30 December 2011


Terrance Hayes selected Dayglo by James Meetze as the winner of the 2010 Sawtooth Poetry Prize from Ahsahta Press; it was published in January of this year (2011). The poems of Dayglo construct a linguistic landscape that is rooted, decidedly, in San Diegan imagery (which, not coincidentally, is the author's current residence).

Highlights of the collection include the first poem "It's Overhead" and the title poem, which opens the third section. In the former of these two poems, Meetze writes: "Poetry too is subject / to fogginess and wobble. / Our beacons never near / enough to illuminate / what we don't know" (4). In many cases, one could consider this phrase to be an ars poetica for the book as whole, in that nothing in these poems is fully illuminated, and thus a fogginess surrounds them. Of course, this "fogginess and wobble" allows for the reader to swim about in a vast ocean of unknowing outside the glare from beacons of understanding, leaving only a particular type of nostalgia for lost meaning: "We remember what it is / to be bathed in light, / to read and be changed" (4). But if the poetry in this collection wobbles in the fog outside of the known and abjures a change in the reader, what then does this collection intend to do? One could argue that through his naturalistic but fragmented lyrics, Meetze wants "To train the swimmer's ear / to recognize harmonic / reason" (5), which, ultimately, enables one "To speak underwater or / to echolocate a companion" so that "you become the conductor of a sound / only ever dreamt of" (7). To hear and speak in or underwater so that, through "harmonic / reason," one can "echolocate a companion": poets connecting with poets through a language of water "only ever dreamt of."

The poem "Daylgo, " in contradistinction to "Its Overhead," moves away from water (one can assume, in this case, the Pacific Ocean) as a trope and toward a more conflicted zone inland, in which "the dark of rain and resilient sun / now meet" so as to produce a "gray" area wherein "the mind attributes color to an idea" (41). In this gray confluence of "dark...rain" and "resilient sun" where "the mind" filters "an idea" through "color," we find a series of juxtapositions that offer readers a middle space in which conflicting images (and thus thought) arise. Take, for example, "The freeway's rush of hybrid cars and hummingbirds birds" or a place where "Mountains of earth rise from marshland / where we live background lives / with basketball hoops in the driveway" filled with "digital children and their rapid-fire, / virtual dreams" (41), or, likewise, overhead where "FA-18 Hornets boom above the freeway / as eucalyptus leaves rustle" (51). How, it should be asked, does one navigate these contradictions within a place? For the average citizen, the "Dumb American" (49), it may be something that simply happens, in that it is not considered; or, as Meetze writes: "How the transaction between people / and place happens / when it becomes part of what we do" (52). Perhaps, this "transaction between people / and place" simply "happens" because it is just something that "we do"; but for the poet, it would appear, something else is expected. The poet must be both a receptacle and transmitter of these contradictions, transforming them into art. To this extent, the poet must "listen to the room and its silences" and become "a silent container" (52), but also "become the glare of earthly sounds, / the culture of noise" (47). Silence and sound transacting within the poet, place and people transacting in the poet. A nexus of contradictions forms within the mind, and the poet must then "scatter their foreign parts" (52) onto the page for the sake of the poem.

28 December 2011

Climate Reply Review

Patricia Casper reviews Trey Moody's Climate Reply over at Prick of the Spindle. She seems to love the chapbook almost as much as Shawn Kemp does, which is saying a lot. Check it out.

Spurs Notes: 12/26 vs. Grizzlies

*The average age of all NBA teams is a few days shy of 27 years old. Surprisingly, the Spurs' average age is just a few months over 27 years old.

*Similar to Joshua Ware, Ginobili can defend a 2-on-1 break.

*Similar to Shawn Kemp, Zach Randolph looked out of shape.

*Duncan was limited by foul trouble but played well in his 21 minutes. Also limited by foul trouble, DeJuan Blair smiled way too much for Gordon Ramsay's liking.

*Splitter played decently despite looking like Dolph Lundgren, but he needs to be more aggressive near the basket, similar to Jeff Alessandrelli.

*I was surprised by the small forwards--an area of concern coming into the season. Jefferson didn't hesitate in shooting 3s, James Anderson filled in a bit and reminded me of Willie Anderson, and I was really surprised with the all-around solid play of rookie Kawhi Leonard. Once he starts finishing breaks and figures out some offensive moves, look out.

*Overall, not a bad way to open the season. CP3 and Blake Griffin bring the Lob City show to San Antonio tonight.

27 December 2011

Country Music, Issue 3

To read the new issue of Country Music, click the image below.

26 December 2011

The Official Catalog of the Library of Potential Literature

The Official Catalog of the Library of Potential Literature (Cow Heavy Books 2011) tips its hat, at least nominally, to the Oulipian movement and in service of "potential" texts. More specifically, blurbs based upon fictitious texts compose the entirety of the book. Some are humorous, others are dull, while most fall somewhere in-between. The most telling, though, is the pseudo-blurb Blake Butler wrote for the pseudo-book Pony House by pseudo-author Richard Meninsensen; it reads as follows:

I guess I just don't care about books really and this is no exception. There has never been a book that walked into my life. Even when this book lit down upon my house and ate my children and my mind, it could not keep me from closing its face against against its face and setting it down, recalling nothing. That one would ask anyone to ever say a word about a book or in a book or in any way to anyone is a sickness unto the human. I am terrified.

To the extent that Butler's blurb is short, funny, and concludes with meta-commentary tinged with self-effacement makes the piece work; those blurbs of a similar nature do as well. Those blurbs that don't? Well, that "one would ask anyone to ever say a word about a book [whether actualized or potential]...is a sickness."

23 December 2011

Once Was A Weather

Trey Moody's newest chapbook, Once Was A Weather, was recently released by Greying Ghost Press. The collection builds itself around a series of prose poems, each one titled "A Weather" and highly-attuned to the sonic landscapes they produce. Repetition and rhyme permeate these pieces. For example, the sixth instance:
Why a. Why not bring bodies back to home. Bones before our tracks, after parks cleared leaves. Why radio. Listen listlessly, then sleep. Why weather becomes a lack—language suffers, like you. Paths, too, refuse use. Why department. Why soda. Five calendars of blue. Light lingers long as memory, but why winter. Music wanes, despite the view.
The paragraph, obviously, is overloaded with alliteration and anaphora, and closes with the hard rhyme of "blue" and "view." But regardless of these auditory effects, the speaker of the poem posits a particular failure when addressing the topic of weather, and a subsequent inability of the audience to making meaning (or at least make meaning easily) when we read: "Why weather becomes a lack—language suffers, like you." The reason for this failure can, perhaps, be found in the opening sentence: "Why a," which echoes Zukofsky's claim that "one might spend a whole lifetime considering the difference between 'the' and 'a'." Taking these sentiments literally, if one needs a lifetime to determine the proper article in a particular instance, how much longer would it take to translate the weather into language? More than a lifetime, no doubt: hence the "lack." This question is further complicated in "This Hemisphere Of Leaves," as Moody adds the concept of identity to the formula:
I am not the moon, nor am I the tree.
What is writing. What is debris.
More questions, of course, to let you scratch your over; buy the book, my friend, and try to figure them out.

It Was All a Dream

Check out this interview with Shawn Kemp Carwash contributor Jeff Alessandrelli about his new book, Erik Satie Watusies His Way into Sound; The Notorious B.I.G.; Plutarch; and Beckett Long Snout.

22 December 2011

My Favorite Albums 0f 2011 (Alphabetically by Artist))


James Blake: James Blake
Cults: Cults
Destroyer: Kaputt
Eleanor Friedberger: Last Summer
Lykke Li: Wounded Rhymes
The War on Drugs: Slave Ambient

t&u& lash your nipples to a post history is gorgeous

Jared Schickling's most recent book, t&u& lash your nipples to a post history is gorgeous (Blazevox 2011), opens with an epigraph from Jacques Derrida's essay "Différance," which states: "and whoever believes that one tracks down some thing? one tracks down tracks." To this extent, Schickling's collection does not track down language, poetry, sound, or emotion, but the tracks of tracks in the form of language. Take, for example, the following excerpt from the 0pening poem "Epiphytic":


sleeping, change plstc



panic re

store nothing


gone, morning

mourning for


If one definition of a track is "evidence, as a mark or series of marks, that something has passed," then the tracks of language in these poems indicate that language, perhaps as a system of signification, has passed through these fragments and moved on. Or, perhaps, language systems in these poems have passed in that they have died. What remains in t&u& are, literally, the remains of language.

Another aspect of Schickling's collection that call attention to itself is the use of diagrammatic figures. Below is an excerpt from the poem "The":

In many ways, we can read these moments as post-signifying. As Deleuze and Guatarri wrote in A Thousand Plateaus, post-signification and the diagrammatic are intimately entwined, wherein the diagrammatic are "transformations that blow apart semiotic systems or regimes of signs on the plane of consistency of positive absolute deterritorialization" (136). This, again, speaks to the tracks or tracks mention earlier: we are not seeking a way to discover a signing system through tracks or diagrams, but merely to find and immerse ourselves within these tracks and diagrams: a wholly different manner in which to conceive of words and language.

20 December 2011

Good Things About The NBA: 1

This morning we were all able to see Metta World Peace's line in a box score for the first time. It was, overall, an extremely satisfying experience. The NBA player formerly know as Ron Artest (a.k.a. Ron Ron), with killer name change and acting as one of the main participants in the most shameful brawl in professional sports history, now may, officially, be more of a character than Dennis Rodman!

18 December 2011

Rambo Goes To Idaho

Scott Abels's first book, Rambo Goes To Idaho (Blazevox 2011) conflates the identity of film character John Rambo and editor-poet Scott Abels, oftentimes with humorous results. In the opening poem "Screenplay," we find "Rambo, checking his email" (9) and "drawing diagrams / of sex moves with his knife in the sand"(10), among other activities, while he pursues an MFA at Boise State University. Later, we discover that Rambo "started a journal called Country Music" (Hey, just like Scott Abels). And so goes the collection: a quirky examination of self with poems that are "brutally / autobiographical" (19), all through the persona of a Hollywood-constructed action-hero who "is a product of the world" (9): the world and the individual as a singular farce.

And if that's not reason enough to read Abels's debut collection, check out the trailer for First Blood to really get your juices flowing:

11 December 2011

Good News For Shawn Kemp

Earlier this week, Greying Ghost Press released Trey Moody's second chapbook, Once Was A Weather. Today at Verse Daily, a poem from Jeff Alessandreill's book Erik Satie Watusies His Way Into Sound appeared. Somewhere out there in America, all seven of Shawn Kemp's children are smiling.

07 December 2011


Coincidentally, my daughter shares her birthday, November 26, with Shawn Kemp.