Tag Archives: Nick Sturm

Awful Interview: Mike Krutel

25 Oct

best poemsMike Krutel and I became friends by screaming in each other’s faces in an attic in Akron, Ohio. We were both believers, we didn’t know in what, but everything seemed important, now, possible. One night we stayed up late eating at Luigi’s, a famous pizza joint in Akron, making elaborate plans for reciting poems at an intersection, like with one person on each corner yelling over the traffic and going line by line around the intersection, being ridiculous, just doing something. One summer we rode a train back and forth across the country. One time we lived together while we got our MFAs. One time Mike wrote these poems called Best Poems and then we talked about them and everything was important, now, possible. Mike Krutel’s poems have been an integral part of my life since poems have been a part of my life. Raucous, tender, intelligent, uncontainable, I can’t wait for more of Mike’s work to be in the world, for his poems to get their hands in your beautiful beautiful hair.

NS: Your chapbook Best Poems is going to be published soon by Narrow House Books, the new corporate arm of Publishing Genius and Big Lucks, operated by the inestimable Mark Cugini. All of the poems in the chapbook are part of a series, “Best Exit,” “Best Car Fire in the Snow,” and “Best Sonnet,” etc. How did the concept of writing “best” versions of things come about? How did the series generate itself? What parts of the world, or kinds of worlds, were you gathering to make these poems?

MK: It’s completely odd to think about Narrow House as a corporate venture, but it’s true. It’s the version of Breaking Bad where Jessie (Mark) takes up Walt (Adam Robinson is out in the desert telling people he is the danger) on franchising the meth business. Side note: I have not yet seen the final season so don’t spoil it for me people. But I love that this whole corporate venture of writing is happening, especially for someone like Mark, who is going to nail it.

The project began about the time I was finishing up my MFA. The poems I had written up to that time, many of which ended up in a thesis manuscript, still didn’t sit right with me and I was trying to find a way out of the place where many of those poems came from, how they formed. Some of the poems in Best Poems were written before a Best concept even surfaced in my head. Then one night I was thinking about the impending death of my grandmother, and I felt like I could only write myself into the situation. I had not ever written a poem like that before and I was nervous to. Not to write something grand, but to just have the energy in the poem be right, even if the poem didn’t succeed in the end.

The basic principle behind the poems was that if I really didn’t feel like they had anything going for themselves, that made them work in bigger ways, if I’m just breaking into a ridiculous field of plants I couldn’t name though I could identify by some other means, then fuck it I’ll write the best poems that I can. Which is to say that poems can be the best of themselves while still exhibiting the things they have trouble with, or have failed to do despite their best efforts. Everything was game. And I think the poems do all this within themselves, but also in relation to each other by the fact that they exist in a collection based on best efforts.

NS: Who were you reading when you were writing Best Poems? How do think about how what you’re reading enters into your writing? You mentioned how a particular experience, the loss of your grandmother, catalyzed a kind of thinking-writing process. In light of that, I’m thinking about how my initial question here is really deceiving, as if other poems are the only models for poems. I’m hoping you answer that question, but I’m also hoping you can talk about how larger patterns (ontologically large) enter your work. You also live with another artist, so I’m wondering how that saturation (is it saturation?) becomes part of your thinking.

MK: I do find the question of readings to be a weird one, specifically when talking about what one is reading at the time of creating work. I always want to say that what one is reading can have nothing and everything to do with the creation of new work. I don’t even know how to make sense of that last statement, but it hangs on me. I eye the question with suspicion, but I’ll still take it out for a drink to get to know it a little better.

Honestly, there were a number of people that I think I was reading at the time, or that were circling my brain, and I find it hard to summon enough names to feel like I’m answering that question. Looking at the manuscript, I would like to think there are some hints that I was reading James Tate, Andre Breton, and Matt Hart, among many many others. In regards to Matt, it wasn’t only his poems, but his own performative reading of his poems that definitely makes some good tackle to go out with. That kind of charge definitely went into most of the poems in the chapbook, whether directly tied to his kind of energy or another. But maybe none of this shows very much to others and only to me, I don’t know. I’m curious to know.

So, yes. I do think the initial question can be deceiving. The poems do feed off of so much colliding material that is is hard to talk about pinpoints unless there is a more obvious modeling happening in a given poem, where the patterning of it in some way derives from a recognizable source (see: who I am/was reading, fragments of my life that were examinable for creative structural insights). My relationships with the poems, as I wrote/write them, are a sort of collision of elements and particles and larger structures–the larger structures not necessarily being any more or less powerful/magical than the smaller elements. I write a line and then react to get the next, or the next line more easily stems from the one before it, but I get halfway into the second line and think, “Oh shit!” and have to make some choice or find something in the break before or in the combination of the break and the two words after it that build into more words or just one that carries on.

I don’t have a completely good handle on who I was reading, or what I was talking about with other people, artists or not. Maybe an imprecise sense, but it all starts to bleed together a bit. And doesn’t that really become the matter? A poem doesn’t succeed based on one line that I can underline and say “Damn this beats it all, right?” Even a one line poem, one that is really really amazing, doesn’t do what it does on its own volition. There is so much space around it, and I am with it, and I am fucking around in the space with it and many other things.

NS: Why does catching the movement of the mind seem important to you?

MK: I don’t know if I believe in the statement contained in the question: “catching the movement of the mind.” If anything the mind might be more of a danger to movement than it is an instrument of it. I don’t mean danger to be a negative, either. Danger is directly related to movement and both are wonderful things to be caught in. Says Walter White: “I am the danger.”

NS: All of the poems in Best Poems are discrete poems that fit on one page, but as a series they make a larger constellation that resists the closure of any single poem. In fact, many of these poems seem to resist closure in themselves, or to present an “end” to the poem as a kind of illusion. I’m trying to describe how these poems continue after they’re “over,” how their ambiguity and syntax generate an unknowing that never fully closes, and how this happens despite the poem looking, in some ways, like a traditional “poem,” i.e., like I said, it fits on a page, is aligned on the left margin, employs normal spacing and enjambment, etc. You’ve written other series and also long poems, one of which is in this issue of NOO Weekly. The need for and experience of series vs. long poems is always something I’m interested in, like how one or the other arises or needs to happen. Are there differences for you? What are the conditions for a long poem or for a series? What does one do that the other can’t? Is that even right?

MK: I think that idea of closure, or seeming closure, is true of the poems that I am most interested in. I really value a poem when its ending is at a point during which the poem is being as open as it possibly can. I don’t mean open as in sentimental honesty or truthfulness, but more in the physical sense. Wander room and wonder room.

When I’m writing, even when I’m creating something that isn’t coming together in any way, let’s call it a poem regardless of what it is being written, I never want it to end. I keep pushing on the poem’s structure until it says “Alright, it’s ok, you’ve done enough for now,” or perhaps the poem gives me the finger. I’m pushing my self, but also the parameters of what one poem will allow me to do to it. I think this is the same for the concept of a series or long poem.

The long poem you just mentioned started on a plane ride to Boston. The title came to me for obvious reasons of air travel. I liked how I could push against the paring of the words to create different situations of language, parts of speech: whatever(pronoun) it is that clouds(verb); whatever(exclamation), you damned clouds(noun); whatever-clouds (adjective-noun). I repeated it over and over during the course of a few days at AWP. It moved around me while I was not entirely conscious of it, while I was having these amazing experiences with people. Then I wrote the whole thing in a day, as you know already. I used the buddy system with this combination I had been thinking about for days and said to it that we were going to wander into a thinkness/thickness/thinkless space.

If anything, I might say that the series and the long poem can accomplish similar goals. I think one can see where a long poem goes thin, doesn’t make a right connection, or something like that. In this way, the long poem’s immediacy, how it is forced to account for it’s wholeness, is really important because that means that a series has to do the same thing though we might be inclined to shrug off that notion because it seems like the series is made of separate parts that don’t have to answer quite as much to each other. Of course, I can also say the reverse: that the ability of a series to circle around a very similar concern and yet at times be a somewhat disparate, this can happen in a long poem as well, or in any poem.

I’m curious about your use of “vs.”

Like, right now, I am reading Ashbery’s “A Wave” for the first time of really reading it, as opposed to mere (very important) absorptions.

No, wait, let’s do this. I’m going to keep reading “A Wave” and you are going to ask your next question and we are all going to inhabit a space because of course.

NS: I’m curious about your use of “of course.” If you could fill a china cabinet with anything, what would you fill it with? Would you rather bake or boil an artichoke? Is it any use talking about poems like this?

MK: Because of course and courses. I’m in this long Ashbery poem, this one and its many assemblings of a course. The long poem and the short(er) poem are the same things just showing their magic and tensions in more and less ways (I don’t think I can say that one or the other can lay claim to more or less definitively and that is wonderful and hard and part of the course).

I have a complicated relationship with china cabinets. I’m sorry that this avoids the fun of the question, but I wouldn’t want to put anything in a china cabinet. They are heavy and restrictive of whatever is put in them. Too much. I prefer an open bar or credenza. Bookshelves are wonderfully open.

I have baked and steamed artichokes but never before have I boiled one. Really, all that matters is the eating of it with at least one other person and how ridiculous we are scraping our teeth on a plant and fumbling every time in trying to remember how to deal with the heart. So yes, it is of use, and I don’t know that I can explain it anymore than that right now.

Still Friends: 4,113 Miles of Impossible Pleasure

17 Oct

book suitcase

For three weeks in August I drove 4,113 miles in my blue Toyota Yaris for the Finally Be Friends tour in support of my book, How We Light, from H_NGM_N BKS. More importantly though, the trip was an elaborate excuse to overlap wounds with so many incredible poets, friends, and new friends. “Travel” and “poem” are bound in my mental lexicon. Long poems, long trips, they’re the same for me. It’s fun to go a long way just to be a person somewhere else. So, avoiding the cliche, it’s not that poems “take me somewhere,” that they transport me. The poems themselves are somewhere. And not only that, they create the conditions to grasp the coordinates of an elsewhere (internal and external) that we often describe as mystery or the unknown, a space of bewilderment (proper to Fanny Howe’s description of the word). An impossible pleasure.

Couches are what make this all possible. Any poet who has traveled to read will tell you this. And I think it’s important to acknowledge how necessary and incredible an act that is. Many of us know each other through and in poetry and our poems, and the truth is that a lot of us don’t really know each other (or not yet), that we’re not friends in the most traditional sense, but that poetry is the community we share and build our friendships around. We came for the poems but found out pretty quick there was a lot more there. So many of my poems are directly for friends, but “for” isn’t quite right. Rather, the poems model and extend and accentuate every kind of relationship. The poems are all we have. Also, each other. So when a poet is in your city, when they bring their body’s voice into your lush corner of being, to offer them that couch, that air mattress, that cup of coffee in the morning is nothing less than a spiritual pact.

With these photos from my trip I’m vouching for every couch and every friend and every conversation I had along the way, for the affirmation of our impossible pleasure. May there be love and mercy in your green mornings: B.J. Love, Erika Jo Brown, Zach Powers, Mark Cugini, Laura Spencer, Danniel Schoonebeek, Paige Taggart, Amy Lawless, Nat Otting, Sasha Fletcher, Hafizah Geter, Jason Koo, Tiffany Gibert, Sarah Green, Alexis Pope, Justin Crutchley, Joshua Kleinberg, Chris Smith, Jared White, Jon Pan, Tom Forkin, Russell Dillon, Adam Fell, Nate Pritts, Matt Hart, Jen Fortin, Ben Kopel, Curtis Purdue, Roberto Montes, Josh Fomon, Sandra Beasley, Tyler Christensen, the guy who yelled “IS JOSE HERE?” during the DC reading, Joel Coggins, Dave Carulli, Michelle Becker, Jamie Suvak, Mike Krutel, Curt Brown, Sarah Marcus, Karl Vorndran, Todd Winter (my Dad’s friend who bought a book for his Mom, whose name is Marge, so that I got to write “Dear Marge, Hello!” in her book), Jimmy Bigley, Maria Varonis, Aby Sullivan, Heather Christle, Chris DeWeese, Eric Appleby, Tricia Suit, Cathy Wagner, Dana Ward, Austin Hayden, Patricia Murphy, Adam Clay, Ada Limon, Aubrey Lenahan, Travis Wayne Denton, Chad Prevost, Ashley Hamilton, Daniel Lindley (the chef whose heated pool we debauched in Chattanooga), Mike Young, Gale Thompson, Laura Solomon, Wendy Xu, Jess Grover, Holly Amos, Dolly Lemke, Dan Rosenberg, Daniel Beauregard, Laura Relyea, Amy McDaniel, Bruce Covey, Gina Myers, Kory Calico, Alexis Orgera, Caroline Cabrera, Phil Muller, Miley Cyrus, Steven Karl, Hitomi Yoshio, Scott Cunningham, and Carrie Lorig. From the depths of the light, THANK YOU.

south carolina

Day One in Chapin, South Carolina: re-writing The Prelude

savannah bridge

Day Two in Savannah, Georgia: Talmadge Memorial Bridge

savannah roar

Day Two in Savannah, Georgia: have fun

flannery tub

Day Two in Savannah, Georgia: in Flannery O’Connor’s tub

mark and laura

Day Three in Washington, DC: Mark and Laura at Madam’s Organ in Adam’s Morgan

josh mark alexis nick

Day Four in Brooklyn: with Mark, Josh, and Alexis

brooklyn team

Day Four in Brooklyn: after Unnameable

kleinberg fire escape

Day Four in Brooklyn: fire escape / Akron Low Life

willa morning

Day Five in Brooklyn: Willa morning

russell's place

Day Five in the West Village: Russell’s H_NGM_N H_NG__T

lincoln memorial

Day Six in Washington, DC: pre-shutdown whiskey memorial

pittsburgh friendship

Day Seven in Pittsburgh, PA: somebody had been gluing protractors to public property

furnance run

Day Eight in Akron, OH: with Jamie in Furnace Run, Cuyahoga Valley National Park

krutel cave tree

Day Eight in Akron, OH: Krutel in tree cave

aby boob

Day Eight in Akron, OH: the only time this will ever happen

carrie yellow springs

Day Nine in Yellow Springs, OH: Carrie climbs and smells water. Says it works.

austin cincinnati

Day Nine in Cincinnati, OH: Austin Hayden is full of little brothers

cincinnati eric's dog

Day Nine in Cincinnati, OH: Carrie and Olive

notley horse lecture

Day Ten in Lexington, KY: 2-hour horse butt Alice Notley lecture

adam and penny

Day Ten in Lexington, KY: Adam and Penny and IPA

boone homestead

Day Ten in Lexington, KY: an American tradition

carrie lexington

Day Ten in Lexington, KY: black sheep light

woodford reserve

Day Eleven in Lexington, KY: woodford reserve morning

chattanooga pool

Day Eleven in Chattanooga, TN: lesson in how your one-night episode of the Real World is waiting for you in the most unlikely place

chattanooga underwear

Day Twelve in Chattanooga, TN: a rich person’s wet underwear was in my car so I put it in this plant instead

athens with wendy

Day Twelve in Athens, GA: with Wendy with Jess beard looking xoxo

athens team

Day Twelve in Athens, GA: softball team

atlanta reading

Day Thirteen in Atlanta, GA: Amy’s living room starring vegan chili

fort lauderdale

Day Fifteen in Ft. Lauderdale, FL: is any of this chartreuse?


Day Fifteen in Ft. Lauderdale, FL: Caro at Green Bar

del ray reading

Day Sixteen in Boca Rotan, FL: the best reading that no one came to

caro and phil backyard

Day Seventeen in Ft. Lauderdale, FL: where is your tiny airplane today?

steven miami

Day Seventeen in Miami, FL: dork swagger / leaves of lol

miami pool

Day Eighteen in Miami, FL: Steven’s pool ok

phil cupcake

Day Eighteen in Ft. Lauderdale, FL: there was shit in Phil’s yacht yard and a candle in this vegan devil food cupcake

sarasota pike

Day Nineteen in Sarasota, FL: Pike and Heron

door poor

Day Twenty in Tallahassee, FL: cleaned out my car



Awful Interview: Nick Sturm

30 Sep

Sturm3H_NGM_N Books recently released Nick Sturm’s debut collection of poems How We LightLike most of Sturm’s work, the book exhibits a certain exuberance wherein the speaker makes claims such as:

                                                        There’s nothing
I’d rather be doing than having
elaborate hedonistic parties     Than using
my mouth to love you (28)

To some extent, the book’s enthusiasm for life, for friends, for love, for poetry acts as a “fuck you” to the “Darkness” (41) that sometimes can envelop of our emotional and psychic states. But more than functioning as an antidote or counterbalance to negative aspects of thought and life, these  poems also work as affirmation, in and of themselves. Take, for instance, the conclusion of the collection’s final poem “I Feel Yes.” The speaker champions experiences that are “both meaningful / and valuable”:

                       because meaning and value
are unbearably soldered to the meat
of living, so that we have nothing but happiness (88)

Yes, these poems are just as much (if not more) about creating “happiness” than dismantling the “Darkness.”

Over the past couple of week, Sturm answered some questions for me over email, so as to provide a bit more insight into the creation of his manuscript and offered some ideas about the writing found within his book.

Much of your first full-length collection of poems, How We Light (H_NGM_N BOOKS, 2013), contains material from four chapbooks that were released over the course of the past couple years. I was hoping you could talk about the process of re-imagining these poems in service of a broader context. By that, I mean, how did your relationship to these particular chapbooks (and the poems therein) alter or shift during the sequencing process? Did you learn anything new or different about them when considering their placement in the book? What types of resonances did you discover between them? To that end, were there any points of friction or dissonance that were problematic for you or need to be resolved? How did the publication of these chapbooks help you along, ultimately, in the development of How We Light?

Chapbooks deserve their own lives as chapbooks. They’re a vital publishing form – intimate, textural, concentrated, audacious. They put pressure on how we think about and about making books. Which is to say I don’t think chapbooks exist only to serve what we call, simply because of quantity, full-length books. Four chapbooks that come to mind as resolutely full-length, however you want that to mean: Matthew Rohrer’s A Ship Loaded With Sequins Has Gone Down, Bernadette Mayer’s The Helens of Troy, NY, Carrie Lorig’s nods., Dana Ward’s The Squeakquel. Thinking about this answer, it’s important for me to say that when the process of talking about the book began I did not have a “complete” book, not at all. Nate Pritts, the editor-hero of H_NGM_N, and I had a long conversation about this exact question: how do chapbooks come together into a book? At first I resisted dismantling the chapbooks to make a book, but the problem was exactly that I was thinking about the process as “dismantling” – the chapbooks have their own autonomy and time – it’s not possible to take them apart. But I couldn’t really account for the parallax between the chapbooks and the time of the book until I had newer poems to stand in. Once those poems existed, the shape of How We Light became intuitive. I realized I didn’t have to “make” an organic emotional structure – I had to grow it, get wet in it, be hurt by it, and that’s mostly a matter of failing, flailing, and having fun.

How We Light contains two long poems: the title poem, located midway through the book, and “I Feel Yes,” which concludes the collection. Could you talk a bit about long poems, generally speaking: What do you they offer you as a writer? What long poems by other poets have influenced your writing? Why and how? How does your process differ when composing a long poem? What are the difficulties inherent to that process? More specific to How We Light, how do you think the two poems in your book affect the reader’s experience, as well as alter or shift the manner in which we read the shorter poems?

For a while I was only writing poems that fit on a page, and that was necessary – I needed to write a lot of poems. As you’ve talked about, most of the poems in my first chapbook, What a Tremendous Time We’re Having!, play around the shape of a sonnet – they’re all quite dense. When it came out, my reaction to its material presence in the world was to write something sprawling and digressive. I had been reading Anselm Berrigan’s book-length poem Notes from Irrelevance and Padgett Powell’s novel of questions, The Interrogative Mood, and I sat down and in one weekend wrote “I Feel Yes.” At the time, it was a way of unbalancing myself. Going past the edge of the page over and over was exhilarating, if only because I was curious to know what would happen if I kept not stopping. Over the last year I’ve been mostly only writing long poems, which means I haven’t been writing many poems. But that’s not true. I have been writing a lot of poems, they’re just absorbed into larger patterns after the fact. The idea of writing a discrete poem on a single page is kind of impossible to me right now. And that’s not a choice I made. The radical shifts in the textures of the circumstances of my life made long form poems a necessity. As far as process, it means my thinking is more accumulative, disparate, open-ended. I never feel like I’m finishing anything anymore. That makes me anxious and unbounded at the same time. Sometimes it feels more like translating than writing, as if there’s an original poem somewhere, I don’t know where, and I’m slowly distorting it into this new thing. Nevertheless, I spend the time there because long form poems allow for collaboration with the indeterminate, self-reflexive mystery and magic of the forces that I feel most (non)human inhabiting. In How We Light, I imagine the long poems making the other poems forget they are poems. I mean that they might create the possibility of poetic potential that is greater than any distinct poem. No one wants to just read poems.

What types of projects or poems are you currently working on/writing? How do you see your newer poems working with (or against) the poems in How We Light? Is there a development or progression in your writing that engages or moves away from your previous concerns? How so and why?

I can’t seem to write if I’m not writing with someone else, so a few collaborative projects with the usual suspects have been underway. More than anything right now I’m just soaking in things. I’m taking three amazing classes, a theory survey, Postmodern Tragedy, and Žižek’s Politics, that are stretching and overlapping all the patterns, and teaching two classes, one on Postmodern Joy and another on short story and short film. Jeff Hipsher and I started a new reading series in Tallahassee called Dear Marge, Hello. I’m watching a lot of Ingmar Bergman and Woody Allen movies. I read and loved Lisa Jarnot’s biography of Robert Duncan. I’m helping edit an essay-anthology of experimental female poets for The Akron Series in Contemporary Poetics. I’m eating more obscure fruit. I was lucky to be able to spend most of August doing a tour of readings from How We Light and after spending over 4,000 miles with those poems and friends I was able to see the shape of a new manuscript called Outside in the Aporia Days. It has an epigraph from a Prince song. I don’t know, but I want that to be a sure sign of progress. One of the new poems is here in PEN. Whatever this book turns out to be, it’s coming out of my obsession with long poems, which doesn’t necessarily mean my concerns are changing, just transferring. I recently edited an issue of NÖÖ Weekly focusing on long poems and sequences – I am letting those poems and poets permeate me. I’ve been working to be more permeable in general lately, more weather-like, amalgamated. I have a reading list for the winter that includes Alice Notley, Jules Verne, and Peter Sloterdijk. Other than that, I’m happy to watch so many other poets’ successes lately, like forthcoming books from Tyler Gobble and Alexis Pope, both from Coconut, and Mike Krutel’s chapbook Best Poems from Big Lucks. I’m just going to keep writing poems with these people until everything is a skylight.

Best Thing I’ve Read Today: Kelin Loe in NOÖ Weekly

2 Sep

Recently, that old scoundrel Nick Sturm put together his own version of a NOÖ Weekly, testing the flex and the stretch of us all with a hunk of long poems and series.

And there I saw this intense oomph from Kelin Loe. It goes like a mighty wildfire. Wow. It made me walk laps and sweat. That’s a good thing. Kelin has a great way of talking is the best I can say it.

clydesdales , hot dogs and dollar shots  —  meet me here OR no oven mitts on fire in here ! ! !

i will make these lasagnas in 15 minutes wearing nothing but those panties !

tracing my umbrella now. how the rib meets the rod is unclear .

penises hanging everywhere and nobody is worried but me   !


! ! !


somebody please quit making out in the library it sounds like eating stew !! and please tell me if i need to poop or otherwise —

been eating cereal like its meal so much corn and so much time to eat the corn and grind grind and i believe you followed the trail of sugar to find me yesterday so

HERE    I    AM    , HONEY POT ! ! !

i keep opening the internet like there is food in there  .


! ! !


before my husband was my husband i learned that men don’t wipe after number one  .

and, as an aviator , how do you feel about my relationship with my husband ? ??

can you or can you not see it ? ?

please is it made of MATTER HOW much can it mean ? ?

banana bag !   NOW !!  and a middle-aged man to tell me FACTS  .


! ! !

Caroline Cabrera told us all about Kelin and her goodness back in this interview, remember? If we weren’t paying attention yet, now’s the time, okay?

Check out more great sprawling stuff from Mike Krutel, Matthew Yeager, S.E. Smith, and more in that issue, too!


New Love: Amanda Nadelberg

17 Aug

Less than a week ago I moved to Austin, Texas and since then every sense I’ve got has been overloaded like BOOM and whoa near constantly, which is beautiful but draining in a way that feels like being streamlined to fit in a place already bursting with glass bottles and hungry birds and long hair.  Drinking excessive water is a survival basic. Surfaces that have no reason to be painted smile with circles the color of Easter chicks and Tiffany boxes, just for the sake of paint.

There’s this whitewater rollicking poem in the latest jubilat by Amanda Nadelberg called “Mont America” that has been grabbing at my hands a lot during this week, demanding attention when so many other things also beg.  It trumpets its fullness so much that I can’t ignore it.  See here:

Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 5.49.12 PM

Nadelberg also has, to my joy, a recent interview at Coldfront (which named her second full-length collection Bright Brave Phenomena eleventh out of their Top 40 Poetry Books of 2012, by the way) conducted by lovely poet/eternal friend Nick Sturm. They chitter about putting eggs in baskets and bravery, and afterward Nadelberg has a new poem called “Symphony of Leaves,” which sings like

O say more they’re beautiful
(a road to the sea to feel sing)
the refrigerator’s small war.
A day named for daughters
or a man running tenuously, half
marm half monster a wild thing
in the woods. We’ve been chalking
fixes between one house and others,
portioned middling hellos, reason to
nod at disaster riding his bike at night.


If all broke free o mordant earth,
if the rings of Saturday were on our lips
or there are sleeping people no place
in the sanctuary, the dew knotted
horses agreeing to meet at seven
by the sea. I repeat. Beer is
not a woman though clearly part
of an American conscience,
we think about the moon and
then none of us go outside.

The elegant bomb-blasts that litter Nadelberg’s poems have my attention. Check out more of her things with me.

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.

SSR #2 of 15: I Was Not Even Born

4 Jul


I Was Not Even Born
Wendy Xu & Nick Sturm
Coconut Books

These poems are so big they span the 611.5 miles between Northampton, MA and Akron, OH and three months and pizza and lemonade and joy and tears and amazement and beers and longing!

Best Thing I’ve Seen: Big Big Mess Reading Series Posters (and contest!)

23 Jun

The Big Big Mess Reading Series, now in the hands of Mike Krutel and Kati Mertz, has been a major wow spot in Akron, OH for awhile now. I’ve been stoked both times I’ve been up there for events; they’re a little rowdy, a lot good, and with plenty of spunk (see: giveaways of books and weird stuff the hosts find at thrift shops). They’ve hosted such rad folks as Zachary Schomburg, Heather Christle, Matt Bell, Amelia Gray, and many more.


They’ve also got this pattern of having some sweeeet posters for the events. Here are a few:




See the whole collection here.

And now, what you’ve all been waiting for! THE CONTEST. The Big Big Mess Reading Series is gettin’ fresher! They want you (yeah, you!) to submit some poster design for their next round of readings. All the details are here. But like most submission type things, it goes 1) come up with something rad and 2) send it to them. You have until July 15th. Okay, GO, okay.

I Feel Yes by Nick Sturm

17 Apr



When Nick gives us the chapbooks I, like everyone else, take it out of its Ziploc and lick it.  I lick too hard, with childish gusto.  The letters of “YES” are lemonade mix glued to the cover, and my Y is blotched with a wet tongueprint—temporary, but obvious in the moment.

Later all of us splayed out on two hotel beds reading our stories, poems, and in-betweens. After I say and this sadness shall not prevail against it Nick kissbites my shoulder.  It is really wonderful.  There are so many places and gatherings of persons where doing even a little too much of the right thing is wrong.  Their Yesses are not written in all caps, have no taste in their mouths or yours.

*   *   *

Sometimes this poem holds my face in both of its hands and it’s almost too much to handle.


All this is a fist full of telephones

filled with the same immense voicemail,

an almost translucent string of sounds

resembling light more than language,

the basic message being:  I feel fucking yes.

My heart making out with your heart in the mist

of sprinklers. our hips secret beaches sweet

with nonsense and campfire smoke and an illimitable

unspoken feeling that regardless of this being

a complete mistake it is, in fact, complete,

and amidst the ongoing collapse of laughter

my head fills with something that is not control

in favor of reciting sunflowers on some wet wet

interstate perhaps not so far from here where

this system is neverending sufficiently and I

might fall asleep in your daffodils with a smile

smashed against my face.


I mean just, Jesus—did you read that?  At a reading I read at recently, another reader—a poet—talked about how he didn’t want to hear about some poet’s feelings and telling a former professor this story I half-jokingly addressed the guy: “Oh man, you are gonna hate the next forty-five minutes; I mean, you better get ready to frown.”

But really, what are you doing in the space of a poetry reading or reading poetry if you’re not looking to encounter a heap of somebody else’s vital, genuine something?  Yes language and form and so on but if it’s not serving some central vehicle of a desire to express then why should anyone give a sincere fuck?

Disconnect and detachment are easy to find and harmful, and I’m just not interested.  Poems like this one, running and reveling like a goddamn stampede of joy are a huge part of why I’m consuming poems at all.

*  *   *

One night when I was fifteen I pressed my forehead to the rear right window of my friend Tina’s packed purple Camry and promised myself with all the fierce purity of a teenage promise that I would not forget that moment, the cold dew-dappled glass.  We were surrounded by southern Indiana swells and corn ransacked by fireflies.  I knew my heart was full in a way that seemed wrecked or exhausted out of most people I knew past a certain age.

Reading I FEEL YES is a small sadness in one way, in that its unabashed revelry makes apparent to me the myriad of little wrecks, tiny collapsings that have worked their way into me and people I love over the ensuing near-decade, how easy it was to get far removed from that precious internal space, because the ecstasy of it can seem distant.  But it’s also an incredible joy, a lightning storm of wonderful news, in that one route back is so easily, poignantly available:  a poem written and physically given to you by a friend.  This is the best kind of grace, the kind knotted messily to you by a heart in a body with a mouth that can bite you, gently, that can tell you Yes.

S.E. Smith Spotlighted at Coldfront

1 Apr

S.E. Smith, winner of the 2011 Cleveland State University Poetry Center First Book Prize, trotted out some beautiful, insightful answers to Nick Sturm’s questions over at Coldfront Magazine. She talks about being a reader, long poems, and the new project Line Assembly, amongst other WOW things.

I like how you’ve added implication to this question, because implying an audience is one great power of rhetoric. I mean, if you’re trying to convince somebody, you really have to consider them as you write and hear your words landing on their ears. I love when poets do this. Often, it’s the difference between a competent poem and an incendiary one. Rhetoric insists that words are more than the silly little nuggets we use to order a pizza. Reading a poem, I want to be addressed. I want to sense that the poet foresaw the occasion of my reading his or her work. I love the implied generosity of it, the care taken. That the formative impulse of the poem is to explain something and get somewhere rather than to merely share some vague impressions. Don’t make the poem this tricky little box that I may or may not figure out how to open. It’s always irked me in workshops when somebody defensively says “You got it right” or “You got it wrong” after hearing the class read their poem in a way they didn’t anticipate. Guess what? It ain’t a game show. That’s what happens when you put the words on the paper: They leave you. They make friends with people you don’t like. They say things you didn’t intend them to. This is true whether you’re writing narrative or formalist or exploratory work. Putting the words on paper gives you, always, a measure of loss, and you have to deal with it.

Check out the whole thing here. It truly is awesome!