Tag Archives: National Poetry Month

National Poetry Month Recap

2 May

Thanks so much to everyone who followed along during April for Vouched’s celebration of National Poetry Month. Here’s a round-up of all the  posts (even some non-poetry goodness thrown in for extra oomph, right!?) throughout the month.

S.E. Smith Spotlight at Coldfront

Dossiers: Poetry & Ohio, Mary Biddinger

Peter Davis Poem-Video

Awful Interview with Winston Ward

M.G. Martin Greying Ghost Pamphlet

Peter Schwartz at Robot Melon

Vomit Express by Allen Ginsberg

Single-Sentence Saturday: Alexis Orgera

Heather Christle at Better Magazine

Dossiers: Poetry & Ohio, Frank Giampietro

Awful Interview with Gina Myers (redux)

Wendy Burk Poem-Video

Laurel Hunt at Forklift, Ohio

NOÖ Journal and Vouched Books Collaboration

Awful Interview with Cristen Conger

Interview with Alexis Pope

Vince Carter Poem-Video

Single-Sentence Saturday: Randall Jarrell

Natalie Lyalin at notnostrums

Hold It Down by Gina Myers

Awful Interview with John Carroll

Kirsty Singer Poem-Video

I FEEL YES by Nick Sturm

Awful Interview with Jayne O’Connor

Brandon Amico at Sixth Finch

Canarium Books preview at The Collagist

Jenny Zhang video

Single-Sentence Saturday: Dean Young

Note Pinned To The Back Of A Dress by Aubrey Lenahan

The Chapbooks of Jeff Alessandrelli

Melissa Broder Poem-Video

Ashley Farmer at EG

Interview with Abraham Smith

Single-Sentence Saturday: Heather Christle

Diana Salier Poem-Video

Dzanc Poetry Prize Announcement

Dossier: Poetry & Ohio, Cathy Wagner

Interview with Hosho McCreesh

RCNC Reading in Akron videos

Crapalachia by Scott McClanahan

30 x Lace revisited

Matt Hart Debacle Debacle recordings

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.

30 x Lace

30 Apr

The fine folks at Birds of Lace and Carrie Murphy have created and since been tumblin’ daily throughout April with a poem from a poet (as spotlight) and a recommendation from that poet. A mighty little collection they’ve made I say. I say say say that you should check out the whole thing, but in case you need a Point A, B, and C, here are three of my favorites, so I guess start there if you trust me (hopefully hopefully so). Always makes me smile real big to see people celebrating National Poetry Month!

Adam Robinson

Ocean Vuong

Nicole Steinberg

National Poetry Month Interview With Hosho McCreesh

29 Apr
Hosho McCreesh

Stamp credit: Bill Roberts
Photo credit: Freddie DeLaCruz

When Hosho McCreesh, author of For All These Wretched, Beautiful, & Insignificant Things So Uselessly & Carelessly Destroyed… (which is a popular pick on the Vouched Books-Indianapolis table) and many other BOOM things, sent me a ARC of his forthcoming poetry collection, A DEEP & GORGEOUS THIRST (Artistically Declined Press, July 2013), I knew I had to chat with the guy. Hosho, as both a poet and an interviewee, has always been engaged, passionate, and unrelenting; this book and this interview are certainly no exceptions.

1. Wow. Looks like you’ve got Hosho McCreesh Writing Jams turned up full volume. Stop me if I’m wrong, but you’ve got a new book AND TURNS STILL THE SUN AT DUSK BLOOD-RED, poems and paintings co-authored by Christopher Cunningham, due from Bottle of Smoke Press soon, and a book of poems called A DEEP & GORGEOUS THIRST due late July from Artistically Declined Press (and the thing I wanna chatter about the most). You’ve also been tossing out some short stories via http://www.smashwords.com — experimenting with eBooks. All these words in and I’ve yet to get to the 4 different novella projects you’ve got churning and burning: CHINESE GUCCI, EXPATRIATES, CORMORANT FISHING IN AMERICA, and RANK STRANGER. That’s a whole heap of stuff. I’m just gonna come out and say this: how in the world do you do all this? What’s your world like?

Well, that’s just it: I always feel like I should be writing more…but I’m basically lazy. Lucky for me, the way I write and the way I feel about writing have changed over the years. I used to save up my money, and go live and travel for months on end — doing nothing but living, and drinking, and going to museums, and writing in these immense, marathon, Kerouacean sessions. But it was a chaotic kind of writing, one born of desperation to “make it.” But I cannot write that way anymore. The mortgage, 40hr/week job, and the fact that I’d rather drink, sleep, or play Pictureka! or Minotaurus with the gal and her kiddo means I write a lot less. I spend my lunch hours writing (if I’m not sleeping in my car), or after work, and whatever time I can get on weekends. But this desperate desire to “make it” has mostly gone away. I love writing. I will always write. I have a loyal grip of readers that support my work in every way. I write what I want when I want–with only self-imposed deadlines, and limited only by the time I do take to do the work. I work in tiny, manageable chunks of time — and hour or two, a thousand words here, two thousand there. That’s how to write and still live and love your life. That’s how to be motivated by joy and not desperation. You’ve made it, people — if you are writing, and have time and space and no deadlines — you’ve made it. To hell with the dream, to hell with a big publisher, and a big book, and a book tour. Do your work, and the rest will take care of itself.

2. In our initial message about your new book/this interview, I remarked how this new book of yours, “A Deep & Gorgeous Thirst,” was a monster, spanning 250+ pages in the ARC. You said it was very different from your previous work but still very much ‘you.’ Can you chatter on about that some more? How do you see this book fitting into the stack of work you’ve created and continue to create?

Some people have dismissed my earlier work as dark, or angry…but as a poet and an artist, I think we must be honest about where we are as people — and our work must be a reflection of how we feel. This book is the logical extension of the “maintaining hope in the face of damnation” ethos my previous books are packed with. It explores some of the reasons why my previous work was dark, and angry — but the mere fact of the book’s existence is the vast and joyous reward for fucking gutting it out when life is shit. It shows us why we have to keep answering the goddamned bell, round after round — giving ourselves a shot at victory someday. Our fragile little egos invent ways to be stroked. Indulging our own ignorant, selfish suffering — like it’s some rare and precious gem that sets us somehow apart — is what led to this ridiculous notion that poetry must be about suffering, about the hard, and ugly world. Yes, the world is hard, and ugly…sure…but it’s many, many other things too. These poems testify to breaking through that wall. They were, themselves, a response to life having gone sideways on me. They broke free in a seismic, consuming kind of fire. I found myself, once again rebuilding from nothing, and for the first time I finally understood Henry Miller when he said, “I have no money, no resources, no hopes. I am the happiest man alive.” Instead of being angry at life being hard, and sad, and ugly…something snapped within, and I just started laughing. This mad, lusty joy had won — and with joy came love…a delirious, drunken, and soul-gripping kind of love…love of my life, of my woman, of any and everything. At that point it didn’t make sense to write about anything but joy.

3. That’s a big part of why I dig your work so much; that “maintaining hope in the face of damnation,” it’s like a flare. Part scream out of the darkness. Part shiner of hope. Part firework. From behind the Vouched table, I once sold your book For All These Wretched, Beautiful, & Insignificant Things So Uselessly & Carelessly Destroyed… to a dude in a Shai Hulud shirt because their albums and those poems of yours beat the same drum in a certain dark yet hopeful part of me. Those poems felt both loud and sincere, unforced yet uncontrollable shrieks.

There’s a little story from me. And in this new book, you’ve got your storytelling hat on, narrative as the frame that holds this new set of unleashed emotions and frustrations together. Can you talk a bit about how narrative works for your poems, both with this book and your previous work?

Narrative: In terms of poetry, I can’t say I make a concerted effort at narrative…maybe it’s even a kind of obligation — setting the scene in as few words as possible. Hell, I can’t even say I make efforts at narrative in my fiction. I want the familiar, the everyday, the things that people actually do and know and feel to be appreciated as something more. Right now, it’s just the stuff between the memorable stuff. It’s like Woodie Guthrie. Everyone loves Woodie Guthrie’s music — but he was supposedly an amazing painter of signs. Now anyone who’s ever seen a great hand-painted sign knows that shit ain’t easy, so why isn’t it he known for it? Why isn’t that seen for the art it is? Well, narrative is why. Everybody knows Woodie Guthrie the songwriter, the road-weary troubadour, the union organizer stickin’ it to the man…but not the sublime painter of signs. This is the problem with narrative. Too often we tell the wrong tales, too often we value (and hence remember) all the wrong things. In fact, this answer I’m giving right now is the problem with narrative. It’s just like Q-tips…they pretty much push earwax into your head, right — which is the opposite of what we intend with them to do… But goddammit, they just feel too good to quit. Narrative is the wax packing into our skulls when what really matters is that orgasmic feel of the whole thing. Joan Didion says “we tell ourselves stories in order to live,” that we seek out the higher human message as if all this shit is supposed to make sense. It doesn’t make sense. There is no sense to be made. I mean, I get it: we need our lives to mean something…we need the soundtrack to swell at pivotal moments so we’ll know when to fight, or kiss, or cry…I’m just not so sure we don’t engineer it all on some subconscious level…a “which came first: the story or the events” kind of argument. Maybe it was neither. Maybe narrative is a curse, a swindle, and a lie? Anyways, it’s what we got — so I guess we do our best with it.

4. Who and what (poets, poetry, and not) are some of the biggest influences on your poetry?

Bukowski, Henry Miller, John Fante, Hunter Thompson, Vonnegut, even Kerouac all have tremendous humor at the core of them; Rock and roll music like Zepplin, AC/DC, Guns & Roses, Van Halen, Hendrix…these all figure largely in this book. And last but not least are my people — the ones who appear in all these poems…friends, family. This book is a kind of biography via booze — and what is my life without all of them?

5. In an interview with Hock G. Tjoa, you call this new collection, “drunk poems.” Drunkenness has always had its place in poetry, obviously. What makes you give this label to this new book? What constitutes a “drunk poem” for you? (Maybe I’m asking, Can a poem be drunk even if the writer/speaker is not?)

God, I hope so. I’d rather a poem be drunk then what it usually is. I get tired of poetry that is joyless, and without spirit…even my own. It is necessary, and it has a place — sure…but dammit, life is more than that, and art and poetry should definitely be more than that. Whatever needs to be done so that poetry could be given back to the people who need it we haven’t been doing. The last thing we need is more blather about dandelions and rainbows and how your ex-girlfriend stole your “collectible” Pearl Jam imports. Our poetic sensibilities are dying. Poetry is a punchline on Leno…LENO! (The biggest punchline on TV!). And I feel like we should fight to save it. We pass ten poems on the way to work, ten more leaving the bar or the movie theater after a talking animal movie. Where do they go? Why doesn’t someone do something about that? Either we fight to save it, or we have the brutal mercy to club it to death — finish it off with dignity. Please please please make poems that are drunk. Or high. Or randy for a good fuck. Make something joyous and alive and lounging on the summer grass, something cackling at that tempestuous, furious sun as it sits there plotting our demise. Our suffering doesn’t make us special — but our laughter as we die, that terrifies and delights the drunk and silent gods. Seeing the ultimate hilarity of our useless suffering…now that’s something beautiful. So can a poem be drunk? I say it damn well better be — or else why bother?

If I’m wrong, let’s just say I was drunk.

As to why I called this book drunk poems — well, mainly they’re about drinking, being drunk, a kind of biography by booze, booze as a vehicle for our humanity and inhumanity. You know how Miles Davis was a raging asshole? Well, he got away with it because he was so amazing. And good thing he had his trumpet, his music — because how much more of an asshole would he have been without it? Anyhow, this is kind of like that…kind of like how Bukowski said booze was the only thing that kept him alive sometimes. It’s a trumpet, it’s a bent spoon for tunneling through cement. It’s a thing which makes living more possible. And dangerous. And hilarious. And, at moments, even makes living profound. Poetry should be that too.

6. I dig that, man, the poetry of the everyday life we’re missing, the poetry we’re not giving to the people who need it. That’s kind of the Vouched Books dealio, you know. With the tables in Indy and Atlanta, we bring small press work, this energetic DIY lit, to people who otherwise wouldn’t probably see it. At the website, we try to get people talking about and paying attention to journals, presses, writers, and pieces on the web (and extended outward) we’re stoked about, stuff that they might otherwise miss, lost in the vast interwebs. Your statement “Whatever needs to be done so that poetry could be given back to the people who need it we haven’t been doing” really resonated with me. What do you see as some opportunities to give poetry back to the people who need it? More specifically, who are these people?

The fault, I think, lies in our inability to teach poetry as anything but a dead & lifeless thing — a mummified, one-armed Stonewall Jackson. We teach poetry by poking at its fetid corpse with sticks, saying “Eww…look…life was rumored to have once been present here…” Kids love stories, they love new words, word-play, puns, they love being entertained…jezus, they’ll sit through Radio Disney in hopes of it. And we take this natural curiosity, and — by the time most have finished school or quit — they have no need for poetry. That’s astonishing to me — taking curious minds and making them uncurious. Now maybe poetry is no good; maybe the poems we teach are no good; maybe the poems we try to teach at the few different ages we try to teach it are no good; maybe what we teach and how we teach it is the problem; or maybe it’s that society no longer values subtly, complexity, uncertainty, or a deep rumination on the problem of being human. Books, films, paintings, poems — all should be an attempt to reconcile our lives against our own mortality; an attempt to chronicle this living & breathing & fighting & dying as it happens. So the answer to who needs poetry is simple: We all do. Only we just don’t know it. We have forgot what it is, and why it is. It’s not to fill journals, or stack up publishing credits, or whatever the hell it’s being dolled up as these days. It’s to celebrate our own living and dying, to un-muffle the tiny gods and creators within us.

7. Navigating one’s way through writing a poem, especially ones as intense and fueled as your poems, is certainly its own balancing act. When releasing such furious emotion and telling such personal stories, one must certainly take some caution, run a fine-tooth comb of decision making through the writing, in order to not whoop up on anybody’s feelings and privacy too bad. But oppositely, you can’t walk around on tip-toes, extra cautious not to step on anyone’s favorite pant leg. How do you deal with writing about friends and family? Throw the ratchet into the sky and hope it doesn’t bruise anybody to bad when it falls? Any special conversations you have or precautions you take when writing about people you know and care about, before publishing those pieces?

Well, the entire world is built around caution, around being congenial, and tolerant, and conscientious…most of which is a lie. So the last place that should happen is in your own writing. To me, I say it’s a matter of intent. Do you intend to hurt someone with it? If so, well, maybe there’s a case to be made for reconsidering. But maybe not. Because truth be told, we only ever really write about ourselves — an infinite little menagerie of pewter figurines. Every character is us — or else we run the risk of writing about someone or something we don’t actually understand…and who wants to read that? People will either look for, and maybe even see themselves in the work; or they will pretend not to see themselves in it. If they don’t, it’s because they refuse to believe something about themselves; and if they do, it’s because they’ve decided to believe your lies. Because just like narrative, writing is just another kind of lying. And it’s as easy as lying: you write about problems you really have only using characters who do all the things you wish you could. Tell the truth…then just make up the rest. And if someone gets upset over something — say you either were lying…or that you had no choice but to tell the truth…and either way, you didn’t mean anything by it…whichever you think will work better for them!

8. Do you “celebrate” National Poetry Month in any special way (a poem a day, special reading assignments, etc.)?

I have been celebrating National Poetry Month the same way every year, since even before I was a poet: by listening to the poets. And I don’t mean in readings, or coffee house backslapfests — but rather, by doing all the things they say we should be doing. That means drinking, fighting, laughing, making a little trouble, making love…living. I began decades ago, and I will continue to do so, year round, because I take my responsibility as a nobody-small-press-poet very seriously. You’re welcome, everyone. Feel free to send booze, food, or money to facilitate these daily celebrations…you know, in the name of the highest and truest human arts.

Check out all of Hosho’s rad stuff and get stoked for his new book in July!

Single-Sentence Saturday: Heather Christle

27 Apr

“There is no such thing as only a metaphor.”

from “What do we mean when we say a poem is a machine? Part 9: Heather Christle”

National Poetry Month Interview with Abraham Smith

26 Apr

Abraham Smith is Abraham Smith. Ever since I first heard the first utterance of his poem “Whim Man Mammon” I was there to stay. His first book of the same name and then his squalling/sprawling second, HANK, both create new dents in what I see when I close my eyes and dream about poetry. And there’s Abraham’s voice, creating a new soundtrack. His words are rowdy without the rude, ramble on without blubber, their own brand of booze. His third book, only jesus could icefish in summer, will be out next year, again from Action Books. I’m so stoked to have electronically sat down with Abraham and chatter a bit about all this.

1. Hey Abe. Thank you so much for chattering with me a little bit. You’ve got this new book only jesus could icefish in summer coming in 2014 from Action Books, the rad folks who published your first two books.

Without breaking the spines too much, it’s always nice to see the poets picking apart and squeezing fresh lemons over their own books and serving them up fresh first a little bit. So as we’ll get to my blabber about the book soon, I think everyone here at the Vouched blog would be mighty glued to this screen to hear your own thoughts and (p)review of this next book of yours.

this new one is like a mason jar fulla buttons.. now where’d the hell those buttons come from? popped off stuff is the answer to that.. where are they going? onto stuff a button popped off lately.. that’s the way this thing went.. i was writing a mighty long poem epic about charley patton son house louise johnson wheeler ford and the king of lake cormorant blues et al et al all piled in a teapot of a car ablazin out for southern wisconsin paramount records to a chair factory where they made a lot of school desks to record THE delta blues.. lord did i think i was hot tamales, writing on that book.. but i found the swerves the verves.. i found they were kinda cold.. and they had a tinny echo of all of what i’d kinda already kinda yelled around that time in that hank book.. i mean how many times could i possibly croon about the delicious licorice anonymities of the road etc etc.. i wrote like hundreds of pages of tepid dew.. in order not to as they say lose my bean, i ended up doing something i’d never done.. i ended up writing a few stand alone poems.. but really i ended up sifting through these pages on pages of giraffes.. i ended up as they say pinching a few spots off those giraffes.. really this jesus bookie then is actually yrs truly mr smithy sifting through the slagheaps the junkheaps.. finding little prizes.. at least little things that shine.. and i pulled those out.. and i made a book of my epic gaffs.. once i’d retrieved the mirrors the steering wheels the stereos etc out of that junked meadow.. then see i looked back through and said: actually ya know what.. here and there there yet remain lines that i kinda can’t bear to give too much of my back to.. so i salvaged those out too.. and put those in a section i called the compost.. and because really the whole thing is an unsettling yearn shanty anyway.. i found that those wounded wings there in the compost kinda seamed together just fine.. thusly welcome to jesus dipping a frozen line.. i embrace y’all here mong my stumble stuff..

2. I dig dig dig the epigraphs for this book, but the first of the two, a little smidgen from S.T. Coleridge’s Biographic Literaria, seems to pound the hammer next to the whole book. It says, “I lay too many Eggs in the hot Sands of this Wilderness, the World! with Ostrich Carelessness & Ostrich Oblivion.” With the Bigness of both the book’s subject matter and your style’s heavy, it is the perfect tool for dually preparing for this book and for mending the parts of oneself as it breaks you along this way.

I’m wondering, is there anything wrong with laying too many ostrich eggs in this world? Is that what you’re doing with this hulking manuscript?

maybe in mine ramble i answered two back there in one.. bless STC.. yeah the point there of that little quote wedged in.. is the point.. where fragile and fecund meet.. where head in the sand meets eyes and eyelashes just as long as the wrinkles down the face of that old blowhard the ancyent mariner..

3. The prologue strikes, icy and blistering. It has a taut line latched onto a single eyehook, onto ice fishing. That brace (and here here I mean it in a totally positive manner) is stronger here than even in any parts of your other work I can remember. From the get-go, we get “only two kinds of people gone/icefishing and we/we were never the shanty caliber typo.” What drew/draws you to ice fishing as this hitching post, this starting line, this spot to drill your hole at?

icefishin is all that delicious emily dee perfection: ‘then the letting go’.. i guess in writing there are things you are kinda hangin around waiting to slip in there.. they hang around in you like a pebble in yr skin from an old bike roadburn.. they around in you like the shepherd’s shears in the livermeats of the pastoralhandpain.. these type things are just waiting around bumpbump to fall out of you.. it just so happens that i’ve always wanted to jot one about icefishing.. about how you slowly go totally dumb while yr elders eyes turn into little campfires via the hooch.. the car so loud you couldn’t ever forget you were going.. that weird tilt in that sag ass buick like you might be about to NASANASA.. the faded brown tint of the freeezing backseat: only thing to call that’s grocerystore mushroom saliva.. parts of this book are absolutely sorta screwed up willy wordsworth Prelude esque pissy pearls.. so i felt it a just frame to frame the thing with a few childhood snapshots that i’ve always been walking with.. waiting to fit in the fire somewhere.. and yes icefishing.. the jigging of a dwarfish pole over a black slur hole seemed an apt way to wink at what comes later in there..

4. This book continues down the road of people. You have a knack for turning your eye on people, people of a special blend, your eye with a special lens for looking at them. In Whim Man Mammon, it was “two women called/dawn doing/crystal meth/in Montana/boon shacks” and many others of the snippet variety. In HANK, it was the man himself, the things in orbits around, and the shapes of them shaped. And here it continues, right, with the Jesus fellow first off and continuing with others in more snippets and in carried on. I was particularly drawn to the “you” early on described suchly as this angel-variety. We learn, “why stack this/in a neat little pile/on the floor by the records/that you and only you/know how to sing to/having learned all the skips/as little goings quiet and wet/the dust where this was.” A magnificent way, I say, of picking one bit to shine the flashlight on and make a whole light show. Reminds me of this wacko world we’re in now, the seconds of glancing in passing, the glow faces on the interwebs, the literary communities webbed more than ever (MFAs, online lit mags, etc.). It’s hard. It’s brief. It’s impactful to say the least. Can you go for a moment on how you deal with characters in your poems, how characters make the cut, what they mean, or whatever, or etc. etc.?

my hobbyhorse a la tristram shandy is townes.. i fit him into everything i say.. in a new manuscripto of critter creation myths i’ve been workin on for a year and change i write about how there’s a silent blue shed in everything i ever have or likely will write.. now they can paint over that shed all they want.. but creak creak that shed that mellifluous dissonance is in everything.. let me wrap that back into townes.. he said of his awesome banjo portal Tecumseh Valley that he wrote it with a particular woman in mind.. and that each and every time he sang it, he’d think of that same woman.. the you in these jesus ones, she is a real someone.. i ain’t goin all junior high snow flake dance on ya here.. but aren’t poems about accepting or wanting to accept love? aren’t all poems love? aren’t all poems combs run through the hair of people we love? there’s loose change and then there’s people.. the temperatures of the people i love were in my pockets as i scraped this book together.. i could go through the book and say hoo this one and then hoo that one was for.. as they are all With someone.. companionable.. all the yous are the same person.. but for example that one you mentioned earlier, that’s for virginia woolf and for my ex uncle vern.. aunt joy and uncle vern got divorced but i still call him uncle vern.. aunt joy and uncle vern are actually visiting in a few weeks.. we’ll complain about how grandma tries to sucker us into working on jigsaw puzzles.. and we’ll whistle a martini down our gullets while the tuscaloosa sunset goes TANGERINE tang tang.. i was an anthro major in college.. i am lonesome on a tractor all summer.. i love and i lorn peeps.. scratch any one of my poems and a face peeks out hulloo hulloo a la magician tophat rabbit rhino ribbit rivet.. see right there with Rivet i just went all Ligeia via Poe.. words are people..

5. The video of you reading from HANK at the Racine Library is one of my favorite videos of anyone reading EVER. The style and the intensity sustained for the length like that is WOW.

Right now, I’m working as an instructional aide for a first grade class and I’ve taken over their morning writing lessons to talk poetry for a hunk of time each day during April. Last week, I actually showed selected parts of that video of yours.

With all the poems and such we’re diving into, I want them to see the joys in language beyond making sense in the traditional sense, the way they are obviously (and for a good portion, should be) taught. You are the great example of the art of conveying in a totally clipped and riled up and non-traditional way, a way I find incredibly joyful, subject matter being whatever. And let me tell you, they were baffled and stoked completely.

We talked about alliteration and assonance and rhyme and repetition and making our own words and meanings. The whole of your page six in this new book is basically a new lesson in all those things, in the overarching wild joyride of language. Like:

twitch junk hills jump
in wars me i only lonely line difference
between that and heartbeats
bird versus fish
fist verse bomb wind
but what ills doll is the fizz
line bobwhite bombin boom
mmm shoulder pain
that’s a sweet hurt that’s a natural
crank ol loomin like a mirror where
the people went home from the summer caddy
even where there’s none past odd home

There’s a performative emphasis (necessary, whether or not intentional) to your work, but also the poems read and re-spark so well on the page. How do these things come out of you? When writing, what’s that process like, hovering between the spoken word and the written?

thank ye for such kindness here in numero six.. yes i pretty much throw the heavyhanded assonance consonance on there.. sputter it on there.. and then i try and do a little of the banjo claw and hammer thing.. i stick my right hand down in the lower right hand corner of the keypad.. where those cardinal arrows are.. and then i twitch my hand through east west north south the east west north south which makes the cursor jitter down the screen like a crazy ass rain bead down a pane.. and i keep on doing that.. sometimes intoning ’em as i go.. until each poem’s seams seem both hidden and ridgey as a beautiful scar

6. It’s important (though maybe at this point a little unnecessary) to say seeing you perform is a totally different Thing, compared to reading your poems, compared to see other poets read. I finally finally got to see you read at AWP this year in Boston and thank goodness for that.

Who are some of your favorite performers, literary of course, but also not? What makes a performance that’ll get Abraham Smith listening and riled up?

mare-sea again sir.. yeah well ya know at that same reading i really enjoyed the haayell out of heather christle’s performance.. years ago here in tuscaloosa lynn emanuel gave a reading with the laryngitis upon her.. i think that reading still sticks out for me as the best reading i’ve ever seen.. she was swaying away.. she pretty much became a swing on a swingset.. a rusty swing tilted to and fro by a gusty wind.. she squeaked and honked her way through the poems.. i kinda looked aroung and everyone was swaying along with her like water weeds.. i myself became an algae in a currant current, lord! also here a few years back aaron kunin gave an amaaazing trembly reading.. it was a relatively cloudless night.. but i guarantee you that he had 20293854098 paperclips in his pocket and some lightning maybe up in alaska was electocruting him kindly: wonderterrorwowwow!

7. You’ll be putting your editor hat on soon, compiling an anthology of hick poets. How do you define hick poets? Also, please do fill us in on that anthology’s details (the who and the when and the from whom, etc.).

cheeaating: i am cutting pasting an email about what i think about when i think about that word hick: and why i think this anthology has something to say about Class: i am doin this antho with the faaaabulous shelly taylor: i luv her poems: image of owl head spinnin around.. she totally slotmachine spin spins my noggin in the best o’ craaazy ways: and is a very dear friend: yes we are very excited about this antho: very excited: already many of our favorite dreamboat hayseeds are on board for a ride on that rusty bouquet: wheee: commencing the cutting and pasting: here:

first, let’s take the term hick.. as far as i have ever known hick comes from hickory.. from the prez Andrew Jackson.. no favorite of mine.. the ol Indian Killer i believe is what they called him.. a merciless blight upon native america he was.. his nickname i think was something like Ol Hickory because he was the first prez to come from peasant stock.. so folks who took pride in their own humble beginnings via jackson’s humble beginnings were called hicks.. i don’t think shelly nor i are too very concerned about whether or not we are reclaiming a word which has a deep and biting historical legacy of oppression.. because i am not sure that the word hick does have that legacy.. we feel that we like the phrase Hick Poetics because it’s playful.. and because it jabs a bit.. we are both jabby people.. and because it really does sound like a book i’d like to read.. more so than Reclaiming the Pastoral.. also it seems to me that hick is an inclusive word.. does not tie into ethnicity so much.. and seems then a fair open meadow kind of word within which to gather a diverse set of poets..

as for class, i don’t think we are concerned that our hicks have gone on to harvard.. to quote unquote lift themselves out of hickness.. i don’t think we are searching for ‘authentic rustics’.. i don’t think the amount of tweed they have on matters to us.. i put that class sentence in there.. because the countrysides.. tend to be reported upon.. and that vision tends to trend towards the romanticizing of the great beyond.. who is witness to the countrysides? who has the voice? the word class for me means this: the urbane have forever spouted their ethnographies on what’s up in the sticks.. this anthology’s contributors would have the chance to reclaim that literature of witness.. here’s what the sticks really felt / feel like it.. i guess all i meant by class is that: who has the power to craft the narrative of the pasture.. those of us who got stung are getting stung by the ground hornets nest.. those of us who are farriers right now.. we should.. we should have that power..

8. Do you have any National Poetry Month things you do (i.e. a poem a day project, reading goals, etc.)?

yes as fer nat po moonth.. just back from montgomery.. where i emceed the poesy tent there at the alabam writers festival.. dovely little jamboree: got ta hear the new poet laureate of alabam: mr andrew glaze: he’s a few million years old (92 going on 93): and read some of the most vibrant lively jaunty poems i’ve heard in a long time: i am garbling this a little: but the last one he read was about the books he’d like to be buried with.. just in case he wakes up in there.. when he gets around to how emily dickinson will absolutely have to be in there.. he’s like yeah emily dickinson.. in copper.. in cartouche.. on my tongue.. lord: have: mercy.. that takes the twenty one hundred dollar cake if ya ask me..

Ashley Farmer at Everyday Genius

25 Apr

This rad gal Ashley Farmer has three poems up at one of the coolest lit mags on the electronic planet, Everyday Genius. Every time one of Ashley’s poems or stories beats at me, I’m head-shaking at her way of putting sentences and phrases and even words against each other. Some are mighty fires. Some are skull flicks. All are beauties pulsing.

An example, the poem “Stop Women,” one of the aforementioned gorgeous things at EG:

Stop Women

Sometimes one wonders
if our nation is
a public strip club.
A mother and daughter
who run a brothel for truckers fight
back when the Mafia
tries to take over their operation.
Men’s fragrances smell
like excuses for getting home late.
You will not stop women.

These are from her project, The Women, and until some Very Smart Person puts that book in the world, you’ll have to baskwow in these. Which is pretty great, right? Right.

Steak Night By Melissa Broder (Poem-Video at Moving Poems)

23 Apr

Another stellar poem-video at Moving Poems, this one based on the poem “Steak Night” by Melissa Broder, created by Daniel Lichtenberg, with original music by Diana Salier and Rob Justesen, and poem read by Edward Carden. The poem is from Broder’s collection, Meat Heart, from Publishing Genius Press. That book was one of my favorite poetry collections of 2012, wild with several layers of ripped open energy.

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.


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.

Single-Sentence Saturday: Dean Young

20 Apr

“Poetry is when the animal bursts forth, inflamed.”

from The Art of Recklessness: Poetry as Assertive Force and Contradiction by Dean Young, Graywolf Press.