Tag Archives: NAP

Best Thing I Read This Week: “How To Be Sincere In Your Poetry” Workshop by Roberto Montes

9 Sep

Over at NAP, now NAP University Online, each day presents a new lesson from Roberto Montes in “How To Be Sincere In Your Poetry” Workshop. And thank goodness, it appears it’ll continue! There’s not much more to say besides check out Day 1 (and all of last week’s lessons), get caught up, and don’t be late again.

Everyone sits around a hat filled with names. The instructor explains that she will select two names from the hat and the first name will have to earnestly hug the second name. The instructor begins selecting names from the hat.

All of the names are the instructor’s name.

The instructor hugs herself again and again and with passion.

The first person to leave the room sobbing gets an A.


Thomas Jefferson Is Screwed: Anthology of Etiquette and Terrifying Angels With Many Heads

19 Oct

I can’t not smirk even when I look at the cover:  how tongue-in-cheek the design is, recalling something like the 1870-whatever edition of Paradise Lost I found in my hometown library in high school, This is what a distinguished piece of literature looks like.  There’s even a multitude of date stamps on the inside cover’s checkout card.

I think that’s why I find this collection so endearing, not just for the quality of writing but how through so many details the Anthology of Etiquette and Terrifying Angels With Many Heads, the new free e-chapbook from NAP, calls attention to its own unlikeliness of existing, and the absurdity that it actually does, reveling in it with total sincerity one second then riffing on its own ridiculousness the next.  And please don’t think by “ridiculousness” I mean “stupid.” This thing is smart.  I just mean the kind of ridiculousness James Tadd Adcox mentions in his Editor’s Note:

I want to thank as well all of the writers who were willing to contribute work to this anthology, taking it on faith that such a strange book would ever exist.

Matt Bell’s  “When Taking a Terrifying Angel With Many Heads As Your Lover” reads like a sex ed manual for Mormon teenagers from an alternate universe, or a flawlessly proper yet strangely sensually comfortable governess administering a heavenly rite of passage into adulthood, at times boxing your ears for your gross impertinence.  It’s kind of brutal and totally hilarious.  The reader gets constantly reminded of their own childish inexperience and insignificance before their lover:

If asked where you would like to sit at the pre-coital dinner, do not reply smartly: “At the right hand.” But if you do say this, do not also giggle and try to slide the terrifying angel’s own right hand into the drop of your lap. The terrifying angel with many heads is deadly serious about his duties, and will not enjoy your casual nature.

Another one of my favorites here is Joseph Scapellato’s “Thomas Jefferson,” in which said president lives through some dream-within-a-dream mash-up of one of Aesop’s fables and Jesus’ forty days of temptation in the wilderness. Throughout the story, Jefferson repeatedly “wakes up” from a progression of dreams in which he is taking part in typically Jeffersonian pursuits—reading books on a variety of subjects, inventing new machines, etc.—hoping to meet the morning as he does every day, only to find the morning absent:

Always they had shared an understanding, matching roles they donned each dawn like masquerade halfmasks, costumes that enhanced rather than concealed their character. Always he had woken into morning and met it with patience, contemplation, and productivity, qualities that came from and were homage to the morning, qualities that when given returned threefold. He headed for the highest hill, his beaded moccasins turning water, the trim of his smoking robe sweeping tips of  grass, his ivory hair-queue loosening with every step. Behind their old clear understanding he began to sense a darker and still older etiquette, artfully opaque, something like a dream that the morning had woken the world into, a dream that for however senseless it seemed was shackled to its own chilly iron logic.

Eventually Jefferson encounters a series of surreal temptations to betray his faith, not in any god but man’s ability and desire for fairness and enlightenment.  He repeatedly rebuffs his tempter, the Redcoat, but their exchanges become surreal and unhinged to the point that it seems hard to think that even Jefferson’s genuine love of reason and orderliness could ever overcome the increasingly nightmarish world around him.  Disorder claws at him, including in the form of a terrifying angel with many heads of his lovers, and we pretty much get that Thomas Jefferson is screwed.  Here, absurdity is not out for laughs, it’s trying to kill the third U.S. President.  Scapellato handles this fucked up morality tale or Bible story or whatever you want to call it with clarity and efficient description—there are just enough monsters present to imagine how many more might be lurking around the corner.

Also check out Vouched contributor Amber Sparks’ reflection about being a terrifying angel with many heads’ long-term platonic, silent companion waiting eons to hear it speak, and Colin Winnette’s story about a terrifying angel with many heads who is also the mother of an uneasy child with rumbling blood, and this chapbook’s many other lovely and unsettling and terrifying heads, here.

Janey Smith Take The Wheel (of the NAP bus)

13 Sep

There it is, a new issue of NAP, that super slick slick slick online mag, oh how I love it, its various formats (I’m of the PDF onto my phone feeling, though I don’t know exactly why), and this one, this new one, is one of the most stellar stacks so far, this one of all women, alphabetized, Alissa Nutting to xTx, with bunches of major stops in between…

…for work by Carrie Lorig, a remarkable lyrical chunk, after finishing it, I went WOAH BODIES, which is to say this piece burns with the realization of how bodies do, them and this piece and everything it contains moving, alive:

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ look at all these beautiful teeth i have eating. all these beautiful teeth i have sitting on top of each other in the grass. aren’t you tired of them? our saddles come out on the shore in shapes we don’t recognize. they have been washed long into glass. into leather suns. all the letters are dying longer. all the sides of the words are fogging with breath. i say all my letters into the sea of other seas. i amaze to barely understand what it is i tried to love you about. i amaze to barely understand i am rolling over your body at any moment thinking crowd, thinking herd, thinking more rock.

…for three poems by Eileen Myles, three walks in the world, slowing pulling open the boxes we live in, like “People,” a short sharp point about how we are positioned next to one another, fetus or not, too brief to excerpt well here, just read it silly, and “End War,” scripting our own flailing back to us as this:

We fold

our experiences distributing

these words and others

who are also trying to

shake the language

tree receive our letters

and come.

…before arriving at xTx’s drumming “This Is What Happens When You Eat Cake For Three Days,” that beating that goes beyond three days, beyond the cake, the “this is what happens” again and again, the story stacking, the eating of all sorts continuous until Goodbye!–“This is what happens when you break all the way down. This is what happens when you die.”

Yes, I say, check this thing out in whatever format suits you, but be prepared to move around.

P.S. Check out the recent all-lady goodness issues at Pangur Ban Party and ILK, two of my other tip-top favorites.

Zack Morris, An Obsession by Natalie Nuzzo at NAP

22 May

That awesome Diana Salier has taken over poetry picker duty for NAP and look at this new issue, specifically let’s lean our faces towards this poem “Zack Morris, An Obsession” by Natalie Nuzzo, oh how awesome I like it, how it radiates the obsession, the locked-in heart’s musicality, the distracted-by-narrow-narrow-focus brain’s bounce, the story smacked into shape by this big O word obsession, yes.

Here’s a super part:

LA Looks hair gel and stolen eyeliner
pancake makeup fists full of Cover Girl
and Aussie Stiff Spray works well
with Zack’s summer job
at the Sands Country Club

AC Slater’s nips were visible in that
tight green and white striped polo
Da Boss short fat dago Mr. Carossi
of course from New York City,
specifically Brooklyn, NYC
Such a bummer, he was
last name like so Italian and grossi !

Awful Interview: J Bradley

22 Mar

If you are unlucky, J Bradley may tear you a part with a revenge poem. If you are lucky (and by luck I also mean ‘if-you-buy-his-new-chapbook‘) he will uplift you with one. J. Bradley is powerful that way. He is a force to be reckoned with.

His work has appeared in Metazen, Kill Author, decomP, Dogzplot, as well as many other places. He’s the Interviews Editor at PANK, the Falconer of Fiction at NAP, and a contributing writer to Specter MagazineHe hosts the reading series There Will Be Words in Orlando where he lives.

After meeting J. Bradley in person at AWP, but before having him come down and read at the next Vouched Atlanta Reading, J Bradley and I decided to get better acquainted via an Awful Interview. Things got wonderful and things got awkward. See for yourself!

You have a chapbook, We Will Celebrate Our Failures, out and about in the world right now. It says on your blog that you will write a poem for anyone who sends you proof that she bought the chapbook. How many poems have you written for that so far? How many would you like to? Will they be haiku?

I’ve written one so far. I’d love to write 124 more. Haiku is a bit weak though. I want to reward people who are nice/brave enough to buy this chapbook. Every poem I write will be a poem you (hopefully) are willing to share with someone or read to someone you hate. I can do some interesting things with three words (and while I’ve still got my clothes on).

Read to someone you hate, that’s interesting. Are you implying that bad poetry can be used as a form of torture?

It’s easy to torture people with bad poetry. It takes skill to tear someone apart with a well written poem. If you can make your enemy laugh as you shred their soul, it makes that spiritual ass kicking sweeter. Here’s such an example of kind of revenge poetry I speak of.

Well played Mr. Bradley! How cutting! You are the Count of Monte Cristo of poets. Do you have a giant chest of Spanish doubloons hidden somewhere? Where do you hide your treasure?

Sadly no doubloons here unless I want to name my cock ‘giant chest of Spanish doubloons’ this week then I can answer the second question with ‘in my pants’.

Are you implying that you give it a new name every week?

I try and keep the names relevant to what is going on in the world. One week, it was named the Academy because of the way it fucked Drive over for the Oscar nominations. Around Easter, I call it Jesus except it doesn’t take three days for it to come back to life.

Okay, I’m stumped. I cannot think of a witty rebuttal to your response. What do you think I should ask you next?

Perhaps one of the following:

who am I wearing?
where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?
what will you do if this latest relationship fails?
who are you gay for in a sexy way?
who have you always wanted to interview?
what fictional bear would you bare knuckle box against?
how will you read something at this reading that isn’t sad bastardesque?

I’m an interview machine due to my stint at PANK. I’ll refrain from any Lionel Ritchie references for now.

So many wonderful choices! I’m going to do a mashup question of two that you have offered here: What fictional bear are you gay for in a sexy way?

One could offer the easy choice of Yogi as he is a provider or Pooh because he always knows where to find the honey but life is never about easy choices. I would have to say I would be gay for Ignatius J. Reilly. Sadly, our love would never work because he would refer to me constantly as a sodomite even though I’m more Gomorrahian.

Ignatius was quite the bear. Wait, what? …soo uhhh… anyway. Tell me about how excited you are to come to Atlanta on Friday, April 6th and read for us. What’s going to be the best part of the reading? Why do you think people should attend?

I am tremendously excited to read as part of this literary wrecking crew. It is incredibly rare outside of AWP to get such a talented, diverse lineup. It’s a one-in-a-lifetime line up (until AWP comes through Atlanta again). You’ll get drunk on the words and the beer and more of the words. Bring a date. I promise I won’t mack on them.