. Get all the details and an author's list by clicking on the image of the cover. I've been super proud to work on LIT with our great team of editors. Our current editors-in-chief, Jackie Clark and Ben Kendrick are stepping down after this issue. It will be difficult to see them go and the magazine will suffer without their insight and hard work. Thanks, bros. Also, I'd like to congratulate Jennifer L. Knox (LIT #17: "Kiri Te Kanawa Singing 'O Mio Babbino Caro') and Farrah Field (LIT #18: "You're Really Starting to Suck, Amy" and "Amy Survives Another Apocalypse") for having their poems chosen for the next Best American Poetry. Here is a quote by James Tate (right) from an interview in Durak #2 (1979) I've been thinking about: Interviewer: How do you characterize your sense of humor? Tate: I've never been able to separate and identify my sense of humor, even or myself. Insights are funny, and perceptions can be funny when they're sharp enough. You could say about humor that in the long run it's more hopeless than tragedy. I'm not apologetic about that part of myself; I learned to live with it a long time ago. I love WORLD BALL NOTEBOOK by Sesshu Foster from City Lights Books. It's a collection of microcosms, mostly prose poems, that examine minute social interactions, mishaps, conversations, travelogs, and emails. The poems are placed within the context of a ubiquitous game, so that the people in each poem become players, unaware of the game's rules and ultimate goal. What condenses over WORLD BALL NOTEBOOK's 137 pages is a beautiful, pathos filled, picture of humanity that is both entertaining and visionary. Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
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Dean Young's heart is rad. Even through it may not be working as well as it should, it's produced tons of poems that have helped me live my life. Dean needs a new heart. You can help by making a donation in his honor to the National Foundation for Transplants. I donated for the purely self-serving reason, that helping get Dean get a new heart will be as close as I ever come to writing a Dean Young poem, but I'm sure you will find a better reason. Also the folks over at Coldfront have a rad rundown and video of a benefit for Dean at the National Arts Club in NYC that is worth checking out. Here is a one of many poems by Dean that have helped me make my way through the ossuary: The Invention of Heaven The mind becomes a field of snow but then the snow melts and the dandelions blink on and you can walk through them, your trousers plastered with dew. They're all waiting for you but first here's a booth where you can win a peacock feather for bursting a balloon, a man in huge stripes shouting about a boy who is half swan, the biggest pig in the world. Then you will pass tractors pulling other tractors, trees snagged with bright wrappers and then you will come to a river and then you will wash your face. Birds LLC is rad. They just released two new titles: EITHER WAY I'M CELEBRATING by Sommer Browning and KINGS OF THE F**CKING SEA by Dan Bohel. Birds is shaping up to be a press that represents all the best parts of small publishing enterprises from the 60s and 70s with a dash of professional design and promotion thrown in for good measure. They are a publishing family hell-bent on supporting their own, while bringing hot hot poems to the masses. Also, Birds is having a book release party for the aforementioned titles in Brooklyn this Friday, details HERE. The Wilhelm Scream by James Blake is rad. Can't stop listening to it and staring out the window into the snow while basking in existential melancholy. This isn't the official video, but I think the song goes way better with the kitten riding the magic carpet, anyway. FOOD I CORP is rad. It seems like an insidious, Illuminati-type organization. They have a publishing branch that puts out a stream of truly weird poems and various other oddities. The also have a bunch of interlinked Tumblrs that spit out photos sent via the cell phones of an unknown number of constituents (CORPse, SMASH MAGAZINE, BLACK & GOLD, EAT CORP, CORPTAILS). Seems like it will only become more and more powerful as it spreads like a virus throughout the internet. Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
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I feel like there are always "best albums of the summer," or a "best track of the summer". I like to have a best album of the winter. Mainly because I stay indoors, huddled in my my room, listening to music more in the winter, but also because I love the gloom and mild depression winter makes me feel. Love Remains by How to Dress Well is my current album of the winter. It sounds like 90s R&B (think PM Dawn or Zhane), pumped through a haunted forest. Or music a DJ would play at a prom for zombies. Jason Bredle's new book of poems, SMILES OF THE UNSTOPPABLE is great. I recently did an interview with Jason over at BOMBlog. I think the interview turned out pretty good. Jason's poems wear their heart on their sleeve and blend humor and pathos to catalytic effect. My favorites in this collection are "Dark Energy," and "Earth Night," but all the poems have something to offer. Plus SMILES OF THE UNSTOPPABLE was published by Magic Helicopter Press, a unique entity, worthy of your attention. This quote by some dude named Coleridge is rad. If I've ever had any explicit aims for my poems, this would pretty much sum them up: "The common end of all narrative, nay of all Poems, is to convert a series in to a Whole: to make those events, which in real or imagined History move on in circular motion- the snake with its Tail in its Mouth." There are tons of great online journals, but not all of them are the full package. Some have great taste, but low end production value. Others seem indistinguishable from their counterparts in terms of the pool of writers they draw from and or their design. But every now and then a journal pops up, fully formed. It looks sharp, its editorial taste is perfecto, and it has nice extras like a well maintained blog. PAPERBAG is like that. I'm excited to see where this journal goes in the future, because after two issues I really like the cut of their jib. Continue reading
Posted Jan 25, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
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Hey. My name is Ben. I'll be posting all week about things I think are rad. The first thing I'd like to tell you about is a small journal slash reading series based in Brooklyn, called SUPERMACHINE (disclaimer: this post is vaguely self-promotional, because SUPERMACHINE is publishing a small chapbook of my poems in early 2011, but I also just think they are dope and I want everyone to know about them and send poems etc.). SUPERMACHINE is a modest conglomerate of poets, editors, and book makers. They have an impressive reading series and a classy journal. Probably my favorite thing about SUPERMACHINE is the sense of taste that prevades both the reading series and the journal. The design of the journal is a mix of affronting, contemporary graphic elements, and straightforward yet reverential treatment of text. Poets featured in the journal and the reading series are more often than not, a relatively nascent generation offering fresh visions, but many more established writers are included as well (the brand new 3rd issue, includes the likes of CAConrad and Tomaž Šalamun as well as a younger upstarts like Andrew Gorin, Mark Leidner and Amanda Nadleberg). If you are like me and you love fresh, high-quality literature with a locally grown flavor, you can reach out and help the folks at SUPERMACHINE by contributing to their Kickstarter campaign. If they are able to raise $522 more dollars by February 1st, they will have reached their fundraising goal for 2011. The minimum pledge is $15, but if you pledge $30 you get: "a one year subscription (2 issues) and signed copies of the first two SUPERMACHINE chapbooks planned for 2011: Ben Mirov's VORTEXTS and Genya Turovskaya's DEAR JENNY." Your contributions will go towards supporting one of the most progressive, revolutionary journals I know of. Here are some poems from the current issue. Please contribute, you won't be dissapointed: Joseph Calavenna [our shower sometimes looks like Los Angeles] our shower sometimes looks like Los Angeles smells like steel when the water’s hot enough when I’m hot enough I smell like oranges I open the windows and take my shirt off when you put the coffee on this morning Kat you forgot it when I found it all over the stove I opened the kitchen window halfway and the clothes line did nothing original Kristen Kosmas from “H” I walked all the way here I didn't expect I didn't expect it to be made of sugar. I didn't expect this house this hut to be made out of ginger bread. I'm tired. I tried. The door. I tried. I tried and I tried and I'm tired. I just wanted I just wanted to I just wanted to go down across that river. I just wanted to put it into words. I just wanted to take that green dress off her. Rip that green dress off her and put that whole thing in my mouth. A mouthful. I just wanted a mouthful. Of that. All of... Continue reading
Posted Jan 24, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
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Jan 24, 2011