The Spoils: April 2013

A bookstore sale allowed me to pick up loads of titles this month, namely, the first seven titles in the list below. The last three came from a much-delayed online order.

  1. The Pirates! In an Adventure with Communists by Gideon Defoe (third book in a series but this and the fifth book on the Romantics are the ones I’m really interested in)
  2. The Dream Archipelago by Christopher Priest
  3. The Stain on the Snow by Georges Simenon (published in the US as Dirty Snow)
  4. Midnight Plus One by Gavin Lyall
  5. Before, During, and After: Poems by Hal Sirowitz
  6. The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein by Peter Ackroyd
  7. The Complete Western Stories of Elmore Leonard
  8. The Winter Sun: Notes on a Vocation by Fanny Howe
  9. The Lion Bridge: Selected Poems 1972-1995 by Michael Palmer
  10. Thread by Michael Palmer (reviews from Jacket 2, Lana TurnerThe Constant Critic, Poetry magazine, and Publishers Weekly)
  11. Conjunctions 37: Twentieth Anniversary Issue (Fall 2001)
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The Spoils: March 2013

March was a dry month for buying and reading books, mostly because I was working on my thesis and had little time for shopping and reading. Still, I’m grateful a friend gave me my first Bukowski: War All The Time: Poems 1981-1984.

I also managed to pick up a copy of William Gibson’s Johnny Mnemonic: The Story and the Screenplay. While I’ve read the story several times, since my battered Burning Chrome paperback gets reread relatively often, I’ve never seen the film. I bought the book on a whim: it was cheap and I’ve always been curious about it, after seeing so many mail-order forms for it attached to old paperbacks.

And now…suddenly there’s news about a possible Johnny Mnemonic TV series

The Spoils: February 2013

Five titles from Birds LLC, who published Partyknife by Dan Magers, one of my favorite books published 2012 (the other is Alien vs. Predator by Michael Robbins):

  1. The Trees Around by Chris Tonelli
  2. Goat in the Snow by Emily Pettit
  3. The French Exit by Eliza Gabbert
  4. Either Way I’m Celebrating, poems and comics by Sommer Browning
  5. Kings of the F**king Sea, poems by Dan Boehl, images by Jonathan Marshall

So far, the only Birds LLC title I don’t have is the just-released Rise in the Fall, with poems by Ana Božičević and art by Bianca Stone. I’ll most likely order that when they also release The First Four Books of Sampson Starkweather.

The Spoils: January 2013

2013 began in a state of panic and pressure, as I struggled to finish my thesis, at least in a form ready for defense. At the end of my efforts: a 24-page poetics essay for an introduction and a 13-page appendix with some “notes on composition” bracket 56 poems. If that seems short, the prose section especially, it’s only because I had to wrestle all sorts of ideas out of my paper in the hopes of streamlining what was an unwieldy beast I could barely control back then. Now I can somewhat breathe again, this draft of my thesis with my critic, who will point out any revisions that have to be made before giving me the green-light for defense. Now I can finally rave about the great titles I received in January:

Useless Landscape or, A Guide for Boys by D.A. Powell

and, part of my wife’s Christmas gift to me, three books each from three small presses:

 

Top row: Canarium Books

  1. Madame X by Darcie Dennigan
  2. The Invention of Glass by Emmanuel Hocquard (translated by Cole Swensen and Rod Smith)
  3. I Am Your Slave Now Do What I Say by Anthony Madrid

 

Middle row: Factory Hollow Press

  1. Beauty Was The Case That They Gave Me by Mark Leidner
  2. Experiments I Should Like Tried At My Own Death by Caryl Pagel
  3. Crash Dome by Alex Phillips

 

Bottom row: Octopus Books

  1. Balloon Pop Outlaw Black by Patricia Lockwood
  2. Hider Roser by Ben Mirov
  3. Dear Jenny, We Are All Find by Jenny Zhang

The Spoils: December 2012

  1. A Broken Thing: Poets on the Line (excerpts here and here, introductions here)
  2. Novel Pictorial Noise by Noah Eli Gordon (reviews here and here and here and here)
  3. Elegy by Mary Jo Bang (reviews here and here and here and  here and here)
  4. Skirmish by Dobby Gibson (review and Book Notes track list)
  5. Selected Poems and Prose of Paul Celan, trans. John Felstiner (excerpt here and here, review here and here and here and here and here, essay here and here and here)

Pleased to Meet You: Joshua Corey

I’m pretty sure I’ve read a blog entry from Cahiers de Corey before, but I can’t remember which. I promised myself I’d regularly catch up with the Arcadia Project Web site set up to supplement the  600-page anthology of “North American Postmodern Pastoral” Corey edited with G. C. Waldrep, but I haven’t done so. And I’ve definitely read Corey’s essay on Richard Hugo before (I’m re-reading it now), because of the sentences from it that stick:

  1. “More nakedly than any American poet I know of, Hugo writes about the task and function of poetry from a position of sheer abjection.”
  2. “…Hugo also implicates the reader in his vision of the poet as awkward failure.”
  3. “…any poet, even the most successful, is likely to feel herself an outsider in a culture where most literate people are cheerfully oblivious to poetry…”
  4. “That need, that state of abjection, is Hugo’s given, and if you take it as your own, he can teach you how to write a poetry that transcends your inadequate self.”
  5. “Read at the right angle, The Triggering Town can help bridge the gap that now yawns so wide between a poetry of subjectivity and a poetry that foregrounds the operations of language, that seeks to demonstrate the fragile constructedness of our selves and the world.”

But I’ve never actually read Corey’s poems before this morning. Big mistake.

I like how News of the Blazing World” opens with “This is the church of Aspartame,/ caffeine, nicotine, and winter through// that window, stripping branches bare,” and ends with “He imagines a world/ as a king might, scientifically// from kingdom to phylum to species,/ from general death to the life of the concrete.”

Here’s another great opening, from “A Fine Romance”:

I can explain: the sea is not ice. It is a salinity that resists
slippage, that cannot thaw or be resolved,
that will not stalk its own surface,
that can’t extratheistically transform its peculiar substance
without alluding to buggery, misconduct, pandered memory

Here’s another great ending, from “Cognitive Deficit Market”:

The skin is a glove that wrinkles as it tightens.
The cerebellum’s the same. A game
of chess between walking sticks—I mean the insects
made up to resemble wood. I say we dissemble
from photos and repetition
our stakes in these weightless names.

And here’s a great middle from “Stage Blood on the Mouths of the Eumenides” (which appears with another poem called “Dissolved Soviet”):

Press star seven seven for additional privacy.
Press star pound star to disappear utterly.

And reappear at a pinched cry from an alley—

The map unfolds in traffic.
Context requires wrinkles,
even digital context. Context
is one of the slower-deploying
airbags.

I think I’d like to pick up Severance Songs (be sure to download the PDF of the “study guide” linked on that page), his collection of quasi-sonnets. Samples can be read from that link, and there’s another here (“Yours the face aglow in the cold,/ precarious thriver in the song-stung dark./ With glance and lip you collected me.”) and here (“Put on your hat and gloves, it’s poignant out./ Carry your own chill separate from the air’s.”).

The one I like best is the one from this review, a poem alluding to Icarus, William Carlos Williams, Led Zeppelin, Walter Benjamin’s angel of history, Yucca Mountain, etc. BRILLIANT.

The Spoils: November 2012

 

  1. Poasis: Selected Poems 1986-1999 by Pierre Joris (a review, a second, a third)
  2. Best-selling Jewish Porn Films: New Poems by Wayne Koestenbaum
  3. The Two Sams by Glen Hirshberg (a reviewanothera story from the book, another that isn’t)