Friday, February 26, 2010

Claire Becker interviews Lily Brown for Studio One's March 5th reading

CLAIRE BECKER: When I first got to know you, we were in workshops working on our MFAs, still in a very exploratory stage as to the nature of a poem and immersed in reading and in our peers' work. I like to think I'm still in that stage, but writing now sometimes can feel pretty different. Now that you've become an editor, completed a manuscript and started a PHD program in literature and creative writing, I'm wondering what's different when you sit down to write?

LILY BROWN: This is such a good question! I started thinking about it on a long car ride today and found myself doing something I often did when we were working on our MFAs: I took out paper and started writing on the steering wheel at stop lights. This habit's persistence alone may indicate that the material/habitual aspects of my writing process are similar to what they were five years ago. At that point in time, I was finally in this place I had been wanting to be in for years, which is to say, everything in my life was pointed towards and consumed with poetry (was this the same for you?).

But when I sit down to write now, I think what's different is that I trust language more than I did when I started my MFA. On one level, I'm not really interested in what "I" have to say as much as I might have been then. So while "I" probably emerges when I'm writing, I'm much more willing to see where the language takes me while I'm revising (which is really where writing happens for me), to make radical cuts to my poems, and to trust that something human emerges in a poem regardless of the first person pronoun. Writing a good poem--to me, anyway--usually means cutting all of those little moments where "I" sneaks in and tries to say something--where there's a bit of didacticism.

The change I'm describing came about because of good readers like you and our teachers at Saint Mary's, and because of a larger discussion we were always having about how language works in poems. I saw how elision and compression could open up possibilities in a poem in terms of meaning. At one point, I think in our workshop with Norma Cole, and when I had just taken an intensive class on Stevens with Graham Foust, I started thinking much more critically about the line. That concentration on form totally changed writing for me. I discovered that I could play with tones and resonances in words by breaking lines in specific ways, and that became a part of the compositional process. On a broader level, I guess I ceded control to my poems, and started to see them as separate from myself, as having to do with language rather than the self.

CB: In answer to your earlier question, yes, it was the same for me! When I go to on certain trails in the Oakland hills, I think of hiking up there with you and being able to think out loud about poetry. It was great to have a place to bare all my strange thoughts, ideas and poems--a place outside of the classroom, but with the classroom as a corollary. I'm glad you mention the importance of revising in your work. During my MFA, I also learned to revise, and I think that is why I'm still writing.

You say the writing really happens for you in revision, playing "with tones and resonances in words by breaking lines in specific ways." I'm sitting in a coffee shop reading and thinking about questions to ask you, when I hear a woman exclaim, "The ever-present line!" She is talking about the bathroom, but I agree about the line. Revision can feel like setting a machine to work--to tinker, cut, and shape each line--but I think what makes your poems really successful, is that you trust "that something human emerges," and it does.

At times, in your poems, it seems a consciousness gathers things and runs through them. As the speaker of the poem "In the Shins" states, "Hello—sorry // I lost the footing—even language pivots. / I address myself to the boats." Yet at other times, a physical presence is more obvious: "We close our eyes but I know // we're breathing. If my arms make / a cross. If our arms make a cross." More visceral, more present—the poem slows. Then in the next line, a consciousness views the physical, "There are stones stacked up the sky." Sometimes you offer images for losing the body, as in the poem "Nobody is in Cahoots with the Telephone Pole":

We don't speak: no one believes
one thing follows another:
the path between sun stalk
slicing wall
and wintered pavement
is deeply broken.
Sense this and I'll love you.
I turn into full sight.
There is no body.

Can you talk a bit about this divide and how a physical sense of the world enters into your poems?

LB: It's funny because that last poem you cited is the only poem in my book that I wrote in college. My sister read it and told me it was "totally different" from all of my other poems. I think it's a little different (more punctuated and more dramatic, maybe), but I'm also oddly attached to having it in the book. The origins of that poem are relevant to your question, actually. When I was a senior in college, I took a workshop with Jorie Graham, and I was sitting in her office one day and, if I remember correctly, we were discussing how poetic logic (distinct from rational logic, I suppose) can make people uncomfortable. One of us looked out the window and pointed out that the cracks in the pavement and the sun were related to each other. So that poem laments, in a sense, the lack of an intuitive relationship to the physical world in daily life. I don't mean "intuitive" in a wishy-washy way at all--I just mean that there's been a compression in the poem's logic of this human process (paving) that's interrupted and usurped by a natural process (the weather). So, I guess the sun stands in metonymically for the weather in that poem, while the pavement stands in for human interference.

I might also answer your question by saying that I tend, in my physical sense of the world, to make metaphors out of my visual experience. I think what you're noticing in the poems is the quick leaps the mind makes between reflection, a sort of metaphorical visual experience, and the interaction between those things. The present moment, when I'm writing, often triggers memory, reflection, imagination of the future, and so on. All of those things are compressed into the small space of the poem. I think of the poem as a thought process. As such, the poem is something to think through, rather than about. I have one poem in the manuscript with a line that goes "Birds heel the sky." That line is the direct result of looking up at the sky and seeing a flock of birds in the shape of a horseshoe, and the thinking that resulted from that comparison. I guess the poem, for me, is like a thinking artifact of a consciousness' experience in the world.

CB: When we were in school, I remember that you wrote a lot while you were reading, listening to poetry, or looking at art (and of course driving). Now that you're back in school, have you been exposed to anything lately that is influencing your poetry?

LB: Well, yes! Last fall for a final project for one of my classes I wrote a series of poems that I'm calling "Being One" right now (the title comes from Gertrude Stein). I had never written a series before--and in fact, I had barely written any poems for two and a half years--so this was a new experience. The project is made up of thirteen sections, and each section takes its title from one of the books we read for this course. I've never consciously worked to incorporate other sources into my poems before, but for this project I wrote out of what the titles I chose suggested to me. The funny thing about the process was that I'm usually dead-set against conscious "intention" entering into the composition process, but somehow it worked in this instance. I probably unconsciously chose "titles" that were evocative for me, and that caused my mind to wander (writing for me is usually a kind of mind-wandering-while-reading), so maybe that's why the process seemed seamless.

In general, though, I find that the more voices I have running around in my head, the more likely it is that poems are going to come out of me.

I love this poem from "Being One," the series you mentioned:
(The Mercy of Chance)

The wall of her leaving,

the wallowing sieving,

the surrealists wake up to
a scene where she’s lacking.

Her male surface, a slab
without warming,

indelible, synthetic, disarming.

LB: Thanks, Claire! That poem is channelling Breton. I was reading Nadja and thinking about her character as more of an idea or a surface that the narrator projects himself onto, rather than as a living, breathing person. In a sense, that poem is my short attempt at doing a reading of the text through the medium of the poem.

CB: Right now, we're writing simultaneously in a Google Document. I work on a question, and I see writing appear on the screen as you work on an answer. I've been wanting to ask you about Facebook, Gmail, videochatting and how you think our rapidly changing relationship to technology affects poetry. One of the great things about being a poet today seems to be that we can have relationships with other poets around the country (or world) and interact daily in a somewhat meaningful way (although ideally we see people face to face whenever we can). Technological developments allow us to publish an email and online journal (RealPoetik, on which we collaborate from across the country) available free anywhere. (Look for some physical artifacts of RealPoetik coming soon!) What would you say about the influence of technology on you, your life, or your writing?

LB: I know that technology allows all of these things you mention--RealPoetik, google-chatting, using Skype to talk to Joshua (and our dog, Bella, who is utterly confused by video-chatting) when he's in Chicago and I'm in Athens. Facebook certainly seems to allow this dailyness to people's interactions that might not have been possible in the past. But sometimes I want to run in the other direction--I find myself sewing chapbooks with Joshua for Boxwood, or making chapbooks for my family and friends, or cooking (which seems oddly related to poetry to me) to honor the process of making and the physical artifact.

What I like about technology is what you point out about how it allows us to "have relationships with other poets around the country (or world)." What I'm troubled by in terms of technology, though, is what you pick up on when you say that these interactions are "somewhat meaningful." Sometimes I feel like I'm peeking in on people's private lives with Facebook, that I'm feeding into a sea-change in terms of how we view privacy and how we live on a daily basis, and for me that's not always meaningful interaction.

I tend to gravitate more towards email correspondence than towards Facebook, for example, because I like the relative privacy of email. I'm also easily overwhelmed by too many choices, and Facebook/the internet have that effect on me. I saw Susan Howe and David Grubbs do a Q&A today at UGA, and Susan Howe was talking about how in our culture, as soon as you become a cultural figure, a kind of murder takes place. She mentioned this in the context of Stein and Dickinson as cultural figures, but also in terms of how our culture is name-centered (with celebrities and so on). I started thinking about how the presentation of the self on the internet is like this--its like turning the self into a name. This is my own neurosis, I'm sure, but it's the way I feel.

All of that said, though, there are many great things about technology--getting to work on a journal with you, google-chatting with friends from across the country, being able to have an internet presence for small presses, which I think enables small presses to thrive in a way that might have been much more difficult before!

CB: It's been enlightening to talk to you in this more formal way about your work. I'm glad you'll be here in person soon, Lily live! Your first book Rust or Go Missing is coming out from Cleveland State University Poetry Center in the fall. Can you tell us a bit about what it was like putting that manuscript together? You also have several chapbooks out or forthcoming. How do you think of the chapbook as separate from or a part of the larger manuscript?

LB: Probably about 90% of the manuscript was written while I was at Saint Mary's. Our teachers there discouraged us from thinking about our theses until our final semester. So, when I got to my final semester, I put all of the poems I had written into a pile, and started working with my readers (Brenda Hillman and Graham Foust) to shape that messy mass of poetry into something more manuscript-like.

What resulted was a version of Rust or Go Missing. I've shuffled things since then, mostly in terms of making cuts and additions. I was sending the manuscript out for about a year with no luck at all. At that point, I changed the order of the book, and I started having more luck afterwards. I don't know if this was coincidence or what, but I wondered if the first poem was turning readers off, and put a poem in that position that I thought might be more compelling.

Your question about chapbooks stumped me a bit--I think chapbooks, for me, have represented discrete periods of time. I don't think this is the only way that chapbooks can function by any means, but for me, that's been the case. The Renaissance Sheet, which Octopus Books published, is made up of poems from my first year at Saint Mary's, while I wrote Old With You (from Kitchen Press) my second year. I have a little chapbook coming out at AWP from Doublecross Press that's called Museum Armor, and a lot of those poems are post-Saint Mary's. Because of the way I've organized my chapbooks, though, I do think the poems in each are stylistically similar. Museum Armor, for example, is full of little poems, which I think reflect an anxiety I felt when I graduated and was unsure of my next step. I kept whittling the poems down more and more, and as a result they're some of the most minimal I've written.

I also am obsessed with the object-ness of chapbooks. I'm really grateful to the people who handmade those books, and now that I run a small press, too, I know how pleasurable book-making is.

CB: You are a fan of Welsh Springer Spaniels and Boston Terriers, AKA dogs. Last spring, I was finishing work toward my teaching credential and, my 23rd year of school coming to a close, looking forward to less responsibility. I went to Chicago and spent a few days with you, Joshua, and Bella the Boston Terrier. By the time my plane landed back in San Francisco, I was thoroughly committed to devoting the next dozen years of my life to a dog. Can you explain what happened to me in Chicago? (My dog Mabel is presently ringing a bell indicating she wants to go outside.) What relationship do dogs have to poetry?

LB: I do like Welsh Spring Spaniels and Boston Terriers (AKA dogs). Here is my explanation of when you came to visit us and were soon devoted to a canine: dogs have the duende. And in this, I think they are related to poetry. Most of my communication with the dogs in my life seems beyond language (or pre-linguistic?), yet feels utterly natural to me.

As I write this, I'm reading Robert Duncan's essay "Towards an Open Universe," and I find he offers me some insight into this relationship between dogs and poetry. First of all, he reprints a poem in the essay called "A Storm of White" that mourns the death of a beloved cat: "O dear gray cat that died in this cold / you were born on my chest / six years ago." I realize this poem is about a feline, not a canine, but perhaps the connection he feels--the poem almost figures the speaker as having given birth to the cat!--is similar to that sort of elemental communication I think we can have with dogs.

In the same essay, Duncan writes "Our engagement with knowing...our demand for truth is not to reach a conclusion but to keep our exposure to what we do not know, to confront our wish and our need beyond habit and capability, beyond what we take for granted, at the borderline, the light finger-tip or thought-tip where impulse and novelty spring." Language is something we often "take for granted," but I think Duncan is right that poetry can engage us not by confirming what we already know, but by exposing us to "what we do not know." I write, read, and communicate with dogs in a state of unknowing, and I'm fascinated by the intuitive understanding we can have of both poems and dogs, I guess. This all makes me think of Stein--"I am I because my little dog knows me."

CB: Thanks Lily. I love that you ended on a sentence I feel like I have always known.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lily Brown and Joshua Marie Wilkinson with Music by Sean McArdle on March 5th

Lily Brown's first book, Rust or Go Missing, is forthcoming from Cleveland State University Poetry Center is Fall 2010. She holds an M.F.A. from Saint Mary's College of California, and currently lives in Athens, where she is a Ph.D. student at the University of Georgia.

Sean McArdle cut his teeth in the San Francisco Bay Area scene in the '90's with his own lo-fi recording project, Driving by Braille (Troniks Records) and with The Cost (Lookout! Records). The Cost’s album, Chimera, was released in 2002. When moving to Washington, DC in 2005, Sean turned down the volume on a new set of songs, and joined forces to record and perform with resident Dischord Records drummer Ben Azzara (Delta 72, Joe Lally) and Lida Husik (Alias Records). Northern Charms was mixed at Inner Ear Studios, in Arlington, VA. Completing a national USA tour in the summer of 2009, and a month in Europe in the winter, Sean is now back in San Francisco working on a new record and a short film.

Joshua Marie Wilkinson's most recent book is Selenography, featuring Polaroids by Tim Rutili and published by San Francisco's own Sidebrow Books. He lives in Chicago and Athens, Georgia.

Doors 7
Readings 730, sharp
365 45th St

parking on street or in rear lot

entry by donations

Monday, February 22, 2010


MIKE YOUNG: My favorite aspect of your poetry is what I think of as its love affair with tiny things. Digger moths, clam shovels. There's also something about things getting into things—diamonds in forearms, fungus in windshields. Lots of pockets and burying and tucking and uprooting. There is also a heavy bent toward song, a strength drawn from singing's incantatory nature or power. Sometimes your poems will often command the reader toward incantation or song, and always your poems seem to assume—with great effect—that to mention is to make magic. Which do you like more: tiny things or the names of things? Is there something in the gesture of giving a tiny thing over that you believe in real life—perhaps in secret or perhaps outright—to be magic? As gifts go, is it better to give someone a live thing or a dead thing? Do you ever think of a poem as fundamentally a gift, or is that too sentimental? Those are all probably very different questions, so choose whatever you think is most interesting.

It’s funny you mention “digger moths,” as those ghosted in from one of my friend Noah’s poems. I think he made them up; moth experts feel free to confirm or repudiate here. Some of the things you mention resonate (pockets, concealment) and other things (uprooting, tucking) seem foreign to me, but I’m sure they’re there too in the writing. I love the names of things, the split between the word, the phonological presence it has and the objects they point to—however wobbly. The materiality of the voice is something that’s always lured me to poetry; the sounds of the words want their own life to body forth and hang in the air. I’m thinking of how Creeley talks about how long a rhyme might hang in the air as the lines go on. This haunting factor of the sounds of the words—their clumsiness, their arbitrariness—is something I’m forever messing with, reveling in, developing, honing. My students roll their eyes when I light up about amphibrachs and anapestic rhythms and such. I scan people’s language when they speak; I love doing this to find where their stresses fall.

I try not to let sound and the obsession with names function as the only guide in the work; for me, pun-heavy and sound driven poetry often falls short. But I’m a huge Basil Bunting fan. And Hart Crane’s lyricism is entrancing to me. I love, too, the bluntness of somebody like Oppen, where the fluidity is always thwarted. There is a heavily iambic Isaac Rosenberg poem that starts “Snow is a strange white word”—I love how that line breaks with the rest of the poem’s mellifluous iambic roll. Flow unto itself—or rhythmic stability—is usually boring to me. I love friction and interruption and collage more than an overarching fluidity, I suppose. The question about song is how can the poem incorporate all these and still have that spell-like incantatory propulsion of the best lyrics.

I’m not really a miniaturist, though. I don’t fetishize tininess for its own sake. But I do have an obsession with material objects. One of my favorite pages in my dad’s old college dictionary is the hammer page: with little diagrams of claw, riveting, boilermaker’s, bricklayer’s, and ball peen hammers. Working with my dad in his basement woodshop as a kid is here; I am basically inept with tools, you know, but one of my tasks as a kid was to fetch the “right” tool. I’m maybe seven or eight in this memory. What that meant was trying to resolve in my mind what a “ball peen” hammer might be at the wall where all the hammers, mallets, etc, were hung on nails. I would often—usually in fact—bring back the wrong tool. This became a fraught experience. Not traumatic, you know, just vexing. Maybe poetry is a way to re-enter that space and chart a landscape of desire where those terms can be arranged and adumbrated in a world whose stakes unfold as a result of those relations, as they’re articulated and sounded out.

I don’t think of poems as gifts, though I’m attracted to sentimentality in crude forms. Perfected sentimentality always seems like a hoax or a gimmick. I like it when it’s made manifest in more direct ways. Dorothea Lasky’s work stands out to me in this regard. Some of Anne Carson’s work, too, where the sentimentality is used as a passage to something else. C.S. Giscombe has ways of using these cliché song lyrics to operate so beautifully in the Prairie Style poems. Charles Bernstein, too, read these amazing poems for his daughter in Philadelphia all in this hyperbolic silliness that destroyed me with how the sentimentality (with the impassioned voice, no doubt) split a hole in its clumsy hilarity and broke onto something just indescribably sad and wonderful. Jeff Clark’s new book Ruins has poems that demolish me in their pathos and rawness. I don’t know what the best kind of gifts are. I read The Tale of Genji last fall and extracted all the appearances of the moon from this work. I then made a single chapbook for my girlfriend Lily, comprised only of Shikibu’s moons from Genji. It’s a conceptual poem, I guess. There’s no other language, just any and every sentence in that story where the moon appears—elided together, sentence after sentence, in chronological order. There are dozens of moons, and you can read it cover to cover as a kind of compacted (or synecdochal) version of The Tale of Genji. The chapbook came out to be more than 30 pages I think. That’s the best kind of gift I can think of. It’s not a kitten, but it’s alive.

That sounds like an awesome gift. I'm interested in what you mean by "perfected sentimentality." I think I see what you're saying, and I agree, especially via the folks you mention. Is perfected sentimentality an especially confident/calculated sentimentality? Like a gesture that relies on perceiving the sentimental tendencies of the recipient/audience and then exploiting them—coldly, let's say—for effect/persuasion/whatever? Versus what's in the work you're talking about, which is good for being crude and clumsy and hyperbolic because it's risking the speaker themself being "accused" of sentimentality, being sort of "out" about it?

JMW: I think you hit it on the head. I'm reluctant to try and parse out what's a "pure" sentiment and what's schlock, but my point is that it's all artifice and I like when that artifice breaks the fold, when the corniness of old hyperboles is ruptured by the context and veracity and insistence, as with the Bernstein poems I heard. There is something about "calculated" sentimentality where it's presented as reverie, but it's just trite synonym poetry. "Let me find the 'perfect' way to express this banal sentiment" rather than let me see what other kind of variegated terrain of feeling language is capable of by incorporating the banality of experience. I think Dana Ward and Stephanie Young are wonderful at this. There's a kind of overdetermination that presents the contradictoriness of a subjectivity through lyric poetry. John Keene's Seismosis is a great example where the thinking and feeling meld. It's not really borderline sentimentality in Keene's work, but there's a fusion of desire, curiosity, reflection, pleasure, and processing that's lovely. Andrew Zawacki's and Christine Hume's poems I think do this, too, in a spectral way. Fred Moten's Hughson's Tavern is one of my favorite examples, where there's always an excess to the expression, and that excess is drawn out in humor, bleakness, fragment, tenderness, vituperation, awe, insane rhythmic spells, and zeal.

MY: Recently you and Noah Eli Gordon started Letter Machine Editions, a book press. I bought Travis Nichols's Iowa and Sawako Nakayasu's Texture Notes. Both rehearse a very new and careful-feeling reverence, an openness to succumb to mystery without pretending that you can't study and articulate that mystery. They're great. I also like the way they look similar, with similar trim and cover design. Is there any overarching aesthetic plan—content, design, both—behind Letter Machine Editions?

JMW: I like your reading of Iowa and Texture Notes, actually. Thanks for ordering them! I tire of presses whose “about” page says stuff about being “subversive” or “edgy” or what have you. It’s funny how that language—I guess, what? the language of counter-capitalistic consumption?—has become the flag of so much bland, uninventive writing out there on mastheads seeking only the “extraordinary” and “innovative.” We just wanted the books to speak for themselves—to present their own poetics. Nakayasu and Nichols and Sara Veglahn and Anselm Berrigan (our first four authors) all do this. I think we wanted to emulate the practices (in design and aesthetics) of presses we admire: Black Square, The Figures, AIP, Kelsey Street, Dalkey Archive, Edge, Leon Works, Essay Press, Turtle Point, lots of others. We also wanted to find first books by folks whose work we love and are challenged by: Juliana Leslie and Farid Matuk. Noah and I have really different tastes, and I think this is a good thing—as it engenders long conversations about what we think a particular manuscript is doing. Neither of us want to fill a “niche” and neither of us want a “unified” catalog of works. Disparity is good. Dissimilarity is good. Somehow most of our books are prose, but that’s inadvertent. Finally, I think we wanted to support a few authors who have been around a while by given them means to release a work they may not have considered publishing as an object unto itself. I’m thinking here of Anselm and short works forthcoming by John Yau, Renee Gladman, and Peter Gizzi, and of a big work by Aaron Kunin that we’re co-publishing with Fence Books.

MY: A follow-up—You've mentioned that you enjoy the idea and act of poetry editing. Are you a scrupulous editor of others? Do you have any editorial stories from working on Letter Machine Editions?

JMW: I guess it depends on how you define scrupulous. Noah and I both go through each manuscript by hand several times a piece and make comments, suggestions, cuts, and ask questions. This is a fairly slow, involved process; but it’s one of the things I love most about doing Letter Machine. Lily and I do the same thing with Boxwood Editions, it’s just on a smaller scale. We still try to select a small batch of poems that work together uniquely and edit a manuscript together, as carefully and closely as possible. We’ve published chapbooks by Lisa Fishman and Lauren Levin and have a fantastic longish poem by Claire Becker coming out next month called Young Adult.

MY: You do Rabbit Light Movies, which is an amazing project of video poetry readings. Why did you start Rabbit Light Movies? Do you see trends in the way contemporary poets in your circle perform their work? Do you have any opinions on these trends?

JMW: I started Rabbit Light on a lark, as a corollary to the first Octopus Books chapbooks that were about to come out in early 2007. Since my friend Julie Doxsee and I were among the first 9 chapbooks they published, I thought I’d make little movies of us reading and burn them onto dvds and give them out for free in the book fair at AWP. This was Atlanta. Since then it’s grown into a weird project that I still love doing. I don’t see too many trends, per se, as you suggest, but I try to coax writers I’m interested in—or interested in hearing more of—to send me audio or video to fool around with. Most of these folks I don’t actually know, or have met only briefly at readings and such. They sort of trust me to put some footage to it—hopefully neither illustrating the words nor distracting from them—that can stand in as a kind of visual counterpoint or landscape to the poems. Sometimes I just ask them to be filmed reading, and I enjoy this immensely. Eventually, I’d like to surrender it to folks around the country—and beyond—to film their friends, to make their own movies, to have local scene editors (like Fascicle’s old reports on cities)—to get it to grow way, way out beyond what I could possibly film myself. This is starting to happen already as Mathias Svalina and Jules Cohen and Zachary Schomburg, and others are already helping out on future episodes. So folks should write to me if they want to help out. God knows I’ll need it. There should be about 75 rabbits working on this.

MY: You finished your first book in your friend Solan's basement in Alaska. Can you talk about working in a basement in Alaska?

Man, that was tough. Whatever romance I have about writing is usually thrown into a serious fucking tailspin when I think back on that rainy, dripping summer in Juneau. First off, Solan was gone almost the entire month. There was just this little bluegrass guitar player named Mike—a high school math teacher—who lived upstairs. I had drifted into the “arena of the unwell”—as Withnail says, I think. I just didn’t know how to write the project I’d set out to write. (I’d been living in the old Austro-Hungarian Empire and then uprooted to Tucson to try to assemble it all under the auspices of an MFA fellowship). And more and more “selves” and subjectivities and characters and phantoms and voices started to speak through the work. I look back on pictures of myself at this time—usually every time I move when I’m trying to figure out what to discard, what to repack—and these pictures (I was taking self-portraits each day with this half-busted analog camera) really seem to be of somebody else. I tried to figure out how the book would go from the outset—and that turned out to be a colossal mistake. The book needed to unfold differently—but how?—that’s what I had to figure out in Alaska. Everyday I was obsessively reading Wittgenstein’s Investigations, the Culture and Value notebooks, the notebooks on color, etc (classic poetry fodder clichés, by now, but amazingly rich stuff) (fortunately I knew slightly better than to get too bogged down in the Tractatus, but even that is staggering and generative). In some ways all the Wittgenstein was a ruse: to feign entry back into the poetry writing, but actually functioned to keep me from writing. It turned out to work somehow and helped me get that book into some semblance of being completed. I had been to Alaska several times previously, but it’s still a pretty mesmerizing place to work. I’ll be back up there this fall.

MY: I think Mathias Svalina told me once that while you and he and Zach Schomburg were touring the Midwest, you all took turns reading Frank Stanford's Battlefield Where The Moon Says I Love You in the car. This might not be true, but I like the idea.

It’s true. It was my idea. One of those books that all of us had copies of, but none of us had actually read, I think, until that trip in 2006 or 2007. We didn’t get through all of it, but I think read more than a third of it, or thereabouts, which we needed on the long hauls between Chicago and Minneapolis and Lincoln and wherever the hell John Gallaher lives in Missouri. It’s ghosted heavily into Selenography, my new book, and heavily—to my mind—into Zach’s second book, Scary, No Scary as well. I don’t know what this will do to Mathias. I am excited (and afraid) to see. In fact, Stanford himself took lots of car trips in America recording other poets with his friend. I think there was a lot of drinking and a perhaps a secret meeting with Alan Dugan.

Joshua Marie Wilkinson's most recent book is Selenography, featuring Polaroids by Tim Rutiliand published by San Francisco's own Sidebrow Books. He lives in Chicago and Athens, Georgia.

Mike Young is the author of We Are All Good If They Try Hard Enough (Publishing Genius Press 2010), a forthcoming poetry collection, and Look! Look! Feathers (Word Riot Press 2010), a forthcoming story collection. He co-edits NOÖ Journal and Magic Helicopter Press. Find him online at, offline in Northampton, MA.

See Joshua Marie Wilkinson read with Lily Brown on Friday March 5th at 7:30pm at Studio One Art's Center

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Studio One and Calaveras Reading with Jenny Drai, Emily Kendal Frey, Zachary Schomburg and Barbara Claire Freeman

Friday Feb. 18th

Emily Kendal Frey is the author of AIRPORT (Blue Hour 2009). She teaches at Portland Community College in Portland, Oregon.

Jenny Drai is from Chicago, Munich, and Oakland. She has work
recently appearing or forthcoming in Calaveras Journal, Court Green, H_NGM_N, Monday Night, and RealPoetik. She currently lives in Orange County, which is interesting.

Zachary Schomburg is the author of The Man Suit (Black Ocean 2007), Scary, No Scary (Black Ocean 2009), and several chapbooks including three forthcoming collaborative chapbooks with Emily Kendal Frey: Team Sad (Cinematheque Press 2010), Feelings Using Wolves (Small Fires Press 2010) and Ok Goodnight (Futuretense 2010). He co-edits Octopus Books and Octopus Magazine. He lives in Portland, OR.

Barbara Claire Freeman is a literary critic and professor of literature who has recently turned her full attention to writing poetry. She is the author of The Feminine Sublime: Gender and Excess in Women's Fiction (University of California Press, 1998, pbk. 2000), among many other works of criticism and theory. Formerly an Associate Professor of English at Harvard, she teaches creative writing for the Department of Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley. Her poems have appeared in A Public Space, Beloit Poetry Journal, Boston Review, Colorado Review, Crazyhorse, Denver Quarterly, Harvard Review, Iowa Review, Modern Review, New American Writing, Sycamore Review and Parthenon West Review. She is a recipient of the Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Award, the Campbell Corner Poetry Prize (Sarah Lawrence College, 2007) and a Pushcart Prize nominee. Incivilities, her first book of poems has just been published Counterpath Press (November, 2009). A chapbook, St. Ursula's Silence, is forthcoming from Instance Press.

Doors at 7
Readings at 730

365 45th St
parking on street or lot behind the building.

Donation for entry

Calaveras is edited by Alisa Heinzman and Sara Mumolo.
Read interviews with each of the readers, scroll down.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Barbara Claire Freeman with an Auto-view

Q: You've just published Incivilities, your first collection of poetry. What would you like prospective readers to know about it?

A: That's a great question because it allows me to go straight to the heart of what most motivated me and the challenges I set myself. I wanted to forge links and alliances between socio-historicial and archival discourses; contemporary political and economic realities; and the inscription of a certain tone, a tone that would allow "me," the speaker, to communicate affect and emotion. Well, that's an awfully packed sentence which I'd like to try to elaborate upon...

Q: Ok, but could you begin by saying something about the function of emotion in the book?

A: Thanks for focusing on that. The answer is complex and kind of autobiographical, but perhaps worth trying to detail. You probably know that I'm 65 and came rather late to poetry as I only began to write it really intensively three and a half years ago. Among other things, that I'm so old means that the poetic influences I grew up with were confessional poetry on the one hand and beat poetry on the other. But people, especially women who were into poetry whether or not they wrote it, were heavily influenced by Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath. Poetry was a place where one "confessed," celebrated, and kind of invented a version of oneself.
The process of becoming a contemporary, albeit aged, poet has, among other challenges, entailed learning how to resist a tendency to write "confessional" poetry (even if enacted through the guise of various personae). I certainly don't give credence to the modernist notion of the self as a consciousness existing independently of socio-historical constructs and constraints, nor do I want that notion to infiltrate the poems I write. That said, I still want to write poems that carry passion and affect and that confront readers with emotionally laden registers and issues. This is part of what I mean by the inscription of tone. As a consequence I set out to write a book both about and from within the perspective of the collective/the polis/the social, about what we as citizens of the United States necessarily share with one another. But I tried to do so by deliberately using the kind of affect/passion with which I'd written (or was brought up to write about) the so-called "personal" lyric. Put another way: I tried to use affect as an impetus or goad through which to write about our collective past and present. Does that make sense?

Q: Yes, I think so. Do you want to say more about your use of archival and historical materials? What drew you to include those kinds of documents? And what does their inclusion have to do with "emotion"?

A: At the risk of over-simplifying: one of the strategies for avoiding ego-driven work was to immerse "myself" in the archive, in the syntax of other centuries, archaic dictions, and sentences. Using historical sources insured a certain impersonality (but not T.S. Eliot's kind of "impersonal"). Trying to include different discourses from United States history actually allowed and enabled emotional tonalities I wouldn't otherwise have been able to, uh, get away with. For example, at the end of "Hurricane of Independence" (which, incidentally, was the name of a real hurricane that happened in the Southeast right before the Declaration of Independence, from which it took its name) the poem's speaker says: "I wanted to tell the story of my country, how it became, what it began." I don't know if I could have included such an emotionally laden line if the rest of the poem hadn't been so grounded in history, in events that happened in other centuries, even while they might seem to prefigure the twenty-first.

Q: Can you give more examples?

A: I'll try. As a literary theorist and professional scholar I'd never been interested in history, except to theorise about "the historical" in the tradition of Althusser, Jameson, et. al. It's really strange to me that, as a poet, the reverse was true: I got absolutely fascinated by American language as it was used throughout U.S. history. To be concrete: slave's petitions and discourses addressed to the government, the Journals of Lewis and Clarke, Inaugural Addresses and presidential speeches such as the Gettysburg Address. Also: memoirs and histories of Westward Expansion, in particular, the Gold Rush -- especially the autobiography of George Hearst, miner and entrepeneur par excellence. For a poem such as "Man of Gold" I actually read about thirty books on the history of the West, technologies of mining and engineering, the settlement of the Gold Rush towns that later became ghost towns. I wasn't trying to be accurate or scholarly. I just wanted to have the poems not be about "me": I wanted to use language that carried and transmitted moments in U.S. history and to give the reader a sense of the collective. Which is not to imply that the poems achieve the overly ambitious goals I set myself....

Q: Just go on....

A: OK, thanks! It's also important that readers know how much I wanted to "escape," for lack of a better word, habitual word choices and syntactical/semantic patterns. To my surprise I discovered absolutely gorgeous syntax in historical documents such as George Washington's speeches and letters, and I tried to collage them so as to create sentences and shapes I wouldn't otherwise have been able to invent. Historical languages presented both a way into language and a way out of "myself."

Q: And what else?

A: Just one more thing, which returns to the discussion of "tone" I didn't really address at the beginning. I wanted to explore questions about what it meant, and means, to be a citizen of the United States at this particular historical moment. For example, the poem "Where The Moon Comes Up" was constructed so as to allow a question that seems to me to be crucial: "Can you imagine not having to apologise for the United States?" I wanted to re-present moments from our past when being a U.S. citizen was something the populace was proud of and excited about, when there was the possibility, if not expectation, of a limitless future: the possibility of—well, of possibility. And I wanted the poems to perform a certain work of mourning for a kind of hope that I, for one, experience as unavailable, for a kind of citizen-ship or polis I don't believe is an option today -- at least not an option I, for one, experience. Rilke writes about the lyric as being a form where the poet can push lament so far that it becomes a kind of praise. I certainly can't claim to have achieved that. But I damn well want to try.

Q: Would you like to add...

A: No, nothing, that's it. Thanks for asking. And thanks for listening.

Come see Barbara Claire Freeman read with Jenny Drai, Zachary Schomburg and Emily Kendal Frey at 7:30pm at Studio One Art Center, Friday Feb. 19th.

Barbara Claire Freeman is a literary critic and professor of literature who has recently turned her full attention to writing poetry. She is the author of The Feminine Sublime: Gender and Excess in Women's Fiction (University of California Press, 1998, pbk. 2000), among many other works of criticism and theory. Formerly an Associate Professor of English at Harvard, she teaches creative writing for the Department of Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley. Her poems have appeared in A Public Space, Beloit Poetry Journal, Boston Review, Colorado Review, Crazyhorse, Denver Quarterly, Harvard Review, Iowa Review, Modern Review, New American Writing, Sycamore Review and Parthenon West Review. She is a recipient of the Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Award, the Campbell Corner Poetry Prize (Sarah Lawrence College, 2007) and a Pushcart Prize nominee. Incivilities, her first book of poems has just been published Counterpath Press (November, 2009). A chapbook, St. Ursula's Silence, is forthcoming from Instance Press.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sara Mumolo and Alisa Heinzman Interview Julie Carr

Mumolo & Heinzman:
Often, you cite other texts and the words of your poems tend to engulf the borrowed text (the cited portions are not set outside the body of your texts). Then, rather than point or respond to the quotations, the poems seem to move along with them, using the citations as integrated lines. I'm thinking of your works cited, but especially of moments similar to your use of Whitman's Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking in 20. of 100 Notes on Violence

"Out of the cradle endlessly--shameful--out of the rocking the
mocking-bird's throat--bludgeoned the musical, the musical
shuttle--out of the parents the child from bed--"

Here, Whitman's words have been melded with your own. Can you talk about your relationships to Whitman and Dickinson in the book? And, possibly, also as part of your own aesthetic history as a poet? What, as you see it, is the relationship between quoted texts and your own words in the poems?

Julie Carr: Whitman and Dickinson are important to this book because they wrote through and, in very different ways, about the Civil War. Their approaches to writing about violence are as contrasting as their poetics: the one public, direct, political, the other private, metaphoric, metaphysical. The Civil War is almost a metaphor for the book’s central concerns, which are domestic, local, and intimate violence. I wanted both Whitman’s direct engagement and Dickinson’s metaphysical questioning to be part of how I addressed violence in this book. When Whitman writes,
“Long, too long America, / Traveling roads all even and peaceful you learn'd from joys and prosperity only, / But now, ah now, to learn from crises of anguish, advancing, grappling with direst fate and recoiling not” (which is the poem of his I most often refer to), he directs his poetry and his readers to acknowledge these “crises of anguish.” He asks for a poetics of honesty and engagement and he assigns himself the role of “show[ing] to the world what [America’s] children en-masse really are.” I took his words as a challenge. Then, in the last line of Dickinson’s poem #442, written in 1862, “Creature—Shall I—bloom?,” you get the full weight of her uncertainties, her capacity to write through doubt and despair. “The Frosts were her condition,” it says earlier in that poem. I felt it was crucial to include the fullest emotional range that I could discover, and certainly questioning one’s right or ability to bloom (given the conditions, given the realities), occupies one end of the emotional spectrum, while taking responsibility for showing the world who its children are might be another.

The book is woven with other voices. I wanted to record my own reading experiences, but also to reveal how violence is a communal problem, one that preoccupies all of us, one that we are collectively engaged with.

As for my own history – I read Dickinson first when I was probably about seven. My mother had a selected in the house, and I was drawn to it. From then on I loved and always read a lot of poetry. I think that early exposure to the lyric as a mode of internal inquiry has left its mark on me pretty indelibly.

M&H: There is a tension between what I observe as the personal and the public in your poems. In Equivocal you address Memory, which often coincides with the private world, and History, which often coincides with the public in the "Wrought History" and "Wrought Memory" poems. Of course the two subjects overlap and intertwine. A recurrence of this tension between private and public (if these are even the best terms to use) happens in other areas of Equivocal as well: grief, gender, family.

Grief (9): "Private griefs become public when theorized: I cannot get it nearer me" p9

Gender (64): "Burying my ancestry requires so little / I've lost touch with other mothers, // lost touch with my sex"

Family: Scenes of family reappear throughout. The family seems to be most people's initial experience with the individual's relationship to the collective, where it touches and where it divides. Maybe all of this has something to do with loneliness, language, and the difficulty of writing poetry as perhaps a transference of personal to public. Is it even possible to talk about when/how these tensions between personal and public appear in the consciousness of you-as-the-poet writing the poems? How do you think the individual's relationship to the collective manifests during the act of writing?

JC: This is a big question! I think the answers will vary from one book to the next. Equivocal is more private (to me) than 100 Notes on Violence, and I was definitely directing myself to reach farther outward when I began writing 100 Notes. But I never think of the act of writing as a private or purely personal experience. I am always reading as I am writing – books are always open on the desk. I hear the voices of others in my head as I write. I don’t believe I am moving inward as I write – that’s not the metaphor that helps me. Instead, I think of myself as engaging with what is before me, with whatever I am capable of engaging with. My hope is that I will engage with more and more: more people, more texts, more history, more of the natural and more of the made world. That said, I do believe in such a thing as “the individual,” and I do believe that each individual’s perspective matters and is, in some sense, unique. So I don’t, and hope to never, think of myself as just a “sampler.”

I think your question is also about audience. My sense of readership must also vary from project to project. There are certain poems or sequences that are written with a small audience in mind (sometimes an audience of one). Others are written with a broader readership in mind. I don’t think we always have to be speaking to as many people as possible. That would severely limit our possibilities. At the same time, if we always speak to the same group of readers, we also limit our possibilities. I suppose what I want more than anything is to be open to many possibilities.

The family is my ground. I published my first book, Mead, when my son, Benjamin, was six and my daughter, Alice, was 2. The book dives right into domestic and familial experience as a place of great tension and intensity. As Robert Duncan said, the domestic is the true wild. I wanted to explore the sense that my borders were no longer clear: the “inside” and the “outside” were trading places all of the time. Now, that no longer seems surprising to me; it is just a fact of existence. Equivocal was written during the year after that, and is always in conversation with Alice’s language acquisition, and my mother’s loss of language through dementia. It is a book, then, that is curious about how language is and then also isn’t how we know a person, how we experience intimacy. So, you are right to notice that the family is the site at which the individual and the collective come together and come apart.

M&H: A related tension in 100 Notes on Violence exists when one's (either reader or citizen) vulnerability exposes through their interaction with the book, the material itself. For example, from note 30: "This is just a book. It does not weigh very much. It is easy to hold and to destroy. Scissors, a knife, a pen, water, your hands. Like a body." Here the speaking voice reduces the sizes of images until the books' theme of violence actually is the hands of human culpability. I read this as questioning what it means to write a book about violence: the book as a material and the poems themselves. Can a book--or any material--attend/effuse a vulnerability akin to the human figures inhabiting these poems, figures that are also acting out violently or are acted upon violently in the world?

JC: Can a book be a perpetrator? Can a book be a victim? Dickinson wrote, “There is a word / Which bears a sword / Can pierce an armed man—” Yes, of course language enacts violence, does so all the time. One of the questions I ask throughout the book is to what degree speech can be violent. In a long poem in which I question my own motives for writing this book, I describe being beat up as a child and then, as a young woman, being nearly raped. But then I say “but this was still nothing compared to my mother’s insults, though I do not remember them.” Here and elsewhere in the book I try to highlight the violence that language can do.

I began to see the book as vulnerable pretty early on. A book is such a quiet thing and so unobtrusive. It just sits there not demanding much. I began to refer to it as “my compass” for how it (the project) kept me on track, kept me focused, but also as a term of endearment. At one point I call it “sweet compass.” At the same time, when I think about the impact of books on my life – more like magnets than like compasses, they have shifted my direction entirely – refocused my orientation, changed my mind. One of the reasons to value poetry is for how quietly it enacts cataclysmic change: one reader at a time.

M&H: One interesting polarity in 100 Notes on Violence is the nursery rhyme/lullaby heritage that some of the sonic structures inhabit against the collection's title theme--stories and images of violence. Can you talk about negotiating these interactions?

JC: I think of these sections as lullabies. I started this book when my third child, Lucy, was an infant. I was often singing her to sleep and thinking about how lullabies are these prayers against fear: fear of sleep, fear of being alone, fear of the dark. But the songs I was singing, “Sweet Molly Malone,” “Rock-a-by-baby,” “Hush Little Baby,” these songs were really about death, disaster, the failure to comfort. So oddly, the lullaby sounds soothing, but it expresses how one can never really be soothed. They are like the Blues in that way. They comfort through acknowledging what is. I included these lullaby-like poems in order to calm down the narrative strains, to keep the book from getting hysterical (which it easily could have done), but also to indicate the fear at the heart of the lullaby.

M&H: What, if any, connections between the individual and a larger community are currently being disrupted in the world of poetry? Do these seem to be shadows of larger crisis' in the world or are they insular poetic disruptions? Or, are they crisis' of time, a constant struggle of a conscious being? How do you see language relating to crisis?

JC: I’m not sure what you mean by crisis here. What comes first to mind is that poetry’s relationship to a larger reading public is in crisis. But it has been that way for decades (though not centuries). This is, I think, sad, but not tragic. It’s sad for those people who say, “I don’t read poetry.” It’s sad for the kids who are not being taught how to read poetry in school. But it’s not necessarily a tragedy for poetry. I think poets have always written to each other, have always been involved in a communal activity. That has not changed, and perhaps because we are less concerned with the larger market, we are saved, in a way, for each other. The poetic communities that I am part of are thriving, filled with vibrant exciting people creating unexpected and striking things. But maybe you are referring to other kinds of crises—global, political, economic.

How does poetic language relate to these crises? Oscar Wilde said that life imitates art, not the other way around. He said there was no fog in London until the painters made it so. I think artists, and poets as just one breed of artists, have to keep that hope: that what they are creating will help to invent the world. If you think about how reading has changed you, you as just one individual, made you more at peace, or more curious, or more aware, or simply more alive, then you can readily agree that art has made you who you are. It follows then that art invents communities of people and thereby invents the world. How that happens is multitudinous. There is no one way. Perhaps it is true that new sentences, new grammars, new syntax, can expand our way of thinking, can act as a form of resistance. Or perhaps it is true that song, more than any other aspect of poetry, affects us because it reaches past cognition to the body. And perhaps it is also true that individual narratives need to be told, sometimes directly. All of these things seem possible to me and all have seemed true to me at different times in my reading experience. Perhaps poetry is a kind of listening, paying extreme attention in order to record, not the dominant narratives, the ones we already know, but the understories, the things we don’t usually want to, or know how to, hear. The one thing I don’t believe in is silence.

Zack Tuck interviews Jenny Drai + a poem feature

Zachary Tuck: It seems that poets still reach most frequently for Classical antiquity yet your work, especially [WULF AND EADWACER], has a deep and complex relationship with Anglo-Saxon literature. Can you tell me about the development of your sense of lineage?

Jenny Drai: More than anything else, I think my sense of wanting to engage with the Anglo-Saxon comes from the dreamlike familiarity of the language itself. As a native speaker of English, with deep life-long roots in the German language, it just seems like a logical progression to engage w/ that literature. But the desire to engage doesn't come from linguistic concerns alone. I really thought the big Angelina Jolie Beowulf flick did a very good job of diminishing any chance for female characters to be portrayed in a non-stereotypical way, whereas other smaller Beowulf films (of which there are several) do not make the same mistake. So I started digging in, reading scholars on the subject. It helps, of course, that I am a big history geek. I like to go far into the past to understand something about the present conundrum. But I mean, I'm also just a geek. I want to know what the past smells like.

ZT: Part of the present conundrum, especially in EADWACER centers on the concept of consent: "Consent is venerable..." and "Consent is delirious,". In section 8, "A number of writers would like to assign you a task. To study the evolution of human emotions, or if / they have evolved at all. The interim project of behavior. Consent is required or you're just flying off the / handle". Do you feel that you, like the speaker of this poem, have been in some way assigned to grapple with this issue? In terms of non-stereotypical portrayal of female desire and agency, can you talk about about why you have chosen consent in particular as a focal point?

JD: I suppose I am the sort of person who grapples with everything I come across. This can be a good thing and a bad thing. But the issue of 'consent' is maybe just a mirror way for me to talk about intent, to understand the beating limits of one particular body, in this case my own. I think when I was a bit younger and more green, I thought if I wasn't moving very quickly in multitudinous directions, I wasn't really alive, as a writer or as a person doing the living. The Eadwacer poem comes from a place of needing to stop and slow down but thus also having to look at what's occurred. It's important to me to involve syntax in this process. It seems to me that a particular grammar could assuage in such a way that could allow for evolution after all. Like, you could actually see the drama unfold. I think I'm sort of answering your question and sort of not. Suffice it to say I have a lot of personal experience in pressured wanting and thus more recently, as this pressure has come to be mostly diffused, I can appreciate anew the clarity of actual, bona fide agency.

ZT: I don't need a straight answer. What is your grammar?

JD: Seriously! What a question. This is how I got to where I'm at. During graduate school, when my poems were being workshopped, I could throw little arrows to catch the word 'disjunctive' in the air (a word I now hate and would never use to describe someone's poetry, because it absolutely begs the question, disjunctive to what). Is there a base camp? But I was mucking about in grammar because I wanted a fractured sentence. It seems to me the poetic fragment does notalways take account of schism, it can be an artifice of it, but for some reason, while sitting on my bedroom floor reading an article on fractal poetry, the fragment felt like a sickness, like an outright lie. Something completely manufactured to lose itself around its edges. And the sentence, as I had heretofore understood it, didn't show its work. Put these words in that order. Like this or like that. And there was a personal story taking place in the grammar as well, an autobiography in syntax, maybe a disorganization reimagined to construct a new whole. But I'm much more relaxed now. I'm trying to let phrases turn across themselves against the line break. A swimming metaphor: like swimming freestyle into the turn, then pushing off on one's back so there's a different line of sight on the way back. Maybe even swimming diagonal into a different lane. To answer
your question: my grammar is texture.

ZT: I lob you an easy one while I meditate on grammar, texture and the backstroke. I know that you're also writing series of novellas. Could you tell us about them? Is there other new writing in the works? And what happened to that blog, hm?

JD: That blog went away because I determined there was very little else humorous to say about the relationship of my cat to Gerard Butler or about the ways Beowulf is adapted in our contemporary mind. I thought, quit while ahead. As for the novellas, the idea of a series is very much in flux right now. I can't help feeling that the writing styles clash, so I'm trying to sort this out. They are actually very much written. Beowulf in Love addresses the perplexing issue of why he doesn't have a queen and is meant to be a soap opera in lyric form.
Dark Age is the adult version of Nim's Island [aah! Gerard Butler reference] & the Haircut focuses on a single act of violence within adomestic relationship that is not otherwise violent. Each of the texts centers around source material from the fifth century and are in turn a bit obsessed with the history of human emotions. And are supposed to be documents of learning. [Wulf and Eadwecer] is actually supposed to be the fourth and final chapter in this project (although it's from the eighth century). I am going for a blend of seams and fusions and the novellas too allow for presence of other genre. Line breaks & such. As for the future, I am in the reading phase for a project that I hope will examine the almost inexhaustible tension between evolution and the religious belief of intelligent design from an atheist's perspective. But as one who is seeking to engage, not merely to proselytize.

Zack Tuck
is a poet from Texas, now living in Oakland.

Jenny Drai is from Chicago, Munich, and Oakland. She has work
recently appearing or forthcoming in Calaveras, Court Green, H_NGM_N, Monday Night, and RealPoetik. She currently lives in Orange County, which is interesting.

See Jenny read at the calaveras reading release party at Studio One Arts Center on Feb. 19th. @7:30pm.

from [ Wulf and Eadwacer ]

by Jenny Drai

Adoring the intricate
hiddenness of textual

appeals to my but I’ll speak
her lay and to her hall

just to mead or hearing the scop
and an 8th century pin drop.

I can tell you my story, this story
belongs to mine and just

a woman’s lips and verbs, or.
I tell this shredding to my

people under my own
skin to roughen a twinge.

The speaker shall not shallow
out longing b/c words are gouges.

Eadwacer could seize her and utter her.
His tongue-silt is honey and honey

comes from his stomach
where he smells the orchard

in her hair,
smitten of peaches.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

February 19th

Studio One Readings Series did a print Series: Calaveras.

Come to the release reading with

Emily Kendal Frey is the author of AIRPORT (Blue Hour 2009). She teaches at Portland Community College in Portland, Oregon.

Jenny Drai is from Chicago, Munich, and Oakland. She has work
recently appearing or forthcoming in Calaveras Journal, Court Green, H_NGM_N, Monday Night, and RealPoetik. She currently lives in Orange County, which is interesting.

Zachary Schomburg is the author of The Man Suit (Black Ocean 2007), Scary, No Scary (Black Ocean 2009), and several chapbooks including three forthcoming collaborative chapbooks with Emily Kendal Frey: Team Sad (Cinematheque Press 2010), Feelings Using Wolves (Small Fires Press 2010) and Ok Goodnight (Futuretense 2010). He co-edits Octopus Books and Octopus Magazine. He lives in Portland, OR.

Barbara Claire Freeman is a literary critic and professor of literature who has recently turned her full attention to writing poetry. She is the author of The Feminine Sublime: Gender and Excess in Women's Fiction (University of California Press, 1998, pbk. 2000), among many other works of criticism and theory. Formerly an Associate Professor of English at Harvard, she teaches creative writing for the Department of Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley. Her poems have appeared in A Public Space, Beloit Poetry Journal, Boston Review, Colorado Review, Crazyhorse, Denver Quarterly, Harvard Review, Iowa Review, Modern Review, New American Writing, Sycamore Review and Parthenon West Review. She is a recipient of the Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Award, the Campbell Corner Poetry Prize (Sarah Lawrence College, 2007) and a Pushcart Prize nominee. Incivilities, her first book of poems has just been published Counterpath Press (November, 2009). A chapbook, St. Ursula's Silence, is forthcoming from Instance Press.

Doors at 7
Readings at 730

365 45th St
parking on street or lot behind the building.

Donation for entry

Calaveras is edited by Alisa Heinzman and Sara Mumolo.