Tag Archives: Matt DeBenedictis

Indie Lit Classics: Matt DeBenedictis

13 Nov

Matt

 

Man, look at Matt DeBenedictis. What a rad dude. Not only is he the brains behind chapbook champ Safety Third Enterprises, he’s a hell of a writer himself, and the author of Congratulations! There’s No Last Place If Everyone’s Dead He’s reading at the Letters Festival tomorrow night. You should go hear him!

Sometime ago, around the time Matt read for us at Vouched Presents in Atlanta, we conducted an Awful Interview with him. He said wonderful, memorable things to us like this thing about hugging bears.

I think the whole world would be a better place if we could hug bears. I know I’d be happy if I could wrap my arms around a rotund bear and just feel the earth hidden in its fur. But we can’t, they’ll eat us and turn us into poop. No bueno.”

and also this, about why he writes.

“Simply put it’s hearing and telling a good story. I spent a good chunk of my early 20s on tour, some by way of a band and some by way of being a preacher, and my favorite moments were always hanging out at a bar after the night’s events were done. Strangers coming together to find ways to no longer have a strangeness between them. You broke the ice telling stories, whether fun tales from touring or a humorous one from being a preacher, you had to say something interesting.

When I quit being on the road with bands and I decided I was no longer a man of religious faith I missed those story times. So I began to write.”

Sometime later he said equally indelible things about Greying Ghost Press and why they should be considered an Indie Lit Classic.

Well guess what, Matt? We’re throwing you in that canon, too.

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New Love: The Letters Festival

5 Nov

The Letters Festival

Something grand is about to descend upon Atlanta. Something. Damn. Grand.

It’s the Letters Festival.

Focusing on supporting and spreading the [good] word about small press literature (*swoon*), on November 14th-16th the Letters Festival will be hosting series of readings, workshops, author talks and other dreamy things in Atlanta. Their line-up will make you salivate: Jericho Brown, Mary Miller, Roxane Gay, Scott McClanahan, Blake Butler, & Matt DeBenedictis, to name a few

Obviously we, the people of Vouched, are über pumped about this and want you to be too! So over the next few weeks we will be doing everything in our power to drum up the excitement and anticipation in your little hearts.

Why?

BECAUSE [WE LIVE LIFE IN CAPSLOCK AND] THIS IS AWESOME.

Learn more about the organizers of the Letters Festival here. Checkout their indiegogo campaign and then donate to them here. Then follow them on every social media platform. Do it!

Indie Lit Classics: Greying Ghost Press

5 Jul

In 2009, Ryan Call called Greying Ghost Press “a press to be excited about” and he was right and is right and seems like will be right for a good while to come. Check out Ryan’s spotlight from four years ago over. Then check out the rest of this post for 2013 Greying Ghost chatter from myself and others.

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The first Greying Ghost chapbook I ever encountered was I Am In The Air Right Now by Kathryn Regina. It might’ve been the first chapbook I ever bought myself, like looking back to remember the self-titled Savage Garden CD as the first I ever bought with my own money. I had never seen such a skinny, beautiful book–mirrored title, diagram stuck in the middle, maroon page spooning the cover. And the poems! The poems are not shy, though they might want you to think they are. In the air, they are, with their whimsy and their spirit, their new touch on the old heartbreak.

from “i thought there would be no one in the air”

the air is empty but

there are several families living in my chest.

I am going to open my own store and sell only

things that i especially like. puppets, diet coke,

spell books, beautiful rocks. i am going to sell

these things to the families in my arteries.

some of the people in the families die. there is a funeral

in my kneecap. the grandmother throws herself

into the grave. the children play at empty plots.

And 99 numbered copies later, poof, they are gone, have been gone, tucked away on select important shelves, just like so many of GG’s finest releases.

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Matt DeBenedictis, publisher of Safety Third Enterprises, on the radness of Greying Ghost Press:

Every chapbook I’ve ever ordered from Greying Ghost Press felt like they had me in mind when they made it, or they had a faithful hope in a cumulative reaction of cornerstone thoughts on first glance: the little details etch themselves like romantic gestures that can’t fade into the past.A circular die cut on a thick cover stock reveals a map and a nestled ampersand (J.A. Tyler’s Our Us & We), books folded like pamphlets are given wraps and buttons like they are gifts. I feel like a thieving’ little shit when I open some of them. I’ve been tempted before to just immediately frame their chapbooks on the wall (without opening a page) and just let the reviews on Goodreads be enough of a satisfaction.

The care that Greying Ghost Press puts to each chapbook is a knowledge that printed words are far from over; we still have so much imagination on how to rest ink onto paper.

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Cassandra Gillig, keeper of that dumb poetry blog, on GG’s hosting the Corduroy Mountain archives:

Probably the part of Greying Ghost I enjoy the most (since it is very easily sharable & free to access & this is something of great value to anyone looking to get into a press & find out what they are doing) is their online archiving of Corduroy Mountain.  Corduroy Mountain was, unarguably, something too special for human consumption–a literary magazine worth all of the awe & envy most can & should muster.

You can see everything that was published in Corduroy Mountain on Greying Ghost’s Issuu Site, which is an incredible thing.  CM also does a great job of showcasing the perfect brilliance GG publishes on a regular basis.  In addition to making things that are frustratingly gorgeous, GG has published some of my favorite writers.  Becca Klaver’s Inside A Red Corvette is kinda funny, way good, & so honest.  Dan Boehl’s sometimes perfectly sparse and always overwhelmingly perspicacious Les Miseres et les Mal-Heurs de la Guerre is nearly too wonderful for words.  Paige Taggert, Kathleen Rooney, Jac Jemc, & Sasha Fletcher all released stupidly good things with the press.  Not to mention the JA Tyler & Schomburg chapbooks which I feel are adored universally by those who have read them.

The appeal of Greying Ghost is, of course, their willingness to take risks and to publish writers who are experimenting with form, and, while this is not necessarily the first press to do it, the work GG has championed is perfect and enriching and, wholly, presses like GG are the reason small press publishing is so exciting right now.

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Matthew Mahaney, author of Your Attraction to Sharp Machines (Bat Cat Press), on his favorite GG chapbook, Sugar Means Yes, by Julia Cohen and Mathias Svalina:

The silver-blue wallpaper cover pages define the room of this chapbook, the physical borders of a world in which brothers and sisters use foxes, masks, razors, and salt to teach us the true, dark meaning of every object and action, and where a new lesson will find you each time you visit.

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And when you order one of these fine fine cared-for chapbooks, the envelope also comes stuffed with bonus goodies, a.k.a. pamphlets, these little brushstrokes, printed and folded goodness, from folks like Danniel Schoonebeek, Wendy Xu, Jennifer H. Fortin, Brian Foley, and more.

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Carrie Lorig, author of NODS. (Magic Helicopter Press), on her two favorite pamphlets (one of which happens to be mine, awww shucks, WOW):

In South Korea (a town called Imjingak / 임진각), there is a Pamphlet/Leaflet Launch Site. It is about getting information across a young, sore border. Now that there is a ban, and they use large balloons.

According to the OED, the word ‘pamphlet’ is named for a popular love poem, Pamphilus, seu de Amore, with a Greek name (It has not been tested in French. -OED) that means “friend to everyone.”

At my catering job, during a lull in service, the sweating girl next to me mumbles, “If your wedding is going to be this big, you need to just do the food family style.” Big bowls for whole tables. Passing and touching moves it fast, spreads it fast.

Pamphlets, flyers, leaflets. Like ants or my friend Bridget’s bees, I hardly imagine them alone. I see them as the sudden waterfall swim they cause in the air. I see them devouring a part of the ground.

My two Greying Ghost pamphlets were pressed to me. Right before M.G. Martin left a dance party in Boston, he put “Sister, Thank You,” (#47) in my hand. It was fucksnowing, I’m sure, when I opened the manila envelope with “Don’t Reason” (#40) by Tyler Gobble inside.

“Don’t Reason” – The symmetry, the railing against the title, in Gobble’s “Don’t Reason” is as beautiful and smallbig as HALLELUJAH. “I can’t believe / that was you “, “You can’t believe / the words,” “The fact we need / God,” “The fact we need / Meth Sun,” “How can they talk / about so many overturned cars,” “I heard a man / singing a song / on a bus” A prayer is a thing you assemble and aim with don’t reason. You assemble it in the face of no galaxy you can reach into. You put your head in the fridge to cool off. You don’t do it to get an understanding of why we send these floating, desperate chunks of flower and human ash and plane crash and hum drifting out.

“Sister, Thank You” – I don’t always think repetition is as conscious as we insist it is. What if every time you say a word, you are not as aware that it is the same word as the previous word you just uttered as you are that you are saying the word however you are in that moment, on that part of the page, in that blank space of the conversation. It doesn’t matter what comes after it or before it. This might be how the constant onslaught of thank you interrupted by “roses, sister, language, mouth, tongue, deep, without, bones, skin” is thinking about repetition. I can echo through them all together, taking in the longitude and population and spelling out carefully as it gets big enough to be a Thank You nation-state. Or, I can encounter each of them alone, failing alone, struggling alone, to get to a sister. There are 11 rocks in this one, two in that one. A beluga that won’t be touched unless you are naked.

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Jamie Iredell, author of lots of good stuff like The Book of Freaks (Future Tense Books), on the lasting goodness of Greying Ghost Press:

I’ve pretty much always loved GG. This goes back to the early days of the “online lit” thing, or “alt lit,” whatever you wanna call it. And maybe they weren’t even really the “early days” either, but whatever. I bought Peter Berghoef’s “News of the Haircut,” “Help” by Adam Fieled, “At The Pulse,” by Laura Carter (a very close friend of many years), “I Will Unfold You With My Hairy Hands” by Shane Jones, “The Tornado Is Not A Surrealist” by Brian Foley, “Walden Book” by Allen Bramhall (this was a huge book for me; it was amazing and amazingly designed), and “Naturalistless” by Christopher Rizzo. I was blown away by these books, and at the time I was writing my own stuff and was publishing it in literary magazines. Carl was, at the time, putting together stuff for the first Corduroy Mountain issue, and I submitted. He liked what I’d written, and asked if I had enough to make a chapbook. That was the middle section (“When I Moved to Nevada”) of what became my first book, Prose. Poems. a Novel. Since all of that went down, I’ve still been a GG fan, as Carl has continued to produce amazing work: “Inside A Red Corvette” by Becca Klaver, “I Am In The Air Right Now” by Kathryn Regina, “Our Us & We” by J.A. Tyler, “Pretend You’ll Do It Again” by Josh Russell, “Sky Poems” by Nate Pritts, “The Poughkeepsiad” by Joshua Harmon. And they just keep coming. Amazing books, Careful attention to language and design. Carl Annarummo is a diamond in coal field of contemporary lit.

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Two of my favorite GG releases, for both their perfect design and dropping-of-the-jaw poems, are Imaginary Portraits by Joshua Ware (full disclosure tag: Vouched contributor) and Plus or Minus by Weston Cutter. Two very different books, but paired together in my heart. Ware’s is a pocket-sized thing, sturdy dark dark cover with die-cut window for the title to peek out from its yellow home. Cutter’s book is sheathed in a map. Ware’s poems are vignettes masquerading as visions. Cutter’s poems are uncompromising meditations. Moving poems and unique cases, these are two of the newer and most fitting representations of the stellar work Greying Ghost produces.

from Cutter’s “Yours, Alaska”:

in cragginess and distance, in separation

and bearing; in your imagination Alaska

I want to know if you see my Minnesota

as the dumb cousin pestering for a pass

during the post-Thanksgiving football game

and what about Montana, Alaska? Okay,

no one can ever be as cold, Alaska, but

let’s start a band, call ourselves the Chills:

you’ll wear a trucker’s hat, play the bass,

lay a beat for the rest of us to throb

longingly along to but Alaska you know

you can’t stay frozen forever, yes?

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“The quality of their productions alone make them one of the most sought after small presses to work with — if you ever get the chance, jump at it!” – Hosho McCreesh, author of several awesome books

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Grab yourself a subscription for Greying Ghost’s 2013/2014 catalog or pick up one of the few past releases still available. This stuff is hot.

Mel Bosworth Every Laundromat in the World Release Contest Winner: Brandon Barr

27 Jun

After shuffling through the great stack of submissions, Safety Third Enterprises lead guy Matt DeBenedictis, Laundromat extraordinaire Mel Bosworth, Vouched ATL lady Laura Straub, and myself have chosen the following entry by Brandon Barr as the winner of the Every Laundromat in the World Release Contest.

Brandon has won the following items:

  • A personalized, signed copy of the chapbook, dedicated personally to the winner and containing two extra poems.
  • A copy of every chapbook in stock from Safety Third Enterprises, including: He Is Talking To The Fat Lady (xTx), I Don’t Respect Female Expression (Frank Hinton), Just A Little Piece Of Heartburn (Tom Cheshire), and Congratulations! There’s No Last Place If Everyone Is Dead (Matt DeBenedictis).

Don’t forget to order your copy of the limited-edition print version of Every Laundromat in the World from Safety Third Enterprises today! Thanks to everyone who participated in the contest, and for making our duty to choose a winner such a challenge!

Vouched ATL September wrap-up

13 Oct

Whoa September flew by! It feels like maybe October is following suit. Before time gets away from me I’d like to do a round up of VouchedATL’s September happenings. But since it’s October, I’ll sneak a trick in the treat: this whole post is backwards.

We had a reading on September 19th! It was full of wonder and glory! Our readers were stupendous! The venue was amazing! The audience was beautiful!

Here’s a picture of Molly Brodak and Matt DeBenedictus reading to us. They charmed everyone’s pants off. Molly made caramels and they were absolutely delicious. That tells you a lot about Molly, doesn’t it? I can only imagine that it takes great patience and precision to make chocolate dipped caramels. She’s just as careful with her words, and it shows.

Matt gave everyone choices. He would hold up his hands and summarize option 1 and option 2. It was kind of a Choose Your Own Adventure situation. Who doesn’t love choosing their own adventure? At the end of one of his stories, about different popes, he stood up on his chair like a boss. It was great.

Before them Cristina Martin read. Her poems are sweet and carbonated like champagne, brimming with description that bursts off the page. They’re beautiful to hear. Cristina read after Daniel Beauregard, whose poetry is full of undercurrents and introspection. This is what they looked like reading.

First of the evening was Sarah Beard, who was spritely and potent. Before her there was set-up times. Check out the amazing lighting that the goat-farm had for us!

The VouchedATL Chalkboard actually made its debut a week before at the Decatur Book Festival! Two days of book-loving bliss with the great people of Wink!   The pictures say quite a bit for me.

I’d like to take a second and thank all of the local writers who came by to visit throughout the two days: Gina Myers, Cristina Martin, Molly Brodak, Matt DeBenedictis, Tom Cheshire, Jamie Iredell (+ family!), Blake Butler, Ben Spivey, Melysa Martinez, Johnny Carroll, and John Steen. All of you really made my weekend. It was also wonderful to meet so many new writers and readers. I hope that everyone at the festival had as much fun as we did. (Trust me, we had a lot of fun.)

Also a thousand thank you’s to the good people of the Goat Farm who were so incredibly helpful . More thank you’s to our stupendous readers! Thank you to Wink for being the best bunch of booth buddies! Thank you to my awesome husband for being such a champion with a camera!

Our next Vouched Presents reading will be Wednesday, November 9th at the Goatfarm, with awesome readings by Robert Pfeiffer, Gina Myers, Tom Cheshire, and Amy Herschleb! More details, Awful Interviews, and an awesome poster to come!

Awful Interview: Matt DeBenedictis

8 Sep

Have you met Matt DeBenedictis? Well get ready to. He’ll be reading at the next Vouched Presents here in Atlanta on the 19th. Even better news, he’ll be re-releasing his chapbook There’s No Last Place if Everyone is Dead (from his press Safety Third Enterprises)  that evening, and I couldn’t be more excited to have it on the table. There are some more things you should know. We will get to those things shortly, in this awful interview. But first, you should know that very serious things are discussed in this interview. Things like traps, bears, rocks, scissors, and not paper. This interview may cut you. Consider yourself disclaimed.

You run Safety Third Enterprises. Two questions for you about that. First, if safety comes third, what comes first and second? Secondly, what drew you to become an enterprise? Why not ‘press’ or ‘corporation’?

Doesn’t ‘enterprise’ sound so much fun? You hear that word and it can mean anything, but you get an image of some person hurriedly working behind a desk, plotting and planning for something big. They are filled with dread as much as they are hope, and the incoming box is filled with drugs. With ‘corporation’ you think of a massive metal phallic thrusting and demolishing all the people below the logo. I don’t want to be that. I don’t want to the guy at that desk way up the skyscraper. That guy is a dick.

What comes before Safety is different everyday. Today is good Sci-Fi and trying to find the blueprints I made when I was a kid on how to construct all the alien boobie traps used in The Predator. One of my neighbors tried to steal my wife’s scooter. I have a log and an understood normal amount of rope.

Setting a good trap comes before safety most days.

When I hear ‘Enterprise’ I tend to think of Star Trek, but that’s not your fault. Also, that’s not a bad thing. I like thinking of Star Trek. What’s your favorite kind of trap to set? I have a friend whose Dad killed a bear over the weekend. I’m not sure if there was a trap involved. What do you think?

There’s nothing wrong with Star Trek. I actually just now (finally) saw the new redux. I enjoyed it a lot, but I kind of wish James Van Der Beek would have played Kirk. The movie was missing a big forehead vs. pointy ears argument.

I like word traps actually. It’s where you are in an argument with someone and you bring no full defense of thought out reasons for your idea or ideal to triumph. You just use the little word fumbles from the other person against them. Quote their own miss steps back to them and watch them squirm. Just a heads up, this type of trap often ends with getting punched or having something wet thrown in your face.

I think the whole world would be a better place if we could hug bears. I know I’d be happy if I could wrap my arms around a rotund bear and just feel the earth hidden in its fur. But we can’t, they’ll eat us and turn us into poop. No bueno.

Word traps sound totally cut-throat. It seems a waste that bears aren’t huggers, they look so huggable. What made you want to be a writer?

Simply put it’s hearing and telling a good story. I spent a good chunk of my early 20s on tour, some by way of a band and some by way of being a preacher, and my favorite moments were always hanging out at a bar after the night’s events were done. Strangers coming together to find ways to no longer have a strangeness between them. You broke the ice telling stories, whether fun tales from touring or a humorous one from being a preacher, you had to say something interesting.

When I quit being on the road with bands and I decided I was no longer a man of religious faith I missed those story times. So I began to write.

When you play rock, paper, scissors are you a rock guy? You seem like you might be.

I never once played paper. I can say that. I probably float in between rock and scissors but never once did I throw out paper to change up the rotation. Paper seems so pointless in the chance game. It just lays there, helpless only entrapping by chance. It can never be a hero. No one says “good job” to quicksand or a big hole. They were just there.

Better to cut or mash your opponents, for certain. Do you have a ‘muse’? What does he/she look like? Or is your muse a huggable bear?

Last week I saw what was obviously a 12-year old boy dancing on the side of Memorial. His only clothes were boxers with hearts and roses, which honestly I have never seen anyone wear outside of quirky television shows. He danced for his vinyl copy of Body Dylan’s Oh Mercy without a care about the hookers peddling across the street or the older kid jumping from property to property on his dirt bike.

He was dancing for the album, his male boobs sweat and followed his rhythm as he also began to kiss the album cover. This fearless and exuberant Spanish kid is my muse. I want to feel like that after I write.

I’m also quite inspired by the punchline hidden inside of every Warren Zevon song.

What do you think your fearless and exuberant Spanish kid would tell the wusses who aren’t sure if they will be at our reading on the nineteenth?

“Come! After the words we can listen to Bob Dylan and do lots of good drugs.” Though very excited I imagine that fearless and exuberant Spanish kid as a little troubled.

SSR: Just A Little Piece of Heartburn

15 Aug

Just a Little Piece of Heartburn is Tom Cheshire’s first poetry collection, but it doesn’t read like so. It’s a release from Safety Third Enterprises and you can order it here. For all my ATLiens, PurgeATL and Safety Third are hosting a release reading for Tom this Sunday, August 21st at Young Blood Gallery starting at 6:30pm. It will be a thing of wonder and glory.

The hesitation at the bottom of the glass, the thought No, I’ve already had too much… or How did this disappear so quickly? and sometimes even I’ll need about three more of these… either heartbreak or pleasure, you feel something and order another because it burns…Just A Little Piece of Heartburn takes you to that moment and keeps you there in a choke-hold, makes you think why the burn?