4 new poems in Arc, Vallum, The Puritan, and the Word Hoard

This month’s a tiny little mense mirabilis:

  • “The Critique of a Handsome Vacuum,” a double-headed sonnet in the tradition of double-headed sonnets that I’m hoping to make a thing, appears in Arc‘s Art in the End Times issue;
  • “The Megafaun: Fact or Fiction?,” an hilarious commentary on airplane elks, appears in Vallum‘s The Wild issue;
  • “Jesus H. Christ Does Private Dancing,” which is what it sounds like, appears in The Puritan‘s 35th issue;
  • and “There Emigrate Bullets,” a full mondegreen of David Huebert’s poem “The Renegade Poets,” appears in the Word Hoard‘s Scum & Villainy issue, where, in a crazy coincide, David’s poem also appears.

4 new poems in BafterC, Arc, & CV2

It’s been quite a summer, and—aside from some other exciting news—I’m tickled to have four new poems out, with four more on the way this fall.

In June, “Vesuvian Man” (great pun, right?) and “Evil Arrow-sign God” (maybe not my greatest title) appeared in the latest manifestation of BookThug’s occasional anthology series/eccentric periodical BafterC, which was guested edited by the Midas-touchy Jess Taylor. (Thanks, Jess!)

Earlier in the spring, “Gastromance” (my first attempt at writing an honest-to-god love poem, which of course turned into a poem about flatulence) was shortlisted for Arc Poetry Magazine‘s Poem of the Year. In April, it appeared online for consideration under the Readers’ Choice aspect of the award. Then, in June, it was finally ink-manifested in Arc‘s summer issue. I was happy to share a gutter with co-shortlistee and longtime friend Catriona Wright, especially because her poem, “Hitler’s Taste Testers,” made me feel a little green (in all three senses).

In July, “Sea Cucumber Elegy” appeared in the Water issue of Contemporary Verse 2. It’s often disconcerting when an older poem (especially one written in a style you once toyed with, have since abandoned) is selected for publication over much newer poems. But if a poem ages, untouched for years, dissociation can—surprise!—eventually make room for readerly appreciation. Which is probably why, come to think of it, you’d bother submitting an older poem. The composition and recompositions of “Sea Cucumber” are alien enough to me that I’m taking credit for some dead person’s work, which is always a sneakily good sensation and which is uncannily appropriate to the poem itself.

BafterC, Arc, and CV2.jpg

This fall, keep an eye out for new poems—one each—in Arc‘s Art in the End Times issue, Vallum‘s The Wild issue, and The Puritan. I’ll also have a new poem in the next issue of Word Hoard, which I’ll admit is suspect since I’m on the masthead of that journal. It might be worth checking out, though, if you want to see my full mondegreening of a new poem by David Huebert, which will also appear in the issue. And if you don’t yet know what a full mondegreen is, well, stay tuned.

Video reading of three love-like poems

Thanks again to the organizers of the London Open Mic Poetry Night for recording each performance. My reading from this November is a trio of lovish, loveqsue poems. The third of these is forthcoming in a special issue of BafterC (spring 2016). The second is excerpted from a chapbook manuscript, Tower, which I’m very happy to announce has been adopted by Anstruther Press for release in the summer of 2016. The first poem’s not that bad.


“On Watching ‘Makin’ Bacon Pancakes (10 Hour Version)'”: new poem in 300 Hours a Minute

In late September, a crowd of good-looking literati and the 6 sweaty weirdos converged on Reunion Island Coffee to celebrate the launch of Desert Pets Press‘s two inaugural chapbooks: the gorgeously designed poems from Still by E. Martin Nolan (you may know him as Ted); and the too-hip-to-be-square anthology 300 Hours a Minute: Poems about YouTube Videos.

poems from Still - E Martin Nolan

If you’re jealous of this cover…

300 Hours a Minute: Poems about YouTube Videos

…swipe right.

Thanks to Catriona Wright for (let’s say) commissioning my contribution to the anthology, “On Watching ‘Makin’ Bacon Pancakes (10 Hour Version).'” She may not remember insisting that YouTube poems are “the only kind of ekphrastic poem that counts,” but it was a pretty polemical pitch. Fastforward seven months: I was overtired and also ‘tired,’ so when I read “On Watching…” at the launch, I failed to read its title (yup), synopsize its source YouTube video, or explain its kid’s-table-seat at the venerable feast called durational art. But the Desert Pets Press website has gone live! And you can order this chapbook now! So here:

How to Write Your Own (10 Hour Version) YouTube Poem:

  1. Read the Vice interview with Benjamin Bennett, YouTube’s livestreaming meditation Lothario.
  2. Complete a statistically insignificant random sample of Bennett’s four-hour videos to determine that, yes, he’s sat motionless and smiling for a total of [updated as of posting] 596 hours.
  3. Stare at Tom Friedman’s “1,000 Hours of Staring” for 1 minute.
  4. Consider you’re staring at your screen, which has already suffered
  5. (calculate this quickly) some 10k hours of your eyeball beams.
  6. Read the comments section below the picture of Friedman’s sheet of paper, attending carefully to this apt deflation of literary criticism: “The fact that ‘art has no definition’ allows people to get obscene amounts of money and fame for staring at paper. Shameful.”
  7. Read the comments section below the KnowYourMeme entry on 10 hour videos to find one deemed the ___-est (e.g., an eleven-second clip of Adventure Time‘s Jake the Dog making excellent use of musical diegesis, not to mention bacon pancakes, looped 3273 times).
  8. Bid your live-in partner farewell / call in sick / file your living will.
  9. Watch for 10 hours straight, taking notes toward your poem.
  10. Confess. Confess.

Video reading: “Figure with Pressurized Hose,” “Ascension,” and “Last Bastion”

Another video, this time from the June 3rd edition (and season closer) of the London Poetry Open Mic Night. My thanks again to the organizers and to videographer Sebastian Rydzewski.

At the beginning, I’m responding to an earlier reader who mentioned a line famously misattributed to Valéry: “A poem is never finished; it is only abandoned.” Open mic host Joan Clayton polled the crowd on whether they finish or abandon poems. I ‘think too much,’ so I abstained and then, in this video, point out that the line is a gloss of Valéry from Auden’s Collected Poems foreword.

Valéry wrote roughly this: “A work is never completed except by some accident such as weariness, satisfaction, the need to deliver, or death: for, in relation to who or what is making it, it can only be one stage in a series of inner transformations.” Valéry’s examples of “accident” do suggest abandonment, but I prefer the ambiguity of “accident” itself. I like to think my poems exile me for causes beyond my control.

Here’s also Kelly Creighton reading “Day One” and, hilariously, refusing to parse it afterward. Unfortunately, this video’s audio dampens the hypnotism (which is Creighton’s forté), so have a drink first, I suppose, then watch it with your eyes closed.

“Under Prue, His Maid”

I’ve been working on a chapbook of more or less formal verse, so that’s my latest excuse for being remiss in posting. Here’s a weird little thing that may interest those who think Robert Herrick (of “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” fame) was hopelessly in love with his maid. And here is Herrick’s eulogiac prequel, “Upon Prue, His Maid”:

In this little urn is laid
Prudence Baldwin, once my maid,
From whose happy spark here let
Spring the purple violet.

"Under Prue, His Maid"
       after Robert Herrick’s read
       ‘Upon Prue, His Maid’ and fled

In that thick-eyed vicarage
sat the mass before the stage
under whose last blessing’s shade
I leapt up and seized the maid.

Few in number, few enough
were they as I pinched her snuff,
dodged the folding chairs and bore
shoulder-first through double door.

With her cage clutched into mine
like a ball, toward the line
of the yard, I crossed the court
of an uninvented sport.

Broke through hedge and found the lane,
traced it to the common plain,
hopped the stony wall whose rot
fractured like a merrythought.

Heaven’s lamp is guttering
and the heath’s stopped muttering
has uncorked itself to blow
through itself like so much snow.

Six years of goldsmithery,
five of turning Latin Greek,
four of eating swans, yet I
can’t transmute ash back to thigh.

Forward somewhere London squats
over King Charles’ restless yachts;
Cheapside’s there, and over that
dear dead dad’s old fourth-floor flat.

Feline statuesque, she’ll rest
with me there, in bed, my chest
heaving under her like swell,
sailing north but sailing well.

Review of Christine Leclerc’s Oilywood on the Town Crier

It was a damn pleasure to review Christine Leclerc’s bpNichol award-winning Oilywood for the Town Crier as part of its Feb.-long look at politics in/and/of literature, “Different Ways of Seeing.”

Oilywood… operates like a cut-up filmstrip of biographical and autobiographical reflections on coastal life in BC’s Burrard Inlet. The action is prompted by increasingly public and dubiously legal tar sand/oil industry incursions into the region. Spliced into this film strip’s em-dash cuts are a ticker tape of oil giant Kinder Morgan’s news releases and a scattering of terse, italic interjections—“hear something,” “fish on rocks,” “who gets to belong here,” “shifting baseline.”

Over sixteen sections, a modest 1–3 pages each, the focus oscillates between reflection and news release, suggesting a tug-of-war between community and corporate discourse.


Read the full review at the Town Crier, but first, if you will, a few notes that didn’t make it into the review:

Partially based on interviews and workshops with Burrard Inlet residents, Oilywood salmon-leaps out of the overtly communal Canadian documentary poetry tradition (inaugurated by Dorothy Livesay’s Call My People Home) rather than an Anglo-American Romantic biographical docupoetics (Wordsworth’s The Prelude, Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, Crane’s The Bridge).

Leclerc also comments slyly on an avant-garde digital docupoetics, exemplified by Kenneth Goldsmith’s manifesto Uncreative Writing. In positioning the writer as selector/collagist/curator of the sublime quantity of extant texts, Goldsmith and other digital docupoets aren’t so much reinventing writing as they are adding yet another entry in a long line of uncreative poetics: Classical furor poeticus, Romantic madness (and the Aoelian Harp plucked by wind), Modernist automatic writing (and the mechanistic unconscious plucked by trauma).

Here’s one of Leclerc’s comments on documentary automatism. In the spirit of my review, I’ll leave it unpacked.

I wanted a picture. So I took one
with my phone and moved closer. No
one stopped me and no one cared.

I went closer, and the pipeline was
white. It jutted out beyond the edge
of the dock and it didn’t make a sound.
I wanted to take another shot as my
shorts wicked wave water.
And my phone was gone.

It was stupid to have dropped it. It fell
out of my pocket.

But the water crashed harder. My feet
went cloven and my eyes went like a
dog’s nose.
There was an orange light in the
shallows, by the woods, as the waves
tossed my phone in the sand, my
phone still taking pictures.