Tag Archives: H_NGM_N

Best Thing I’ve Seen This Month: Book Trailer for How We Light by Nick Sturm

17 Jul

This video, shot and edited by Dave Carulli for Nick Sturm’s debut full-length How We Light, is probably the best book trailer I’ve ever seen. I know I know, I’m getting hard to listen to here. (Check out all the Sturm love here so far.)

I love Nick Sturm and lemonade and skateboarding and these poems already A LOT. Though my opinion is still up in the air on balloons. GOSH. Anyhow, this is an incredible thing to watch. Watch it. Feel incredible. We all deserve it.

You can glow in the title poem in the new issue of Coconut.

And now that you feel incredible, go check out the book page and consider picking up a copy.

Best Thing I’ve Read This Week: Debacle Debacle

10 Jun

debacle2In February of this year, H_NGM_N Books released Matt Hart’s Debacle Debacle. In some sense, the book can be read as the experience of working through contradictory thoughts and feelings.

To this extent, poems near the beginning of book guide the reader by setting the conceptual and poetic framework for the rest of the collection. In “Upon Seeing Again The Thriving,” the speaker informs the audience that “Life is so messy,” and:

                                                               yes, I do feel

terrible at times, like a fuck-up descending a staircase,
woozy with nectar and too much trouble. Frustration

I get, and discouraged I get. (20)

Likewise, in the title poem, the speaker reiterates similar claims when he states: “Positivity these days // is difficult to come by” (14). But in the face of frustration and discouragement, when filtering the world through a positive lens can oftentimes be difficult, Hart’s poems seek to do just that.

Of course, the poems of Debacle Debacle don’t do this by embracing affirmation uncritically. Instead, they do so by meditating on complex emotional circumstances of our daily lives; or, as Hart writes at the conclusion of the title poem:

                                                                          Life happens;
it’s my job to say so. It’s our job to express it, expand it
to the edges. Essential it is to struggle, but struggle’s

merely tension, and tension can be a thing of balance
or irritation, confusion or song. I’m singing in tension
with the not singing. I’m living in tension with the forces

out to kill me. We’re living in tension because we’re
different human beings, and living in excitement
that we’re so much the same. (15)

Debacle Debacle, then, harnesses this tension between the joy and struggle to both sing and not-sing as an expression of a life lived poetically.

Hart’s poems succeed the most when they yoke these tensions of life so as to produce “an ambiguous noise” (30) wherein one cannot necessarily tell which feeling the poem expresses, or, to this extent, whether it’s song or not-song. The poem “Fang Face” echoes these sentiments in its closing lines:

                                    I hate the way stories
seem to love a conclusion. I love
the bird’s singing just before it gets eaten. (25)

The excerpt contains both “love” and “hate,” the song of a bird and its grizzly death, and a reproach of conclusions in its conclusion. By oscillating between these binary poles, Hart doesn’t offer didactic verse, but rather “expressive works… // …about the way the artist feels and thinks” (73). And this artist, it seems, thrives in the possibilities and tensions that a poem with open emotional and sonic registers offers us.

Matt Hart at BONK! (03/16/13)

16 May

On 16 March, Matt Hart read at the 54th installment of the Nick Demske-curated BONK! performance series in Racine, WI. Hart, although promoting his new book Debacle Debacle (H_NGM_N B__KS, 2013), read selections from all five of his collections. In the below video, Hart reads his poem “My Wife on Vicodin Kissing,” from his fourth book Wolf Face (H_NGM_N B__KS, 2010):

Debacle Debacle by Matt Hart

30 Apr

Coming from Matt Hart’s fourth book Sermons and Lectures Both Blank and Relentless, where his howling is loudest, his heart as ruckus, this fella typing expected more of that same oomph with his fifth book, Debacle Debacle. Once one gets so loud, it’s so hard to turn it down.

Yet, Hart turned it down and turned it up remarkably at once.  These new poems eat and regurgitate thought in a whole new way. As Adam Fell says in his blurb of the book, these new poems have “a burning domesticity, an anxiousness.” As you’ll hear in these poems recorded below, there’s a beautiful new tone that exists in these poems. “The essential recognition is of sameness and difference.  And these two together make thoughtfulness Pleasure,” as Hart says in the title poem “Debacle Debacle.”

Wow, right? Pick up the book from H_NGM_N Books now.

Note Pinned To The Back Of A Dress by Aubrey Lenahan (H_NGM_N Books)

21 Apr

After BOOM BOOM chaps recently by Vouched contributor Layne Ransom and often-vouched rad poet Nick Sturm, H_NGM_N Books keeps their dynamite PDF chapbook series rolling with this new collection by Aubrey Lenahan.

Just read the first poem, and you’ll get pinned into this PDF for a startlingly good journey over the next 15 poems, poems of quiet poise and sudden, unfettered story-telling.

from “LETTER ALL WINTER”

Other than the noise, it was quiet. The war was elsewhere. Exposed roots tripped no one up that anyone knew. The factory gave off its warm light. Pulses did not quicken, and this was well regarded. It was winter, and everyone was wrapped up like an ornament. There were films about those who lived far away and used pieces of wood and string for this and that. If they were warring, you wouldn’t know it, not from this account. I was an adventurer, and all winter went looking for a letter from someone from elsewhere. Then I read that Turner painted seascapes thick with slave blood. Warships broken up for lumber at sunset. But that was before the Industrial Age, when his subject became the machine. Then everyone became very tired…

Read the rest of this stellar opening poem and the entire chapbook here.

Awful Interview: Jenny Sadre-Orafai

16 Nov

This is Jenny Sadre-Orafai. If she looks a little blurry it’s because she’s jumping on a hotel bed- as a Jenny Sadre-Orafai is prone to do. Sometimes she goes on adventures. Sometimes she doesn’t eat sugar skulls. Sometimes she writes poetry. For example, she has a chapbook coming out soon called Avoid Disaster, and she has already authored chaps by these titles: Weed Over Flower, What Her Hair Says About Her, & Dressing the Throat PlateThis Saturday she will be reading her poems out loud in Atlanta to you. It will be exciting. 

So Jenny, instagram tells me you just went on a West Coast Adventure and also recently celebrated the Día de los Muertos. How was that? Which was more exciting?

This is true. I went to Seattle last month for a conference and had such a nice time. My first and last visit there was when I was in high school and grunge was happening. This time, though, I took a ferry, rode the Seattle Great Wheel, ate some of the best Mexican food ever, and jumped on the hotel bed (a lot). The Día de los Muertos celebration was pretty fantastic. Although I’m ¼ Mexican, I had never seen altars, a catrina, or even sugar skulls. Seeing all of those was really exciting.

I’ve always wondered- what do you do with the sugar skulls- do you eat them? If so- do they taste like Smartees or more like stale icing?

I think you can eat them. I only saw them on the altars, so I didn’t try one. I like to think they taste like sugarcubes? You could squirrel them into your cheeks and have hot tea.

Way to verbify ‘squirrel’! One of my favorite woodland creatures, for obvious reasons. Jenny, what’s your power animal? (Totem so to speak) Why is it your power animal?

So, I first thought it was the unicorn. After all, this description really captures me: “Making dreams come true, virtue, beauty, weather patterns, connection with the woodland and the beings within.” Boy, was I wrong. I took an extremely accurate online quiz that informed me it is the snake–”mysterious and a bit secretive. You have a quick wit and keen literate skills. Your unusual approach to life often makes you feel like you’re on the outside looking in.” This wasn’t the worst part though. The description was coupled with ugliest blue snake I’ve ever laid eyes on. Of course I’m a snake in the Chinese zodiac as well. Coincidence? Never.

Oh wow. You don’t seem very snake-y to me. It does lead me to the natural next question: How does it make you feel to know that Indiana Jones would be afraid of you?

I did not know this fact. Perhaps I should get around to watching those movies one day? Nevertheless, it makes me feel like I need to find him stat. I wouldn’t strike Indy for anything though. I would just want to demonstrate my keen literate skills. After my demonstration, he would drop his ridiculous whip and tip his hat. I would cure him of his fear.

So, you’re reading this Saturday at Joe’s coffee shop with some other poets. Are you totally pumped? What makes you most excited for the reading?

I am pumped to the max. I’m most excited about being a listener Saturday. My ears can hardly wait.

SSR #7 of 15: Victory

9 Jul

Once again, Layne beat me to the punch on this one at Vouched, but holy-moly is it worth a second mention! Also, check out Megan Volpert’s article The Importance of Being Ben Kopel up at HTML Giant. It’s rad!

Victory
by Ben Kopel
H_NGM_N Press
112pgs; $14.95

We are all in need of an anthem or ten- things to yell and scream and cut; these are red-blooded oaths between punches.

Awful Interview: Ben Kopel

27 Jun

Ben Kopel probably sounds familiar. That’s probably because of Layne’s awesome review of his book, Victory, recently released by H_NGM_N. If that’s not why, it’s probably because his rendition of Thunder Road, (performed here in Atlanta shortly after his reading alongside Kory Calico and Megan Volpert for the Solar Anus reading series) was truly inspired and really got people talking. Luckily for Atlantans, he’s coming back! Ben will be reading for the What’s New in Poetry series at Emory with Hazel McClure, Laura Theobald, and Kim Vodicka tomorrow at 8pm. What better excuse for an Awful Interview than a reading?

Ben, you recently had a collection of poems released by H_NGM_N entitled Victory.  Now that you are an expert on all things victorious, you can answer the question that’s been itching at my insides for decades: Who would win in an arm-wrestling match: Bruce Springsteen or Bono? Why?

Ok, having taken this mental image under serious consideration, here’s my answer: They sit. They stare. They lock hands. They struggle. He smiles. He smiles back. They struggle more. They come in close. They touch forehead to forehead. They stop struggling. They kiss. Nothing crazy. Think ‘Bob and Charlotte at the end of Lost In Translation.’ Platonic but passionate. Exploring but knowing. A contradiction of a kiss.

In that scenario, the winner is all of us.

Ben, that is really beautiful. I’m kind of flustered, actually. You live in New Orleans, yes? Is it true that you can pay for things with Mardi Gras beads and Bacchus coins there? What’s the current exchange rate Bacchus to USD? How did you come to find yourself in the Big Easy?

Yes, I’ve been living in the magnolia for about a year now and I couldn’t love it more. RE: exchange rate and whatnots: YES, beads and trinkets are still a very viable bartering system in the city by the river. Currently, a fistfull of Bacchus doubloons will get you a there and back streetcar ride to nowhere in particular. Now the beads, that’s a totally different story. Those will actually COST you about 7 lbs. of self-respect.

As for how I found myself here, well, that’s nothing insanely exciting. I grew up in Baton Rouge, about and hour and a half away, and was there for twenty-three years. I left to spend 5 years (cue ‘Ziggy Stardust’) in the poem mines of Iowa and Massachusetts, respectively. At some point in the process, I just kind of capital ‘K’ Knew that that’s where I needed and wanted to be. It’s like living on the Island of Misfit Toys, but minus all the self-loathing and plus all the dark-hearted sickboy joy one can handle. It’s a pretty honest place to be, if you ask me.

You made yourself a home on the bayou! I happen to have a number of Bacchuss XX coins (Alan Thicke circa 1988) what do you think that would get me?

If I had my way, ma’am, seventy-seven ’88 doubloons would get you a private evening with Alan Thicke’s son, the human sexbomb himself,  Robin Thicke. See here.

OMG Ben! For realz? Also, do you remember this jam from the early days of Robin Thicke? EPIC. Speaking of epic, what kind of awesomeness are you going to unleash when you return to Atlanta this Thursday?

I am totally prepared to inflict my feelings on yr fair city. I’m bringing the Lucille Ball of contemporary female poetics, Kim Vodicka. She’s a farce of nature. We’ve adopted a megaphone named Rudolph. I’ve been listening to ‘Bankrobber’ by The Clash on repeat, so yr gonna have to see where that’s gotten me. I went to Graceland today, so the word of God lays heavy on this heart of mine. I miss someone, too. That only makes me stronger. Atlanta, I’ll be up in yr grill ASAP. To quote Sam and Dave, hold on. I’m comin’.

A Long Poem I Love: Reckoner by Adam Fell (from I Am Not A Pioneer)

4 Jun
  1. At four pages, is this a long poem? I can’t spend much time with your question, sir, but I can be honest in a jiffy and say, Sure, it is. I call this a long poem for both how it stretches its story and expands its situation further than its four pages, how big and heavy this thing is (more in just a moment on that, patience please), but also for how long, geesh is that the best I can come up with?, it lingers with me after I’ve read it, the first poem in Fell’s rad book I read two months ago.
  2. It opens: “Overnight, the lake invents itself.” And as this lake beats against the city, wallops the townspeople’s steadiness, they, the people of the poem, panic and begin to throw fire, cars, the nature surrounding, and buildings into the lake, an offering of sorts.

Our fingers calloused round and gripping
the handles of shovels, thousands of us,

filling the lake with beach sand, shore sod,
the expensive audio equipment
the wealthy use around here as wavebreaks.

We keep filling, keep dredging.

We dump parked cars in the lake.
We dump parking meters.

We dump the bags of change
collected form the parking meters.

  1. What’s that reaction called? Fight or flight? Here they fight with what’s around them, what they can toss at this thing they’ve named “a terror.”
  2. I can’t read this poem, think of this poem, type words about this poem without a giant Mouth appearing above the page, above my head. The Mouth is what is this poem, the lake as mouth, the mouth of the townsmen like Mike and Bill and others with their advice given and gone against, the speaker’s mouth telling this story whomever wherever he is, the mouth of the writer (that exists somewhere still surely?), the we’s that talk (or choose to stay silent, only act) throughout:

We vote to close debate without debating.
We vote to gather our rifles and torches at shore.

Or

Bill says, I wonder if some of us shouldn’t,
you know, throw ourselves in as a sacrifice
to the cause of wiping out this, you know, terror,
this sudden unknown destroying our…

Bill stops.

We know he’s been awake all night
perfecting his speech in the mirror.

  1. Through all the talking, the solutions emptying the town around the lake, the narrative, where are the mouths with the questions as to exactly what the problem is? How terrifying, more so maybe than the lake, is that lack of debate, is that settle on the “fact” that this lake is an (THE) issue.

We’re running out of things
running, running, things, things,

but the lake still calmly takes
what little we give it.

It opens and swallows, opens and swallows.
Never a complaint.

Around midnight we run out of rubble.

  1. When does an act of safety, of protection, of a good decision, become a damaging act of presumptuous repetition? The throwing mimicking the lake’s returning against the shore, the poem mimicking the townspeople’s repetition, as time moves forward.
  2. If I may, I’m gonna, take a second for a personal bloop. I tried getting married young, the family thing, the steady thing, then the doubts and the fears, my own lake, beating daily against my skull, my lake eating my family, both born and created, my poems, my happiness, and eventually me. How strange for something so lovely, so possibly soothing, just by being there, just by returning, just by making its presence known daily and definitively can disrupt and disturb, despite all its goodness.
  3. Yet when it comes down to self-sacrifice, giving up oneself, it becomes something easy to turn back on, something to end on, to choose flight in the end (SPOILER ALERT MAN):

We all volunteer to be martyrs.

But by morning
none of us have gone through with it.

  1. What is it with throwing away our defenses, but not ourselves? People want to take away protections like birth control and the justice in the justice system. People want to take (and/or give?) away happiness and love, both for themselves and others. People want to throw away their surrounding nature and their health. The fear, it creeps, but why are we limiting that wall between that and us?

Buy I Am Not A Pioneer by Adam Fell, a totally awesome book kicked off by this poem, from H_NGM_N Books, right now if you know what’s up.

VICTORY by Ben Kopel

24 Apr

VICTORY by Ben Kopel
H_NGM_N BKS, January 2012
112 pages,  $14.95

I feel lucky that I came in contact with this book.  I hadn’t caught word of it ‘til Nate Pritts at H_NGM_N asked me to design promotional buttons for the thing.  He sent me three of them in the mail along with the book, which looks like it can cut you open.

One of the epigrams comes from Patti Smith:  I’ll give you one tip:  use your fists.  Here is a sizable chunk of the opening poem, “Gymnasium of the Sacred Heart,” which throws its fists like fight and celebration:

Two boys, wearing track jackets,
with shaved heads and smooth hands,
are breathing Pine-Sol out of
a plastic bag and breaking
into a car with coat hangers.
Sad, thin-skinned kids with flammable
names and feathers for lungs.
Who tape their regrets to the top of the Atari.
Who write out their girlfriends’ names in gasoline.
Who take a match to the front yard
before cutting a path through police tape
to get to a tall, cool, catholic school gym.
From the bleachers they stand as if to say
I sing for the canary gassed beyond belief
in the basement of the biology building.
I scream City of Love! City by the River!
Don’t disown your skinny fisted sons
locked inside the locker room.
They too are the father of you.
They too are made mostly of noise.

Reading Kopel’s book reminds me of listening to early U2 for the first time at 14, falling hard for how they were honest and wounded yet on fire, totally present and alive.  Bono’s mother died when he was 14, and his lyrics often wrestle with his growing up as a boy desperate to fill her absence.  VICTORY possesses that same fierce youthfulness, an anthem for beautiful and ragged sons who grow up keying names into car doors, kissing in parking lots, and hungering for whatever genuine loves can fill the absences they carry.

The only reason I didn’t finish the thing in one sitting was having to work and I’m going back through, being blown away again by these poems.  If you’re  not convinced, here’s another fireball called “Because We Must:”

The kids from the federal
tanning booths have burned
down the Dairy Queen again.

Everyone died warm
& no one was alone.

. .

. .

We had a good time.  I remember ice cream.
I remember legs.  I remember gym shorts.

. .

. .

A prayer, now
& at the hour of our death –
Fill me with yr light inside this car.
Fill me with yr light.

Available from:
H_NGM_N BKS | Powell’s | Amazon

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