Monday, December 31, 2007

My job asks me to recognize the populous value in new books. In turn, I grow tired of new books very quickly. I still have a lot to read that has already been published. This year the older books I loved were Unending Blues by Charles Simic (the Simic I was looking for), A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh (not the best Waugh but the catalyst Waugh), Homeland by Sam Lipsyte, and Yes, Master by Michael Earl Craig.

Here are my favorite 2007 delegates that I can recite as of this moment.

The Man Suit - by Zachary Schomburg
Without a doubt this is my favorite book and discovery this year. I read at Grub Street with his publisher Janaka Stucky (of Black Ocean), who read some of Zach's work instead of his own. I bought the book that night and have read through it countless times. It is something I had heard before, like a melody from a song, but I didn not know it was what I had been looking for. Unlike most other poets today raised by Olson & Zakovsky , Zach has instead suckled on to teat's of Russell Edson and Charles Simic. His language is frank and friendly, conducting kangaroo courts with humor, sadness, and violence. Names and images repeat themselves, making a dark macramé. It is a well baked chocolate cake of image and situation. Also, it has the best cover I've ever seen on a poetry book.

Jamestown - by Matthew Sharpe
I have never read of filth described in such a way as Sharpe is able to. The evil grease & oil in the beards of men has never been so carefully examined. Violent pages of colonial hijinx, bloody and irreverent. Stylistically, the language was leaps ahead of most. Not plotted perfectly, but I still tell women this is the best book of the year. Onward towards the apocalypse.

The Motel Life - by Willy Vlautin
This book was all story, no frills. Brought me back to the days of used cars and endless winter. I am still in those days.

A Circle is a Balloon and a Compass Both: Stories About Human Love by Ben Greenman
Ben obstructs most of his stories with abstractions of THE FUNNY and THE REGRET. They are the mud puddles you enjoy riding your ten speed through.

Other books I liked this year were Samedi the Deafness by Jesse Ball, Why I am White by Mathias Svalina, Engelby by Sebastian Fawlks, Homemade Engines from a Dream by Noah Falck, The Scented Fox by Laynie Browne, Divisadero by Michael Oondatje

Those are some delegates I cast my vote upon. I hope in the new year they push their endeavors even further. For now, to help ring in the new year, let us now celebrate the great planes of Franz Wright's magnificent forehead.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Steady Year, I Suppose.

1. Learned to eat fresh Wellfleet oysters.

2. Discovered the poetry of Zachary Schomburg, Noah Falck, Michael Earl Craig, Frederick Seidel, Jonah Winter, Mathias Svalina and a whole spittoon full of other great poets.

3. Visited Amsterdam, LA, Las Vegas, Big Sur, Berkeley, San Francisco, Chapel Hill, Jackson (NC), New York, Cape Cod, Memphis, Nashville, Meredith (NH)

4. First poetry reading. At Grub Street.

5. Similarly, had poems published for the first time this year.

6. Dad was diagnosed and beat cancer in one month. Fucking resilience.

7. Read and truthfully completed almost ninety books this year.

7. Hosted over 130 author events -

Favorites -

Aaron Petrovich - memorized and performed a two person mono/dialogue. Incredible.
Jonathan Lethem - only because Hallelujah the Hills performed
Rishi Reddi - Dewars' sponsorship. Catering. Got drunk. Free Indian food at Rami's afterwards.
Nathan Englander - Awesome Dude
Nick Hornby - Awesome bald dude.
Ben Greenman - Tense awesome dude. Great Stories.
Shalom Auslander - God fearing awesome dude
Andrew O'hagan - Best reading voice I've ever heard. Irish buttah.
Jasper Fforde - We threw a parade. We had fife player. We had a banner. We had 100 people follwoing us in a line. I dont know why. I've never even read his books.
William Gibson - Ran into him in Chinatown the next day.
Meghan O'rourke - Sweet lady. Like caramel corn.
Tedy Bruschi - Eloquently delivered a soliloquy about why he didnt like The Road. Wouldn't have thought.
Chris Abani & Joe Meno - Hilarious dudes. Joe Meno hallucinates turkeys. Chris Abani makes fun of him.
Alex Rose & Jim Shepard - Major talents in different places.
Chris Matthews - Took his pants off. Yelled a lot.


1. Chuck Palahniuk - No deal.


1. Grad school (?).
2. Chapbook(s).
3. Publish more poems.
4. Start online poetry journal.
4 1/2. Spend night in jail. For something funny, preferably misdemeanor.
5. Build something with hands.
5 3/4. Learn to tie different forms of knots.
6. Fix ankles. Go running.
6 1/2. Go everywhere on Rt 1, Saugus. Possibly in one night.
7. Fix stomach. Eat better.
8. Dig for oysters this summer.
8 1/2. Ride a horse.
9. Read more books.
9 1/2. Leave Boston. Drop out.
9 3/4. Learn to make my own cheese.
10. Get awesome. Stay Awesome.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Panda Cam

New interview with Peter Shippy over at the Pshares blog. He came in the store today. I sold him the Panda cam book.

Panda Cam.

I think he'll be reading at the rescheduled Redivider launch party January 19th. Thats good. I can get his book then.

I also booked James Tate for May 21st. He has a new book out soon. Hopefully in my hands soon. I hope he lives a long time, that James Tate.

If it didn't take nine months to incubate a human in another human, I would present to him my first born. Maybe I will adopt, just for the occasion.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Elusive Gnome

This week is Emily and I's two year anniversary. Two years in romantic office. Happy Anniversary, Em. We tried to go to a remote cabin to celebrate, but nature said no by snow death. Instead we ate fancy dinner and watched an Apocalypse movie.

She bought me these fine cups as a gift.

As a celebration, here are some things I enjoy from around the house.

Floating Books

A portrait I made of my toilet.
The door

Gnome in Peace. I love the Gnome.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Russell Edson plays the recorder

Excerpts from a 2004 interview. Find the whole thing here

NUVO: It seems that poets are often also visual artists.

Edson: That’s good. I have a theory that a lot of poets would do themselves a lot of good if they had another art they messed with — be it painting or whatever. A lot of our poets, they write, they teach, they write blurbs, they write some criticism, but they never get out of language. To be able to do something else is a nice thing.

NUVO: Do you have something else?

Edson: I play an instrument.

NUVO: What instrument do you play?

Edson: I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of it. It’s called the recorder. One term for it is a “block flute.” The fingering on it is the pattern for the clarinet, oboes and all kinds of other instruments. It’s very complex, the fingering on a recorder. I don’t know if you’ve played one.

NUVO: What kind of music do you play on your recorder?

Edson: Bach. I play Bach. He wrote for the recorder, you know.

NUVO: I bet that’s relaxing when you’ve been working on poems.

Edson: When I don’t want to think about anything, I just play a recorder.


NUVO: There’s not a lot of information about you available, even on the Internet. I understand you don’t get out too much.

Edson: I’m known as a hermit, a recluse.

NUVO: How’s that work?

Edson: It works well. The only problem is the cave gets all full of bones.

Post Note

A few months ago, some poems of mine were accepted to Night Train. I didn't realize it then, but in that issue alone were some great poets - Reb Livingston, Blake Butler, and Jennifer Knox among them. That issue is still up. Editor Rusty Barnes is really doing something good, and I'm lucky to be at the bottom. Read Night Train.

Monday, December 17, 2007

There is ice. I feel okay about it. I spent yesterday inside cleaning/sorting some things. I hung books on a wall mounted book shelf. I love that thing. I will put them strategically around the house. I began putting a manuscript together. Then I wrote a new poem to join the manuscript. I'm beginning to realize many of my poems focus on desperate forms of escape. Characters on the lam. I sometimes wish to be on the lam.

ON THE LAM -- "According to Mencken's 'American Language' and the 'Thesaurus of American Slang' by Berry and Van den Bark, 'lam, lammister' and 'on the lam' -- all referring to hasty departure -- were common in thieves' slang before the start of this century. Mencken quotes a newspaper report on the origin of 'lam' which actually traces it indirectly back to Shakespeare's time -- 'Its origin should be obvious to anyone who runs over several colloquial phrases for leavetaking, such as 'beat it' and 'hit the trail'.The allusion in 'lam' is to 'beat,' and 'beat it' is Old English, meaning 'to leave.' During the period of George Ade's 'Fables in Slang' (1900), cabaret society delight in talking slang, and 'lam' was current. Like many other terms, it went under in the flood of new usages of those days, but was preserved in criminal slang. A quarter of a century later it reappeared.' The Sage of Baltimore goes on to quote a story from the 'New York Herald Tribune' in 1938 which reported that 'one of the oldest police officers in New York said that he had heard 'on the lam' thirty years ago." From the "Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 1977, 1988).

Now you know. I also enjoy this quote "cabaret society delight in talking slang".

I read this week The Motel Life by Willy Vlautin, as suggested by Carl. It took me back to writers like Raymond Carver and Denis Johnson, writers I began forming my own ideas with. Vlautin is all story; all authenticity, no style. Read it during winter.

Also read Chris Tonelli's Wide Tree, a pleasurable and quick collection of short poems. The first five or six capture a T commuting experience, and live in the same realm as Lunch Poems. These experience could take place on no particular train in no particular city. Here is a nice excerpt from that section.

Night Terror

I had a dream that
the train seemed
important in passing,
something charged.
And I felt as if I was
easily going to have
sex w/ somebody
on that train. But, as
usual, it was someone
on the train before.

With his brevity and humor, you can't help be reminded of Berrigan.
I especially like his use of "w/"
It appears several times and makes the ideas more personal, like a quick thought relayed under pressure of leave. But by far my favorite in the collection is Bedroom in Arles, which appeared in Real Poetik.
Bedroom in Arles

My friends say that they
would like to see different
furniture in my poems. That
after the umpteenth bird
or tree, they start to feel
less and less for them. I
think of Van Gogh and how
my friends must be right—
it is nice to see a bed
once in a while. A chair.

I like this sentiment, the bare self awareness and need for change. The objectification of birds and trees as furniture, from living things to the nonliving things, is a I like Chris's poems. One day, when this blog is gone, and Bedroom in Arles is no longer online, you're going to miss it. Buy the tangible copy here

Monday, December 10, 2007

neighbors are strangers

Woah. Received this in the mail today from Fantagraphics.
Laura Warholic: or The Sexual Intellectual by Alexander Theroux, an 800 page erudite satire from Paul Theroux's recluse brother. It is the only piece of non-graphic literature I think Fantagraphics has ever got behind. I'll be having Alexander for an event this summer. He lives on Cape Cod, near where I'm from. I rarely can dance the dance of the long novel, but this may be the exception. Notes to come.

Also in the mail was a mistakenly sent copy of Mathias Svalinas's Why I am White, which I reread again last night. It still kills. However, I really want to read Chris Tonelli's book, Wide Tree, which I'd ordered. His stuff is solid. Read it here

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Night Donkey

Here is a poem written for a friends project.

It is suppose to be of Christmas in orientation, but I kind of lost focus.

You can listen to a recording of me reading it at the

bottom of it at the bottom of the page. Kill two senses at once.

The Night Donkey

I watch over your slumbering body with a ready cross-bow,
unpractical, yet all I’m legally allowed this holiday season.
In the next room I hear fire crackle and spits sparks,
though there is no fireplace, nor chimney or wood
and I’m barely able to tolerate it.

I recognize this sound as the arrival of the donkey,
the one you’ve told me about, but didn’t believe in until now;
the humble, little donkey that nudges you awake each night,
urging you on a journey towards Jerusalem, or some other
war torn village so that you may carry the sins of man on your
back and be forever remembered as “a good guy.”
Other times, he nudges you towards the corner store
to pick him up some pink taffy, which I think is selfish;

and night after night
you’ve repeatedly and politely explained to him
you have work in the morning, and now is not a good time.
Then the donkey lazing after your words
begins to scream. I don’t know why I haven’t heard it.

But now he is before me, treading closer to your cheek,
and I quickly snap off a shot as to warn him.
He hisses at me and just as quickly, spontaneously combusts.
I fear the smell of burning donkey flesh will arouse you,
but you tenderly yawn and turn over on your side.

I am in an armchair and it is Christmas.
I am guarding over your slumbering body.
I watch you like a pond, one that barely moves,
apart from the running mosquitoes
that occasionally break your tranquil surface.

It’s the mosquitoes that keep you from dreaming, you say.
If I had a rifle with a silencer and a scope,
I’d pick them off for you one by one without you ever
even waking, the breeze of bullets brushing past your face
like a soft, calm wind. That would be my gift to you.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Iceland is Great

My friend Nick pulled this story off an Icelandic clothing website. Its very beautiful and sad.

In the Icelandic myths, seals are believed to be condemned humans. One ancient story from the south of Iceland is about a farmer who early one morning finds a seal pelt lying on the beach. In a cave nearby, he hears voices and music. He takes the seal pelt home and hides it in a wooden chest. Later that day he returns to the beach and finds a crying, naked young woman sitting on a rock. He brings her to his house, where she stays, but he never tells her about the pelt. As time goes by they get married and have children. But the young woman is restless and often stares quietly out of the window at the ocean. One day when the farmer goes fishing, his wife accidentally finds the key of the chest, opens it and discovers the missing pelt. She takes leave of her children, puts the pelt on and before she dives into the ocean she says: “I am very anxious, with seven children on land and seven in the sea.” She never comes back but the farmer misses her terribly. Later when he goes fishing there often is a seal near his boat and its eyes are filled with tears. It is said that the farmer becomes a very lucky fisherman. And when his children play at the beach there often is a seal swimming close to land. Sometimes it brings them beautiful stones and colorful fishes. But their mother never returned.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Skills Like These

for Chris

We were talking about Origin of the Species

and it became apparent

you didn't know how to ride a bike.

I said I'd show you, but then we had

to wait three weeks for the Viking helmet

you bought in an online auction to arrive.

You said you wouldn't saddle up without it.

On my two-wheeled black stallion

called 'Delightful Smell' I showed you how to pedal,

how to effectively turn the handle bars away

from things you didn't want to see. You went

to college and had lived through forty jobs or so

where you'd done the same thing and it didn't take you

very long to learn the lesson of falling down and getting

back up, despite overwhelming evidence to stay down.

Meanwhile we moved onto basic tricks. How to

pop wheelies and grind the curb. How to ride

without hands and flip cars the bird. You spent

heavy hours inside the bunny hop. I watched you

through the screen door while sipping orange juice.

People don't grow in the same places, don't learn

the same skills. I wondered if you knew how to

swim and if you would one day show me.

But then I won the lottery and had to collect

my oversized check. I returned home four days later

after my hair had grown longer and the celebration had

worn off. I found you coasting back and forth on the

half pipe in my back yard, your helmet lying near the

base. I guess I didn't show you how to stop.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


When I was a student at Emerson, my brain pond was filled with sewage.

Sometimes a stewardess would come to clean me out.

That stewardess was Peter Jay Shippy.

Peter teaches poetry. He tauight me poetry. I learned Caesar Vallejo, who enjoyed making up his own words.

Years later, my brain pond has afforded some finacing and health regulations to make it more cleanly, and I realize now Peter Jay Shippy is a great poet.

He has a new book out on Rose metal Press, and he reads at Grub Street soon. It's free. Who'd like to go with me?

Sunday, December 9th, 7pm,
Peter Shippy's How to Build the Ghost in Your Attic Rose Metal Press invites you to an event celebrating Peter Jay Shippy's How to Build The Ghost in Your Attic. The event includes a reading and brief talk by the poet, book sales and signing, drinks, light snacks, and CAKE! And it's FREE and open to the public!
FREE, Grub Street HQ, 160 Boylston Street, Boston, MA

Here is an article from the Boston Globe two months ago. Our book shelves seem similar.

For three writers, required reading

By Ellen Steinbaum, Globe Correspondent | October 7, 2007

What are the significant books in our lives, the ones that make a difference, the ones we would urge on our friends? I asked three writers to talk about books that have been important to them.

From Peter Jay Shippy of Jamaica Plain, who teaches at Emerson College and whose verse novel, "How to Build the Ghost in Your Attic," will be published in November by Rose Metal Press, comes this story:

"On Aug. 21, my wife, Charlotte, gave birth to beautiful twin girls, Stella and Beatrix. We had each taken travel bags to the hospital, packed from lists provided by our obstetrician. My list was lean - change of clothes, toothbrush, a flask, and a book. That last item required weeks of anxious deliberation. Should I bring my bootleg copy of 'Tree of Smoke,' Denis Johnson's new novel, bought on eBay? Or perhaps a book from my fall classes at Emerson? Charles Simic's 'Dime-Store Alchemy,' our new poet laureate's prose poems on Joseph Cornell's magnetic, elusive boxes? Something for my children? Wittgenstein? Beckett? Just kidding.

"We just moved into a larger home, and for the first time I have a bookcase dedicated to poetry. No more must Robert Desnos rub spines with Don DeLillo! One day as I tried to stare the bookcase into submission, I was struck by the hold James Tate has on my collection. Tate has always meant the cosmos to me. His seminal first collection, 'The Lost Pilot,' was the book that gave me permission to write poetry. These were not grandpa Thomas Stearns's poems. They were fresh, irreverent, heart-broken, and funny. Poems could be funny? At 20, that was news to me. Life-changing news.

"So, for the hospital, I grabbed his 1997 collection, 'Shroud of the Gnome.' The first poem? 'Where Babies Come From': 'Many are from the Maldives, /southwest of India, and must begin/collecting shells immediately.' He concludes, 'In their dreams Mama and Papa/are standing on the shore/for what seems like an eternity, /and it is almost always the wrong shore.' Almost always? Beatrix? Stella!"

Monday, December 3, 2007


Two books came for me today -

Complex Sleep by poet Tony Tost and Predicate by despotic pornographer Peter Sotos. Couldn't be more different, really.

Speaking of Peter Sotos, one of my favorite writers Dennis Cooper wrote extensively about Whitehouse, the famous power electronics band that Sotos was once a part of. A thorough introduction including history, footage, and theory. Really something.

Part One
Part Two

To satiate the winter dark side. Grrrrr.

Ante Browne

Like you, dear readder, I long for the demure language of days better known by starched collars and snuff. A man can't carry a cane these days without looking suspect. What is he hiding, they think, under his bowler?


Under my hat is Laynie Browne's book, The Scented Fox.

The language is mythic Victorian, known in academic circles as awesome. The Flora and Fauna, whose presence is usually all too boring for my motor mind, is presented through lavender tinted spectacles. You take them off and everything is still lavender - lavender water, lavender drapes, lavender dog. You feel confused, nauseous. You dab your head with a black hankerchief, have a sip of the odd purple water, and sit back down. The lavender sun fades in the corner of the window. You'll be ready to leave a little later. For now, you will read some more. Find it here

Saturday, December 1, 2007

evenings in a hea(r)tless room

I am trying to find a way to talk about Michael Earl Craig, but I'm not there yet.

Its Saturday night and its cold. I am alone. I have just eaten a meatloaf.

Over at Front Porch, I found some poems by Noah Eli Gordon that i liked.

Listen to one of my favorite poets in the world, Zachary Schomburg, read poems on the radio from a new manuscript. Isolated incidents are here, and here, and here

I bought Chris Tonellis' book, Wide Tree, from Kitchen Press and it still hasn't arrived.

My neighbor has set up a Christmas monstrosity of power lighting. His stupid house looks warm. I am not warm.

Evil Knivel died. I have never wanted to jump over cars on a motorbike. But I'm glad someone did. And in a jumpsuit. Another fine human contribution to history.