Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Beard of Bees Publishes E-Chapbook of Octaves!

Download it for free at beardofbees.com

Monday, March 10, 2014

America's Top Poets To Offer Diffusion Lines

America's Top Poets To Offer Diffusion Lines

            Stylish, Yet Accessible

            Responding to Concern That Lines Be "Wearable"

April 1, 2014 (New York) Three of America's most famous poets announced today the immediate availability of new, moderately priced "diffusion lines" based on their celebrated high-end works to be sold online and at mainstream retail outlets such as Walmart, Costco, Sam's, Target, and Barnes & Noble.  Representatives of K2 by Kay Ryan, Frederick by Frederick Seidel, and JohnT by John Ashbery (for Target) announced the move at a joint news conference on the sidewalk outside of Century 21 in lower Manhattan. 

In recent years diffusion lines from haute couture designers such as Marc by Marc Jacobs and D & G by Dolce and Gabbana have transformed the fashion world, bringing hot trends and sophisticated tastes to previously untapped markets in return for an infusion of cash, as consumers have snapped up big name merchandise that may be lower in quality but is sold at a correspondingly lower price.  Publishers and industry experts hope diffusion lines from poets as famous as Ryan, Seidel, and Ashbery may provide the long-sought bridge to a thriving commercial market for poetry by living authors.  

According to a spokesperson, K2 by Kay Ryan, named for the second-highest mountain in the world, will offer "poems for the woman who aspires," in "lines that fit every body."  K2 by Kay Ryan verse lines will be longer than those in the poet's signature style, which has featured corsetted rhyme schemes and model-thin silhouettes that barely leave the left-hand margin.  Ryan's diffusion lines will be "cut for comfort," yet still "feel skinny," with considerable sonic density up front and much care taken to avoid any embarrassing emphasis on assonance.  Of the poet's penchant for snap-shut closures, her spokesperson remarked, "Readers will still be able to hear that a K2 by Kay Ryan poem is finished, but this new line will appeal to a more open-ended sensibility."

Frederick Seidel himself spoke on behalf of his new diffusion line, touting Frederick by Frederick Seidel as "wearable lines that bring venom in denim." Seidel explained that poems in the initial Frederick by Frederick Seidel collection will feature shorter lengths for spring and a few scantier numbers for Fire Island and the Hamptons.  Allusions and phrases in French and Latin will be sparse.  But Seidel insisted that Frederick by Frederick Seidel is "all about the fabric," and that his diffusion line will convey the Uptown, Ivy-inflected sensibility he made famous in his path-breaking use of deep but invisible pockets, as in the swatch below:

In Radcliffe Yard, when double-breasted
Coeds hitched plaid skirts for crab-infested
Offensive lineman, I was offended.
Go, Crimson, Go! 
How does a goal-line stand if knees are bended?
The gun sounds but the Game has never ended.

All proceeds from Frederick by Frederick Seidel will be directed to Frederick Seidel.

A Target spokesperson introduced JohnT by John Ashbery (for Target) as the first-ever collaboration of a leading poet with a major retailer. Critics are enthused by early-release samples of John T by John Ashbery (for Target), and several have proclaimed that the work is indistinguishable from Ashbery's high-end poems as seen in Poetry, The New Yorker, and other ritzy venues. John T by John Ashbery (for Target) displays will be placed in the Pharmacy waiting rooms in all Target stores (except in Canada), where Target hopes it can keep the aging readership of the avant-garde poet in store just a few minutes longer.  "If they pick up one or two pieces from the line on their way to grab Ensure," said the Target spokesperson, "we'll be delighted."  The giant retail chain is celebrating the new line by broadcasting a jaunty passage from JohnT by John Ashbery (for Target), read by the poet, to shoppers over in-store public address systems and on a special wireless channel.  The passage is available for sampling at JohnTbyJohnAshbery(for Target).com:

Good day, Target shoppers!  It's nothing personal
that the pattern on the China in aisle 9
portends the disaster of tomorrow's
oatmeal.  Is your life salty enough?
Not mine.  On the flats at Bonneville
Mach 4 was made on a rocket sled
controlled by a thumbpad and the blur-fast thumbs
of a little Dutch boy who gets it.  Bye bye!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

CHRISTINA PUGH: The Next Big Thing

What is the title of your book?
Grains of the Voice.  Visit its Amazon page here.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
The title alludes to Roland Barthes’s essay called “The Grain of the Voice.”  In it, Barthes discusses what excites him in certain opera performances:  “… the grain, the grain of the voice when the latter is in a dual posture, a dual production—of language and of music.”
I’ve tried to locate that liminal “grain” by writing short poems that are influenced by the sonnet tradition--and that host spectral lines from pop songs and from poets like Milton and Shakespeare .
What genre does your book fall under?
Lyric poetry.  In particular: poems that are influenced by, or “ghosts” of, the sonnet tradition.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
They’d be musicians rather than actors:  Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, Mark Kozelek, Duran Duran, Mono (the Japanese post-rock band).  Not that there are really any characters as such.

 What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
From the book’s back cover:  “The human voice, musical instruments, the sounds produced by the natural and man-made worlds—all serve at one time or another as both the framework of poems and the occasion for their lightning-quick changes of direction, of tone, of point of reference.”
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
The book has just been published by Northwestern University Press (TriQuarterly Books).

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I don’t number drafts, and I don’t tend to time things in quite that way.  But the entire process took several years from start to finish.

What other books would you compare this book to within your genre?
David Biespiel’s Wild Civility; Eamon Grennan’s The Quick of It; Josh Corey’s Severance Songs.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The eternally prismatic sonnet tradition in English poetry, especially Milton’s “On His Blindness.”  The enduring inspiration of singers like Young and Harris.  And just the rapture of musicality in the everyday--something I’m always trying to preserve.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
There’s a cross-dressing lotus flower, mascara spilled on the beach, and cameo appearances by Thomas Jefferson and Jacques Derrida.

I was tagged by Daniel Bosch.  I hereby tag: Chris Green 
Click on the names above to read about these writers' Next Big Things.

Monday, February 25, 2013


My Last Not Very Big Thing Self-Interview

Thank you Andrea Cohen for tagging me.  Check out her self-interview here!

The title of my book is Octaves.  It's actually a pretty small thing! (see photo)

The idea for the book came from writing more than 32 mock-triolets over the course of a summer.

The genre of Octaves is short lyric poetry. 

No human actors could play parts in a movie rendition of Octaves.  There are no parts to play in the book.  But if a movie or a film-strip version of Octaves were to be made, and if it required a voice-over, my spouse would appreciate it very much if Ralph Fiennes, Ryan Gosling, and Michael Fassbender could be convinced to record the poems, each actor taking on one of its three signatures.

Octaves does not lend itself to synopsis.  It can be described, however, as 32 short poems in the same form, each of which is deliberately but obliquely addressed to a vivid bit of language emitted in the 20th century by a notable person (boxer, artist, writer), but in no case emitted in a poem. 

Here's a sample that was published in The Istanbul Review last year:

       "Perhaps a bird was singing and I felt for him a small, bird-sized affection."

                                                —Jorge Luis Borges

       Come spring, I'll build a nest
       Of knotted hair.
       On my bare chest,
       Come spring, I'll build a nest
       That you might rest
       Forever there.
       Come, Spring!  I'll build a nest
       Of naughty hair.

The first draft of the manuscript took about 3 months to write.  If summer vacation had been longer, the book might have come out as 42 poems.  If I were able to write triolets more quickly, Octaves might have become The Octaviad.

Octaves is comparable to any book which collects a substantial number of short works which were made by following the same relatively strict rules.  Books I had in mind when I was making Octaves include: Berryman’s 77 Dream Songs, Shakespeare’s Sonnets, Feneon’s Novels in Three Lines, Cummins’ The Whole Truth, and Calvino’s Invisible Cities.

I was inspired to write Octaves by my desire to meet the challenge of the triolet to the best of my abilities, such as they are.  I admire strong triolets by Hardy and other writers, and I wanted to imagine that the form could be used to produce a particular kind of coherent book-length project.

Octaves is proudly self-published. Much of the folding, collating, trimming, sewing, and pressing-under-piles-of-heavy-art-books was done at my family dining table by Lisa Lee and Michaela Bosch.

It might pique the reader's interest in Octaves to know that it is a chapbook made with three signatures in a clever format called the  “do-si-do”:  Octaves has a front and a back, but it also has three spines!  (You can order a copy from me via email, twelve dollars postage paid.) 

Look!  A baby picture, taken when Octaves was just a few hours old.

For next Wednesday, I have tagged poets Caitlin Doyle, Eric McHenry, Christina Pugh, John Sparrow and Rory Waterman.  Click on a name when it becomes a LINK (very soon!) and read about some really big things that are on the way!