Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Mairead Byrne, Seriously: A Conversation & 3 Poems

LH: I love your piece, “Some Differences Between Poetry & Standup,” which I heard you read at Zinc. Can you tell me a little about the origins of that work?

MB: Brendan Lorber asked me to do it, for a January date, one fall. Not the fall preceding the January date but the fall before that! So I had about 15 months to put it together, like a jig-saw puzzle on a table that’s not needed.

As you know, the Zinc Series describes itself as "Talk/Reading." Brendan asked for a talk but I had a lot of poems so there was no way I wasn't going to read. I had something I wanted to talk about—the conventions of the poetry reading itself—but I also wanted to read poems. So I did both. I folded the poems into the talk. Both the "talk" and the "poems" were expository. Both the "talk" and the "poems" were poetry. The combination wasn't polemical as much as comic. Tim Peterson said I wasn't funny but people laughed.

Kenny Goldsmith was at that reading, looking glamorous in an afghan coat. Sina Queyras was there too. Kenny asked for "Some Differences Between Poetry & Standup" for UbuWeb. You can read it here. I was in heaven meeting Kenny & I was in heaven in the Zinc Bar. There just was something about the shape of the place, the shallow stage, the cool audience, the brick walls, Tim Peterson. Aaagh!

The Zinc Bar talk/reading was a really serendipitous mapping of talk/reading onto talk/poetry, which was what I was developing. One of my books last year was actually called Talk Poetry (Miami University Press 2007). I was surprised David Antin hadn't used the title.

LH: Did you always see poetry as performance, or did that notion develop over time?

MB: In the beginning, when I used to read my poetry, I'd cry. It was intense. I was very shy. Definitely I see poetry as performance now. But I'm pretty restrained. I saw Patti Smith at St. Mark's in one of those New Year's Day marathons. To see Patti Smith perform at a poetry reading is to get a glimpse of the gap between poetry & performance. But you do what you can. I'm less interested now in attending readings by poets who aren't interested in performance, at some level.

LH: Have you ever tried doing stand up? Would you ever?

MB: As it happens I’m starting what I hope will be a regular gig tonight at Tazza in Providence. One of my colleagues at Rhode Island School of Design, Mark Milloff, does a blues night every Tuesday, & one or two nights a month I’ll MC a poetry hour with readers from in town & out of town & passing through town. Tonight we have Randy Bretzin, Nehassaiu deGannes, Henry Gould, Justin Katko, Hannah Resseger, and Lisa Samuels. I don’t know what to expect. I’m hoping to take more of an improvisatory approach myself. Read stuff I wouldn’t usually read. Have fun. Not quite stand-up but what can you expect at my age.

LH: Is there some weight that comes with being an "Irish poet?" More pointedly a female Irish poet?

MB: Not necessarily. Not that I've noticed anyway. My daughter & I were talking about that the other day. Like how come people at Ivy Leagues aren't so overweight as the American population in general? In terms of your question, there's a little bit of weight to be expected with advancing years, and that's generally how poetic reputations are established. You know, gravitas. And you probably can expect the female body to accumulate a little more weight. Pregnant women are actually referred to as gravida. In Irish hospitals anyway! I'm G5P232, according to that notation. But whatever about Gravida/Para, I wouldn't like weight to be the first thing people thought about when they read my work, no. I've just been reading Italo Calvino's Six Memos for the Next Millennium. Lightness is much more of a value for me.

LH: You mention Calvino's Six Memos for the Next Millennium which explores the idea of lightness, the difference between "light" and "shallow," or depth and surface. There is resistance to lightness it seems to me. We monitor tone so carefully, don't we? We want humor, but we want it to be substantial no?

MB: I don’t know. I like pure ridiculousness. That’s what probably makes me laugh most. I keep myself company a lot of the time & just want to enjoy everything. My standards aren’t high. There’s no “we,” just I & I.

LH: Regarding the recent Chicago Review debate about publishing and gender, do you feel that there is some relationship between gender and the reception of one's work?

MB: Sina, are you kidding me? There's a profound relationship between gender & just about everything; & a profound relationship between power & reception & a profound relationship between power & gender & just about everything…. So yes.

I have an odd first name though. It sounds sort of Arab or Welsh. So it's possible those who don't know me might think I'm a guy. Though the photo kind of gives it away. But reception is not nearly so big a problem for me as the feeling nobody's there, nobody's reading my books. Seriously though, one or two people are. Maybe it's a gender thing that I'm happy about that. As long as one of them has the casting vote on a VERY IMPORTANT COMMITTEE for A VERY BIG PRIZE!

LH: I suppose that would include gender and humor?

MB: It's important to be funny about gender, certainly. Your question makes them sound like Harold & Maude.

LH: Did you see the recent round table on humor in Jacket 33? Ron Silliman, and others, try to eke out the difference between humor in poetry and a "funny poem." Any thoughts?

MB: I didn’t see that Sina but it sounds hilarious. I’ll look it up. I always thought Ron had a great name.

LH: You mentioned UBU web earlier, and your admiration of Kenneth Goldsmith. Do you think there is a difference between the kind of poetry one wants to read (hear) and the kind of poetry one wants to hear?

MB: That’s a really subtle question. Yes, I think there’s always a difference between the kind of poetry one wants to hear and the kind of poetry one wants to hear. It’s just human nature never to be satisfied. It was more Kenny’s coat….

LH: I love Steve Evans Notes To Poetry, the idea that there are books that will linger over time, continue to engage. Who, or which books engaged you over the past year?

MB: Yeah, I noticed neither of my books made that list. On the strength of Craig Dworkin’s recommend- ation, Bill Kennedy & Darren Wershler’s Apostrophe is on my bedside table right now. My short term memory’s not good though. All I can say is that the other books right beside me now are Michael Harnett’s Collected Poems, David Shields’ Reality Hunger: A Manifesto, Kwame Dawes’ Bob Marley Lyrical Genius, World Literature Today, Walter Lew’s Muae 1, Vivian Mercier’s The Irish Comic Tradition, Oscar Wilde’s plays, Waiting for Godot, The Magic Mountain, Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis, & lots of Ntozake Shange. I don’t think anything there was published in 2007, though there’s one 2008 publication, and one 2009.

LH: Is there someone you can say we should be reading now?

MB: It has always surprised me that Charles Reznikoff isn’t more of a household name.

LH: Are you going to AWP? Where will we find you?

MB: I’ll be participating in this panel at 9am on Thursday in Conference Room E, Sheraton, Lower Level, Executive Conference Center:
R116. The Transatlantic Writer: Challenges and Strategies. (Tim Liardet, Mairéad Byrne, Anthony Caleshu, Benjamin Markovits, Lytton Smith, Carrie Etter) The transatlantic writer faces unique challenges in both the composition and dissemination of work. How does one "write native"? Who is the imagined or intended audience? Panelists will also address differing habits of publication and public reception, the internet's relationship to concepts of a national literature, the creation of conversations between writers and cultures, and nationalism's influence on an author's reception.
After that (11.45-12.45) I’ll be signing Talk Poetry at the Miami University Press table in the Book Fair (#461). I have to leave at 1pm to get back to Providence. But on Wednesday night I hope to be at the Nightboat readings at McNally Robinson and the Cave Canem readings at the Bowery Poetry Club. How about you, Sina?

LH: I will definitely see you there. And happily be your straight man should you require one.

Lemon Hound posted on Talk Poetry last year, and on the Difference Between Poetry and Stand-up here.

And you can hear Byrne read The Pillar.

3 Poems by Mairead Byrne


There’s so much emphasis on the individual we forget how much a single person is actually a double. For a start, we are symmetrical: 2 eyes, 2 nostrils, 2 lips with two halves in each one. Our 32 teeth can be divided in two so many ways they deserve a poem of their own. And, taking a bird’s eye view—2 hemispheres in the brain. The story goes all the way down: 2 shoulders, 2 arms, 2 lungs, 2 kidneys, 2 testicles, 2 ovaries, 2 bums, each one divided in two, 2 knees, 2 legs, 2 feet. We are actually really 2 people in one. And what do we do? We pair up. We get married, shackled, whatever. Why we do this I do not know. We are already getting quite enough action being 2 people in one but whatever. We have to have an outside person too, who is also more 2 persons than one. It gets complex. Now you have a 2 X 4. Kids arrive. Each kid adds 2 to the mix. Sometimes there’s twins. Pretty soon you have chaos masquerading as a family. I’m thinking of Ben Franklin. Now Ben was the 15th child out of a total of 17 born to his mother. This figure may or may not include 2 children who died. The numbers are staggering. I’m thinking of Mrs. Franklin. This is a woman or, to my way of thinking, practically 2 women, who had 17 or 19 children proceed through her, i.e., 34 or 38, in addition to providing accommodation for the regular visits of Mr. Franklin. This is not a woman. This is a pomegranate. This is the fabled village it takes to raise a child. Mrs. Franklin herself was the green on which the townspeople cavorted. Is it any wonder we thought of mitosis and meiosis and all that. It’s written all over us. How do you end something like this? It never ends.


I was finding it a bit tedious climbing the stairs so I decided to up the ante. First: Wash the stairs. Next: Lay squares of paper towel down. Then: Move up & down the stairs landing only on the squares of paper towel. Rationale: My slippers tend to leave marks on the wet steps. Effect: Increased difficulty climbing stairs, which action now requires tri-partite effort a) almost vertical hoisting of the legs, with b) frantic whole-body follow-through, propelled by c) pumping action of right arm against banister; with d) descent involving a domino-effect toppling, always in danger of skidding off the paper towel & the step, always in danger of plunging straight down the stairwell like a bucket in a well. Going up & down the stairs is much harder than before, & also much more unusual. Going up is more like ice-climbing. Coming down is more like bungee-jumping. I have started going around the whole house like this. I have put squares of paper towel down in all the rooms & halls so that I can lurch around like Frankenstein, having close encounters with the floors & walls. The house has shrunk & I have grown huge, like a monstrous erection, mindless yet programmed to seek. Full report to follow.


Editors of anthologies & special features on Irish poetry take note: I am available for inclusion in such publications in 3 guises: Irish Woman Poet, Innovative Irish Poet and, as the field is currently wide open, Ireland’s First Concrete Poet.* I can furnish a complete set of poems for each identity, in addition to sensitively selected yet pronounceable names: Minnie O'Donnell, Irish Woman Poet; Clare Macken, Innovative Irish Poet; and Bo Doyle-Hund, Ireland’s First Concrete Poet. Sample available sets include: “My Transistor Radio,” “Léim an Bhradáin,” “Rites of Passage” (Minnie O'Donnell); “Trans/is/t,” “Apostrophe for Finnegan,” “Electoral Capacity” (Clare Macken); and “ciúnas,” “’,” and “18” (Bo Doyle-Hund). I am working on a fourth identity—“A Remarkable Poet in Her Own Right.” The tentative
title for this character is: “Mairéad Byrne.”

*No further jokes about building sites please.

from Talk Poetry
Photo of Mairead & Bob, New Years Eve, Mairead Byrne
Mairead at Zinc, Lemon Hound

Monday, January 28, 2008

Carmine Starnino on the art of reviewing

You love this so much and you're so angry at this bad book that you want to hurt the person. You want them to feel hurt. When I first started I thought I was acting as a consumer advocate. I thought people were being taken for a ride. I thought poets were poetically undelivering and professionally overcharging and I was--my reviews were--the cure. I really thought this. Then I realized that what I was thinking was appalling. And now I guess what I'm interested in hurting is ideas. Hurting trends. Hurting ways of thinking...
from The New Quarterly, Winter, 2008

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Chris Millar

Sandwich and Burger Patch, Trepanier Baer

Manic punk cartoon collaging obsessive glue-gunning artist takes on board and paste and paint and many plastic things which hang and protrude and exude and portend and otherwise meander down and to the right...though unconventional in the down right movement and goth and what what. A twenty-something boy room snow-globed all gooey and popping with cultural, literary, and local references, all mini-like and round, friendly, not in good taste, with spice! Very tiny! Like those Mexican Dioramas, little boxes of scythe carrying vampires, many tiny jokes. Magnifying glass provided. Lots of fun. Loved the lush gloss, the bludgeoned CHRasier Cranium and Daphnee Moon dogs. Loved the sushi finger.

Last chance to see this show. Down dog on Sunday. Giddyup!

Michael Chabon - Probably Not Thinking About His Pulitzer Prize But You Never Know, I Have Never Won a Pulitzer Prize So I Can't Determine The Think Stay Power of Such an Award. Besides it Was Fri The 13th So He Was Prob Thinking About Death

From http://flickr.com/groups/booksandportraits/

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday Round up

CBC has an extensive feature on Findley, a writer in the "man of letters" tradition to be sure. Not Wanted on the Voyage is a Hound favorite. Who can resist a story told by a cat? Particularly when the cat is named Mottle... I had been looking for a copy of this earlier, to give as a gift, and there were none in print. That has apparently changed.

The Guardian wonders whether it is easier to write genre fiction...as do I. Here is an earlier review of Robert Majzels' recent crime novel:
Robert Majzels' THE HUMBUGS DIET is a fabulous read. Certainly one of the more pleasurable of late which begs the question: why don't more intelligent, experimental and thought provoking writers engage in genre writing?...But well written, with a way of utilizing plottish elements without making them clunkingly essential to the work... Majzels has fun with this novel, featuring a geriatric failed detective who gets caught up against his own better judgment in a very informal and entertaining murder investigation at a well located retirement home in Yonkers.
Before Humbugs Majzels wrote a more radical crime novel called Akiporos Sleuth which you can now see for yourself online. It's a beautiful book, a work of art really as an object I mean. You can also find a slightly less fancy, though no less beautiful, version of the book via Mercury Press.

A little glint of lyric from "Poem Talk" via the folks at Kelly Writers House. The first discussion was of a William Carlos Williams poem, and most recently "Wait," a poem by Adrienne Rich, included below. Does Rich complicate the conventions of lyric in this poem? That's one of the questions discussed.


In paradise every
the desert wind is rising
third thought
in hell there are no thoughts
is of earth
sand screams against your government
issued tent hell's noise
in your nostrils crawl
into your ear-shell
wrap yourself in no-thought
wait no place for the little lyric
wedding-ring glint the reason why
on earth
they never told you

Read this week with at Pages. Stewart read from the The Trees of Periphery, published recently through Chaudiere books, and exquisite. Robertson read from The Men, and utopia from Rousseau's Boat. The two also offered a round table at the University of Calgary. Robertson began her talk by reading her belladonna chapbook First Spontaneous Horizontal Restaurant, and Stewart, with a reading of a site specific work in progress. Stewart and Robertson then spoke about current poetic practice, each author generously sharing thinking in progress...more on that later.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

more bits and bites

"The only failure is no love." ca conrad

Have you discovered the Artfag? There is a manifesto and much bite. Bookmark that site, along with Akimblog, for the latest on contemporary Canadian art.

Very much looking forward to Generation, which opens at the Art Gallery of Alberta this weekend. The Hound finally treks up to Edmonton for a reading at the U of Alberta late February.

And for those of you who also missed One Yellow Rabbit's production Sylvia Plath Must Not Die, take a look at Denise Clarke embodying Anne Sexton and look for a remount near you.

The Hound slogged through the snow and bitter cold last night to attend a performance of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells, courtesy of the above mentioned OYR, Alberta Ballet and sundry. Four grand pianos, bodies flying through the air--it was a fabulous evening and the crowd responded uproariously with much footstomping etc. "Their Excellencies" were in attendance, which gave the evening an air of, well Excellencie. For you Americans, I'm referring to the Governor General of Canada, she who acts as a representative of the Queen. Not that Queen...this Queen. And yes, their was a whole lot of Calgary going on.

The High Performance Rodeo is nearing the end leaving the Hound barking, pawing and whining for more. Calgary has an impressive scene, fabulous venues and crazy innovative approaches...more on all that later.

Meanwhile in the land of poetry, Lisa Robertson and Christine Stewart read at the University of Calgary this week as well as Pages on Kensington where yours truly will introduce.

Lisa Robertson and Christine Stewart
Reading at PAGES Bookstore in Kensington
January 22, 7:30 PM
Round-table Discussion at the University of Calgary, SS1339
January 23, 3 PM

Am I the only Lisa Robertson fan who missed bookthug's reprint of The Apothecary last summer?

For a long time there were too few interviews with poets available. Now we're making up for hat with sites such as this and this. Here's a recent interview with Laynie Brown, who will read with The Hound at Test in Toronto and Buffalo the first week of March. Here is Brown talking about her new book, The Scented Fox:
There is a carefully scaffolded structure to the book and also a more unconscious one. The carefully arranged structure contains three books. The first is the level of the tale as roughly one page long and operates mostly at the level of the sentence or phrase. This is book one. The second book, Tales in Miniature, operates at the level of the word. So the focus becomes more compact. Each three word tale requires the reader to imagine the tale between the three words. The third level is even more exacting, and that is the level of the tale within each word in the Festoon Dictionary. The more unconscious or drifting structure is that of the letters, which often interrupt, interact or respond to the tales and the book of the traveling crystal, which appears by it’s own will within the text. Meaning to say, as characters and occurrences appear and disappear so does text, so do objects, etc.
Did you miss the piece on Zukofsky in the NY Times book Review?

Ran into Sheri D. Wilson who runs the Spoken Word Festival here in Calgary--and guess what? She just started a Spoken Word program at The Banff Centre. Bob Holman and Ian Ferrier will be on faculty. Application deadline February 15.

Artwise, an engaging discussion about painting, William S. Burroughs and Agnes Martin with Calgary painter Chris Cran, who recommends Chris Millar's Welcome to the Burger Patch at Trepannier Baer. More on Chris Cran, and a report on Millar too.

Tom Cruise wants to save the world from "it" or "that" or "ethics" or well...yup it's kinda scary.

The Hound thinks Dr. Phil is also scary...very scary. What was Oprah thinking?

Not as scary as the environment mind you...here's Margaret Atwood on the Great Lakes and Christopher Dewdney on the sprawl. Kudos to the Toronto Star for the expansive section leading up to Earth Hour.

Last literary wishes. Nabokov left his final manuscript in tact and yet requested it burned...hm. Now his son is thinking of striking the match. Didn't Woolf request her diaries be burned too? Very glad they weren't.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal

Missing post? For some reason this should have been posted January 6th.

A brief, fairly annotated post on the partaking of art yesterday in Montreal, a cold day with much walking. It was the Hound's first visit to the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal and she endured a line up. But it was worth it. Vik Muniz is a Brazilian born artist who has taken Warhol's dictum that a copy is a copy is an original to the extreme. His work explores the images that have become embedded in our psyche--images from Time Magazine, images from pop art and culture, faces of the famous. The first show in the exhibit which ended Sunday (but will tour to Seattle and San Diego before long), features some replications of images (Kennedy, post-war kiss, napalm) drawn from memory, then photographed and reprinted. Other processes include negative sculpting as a form of painting: using masses of plastic toy soldiers on white to "paint" the negative space, or chocolate, black caviar, diamonds, dust, string... Some of this is predictable (Liz Taylor and diamonds for example) but extremely compelling nonetheless. The portrait of Alice Liddell (shown here courtesy of Musee d'art contemporain) created with masses and masses of cheap toys was a favorite.

Muniz also created some earth works. Scale continues to preoccupy us, and why not? When will nature writing catch up with the art world she wonders? (Is there a nature writer/poet in Canada who responds to the work of earth artists beyond Andy Goldsworthy? Beyond realism? What is realism anyway?) Muniz' draws in the earth, using what it's not clear, but they images look like they've been drawn with a Gulliver sized finger. These images are then photographed from above. There are several artists doing this whom I've posted about fairly recently, the scale that is. One wonders what is accomplished by these multiple procedures and perspectives? What happens when we randomly penetrate sites? Is this merely whimsy? And of course one wonders what the possibilities are of injecting such whimsy into poetry.

Karel Funk's work is a refreshing blast of representational painting--realism to the extreme, and an extremely compelling dose of realism at that. These acrylic portraits of young men, largely from behind, and one side profile, are startlingly powerful. Why? Is it the luminosity? The exaggeration? Roberta Smith raved about Funk in the New York Times after his solo show in Chelsea in 2007, and you can see why here. This is unbelievable detail, but there's something else too, a playful, energetic originality to the perspective, a much needed lightness not only in terms of the portraits themselves, but the texture. The work literally glows, and the subjects are intense, not easily read, not themselves without depth and nuance. Content works against technique here, and there are multiple inquiries that create tension. This is refreshing after so much procedural work (textual and visual), that refuses to go beyond one note. (shown here courtesy of Musee d'art contemporain)

Thomas Hirschhorn is an artist who uses found materials, much tape, staples, assemblage, and mounds of stuff to create banal sculptural installations that exude an anti-aesthetic. A mad, mad version of Jessica Stockholder meets Louise Nevelson meets...well there are a number of people doing this kind of work at the moment. Check out the Altar to Raymond Carver and the artist's statement. Loved seeing these three in tandem: they are so different, and each offers an important position, an exquisite exploration. I love how both Muniz and Hirschhorn are attempting to come to terms with commodification and over-production post-Warhol, post-post, but they come to the field in such vastly different ways.

Personally I found it almost unbearable to enter Hirschhorn's world. Applaud it I do, but I would rather read about it than inhabit it.

The show ended yesterday and the presence of the Contemporary Art Gallery in Montreal has cheered me to no end. But um, what about the relative absence of women in the Musee? Here are the Guerilla Girls on the down and dirty in galleries not only gender-wise, but the ties with corporations and fashion powerhouses...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Bits and links

magill library, Haverford College. Originally uploaded by lemon hound.

You'll find a new photograph from the Books and Portraits pool once a week on Lemon Hound henceforth. Random bites this week:

CBC takes a look at Mavis Gallant, a Hound favorite. Do take a look yourself, and check out that vintage photo. Monica Vitti? There's also a charming interview with Eleanor Wachtel. Link on the above page.

You can hear a story by Mavis Gallant on the New Yorker out loud which you can also subscribe to in iTunes. While you're there you can subscribe to Avant Garde all the time and selections from the Poetry Foundation...and on and on.

Hey all, the Hound has some fiction in the latest issue of This Magazine. We need to subscribe and support the few Canadian magazines of this quality that have managed to survive, and in this case, thrive. Elizabeth Bachinsky has poetry in there too.

What does an architect have to say about The Office for Soft Architecture?

Speaking of Lisa Robertson, have you seen this new poem? It's in No, a journal out of California. Also Matrix has a fabulous interview with Lisa Robertson by the wonderful Angela Carr. Website here, but they don't have much online...

Add this piece on the Four Horsemen to shows I have missed and feel bad about already...

Raincoast bails: no surprise there.

This is an old one, but it still makes me laugh. I mean last time I looked Brooklyn wasn't a country...a very cool boro. But come on? You go to New York and you come back whining? This is just a cliche isn't it?

And here's a sad one...legal wrangling of poets?

Update on the Frost House trashing in Vermont.

Toronto Star offers a video marking the count down to Earth Hour, which I'm hoping will make some impact.

Very busy these days, many apologies for the lack of posts. And by request I am turning the comments back on...yet again!

On the boards, an interview with Mairead Byrne. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

How are you coping?

Is there any good news regarding the environment?

Headlines featuring polar bears drowning.

A quick search involving "good news" gets hits of--of course-- bible news. It seems that is the only good news these days.

How to be optimistic? Like this? Or, with a little humor? (Is that really funny?)

Or just a little humorous?

Or trying to put time and change in perspective? Annie Dillard does it here.

Or by doing something.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Shanna Compton, Poem and Conversation


Think of her
as kindling
informed by light
that it collects
at her bright tips
Come under
the power of
her example:
the necessity of abandon
a theme of memory
& spiritual comeliness
a blandishment
to which none can hold
all ladies

Lemon Hound: You were poetry editor at Soft Skull before this, what made you decide to start you own press?

Shanna Compton: I left Soft Skull not because of their merger, but because I wanted to focus purely on poetry again. Soft Skull was a terrific place for me to work--I was Publicity Director/Editor/Associate Publisher/Reading Series Curator/book designer, sometimes all at once, and I enjoyed working on fiction and nonfiction as well as poetry. But poetry is really where my deepest interest lies, and as with a lot of smaller presses, it was tough to make it financially viable for Soft Skull. An even smaller press makes certain things easier and less expensive, and allows me to focus better. Bloof was set up in such a way so that I can be really flexible, yet not overextended.

But I've been moving toward my own press for a long while now. Actually, I ran two teeny presses before starting Bloof. In college, I published a couple of chapbooks and a zine. Then there was Half Empty/Half Full, which I started with the help of a friend, artist/graphic designer Charlie Orr, who invented the press name when he created that great logo. So Bloof is really an expansion or extension of what I'd been doing all along. I've kind of taken a reverse route to get here, or a full circle: from publishing a zine, to working at a big trade publisher, to editing a university journal, to working at a small independent, to refocusing with a micropress. The main difference is that though it's very much a DIY outfit, the distribution I'm able to get rivals that of a much larger press, thanks to the POD networks I'm using, and the direct distribution via the internet. I'm going to keep doing the handmade chapbooks and watercolor-printed broadsides under the Bloof label, along with the perfect-bound books.

LH: Why Bloof? Does it mean something? Does it have a history?

SC: No, it doesn't mean anything. I've seen it once or twice as a comic-book sound effect. When I was choosing the name, I kept shying away from anything that seemed too symbolic or totemic, like animals or whatever. I wanted a sort of blank to fill, if that makes sense. I like the way the word sounds, and the look of the double o's in both words--"Bloof Books"--and that its personality is not fraught, overrefined, or frou frou.

LH: Is there enough poetry in the world?

SC: Do I feel a lack? No. But should we all stop writing now? No. That's like asking if there's enough music, or too many flavors or colors. I can't imagine losing interest in something that's been so essential for me for so long.

LH: Are there enough poetry presses out there publishing the work you want to read?

SC: It's hard to determine whether there are more poetry presses around now or if it just feels that way because I'm more attuned to them, paying more attention, and/or because they’re more visible because of the Internet. It’s probably some combination. I've read that there are more poets writing and publishing than in previous decades--and that's plausible. Whatever the case, the range of choice available to readers and writers of poetry is certainly an improvement over the huge, homogenous, bearded-professor dead-animal poetry façade the trade publishers have presented use with, monolithically, for so long. (Ironically, “trade publishing” is a blip on the timeline, historically speaking, with very small private presses and self-publishing having much longer tradition!) Most of what seems vital about poetry to me happens at this samizdaty sort of level. The small indies and micropresses are bringing out the most exciting work. And as long as I keep running across poets I like who aren’t being published, I’ll be publishing poetry.

I think DIY publishing and self-publishing is something every poet should experiment with, because it's really fulfilling in ways that even "winning" the submit-reject game will never be. I don't buy into the scarcity-increases-value theory, or the idea that poetry is a rarified experience attractive only to an exclusive group of intellectuals or academics, blah blah blah. Some people like to position themselves and their work that way, and I don't get it. It's not only self-isolating, it's condescending to potential readers. I'm not speaking of difficulty vs. accessibility. It's more an attitude or stance I find off-putting. You know, in the way the stereotypical record-shop guy is a freaking expert but disdains the act of sharing that knowledge or appreciation with anyone--as if musical sophistication and popularity were mutually exclusive.

LH: Your second book, For Girls, is a direct address to women of the world, a kind of behavior guide for girls...but what kind of girls?

SC: I don't really think of the poems as being addressed to contemporary girls--or maybe the poems are but the so-called sage advice is not, because it's mostly bunk. Rather, the poems were a vehicle through which I looked at the historical tradition of advice-literature aimed at women, and through which to wonder just what it is about girlhood or womanhood that's so attractive to these pushy yet usually well-intentioned advisors. It was fun to take on the schoolmarmy tone, or the moralistic tone of a pastor, or the verbosely authoritative tone of domestic law, or to pick through the effluvia of the Internet, and the process gave me insight into how our society viewed--and still views--its female members. I began by poking fun at an antique etiquette manual and ended by realizing, again, that as a culture we're still expecting a lot of contradictory, absurd things from girls and women, and we avail ourselves of every conceivable opportunity to let them know it. Frankly, we used to be as lot more subtle and polite about it. Luckily, girls themselves are as rebellious as ever.

Addressing the women of the world would be a much more ambitious project, and not one I'd feel in any way confident taking on! I certainly couldn't see poking fun at the customs of child marriage, or enforced illiteracy, or teenage prostitution, or what have you. I'm keenly aware that only a poet with the relative socioeconomic privileges from which I’ve benefited could have written this book. That's part of what makes the genre of "women's advice" so absurd to begin with.

LH: What constitutes being a good girl poet?

SC: Beats me, honestly. Maybe "being good" doesn't get anybody anywhere, since "good girl" is usually taken to mean one who sublimates her own desires to please everybody else. No thanks, right? I have often wished, both aloud and to myself, that my being a woman did not have to make any difference in what I write or how I write it. But it does. Women writers don't get to ignore gender, and I've learned that the hard way.

LH: I’ve been thinking about this question of gender and cultural work that many women seem to be doing. It occurs to me that as you say, it’s difficult for women to ignore gender, and also difficult to have humor in it. There is textual play, but that play seems very limited, or specifically defined…I’m not sure what I mean here, but I guess I’m asking about gender and humor…any thoughts?

SC: Yep, I think you’re touching on another one of these precoded expectations for women, and more broadly, for poetry. To be truly funny one often has to be bawdy, inappropriate, or “off-color,” qualities that are considered neither very “ladylike” nor “poetic.” But humor in poetry is another long, rich tradition that only relatively recently has been pooh-poohed and devalued, as if it’s not a serious or artistic endeavor. And yes, there’s also an expectation that a feminist woman shouldn’t risk seeming frivolous or dismissible by engaging in comedy—that’s often a self-directed expectation by feminists themselves. I take humor seriously though, and so do writers like Jennifer L. Knox, Nada Gordon, Sharon Mesmer, and many others. Comedians in other genres, from literary satirists and fictioneers to songwriters and stand-up artists, use humor to do “cultural work,” so why not poetry? We’re seeing an ivory-towerism at work there. Personally what I find funny generally has a darker undertone—humor works best under challenging circumstances. After all, laughter is a biological/physically stress-reliever and social lubricant, a natural response to fear, embarrassment, frustration, etc.

LH: You've published a lot of chapbooks, and a first book, Down Spooky, that was well received. Did you have second book anxieties?

SC: With For Girls, not really. Perhaps because it's not the book I was trying to write. (The book I was trying to write is in a drawer; it made me anxious as hell.) For Girls is what I wrote when I couldn't work on the other manuscript. And because I was already in the process of establishing Bloof, I decided not to worry about sending it out, or go through that second-book publisher search that can be such a pain. I let myself off that particular hook! (Not coincidentally, the other two books Bloof has announced so far are also second books, by poets whose first books I edited at Soft Skull.) There are so many presses depending on first-book contests, to generate both money and publicity, that second (and third, etc.) books are often more difficult to publish than first books. This is fucking silly to me. I entered contests too, and was a finalist a few times, then had a book published that way. Like most people, I felt like I didn't have a choice. But I do have a choice. And this time I made it.

LH: Yes, the whole contest/first book emphasis is startling. As is the relatively low numbers of women starting presses/magazines and self-publishing. Did you feel supported to make a lateral move in the literary world?

SC: Are there fewer women engaged in these kinds of publishing? I’m not sure I agree. If you look around at letterpress printing, as at the Center for Book Arts in NYC, or the micropress/DIY scene, particularly the Etsy-based craft presses, there are lots and lots of women publishing themselves and each other. I think even the trade and text-book publishing industries are female-dominated, particularly in editorial and publicity departments. That’s an extrapolation from my own experience, but I could swear I read 68% female someplace. How that translates into number of books by women published, I don’t know, and would be interesting to see.

Anyway, re: feeling supported…the response to Bloof so far has been very supportive, I think. The books are selling well (especially Drunk by Noon), and the book tour in the spring is shaping up nicely. But part of the point of this kind of publishing is that it doesn’t require a lot of support—I mean, the financial support of writing grants, or sponsorship by a nonprofit distributor, or contest fees, or university affiliation, or what have you. All Bloof needs is the support of its authors and their readers, and hopefully, a few reviewers.

I know there are probably some people who believe it’s tacky (or whatever) to self-publish, and will prejudge For Girls on that basis, even at the same time they’re buying the new Radiohead album, or seeing the latest David Lynch movie, or coveting a painting spotted during an open art studio tour. But that’s not an argument I feel like having anymore. The poems are the same whether I publish them or somebody else does. It takes no more confidence for me to publish myself than to ask/expect someone else to do it for me. I like retaining control of how the work is presented, what the book looks like, and knowing where it goes. It’s fulfilling for me to take on that responsibility, rather than handing it over.

LH: The recent Chicago Review debate suggests that women still aren’t realizing their potential in terms of the actual numbers. Does this bear out for you? And do you see the web and/or self publishing as an antidote?

SC: I think one of the most important points made in Young & Spahr’s “Numbers Trouble” essay got kind of lost in the aftershock. What they said was that the numbers are only part of the story, and the numbers they looked at were only some of the numbers. For instance, the magazine survey taken by the CR editors themselves (in the same issue) included only one journal I’ve submitted to in the last decade. I see women everywhere, running presses, curating reading series, managing listservs, embracing digital technologies like podcasting and video (another thing women are supposedly less interested in or not as good at), teaching, etc. The Internet and DIY publishing scenes are big correctives, since there are no gatekeepers, sure. But I also think women may have other priorities than “being published as often as men,” which is not a terribly lofty goal to me in the first place. Maybe bigger-louder-famouser-oftener isn’t the idea, so much as writing what one wants to write, how one wants to write it. When women poets don’t fit a traditional literary mold, or write about so-called feminine themes, they still meet resistance, absolutely. But they’ve got other options than simply continuing to knock on doors that won’t open.

LH: Who are the girls we should all be reading?

SC: Oh, let me see. Some (contemporary) women poets I've read recently or frequently revisit: Obviously I'd recommend the other women published by Bloof, Jennifer L. Knox and Danielle Pafunda, but also Nada Gordon, Anne Boyer, Sharon Mesmer, Eileen Tabios, Dorothea Lasky, Angela Rawlings, Susan Wheeler, Heidi Lynn Staples, Reb Livingston, Evie Shockley, Susan Briante, Mel Nichols, Juliana Spahr, Sandra Simonds, Jennifer Moxley, Barbara Jane Reyes, Cathy Park Hong, Ange Mlinko, Mairead Byrne, Joyelle McSweeney, Lara Glenum, Ana Bozicevic-Bowling, Stephanie Young, Jennifer Bartlett, Ada Limon, Catherine Meng, yourself...there are so many it's hard to make a list that won't embarrass me later through omission. Isn't that wonderful?

SHANNA COMPTON’S books and chapbooks include Down Spooky, (Winnow, 2005), GAMERS:Writers, Artists & Programmers on the Pleasures of Pixels, (Soft Skull, 2004), Big Confetti (with Shafer Hall, Half Empty/Half Full, 2004), Closest Major Town (Half Empty/Half Full, 2006), and Scurrilous Toy (Dusie Kollektiv, 2007). Her poems and essays have appeared widely in magazines and anthologies, including The Best American Poetry 2005, The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel, Exchange Values Vol 2., Bowery Women, and the Poetry Foundation website. She lives in a valley near a river in New Jersey.

Two more poems by Shanna Compton can be found on an earlier post.

Two poems from Jennifer L. Knox.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Strange and (mostly) Wonderful

Notable deaths of 2007. Notable?

Vendetta! Poesie!

Academic discontent in Tel Aviv.

She slam!

Rene Char in translation in the Brooklyn Rail which also has some fine fiction--Dawn Raffel is one I should have mentioned in my previous post.

Judd Apatow, latest cultural phenomenon the Hound does not get.

Check out the language in the discussion of De Beauvoir. Insert any iconic male thinker and adjust perspective.

David Byrne off-leash. Discovering a long-time idol's blog is a little, well, strange.

Are you old and flaky enough to remember The Prophet?

A very bad idea:
Rafael Alvero, who developed the concept, admits that the idea of a musical seemed ridiculous to him at first. But, he points out the diary of Anne Frank can be compared to a tragic opera.
In Britain poetry can cure dementia:
"One sheds one's sicknesses in books," DH Lawrence once wrote, and the people I met on Merseyside agree with him that books - good books, anyway - are a form of therapy. "Prose not Prozac" is the prescription. Literature not lithium. A talking cure in the presence of Keats, Dickens or Shakespeare rather than a physician or psychiatrist.
Yes, Ms. Hound, there is life beyond poetry...it's called fashion.

Well, more realistically (since the Hound is not about to wear anything that costs her monthly salary) it's called art.

Oh, and the Hound has met a muse. Artfag is on the scent in Toronto and asks the following in "The Toronto Manifesto"
So ladies, and gentlemen, here is our 64,000$ question: why is this? How is it that two centres of contemporary art of Toronto have failed to make anything of their own city? Wherefore this reluctance, and what does it bode?

Friday, January 04, 2008

Recently read (or reread)

Elizabeth Costello, Coetzee
The Humbugs Diet, Robert Majzels
Exit Ghost, Portnoy's Complaint, Philip Roth
Bel Canto, Anne Patchett
Night, Elie Wiesel
Wonderful Town: New York Stories from the New Yorker, ed. David Remnick
Penguin Anthology of Stories by Canadian Women, ed. Denise Chong
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, Laurence Sterne
Vertigo, WG Sebald

An odd reading list, but indeed the contents of a few leisurely afternoons reading recently. Montreal is winter, and winter is reading. So, much reading ensues as much snow falls. (And falls....and falls.) This is only the fiction portion mind, we are quite taken up with fiction of late, but continuing to read poetry as well. This is a slice of the fiction titles lurking on my desk--more recent publications, and many Canadian titles hover, but the Hound is having trouble with sentences these days. Trouble in that they are tending to bore me... So there are many books I simply can't get past the first few pages of. What a mystery. What frustration!

By now I know better than to think this resistance necessarily has anything to do with the books, or sentences (though I have opinions on the matter of course). More than likely I will pick those books up some time in the future and fall in. That is the problem with the publishing industry: books have their own timelines, and readers too, sometimes a book takes a while, sometimes it's easy as cream. They don't always match up. Sometimes this reader is terribly wrong about a book...but we are never supposed to admit that are we? Or no, wait, perhaps it's only surgeons who are never to admit that?

In any case, of the above list ELIZABETH COSTELLO was far and away the most intense and satisfying read. It's disturbing to say the least, but thought provoking. It provided fuel for several contracted discussions concerning the implications (and rights) of representing evil in art and literature, the mass insanity of our factory farming animals--which leads to a larger discussion regarding the role and responsibility of the writer/artist, and the difficulty of remaining conscious, embodied, present, in a world (and for writers in a role) that becomes increasingly designed (or so it seems) to make one disconnected. Costello would seem to be a stand in for Coetzee given that the book is comprised of eight lectures given on different occasions, known to have been delivered by the author, and in some cases already appearing elsewhere in print...but here we have a wonderfully complex curmudgeonly woman of a certain age, facing death, and afterlife, with a unwaivering sense of authorial purpose and unnerving ability to both ask difficult questions, but not necessarily give satisfying answers...and given to verbosity! I would have loved to see the speeches tightened and sharpened...they rambled, not digression, but ramble.

Robert Majzels' THE HUMBUGS DIET is a fabulous read. Certainly one of the more pleasurable of late which begs the question: why don't more intelligent, experimental and thought provoking writers engage in genre writing? I would love, love, love to see a series of meta-literary mystery novels by a series of literary writers pitched at a general readership. Not written down-to, that's insulting, but playing with and (imagine that, possibly enjoying?) the process, the genre, its history and expectations, and the reader--yes, the reader! But well written, with a way of utilizing plottish elements without making them clunkingly essential to the work... Majzels has fun with this novel, featuring a geriatric failed detective who gets caught up against his own better judgment in a very informal and entertaining murder investigation at a well located retirement home in Yonkers.

Roth is one of those writers the Hound resists. The Human Stain? Couldn't find a rhythm. Didn't care for the narrator. Portnoy's Complaint? Complaining, complaining! But persevere I did, and since others have been talking about EXIT GHOST, it appeared once again on my desk. And lo, it fell into my paw, and lo the pages opened and were alive and it was good. There were several moments when the book found its way back onto the floor, was kicked across and under the sofa, but it was retrieved and given second and third chances.

The problem for this reader is Roth's whole obsessive attraction to young women. It simply annoys...it's boring. Get over it already. But, but, I see that it's a complex desire, and laced with many other juicy neurosis, and...this should stop here. Ultimately the voice, the intelligent voice got me and so all the Roth books come out of hiding again.

As for Exit Ghost, it's a great read if only for the searing and skewering of the young literary cougar who wants to do the biography of a famous writer, hinging his genius on an incestuous relationship. (Oh the headlines! The chance to talk at length with such authority about a subject! To subsume!) Yes, biography tends to make an aging writer queasy (the young ones are still rosily anticipating their own glory). (For more squeam check out this dialog between Roth and Brit bio Queen Hermione Lee.)
As for Portnoy? What a time capsule! What a moment! All that wanking! All that constipation and flagellation! And perhaps the fact that the Hound survived a few years living in Jersey next to Roth's mother one might guess, who let me help her with the groceries but only to the front door! made this seem nostalgic... No goyum in the house thank you very much...ah, Joisey.

BEL CANTO, Anne Patchett. This is a quick read, and clearly Patchett is a gifted writer. The intensity, the narrative structure are very strong--easy to see why this one did so well. It's quite compelling. But to be honest, there was much about it that could be skipped over, which I did. It won't be a book that stays on my shelf (though perhaps I can replace Atonement with it?), but it holds you the length of a warm bath, and I could easily think of a dozen people I could give this to. It's delightful, just not quite my cup of tea. The new one is on the "to read" list, but it isn't urgent.

Elie Wiesel's NIGHT needs little introduction. It's striking in its simplicity. Such condensed horror with very little sentiment. One of those books that one can't quite put down, even though one's body is saying one must put it down before the nightmares settle into one's body...and they do. They must.

WONDERFUL TOWN: NEW YORK STORIES FROM THE NEW YORKER, ed. David Remnick. Nothing comes close to the consistently good fiction found in the New Yorker. The latter isn't my favorite anthology but despite the occasional snoring piece the percentage of hits is unbelievable. The only thing that could improve this institution is more daring editorial selections: Diane Williams, Dave Eggers, Lydia Davis, Lynn Tillman, William Gass, or Sheila Heti for example. But one must ask why does avant-garde fiction writing seem to be so focussed on the novel rather than the short story??

This reader has been looking for strong alternative short fiction for over a decade and there is little to show for that long search--the authors above being a magnificent sampling of the potential for alterna-fiction... Still looking, and appreciating things such as McSweeney's and The Believer (interview with Gass here), but meanwhile week after week it's the New Yorker that keeps publishing some of the best fiction of our time.

Over in the magazine, this week's Updike is a tight little knot of a tale. Last week's section on the Carver/Gish exchange was illuminating. The degree to which Gish seemed comfortable slashing is disconcerting, and many of the edits were gratuitous, concerned with peevish stylistic turns rather than content, clarity, or integrity of story. On the other hand, how many preferred the longer version of the tale? A few weeks ago a very strange little offering from Jonathan Lethem. I'm a fan of Junot Diaz, but last week's wasn't a favorite, and there is often a sameness of content and tone. The target audience is the Upper East Side I once read, so much of the work reflects that...it's shockingly, decidedly, not diverse.

But who, aside from Granta (though lets NOT discuss the list of nominations for their best new US fiction writers...), is even coming close to challenging the New Yorker for quality let alone consistency and volume?? Not the Paris Review. The Believer could be a contender, though they don't publish enough fiction...but what if they did? And what if they paid really well? Is the New Yorker buying a literary team here? (Yes, why not?) Are they creating a market need that they are then fulfilling? (Yes, again, why not?) I've read the anti-New Yorker fiction literature...I get it. But I also get it.

I loaned the Penguin Anthology of Stories by Canadian Women, edited by Denise Chong, to a few American friends over the years and the response was always the same: why are Canadians so depressed?? Doesn't anything good happen up there? There are great pieces in here by Mavis Gallant, Linda Svendsen, Bronwen Wallace, Ethel Wilson, Barbara Gowdy, Holley Rubinsky, but they're right....most of this stuff is bleak. As bleak as Flannery O'Connor? As bleak as the anthology of American fiction Richard Ford edited for Granta a few years ago? (Can anything be?) There is a new anthology of Canadian fiction edited by Jane Urquhart which needs to be included here...soon....but it's on the list of those the Hound resists for some odd reason. Probably because just looking at the list evoked dread in the sameness of the names...risk! Why won't people (editors!) take risks!

As for Canadian fiction in magazines? Where would that be? An overview of the magazine scene north of the border should be a task for the new year (note to self), but here's a start. Alberta Views out of Calgary is one smart magazine. They publish investigative features focusing on Alberta issues and include opinion arts and letters from local talent. This out of Toronto is also very smart, very timely. Vancouver's Geist is a perennial favorite (still not enough fiction but great photography and miscellany). Maisonneuve is getting better and better (but layout can't be enough people!), and The Walrus--well as someone said when they spied the cover on my coffee table in Brooklyn, "that's the New Yorker font, and lay out...". Maybe, but no fiction. Or no regular support of it. On the other hand, Taddle Creek jumped out at me while perusing a Toronto bookstore last week. It also resembles the New Yorker, but it has lots of fiction and poetry including a piece by recently interviewed Stuart Ross.

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, Laurence Sterne. Every once in a while you just need to pick this up and marvel at it:

The Mortgager and Mortgagee differ the one from the other, not more in length of purse, than the Jester and Jestee do, in that of memory. But in this the comparison between them runs, as the scholiasts call it, upon all- four; which, by the bye, is upon one or two legs more than some of the best of Homer’s can pretend to;—namely, That the one raises a sum, and the other a laugh at your expence, and thinks no more about it. Interest, however, still runs on in both cases;—the periodical or accidental payments of it, just serving to keep the memory of the affair alive; till, at length, in some evil hour, pop comes the creditor upon each, and by demanding principal upon the spot, together with full interest to the very day, makes them both feel the full extent of their obligations.

As the reader (for I hate your ifs) has a thorough knowledge of human nature, I need not say more to satisfy him, that my Hero could not go on at this rate without some slight experience of these incidental mementos. To speak the truth, he had wantonly involved himself in a multitude of small book-debts of this stamp, which, notwithstanding Eugenius’s frequent advice, he too much disregarded; thinking, that as not one of them was contracted thro’ any malignancy;—but, on the contrary, from an honesty of mind, and a mere jocundity of humour, they would all of them be cross’d out in course.

WG Sebald's VERTIGO, is in the marvel category too, but difficult to read cover to cover. More on that later.

Meanwhile, if you want your magazine to be included in the future rundown of magazines best send it on.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year, Hello Again, and what about that gunk in the middle?

The last New Years post was a good bye. This blog remained silent for some months, but photographs began to appear mid-winter, and gradually text. It seemed impossible not to share reading responses and ideas in this manner--like an alchemist turning her back on the most potent ingredient of the day.

Despite the persistence of war, violence, unbridled consumption, and despite major gains in global awareness around climate change, little real change on that score...2007 still managed to be a stellar year. I have many folks and organizations to thank: my Philadelphia friends, CA Conrad, Frank Sherlock, Hassan, and to Haverford and Bryn Mawr for making my time in that city very sweet, to Liz Bachinsky and Michael V. Smith, Rick Simonson and Elliott Bay Books, the folks at Lambda for choosing Lemon Hound for the poetry category, and to the League of Canadian Poets for the Pat Lowther Award. Thanks to Montrealers for welcoming me back into the fold, and to Calgarians for their warmth (ongoing!) during my tenure as Writer-in-Residence, to Pages on Kensington for being the best bookstore in Calgary, to Wordfest, the Banff Centre for the Arts, UBC and Play Chthonics, and all the people who were involved in various readings and events, and publications, and to the readers of this blog and others. The poetry world sometimes appears to exist in a parallel universe, one seen only when the sun hits glass at a certain slant...or perhaps seen only by the handful who seem to create it.

So, while isn't yet another good bye post, it is a restatement and recommitment to putting the work first, and the discussion and promotion of it somewhere down that list because despite moments such as the ones above, it is still the work that makes it all worthwhile.

As for the new year. The Hound will be looking for content. Language is exciting, but it needs to say something to say as well. I have never been a big fan of New Yorker poetry, fiction yes, poetry not so much. But a recent interview with outgoing poetry editor Alice Quinn reaffirmed what I suppose I've always known. Namely that poetry lovers always come back. According to Quinn "New Yorker readers are people who were profoundly connected to poetry in childhood, adolescence, or college, who want to touch base with it and want to feel that they still can read poetry." Not that this fact has anything to do with what is published in the New Yorker--if in high school or college they read more widely, say bp Nichol and Fred Wah alongside PK Page as this reader did, they might have a wider base to touch back into. But I find it interesting that she notes the excitement of a younger generation of poets, while not necessarily seeing a way to translate that excitement to her audience at the New Yorker.

But poetry is a space that once opened up can be easily and pleasurably maintained, and it's time to think about those readers...all of those readers who come willingly to the page. What will they take away from your brief moment together? What will transpire? What energy will be exchanged? It isn't perhaps the point of poetry to work toward that, but it needs to be part of it, no? So here's to 2008, and all of its juicy content.