Tag Archives: YesYes Books

YesYes is doing a lot of Yes on the West Coast

23 Mar


This just in from our friends at YesYes Books: they’re gearing up for some Yes’ness along the West Coast (or should we say the Yes Coast?). This monstrosity of a reading tour featuring some of the best of the YesYes crew looks to be crisscrossing the 101 from Seattle all the way to LA over the next week as a part of their brand-new PSYCCity reading series, each of which raises donations and sends poetry books to organizations that serve high-risk youth. 

Can I getta hell yeah? 

More details about the tour here.

PSYCCity Portland: A Benefit for P:EAR
Saturday, March 23, 6-8 pm
P:EAR Gallery

PSYCCity Oakland: A Benefit reading for Covenant House California

Monday, March 25, 7-9 pm
Grand Lake Coffee House

Live at 851, San Francisco
Tuesday, March 26, 8 pm

YesYes Books & Friends 2013 LA
Wednesday, March 27, 7 pm
Stories Books and Cafe

A Salon Reading with YesYes Books, Los Angeles
Friday, March 29, 8 pm
Hosted by Marci Vogel
Contact YesYes for an invite! kmasullivan@yesyesbooks.com

Erasure Single Sentence Review(?): I Don’t Mind If You’re Feeling Alone by Thomas Patrick Levy

24 May

Christopher wrote an awesome review of Thomas Patrick Levy’s new book, I Don’t Mind If You’re Feeling Alone. I did an erasure of that review, creating this Single Sentence Review or whatever.

I Don’t Mind If You’re Feeling Alone by Thomas Patrick Levy

9 May

I Don’t Mind If You’re Feeling Alone
by Thomas Patrick Levy
Yes Yes Books, Poetry
100pgs, $16 ($6 for web book)

I’ve been having a hard time talking about books lately. The words just aren’t coming. I’m not sure why. I have so many words. There are nearly infinite ways to string them together. Disregarding context and structure, the possibilities grow even more uncountable.

I first started this review discussing how I’ve changed in the past 5 years since graduating from the writing program at Ball State. I talked about how I would’ve hated this book then. Then, I liked primarily realist work, no tricks, give me subtext or give me death. I devoured Carver, Hempel, Sandburg, Wright. I strayed on occasion. I loved the less playful Brautigan, adored cummings.

I would’ve hated Levy’s I Don’t Mind If You’re Feeling Alone then.

Maybe that’s too strong. I wouldn’t have hated it. I wouldn’t have enjoyed it but maybe for some of the more readily available beauty in lines like:

Sometimes there is too much light and the leaves are crushed across our linoleum floor. I fold your dough into itself on the counter. I whisper I AM GOING TO TRY TO FIND OUT WHAT IT MEANS. Your eyes watch the strays chase children across our lawn. Your eyes know what it means to sleep through the smallest hurts.


Sometimes I touch your face with the moisture of my tongue, I press my fingers into your hair while I do this. You are not a desert.

But, I would’ve read Levy’s recent discussion of “negative capability” in a recent interview at Monkey Bicycle as attempting to justify nonsense. I would’ve thought about “The Wasteland” by Eliot, how I learned in school that it was meant to be intentionally obtuse, how I agreed with Stein that while Eliot had written some of the most beautiful lines in the history of the English language, he had written few if any of the greatest poems.

At lines like:

In your eyes of terrycloth I cannot pretend I don’t exist. I try to come apart again, a bathtub or windowpane. I concentrate on you as if I were stepping on a hill of sand. I touch you again, my tongue of branches, my touch of cracking leaves.


When my heart is the wind the sweet kernel corn is born into me like a splintered two by four. You can’t tell how I bleed each sack of skin into a paper flower. You can’t see my heart which frays like sun-burnt cloth.

I would’ve recoiled, likely. I might’ve read them out loud; I might’ve enjoyed their sounds and the sharp freshness of their images, but ultimately, I would’ve said, “I am tired of these words not communicating anything.”

I know now, words put down with intention always mean something, or mean to mean something. There is still plenty of writing out there like this that I don’t care to “get,” that doesn’t communicate with me. It’s a mystery of chemistry, maybe. But with a title like I Don’t Mind If You’re Feeling Alone, I am already invested in this book. I often feel so unimaginably lonely.

So, when Levy, before I even break the cover says, “That’s okay. I don’t mind. Here, I wrote this for you. I’m trying to tell you something. I’m trying to show you something new,” I want to try harder. I want to invest myself in what Levy wants to show me, even if I at first don’t quite understand it beyond words beautifully strung together. I know that now.

Available from:
YesYes Books | Powell’s | Amazon


22 Dec

For this month’s Vouched Satellite post at Smalldoggies Magazine, I talk to KMA Sullivan of YesYes Books about publishing and poetry and cool people. Thanks to her for being so nice and smart. Thanks to you for reading.

SSR: Heavy Petting by Gregory Sherl

28 Oct

Heavy Petting
Gregory Sherl
YesYes Books, 128 pages, $16

All this petting has Sherl rubbed thin, exposed, and I see him, a poet with a fearless sense of confession and a speed that pushes and pushes, and I know as the rubbing continues, with more shine and more polish, Gregory Sherl’s poems will become more exposed and thus more beautiful, and I’m like AH THE POEMS TO COME.

From “Be My Date:”

I want to smell the sound of you eating

my thighs, spread

like warm apple butter,

You are the first person I think of when I think

of waking up.

I call room service,

but I’m not in a hotel. I call information. I say:

The Ohio River is in Kentucky,

have you been there?

you can rest your body against my car’s warm hood

28 Sep

Please Don’t Leave Me Scarlett Johansson
Thomas Patrick Levy
Yes Yes Books, 2011$8, hand bound, 26 pages


Whether they are really of her or not, the supposed nude photos of Scarlett Johansson are hard to ignore. Sure the body and its startling ways, hers but also all, but definitely the celebrity, the gossip, the odd affection. I came across them when I was battling a way to talk about, no no no deal with, the writing of Thomas Patrick Levy’s chapbook Please Don’t Leave Me Scarlett Johansson. I knew it worked, but I couldn’t figure out why the fake Scarlett of these poems was so affecting.

Then, I saw these photos, those closed eyes and rear angle, oh man, that’s just enough to let us see but not truly enter this world of hers. But then I started wondering: there are millions of pictures of attractive naked women on the Internet, but a couple of cellphone photos capture my attention beyond the first OHYEAH view?

I think it’s because, like William Giraldi said in a recent article on the ecstatic, “when the old gods don’t work anymore, we make new ones.” And that’s what Levy has done here with these poems, he’s rid us of our old gods to shout ecstatic love at, that tired “you” and the people we write our own love poems to, and placed Scarlett Johansson, with the help of Tom Waits and Woody Allen references, on the throne. Looking up at them, he bursts himself open, each prose poem a plea or prayer sent up.

In terms of construction, each piece is a small block of words always starting with some address to this Scarlett, buzzing along without punctuation, connected by ‘ands’. As a whole, Levy is unafraid to link and swoop back, while at other times he dares to totally ignore the assumptions easily drawn. For instance, in one poem, the speaker claims to see Johannson working at a diner, one of the first moments of “yeah this isn’t her,” and even goes as far to say “even then I knew that you were not real…” Moments like these, readers get a sense of the complicatedness of these feelings, these poems.

The remarkable thing for me when reading these poems was how they felt so ordinary in first passing before hitting like a KABOOM at the end. Like, “And sometimes Scarlett I am afraid to touch you with these hands I’ve broken over steering wheels and fuel pumps and you’re always wearing your whitest skirt”. We see the beauty in the tension, love and respect bashing into one another. But where I think the Scarlett Johansson frame does its magic is how such a tactic renders me helpless in trying to look away, look beyond.

My thought process I guess goes something like this: “Oh Scarlett Johansson is really pretty” à “I could totally feel these things for her” à “Well yes they aren’t really about her” à “I do feel that for Person X” or “That reminds me of that time with Person Y.” Sure, good literature is supposed to do that, but the points I’m trying to make is how these pieces shake up the process of interpretation and praise because of the unexpected relentlessness of Levy’s approach.

Or that’s all another way to say: this chapbook is perfect to read while your ex-wife drives you to a weekend vacation for your birthday. Ecstasy goes beyond love or aesthetic pleasures; it reaches out of those strange places cluttered with too much emotion and ordinariness, placing one on a plane of exuberance and pure stokedness. That’s what I appreciate most about Levy’s words: how they are unafraid of worship, how they are unashamed of their unruliness, how they are pure, fabricated runaway love.


Read pieces from the chapbook in Diagram, Stoked Journal, and Alice Blue Review.