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Inquistor: Ray DeJesús Participants: Christine N. Kanowink, Jeff T. Johnson, Claire Donato, Mark Guarie, Amanda SmeltzScene: Virtual round table discussion. Questions are posed by the inquisitor. Panelists eag, Allison Power, David Blasco Let's get it on! Do you consider yourself 'poets'? If so, how do you negotiate around the traffic of social conversations that would require you to admit such a label, or is it as my friend Lauren Hunter says, "your dirty little secret"? CK: It helps that 90% of my friends are also poets or something equally silly, but, yes, it is hard to say it with a straight face sometimes, especially among respectable members of the community. JJ: I admit to writing poetry, but don’t usually call myself a poet. If someone else does, fine. But what do we even mean by poet, or by poetry? Even in a poetry workshop, we all have different ideas of what poetry is, or what effective or worthwhile poetry is. Anyway, I’d rather describe myself as a writer, just as I prefer to think about writing as writing, rather than a particular form or genre. I do think what is it is an ok question, but just like I prefer what does it do to what does it mean, I prefer what does it do to what is it. And maybe what does it do and who or what does it do it to, and when, etc, is a more productive series of questions. So when people ask me what I do, I might say I write, or that I write poetry, if it makes sense in context, but I am a poet sounds to me like I’m different from you, or I have a different/superior grasp of language than you do. If we feel self-conscious as writers of poetry, or as self-proclaimed writers of poetry, is it because we perceive poetry to be ridiculous or unnecessary? Or are we giving ourselves a backhanded compliment, bemoaning the myth that poetry is not valued in society, or that poetry is an occupation that doesn’t pay, but we do it anyway, or that we are misunderstood? Poems are more interesting than poets, and poetry is more interesting than poems. I make poems, sometimes with words; call me what you want to. Call me Jeff or hey you. MG: Well yeah, so I just tell them that I write stuff and it’s mostly poetry. I don’t often use that label (‘poet’) in describing myself, but I certainly won’t correct anyone if that’s what they chose to use to describe me. CD: In response to the first question, a quote from my friend and teacher Ross Gay comes to mind: ‘We are not our poems.’ In response to the second question: When I find myself in a social situation that requires me to talk about poetry, I usually say, ‘I studied poetry in graduate school’ or ‘My formal training was in poetry writing.’ And then I qualify the statement by stating that I’ve also... Continue reading
Posted May 28, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
(drawing by Raymond Pettibon) Take heed of the silence of mind in sound.; the serenity of frenzy. Those records that have moved you, shook you, crushed you, those records that you have risen to, hold on to them, use them wisely. Hold on to the music, it's as necessary as oxygen, sleep, bathroom visits, I'm sure of it. Here is a list of bands, records, albums that have, and continue to be, my salve. Minor Threat: Complete Discography Charles Bronson: Complete Discography Husker Du: Zen Arcade, New Day Rising, Flip Your Wig. Everything Falls Apart (a collection of singles), Metal Circus Ramones: Ramones, Leave Home, Rocket to Russia, Road to Ruin Angry Samoans: Back to Samoa, Inside My Brain (These cats could care less about who they offend; very audacious bunch out of LA) Bikini Kill: First Two Records, Rebel Girl, Pussy Whipped, Reject All American All of Charley/Charlie Patton Anything by Slim Harpo Anything by Andre "Mr. Rhythm" Williams The Cramps: Songs the Lord Taught Us, Psychedelic Jungle/Gravest Hits D.O.A. War and Peace Dead Kennedys: Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, In God We Trust, Inc., Frankenchrist, Bedtime for Democracy, Plastic Surgery Disasters, Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death The Damned: The Damned Breaking news: Just received, via postal service, the galley of Paul Legault's The Other Poems, and when I say you should be excited about this new volume of poems, I mean you need to be excited, Sally. Please, reserve your copy today, you will not be disappointed. The poems in this volume, if you're not familiar with Mr. Legault's work are humorous, erudite, and austere. The poems come pregnant with wit, and unmitigated deftness. Thank you, Paul Legault. Fucked Up: The Chemistry of Common Life G.G. Allin: Always Was, Is and Shall Be Zero Boys: Vicious Circle The Krays: Inside Warfare, A Time for Action New album, Sangre, coming soon. Support this quartet of punkers, please. The Truents: Everyday of the Week Melvins: Eggnog, Bullhead, Mangled Demos From 1983, 26 Songs, The Maggot, et al Misfits: Static Age, Walk Among Us Black Flag: Damaged Mission of Burma: Signals, Calls, and Marches, Vs., ONoffOn, The Obliterati The Queers: Beat Off, Grow Up Sonic Youth: Goo, Sister, Daydream Nation Vice Squad: No Cause for Concern X-Ray Spex: Germfree Adolescents Wire: Pink Flag The Muffs: The Muffs, Blonder and Blonder A.C.: Top Forty Hits Circle Jerks: Group Sex, Wild in the Streets Fear: The Record, More Beer The Smiths: The Smiths, The Queen is Dead, Meat is Murder, Strangeways, Here We Come Morrissey: Viva Hate, Bona Drug, Your Arsenal, You Are the Quarry, Ringleader of the Tormentors The Trashwomen: Spend The Night with the Trashwomen, Trashwomen vs. Deep Space Las Vegas Grind collection (Crypt Records) Nirvana: Bleach, Incesticide, Nevermind, In Utero Teengenerate: Get Action! The Stooges: Fun House, The Stooges, Raw Power Screeching Weasel: Boogadaboogodaboogada!, Wiggle D Generation: D Generation, No Lunch, Through the Darkness The Make-Up: Destination: Love-Live!, et al To be continued... Book of the day: The... Continue reading
Posted May 27, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
After much discussion with friend, Jeff T. Johnson, I decided on his advice: I went for a drive to figure, to compose, ponder, to breathe. Here are the ramblings of a mad man gone mad. 1. So much for a visit to the psychiatrist's office: 10 minutes, 1 script, twenty dollar co-payment. 2. I tend to do my finest thinking in the shower, and by finest thinking, I don't mean, in any way, that it is lucid, complex thought, but it's fine enough for me. Warm water: focus. Warm water for twenty minutes: discipline. Warm water for twenty minutes, at least three times a day: productivity. What's better, a drive or a shower? 3. Last night, a former student penned me a note asking me what would the best way to go about getting published. My advice: Don't worry about that, just write. He thanked me. 4. I tend to go for long drives at night. Being nocturnal since birth, it all makes sense. Much like a shower, it forces me to focus, produce. Driving, in my humble opinion, is divinity coupled with grace. Thurston might say, a benediction. 5. I once asked a girl out and she said, no. I once asked a girl out and she said, yes. 6. Today, I took a walk to Unnameable Books and purchased 16 Short Plays by Israel Horovitz, The Orange Eats Creeps by Grace Krilanovich (suggested to me by JTJ), Never Any End to Paris by Enrique Vila-Matas. I was going to purchase After Spicer: Critcal Essays edited by John Emil Vincent, but decided, next time. 7. Read four beautiful poems by Jake Kennedy featured in The Awl (Mark Bibbins, Editor): 8. Is there anymore use for the love poem? Obsolete?Dead? What purpose does it serve? Is it coded? Bring it back. 9. Faith in love? Love in faith? Love in? 10. Read a wonderful article on Cummings and Thayer in The Awl this afternoon: 11: Heard Howard Stern talking about masturbation. He said something to the effect of 3 times a day. I say, on a good day, once, and that usually takes an hour. 12. Today marks the first barbecue of the year at the DeJesús homestead. 13. I love Larry Fisher of Vortex fame. He was my boss for three years at Space Age Bachelor Pad Junk Shop located on E. 11th between 3rd and 4th across from what used to be 99 X. You can find him here and there. Check his site out: 14. Confining myself to this apartment for 7 days straight, that's one entire week without seeing the light of day, I realized this , on my my first day back out today,: The entire day smelled of delirium. My eyes, twitched; knees, shook. Message sent to Jeff T. Johnson at 4:31 PM. Message reads as follows: Stepping out for the first time in a week smells much like delirium. What's Jake's last name? Have Orange Eats Creeps in my hand.... Continue reading
Posted May 26, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
During a conversation with Samantha the other day, it was suggested that my next post simply be about things that make me happy. Below, you will a find a harum-scarum list of some of the things that happen to make this crazy cat smile. This one is for you, Sam. Books by Rod Smith: Deed, Protective Immediacy, Music or Honesty, In Memory of My Theories, et al Reruns of Three's Company Jim Jarmusch Books by Rachel Zolf: Human Resources, Masque, Neighbour Procedure, et al Claire Donato's chapbook and website: Someone Else's Body and somanytumbleweeds, respectively Supermachine Magazine Books of Ben Mirov: Ghost Machine, I is Vorticism, Vortexts, et al Maggy Poetry Magazine 1913: a Journal of Forms The work of Mark Bibbins: Sky Lounge, The Dance of No Hard Feelings, his work at The Awl, his apartment Elaine Equi's whimsy and brilliance The Melvins The Ramones The Smiths George MacLarty Vanessa Place St. Mark's Bookshop Telephone (eited by Sharmila Cohen and Paul Legault My dog, Zoe My cat, Mischa Street punk, crust punk, pop punk, chaos punk, anarcho-punk Maximum Rocknroll magazine Victor Hernández Cruz's Maraca (Coffee House Press, 2001) Robert Fernandez's We are Pharaoh (Canarium Press) Laura Minor's music, poetry The Song Cave (Edited by Ben Estes and Alan Felsenthal) Flying Object, Hadley, Mass-Dynamite people LL Cool J Christine Kanowink's red hair Augury Books (Edited by Christine Kanowink and Kate Angus) Roger Federer Leah Iannone's New Jersey Chesterfield cigarettes Pall Mall cigarettes Gin Women (Is this a bad thing?) Jaime DeJesus' letter To Ken Davidoff, of NY Newsday fame, regarding newspaper versus magazine in sports. Angry Samoans Cafe Danton-Paris, France The work of Paul Legault: The Madeline Poems, The Other Poems (got a sneek peek) Ted Berrigan Buster Keaton Laurel and Hardy Al Pacino Jeff Bridges Chocolate egg creams The Queers The Krays Packages Marianna's laugh Panick Attack!: Art in the Punk Years (Merrell Publishers, 2007) Howie Pyro's Intoxica Radio Destroy All Movies!!! The Complete Guide to Punk on Film (Fantagraphics Books, 2010) Jeff Johnson's manuscript: Filmography Pornography (Video tape, dvd, internet, any will do) K. Silem Mohammad's Sonnagrams Airplanes Notebooks Martin Beeler's poetry Michel Gizzi (RIP) Peter Gizzi Semi-colons Klonopin Ampersands The Verrazano Bridge Tony Manero's hair Any mention of the television show Small Wonder Winnie Cooper My mother's latina/Brooklyn accent Georgina's whispers Long autumn rides with Karen Cervasio Kolyer Hüsker Dü The photos of Dash Snow Hans Peter-Feldman The idea of Los Angeles Jessica Madison's smile Ariel Kates-Harris' "Rad!" Ashleigh Allen's booming laugh Dean, of Cafe Loup fame Natalie Portman Maggie Q Disliking Madonna My suspicion of folks who hate television, but watch Hulu all day (Thanks, Christine) Dad Bensonhurst, circa 1990 and earlier Coney Island High (No longer) CBGB's (No longer) The Truents (NYC punk) Popcorn My adopted niece, Elizabeth Collins Cursing in English Cursing in Spanish Meliza's "Cawfee" Rachel's Penelope Cruz and Julia Louis-Dreyfus Allison Power's hair Allison Tray and Maria Little House on the Prairie (TV show) Root beer Poems Ernest Borgnine Popeye Illiana and... Continue reading
Posted May 25, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
The following post is dedicated to my grandmother Raquel "Quequi" Maldanado Rodriguez (1926-1994). Me haces falta, mami. Te amo. i) For the past several weeks I have given much thought to the idea of identity crisis in poetics. I've been much beleaguered with conflict: Do I keep my mouth shut? Don't agitate, to I need this discussion in order to sleep soundly, even if this discussion is whispered, a monologue. ii.) My conscience directs me towards that second choice. Dad: "Don't get on some soapbox!" Me: "I won't!" Mom: "You need to do it! Why not?" 1) There is a silence to my last name, a quietude I've never been able to completely discern. What does it mean? Do I change it? You know, cute high school kids can be quite cruel. Like so many other high school students,I heard the jokes, and I took them, stored them away, festered they did, I'd let them go, eventually. The power of affirmation, reaffirmation, embrace, detachment. 2) What in the hell is poetry? I'm fifteen-years-old, and I'm looking at trochees, stanzas, enjambments, and what I once completely disregarded, dismissed, I decide to touch, devour. In a previous post, I mentioned that cummings' 100 poems was the first volume of poetry I truly read, parsed. I carried it with me at all times: On my way to a friend's, on the N train headed towards Brighton. Why was this text becoming inextricable from my person? A limb. Forgive the mawkishness, it's nostalgia. 3) I remember handing George (Mr. MacLarty at the time) my first attempt. He was so very kind; he was diplomatic, generous. A little too lyrical, but keep trying he said. I was easily discouraged. I decided to sleep for the next two years, but I kept on reading during those moments of wakefulness. I'd scribble something for my la-dy friend, proudly signing it before handing it to her. Silly. Too lyrical, but maybe I'd get it straight. I never did get it straight, and don't plan on getting it straight, but I stay its path. I'm still sleeping, but college in September, time to wake up, just a little. 4) First semester concludes, I decide on my major: Comparative Literature. Fancy, no? Dad: "What the hell are you going to do with that? Maybe advertising." At the time, I wasn't sure, and I'm still not sure, but I was certain that I loved books, text; I liked slamming my body against the shelves of the college library (true story). Chuito Sin Coquis: My first college attempt at writing a one-act play. Good? No. Necessary? Yes. Poorly acted by yours truly on a stage in St. John's University? Of course. Necessary? Yes. Born: 1993. From: Disparaging remarks made by some latina friends at the time. Some of those gems: "Why you dress like that?"; "You smoke Chesterfields?"; "You're like a blancito." Now, mind you, I love, and still love, these friends, but make no mistake, a challenge had been declared by... Continue reading
Posted May 24, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
Thank you, V. Hope all is well with the family.
THAT OLD WOOLLY BLOODLETTING by Macgregor Card In youth you tend to look rather frequently into a mirror, not at all necessarily from vanity. You say to yourself, “What an interesting face; I wonder what he’ll be up to?” —J. M. Barrie, “Courage” Here is how pussycat / I will show you to carry / your unframed Cortez / the conqueror portrait / out of your nursery and into the forest you’ll kneel in to sleep the cock of the walk through falling of dead unalterable leaves you cannot yearn to ally your friends with influence of law Learn your Greek You’re a hero to open your book to learn Jupiter failed as a nation Though made by the giants Australian is English! I’d fold the universe shut with tears choking my prize four crosses of shirts and trousers in my fist and a poor fellow’s sword on my floor Come from somewhere for a purpose Go to somewhere for none The angry burst into the room The mad burst into the wall as a victory poem let it not be said in the song that is so true no ship moves up the one star night without a plan to execute in perpetuity, no no no no no no no No, my boy, no no no no no no no no no no no No no no, my boy, no no no no no no no no no no no The ship is a natural ship as the wand is a natural wand as the Englishman is hearing the frogs uplifted as the queerest antique stag Don’t play with banker’s straw, my boy but talk the penny down from its smoldering cloud into your cup you are that human shape of public statuary not to be that town crier in a meat locker (armies travel on their stomachs) Everyone’s beloved is a finite distance from your bed Carry your portrait close to the vest leave your liqueur set down by the fire pick up the receiver remember your Greek and strum your important guitar. You are doing what I tell you to do. What more do you want us to do. We will eat and then we will guard. I want you to obey me willfully. I do this to make us work. The giants made me for this purpose. We will guard and then we will sleep. That is the action. There’ll be enough trouble. I’m a hero to open your book. We will work on the same shift. Jeff Bridges i. I'm on a train headed towards New England with Jeff in my hands. Jeff is on the cover of Esquire in Elvis pose with mic. He's staring at me with those, those tough yet warm eyes. I'm thinking Robert Mitchum with a warm smile. Whenever I start to shake, lose it, I go back to Jeff. II. Jeff knows how to laugh, smirk. I don't know Jeff, but I'd like to think, at the very least,... Continue reading
Posted May 23, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
You are it, Leah. Brooklyn loves you very much, and so do I.
Karen, thank you for the kind words, really. Thank you.
i. Is it Barcelona? Is it Brooklyn? Paris? No, Brooklyn, I'm sure of it. After all,for 37 years it's the city that's taken so much from me, but, simultaneously, givenme its heart and marrow. I owe this cement and tar; this cement and tar knows of my debt. Whether we’re talking Dyker, Carroll Gardens, Bushwick, Canarsie, Windsor, Kensington, Manhattan Beach, Brighton, and ah, Sunset Park (Gunset to its natives, me included), et al, home. ii. Sunset for 28 years. My first kiss; first love, Kim Toler; loves come and gone; first making whoopee; mortality here and there; loves gone and come; books stacked, books tossed; sheets of scribbling thrown to the wolves and the dumpster (true story); cheese sandwiches in the church vestibule; catholic schoolboy/school girl uniforms; stolen bikes; eight hour wiffle ball marathons(“Scuff that ball good,kid”); slap; spud; manhunt; manic late night drives (2AM to be exact) from Sunset to Gravesend and back. iii. I may have had the honor, the privilege to travel here and there, but these is some special, gritty streets. Mind you, I'm not the only one born out of Brooklyn's womb: The Millers, Selby Jr., Mailer, Woody, Basquiat, Streissand, Louie the Lizard, Frankie from Smith, Angela (those eyes), Illiana (damn fabulous smile), The Savasta sisters (Marianna, Giulieta, Vincenza; Marianna, them poutty lips) Colleen, Mr.Mouse and his brother Red, and yes, Violi, Sir Paul Violi. iv. Doesn't Brooklyn know its language, its prosody? Of course it does, Brooklyn comes equipped. Whether you hear the syllables, the cadences, the beat, in the trees, on the train platform, your local deli, in traffic, in line for your lotto ticket (the beautiful and talented poet, Ashleigh Allen, would be proud of my preposition selection there), the language is there, always there. It refuses to move. It's in constant flux, morphing. Beautiful lines, crass and uncomfortable lines. Some favorites of mine, and it’s all about delivery: "Do me favor? Go fuck yourself!" Or, the ubiquitous, "Go fuck your mother’!" When you hear these gems, accept them, embrace them, you know your home. Let me not forget that it was here that I found and read my first collections of poetry thanks to Mr. Ed Breslin and Mr. George MacLarty (poet, best friend and high school English teacher): cummings, Ferlinghetti, Ginsberg, yes. I was 15, and stuffed in my back pocket, true story, Ferlinghetti's Coney Island of the Mind and cummings' 100 poems. Yes, methinks I'm home. Books of the day: Sarah Sarai's The Future is Happy; Lauren Hunter's forthcoming chapbook titled, My Own Fires; Rachel Zolf's Human Resources (more on Zolf's work later this week), Ben Mirov’s Ghost Machine, Elaine Equi’s Click and Clone Poets to look for/ read: Jeff T. Johnson, Claire Donato, Samantha Zighelboim, David Blasco, Allison Power, Amanda Smeltz, Mark Guarie, Christine N. Kanowink, Alina Gregorian, Martin Beeler, Camilo Roldan, Adam Fitzgerald,, Kate Angus, Laura Minor. Joe Weil, Lauren Hunter, Sharmilla Cohen. More to come. Journals/magazines to look for: Maggy, Supermachine, Infinite Editions, 1913, G(o)BBet Continue reading
Posted May 22, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
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