Michael Leong | September 1, 2013

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1. Where are you now? 

 

In my apartment on the Lower East Side.

 

2. What are you working on and what have you got coming out?

 

I’ve got essays of varying lengths coming out in Critiphoria, Hyperrhiz: New Media Cultures, XCP: Cross Cultural Poetics, and A Sense of Regard: Essays on Poetry and Race (University of Georgia Press, 2014).  I just finished a new poetry manuscript, “Fruits and Flowers and Animals and Seas and Lands Do Open,” which includes textual and visual collages that explore the link between lyric poetry and Hollywood melodrama, and a long article about conceptual and documentary poetries and am working on those in spirit. 

 

For Hyperallergic Weekend, I’m working on a review of Lytle Shaw’s Fieldworks: From Place to Site in Postwar Poetics.  For The Margins, the webzine of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, I’m guest curating a special portfolio on poetry and the visual arts; we’re shooting to have that out in late September.  I’m also working on a translation of Vicente Huidobro’s long prose poem Temblor de cielo with Ignacio Infante.  And I’ve been revising—for a while now—a study called “Extending the Document: The Twenty-First Century Long Poem and the Archive.” 

 

3. Where do you write?

 

I write where I can: usually in my apartment early in the morning on the other side of our studio so I don’t wake up my wife, sometimes on the train when I commute, sometimes in my office, sometimes in Bobst Library, less frequently in neighborhood coffee shops or the NYPL branch library at Seward Park.  If I’m lucky, I can write a little bit in my head –hammering out a few phrases, tropes, or ideas—in the shower or in bed late at night.

 

4. What’s the last best thing you’ve read?

 

Rachel Levitsky’s The Story of My Accident is Ours (Futurepoem Books, 2013).  I’ve also been picking through two extremely interesting anthologies: The Dark Would: Language Art Anthology (Apple Pie Editions, 2013) and The &NOW AWARDS: The Best Innovative Writing 2 (Lake Forest College Press, 2013). 

 

5. What journals, poets, presses have you discovered lately?

 

I’ve recently read some good books by Belladonna*: Kristin Prevallet’s Everywhere Here and in Brooklyn and Latasha Diggs’ TwERK.  I recently discovered Aase Berg via Johannes Göransson.  The fairly new Delete Press makes exquisite book objects. 

 

6. Care to share any distractions / diversions?

 

Blogging for bigother.com. And thinking about forms of new media in anime; in Shin Sekai Yori (2012), for example, sea slugs have evolved and mutated into wandering libraries or “automotive archives” that supposedly contain all that has been written in 980 petabytes of “holographic memory.” 

 

7. What are you looking forward to?

 

Eugene Lim’s forthcoming book from Black Square Editions.  Most titles by Wakefield Press.

2 notes

Joshua Edwards | August 2013

1. Where are you now?

My better half, Lynn Xu, and I both had books recently published, so we came back to the States from Germany for a couple of months for a reading tour that ended where I am now, in Marfa, Texas. We’re settling here in seven or eight months; until then we live in Stuttgart.

 

2. What are you working on and what have you got coming out?

I recently wrote a few short texts for an arrangement by Austrian composer Peter Jakober, and that will be performed in the fall. For the past five years I’ve been chipping away at a book-length poem, Agonistes, which will hopefully be finished soon and published in late 2013 or 2014. I’m also working on a couple of collaborative projects with friends: a travel project with an artist, Charlotte Moth, and a building project with Lynn and an artist / architect, Alan Worn.

 

3. Where do you write?

I occasionally jot things down in a notebook when I’m walking, but I usually write at a desk in our living room, or in coffee shops.

 

4. What’s the last best thing you’ve read?

Today I finished reading Clarice Lispector’s The Hour of the Star, and I loved it.  It has some of the most incredible, weird sentences (even in translation) that I’ve ever encountered in a work of fiction. Example: “He hungered to be others.” Also, a couple of collections that were already favorites when they were manuscripts and which I recently re-read as new books: my wife’s, Debts & Lessons, and Nick Twemlow’s Palm Trees.

 

5. What journals, poets, presses have you discovered lately?

Besides some great manuscripts that were submitted to the Canarium reading period, I haven’t read much new poetry lately. I’m surrounded mostly by artists, architects, and composers in the place where Lynn and I live, and I’ve been trying to learn more about their disciplines. Discoveries: Casa Malaparte, Tacita Dean, Steve Reich.

 

6. Care to share any distractions / diversions?

Since moving to Germany, I’ve been playing lots of chess and table tennis. Also, I obsessively play fantasy sports and basketball whenever I can find a game. Today I played full-court in a high school gym. It doesn’t get much better than that.

 

7. What are you looking forward to?

I’m really looking forward to traveling around Europe with friends this fall and building a house with Lynn next year.

4 notes

Christopher Stackhouse | July 1, 2013

1. Where are you now? 

 

At the moment of answering ‘where now’, I’m in Baltimore, Maryland.

 

2. What are you working on and what have you got coming out?

 

I am working on a new book of poems that will follow Plural, my most recent book. I am preparing for an upcoming week of teaching at Naropa’s Summer Writing Program. With friends, we’re in preparation for another session of our This Red Door project at REH KUNST in Berlin this summer. Also anticipating working in tandem with a group of artists/writers put together by Thomas Hirshhorn for his Gramsci Moment in the Bronx, New York produced by the Dia Foundation. Doing more recordings with musician Larry Heard. Poet/art critic Raphael Rubinstein put together a portfolio of poetry by poet’s who address contemporary art in their work for the summer 2013 issue of Art In America, in which I have a poem or two being published.  Have some new poems being published in an anthology being put together by George Quasha and Sam Truitt at Station Hill. I continue to be an advisor to Fence Magazine, and, a contributing poetry editor with Raphael at Vincent Katz’s Vanitas magazine. I’m still making small works on paper too, drawings, collages, and prints. Increasingly, too, writing more catalogue essays and other kinds of art writing, with an essay in a forthcoming monograph of work by Kara Walker. There are other things I must be forgetting but for now…nursing my spirit.

 

 

3. Where do you write?

 

I write walking around Brooklyn and now Baltimore. I’ve been writing in hotels a lot - in Des Moines, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Miami, Chicago, Boston. For a while I stayed in a little place up in the Hudson Valley, in New York State: I wrote several essays at the kitchen table there. The preferred writing spot is probably at my desk at my apartment in Park Slope, in spite of the fact that the neighborhood is not as quiet as used to be; there’s great light at my desk in the morning and there are those fine pleasures of familiar digs- long showers between sessions, my own fridge, good and plenty to eat and drink, excellent home cooking. I write while cooking often.

 

4. What’s the last best thing you’ve read?

 

That’s terribly difficult to answer; I read a lot of wonderful things. There’s a circle of writers and thinkers I’m in that forwards to each other some really fantastic articles, poems, book titles. There’s so much great writing out there. I’ve been really enjoying Lydia Davis’ Collected Stories, which I’ve been alternating with Baudelaire’s Prose Poems translated by Joseph Bernstein. Dialogues with Marcel Duchamp by Pierre Cabanne translated by Ron Padgett is pretty fantastic. Paul Thek: The Artists Artist is great to look at and read. I have been constantly reading and re-reading James Baldwin; I have his Uncollected Writings in my bag at the moment. I keep returning to Honore de Balzac and Henry James stories. And though I’ve been reading his poems a lot over the past few years, Weldon Kees’ collected is here with me, so enjoyable however tragic the result, his euphoric sadness, I’m there with him. And there’s Michel Leiris’ Manhood. There are other books that I’ve recently finished reading, and, others I jump in and out of… That’s a hard question – superlatives are hard, save those about a love…but…

 

5. What journals, poets, presses have you discovered lately?

 

I don’t know anything about either, but I like the looks of The Song Cave, and, The Claudius App. I like the fact that I don’t know exactly what they are, or what they do, so to speak. Both have nice looking websites.

 

6. Care to share any distractions / diversions?

 

I love playing table tennis. I played for hours as a kid and at various points throughout my life. It’s been a fine and needed diversion to pick up again these days. I just bought a new paddle. I am a competent and competitive player, but I also know how to just have a good time with the game.

 

7. What are you looking forward to?

 

I am looking forward to a lot of things, but most immediately there are three or four people I hope to soon hug.

 

2 notes

Khadijah Queen | June 1, 2013

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Photograph by Thomas Sayers Ellis, 2011

1. Where are you now? In bed.

 

2. What are you working on and what have you got coming out? A broadside will be out in June from Flying Object, and some poems in Spillway. I’m working on something strange and epic, and have no idea when it will be finished.

 

3. Where do you write? Mostly at the kitchen table on early weekday mornings, or late nights after work and chores and such. On weekends, bookstores and coffee shops.

 

4. What’s the last best thing you’ve read? Currently reading/loving Madness, Rack and Honey by Mary Ruefle.

 

5. What journals, poets, presses have you discovered lately?

Wave Books – bought a bunch of stuff from them at AWP. Wolsak & Wynn. Re-discovered Flood Editions. Journals – CURA, Cave Wall, diode. Poets – Sally Wen Mao, Karenne Wood, Inger Christensen, Larry Fagin, Serena Chopra.

 

6. Care to share any distractions / diversions? With a small mixture of embarrassment and glee, but mostly not a care, I watch television – Scandal, New Girl, Grey’s Anatomy, Revenge, Masterpiece Classic (Call the Midwives, Downton Abbey, Upstairs Downstairs, Mr. Selfridge). I feel like I am making up for the preceding 10 or so years when I mostly watched whatever cartoon my son was obsessed with, and the occasional grown-up movie. Now 13, he forbids me from watching what he watches – manga-based shows like Bleach. We did watch South Beach Tow over the Xmas holidays. It was an experience. And of course there is always social media.

 

7. What are you looking forward to? Warmer weather. Traveling. Friends visiting. Playing with my one-year-old nephew. Starting to draw again.

 

Bonus questions:

 

How important is music to you? Extremely. I grew up with it in the house, all the time. I stopped keeping up for a while when my son was very young, but recently got back into it.

 

Do you return to your books after they’re published? Yes, have to – when I do readings, I try to arrange the work anew. That means re-acquaintance must occur.

 

What do you find yourself hoping for when things get quiet? That it stays quiet long enough for something to be found, or more fully understood.

 

What are you afraid of? Ignorance. Racism.

 

Whom do you wish would come visit you in the hospital? Family. My son especially, and all the nieces and nephews. But hopefully it won’t come to that.

 

What book would you like (if any) to be read aloud to you? Anything really funny, read preferably by Samuel L. Jackson.

 

What is the effect of weather on your mood and on your ability to write?

I feel energized by warmer weather, and I think I write better/more. Cold and rain make me feel somewhat constricted. I write a lot when it snows, but can’t say that I enjoy it as much.

 

What do you miss? Leisure time untainted by fatigue or mountains of to-dos.

 

Where would you like to return to? Sonoma. Miami Beach. New Mexico. The Bahamas. Vancouver. A blues bar in Newport, Rhode Island that I can’t remember the name of.

 

Where would you like never to visit (again)? Jackson, Mississippi.

 

To those who survive you, what instructions do you have on your death? I have a will, so it’s all laid out. One thing I’ll share is that I’d like to be cremated rather than buried. I don’t want to be a dead body on display, or a decaying mass in the earth. Let the particles return.

 

Is there any part of you that cannot manifest itself in your work? I don’t know, but maybe over time I’ll find out.

 

Who are the writers you return to again and again and again? Lucille Clifton, Helene Cixous, Marina Tsvetaeva, Claudia Rankine, Jan Beatty, Fernando Pessoa, June Jordan (especially the essays), Federico Garcia Lorca, bell hooks, Young Jean Lee, Csezlaw Milosz, Lorine Niedecker. The book 39 Microlectures by Matthew Goulish.

5 notes

Tan Lin | May 1st, 2013

1. Where are you now? 

 in my office, which is also a closet, in NYC. 

 

2. What are you working on and what have you got coming out?

 

I am finishing an index to the photographic work of Diana Kingsley and an article on Warhol’s connections to second order cybernetics theory and disco. Convolution is publishing the former and Criticism the latter, for a special issue on Warhol edited by Jonathan Flatley and Anthony Grudin.

 

3. Where do you write?

in my office

 

4. What’s the last best thing you’ve read?

 

I am reading  Milad Doueihi’s Digital Cultures and a short essay by Michael Witmore entitled “Text: A Massively Addressable Object” on his blog site. They’re both excellent.

 

5. What journals, poets, presses have you discovered lately?

 

Well I have been going thru all of the Gauss PDF files, all the Troll Thread material. And all the Frank Kuenstler I have managed to order online. Got a bunch of Sam Falls and B. Wurtz books yesterday and am leafing thru them this morning with my grapefruit and tea and watermelon. I have been eating a lot of watermelon and Chinese anti anxiety tea made with a flower whose name I cannot pronounce. Also reading some articles by Susan Herring on Twitter and blogging. Let’s see what else: oh I have just started Dehaene’s Reading in the Brain and I read the first and last chapters of Claire Bishop’s Artificial Hells and Wade Guyton’s Black Paintings book. Oh and I reread Kathy Acker’s Toulouse Lautrec pamphlet that TVRT did—I just got it from Printed Matter. Oh and a bunch of Maggie O’Sullivan, the earlier stuff.

 

6. Care to share any distractions / diversions?

 

see above. I have been playing quite a bit of tennis recently

 

7. What are you looking forward to?

 

finishing a novel. I am doing a lot of research for it now.

1 note

Brian Teare | May 1, 2013

Brian Teare

1. Where are you now? 

 

The turn of the year, a kind of hinge. The neighbor’s door opened and closed all night, very loud, the interval between click and slam voicing the party going on inside their apartment. Each iteration startled the cat until 3AM, when in silence he settled into sleep. I was reading Robert Duncan’s final book, Ground Work II, especially its last poem, “After a Long Illness”–

 

No faculty not     ill at ease

lets us

begin where I must

 

from the failure of systems…

 

That was last year. This year the neighbors’ door is closed and I can hear birds in the holly in the courtyard—and the wind a thin whistle over the lip of a green glass beer bottle. It is 34 degrees at 3PM in Philadelphia, everything else outside a sort of aluminum, rigid but shivering. The cat sighs like the heater does, a bit of steam. I am reading Joanne Kyger’s Again: Poems 1989-2000

 

So who do you go to

 

       for help in confusion,     seeing

what all humans see.

 

 

2. What are you working on and what have you got coming out?

 

I am working on: healing three gastric ulcers, planning spring syllabi, balancing my gastrointestinal flora, writing critical prose for Boston Review and Jacket2, meditating more regularly, and taking notes for poems for my fifth book The Empty Form Goes All the Way to Heaven

 

Recently out: three chapbooks: Paradise Was Typeset (DoubleCross Press), Helplessness (Goodmorning Menagerie) and Black Sun Crown (Fact-Simile). + poems in the anthologies The Arcadia Project: North American Postmodern Pastoral and The Sonnets: Translating and Rewriting Shakespeare.

 

Coming out: my fourth book Companion Grasses will be out in April from Omnidawn, and a digital chapbook from Floating Wolf Quarterly will also be released around then. This spring season will also see Albion chapbooks from Frank Sherlock, Rachel Moritz and Juliet Patterson, CAConrad and Jean Valentine.

 

 

3. Where do you write?

 

Between sweeping the floor and writing emails and binding books. In the archive. After meditating. On foot. While reading a book. At my desk. Very late at night. In the woods. After acupuncture. On a bench in the art museum. During insomnia. In the one tolerable café. While roasting potatoes. On the trolley. After a long walk. In the big black chair.

 

 

4. What’s the last best thing you’ve read?

 

Where best means most helpful, beautiful, profound, informative, funny or wise, or even the most impressively obscene, but not the work of a friend: Franco Berardi’s The Soul At Work, Susan Briante’s Utopia Minus, Helen Carr’s The Verse Revolutionaries: Ezra Pound, H.D., and the Imagists, Barbara Comyns’ Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead, Tsering Wangmo Dhompa’s My rice tastes like the lake,Hilda Hilst’s The Obscene Madame D, David Hinton’s Hunger Mountain: A Field Guide to Mind and Landscape,Kay Larson’s Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists,Michael Leong’s The Philosophy of Decomposition/Re-Composition as Explanation: A Poe and Stein Mash-up,Carole Maso’s Mother and Child,Sina Queyras’ Expressway,Val Plumwood’s Feminism and the Mastery of Nature,Lisa Robertson’s Nilling: Prose,Evie Shockley’s Renegade Poetics: Black Aesthetic and Formal Innovation in African American Poetry, Cecilia Vicuña’s Spit Temple,Elisabeth Young-Bruehl’s Hannah Arendt: For Love of the World, and Ofelia Zepeda’s Ocean Power: Poems from the Desert.  

 

 

5. What journals, poets, presses have you discovered lately?

 

Zach Barocas’ Cultural Society.

Brooklyn Copeland: Siphon, Harbor.

Michael Cross’ Compline.

Craig Dworkin: Motes.

Crane Giamo’s Delete Press.

Chris Glomski: The Nineteenth Century and Other Poems.

David James Miller’s journal SET.

Dawn Pendergast’s textile series at Little Red Leaves.

Jared Shickling’s journal ecolinguistics.

Sun Yung Shin: Rough, and Savage

 

 

6. Care to share any distractions / diversions?

 

Anti-fracking legislation. Jay Defeo. Chinese and Homeopathic medicines. The Walking Dead.

 

 

7. What are you looking forward to?

Because the future always seems to me quite uncertain, full of possibilities equally felicitous and unfortunate, I don’t “look forward to” it in the traditional sense of the phrase. Mostly I have hopes: to be able to spend time with loved companions, spend days in beloved places, write poems and read poems by others, continue to heal a compromised body, do good where and when I can, and become more balanced and accepting of Being in all its manifestations. If I were able to “look forward to” futurity in an idealistic sense, I suppose I would look forward to a redistribution of wealth, environmental policies that foster a sense of the earth as a companion and not a commodity, an end to wars and colonial occupations, and a shift toward citizenship as a mode of collaboration, participation, and compassion. But like I said, in the meantime I mostly have hopes.

 

 

 

7 notes

Tracie Morris | April 5, 2013

Tracie Morris
1. Where are you now? 
In Brooklyn. In fact, I’m always in Brooklyn, no matter where I’m at. The adage about taking the ____ outta ____ is true in my case.

2. What are you working on and what have you got coming out?
I have a new book out called Rhyme Scheme that was focused on writing I’d been doing for many years back and am working on a new one focused on J. L. Austin’s philosophy that indicates where I might be going. In fact I’m working on a couple of books on this theme. Some creative some academic. Also some performance things. More collaboration with Elliott Sharp and working on some performance pieces that are solo and with my band. 

3. Where do you write?
On my computer for creative writing. By hand for meditative writing. 

4. What’s the last best thing you’ve read?

I haven’t read for pleasure much lately. I’ve been confining myself to online reading, blogs and audiobooks as well as re-reading theories on performance, sound and poetics for various projects. All research-oriented and classroom-oriented. 

5. What journals, poets, presses have you discovered lately?
I’ve been asked to write for a few newer presses, journals etc. I can’t say which in case they don’t publish the stuff I sent and it gets awkward… I’ve kinda followed my own path on the poetry route so I’m at the margins of new stuff coming out and who’s putting things out. These days, I feel like I’m mining older material that I’ve long had at my disposal but hadn’t explored. I guess another way of putting that is that I’m becoming a bit of a hermit. 

6. Care to share any distractions / diversions?
I do binges of TV shows to see how different actors negotiate narrative arcs. Sometimes they’re a waste of time, sometimes not. I take acting analysis seriously and also find great pleasure in watching strong performances. I also teach classes on Pop culture so I try to have a toe in that regularly. 
Lately it’s been a lot about the show “Breaking Bad”. (I’m only about 5 years behind everyone else…) I love the show because it’s a character actor’s show. That’s the kind of acting I’ve always wanted to do. It’s also the reason why, I believe, the show’s so beloved by Hollywood. It features not “tv star/movie star” actors but the ones that plug in day after day, decade after decade. Character actor and good luck charm Danny Trejo gets a featured role and that confirms my theory. It’s a real actors’ lovefest. 
It’s heartwarming the respect given to these craftspersons. I’m not a “method” performer or US-based in my training, but my goodness, I love to see American actors bring that drama. Giancarlo Esposito’s turn in this was luminous. All killer performances even by the more marginal players. It’s wonderful to watch folks “flex the technique”.  

7. What are you looking forward to?
Being better at things. I’m working on it. 

Bonus questions:

Why do you write?
I used to write because I felt this burning need, when I was a youngster. Now I write because I feel I have a responsibility to write things. I like to think that’s more mature, less mercurial than my original motivation. I feel calm when I write now, even when I’m frustrated at trying to get at something. 
I realize that the only time I feel normal is when I write poetry. No other type of writing, no other type of performance or even theoretical work makes me feel normal. Other forms of expression and exploration give me pleasure (and pain, etc.) but the only time I feel normal is when I write poetry (including non-paged sound poems). 
Not that I need to feel normal all the time, in fact it can be scary to have that balance, to accept that one can live in a state of balance. It’s funny. Meditation can punch up my consciousness, bring me focus, etc. I’ve also changed my diet and begun a journey into martial arts practice. All these things have helped me as a person. But normalcy? Only poetry. 

Do you think much about your audience?
Not with page-based work. With sound poetry the audience is essential. Because the sound poems are improvised, I need the audience to inform the poem, to help me to improvise it. To understand what to do next. I have the structure but the audience helps me to inhabit the house of the improvised poem. 

How important is music to you?
Quite. I sing with different folks as well as with my own folks. Music helps to ground me. I think all sorts of sounds inform my poetry and poetics. I’ve been performing with music almost from the beginning of performing poems in public. However, I consider singing a totally different use of voice and sound than my sound poetry. The framework of inspiration, concept is different. Although I love both poetry and music, with singing I feel that my material is music, with sound poetry my material is words and the atoms of words: phonemes et al. 

Do you return to your books after they’re published?
Not really. I’m prone to self-flagellation so I see the mistakes first. My perspective is off-kilter and I know it. I do read from the books  when reading publicly so there’s that, but after looking at the manuscript a bunch of times, I don’t really have it in me to read it for pleasure. I have the same issue with my singing and acting, too. I don’t read reviews, none of it. I guess I’m reviewing myself when I re-read my work so it gets uncomfortable. The older I get the less strained the relationship between me and my former selves becomes. So I guess there’s hope.

What do you find yourself hoping for when things get quiet?
Peace. Comfort. That’s what we seek quiet for, isn’t it? Maybe to think things through and come to that state of peace? I hope I can leave the earth feeling I’ve found some comfort in myself. 
Maybe I’m being a bit melodrama here. Essentially though, that’s it. There are lots of things that can make me feel that way and I suspect that I’ll change my mind about what gives me peace at various stages. That answer has certainly changed a few times in the past. 
What are you afraid of?
Funnily enough, I have insecurities but few fears. I think I’ve faced quite a few. I’ve been at death’s door (not to be too dramatic I was just a very sickly kid). There are lots of things I don’t like but I really don’t fear much. I think I’ve embarrassed myself on so many occasions learning, growing as a person and as a performer that I’ve passed a lot of fear points. Fear, in my humble opinion, usually comes from the unknown and I know what humiliation, worry and all those things are like already. I accept that this comes with the whole package of living. 

Whom do you wish would come visit you in the hospital?
My family, as usual. They’re the ones who come. 
My mom reminded me that when I had surgery many years ago, I wouldn’t allow my friends to come visit me. It was funny. I didn’t recall that. I don’t think it was an embarrassment/macho situation. It’s just that with my family I can be as down in the mouth as I can go and it not matter. I can be myself. With my friends I’d feel some weird, latent need to hostess. In other words, to perform. (That’s only in my mind, not in theirs.) I love *not* having to perform around my family, warts and all. 

What book would you like (if any) to be read aloud to you?
My criteria are high as I like a lot of audiobooks, the Jim Dale Harry Potter ones are my absolute favorites….
Maybe Ian McKellen reading the bible for the rich language. That would be pretty damn amazing. 

What is the effect of weather on your mood and on your ability to write?
Great question. I hibernate in the winter — or wish I could. I like warm, sunny weather. I’ve worked through my aversion to cold and clammy however because I go to London as often as I can. I had to write some creative work in London a few years ago and that cured me of my aversion to cooler, damper climes. Now I’m much more flexible. 

What do you miss?
Not much. I don’t do a lot of regretting. I know things now that I didn’t know. One hopes that this is the case as one continues to live… If some things hadn’t been mistakes I wouldn’t have learned from them. 
Regret, like worry, doesn’t equal love. They’re fake emotions often pretending to be love. 

Where would you like to return to?
I get to go to most places I’d like to go to. I’d love to go back to a bunch of places I’ve been to, particularly Ghana and Kenya. Hopefully, that’ll happen. I try to go to Africa regularly but it’s been a while. 

Where would you like never to visit (again)?
God, if I say it, I’ll probably end up having a gig there…

To those who survive you, what instructions do you have on your death?
Huh. Well what’s in my will is private and rather mundane but I think I’ve done/written/performed enough that if people want to remember me or what’s important to me, they can find it in my work. 
Instructions after I’ve died imply some sort of legacy, or need to remember what I want. That’s the work. The work’s out there. I don’t think I need to worry about anything. Those are “earthly” concerns. 
Is there any part of you that cannot manifest itself in your work?
Oh yeah! Most of my true self. I’m still discovering what all that might mean. My work is just a tiny part of myself. It’s a key to who I am, not who I am. My mind, my spirit, are who I am. 
Who are the writers you return to again and again and again?
Shakespeare, always. The sonnets and plays. The Bible, I like. J.L. Austin, Erving Goffman, the sociologist. Rakim, the lyricist. 
Since I’m biased toward writing I see lots of folks as writers who aren’t considered writers. I interpret their work as writing. Mostly “singers”. Bobby McFerrin, Mahalia Jackson and Sarah Vaughan fit into that category. 
Actual writers who sing their text too: Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Nona Hendryx, Sade. Her minimalism is so crisp and she uses it to great effect. 
I conflate these things because I’ve always had an inquisitive mind and also generally speaking, grew up in a neighborhood with a poor education system. The conflation of poverty and discrimination. So I couldn’t be too genre-precious about where my inspiration came from, where the sparks for my work come from. Necessity is the mother of interdisciplinarity. 
2 notes

Mathias Svalina | March 29, 2013

Mathias Svalina

1. Where are you now? 

 

One house leads into every other house, each door propped up by other doors. The puddle of spilled milk on the kitchen floor, edges drying, just beginning to smell, is so deep one could step into it & emerge as a weekend in February. I was in love with someone but no one told me who, so when I met anyone I would look in love so they might love me. The problem of youth is that it doesn’t need to fuck itself, & then it dies without a plan. I’ve been stuck in this airport so long that I’m going to have to have that conversation I’ve been inventing.

 

2. What are you working on and what have you got coming out?

 

I’m not human, but I hunt human women, but not for killing. I make my scales of tin cans & trowels, my fire of fire, my days answered like baseball cards in shoeboxes. There is nothing from The Body Shop that I do not smell like. There is no fried shrimp I have not touched. For the first day I had human words I had a human heart & I set my heart to understanding & to chastening before the pits of molten women & language. And one, like the similitude of the thesaurus, touched my lips: my sorrows are turned upon me. I have only the strength of appearance. They come for my words or not at all. No new days lurk in last year’s Far Side Daily Tear-Off Calendar. No grass grows in the insulation. I am not human. I am the three-thousand three-hundred and thirty-five days.

 

3. Where do you write?

 

I got a gun pregnant with my fingerprints. It was a tragedy, like El Cid, like that episode of Family Ties when Michael Gross shows the bed of eels on which he fucks Meredith Baxter-Birney. There were so many hands pushing out of the elastic waistband of my gym shorts—inevitably something had to make me a target. We were only having fun, hanging the Bunny Man in every tunnel, making new names with soap on bathroom mirrors. The gun wanted to keep the baby & I wanted an understanding of what minimalism meant to me. It wasn’t like I intended to memorize the lyrics to “American Pie,” they were just sitting there, like a fresh scoop of potato salad. I could not understand the difference between an answer & an ambulance. Then it arrived in little-bird form, how the CCD books pictured it, the holy-spirit: a girl across the lunchroom leaned over & her loose shirt buckled at the collar, opening wider & wider in that finicky slo-mo of antipathy, revealing the compressors & turbines & blades that make the engine go.

 

4. What’s the last best thing you’ve read?

 

In the culture of plastic or plastic we go us-against-them against them-against-them; as in I was really feeling it when I wrote that poem about a tiny flower growing valiantly through the crack in the cop’s skull. Fill your mouth with lighter fluid & let it eat the enamel off your teeth. Get all Army/Navy Surplus Store on Them & their always-wet newspapers they make you wear. That age is best which is the first, when the TV’s always on all night. For having lost but once our prime, we will forever work the fry station at the Chesapeake Bay Seafood House.

 

5. What journals, poets, presses have you discovered lately?

 

(written w/ Elisabeth Reinkordt & Dave Carillo)

 

We always under the overpass at 8th & O, others’ names on the blue bench. We always in cars at Holmes Lake compressing bodies into bruises & for hours on cheap gas, our breaths with vice grips. Always swimming in the well, our skin, our hate & epics without endings. Always “& then it happened”

 

6. Care to share any distractions / diversions?

 

(By Dave Carillo)

 

First there’s the scar on my wrist from checking the chorizo in the broiler two years ago. Then the postcard showing a cage half-full of hermit crabs for sale, all clinging to the wires: wish you were here in this cage with these crabs, it says & you know the roller coaster called The Comet that fell from the pier into the sea, the lift hill still visible above the crashing waves:  not that, but also that.  Additionally, the memory of those acres of sand & scrub & thin trees beyond the cul-de-sac where Grodberg lived that everyone called the pits.  Lighting fires beneath a radio tower in a wheat field I can’t find.  The frogs now leaping into ditches.  The north of Europe.  Moving up-river over the ice, repeating blackberry into a megaphone.  Whole chapters on azaleas. Holding the throat of a nebula. The book of universal codes for chirping. The endless white ash I saw falling over the woods.

 

7. What are you looking forward to?

Manuel disappeared. Some feared him dead. Others did not notice. The stools emptied one-by-one, day-by-day in my third-period Chem class. Then it was just me & the bald & shiny teacher. Can I ask you something I’ve always wanted to ask you, I said. Shoot, he said. He leaned against his table. Your hair, the bald thing, is it from an accident? Like a burn? He looked around the room at the no one else in the room. He nodded. He said, come on back here & walked to his office. I walked to his office. I’d never been in a teacher’s office other than my mom’s. I imagined my mom in there & it was imaginable. Close the door, he said. I closed the door. Turn the light off, he said. I turned off the light. With no windows, only thin light outlined the closed door. Look here, his voice said. I looked. There was a small light in the shape of man’s hands. You see, he said. No, I said. But I did. His hands, they were burning, soft as Saran Wrap. I turned the light back on & he blinked. I looked around the office, looked at his hands, opened the door & walked out. I walked straight to the lab’s door. I did not look back for permission. All of this, I thought, as I walked through the hallways, empty as birthday presents, all of this touched & yearlinged.

1. Where are you now? 

 

I do not love a rose fashioned out of a VW Bug. Advice I got from an adult:  Always smile. No one likes a fat kid who’s sad too. Rumor had it Penguin Feather sold you weed if you asked for the right record & I wondered if I might one day ask for the right record by mistake; instead they went out of business & a Popeyes opened in that spot. Having never before tried to look inconspicuous, it was difficult to look inconspicuous at the cigarette machine in Magruders, dimes & nickels tinkling into its metal stomach. I was baffled by the choices, that it wasn’t simply “cigarettes.” In my landscape of florescence & burning plastic straws in red eye of the car’s pop-up lighter every aberration was an artifact.

2. What are you working on and what have you got coming out?

 

I had to repeat everything I said six or seven times to get it right. No ideas, exactly, more a dialogue, an exhaustion of beggings. First taught the alphabet & then producing the alphabet in ink spots & butter. I had an inside & an outside, but without my outside there’d be no inside. 

3. Where do you write?

 

Turn on the TV to see the actors applying their make-up, startled you arrived so soon. Switch to the news to see the factories where the bombs are manufactured, assembly lines proceeding in their Beatles album way. The first computer game I ever played was based on Olympic track & field. In each game one had to press the space bar at exactly the right moment. I was no good but I always wanted to play. I was a doll, a film shot from the POV of someone who never thought about me. Now I’m a doll with rusted joints. Nobody understands anything until it’s spoiled. And if it’s spoiled we must have spoiled it & therefore we must be spoiled.

4. What’s the last best thing you’ve read?

 

I used to know some verses appropriate for this taking of advice. But the priests, with their root beers & chapped lips, walked away, a nod as a goodbye. We were tightrope-walking, but on the sidewalk. These joint contractions & muscle mechanics, these alleged bodies, forcing themselves in to smaller & smaller boxes of theater, reaching out a marble hand for a green pear, sweeping pine needles from the kitchen floor. Police cars everywhere like wicker cradles, lifeguards with mirrored sunglasses watching each corner. Past the county line it was landfills all the way to the sea. Trailer parks crowded out for green spaces. Smiling fathers attempting to rape their daughter’s friends, only to fall asleep mid-crime. It is necessary to indulge the weaknesses of our friends, to shit beyond the campsite. But isn’t it so interesting to repeat every word that is spoken to you. Pour what’s left of the wine into one of the glasses & then distribute it evenly between all three. Summer was unfortunate, waiting for the first drops of rain to hit the hot asphalt, for the first cats to disappear. Every child a Janus, a day a factory for the flower shops. Bare pink lips are best. 

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Gillian Conoley | March 22, 2013

Gillian Conoley

1.    Where are you now? 

 

  On an airplane on my way to Austin for Thanksgiving.  Aisle seat. It’s not so bad. 3 /1/2 hours of undivided time.  And no one is screaming yet.  And now I am on returning flight, editing this for brevity. And finally, in an armchair, home, 12 miles from the Golden Gate, north.

 

 

2.    What are you working on and what have you got coming out?

 

  Working on two books.   Peace is my new collection of poems, a strange title, I know, but everyone who has read it agrees that is the title.  Peace will be out with Omnidawn in spring 2014.  It is finished, but I tend to revise and tweak right up to production.  An airy, floating quality to the poems—a shifting going on, there are long long poems and short ones—the manuscript questions/explores how peace and war can be concurrent, interloping presences/experiences, seeing as how now they will have to be if we are to have any peace at all.

     The other book is a translation of three Henri Michaux texts, these are more  unusual texts than the Michaux we know, and none of them brought into English before. Quatre cents homme en croix, (Four Hundred Men on the Cross) in which Michaux brings his dual visual and verbal practices together within the text itself––the poems find themselves in shapes and forms, sometimes buried within one another. Second is one of his mescaline texts­­–– Paix dans les brisements (Peace in the Breaking)—this was written just after Miserable Miracle, part prose and part poetry. I just finished that one, and now I’m working on the last text Vigies sur cibles (Watchtowers on Targets), very interesting to translate since it’s unedited and unrevised (though Michaux did publish it), and has narrative jumps and slips usually not associated with Michaux.  It’s a collaboration he did with the Chilean painter Roberto Matta, in which they took turns responding to one another’s work. 

      My title “Peace” and the Michaux title “Peace in the Breaking” are completely incidental and unrelated. Surprised me when I saw that. Anyway these three Michaux will be a book together— in negotiation with a publisher for them at the moment but I am not supposed to talk about it yet, so I won’t.

 

 

3. Where do you write?

 

My favorite place is in an armchair in my living room when no one is home. White spruce tree with branches that move a lot like a willow’s. Birds of paradise. Sun.  Something trance-like about that spot.  Otherwise in my office/studio, a closed-in side porch.  Also in bed. Anywhere really. I don’t do so well writing in public, but there are two libraries with quiet rooms that I frequent and love a lot.  I just got some sound barrier headphones.  I am hoping they will help me in public. I want to be able to write anywhere, since I hate the preciosity of having a certain place where “I write,” and I get restless and like being out and about.

 

3.    What’s the last best thing you’ve read?  

 

 Italo Calvino’s A Baron in the Trees, which most everyone’s most likely already read, but somehow I’d missed it. A gem. An enchantment from beginning to end. I read his Six Memos for the Millenium often. Norma Cole’s Win These Posters and Other Unrelated Prizes Inside, Gail Scott’s fine new book Obituary.  I’m also on a quest, with some close friends, to read all six volumes of Proust, Moncrieff translation. I had not made it past Swann in Love before. Alice Notley’s Grave of Light, and Reason and Other Women.  The all of Larry Eigner Stanford put out recently.  I want to get the Shakespeare sonnets app I saw advertised in NY Times today. Also reading Knut Hamsun’s Growth of the Soil, in a 1921 edition—I was reading it and loving it, and then I looked it up and discovered it won the Nobel Prize in 1920–– and I thought I’d made some secret discovery!  Well, a discovery nonetheless. It’s elemental and of the earth.

 

 

5. What journals, poets, and presses have you discovered lately? 

 

kathryn l. pringle’s fault tree.  Stephen Motika’s Western Practice.   I love Dawn Lundy Martin’s chapbook Albion Books did (Brian Teare’s chapbook press), also Lisa Fishman’s chapbook from the same press. Also Fishman’s Flower Cart. Andrea Rexilius’s Half of What We Carried Flew Away.   I think we are living in an utter and full-blown renaissance of small press publishing that is sustaining and impressive.  I don’t like all the natter-nattering about too many presses, too may poets. If the alternative is to time-travel back to Eliot holding practically all the publishing reins, I’d rather stay right here. Bring it on.  I’m grateful for so many presses. 

 

6. Care to share any distractions / diversions? 

 

Just saw the Lee Miller/Man Ray exhibit at the Legion of Honor in SF.  That’s why we look so happy in the photo, my friends and I. That’s poet Dale Going on the left and Laura Mullen on the right.   Carol Snow took the photo. ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC SHOW.  And the emphasis was more on Lee Miller than Man Ray, which wasn’t what I expected. Nothing against Man Ray, of course, I just think I prefer his paintings.  The early part of show has many photographs utilizing the solarizing technique they discovered/invented/used together, and often, even after they split up— this created by chance when Lee Miller was developing in Man Ray’s dark room and a mouse ran over her foot, and quick! she turned on the lights and then Man Ray turned off the lights and grabbed the paper out of the solution and into a fixer—a haunting, almost electrified effect resulting in which the figures look eerily outlined.  And then her war correspondent photograph of Hitler’s dead SS soldier floating in a river.  And the photographs of Hitler’s workers who committed suicide in their offices, somehow Lee Miller was right there, she walked right in and took photographs of them draped over their desks—unlike anything— absolutely no way to describe them.

 

Today saw the Jay DeFeo Retrospective at SFMoma.  Also just knocked out by that. Her “The Rose” is a masterpiece.

 

7. What are you looking forward to?

 

A really quiet, sweet holiday with my family. And then the empty luxurious weeks following.  Lots of laughing and cooking. Also want to read the John Cage biography Where the Heart Beats, by Kay Larson.  Everyone says it’s great.

 

I also want to turn off all the lights in my bedroom and turn on the recording of Flannery O’Connor reading “A Good Man is Hard to Find.”  I found this in a Facebook post, of all places.  I should be better with Facebook, because every once in a while someone posts something that just blows you away.  I think it may have been Ron Silliman who posted it. I listened to the first few paragraphs and then had to work or something and haven’t gotten back to it.  Had never heard her voice before.  It is something else.   Anyway I promised myself I was going to create a sort of sensory deprivation tank in my bedroom by turning off all the lights and making it pitch-black as possible, and then climb under the covers, and just listen to her read that story. 

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Adriana X. Jacobs | March 15, 2013

 Adriana X Jacobs

 

1. Where are you now? 

 

I am in New York City, in my bedroom, which also doubles as my office space.

 

2. What are you working on and what have you got coming out? 

 

For the past two years, I’ve been pretty focused on academic publication and working on a book project on the economy of translation in contemporary Israeli literature. I just finished revising an article on the figure of the poet-translator, which should come out next year in The Blackwell Companion to Translation Studies. I also have two academic chapters that just came out—one on digital anti-war poetry in Israel (unsettling timing given recent events in Israel and Gaza) and the other on the poetics of Hebrew-Yiddish translation.  On the translation front, I’m translating into English the Hebrew poems of Hezy Leskly (1952-1994),

specifically his last book Dear Perverts (1994) (some of these translations will appear online in Truck) and contemplating a project involving the work of Luisa Futoransky.  In April, a friend invited me to participate in an intensive poetry exchange that proved to be very productive, so I have drafts of poems that I actually like and may nudge into the world.

 

3. Where do you write?

 

I write where I can and always on my laptop.  I have a two-hour commute to work so I end up doing a lot of writing on the train (see #2).  

 

4. What’s the last best thing you’ve read?

 

I just finished Fawn McKay Brodie’s exhaustively researched biography of Joseph Smith, No Man Knows My History (1945).  Brodie makes a convincing case for reading the Book of Mormon as one of the major works of American literature.  Smith reportedly “translated” the text using special stone glasses, and Brodie’s description of this process is vividly and humorously staged.  I am slowly reading and savoring Mani Rao’s translation of Bhagavad Gita (Autumn Hill Books, 2010), which is—hands down—the greatest thing I’ve read all year.

 

5. What journals, poets, presses have you discovered lately? 

 

Discovery is a tricky claim—there are poets, like Susan Howe, Caroline Bergvall and Don Mee Choi, who I started reading this year and feel very new to me, even though I was very aware of their work.  The same is true for Anna Rosen Guercio, who I first got to know as a translator (same goes for Don Mee).  Anna’s chapbook By Way of Explanation came out this year from Dancing Girl Press and contains one of my favorite poems of the year. This summer, I was reading Imanhattan, the online journal of NYU’s M.F.A. in Creative Writing in Spanish, and the poems of Karen Sevilla really stood out.  In Hebrew, I’ve been reading Tal Nitzan’s poetry—again, this is a poet who has been around for a long time but I just started to pay attention, which is maybe another word for discovery.  On Twitter, I follow the International Institute of Modern Letters, the creative writing program at the University of Victoria; through its channel (@modernletters), I get an almost daily infusion of contemporary New Zealand poetry. In fact, a lot of new writing comes to my attention via Twitter.  And I always look forward to a package from Ugly Duckling Presse—I’ve been a subscriber for the past several years and it’s been a great source of new writing and new translations. 

 

6. Care to share any distractions / diversions?

 

I love a good (and/or trashy) zombie/vampire apocalypse novel, and if it’s part of a trilogy, all the better.  And if a film adaptation is in the works, even better.

 

 

7. What are you looking forward to? 

 

I started this questionnaire in my room and now I’m in my university office, about to close shop, and looking forward to getting home. 

 

8.  Where are you now?

 

I’m home.

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