Saturday, December 29, 2018

Poetry Blogging Network

Poetry Blogging Network: A loose affiliation of poetry bloggers, being organized by Kelli Russell Agodon, suggested, she says, by Dave Bonta.  Here is the link to the list of blogs (so far), and hopefully this will prompt me to get back to posting more on my own site (I have just been busy). . . .

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Paranoia in the Americas Symposium

Upcoming event: I am presenting a paper titled “American Punk Rock and ‘Political Correctness’ Paranoia,” at the Paranoia in the Americas Symposium: American Anxieties in a Transnational Context, University College Cork, Ireland, 24 November 2018.

In it, I will briefly analyze this Minor Threat song:

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Oíche Shamhna Shona (Déanach)

Beagáinín déanach (aréir a bhí Oíche Shamhna, agus is é seo an lá féin), ach seo grafac a rinne mé le haghaidh na hoíche móire. Tagann an ealaín (le Boris Artzybasheff) ón cnuasach filíochta Creatures, le Padraic Colum (Macmillan, 1927).

A graphic I made for Oíche Shamhna, using artwork by Boris Artzybasheff, from Padraic Colum’s poetry collection Creatures (Macmillan, 1927).

Friday, September 21, 2018

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Radio Interview, 8/8/18

[Updated to reflect the nature of time.]  I appeared on Bangor, Maine's AM620 WZON radio 8/8/18 on the Sports Lit 101 segment of the Downtown with Rich Kimball radio show, reading a few non-stereotypical baseball poems.

The segment is now archived online, so you can listen here:

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Essay in Western American Literature

My essay on the Santa Fe poets of the 1930s and The Turquoise Trail anthology is now published in the peer-reviewed journal Western American Literature (vol. 53, no. 2, Summer 2018, pp. 175-203), and it is already on Project MUSE. If you have a Project MUSE login, you can download the PDF or read it in HTML. Even if you do not have a login, the preview gives the first couple of pages:

The first page is reproduced above, and here is a further snippet:

However, as I argue in this essay, the Santa Fe poets — including Alice Corbin Henderson, Witter Bynner, Spud Johnson, and Haniel Long, among others — eschewed classical European models and instead sought out their mythic touchstones within a particular region and culture of the geographic United States. At the same time, embracing the Native Americans’ “ancient rites” and mythological tropes in furtherance of a new vision of American poetry (and America itself), the Santa Fe poets registered their resistance to the machine age by invoking an image of a primitive other, thus freighting their project with all of the contradictions that entails.

Friday, July 13, 2018

The Dead Boys in 2018

The present-day Dead Boys
I recently (July 3) saw the re-formed Dead Boys, with only two original members, Cheetah Chrome (guitarist) and Johnny Blitz (drummer), and a Stiv Bators stand-in by the name of Jake Hout.  It is in a way an ambivalent feeling to see long-gone punk bands re-form in their old age, and I wasn’t expecting too much from this version of the Dead Boys.  However, they were far better than I thought they would be.  Mainly, it was just great to see Cheetah and Blitz play those old tunes.  They did all the first album Young, Loud, and Snotty (1977) (possibly omitting their cover of “Hey Little Girl”; I can’t remember now), plus a few from We Have Come for Your Children (1978), along with “Detention Home” (the crowd didn’t seem to know the latter song as well, as it appears only on the lesser-known Night of the Living Dead Boys LP [1981]). Having a Stiv lookalike singer is of course is a bit of a strange idea at first, but he does do a spot-on imitation vocally and was quite good, initial feeling of disconnect aside.

Of course, no one is going to come close to the real Stiv.  I am lucky to have seen him (with the Wanderers in 1981 or so).  When I saw Stiv, he did most of his Dead Boys moves: took a swig of beer then spat it onto the audience; put his head in the bass drum, etc.  The only thing he didn’t do, compared to the Dead Boys CBGB video, was the lunch-meat thing; otherwise, it was his Dead Boys act.  Hout did not do most of these specific things, but moved a lot like Stiv and as noted can “do” his voice well.  Funnily enough, it was the bass player who is apparently supposed to be the stand-in for Jimmy Zero (who was the second guitar player in the original band) (in other words, they seemingly transposed the current bass guy for the old 2nd guitarist, visually speaking), and so wore a new-wave tie, and had roughly the same hairstyle.  The crowd was predominantly older punks in their 30s, 40s, and 50s (maybe even their 60s, a few of them), but some younger 20-somethings too.

But for me, again, the main thing, I was just glad to see Cheetah Chrome play those guitar parts and sing backup on “you know that I’m just a dead boy,” etc. — and Blitz play those drum parts.  The songs were really tight and come across as great classics live, played by their originators.  It is interesting to be reminded how much the DBs get from the Stooges, primarily the Williamson period (say, 1972-74), but also a little bit from the Ron Asheton albums (1969-70).  People think of the DBs as epitomizing 1977 punk, and in a way they do, but they came out of the break-up of the Cleveland band Rocket from the Tombs, who started in 1974, and so when you look at the history of punk, there really is a continuity from the late 1960s, to the early 70s, to the late 70s, which has not much to do with England (I say this because in many people’s minds, even some punk historians, London still looms overly large).

An interesting moment at this show: one of the openers was Craig Bell, who was in Rocket from the Tombs, and when the DBs played “Ain’t It Fun” as an encore, a song written by Rocket’s Peter Laughner and originally played by that band, Bell could be seen off to the side mouthing the words.

A couple of related thoughts: The Dead Boys are often seen as being nihilistic, perhaps avatars of what today might be termed “drunk punk” — songs devoid of political content instead focusing on sex/drugs/rock’n’roll or what have you.  The DBs definitely have this element to them (it predominates even, perhaps), but many of their songs in fact do comprise sociopolitical comment on their time, particularly on the second album.  In an interview quoted in David Ensminger’s recent book The Politics of Punk (2016), Cheetah Chrome goes so far as to say, “I always tried to get more political stuff into things, used to say we played ‘dick’ songs: they were all about sex and partying. ‘Ain’t Nothing To Do’ I always considered a political song. ‘Not Anymore’ was a definite social statement. I used to rag on Stiv because, of course, as soon as he gets in the Lords of the New Church, it was all political!” (p. 3).

Aside from the Stooges, Cheetah in another interview (October 2017) mentions as a major influence the MC5, an often overtly political band: “The MC5 really sang about the issues. They nailed it. They put it in music we could rock out to, and the exact same problems are still here today. The only thing different now is we’re not under a draft. How long that will last, who knows. The MC5 would be just as relevant now.”  Not that everything has to be overtly or ideological political, or that there isn’t joy in simple heavy rock’n’roll music (of course there is!), but I sometimes lately see claims (in social-media threads, for example) that original or “real” punk was (or should be) only about the music, or that punk is now threatened by the supposed evils of “political correctness” (see Steven Blush, “KILL YR IDOLS”).  Reframing punk as apolitical is not a realistic move (in my opinion), and Cheetah’s comments show that it never was quite the case, even in the earliest iteration of what we now recognize as American punk per se.

Nor is this to say what side of the political spectrum punk is inherently on (it varies wildly at times, or among different factions in place and time and generation; that is one thing Blush is correct about), and, for that matter, it becomes near impossible to say what punk “authentically” means.  I do, though, have my own thoughts about all this.  Perhaps an essay for another time.  For now, I will sum up by saying that the Dead Boys, even reduced to two original members, are still a powerful live band whose songs I think are currently somewhat overlooked in the history of rock’n’roll.

The original Dead Boys, c. 1977

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Poetry Reading at the SLA Conference

I gave a poetry reading at the Sport Literature Association Conference this past week, on 6/20/18, in Lawrence, Kansas.  My presentation was titled “Baseball Poems / Baseball Images” — some previously published, some newer.  My reading of the poems was accompanied by a series of images, sometimes meant to illustrate aspects of the texts, but sometimes in conversation with them.  It went over well, I think, going on the response I got.

I was also glad to see that many of the papers presented took an overt political stance, including one that foregrounded Eduardo Galeano on soccer and politics.  Further papers analyzed racial discrimination, gender bias, and/or intersections of capitalism in sports, among other topics.  While one could easily have imagined the frequent indulgence in nostalgia, this was really not the case here, and the insights generated proved fruitful.  What is the point of literary criticism if it does not actually engage with the real-life problems of the world?  Then it is merely, as they say, “art for art’s sake” (though perhaps there’s occasional merit in that too?).  And especially in the arena of sports, which has always been a political arena, to stand on the sidelines and not to choose sides would be to my mind to abnegate our responsibility as thinkers and artists.  This was my first time at this conference, and I was encouraged by it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Five Homage Poems at Penumbra

I have five poems published at Penumbra, the official, refereed, scholarly journal of Union Institute & University’s Ph.D. Program in Interdisciplinary Studies. The journal, as it describes itself, is published at regular intervals and dedicated to challenging traditional academic and creative disciplinary boundaries in the context of social change.

My poems are in homage to Archie Shepp, Bill Evans, Peggy Pond Church, Leroy Carr, and Richard Realf (three musicians, two poets).

Read them online here:

Monday, June 04, 2018

Spectra Article in Twentieth-Century Literature

My article “‘bullets for hands’: Witter Bynner, Arthur Davison Ficke, and the Spectra Poems of World War I” is now published in the peer-reviewed academic journal Twentieth-Century Literature, vol. 64, no. 2 (June 2018), pp. 223-46.  Below is the abstract, and the first page is above.

The Spectra hoax, which saw poets Witter Bynner (as Emanuel Morgan) and Arthur Davison Ficke (as Anne Knish) publish the anthology Spectra: A Book of Poetic Experiments (1916), produced a quite striking body of poetry. Despite its parodic origins, Spectra included some of the most resonant responses to World War I. Recent criticism of Spectrism understandably tends to emphasize the hoax aspects of this fascinating episode in modernist history, focusing on the performance of identity, for example. Yet, Bynner himself stated his genuine affirmation of the anthology’s work beyond the satiric circumstances of its creation, and the experience of their self-created, alternative avant-garde ended up having longer-term effects on both his and Ficke’s careers. This essay argues that engaging with Spectra beyond its hoax limits allows us to explore its wider aesthetic and sociopolitical relevance to the period, shedding further light on contemporary perceptions of Imagism and Vorticism, particularly in the context of the poetry of the Great War.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Bill Hughes, Delirium

Bill Hughes’s new poetry collection, Delirium, is out now from Six Gallery Press.  Call me biased, because I know Bill and did the layout for this book, but I think his (often) surrealistic work is visionary and marvelous, and that his new collection is his best yet.

As I said, I did the layout for this project, but of course it’s John Menesini’s paintings that really make this cover look great.

Order the book here:

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Smithereens Literary Magazine #1

The first issue of Smithereens Literary Magazine is out, featuring a slew of excellent poems, including from Mairéad Byrne, Maurice Scully, Ellen Dillon, Giles Goodland, and many more.  I have a new poem in there, myself.  Many thanks to Smithereens Press.

The magazine uses the Issuu platform, or can be downloaded as a PDF.  Links:

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Two Poems at Rabid Oak

I have two new poems up at Rabid Oak (issue 4), an online literary journal edited from California’s southern San Joaquin Valley.

Read them here:

Friday, March 30, 2018

Blackbird 13 & Penn/Stone Chapbook

Blackbird 13
Blackbird is a journal of poetry, collage, and mail art, edited and published by David Stone, poet and director of the Blackbird Institute.  The new issue 13 (2018) is now out, featuring contributions from poets Eric Basso, Simon Perchik, Arnold Skemer, Cheryl Penn, Stone, and many others including myself.  This is the kind of interesting publication you see less of nowadays, in our internet age — photocopied, physically curated, physically distributed. 

Copies can be obtained from David Stone at the Blackbird Institute, P.O. Box 16235, Baltimore, MD, 21210, USA.  $25.00 for domestic (USA), $35.00 international.  No credit card orders: pay by personal check or money order.

Also of interest is the recent collaborative chapbook by Cheryl Penn and David Stone, titled Unpacking Jasmine, Part I (2017).  It takes up the figure of “Jasmine” in Stone’s writing, to which Penn responds and elaborates, tracing his evolution through years and multiple publications.  Excerpts from Stone spark a further riff from Penn, and the result is a dialectic that crosses the genres of poetry, prose, and photography.  Covers are hand-painted.

Stone/Penn, Unpacking Jasmine, Part I

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Review: The Stooges - Highlights From The Fun House Sessions

Every so often Elektra will do a re-release package of some kind of the Stooges’ first two albums, such as the Rhino Handmade version of the first album or The Complete Fun House Sessions, both of which were released on CD.  There were also expanded mass-market CD releases of these albums in 2005.  Now that vinyl is most Stooges listeners’ preferred format again, Elektra has put out a color-vinyl double-album through the Run Out Groove imprint titled Highlights from the Fun House Sessions, of which only 2906 were pressed (they are numbered, with the individual number stamped on the back in gold-leaf).

One thing that is nice about this package is that the cardboard cover is thick and glossy, like an old-school gatefold record cover from the mid-60s (like the Impulse! albums, for example).  It is well designed, with liner notes in the gatefold discussing the importance of Fun House (the Stooges second album, 1970) and the rationale for putting out a new album of alternate takes culled from the Complete Sessions.  The iconic photo of Iggy being held aloft by the crowd at the 1970 Crosley Field gig is smartly chosen and the layout looks good.  Design-wise, there is one tiny flaw: the text on the spine gives “Funhouse” as one word, whereas the album is actually titled Fun House (two words).  This error is repeated once in the liner notes, though it is of course a minor complaint.

More importantly, Highlights from the Fun House Sessions sounds great.  Elektra/Run Out Groove have done a very decent mastering and pressing job, at least it seems on my stereo.  The selections are also not all the same as on the 2005 CD release, making this a uniquely thought-out collection.  There are a couple of overlaps with that CD, but also some different takes.  I like the longer 17-minute “Freak” (a.k.a. “L.A. Blues”) as the whole of Side 4.  What I don’t understand is that, on Side 3, the takes of “1970” and “Lost in the Future” are incomplete — the band breaks down and stops halfway through.  Not a huge deal with “1970,” since a good, complete version is also on Side 2, but particularly with “Lost in the Future,” it’s a kind of a missed opportunity, because there was a complete take of it (which is on the 2005 CD) (and obviously all of these are on the Complete Sessions), and you would think you would want to showcase it, as the one actual fully realized outtake song that didn’t make it onto the original album.  “Slide” is on here in complete form, appropriately, but that is really just a jam, where Ron Asheton practices the licks he uses on “Dirt.”  The band does get into a good groove on this.  But it is just a bit annoying about the lack of the full “Lost in the Future” (to me, anyway; others may not mind).  What I would have done with Side 3 is: cut the incomplete “1970” and the second version of “T.V. Eye,” and would instead have gone with: a further alt take of “Fun House” (because Steve Mackay really wails on those!), included the complete version of “Lost in the Future,” and then “Slide.”

In any case, this is a very cool release, which I enjoyed hearing and will undoubtedly play often.  It also makes me think: Elektra or Run Out Groove should do an “alternative” version of the first album, on vinyl, like this new Fun House package.  It should include the full versions of the songs on the first album without the fadeouts, including the super-long “Ann,” some of the alt-versions, and add “Asthma Attack.”  These have only ever been released on CD, not on vinyl (aside from the 7” of “Asthma Attack” included in the Rhino package).  If they really want to go all in, they could include a third disc with the original John Cale mixes at the proper speed (since Rhino mastered them too slow on the Handmade release, I think it was), and make it a triple album.  Here’s roughly how that album should go; Elektra take note:

Side 1:
1969 (full version, no fadeout)
I Wanna Be Your Dog (full version, no fadeout)
No Fun (full version, no fadeout)

Side 2:
Real Cool Time (full version, no fadeout)
Ann (full version, no fadeout)
Not Right (full version, no fadeout)
Little Doll (full version, no fadeout)

Side 3:
Asthma Attack
We Will Fall (the alt version, first released on Rhino Handmade)

Side 4:
All the best alt-vocals versions and outtakes that can fit on the side.

Sides 5-6:
The Cale mixes, mastered at the proper speed, in the sequence of the album.
Do it!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Review in Poetry Ireland - Trumpet

My review of three Irish poets’ recent work is published in the latest edition of Poetry Ireland’s journal of criticism and opinion, Trumpet (Issue 7, Winter 2017/18).  My review focuses on Trevor Joyce, Fastness (Miami University Press, 2017), Nerys Williams, Cabaret (New Dublin Press, 2017), and Susan Connolly, Bridge of the Ford (Shearsman Books, 2016).

Here are just a few snippets:

Following on from his previous engagement with Edmund Spenser, Rome’s Wreck (2014),  Trevor Joyce’s Fastness is a translation from the heightened English of Spenser’s Mutability Cantos (written during the late 1590s) into a more contemporary if still intensified language, which Joyce describes as ‘an artificial dialect’. . . .

Like Joyce, Nerys Williams too is concerned with the impact of history and oppression. In Cabaret, however, she takes up the more contemporary history of the twentieth and early twenty-first century, moving across Ireland, Wales, and the United States. Her focus is often on the ways in which capitalism and imperialism shape society and the environment, but also on the role of art and culture in resisting dominant discourses.

Susan Connolly, in Bridge of the Ford, bridges the ancient (the field of Gaelic place-name study known as dinnseanchas) with a kind of work that is usually seen as modernist or avant-garde (visual, concrete, typographical poetry). In her introduction, Connolly states that she is influenced by bpNichol, Ian Hamilton Finlay and Dom Sylvester Houédard, on the one hand, and the Irish illuminated manuscripts such as the Lindisfarne Gospels, the Book of Durrow and the Book of Kells, on the other, in equal measure.