Tuesday, March 22, 2011

This is my poemscape. Over the course of the last few weeks I've been writing a long poem (made of many interconnected short poems) about complexities. Mike Tyson is a complex figure. He's in the poem. Love is a complex emotion. It's in the poem. Residing is a complex placement. It too is in the poem. All in all, it wound up being as tall as me. Which isn't as tall as I used to be, but still, pretty tall. There are people who do not like this poem, but I've read it too, and I think it's pretty good. Maybe you can hear me read some of it over the course of the next few weeks:

  1. This Sunday, the 27th, you can hear me read it in Chicago at Myopic Books (1564 N. Milwaukee Ave Chicago, IL 60622) sometime between 7 and 8 pm along with Erika Jo Brown, Matthew Klane and Adam Roberts.
  2. The next weekend (April 2) you can hear me read with the Black Ocean crew at Nemesis Tattoo in Iowa City for the Mission Creek Festival Lit Crawl sometime between 5 and 6.
  3. Two days later (April 4) I'll be reading in Newton, Iowa for the Celebration of the Literary Arts with Debra Marquart at the local DMACC campus sometime between 11:15 and 12:15.

This sounds like a lot, I know, but remember, I do have a 6' 2" poem to read. It's a tall drink of water, that poem, and I'd hate to get its shit wrinkly squeezing it into one of these.

Also, Matthew Zapruder will be reading in Iowa City this Thursday, 7pm, @ Prairie Lights. You should probably be there...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sometimes cities move at you like lava and you think, briefly, this is a dangerous situation. But then you find yourself sitting just across from New Jersey in a place called, The Poet's House, and you feel glad that such houses have yet to be swallowed by America's flowing glow. And hey, you say to yourself, there are places that take you to Coney Island, and you begin to dream of growing land masses, cyclones and the beautiful uselessness of such things in March. That's when you find yourself in a place called Alphabet City reading poems with people you quickly fall in love with and then spend the rest of your night talking about Indians, Ted Berrigan, seeing billboards unlike anyone else because you made them, and how, regardless of their resistance, you will make Jan and Deb miss you when you leave. The next morning, you will wake up with a flight to catch, a handful of mix cd's for everyone's mother, as well as a mouthful of strawberries, and be glad that the lava hasn't caught you yet. Maybe you will be glad about this tomorrow too, but it's so hard to know such things, what with all that shifting astrology...

Sunday, March 06, 2011

You should totally head over here and get this magazine. Not only am I in it, but I also helped make it. It's totally rad; a great read and not too shabby to look at. Pick one up, it's totally classy and earth toned to boot!

Also, there is a release party in NYC next Sunday. The details are here. I'll be reading along with lots of other folks, so come on out, pick up a magazine and read along as it plays out LIVE right in front of you! Things really shouldn't be this amazing, but sometimes they are...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I just got done reading Anthony McCann's "I (heart) Your Fate," and, like, whoa.

A few notes: The poems in this book border on being overtaken with naming, with applying meaning, with, well, being overtaken in general, "While all this time the highway poured towards me/ Bringing you and the promise of words..." It's hard to argue that all poetry isn't, in some way, a search for meaning, but McCann simplifies his search to just the language we use, implying maybe, that there can be no greater meaning without recognizing the impossibility of meaning in the first place, "and I wonder what all your things mean..." The book then takes on the responsibility of beginning meaning by giving everything a name. Words have names. You have names. Lives have names.

And McCann pushes this idea by limiting his vocabulary; words, phrases and images are recycled to both limit and expand their respective meanings (brains, hands, teeth, knees, wrists, and birds, feelings, words, names). Sometimes it works by process of elimination, i.e., I don't know what I mean, but I don't mean that. Other times meaning keeps unfolding and expanding as if he were saying, I mean this and that and this and this and that too:

"It's almost as if I were saying these things
To someone--to you--or not even to you
You stood--like the day--by the beach--with you bag
While the birds and the traffic referred to themselves"

This book is a dance that is meant to mesmerize. This book is like Jamie Lee Curtis in "True Lies." Yes, it's entertaining, and in the poem, "The Visitor's Locker Room" (which seems maybe in reference to the U of I's visitor's locker room at Kinnick), it's even pretty erotic, but what you quickly learn, these are just distractions while McCann sneaks in cleans both your palette and palate, sweeps them free of anything we'd call meaning and remakes it right before your eyes. And though this will read as hyperbole, after reading this book it's easy to imagine it like a prism your white light just passed through...

Look at you now, you're all rainbows and shit.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Whoa. Madison. I went for a reading. I came back totally in love with you. Like, I wanna make love in this club. To your marches. To your placards. To your version of active democracy. Madison, you are so rad. Down at the hotel I was staying at, old people were dressed in revolutionary garb, celebrating George Washington's birthday. Back at the capital, they were just being like George Washington and starting a revolution. Much like the old folks at the hotel, it was coincidence that brought me to you, but isn't that pretty much the deal with love? I think so...Madison, it was nice to meet you. I hope you get yourself figured out in all the best ways. I hope your mean governor tells you he is sorry and runs home embarrassed. I hope all your jobs stay just as they are, but maybe a little better. And I hope you are proud...

Let me know if you ever need me,


Monday, February 14, 2011

Hey. Look what I did. I mean, look at what Dan Perry and I did. I really mean, look at what Dan Perry, Joshua Ware, Erika Jo Brown and I did. We made a book. We made a book that's really fucking good. Maybe this is because I've been sewing them for the last few days, but they just feel right. Also, I have a sewing tip for you; if you're fumbling with your needle and it drops from your fingers, don't attempt to keep it from falling to the ground by quickly making your legs into a lap...that needle was in there a ways.

Buy the book here. Please.

Don't forget to come to the Monsters of Poetry reading this Friday in Madison. I'll be there with a poem for you...

At the request of Jim Galvin I've begun reading Robert Walser. I'm only halfway through the short story collection, but I get why he thought it might be helpful. "I am thrilled to writing a report on such a delicate subject as trousers, and thus to be licensed to plunge into meditation upon them; even as I write, a desirous grin, I can feel it, is spreading over my entire face." Walser, much like myself, seems to enjoy the sounds of ideas being formed, the language of formation, maybe? It's like a slow boxstep, you don't really notice the dance, but know something going's on.

Anyway...Happy Balentimes!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

If you could take pictures of cold, this might be what it would look like. But you can't take pictures of cold. Cold is just an idea. A thing that makes us wear coats. An idea that messes up our hair. Cold can also be scary. Like, what if our feet freeze into the ice and no one helps us out? Scary...

You know what else is scary? Monsters. Next Friday I'll be reading with some in Madison. Only, this won't be scary. It will be awesome. More here.

Then, two weeks later I'll be reading at a thing called The Twins of Evil at Cup of Joe in Cedar Falls. I'm in charge of this one. If you're in Cedar Falls or whereabouts, check us out...

Last week I read in Washington DC. It was awesome and a little unexpected, but mostly awesome. Also, I bought these books: Julie Carr's "100 Notes on Violence," Sommer Browning's "Either Way I'm Celebrating," Anthony McCann's "I (heart) Your Fate," CA Conrad's new "Book of Frank," and Dan Boehl's "Kings of the F**cking Sea." I think that was it, though I did trade for some stuff too. BUT, you should defs check out all these books. They're totally rad.

Tonight I was watching a documentary on Philip Glass, scored by Philip Glass and I heard this line: "A new language requires a new technique." I like that, but don't know how well it stands up...because I also wonder if it isn't new techniques that beget new languages, like the internet, or say, the need to fix your car...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Alright. So, I'm in this bookmaking class. I need a poem to design and print and I'm thinking this would be an excellent opportunity for Further Adventures Chapbooks and Pamphlets to actually make a pamphlet...What I'm doing here is opening the submissions up to single poems. At the end of next week I'll sort through what I got and pick my favorite to be letterpressed and brilliantly laid out by me. These pamphlets, well, broadsides really, will be mailed with every chapbook order from now until they run out. Oh, also, the next book is nearing completion and should be ready by AWP. Send my new favorite poem to furtheradventurespress@gmail.com with, "poem submission" in the subject line. You have until Thursday, January 27th at midnight.

Game on...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

This just came up. Someone backed out and I stepped in. I'm really excited to be reading with these folks, though, to be honest, I'm most excited to be reading with Jaswinder Bolina. A few years ago, his "Carrier Wave," forced me to reconsider exactly what "fucking awesome" meant to me. That's a big project, doing something like that.

What I was, and still am, most taken by with this book, is not just the beautiful writing, but how solid the construction is. This isn't just a collection of poems, this is a fucking BOOK! And now, our names are stacked...I'm the cheese to his ham!


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

So, over break, I've been reading both Michael Chabon's "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay," and Jay-Z's "DECODED." These, oddly, tell basically the same story. Poor kids from poor neighborhoods locking into an art form just as it explodes; K&C, comics, Jay-Z, hip-hop. Both tell the stories of unsuspecting young men, who are more fans of their art than practitioners, better, seemingly, at idolizing than being idols. Jay-Z felt it important to tell the stories of his streets, K&C, as young Jews, felt compelled to fight the battles no one else was fighting, i.e., going toe-to-toe with Hitler years before the rest of America would.

Both parties, by keeping their art personal, infused it with a passion their audiences could almost hold in their hands, and both make clear, that is where their true talents lie..."how distant is the story of your own life ever going to be?" Moreover, both took art forms considered simple...trashy...uncomplicated, and made them, really, made them impossible to ignore, impossible to not take seriously.

What is, perhaps, the most interesting overlapping in these two books, is how both use personal stories, not just to relay the histories of their respective genres, but also to grow and expand American history, by looking at it through specific windows, by acknowledging its effects on them and their effects on it.

Maybe, though, what I like best about these two books, is that they manage to make relevant today, the things I loved when I was young. That they make serious two things I had, for awhile, stopped being so serious about. I love comics and I love hip-hop, and especially I love the escapism both allowed me when I too was young and poor and often scared, the escapism both are allowing me right now.

In short, I feel like it has been snowing forever...

Thursday, January 06, 2011

I've been going on a lot of late night walks lately, nightly. My therapist says they are probably good for me, as walking is good for most people, but she can't know for certain. She doesn't know anything for certain, but that's why I like her. Iowa City is kind of pretty at night, but also pretty lonely. Everyone else appears to be home. But, oh, the glow! I like being a part of it.

Another thing I've always wanted to be a part of? AWP readings. And guess what? I am. I'll let you know the details when they become more readily available to me. I will also be reading January 29th in Milwaukee at Woodland Pattern's Poetry Marathon. I'm in the 9-10 slot with a few other amazing poets. After that, I think there is something in Chicago in March, then I'm reading at DMACC's Celebration of Literary Arts Festival on April 4. There are few others that are much too tentative to speak of now, but I'll let you know if they solidify at all.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Jen Bervin is a pretty amazing poet (and rumor has it, a pretty good sister too), with a pretty amazing ability to package poems...seriously, in 2005 who the fuck published e-chaps? Her work is often sparse and spacey, in a spatial way, and so controlled you feel the tension like you do when someone is making you hit yourself (the act of being "made" is far more immediate than the blows). In short, Bervin's poems are often in the act of being made; you are being made, but you are also doing the making. As textual experiments, you the observer are often made to consider the act of reading/viewing, made to engage yourself, made to see reading as an active rather than, as it often is, a passive experience.
With that, and maybe some of this, you really should read Bervin's new chap, "The Silver Book." Where most of her previous projects seemed intent on witnessing words, this book, like a new kind of mantra, begs you to make them...

write to get lost in the day — get

the time from friends — make them a

memorable meal and forget what you made

— write — we are tasting new peaches

— all the time — write you waste

nothing — write nothing is wasted on

you —

This poem is a love letter that could be for you, but probably isn't, and you feel dirty but also quite beautiful as you read it. While pleading, the poem never loses its power, never seems out of control...it's plainness, it's nakedness driving you toward moments of pure and purposeful awe. You are still being made, but there's a lack of awareness in the poem that bleeds over into you that leaves you feeling surprised, struck, and often delighted (and I mean that). To be made to delight...why isn't that the only thing we try to do in poems?

Look, buy the fucking book, alright? I'm tired.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Okay, so these eagles have been hanging around outside my apartment, which is cool, but also appears to have another side to it...the sight of an eagle soaring, or sitting, or even snatching fish from the river has become more common place than I ever could have imagined. Also, I've written way more poems about eagles than I am comfortable with and am beginning to feel a certain amount of majesty escaping me. My majesty is a fleeing regularity. Eagles! Please, I need some space from you...

Did you ever read Travis Nichols' new book, "See Me Improving"? It's pretty unbelievable. There is a recklessness to the poems that comes across like man with more power than he knows, who is, nevertheless, letting it all shoot from his fingers. Come what may. The danger is greater than that though. The underlying force to these poems seems to have come on a dare, whether it was one made to himself, or from some outlying source. Each poem is quite goal oriented, but like the kid who spends an entire summer tricking out his bike, nobody is asked to care until you see the thing sitting before you on the first day of school and you can't help but be in awe of not just the bike, but the work and devotion put into it...an example:

On the 730th Day God Made Me Happy

I dreamt we fell in love.

You bought new sheets for the bed

and made dinner from breadcrumbs

and yellow squash. The red-fringed ivy bobbed

as the wind touched it,

stirring the building to feel.

This was before our descent

into winter, when I believed

the world would freeze me

for secretly believing I could be satisfied

forever without fiery ropes

dredging my shoulders nightly.

These are not tricky poems, but they are poems that can do tricks. They are plaintive invitations to sex and the worrisome yarns that come afterward, they are shout outs to friends on pop radio and the realization the next day that no one heard you, but most of all, they are love poems to anything and anyone who looks over the words...the words of a poet who loves simply, but holistically and never apologizes for any of it (but often wonders if he should be).

Travis Nichols could probably make me care about the eagles once more...there's nothing to worry about there.

This is going to
be rad
This is already
very rad
This can make us
totally rad

Asteroid (trailer) from Zachary Schomburg on Vimeo.

So many great lines. So much going in and out of focus. In a related note, this is how I usually remember poems.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

It's been awhile since I've seen things, but I saw all this today. What I can't share with you is the grumbling the ice was making, the sounds of weight and expanse and immobility. It was terrifying and amazing. It was like a secret. It was like a secret quickly spreading but unable to break free or even be true. And like that kind of secret, I found myself unable to trust the ice, unable to accept its invitation to stand in places I've never before stood. Whatever ice, I see your fissures, I see your cracking, I see the other leaves you've already swallowed. I see. I see. I see.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Jim Lally, I love you.

Sometimes, your best friends are surprising people. For many years my best friend was a man my father's age named Jim Lally. And I loved him. A few years ago I moved to Chicago and we kind of lost touch. Jim died today. This is a very sad thing to say, and I'm sorry. I'm also sorry for every day that I "meant" to call him, and for all the days I didn't. I think it's important to mention here that I never loved baseball until I loved Jim and that whenever I talk about baseball, or more specifically, the Cardinals, I'm always imagining talking to Jim, wishing, in fact, that that was the case.

Jim had file boxes full of scorecards from every baseball game he ever went to. I looked at them once and wondered what it would be like to keep any kind of history like this.

Also, Jim paid for a few years of my college, not directly, but he sat my bar every shift I worked for 7 years (even switching restaurants when I did) and left me embarrassingly large tips every time. But that money came and went, just like college. I still have baseball, though.

Jim had a big a family and I knew almost all of them, and like Jim, I loved them too. Bob and Gail, I miss you, and I hope to see you soon, really.