Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

Part 1: NYDC BLUES: How I Tried To Escape The Sick World Of Poetry

The rules were that you had to give your name and occupation before reciting your first poem. Naturally, I tried to evade this unnecessary formality which to me seemed akin to a rooftop sniper announcing his name and address before firing upon the crowd below. But before I could begin they started yelling, “What’s your name?”

I looked around the room. It was jammed full of people.

“José,” I answered with some difficulty.

“What do you do?” they shouted.

That was a even tougher question. I didn’t have a job, and for me to declare that I was a writer at this point would be presumptuous on my part. I thought about it for a second, then said, “I’m an alcoholic. What the hell are you?”

I hadn’t had a drink in weeks, but here I was—shitfaced and hostile, staring out into a crowd of poetry addicts at some place in Washington called The 15 Minutes Club. I’d fallen off the wagon in a horrible way, but it wasn’t because I was drinking. It was because I was reading poetry.
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Transgressive, discursive, tracks concerned with the struggles of hard edged urban living, alternative lifestyles, deviant culture – presented in their most raw and unpretentious form: music, fiction, poetry, monologues. We are the stories we tell. Yet another avenue for risky, dangerous writing: off the page. For far too long, and far too often literary recitals have been a literary crap shoot, depending on the preparedness and the oratory skills of the reader. At last, the technology has reached the level where individual authors, poets, and fiction writers can produce their own audio works to promote their printed counterparts. As editor, I welcome any and all such audio works for inclusion in the ongoing series of Urban Graffiti Mixes.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The editor generously thanks bart plantenga for his contribution of several rare, hard to find tracks in this mix.

Eddie Woods writes poetry the way he lives life, intensely. Experience informs his art, and vice versa. Passion, raw edges, nothing left out. Sex, love, politics…coupled with an unrelenting drive towards awareness, the need to understand what universal reality is all about. The Irish poet Ewart Milne said of the poem “Mary,” following its publication in Peter Mortimer‘s Iron magazine [Issue 43, Tyne & Wear, England]: “It’s very powerful, strong and fearless, and it troubles the hell out of me!…It reminds me somehow of the brothel scene in Ulysses.” “My words are like bullets…Plus I have enough ammunition to wipe out as much opposition as will ever come up against me. And every bullet will hit the mark, because I am a good shot.” From the telephone prose-poem “Bloody Mary.” If, indeed, Eddie Woods’ words are bullets, then his poem “Mary” enters the listener’s ears like a wordbomb, exploding inside the mind, and reverberates down the spine like electroshocks from the brain’s pleasure centre. Introduced by the Amsterdam performance artist AnAmontAnA at Salon dAdA on May 1st, 2011 (in the above video), Eddie Woods describes AnA’s Salon “as pure Dada. Usually laced with clear sexual overtones and occasional nudity. You’ll find acts calling themselves The Sugar Sluts, et cetera.”
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Transgressive, discursive, tracks concerned with the struggles of hard edged urban living, alternative lifestyles, deviant culture – presented in their most raw and unpretentious form: music, fiction, poetry, monologues. We are the stories we tell. Yet another avenue for risky, dangerous writing: off the page. For far too long, and far too often literary recitals have been a literary crap shoot, depending on the preparedness and the oratory skills of the reader. At last, the technology has reached the level where individual authors, poets, and fiction writers can produce their own audio works to promote their printed counterparts. As editor, I welcome any and all such audio works for inclusion in the ongoing series of Urban Graffiti Mixes.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Usually a writer learns more from failure and rejection than from anything else, I suppose, given the tremendous amount of both the writers I know seem to have accumulated throughout the years. That is, except for one particular and peculiar occasion in which I learned more from what at first appeared a writing success.

It was May or June of 1986, the CBC radio program Alberta Anthology had accepted a suite of my poems for broadcast. Along with the letter of acceptance was a standard ACTRA contract which I was required to sign if I wanted to be paid the $140.00 the program was offering for the broadcast of my poems. Being a young and hungry writer, I signed the contract and mailed it back to the CBC.

To say I was dissatisfied with the broadcast of my suite of poems would have been an understatement. The actor the program had hired to recite my poems had no concept of each poem’s unique nuances, inflections, vernacular, tropes and idioms. Even worse was the hokey, mawkish background music which further altered the original meaning of my works.

As final insult, though, the same contract I had signed to get paid had also given them the right to censor language they deemed offensive. Fuck became Frick. Shit, crap. Hell, heck. And so on. To me, it was an early and important lesson I learned in the commodification of Canlit, and how it determines content in Canada’s conformist publishing culture.

That single experience has motivated me through the years as a writer, editor, and publisher to never take for granted what it is the writer says, and how it is they say it, never altering one word without their prior knowledge or approval. As you listen to this and other Urban Graffiti Mixes, imagine just how much their meanings would be altered by the arbitrary changing of a word here, or a phrase there.

Note:

Special thanks goes to CO-OP Radio 102.7 FM and the hosts of the program Wax Poetic from which the works of both Catherine Owen and Evelyn Lau have been excerpted. Click on each writer’s name, respectively, to listen to their entire interviews at length.

Listen to the entire Stuart Ross reading at the Test Reading Series, here.

Since it’s inception in July, 1993, Urban Graffiti has always received far more poetry than it could ever possibly use — rejecting almost 95 percent of the poetry submitted over it’s eighteen years as a paper-based litzine (largely due to the UG’s specific mandate). That said, ever so often a poem submitted would not only stand out as both an excellent poem in its own right, but an excellent example of the litzine’s overall mandate as well. Such a poem was Lyn Lifshin’s poem, “The Mad Girl Dreams of Cleaning Women” first published in Urban Graffiti #6 in February 1998. I am pleased to reprint it now for your critical enjoyment.

The Mad Girl Dreams of Cleaning Women

She’s burned out,
down on her knees, a
supplicant who could
be kissing some
savior’s feet
only it’s the floor,
stretching out in
front of her, an
enormous penis
that won’t be
satisfied, a
beach she has to
smooth over
with a toothbrush.
Her knees are
raw as someone giving
head 24 years. She’s
bent over. Under
her hair dirt
yelps more with a
switch. If she
stood up she’d have
the bends. She’s
heard of women in
India crawling
on hard floors. At
least when they’ve
spread them
selves, are avail-
able and prone
and open as O,
they have flower
designs to show for
it. For the
mad girl, the
best she can hope
for is no dirt
under her nails no
scuzz on stairs
or paw prints
on tile, all she even
has to show for her
sweat and stress
is nothing.UG

After Lyn Lifshin heard that in the Eskimo language, the word for “to breathe” and “to make a poem” are the same one, she no longer worried, as she had in graduate school, she’d never be able to write enough. Born in Barre, Vermont, in 1942, Lyn Lifshin has written more than 125 books and edited 4 anthologies of women writers. Her poems have appeared in most poetry and literary magazines in the U.S.A, and has been included in virtually every major anthology of recent writing by women. She has given more than 700 readings across the U.S.A. and has appeared at Dartmouth and Skidmore colleges, Cornell University, the Shakespeare Library, Whitney Museum, and Huntington Library. Lyn Lifshin has also taught poetry and prose writing for many years at universities, colleges and high schools, and has been Poet in Residence at the University of Rochester, Antioch, and Colorado Mountain College. Winner of numerous awards including the Jack Kerouac Award for her book Kiss The Skin Off, Lyn is the subject of the documentary film Lyn Lifshin: Not Made of Glass. For her absolute dedication to the small presses which first published her, and for managing to survive on her own apart from any major publishing house or academic institution, Lifshin has earned the distinction “Queen of the Small Presses.”

Recent books from Lyn Lifshin:

THE LICORICE DAUGHTER: MY YEAR WITH RUFFIAN, Texas Review Press,
ANOTHER WOMAN WHO LOOKS LIKE ME, Black Sparrow at Godine.,
COLD COMFORT, Black Sparrow
BEFORE IT’S LIGHT, Black Sparrow
DESIRE, World Parade Books
92 RAPPLE DRIVE, Coatlism Press

Also out recently:
NUTLEY POND, PERSEPHONE, BARBARO: BEYOND BROKENNESS, LOST IN THE FOG, LIGHT AT THE END, JESUS POEMS and BALLET MADONNAS, KATRINA, LOST HORSES, CHIFFON, and BALLROOM. And just out: ALL THE POETS WHO HAVE TOUCHED ME, LIVING AND DEAD. ALL TRUE: ESPECIALLY THE LIES.

Forthcoming books include TSUNAMI AS HISTORY from POETRYREPAIRS.COM.

Death Valley Days

The TV was straight ahead. In my hand was the remote control. I was pretending it was a gun.

A person flashed across the screen. I pressed a button, shooting him dead.

Another face appeared. There were twelve buttons on the remote control. I pressed them one after the other.

Oprah Winfrey. “Bang! You’re dead.”

Family Feud. “Bang! Bang! Bang!”

Vanna White. “Bang! Gotcha.”

I had won the TV in a raffle six days ago. I had been lying on the sofa ever since. I hadn’t slept. I hadn’t bathed. Bags of potato chips and jujubes littered the floor. I had filled a Giant Slurpee with piss.
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Writers, Publishers, Editors, Poets… Issue 13: Spring 2011 of The Puritan has arrived on your Internet doorstep. Head over to their site to check their current issue (or one of the many archived issues) by clicking, here.


There you’ll find new fiction by Nancy Jo Cullen and Su Croll …


New poetry by Stephen Brockwell, John Barton, Suzannah Showler, Jaime Forsythe, Rich Ives, Heather Davidson, Kristen Orser, and from a student still in high school (a first for The Puritan!), Tabitha Sayegh …


And make sure you check out E Martin Nolan’s in depth interview with Ken Babstock, his accompanying review of Babstock’s latest collection, Methodist Hatchet, and Andrew MacDonald’s short conversation with 2011 Commonwealth Prize winner for Best First Book, Katrina Barton Best.

 

The Puritan is also seeking submissions for their next edition – Issue 14: Summer 2011. Check their site for details concerning new submission guidelines. Send original fiction, poetry, interviews, reviews, and essays by July 1st. Recent funding from the Canada Council means generous bounties will reward accepted submissions.