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.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Today I took my class over to the Natural History Museum. They were supposed to write 30 descriptions of one thing, anything, that they could find. And they found everything, which was beautiful, but then they found even more beautiful ways to describe them, which was beautiful too!

What this is, is a list of all the things I've written poems about this semester:
  • Bears
  • The Internet
  • Hurricanes
  • Lethal Weapon
  • A single growing season
  • Benjamins
  • Van Halen
  • Data entry
I've also been writing epistolary poems with Lucas and dinosaur poems with Friedrich and a series of ekphrasis based on Norman Rockwell. I've been busy, but good busy.

Tomorrow is now being begrudgingly referred to as Therapy Thursday. How will you celebrate?

I will celebrate by remembering that today Aaron read me Kenneth Koch's, "Permanently," with his new cell phone. It was also quite beautiful, and might I mention, clear?

Maybe that will be enough.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

We went to a museum, we saw priceless works of art! We ate pancreas!

Went to the FIGGE yesterday. It's small, but modern, and they host wedding receptions, which means free drinks on your way out. At this museum they have a special collection based around Hans Holbein's "Dance of Death," which is good, if not slightly frantic. They also had a tiny collection of Wright furniture and glass, but really had no chance to compete with the breadth and size of the collection at the AIC. Still, just seeing one FLlW chair is usually pretty cool. What was, actually, the coolest part of the museum, was that there were only like 6 people in the entire place (aside from the catering company setting up in the lobby), so it felt intimate...so much so, that I kept on accidentally touching the paintings because they looked so touchable.

We also walked down to the river, which was really full of water.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

These are pictures of butterflies and have nothing to do with the fact that I am reading poems in Iowa City tomorrow (Sept 15) at 10pm at the Mill downtown (Iowa City). A picture of a bear would have more to do with this, but I've yet to ever take a picture of a bear and didn't really feel like searching the internet for one. A picture of a bear, though, would be an apt way to tell you that I am reading poems tomorrow (Sept 15) at 10pm at the Mill downtown (Iowa City). That said, I do have pictures of butterflies flirting with big colorful flowers. Big colorful flowers also don't really have much to do with me reading poems tomorrow (Sept 15) at 10pm at the Mill downtown (Iowa City).

Schomburg's new chap, here.

Schomburg and Fry's awesome and beautiful Small Fires chap, here.

The dirtiest thing I read on the internet today, here.

Tomorrow (Sept 15) at 10pm, I'll be reading poems here.

Friday, September 10, 2010

New book ends, and the heart they all share.

Yesterday, I sat in a park and read Matthew Zapruder's new book, "Come On All You Ghosts," out loud. It looked a little like that picture, but not really. My audience was generous for allowing me this. I felt a little like I was 12 and showing a new friend my room for the first time...

Here's the deal about this book. Frank O'Hara used to write poems about himself in the world he shared with his friends, for his friends. Zapruder writes poems about himself in the world ALL of share with him, capturing all the beautiful and grotesque and heartbreaking and joyful minutiae of our everydays.

It's been a long time since I've read a book that's purpose seemed to be the earnest search for a reader, since I felt a poem was being shared with me, rather than being displayed for me, since I had to stop reading because the experience of doing so became overwhelming.

Here's an extended taste:

Come On All You Ghosts
I heard a little cough
in the room, and turned
but no one was there

except the flowers
Sarah bought me
and my death’s head

glow in the dark key chain
that lights up and moans
when I press the button

on top of its skull
and the ghost
I shyly name Aglow.

Are you there Aglow
I said in my mind,
reader, exactly the way

you just heard it
in yours about four
poem time units ago

unless you have already
put down the paper directly
after the mention

of poetry or ghosts.
Readers I am sorry
for some of you

this is not a novel.
Good-bye. Now it is just
us and the death’s head

and the flowers and the ghost
in San Francisco thinking
together by means

of the ancient transmission device.
I am sorry
but together we are

right now thinking
along by means
of an ancient mechanistic

system no one invented
involving super-microscopic
particles that somehow

(weird!) enter through
your eyes or ears
depending on where

you are right now
reading or listening.
To me it seems

like being together
one body made of light
clanging down through

a metal structure
for pleasure and edification.
Reader when I think of you

you are in a giant purple chair
in a Starbucks gradually leaking power
while Neil Young

eats a campfire then drinks
a glass of tears
on satellite radio.

Hello. I am 40.
I have lived in Maryland,
Amherst, San Francisco,

New York, Ljubljana,
Stonington (house
of the great ornate wooden frame

holding the mirror the dead
saw us in whenever
we walked past),

New Hampshire at the base
of the White Mountains
on clear blue days

full of dark blue jays
beyond emotion jaggedly piercing,
Minneapolis of which

I have spoken
earlier and quite enough,
Paris, and now

San Francisco again.
Reader, you are right now
in what for me is the future

experiencing something
you cannot
without this poem.

I myself am suspicious
and cruel. Sometimes
when I close my eyes

I hear a billion workers
in my skull
hammering nails from which

all the things I see
get hung. But poems
are not museums,

they are machines
made of words,
you pour as best

you can your attention
in and in you the poetic
state of mind is produced

said one of the many
French poets with whom
I feel I must agree.

Another I know
writes his poems on silver
paint in a mirror.

I feel like a president
raising his fist in the sun.

How does one get over this? I mean, the last few books I have really loved have spent most of their time making new places to be, to experience. This book, with seemingly little effort, makes new experiences in the place we've always been. These are poems about walking out your front door and falling in love with sun. These are poems about being lonely and falling in love with the loneliness. These are poems about writing poems and falling in love with your poems. These are poems about being beautiful and terrible because the world around you is beautiful but also terrible.

These are poems that will fucking punch you in the chest and then send you off to write your own poems about being punched in the fucking chest because you love it...so much.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I do many things compulsively. Like checking my email, for instance. But also, everything else: drinking until its gone, wondering on the time, being careful, being reluctant, etc. Compulsive reluctance...

There is good news though. I read that new Raul Zurita book and I have favorite bits:
  • Love are the things that happen...
  • We're going to bleed a bit...
  • They don't know their puppy is dying from love and blows...
  • Don't go this is only death...
  • I saw the true God screaming...
  • I saw you further down and we are both dead...
  • We were born here say the dreams...
  • Oh, the evil of my Peru...
These should probably be read as reasons. You've now read 8 reasons to buy the new Zurita book.

I think there is a storm coming on. My reluctance keeps me from saying more.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Contents of Which are Very, Very Funny

Went to the used book shop today. Justin Marks, Joyelle McSweeney, Ezra Pound and the book you see above. I'd grabbed more, but these were the only ones I didn't already own. I have a thing about buying used books I have. It makes me sad to think that someone didn't love them like I do...and if I take them home they could see.

I also used to put my favorite toys under the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve so I wouldn't forget them the next morning.

Speaking of favorites, have you ever listened to Dylan's "Shot of Love?" You don't hear it too often, but it's real good. People will tell you how bad the lyrics are. About evangelism and what not. You don't listen to these people. You just listen to the harmonic landscape of this record.

Is it bad to say that I've never been a fan of Bob Dylan lyrics? At all? Ever?

Did you see that Action Books has a few new titles out? New Zurita translations and new Abe Smith. It's because of Daniel Borzutzky reading some of his translations at a Series A a few years ago that I fell hard for RZ. Abe Smith is just Abe Smith. I don't know...I ordered them, well, the special actually. I figured, hey, free book. Right?

I'll be reading in Iowa City (at the Mill) on September 15th (I think). I want you to come. Real bad.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

These are a few places I've seen my name lately...besides the dirty side of the internet.

Syllabus...bleghk. Writing syllabi is like making a paint-by-number. Not painting one, but trying to simplify thousands of brush strokes and millions of colors into an 8 color, easily-digested, steady-handed craft.

Are you keeping up with Tony Tost's America? You should be.

I miss writing with Lucas and wish he'd hurry back home from India...but that's selfish of me, I guess.

People refer to the things that I like as, "weird." To that I say, if wolf-hats and glued-together puzzles of JFK are weird then why are they so easy to find.

I have a lot of stuff to do today, but none of it seems that interesting. Meetings and phone calls.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Back from Rocky Mountain National Park. It was a hard, "whoa." A and I took over 500 pictures, most of which were practice shots. I think I love National Parks...turns out Ken Burns was right about that being America's best idea.

Is it just me, or do mountains always look better in black and white?

Sometimes, I wish I could have been alive when there were still mountains left to name. I think that would have been the best job ever.

Syllabus writing doesn't look good anywhere on the gray scale.

Before we left for Colorado, I made my parents buy me a wolf-hat because I wanted to wear a wolf-hat in Colorado. Then, on our way out to Colorado, I saw wolf-hats everywhere. I saw bear-hats too.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Yesterday was my birthday. I'm 32 now and also in Colorado. I will only be one of these things next Monday. I have a new philosophy. Photos of mountains are easy to take but hard to appreciate...because, by the time you get home all you got is a bunch of pictures of rocks.

Monday, August 02, 2010

This past weekend I read poetry with two of my best friends ever, Jon and Aaron. We did this at the Cup of Joe in Cedar Falls. I love all these things very much; Jon, Aaron, poetry, the Cup, et.al. After the reading, I sold eleven books and the three of us split $123 in tips. Sadly, none of that money made it home with me as we did what most people do after reading poems: we got drunk. We also had a few chugging contests (which I won, as I recall) and shots along our way there.

I love poetry readings.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

There's a line in daily bathing that is hard to pass by, but easy to forget once you do. I learned that, amongst other things, this last weekend while camping with some friends. Also, you know how tents say things like, "stays dry in extreme conditions?" We went beyond extreme...

You should probably come to Cup of Joe (in Cedar Falls, IA) this Saturday, say...around 8:00pm. It too will go beyond extreme. You know, I say that, and then I think, "it's a fucking poetry reading, what would need to happen for THAT to go beyond extreme?" And then I have a few ideas...

I've had a pretty eventful summer and I still have a vacation left to go on. I think I may be a pretty lucky dude...

Have you read Dorthea Lasky's new book yet? It's called, "Black Life," and reading it is like falling in love with every girl with you've ever been in love with, only, more rapidly and less intentionally. You fall in love with the weird girl and the next thing you know, you're falling in love with the smart girl, the goth girl, the oddly confident girl, the more-man-than-you girl, some girl, THE girl, another girl...

I guess what I'm saying is that, at the end of the day, I wound up with a pretty big crush on Dorthea Lasky, but I have no idea who that is...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Are you on vacation? Are you in Iowa? Want to make your vacation a bit more spectacular than it already must be (you are in Iowa, after all)? Then do I have the opportunity for you!

I'm having a sort of official release party for my book, Michigander, in Cedar Falls on July 31st. What...you want more? Then how about poetry readings by Aaron McNally, Jonathan Barrett and B.J. Love. This gonna be the realest shit you ever seen, son! You remember that time The Beastie Boys sampled Slick Rick and then everybody did? This reading is like that...only with poetry, "as we go a little something like this, hit it!" You should get on this train early because it's the ride you don't want to miss.

Hype, hype, hype!


Jonathan Barrett, BJ Love, Aaron McNally reading poems at Cup of Joe, 102 Main Street, Cedar Falls, Iowa 50613...8pm, July 31st, 2010, and out for drinks afterward.

Jonathan Barrett works in banking and lives in Kansas City, MO with his wife, Megan, and three sons: Elijah, Gavin, and Brayden.

BJ Love is the author of Michigander (Greying Ghost) and the forthcoming We are Two Bastards (Indivia). Additionally, he is an MFA candidate in the Writer's Workshop at Iowa and edits Further Adventures Chapbooks and Pamphlets.

Aaron McNally is a poet, musician and amateur journalist from Waterloo, Iowa, who now lives in Kansas City, MO. He is one step away from obtaining his master's degree in English at the U of Northern Iowa. His first book, Out of the Blue, is available on Caveworks press. His collaborative poems with Friedrich Kerksieck have appeared as chapbooks on Pilot Books and Further Adventures Press, as well as within magazines such as effing and 6X6. Reviews penned in his hand have appeared in Rain Taxi Review of Books and the Cream City Review.

Monday, July 19, 2010

This is July and this is what happens then

On July 1st I left home, last night I got back. A lot of really great stuff happened, but it's become hard to remember it all. I know I was at camp for awhile. I think I almost got in a car accident in Minneapolis. I saw the sunrise once. I missed someone's wedding. I downloaded, like, 19 records from emusic. I started a gang fight. I made an 11-year old puke. I made myself puke. I ran out of clean clothes 3 days ago. I had to pull my dog of a dead snake...twice. I'm pretty sure I made many broad claims regarding things I know nothing about. I cried watching Sportcenter. I mourned for Harvey Pekar. I made payments by phone. I forgot to make my phone payment.

Some other stuff happened too, but now it's lunch time.

Have you seen the new penny yet?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Photo Essay: Lunch with Grandma

I did a lot of that today. Tomorrow, I'm getting ready for this. The day after that, I'll actually be doing it.

p.s. I don't know Flo Rock, but I still might name my kid after her...