Friday, June 26, 2009

work in progress

(today's draft, which could disappear very soon depending on x and y and z--Keith)

The King of Pop

“Michael Jackson showed me that you can actually see the beat.”
                                                P. Diddy

You can see the beat, all right,
though it’s better to feel it,
even if we’re talking moonwalk.
You can slow it to a crawl
with Demerol. You can tour
with Bubbles the chimp and name
your children Prince or Blanket.
You can cut your own nose off
and sell it to a sheik. It’s not enough.

There’s always a little more
if the show goes on, as it must.
There’s the history of racism,
for instance.  If God exists
so does P.T. Barnum. Peter Pan.
You wouldn’t know it by the numbers
but death is white, very white.
God bless you Michael, big as Elvis.
God bless America, and good night.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

two birthday poems

hey all, a couple occasional poems, kind of Englishy (in my mind anyway). The second is a swerve on Halsey's style. PM often wears a black t-shirt.

For P. Manson’s birthday

The t-shirt says: “I do not exist. I am not stainable.”
The soil has smutched it. Have you tasted the bag
of the bee? Oh so dark, so sweet is he,
and I am...making conversation easily with Peter Manson,
like a little nasturtium nasty tertiary shtum; he responds nodding
like son of flower whose poem was blown in on a hot rail,
a didact frown or flounce he metaguarded. I dream-said,
“If you cut her, you can drink Gala-Tea,” meaning poetry,
because she is “lovely and alive,” to turn wave-function
into wire fence and undulate the terms.

For A. Halsey’s birthday

A letter arrives, he sends it packing
tape worm uses up best syllabub
in gay misrule. Scylla breaks down
syllables and morphemes—
Ah, foam and contrail! Fumetime.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Allen Ginsberg Sings William Blake

from ubuweb: Allen Ginsberg Sings William Blake (1969) [MP3] - Recorded New York, December 15, 1969 Songs of Innocence...

Fun stuff.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Test of Bioregional Knowledge

  1. What soil series are you standing on?
  2. When was the last time a fire burned your area?
  3. Name five native edible plants in your region and their seasons of availability.
  4. From what direction do winter storms generally come in your region?
  5. Where does your garbage go?
  6. How long is the growing season where you live?
  7. Name five grasses in your area. Are any of them native?
  8. Name five resident and five migratory birds in your area.
  9. What primary geological event or processes influenced the land from where you live?
  10. What species have become extinct in your area?
  11. What are the major plant associations in your region?
from CoEvolution Quarterly 32 (Winter 1981-82), quoted in David Orr, Ecological Literacy (Albany: SUNY Press, 1992), page 137.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


One of you 651 students has already had a review accepted for publication (I will reveal the party in question if I get permission) -- yay! send em on out, the rest of you, if you haven't already.


Keith Tuma's new THE PARIS HILTON is out from Critical Documents -- Keith read some of these at the evening thingy at cris's in late spring -- sharp sharp funny stuff -- go get!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Recommended Niedecker



Monday, June 8, 2009

New Pudding and More

Thought you all should know that cris cheek's book part: short life housing is now in the world.  Information about ordering it directly from the publisher--a better option than Small Press Distribution in this case-- can be found here: 

You really ought to have this book.  Buy a copy and a second for your landlord.

While you're at it, pick up a copy of the latest Miami University Press poetry book, Frederick Goodwin's Virgil's Cow, which you can buy from Small Press Distribution here:'s+cow

or via the Miami University Press link to Pathway:

Follow-up from PPN

from Cori C: "Since I'm just starting out, I'm soliciting most of [the reviews] for the Oct/Nov, and just don't have much room! But perhaps in the future? Oh and if you look at the Books Received link on the PP site (, you'll see what we've got. They can always shoot me an email." (Write me & I'll send you her address.)

Submitting reviews

This is for the grad workshop -- for all of yall that wrote reviews of poetry books last semester --

Here are some places to try sending your revised reviews. It's honestly not impossible to imagine you guys being published in these places. Read some sample reviews and get a sense of the style and aesthetic and standard length before you send, and check over any guidelines. Anyone want to add some other review venues?

Rain Taxi, all-review magazine edited by Eric Lorberer. 500-word reviews. See guidelines.

Boston Review -- see submission guidelines. Microreviews are probably what you should try for with BR rather than the bigger essay-reviews; they're 300-350 words long. Sample microreview.

Galatea Resurrects, edited by Eileen Tabios. See guidelines. Contact Eileen by emailing her or commenting on the top post. Also scan the list below the guidelines to see whether there's anything there you'd like to review.

Jacket, edited by John Tranter. See guidelines. The home page says: "If you’d like to submit a review, article or interview, send a half-page synopsis with your return email address to "

Poetry Project Newsletter: I have written to Corina Copp, who's now editing reviews there, to ask about your submitting there. Will get back to you.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


“In geology, subduction is the process
…at convergent boundaries
one tectonic plate moves
under another”(Wikipedia)

Recording Earthquakes

The trench forms volcanoes above
the subduction and water sweats out.

I think behind the face which called
from Japan (and brought back the coasters).

I told her love can interfere
where it’s hot; then injury and absence

are igneous corridors of wronged heat
extending down trenches--no dopamine.


"Lorenz…developed…fixed action patterns….
a fixed action pattern is…instinctive
indivisible …and runs to completion…
invariant and…produced by
a neural network…in response to…
(a)sign stimulus…from one individual
to another" (Wikipedia)

It’s not how you do it it's what you do,
because how is what.

War Chest
(Inner Demons)

Inner demons unify a poet’s target enemy,
And guerrilla work is work done on what’s left,
Of the cheating, awkwardness, and lethargy.
New utterance changes our fortitude into
A trembling adrenaline of being.
The age of despair is a loosening void
Now renewed towards a more current seeing.
And all that’s uncanny from old sublimations
Is now in a spoil-chest from an earlier war,
all that commotion from un-imprinting
oppressive tongues and their hallowed lore.
It’s a difficult age minus aged that’s become,
which leaves little room for the sum of before.

The Memorial

She no longer talks of how he refused
her father's help with the building a fire.
An arrow arcs then lingers below
water in its wake: the fire
Always quieting, a return that's different:
no bedsores, no womb swish, no sea lights at the synapse;
and smells electrical soften me
over to some sort of dimming; more dimming.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The failures of interdisciplinarity

or, Why ecocompositionists are IMHO missing the boat (in their own words):
Many of us working in ecocomposition have moved to this area of study through careers in composition studies. That is to say, ecocompositionists are, for the most part, compositionists who have brought their concerns for environmental protection and ecological literacy to composition classrooms and composition research. We have yet to identify the ecologist whose interest in writing has led him or her to ecocomposition.
--Sidney I. Dobrin and Christian R. Weissner, Natural Discourse: Towards Ecocomposition (SUNY Press 2002), page 58.
True interdisciplinarity reciprocates!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Warren Ellis on pretentiousness:
'We're deathly afraid of that stabbing word "pretentious," the word that students use to curse each other's ambition. It's a young person's word, a shortcut-to-thinking word.

I'm a big fan of pretension. It means "an aspiration or intention that may or may not reach fulfillment." It doesn't mean failing upward. It means trying to exceed your grasp. Which is how things grow.'

Publishing big and small

In "The Long Goodbye? The Book Business and its Woes," Elisabeth Sifton gives a compelling account of the book industry's accelerated demise, one that makes me wonder how small press poetry has responded and will respond in the short-to-medium run.

Herself a senior VP at FS&G, Sifton writes as a bibliophile who nevertheless spares no stern gaze upon her own industry; she is no technophobe but also clearly gets that we are subject to our technologies, and that change to the human species is being exacted in our move from print to screen and beyond:
for centuries books have been intimately woven into our
sense of ourselves, into the means by which we find out
who we are and who we want to be.... Books have had a
kind of spooky power, embedded as they are in the very
structures of learning, commerce and culture by which
we have absorbed, stored and transmitted information,
opinion, art and wisdom.
She recounts the consolidation and increasing monopolization of the book industry dating back to the 1960s, the more recently manifested "truly vast corporate fecklessness, which has brought us a world-historical economic meltdown that dwarfs everything," and the wretched business models with which mainstream publishers have limped along even before the now imminent collapse of print journalism.
Here I want only to stress that the loss of so many
book-review pages nationwide is crippling all aspects
of our literary life. And I mean all. Book news and
criticism were fundamental to the old model of book
publishing and to the education of writers; Internet
coverage of books, much of it witty and interesting,
does not begin to compensate for their loss.
And here I start to wonder how divergent our small press publishing practices really are. Surely, efforts by Rain Taxi, the Poetry Project Newsletter and the online Galatea Resurrects notwithstanding, our indy reviewing practices are also suffering -- as some 32 poets and critics (including yours truly) discussed in a recent online roundtable.

Sifton then points to the sheer glut of published product, pointing out how "Every week the trade bulletins report hundreds of new books being signed up, sometimes for absurd amounts of money, by dozens of publishers." Clearly money is rarely if ever at issue in the small press world, but one wonders what the stats would look like if all the small press product being published below the radar of the trade journals were included! "Self-indulgent excess doesn't go away," Sifton continues. "This exorbitance in the book sector, as in the gigantic financial and housing sectors, has been weakening our culture for decades." And again I can't help thinking, while her analogies to finance and housing are probably accurate in some respects but tenuous in most, that our alternative, avant-garde, experimental, innovative and non-mainstream publishing practices ought not even draw the remotest parallels to these rapacious megacorporate blunders.

Sifton goes on to the traditional gruntwork of a mainstream publisher (sexism duly noted, perhaps intentional on her part):
the editorial and advocacy work his staff did on behalf
of the nascent books, building an audience for them,
preparing the ground; the copy-editing, proofreading
and legal checks; the typographical designs devised
and manufacturing quality achieved; the efforts made
to get attention paid to, and sales consummated of,
books that might otherwise go unnoticed in the
noisy, trivializing, inattentive world where readers
Who among our small press publishers would refuse the same diligence (and relish a paid support staff) for similar notice from that small market segment of "the noisy, trivilizing, inattentive world" otherwise known as the national or even international small press poetry audience?

When her history of the book industry's ongoing demise arrives at the present, Sifton continues to pose interesting questions even if her outlook remains bleak at best:
In this dystopia, one can scarcely get attention paid
to new books except those that fit in with the flora and
fauna already found there. True, you can easily reach
niche audiences and specialty communities for your
oh-so-unique book, but what of the general culture?
How is your book being read? And in what manner might
you try--say, ten years from now--to write something
new? How will you know if it's any good? How will it
become known? Will it be a book?
But the bleakness of her outlook is predicated on some assumptions I do not share: that widespread attention to our work is not only desirable but necessary, that "niche audiences and specialty communities" are somehow less desirable in and for themselves than some presence in "the general culture" (whatever that is), that values and judgments of quality are best derived from sources (presumably "the general culture") outside the locality or the region of production and consumption, that notoriety is important, and that writing is somehow contingent upon and even exclusive to the form of the book.

I am most recently compelled by Lewis Mumford's 1967 call for efforts "that have been initiated by animated individual minds, small groups, and local communities nibbling at the edges of the power structure by breaking routines and defying regulations. Such an attack seeks, not to capture the citadel of power, but to withdraw from it and quietly paralyse it."