Friday, June 13, 2008

Notes Among

In the last month or so I got my contributor copies of Hayden's Ferry Review, Hunger Mountain, and Tusculum Review, and they all really impressed me a lot. I'm humbled and thrilled that the editors decided to take work, as I always am. There are a lot of journals that look great with not-the-best content, and shabby looking journals with amazing work. But sharp journals ALSO work reading -- and being included in that journal -- are the best. One thing I want to point out that I liked is Tusculum Review has a decent amount of poems where you have to turn the journal to landscape format: poems with very long lines that need the longer page. I really really love it because at this point there's no reason a journal should say, basically, "Make sure you don't send us long shit since we don't have much room." Get some more room, or turn it around. That's all that needs to take place, and I hope editors see this and realize it's a good way to do things. Now that I think about it, the recent Harpur Palate had a poem or two doing the same thing, and I've only seen this phenomenon recently. Writers with long lines or fragmentary poems shouldn't have to compromise their work and send it to certain journals. But hey, if they want to reject those writers for it, screw them, there are always enough places where you can send work.


More and more I'm thinking how Drew Carey hosting The Price Is Right is another weird sign of the oncoming apocalypse (not to mention all of the weather-induced unspeakable madness since Katrina, which seems to be indefatigable). When my brother was at KSU, and DC was just a KSU dropout, he came back for some event and hung out with them and a few beers after a party when they were all hungover. No one knew him then. He was a kind of weird looking, funny, fat guy. Now he's a famouse kind of weird-looking, funny, fat guy. But he just doesn't fit. I thought Bob Barker would host until he died.


The new Sigur Ros record is kind of boring. It's no TAKK in my opinion. The first two songs are great, but then it goes into coma-induced plodding, per usual. If you're going to start it anthematic, keep it that way. Otherwise people will be falling asleep at the wheel. Maybe that's just my relentless attitude.


I used to love Tony Hoagland's "Jet," and I think WHAT NARCISSISM TO ME is pretty good, though it's lost it's weight for me the last few years. Here are the first six lines:

Sometimes I wish I were still out
on the back porch, drinking jet fuel
with the boys, getting louder and louder
as empty cans drop out of our paws
like booster rockets falling back to Earth

and we soar up into the summer stars.

There are few easy-going summer activities I like doing more than having a few beers on the balcony with friends. Since most of my MFA friends are dropping off the earth or are going crazy or whatever the hell they're doing, I have to either do it alone, which is nice since I can read and work on essays and my own work, or usually Sean comes over. Inevitably, and cliched I suppose, we end up having a great time and talking about interesting shit. It's always a good time.

But I feel like if Tony Hoagland was there he'd always be judging. "Why did you invite me over here if you're going to not talk to me?" Or "That's not how you're supposed to be sipping a beer." Maybe he's a great guy in person, but man, have I heard stories... though I've heard frequently he's a brilliant guy. His poetry doesn't express that to me, but I do want to get his book of essays. Maybe I'll meet him one day and he won't be like Phil Levine, who really is an asshole and chastised me for giving him a discarded first edition hardback of WHAT WORK IS to be signed my first year of my MFA a few years ago. "This is a LIBRARY BOOK!" he said, like I just tried to punch him in the face or kick him in the balls. That made a huge impression on me, and since I've mostly been involved with very humbling poets, whether it's how they present themselves when reading, or talking to them after, or getting books signed. Not everyone's like Phil Levine, thank God.


Huge congratulations to Allison Titus (and no, the chapbook news is old, though good, and you should buy it if you haven't)! That's all I can say at this point... but I'm thrilled for her.


I think my pictures of Joe Bolton need to go back on my wall. I put them on a corner part of the wall by the light switch at my old apartment. One of my favorite poems I've written is an elegy for him, and I'm going to blanket the world until someone wants to publish it. If you don't know his work, it should blow your mind. And if it doesn't, you suck. He killed himself when he was 28, which saddens me every time I think about. He'd be the poet everyone's talking about now...