Monday, July 28, 2008

John Ashbery is 81 Today

John Ashbery is 81 today, July 28, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mr. Ashbery!

If you have facebook, you can go to his wall and say hello. (That's where I got the above portrait.)

To celebrate, here’s one of my favorite readings of his, reading from his first selected poems at the Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe, NM, November 20, 1985

1. Introduction (1:27): MP3

2. Two Scenes (2:33): MP3
3. Popular Letters (2:16): MP3
4. Thoughts of a Young Girl (1:21): MP3
5. The New Realism (2:13): MP3
6. Plainness and Diversity (1:56): MP3
7. Variations, Calypso and Feud (11:55): MP3
8. Chateau Hardware (0:46): MP3
9. Worsening Situation (2:48): MP3
10. The Other Tradition (2:33): MP3
11. The Gazing Grain (1:26): MP3
12. And Ut Pictura Poesis Is Her Name (3:26): MP3
13. At North Farm (2:26): MP3
14. The Songs We Know Best (4:18): MP3
15. Tableaux Parisiens (2:07): MP3
16. More Pleasant Adventures (1:30): MP3
17. A Wave (6:41): MP3
18. Finished Rapsody (7:19): MP3
19. Vettiver (2:11): MP3
20. A Mood of Quiet (1:03): MP3
21. October at the Window (2:53): MP3
22. Forgotten Song (2:56): MP3
23. Someone You Have Seen Before (4:49): MP3
Complete Recording (1:17:41): MP3

This reading, and more of Ashbery’s readings, in downloadable MP3, can be found here:

John Ashbery

And here’s a little something I wrote about him last year (with only his age updated), that I don’t think I ever posted:

There is a need to say everything. To say this thing in poetry is to split it in two.

John Ashbery is turning 81 today. He’s been publishing books of poetry for over 50 years, with plenty of champions and detractors. As for me, I find his poetry persuasive. It enacts what I suppose might be called the “democratization of difficulty.” Which is, the Modernists are said to have written difficult poems, and readers often had the feeling that they, the readers, just weren’t smart enough to catch all the allusions, etc., but if they were, it would benefit the reading of the poem, and make it all resolve. Ashbery’s difficulty, contrarily, is open to everyone. There is no book to which he’s referring (or, as is often the case, he IS alluding to something, but if you catch the allusion it’s only as helpful as finding out which magazine Richard Hamilton found his objects to cut out) . . . it’s all fishing in the day, its imagination and anxiety.

Or that is my conception of it. But that’s an academic argument, and for me, personally, Ashbery has meant more. I didn’t read any of Ashbery’s poetry in High School or in my undergraduate college literature classes . . . but when I got to Creative Writing class, the text was the Longman American Poetry . . . we didn’t actually read any of the Ashbery poems in the class either, but I did on my own. And at that point everything was transformed. This was a poetry that forced me to read poetry the way I wanted to read poetry all along. As open, as a plenitude.

For me, Ashbery’s creating a complex, inexplicable tone in his poems, and building moments of high clarity (clarity of his purpose, and his human world view) amid the radical inclusions. In a similar way that much of Pop Art existed in a de-re-contextualized space of tonally complex engagement with their content. Cool, they called it.

Deciphering tone, then, in Ashbery’s poetry, is the difficult thing, and the fun thing, the joyous exploratory thing. His difficulty, the dilemma one has in regarding his work, is the same difficulty, the same dilemma, I face in regarding the contemporary situation. It’s what I see when I open my door and walk outside. Take Warhol’s Campbell soup cans and take Levittown and you have the Suburban dilemma: Is this scene pleasant or horrifying?

The desire each of us has for creature comfort translates itself into middle class, machine-made lives, one side might argue. The desire each of us has for personal trimmings, for a spice of uniqueness within the comfortable, when seen from a middle distance, serves only to heighten the blandness of comfort. There is a disquiet in the tension between similar and dissimilar lives, the threat of being average within the solace of being unthreatened. There’s always TV, of course.

And in this way, in the collaged manner of our existence, we’re all already participating in ephemera. As, really, in the longest view, all is ephemera, including the universe itself. So why not? But is participating in ephemera the same as celebrating it? That is the tonal question for me. The question that Ashbery keeps tossing at me. How to apprehend.

We make the texture:

Backing up a little further from the field of Campbell soup cans, one can see the ordered beauty of Mondrian. The beauty of the lines. This is the true ambivalence of the contemporary.

Ashbery writes:

They are the same aren’t they
The presumed landscape and the dream of home
Because the people are all homesick today or desperately sleeping,
Trying to remember how those rectangular shapes
Became so extraneous and so near . . .
(“The Bungalows” SP 114-6)

The nothing happening is a sort of goal. Or, in Ashbery’s formulation, being “kind of general,” so everyone will like it. He writes:

But the fantasy makes it ours, a kind of fence sitting
Raised to the level of an esthetic ideal.
(“Soonest Mended” SP 88)

This is not a metaphor for something, this poetry. This is something enacted. It’s the need to say everything. And everything split in two. Or to say all options are open. It is not a poetry of evasion, it is a poetry of radical inclusion. A more thoroughly elemental relationship to the materials of poetry production, with the feeling, the under-tone, that we’re always on the verge of an understanding. That desire. And the radical embracing of that desire:

He writes:

Despite misgivings, the story clicks to a halt,
as always. The credits surge. People rush to leave.
The shiny cars of another era are coming
to take us where we wish to be taken, lest we
outstay our welcome and sink in the embrace
of another mood.

What do those who speak against this poetry want from it that they say they’re not getting? Must we be able to perform a close reading of it? Or is it that they would read it, but for the fact that they don’t know the language?

This is my position: Ashbery’s poetry is one of radical ongoingness . . . the desire not to be tied to reductive statements . . . And so, Ashbery’s project becomes the accruing products of a mind engaged in the act of being engaged. The actual being of streets endlessly becoming more streets. The truth of that. Enacting a kind of radical emotional truthfulness. In this, Ashbery has been right, has been historically accurate, to the tone of the contemporary.

Ashbery has helped, me at least, perhaps more than any other contemporary poet, to be free from Close Reading, or a kind of reduction to parts close reading made popular when he began writing, and which still held when I began learning. I don’t have to construct boxes within boxes, the way my teachers conceptualized poetic organization to be. I can go on the feel of the thing. As the role of new poetry should be to be indescribable through the existing descriptions of poetry, and the subsequent defamiliarization become refamiliarization, Ashbery’s vision has become the persuasive vision, his ontology has become ours.

But, knowing that meaning, that a center is important, Ashbery’s poetry is all about its meaning, it’s reception, all about, tracing the limits of—traipsing the marked-out territory of the desire for meaning:

He writes:

“If we could look at a photograph of it and say there they are, they never really stopped but there they are. There is so much to be said, and on the surface of it very little gets said. . . . There ought to be room for more things, for a spreading out . . . . Alas, we perceive them if at all as those things that were meant to be put aside . . .”
(“For John Clare” SP 103)

And in this way, the rock the builders have rejected, has become Ashbery’s cornerstone. And in this way, Ashbery teaches us to read.

He writes:

I plan to stay here a little while
For these are moments only, moments of insight,
And there are reaches to be attained,
A last level of anxiety that melts
In becoming . . . (“The Task” SP 83)

Many of the things said about Ashbery have reduced his poetry to a hum of subjectivity, to an approach to composition. Well, ok, but the problem with this is it lets people digest the operation and move on, which is a violence against the possibilities of the poems themselves.

Thinking of Lyn Hejinian’s essay “The Rejection of Closure,” I imagine Ashbery’s poetry as a wonderful closure-adoring rejection of closure . . . in poem after poem he embraces closure both in the mood and tone of the poem, but in its physical enacting as well, a sort of penultimania. His most wonderfully quotable lines come at the ends of poems, where:

Versions of cities [are] flattened under the equalizing night.
The summer demands and takes away too much,
But night, the reserved, the reticent, gives more than it takes.
(“As One Put Drunk into the Packet-Boat” SP 163-4)

Poetics is not for commonsense people. It is at the edges of sense, where possibility exists. And possibility formed as conclusions is where Ashbery focuses much of his attention, I’ll conclude by letting him speak.

He writes:

To sum up: We are fond of plotting itineraries
And our pyramiding memories, alert as dandelion fuzz, dart from one pretext to the next
Seeking in occasions new sources of memories, for memory is profit
Until the day it spreads out in all accumulation . . .
(“Decoy” SP 101)

So today, some imaginary cake for Ashbery, and the now is continuing. This need to say everything and to split it in two.

* * *

And then this, from Geoffrey Gatza:

Happy Birthday John Ashbery
July 28th, 2008

Today is John Ashbery’s 81st birthday! Hip Hip Hurray! And to celebrate here in Buffalo, I made up 20 abstract birthday cards out of dollar store construction paper and a dollar store glue stick. I then asked poets from Buffalo to sign them and personalize them and we mailed them off in time for him to have them today.

Since everyone cannot play I decided to scan them in, sans inscription, and make a PDF book with pictures of John’s birthday last year. You can view the PDF at the link below. As the art is a celebration of life and commemorating the day he was born, these images will also be used in Anne Waldman’s forthcoming BlazeVOX book, a reprint of her First Baby Poems, due out in the late Fall. Waldman’s poems are a celebration of the beginning of a life and so were a natural choice for the book.

Happy Birthday book:

Pictures of John’s 80th last year:

If you wish to leave a happy birthday to John please fill in the comment section and we’ll get them to him. So please participate, if you wish!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Radiohead - In Rainbows

Radiohead – In Rainbows

Three very good reasons why I should have mentioned In Rainbows long ago:

All I Need



In the meme time

sam of the ten thousand things tagged me with a meme. He wrote “As an adult, the following selections have influenced or impacted me the most...”

So I will follow!

As a child, this was the book that meant the most to me:

The Wind in the Willows.

As an adult:

The Book(s):

Harmonium (in the Collected Poems), Wallace Stevens. I really can’t ever get past this book. I have three different Wallace Stevens Collected poems. One at the house and two at school. At home, it’s the Library of America edition, with the handy bookmark ribbon.

Past that, these are the ones that I read that changed everything, and that I’m still swamped by, years later:

Notes for Echo Lake, by Michael Palmer
Lawn of the Excluded Middle, by Rosmarie Waldrop
Selected Poems, John Ashbery

But if I would back up a bit, along with Stevens from the above list, which I first found in High School though “The Snow Man,” “The Emperor of Ice Cream,” etc., I would say these books were the start:

Collected Poems, e.e. cummings
Selected Poems, T.S. Eliot

And then, when I got to purchasing new-ish things:

Selected Poems, Robert Lowell (the first single-author collection I purchased!)
Country Music, Charles Wright (the second single-author collection I purchased!)
The Region of Unlikeness, Jorie Graham (the third, I think, and then I lost track)

The Visual:

No movies or TV shows have been very important to me. Maybe Scooby Doo. It’s mostly been painters from the 20th century. Some things I’ve seen in person, but what’s really been important are those inexpensive little art books that one finds on the bargain racks of Borders.

Music (this one’s easy):

After the Goldrush, by Neil Young
HWY 61 Revisited, by Bob Dylan

Those two really created it all for me. All else is belated. Beautiful and genius and all that, but it comes after these two, huge, things.

I should tag someone.

I’ll tag:

Steven D. Schroeder - Sturgeon's Law
LJS - The All-Purpose Magical Tent

Now, this week, on the bookshelf:

Installations, by Joe Bonomo
The Heaven-Sent Leaf, by Katy Lederer (page proofs)
Psalm, by Carol Ann Davis


Fate, by Dr. Dog
and hanging around still:

F-ing Smilers, by Aimee Mann
In Rainbows, by Radiohead

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Friday July 25 in St. Louis!

!Art - !Music - !Poetry - !Performance Art
Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis
Friday, July 25, 6:30 p.m.

3750 Washington Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63108

Tel: 314-535-4660

Friday, July 25

6:00 - 10:00 pm, Free admission, $1.00 Budweiser Selects

Check out the ridiculousness at the Contemporary during its new summer series The Playground of the Ridiculous. Ridiculous, serious, and inconsequential acts will be performed.

Friday, July 25

This evening will welcome a film screening of The Stan Laurel Collection, poetry readings hosted by Observable Books with poets Aaron McNally, John Gallaher, Alessandra Lynch, and Stefene Russell, "The Revival!" by BenchPress Burlesque, and music by Curb Service.

The tentative program (weather-permitting) is as follows:

6:00 pm Enjoy the exhibitions (Main Galleries & The Front Room)
6:30 pm Observable Books Poetry Readings (Courtyard)
7:00 pm BenchPress Burlesque "The Revival!" (Perf. Space)
8:00 pm Music Performance by Curb Service (Perf. Space)
8:30 pm Film Screenings from portions of The Stan Lauerel Collection (Courtyard)

About the performers:

The Band:
Curb Service

Combining loops, beats, turntables, pop sensibility and rapidfire tongue twisters, Champaign, Ill.'s Larry Gates presents a unique approach to modern music with Curb Service. Less than a year after the demise of his cult band Lorenzo Goetz, Gates released his first solo effort as Curb Service, Little Red Recovery Room, and began touring the region. His one-man-band has not only been turning heads, but making them nod infectiously.

The Poets

Aaron McNally is the author of Out of the Blue (Caveworks, 2008). His collaborations with Friedrich Kerksieck have been published widely.

John Gallaher is the author of Gentlemen in Turbans, Ladies in Cauls and The Little Book of Guesses. Recent work appears in Field, New American Writing, Iowa Review and The Best American Poetry 2008. He lives in rural Missouri and co-edits The Laurel Review.

Stefene Russell is a co-editor of 52nd City magazine ( and a member of the arts collective Poetry Scores ( which is dedicated to translating poetry into other media, including music, art, film and dance.

BenchPress Burlesque

BenchPress Burlesque is a radical multi-gendered, sex-positive, queer-positive, feminist feast of political performance art. The event features The Tin Lizzies, BenchPress Burlesque's very own house band, along with an exciting array of skits that encourage and challenge their audiences.

BenchPress Burlesque began in the fall of 2005. The troupe seeks inspiration from the historical roots of burlesque as a variety show of political satire and class critique and aims to merge a contemporary feminist viewpoint with the sexy performance art of burlesque. As their name suggests, they push the limits of expectation and show a tougher side of fishnets and corsets.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Why Poetry Matters

I feel like I’ve been negative lately. I’ve decided to blame it on an allergic reaction I’m having to something mysterious. I’ll feel better in a week or two. Thanks to Charles Jensen, I found an article, written by Jay Parini, titled “Why Poetry Matters.” I’ve excerpted the bits below that I liked.

What this essay reminds me of, is the general tendency of poetry that unifies the gesture, not the specific gestures that divide us. The specific gestures that divide us are important to note, and to argue over, because we really are all trying toward a unification with reality in our poems, and so noting where we think others are missing this union becomes a necessity. That said, a weak poem does much less damage to the world than a weak law. Just saying.

Anyway, the article doesn’t say anything that you haven’t heard before, I’m sure, but it’s good to be continually reminded, so here are some excerpts:


One tends to forget that poetry is wisdom. I was in Morocco recently, and a devout Muslim mentioned to me that the Prophet Muhammad, in his book of sayings, the Hadith, had said as much. But the Koran also teaches, I was told, that poets are dangerous, and that decent people should avoid them. That reminded me of Plato, who wished to ban all poets from his ideal republic because he thought they were liars. Reality, for Plato, was an intense, perfect world of ideas. The material world represents reflections of that ideal, always imperfect. Artistic representations of nature were thus at several removes from the ideal, hence suspicious.

But Plato also had other worries about poets. In the Republic, he complained that they tend to whip up the emotions of readers in unhelpful ways. They stir feelings of “lust and anger and all the other affections, of desire and pain and pleasure.” Poetry “feeds and waters the passions instead of drying them up,” he said, while only the “hymns of the gods and praises of famous men” are worthy of readers. The law and reason are far better.


In “Education by Poetry” . . . Frost argued that an understanding of how poetry works is essential to the developing intellect. He went so far as to suggest that unless you are at home in the metaphor, you are not safe anywhere. Because you are not at ease with figurative values, “you don’t know how far you may expect to ride it and when it may break down with you.”


Poets . . . make large claims, and they are usually a bit exaggerated. In his “Defense of Poetry,” Shelley famously wrote: “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” I prefer the twist on that offered by a later poet, George Oppen, who wrote: “Poets are the legislators of the unacknowledged world.”

The world of the poet is largely an interior world of the intellect and the emotions — where we mostly live, in fact. And poetry bolsters that interior realm. In a talk at Princeton University in 1942, when the world was aflame, Stevens reflected on the fact that the 20th century had become “so violent,” both physically and spiritually. He succinctly defined poetry as “a violence from within that protects us from a violence without. It is the imagination pushing back against the pressure of reality. It seems, in the last analysis, to have something to do with our self-preservation; and that, no doubt, is why the expression of poetry, the sound of its words, helps us to live our lives.”


Auden noted when he wrote in his elegy for Yeats that “poetry makes nothing happen.” That is, it doesn’t shift the stock market or persuade dictators to stand down. It doesn’t usually send masses into the streets to protest a war or petition for economic justice. It works in quieter ways, shaping the interior space of readers, adding a range of subtlety to their thoughts, complicating the world for them.

[JG: I will jump in to interject here, the more interesting reading of “poetry makes nothing happen,” where the nothing is the nothing that is there, as Stevens writes, and as Kay Ryan plays with in “Nothing Ventured.”]

Emerson argues that the sheer physicality of words points us in directions that might be called “spiritual.” He puts forward three principles worth considering:

“Words are signs of natural facts.”

“Particular natural facts are symbols of particular spiritual facts.”

“Nature is the symbol of the spirit.”
Section: The Chronicle Review
Volume 54, Issue 42, Page B16

Friday, July 18, 2008

Here Comes The New Chief American Poet

Addendum as preface:

OK, so I’ve been browsing around the internet, reading what Kay Ryan poems I can find. Here’s one I rather like:

Nothing Ventured
by Kay Ryan

Nothing exists as a block
and cannot be parceled up.
So if nothing's ventured
it's not just talk;
it's the big wager.
Don't you wonder
how people think
the banks of space
and time don't matter?
How they'll drain
the big tanks down to
slime and salamanders
and want thanks?

* * *

I like her impersonal nature. That’s worth praise, as it runs its own path, counter to the major tendencies of the age. But, I’m leaving up the rest of this post from yesterday. I still don’t like the way Kirsch characterized the whole thing in this article. And there is a surface to Ryan’s poetry, whether dark or impersonal or not, that I wish she’d trouble. The world is more complex as it unfolds than the way Ryan quietly intones it.

For example, looking in the above poem, really, there is no nothing (in time and space). Nothing is an invention. That should somehow force this poem into a more difficult relationship to the “nothing ventured.” She almost does that in the second half of the poem, as it turns weirder, but she still allows “So if nothing’s ventured / it’s not just talk” when it obviously is “just talk.”


With the announcement from the Library of Congress that Kay Ryan will be the country's next poet laureate I have found a poet whose poetry I can dislike almost as much as I dislike the poetry of Ted Kooser. Whew. I was getting a little tired of Kooser-bashing. Now I can Ryan-bash. Yippie. Lucky me.

Adam Kirsch, of The NY Sun, sees it differently (I found this through Poetry Daily this morning):

“. . . is a cause for celebration. In part, this is because Ms. Ryan is an excellent poet, and in poetry it is rarer than it should be for merit and recognition to find one another. But it is also because Ms. Ryan has advanced to the top rank of American poets while keeping a principled distance from the institutions of the poetry world. In 2005, she filed a hilariously skeptical report, for Poetry Magazine, on the annual conference of AWP, the Association of Writing Programs, which began: "I have always understood myself to be a person who does not go to writers conferences. It's been a point of honor: the whole cooperative workshopping thing, not for me. I have never taken a creative writing class, I have never taught a creative writing class, and I have never gone, and will never go, to anything like AWP, I have often said.’

One of the sections in that essay was titled "A Lifetime of Preferring Not To," and while Ms. Ryan is not quite as hermit-like as Bartleby the Scrivener — her work appears regularly in the New Yorker, and she has received some of the country's leading literary awards, including the $100,000 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize — she has always refused to join the interlocking directorate of MFA programs, conferences, and workshops. It is true that Ms. Ryan, like many American poets, makes her living as a teacher. But instead of teaching seminars on the sestina at Iowa or Bennington, she teaches remedial reading at a community college in Marin County, where she has lived since 1971.

Ms. Ryan is, in fact, a lifelong Californian. She was born in 1945 in the San Joaquin Valley, the daughter of an oil driller, and she graduated from UCLA. And her reputation took a long time to spread nationwide. Her first book, "Dragon Acts to Dragon Ends" (1983), was privately printed and went unreviewed. Not until her fourth, "Elephant Rocks" (1996), was she published by a major trade house, Grove Press. And only in the last decade or so has she become really well known to poetry readers, thanks in part to the advocacy of the poet and critic Dana Gioia. (Indeed, since he became chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts in 2003, Mr. Gioia has had a perceptible influence on the poet laureateship: Ted Kooser, who served in the post from 2004-06, is another poet Mr. Gioia has warmly praised.)

In her diffidence and self-sufficiency, as in her dark vision and metaphysical scope, Ms. Ryan is oddly reminiscent of another California poet, Robinson Jeffers. Not that their poetry sounds at all similar: Jeffers's craggy free verse looks positively monumental next to Ms. Ryan's dexterous, compressed lyrics. Ms. Ryan's poems have, in fact, been widely admired for their accessibility and apparent modesty. James Billington, the Librarian of Congress, announced her appointment as Poet Laureate by saying, "She writes easily understandable short poems on improbable subjects." But this kind of tepid, reductive praise misses the strengths that raise Ms. Ryan above superficially similar poets like Billy Collins and Ted Kooser.

In fact, like Jeffers — who wrote with grim satisfaction about the end of civilization, in poems like "Shine, Perishing Republic" — Ms. Ryan sees both out far and in deep. Take the poem "Chop," from her most recent collection, "The Niagara River" (2005):

The bird
walks down
the beach along
the glazed edge
the last wave
reached. His
each step makes
a perfect stamp—
smallish, but as
sharp as an
emperor's chop.
Stride, stride,
goes the emperor
down his wide
mirrored promenade
the sea bows
to repolish.

Here are the short lines, plain diction, and buried assonances — "sharp/chop," "step/stamp" — that define Ms. Ryan's verse. But once you ponder the miniature allegory of "Chop," that homely music starts to look desperately ironic. For Ms. Ryan's bird is an emblem of man in his arrogant mortality. The emperor's imperative gesture, the "chop" that commands obedience — or the chopping off of heads — is reduced to the prim stepping of a bird. And like the emperor and his deeds, all memory of the bird's passage is instantly erased — by waves which, in a further twist of Ms. Ryan's metaphor, are deceptive "bows," gestures of obeisance that are actually acts of oblivion.

"Chop," then, is a less accessible poem than it looks, and less comforting than it is accessible. Like Robert Frost, Ms. Ryan tends to lay out her metaphors like traps, coaxing the reader into them before springing all their dark implications. In "Grazing Horses," an initially comic image — the horses are thoughts, grazing "the green pasture of the mind" — turns terrible when "the mind tilts abruptly":

legs buckle
on the incline,
unhorsed by slant
they weren't
designed to climb
and can’t.

The simplicity and finality of that last line turns the poem into an evocation of despair.

Yet such a statement of despair, when made by a true poet, is more consoling than any amount of official uplift and exhortation. That is because the mutual recognition of poet and reader, the sharing of experience that a poem makes possible, is poetry's most trustworthy gift. As Ms. Ryan writes in "Lighthouse Keeping":

the lighthouse
keeper keeps
a light for
those left out.
It is intimate
and remote both
for the keeper
and those afloat.

* * *

OK, so there are so many things about this that depress me, I barely know where to start. To, on the one hand, tout Ryan as some sort of anti-poetry world, principled, heroic figure (while getting in some sort of sideways dig at anyone who would stoop so low as to teach at Iowa), while on the other hand show her close affiliation to the most powerful institutions in American poetry, Dana Gioia and Poetry Magazine, is more than a little disingenuous. And why the slam at AWP? Sure, AWP can be pretty bland at times, and yes, there are creepy moments here and there, but it’s a pretty harmless conference, and actually does some good (I got to meet Ashbery!). And then, on top of those shots across the bow of some fantasy of the Academic Poetry Establishment, these are the two poems that get quoted.

Well, here we go. I know these are just two poems, and that they may not be the best of Kay Ryan’s poems, but even so, they are being held up as proof of her genius, and how this is better than what we've been having lately (Charles Simic? Is that who he means?). No matter how Kirsch tries to make them complex, I think James Billington has it more correct: “She writes easily understandable short poems on improbable subjects.” I’m not enraged by them. It’s more that I find them unremarkable. I don’t see anything to get excitied about one way or the other. Maybe someone can help me?

With so much money behind Poetry Magazine, and with the power that Dana Gioia wields, this might well turn out to be the dawn of a new age of “easily understandable” poems. I’m half-convinced that might be a good thing, as it will occasion a strong response from what I consider more interesting quarters.

This makes me think again of the teams idea that was brought (back) up this week in reference to Mark Halliday’s review of Clover. I believe there is something akin to teems in contemporary American poetry, but there are not two. Maybe six. The first two are easy to see:

1. The Dana Gioia people. Poetry Magazine. Ted Kooser. Billy Collins. Kay Ryan. (etc)
2. The Language Poets (or Avant-garde poets?). Ron Silliman. Lyn Hejinian. Charels Bernstein.

Ron Silliman has labels, which float about, for a couple more teems, that come to mind: faux-Avant, and school of quietude. Am I remembering correctly? Anyway, I’ve not liked those labels, as both are more dismissive than descriptive. Therefore, they’ll never catch on. But they are out there. I forget the actual names, but I think school of quietude includes The Dana Gioia people as well as a lot of others. I would separate out many of those others as a separate group. Call it Group 3 poets. A lot of whom I like. A good example of this group? Ah, who knows, I’m already bored by making groups. Robert Hass, maybe? Louise Gluck?

But Silliman’s faux-avant group, I think, is similar to, I’m probably getting this wrong, the group Reginald Shepherd recently wrote about as a group he termed Post-Avant, which is somewhat similar to the group Burt called “Elliptical Poets.” I’m about to fall asleep over this little blog entry, so I’ll stop there, which means, for me, today, there are four groups in contemporary American poetry. They often trade players. And perhaps some are spies. Some involved in prisoner exchanges. We’ll give you Rae Armantrout for Charles Bernstein, or somesuch.

OK, now I’ve decided, in a wandering way, that it’s good to have Ryan as poet laureate (whew, she will breathe easier now, I’m sure), and have her next book win a Pulitzer. I was getting comfortable with Simic being poet laureate. I was beginning to feel we were all on the same page. We can’t have that, now can we?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Claim to Fame?

So it looks like there’s the outside possibility that this picture I took last fall of Mark Halliday will become famous:

It can now be found this way, from Silliman’s blog:

Sameness vs. Otherness in American poetry

Robert Archambeau has also been reading Pleiades, it seems, and folds the same paragraph I mentioned [below: Amy Casey - Mark Halliday - Joshua Clover - Pleiad... ] into a little essay on the perennial us-ness and them-ness, concluding thusly:

“So sure, okay, poetry is divided into camps. And poetry changes over time. But in all our emphasis on different teams, and micro-evolutions of styles, maybe we should take a break and check out how samenesses exist, and continuities endure. And maybe I should head outside and knock back a cold one. All formtreib and no stofftrieb makes Archambeau a dull guy. And thirsty, too.”

And, if you didn’t find it already, over onthe pshares blog they’re (we’re) also chitting and chatting:

This time, with (real) feeling

For me, personally, I don’t have much to add to the conversation. All I know about teams and camps is that I was always one of the last ones chosen, back in school. Mostly because I lose interest way too quickly in things like teams and camps and school.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Amy Casey - Mark Halliday - Joshua Clover - Pleiades

I’m currently reading the new issue of Pleiades, and, as usual, it’s the best kind of reading experience. 281 pages. Half creative work, and half reviews. Kevin Prufer and Wayne Miller are both friends of mine, yes, so there is that bias in their favor, but Pleiades has moved beyond what literary journals do these days. Pleiades has become an indispensible resource. What’s being written, and what people think about what’s being written. As well as a symposium that I begged to be part of on Laura Jensen, part of their “Unsung Masters” series. What a brilliant journal.

Here are two little tastes of why Pleiades is so important. First, the cover artist, Amy Casey. More of her work can be found at:

Swing. 2008
Snug Web. 2008
Tilt-a-whirl. 2008
Hunting. 2007
Web Saloon. 2008

These paintings capture a bounded safety/danger tone that just fits right in with how I see America. They are such gorgeous windows out of our place onto our place.

And then, this, from Mark Halliday, in his very detailed, closely observed, negative review of Joshua Clover’s The Totality for Kids:

* * *

“Will Clover or his admirers respond to my review? Probably not, though they blog constantly. Why should they respond? I’m on the other team (the lyrical and/or narrative mainstreamy team). We grant tenure to our players, they grant tenure to theirs; mostly we avoid shootouts. Ignoring is incredibly easy in our literary culture. Someone should write a big essay on literary ignoring. (But most readers wouldn’t pay attention to it!) We just ignore what irritates us, and everybody can keep on harvesting the fruits of polymorphous academia (while we all go on detesting Republicans and mega-corporations, of course); we don’t have to respond when baloney wins awards, because there are so many other awards—and what really matters? What matters, if the twenty-first century is bound for hell and we’re all lost in the supermarket?”

* * *

Seriously, that’s an interesting paragraph. Forget for a moment what you might think of Joshua Clover or Mark Halliday, and think about what art is supposed to do, and how, possibly, we’re called upon to care for it and about it. If art is a world, then we should care what happens to it and where it’s going. Then, perhaps, we should treat bad books like an oil spill. We should say this is a world, and we should tell the polluters what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. Maybe they’ll stop?

That’s not a good analogy. There’s an objective fact of an oil spill, that we all can agree is a mess. Perhaps a better analogy would be one about public policy. I could say I don’t find Ted Kooser’s books to be good public policy, or something. But Kooser’s an easy target for me. As easy as, say Clover might be to Halliday. But then again, I do very little of any of this sort of thing, and when I do it’s someone like Kooser or Gioia or John Barr. I haven’t written a serious review in years, and this blog stays pretty positive . . . so perhaps I’m calling for others to do what I don’t have the courage or time to do.

Time? Well, for one, I wouldn’t want to write what usually happens when I come across a book that I highly disagree with: I read awhile, then I toss it in a pile. That makes for a very short review, and, I would say, an unfair one. If one is going to write a negative review, one should do it as Halliday has here. To roll up one’s sleeves, and plow in.

Courage? Well, it takes less courage for Mark Halliday to write a negative review than it does for John Gallaher to do so. Halliday has a team. I, on the other hand, don’t. Or at least, not one I know of. But even this falls back to an issue of time. While reading Jorie Graham’s new book, and being depressed by it, as I have her last few books, thinking of how important her work used to be to me (and how important those books remain to me), I just couldn’t bring myself to write much about it. It just depresses me. I don’t have to energy for it. It would be like talking about the Rolling Stones or something. They used to be so good. That would be a difficult review to write. It would take many pages. Would anyone want to read it? Poor little John Gallaher’s crisis over how much he used to admire Jorie Graham’s poetry, and now, well?

But, my own confessions aside, I think this paragraph from Halliday could be a very good place to re-start the conversation, the real conversation. The conversation we have with others in rooms, when no recordings are being made.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Neil Young's in Europe

So anyway, if you’ve ever been interested in Neil Young’s music, you should know about this web radio show. You might already know about it.

It’s Rust Radio. Every weekend it plays Neil Young live shows. This weekend, it’s shows from his current European tour. Right now it’s playing a show from yesterday. Yesterday. How cool is that?

Be prepared. What a tour it’s turning out to be.


Here are the songs he's played on this tour so far:
Love And Only Love
Dirty Old Man
Spirit Road
Hey Hey, My My
Too Far Gone
Oh, Lonesome Me
Mother Earth
The Needle And The Damage Done
Old Man
No Hidden Path
All Along The Watchtower
Rockin' In The Free World
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Mr. Soul
I've Been Waiting For You
Unknown Legend
Get Back To The Country
A Day In The Life (Yes, the Beatles song. It’s on YouTube.)
Cinnamon Girl
Heart Of Gold
When You Dance, I Can Really Love
Fuckin' Up
Time Fades Away
For The Turnstiles
Down By The River

Thursday, July 10, 2008

More Aimee Mann

More Aimee Mann

So anyway, I had a headache today and sat with my headphones on, listening to Aimee Mann. That, several Excedrin, and a visit to the chiropractor, just about did the trick. So, in honor of my afternoon coming down, here are five of my favorite Aimee Mann songs. Now you know.

Stupid Thing

Calling it Quits

Wise Up (the Magnolia version that seemed hokey to me at first, then turned out to be wildly effective)

Save Me

OK, and then a turn back to the big hair days, with the first song of hers that I really liked. She was over 20 years younger then, but then again, so was I.

Coming Up Close (There’s a better one on YouTube, but they wouldn’t let me embed it, so if you want it, search. It’s easy to find.)

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Aimee Mann - F-ing Smilers

@#%&! Smilers is an excellent album. Well worth the purchase. Go out and buy two.

If you don’t know much about her work, you should purchase either Bachelor No2 or the Magnolia soundtrack. If you already have this/these, then I suggest her new album, @#%&! Smilers. It has a couple songs I dislike, but they’re both short (“Stranger into Starman” and “Ballentines”). It also has a bunch of songs I find simply wonderful (“Looking for Nothing,” “It’s Over,” “Great Beyond,” and “Columbus Ave.”). And what’s left is solid (see below).

She’s quirky. Not really a pop performer, but not really a rock act either. She exists in that place that often gets overlooked as too pop for some, too much of a downer for others. It’s too bad, for if this were a perfect world, she’d be as big as U2 (which I find terribly over-rated, but that’s a conversation for another day).


31 Today.


Columbus Ave. Trust me, though this is a nice version, the album version is a low-key stunner.

Actually, the whole album is a low-key stunner. In many ways Aimee Mann’s whole career could be summarized as “low-key stunner.” She doesn’t have that “grab you from the store speakers at Best Buy” sound. What she has is an ability with words, and a perceptiveness that sneaks up on you if you quiet down. Try listening to F-ing Smilers while driving. Or running. Walking. Sitting.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Albums that mean Everything to Me

Or, albums that changed my life. I've been listening to a lot of music this summer, and I'm feeling thankful. So here's my list:

Wings Greatest Hits – OK, so now, 30 years later, I don’t have much Wings or Paul McCartney around anymore, but in the mid-70s, when I was barely a teenager, this album hit me like a brick. It was the first album I purchased.

History: America’s Greatest Hits – I still listen to this album probably as much as just about any album in my collection. It’s shifted from “life –changing” to “guilty pleasure,” but it’s still there. I tried buying some of their regular albums, but none of them really hold together for me. They, like Paul McCartney, just get a little too plastic-feeling for me now.

DeacdeNeil Young – It just floored me, and made sense of the universe. I instantly became a huge Neil Young fan. I think it’s really because of the two sides of Neil Young, what I’ve since termed the Blue and the Black. After Decade, I purchased Comes a Time, and then Rust Never Sleeps, and ever since, I’ve purchased each album as soon as it’s been available, even if the 80s got a little rough here and there. And, of course, I went back and got the earlier ones as well, which made the 80s bearable.

John LennonShaved Fish – I heard so much Beatles music on the radio, I never really felt like buying it, but I was interested in their more recent, individual things. This album cemented for me that John was my favorite Beatle, less so for his hits, than for his other stuff. I quickly moved to buy his solo records. Walls and Bridges was my favorite for a long time.

And then the flood gates opened, after getting a few more Greatest Hits albums (by Dylan, Bowie, Mott the Hoople, Lou Reed, Leonard Cohen):

Bob DylanHighway 51 Revisited (which has possibly become the most important single album to me). There’s very little else to say, really.

Pink FloydWish You Were Here and The Wall. Perhaps it’s a little dated now, but when I came across Pink Floyd around ’79-80, it was as if everything I was feeling suddenly had a voice.

Ian HunterAll American Alien Boy and You’re Never Alone with a Schizophrenic. I still don’t really know why I’m such an Ian Hunter fan. Perhaps it’s the same with many of the artists I admire. There’s a softness, a vulnerability paired with a certain immaturity and lack of completeness that brings me back to Ian Hunter. I like those same things in The Replacements, and in some ways Neil Young, as well.

Leonard CohenSongs of Love & Hate (I was already a fan by the time I got this album, but it still seemed to change all the albums around it). What to add to that? He seems to know something the rest of us can only trace the limits of.

Jumping a little ahead, there are some albums that more recently have really shaken me back into music:

Talking HeadsRemain in Light, and then again with Stop Making Sense. Remain in light just floored me. I didn’t know what to do with it, especially when I flipped it over to side two. And then, when I found Stop Making Sense, I just felt like everything had changed.

The ReplacementsDon’t Tell a Soul. This album was a perfect combination of electric and acoustic elements. It felt like a complete world.

The WaterboysFisherman’s Blues. I was already a fan of The Waterboys, but this one just completed their lyric and musical elements. It seemed there was nothing new to do after this.

Son VoltTrace. I couldn’t believe how timeless this one felt the first time I put it on. It remains for me the definition of the genre, whatever you want to call that genre.

R.E.MAutomatic for the People. I was never a huge R.E.M. fan, but I had a few of their albums, but this one really exploded all over the radio and my consciousness. It took me awhile to be able to listen to it as an album, and when I did, it got even more important.

CrackerKerosene Hat. Similar to Son Volt’s Trace, this album stands as larger than life for me. For a time. A sound. And subject matter. How can one not be changed after hearing “Eurotrash Girl” for the first time?

Lucinda WilliamsCar Wheels on a Gravel Road. This one came from country side of the same genre that Neil Young (ok, maybe others had something to do with it too) created in 1971 with After the Gold Rush. It brought me back to the ground, and instantly wiped away the pops and bleeps of 80s pop. Thankfully.

Kristin HershHips & Makers. With just an acoustic guitar and tons of attitude and twisted observations, this album has a purity that isn’t the least bit “acoustic.”

SparklehorseIt’s a Wonderful Life. What to say? I feel I’m saying the same for each of these albums: It took me to a new place, lyrically and musically.

The JayhawksRainy Day Music. For me, this album was the perfect “pop” record. It’s SO singable and worth singing along with.

WilcoYankee Hotel Foxtrot. How to go into the studio and make it still sound somehow still like a junkyard. What a beautiful overproduction.

Aimee MannMagnolia (and Bachelor No 2). I think Aimee Mann is one of the best lyricists currently writing songs. Just amazing, spot-on, observations. She skewers relationships from inside of them, setting a benchmark for what concise lyric writing is.

The Flaming LipsThe Soft Bulletin followed by Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. I’ve been a Lips fan for many years, but these two albums, back to back, just turned everything on its head. A veil was lifted shortly into The Soft Bulletin, and it keeps lifting every time I go back to either of these albums.

In the early 90s, as I was searching for instrumental music to study by, I discovered how much I really loved Bebop, but that’s a whole other list, just as long, so I’ll skip it for now.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Creativity Business

Creativity 101

I’m reading the June/July 2008 issue of Scientific American Mind, and I just came across the panel discussion, “Let Your Creativity Soar.” In the discussion, Robert Epstein discusses his version of the four “core competencies” of creative expression.

OK, so this won’t really be new to writers and teachers of writing, but I really enjoyed his neat encapsulation of the creative process.

So here they are, with just a bit of gloss.

Capturing – “preserving new ideas as they occur to you and doing so without judging them”

Challenging – “giving ourselves tough problems to solve . . . in tough situations, multiple behaviors compete with one another, and their interconnections create new behaviors and ideas”

Broadening – “the more diverse your knowledge, the more interesting your interconnections”

Surrounding – “the more interesting and diverse the things and the people around you, the more interesting your own ideas become”

* * *

Capturing. Making notes without editing. Carrying around a little notebook. Easy-breezy. We all do that.

Challenging. Is this the idea behind writing prompts? I’ve never much liked writing prompts. Challenging, though, could be other things as well. Writing a poem a day. Writing in form. Proposing AWP panels. La la.

Broadening. Well, this part is easy. We already all read a bunch of poetry and other literature, but it’s also calling us to read a bunch of different things. Science. History. But we all do some version of this already.

Surrounding. This one is easy for a bit, when one is in school. But then comes more hard work. Community? Readings? People to talk to.

* * *

Maybe these are too basic to be of much use, but it is a nice reminder. One can awaken in the morning, and check one’s four core competencies. Maybe one could even make a graph. Interesting thought, he says, half joking.

Erasure Fun

The pshares blog mentioned my daughter Natalie’s poem that I put up the other day, which was very nice:

But, what the post also contained was this:

“While we’re on the subject, check out Wave Books’s erasures machine. Up with strangely arranged minimalism!”

I’ve been having fun with it today, when I should have been doing other things. Still and all, a great use of time. Fun fun fun.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

George Carlin - The Last Interview

George Carlin, from The Last Interview

Full text can be found here:

Do you go around observing and trying to collect funny things? Or do you just live your life and then say how you feel about what you happen to have seen?

I’m 71, and I’ve been doing this for a little over 50 years, doing it at a fairly visible level for 40. By this time it’s all second nature. It’s all a machine that works a certain way: the observations, the immediate evaluation of the observation, and then the mental filing of it, or writing it down on a piece of paper. I’ve often described the way a 20-year-old versus, say, a 60- or a 70-year-old, the way it works. A 20-year-old has a limited amount of data they’ve experienced, either seeing or listening to the world. At 70 it’s a much richer storage area, the matrix inside is more textured, and has more contours to it. So, observations made by a 20-year-old are compared against a data set that is incomplete. Observations made by a 60-year-old are compared against a much richer data set. And the observations have more resonance, they’re richer.

So if I write something down, some observation—I see something on television that reminds me of something I wanted to say already—the first time I write it, the first time I hear it, it makes an impression. The first time I write it down, it makes a second impression, a deeper path. Every time I look at that piece of paper, until I file it in my file, each time, the path gets a little richer and deeper so that these things are all in there.

Now at this age, I have a network of knowledge and data and observations and feelings and values and evaluations I have in me that do things automatically. And then when I sit down to consciously write, that's when I bring the craftsmanship. That's when I pull everything together and say, how I can best express that? And then as you write, you find more, 'cause the mind is looking for further connections. And these things just flow into your head and you write them. And the writing is the really wonderful part. A lot of this is discovery. A lot of things are lying around waiting to be discovered and that's our job is to just notice them and bring them to life.

Do you think that the richness you described comes from just being able to access more experiences, having information on file? Or is it judgment?

Well, that's true, too. The machine that does all this learns what it is you want—it learns what it is that serves your purpose and it begins to tailor the synthesis. It synthesizes these observations and these comparisons. Comedy’s all about comparisons and contrasts and congruities and incongruities and heightenings and understatement and exaggeration. The mind has all of that stuff built in, and it learns which ones pay off the best for you. It's probably related to the pleasure center. You get so much pleasure finding good observations and finding which things are the richest things you can say, that probably the brain remembers how that happened and learns to provide the best stuff. Maybe you have a little silent editor in there.

You talked about how comedy's all about incongruities, contrasts, exaggeration. Do you think about those techniques or those principles of humor consciously?

It happens automatically. Sometimes there’s a conscious heightening, you'll recognize you've just chosen an image to make a point. Then your mind will just suddenly throw something at you that's stronger—a heightening, to raise the stakes, a stronger word, a more visceral image, something that lights up the imagination, much better than the original thought. So you’re aware that you’re heightening and exaggerating further but you don't use the word exaggeration or anything like that. All that stuff is just happening. And sometimes, afterward, I’ll look at something and say, “If I were giving a comedy lecture, that would be a good example.” I often think in those terms.

You talked about how wonderful it is, this feeling of writing. So what is your process like?

I take a lot of single-page notes, little memo pad notes. I make a lot of notes on those things. For when I'm not near a little memo pad, I have a digital recorder. Most of the note-taking happens while I’m watching television.

Because the world is undifferentiated on the television set. You may be watching the news channel, but it’s going to cover the breadth of American life and the human experience. It's gonna go from suicide bombings to frivolous consumer goods. It's a broad window on the world, and a lot of things are already established in my mind as things I say, things that I'm interested in, things that are fodder for my machine. And when I see something that relates to one of them, I know it instantly and if it's a further exaggeration and a further addition, or an exception—if it plays into furthering my purpose, I jot it down.

When I harvest the pieces of paper and I go through them and sort them, the one lucky thing I got in my genetic package was a great methodical left brain. I have a very orderly mind that wants to classify and index things and label them and store them according to that. I had a boss in radio when I was 18 years old, and my boss told me to write down every idea I get even if I can't use it at the time, and then file it away and have a system for filing it away—because a good idea is of no use to you unless you can find it. And that stuck with me.

Do you mentor other comedians?

No. I’m not collegial, I don’t hang out. I’m soloist, I like my solitude, I don’t really hang around with comedians—this person I talked to today [Jerry Seinfeld ], I now have his phone number. I have maybe five phone numbers. I’m not in show business because I don’t have to go to the meetings, I’m just not a part of it, I don’t belong to it. When you “belong” to something. You want to think about that word, “belong.” People should think about that: it means they own you. If you belong to something it owns you, and I just don’t care for that. I like spinning out here like one of those subatomic particles that they can’t quite pin down.

2008 CSU Poetry Center Contest Results

2008 CSU Poetry Center Contest Results

OK, so I’m posting the full list of names here, in part, because it’s the fullest list of finalist names I think I’ve ever seen. And, as well, it reveals just how interesting CSU Poetry Center is getting.

So next year we’ll have new books from Allison Benis White, Liz Waldner, Allison Titus and Mathias Svalina.

CSU is now, officially, the press to watch.

And not just because of what they’re publishing, but the list of finalists and semi-finalists shows just how strong their selections will run. Seth Abramson, Adam Clay, Julie Doxsee, Chris Forhan, Nils Michals, Carrie Oeding, Maggie Smith, Roy Seeger, Malinda Markham, Mary Ann Samyn, Matthew Thornburn, Tony Trigilio, and on.

This is really good news.

ALLISON BENIS WHITE of Irvine, California, was selected by final judge Robert Hill Long as winner of our First Book Competition for her manuscript SELF-PORTRAIT WITH CRAYON, to be published in Spring 2009.

LIZ WALDNER of Oakland, California, has been selected by the Open Book Editorial Committee (Kazim Ali, Mary Biddinger, Michael Dumanis, and Sarah Gridley) as the winner of our Open Book Competition for her manuscript TRUST, to be published in Spring 2009.

We have selected two additional manuscripts for publication in Fall 2009:


We would also like to recognize and congratulate the following runners-up, finalists, and semi-finalists for the 2008 awards:

FIRST BOOK COMPETITION RUNNERS-UP (as named by Robert Hill Long):

Allison Titus, Richmond, VA, Sum of Every Lost Ship
Jesse Nissim, Oakland, CA, Diagram Her Dream of Flight

OPEN BOOK COMPETITION RUNNERS-UP (as named by Open Book Editorial Committee):

Dora Malech, Iowa City, IA, Make, Break, Or
Seth Abramson, Iowa City, IA, Final Boy


Erica Bernheim, Chicago, IL, The Mimic Sea
Michele Bowman, Brooklyn, NY, Cowboys
Katherine Dimma, New York, NY, More Rooms than Doors
Suzanne Heyd, New Haven, CT, Breaking & Entering
Laura McKee, Seattle, WA, Uttermost Paradise Place
Marc McKee, Columbia, MO, Fuse
Katrinka Moore, New York, NY, Thief
Sarah O’Brien, Iowa City, IA, Catch Light
Mathias Svalina, New York, NY, Destruction Myth
Mathias Svalina, New York, NY, I Have Chosen You & You Have Chosen Me
Lauren Smith Traore, Whitewater, WI, Birdello
Julie Wade, Barnesville, OH, Six


Adam Clay, Kalamazoo, MI, A Hotel Lobby at the Edge of the World
Adam Clay, Kalamazoo, MI, Nowaday River
Julie Doxsee, Istanbul, Turkey, Of Unsuspended Suns
Chris Forhan, Indianapolis, IN, Black Leapt In
Kirsten Kaschock, Philadelphia, PA, A Beautiful Name for a Girl
Patrick Lawler, Liverpool, NY, Breathe: A Word of It
Erika Meitner, Blacksburg, VA, The Contact Notes
Nils Michals, San Francisco, CA, Theory of Shadows & Perspective
Maggie Smith, Columbus, OH, Hush Now


Katherine Lucas Anderson, Annunciation
Tracy Jo Barnwell, Houston, TX, Monsters in Repose All Kinds
Kiley Cogis, Fairfax, VA, Lightproof
Noah Falck, Dayton, OH, The Snowmen Are Losing Weight Christopher
Matthew Gavin Frank, Buffalo Grove, IL, The Morrow Plots
Emily Kendal Frey, Portland, OR, Dear Jalapeno
Carolyn Hembree, NewOrleans, LA, Skinny
Kyle McCord, Amherst, MA, The Nesting Doll
Gary L. McDowell, Portage, MI, Young Teeth
Carrie Oeding, Athens, OH, Our List of Solutions
Nicholas Regiacorte, Galesburg, IL,Voice Human
Roy Seeger, Kalamazoo, MI, The Boy Whose Hands Were Birds
Brandon Som, Pittsburgh, PA, Hearsay
Jeanine Walker, Houston, TX, Water Beneath the Foundation
Nicole Zdeb, Portland, OR, The Friction of Distance


Laurie Blauner, Seattle, WA, Entertaining in the Room with All Kinds
Steve Fellner, Brockport, NY, The Weary World Rejoices
Noah Falck, Dayton, OH, The Snowmen Are Losing Weight
Christopher Howell, Spokane, WA, Gaze
Malinda Markham, San Jose, CA, Complicit
F. Daniel Rzicznek, Bowling Green, OH, Divination Machine
Mary Ann Samyn, Morgantown, WV, Incredibly Small and Impossibly Lovely
Matthew Thornburn, Riverdale, NY, Like Luck
Tony Trigilio, Chicago, IL, Historic Diary