Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Janus Chair

Graham Foust & Sawako Nakayasu
Friday, January 19th, 7 :30 PM
The Fall Café
307 Smith Street
between Union & President
Carroll Garden, Brooklyn
F or G to Carroll Street

Graham Foust was born in Knoxville, Tennessee and raised in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The author of three books of poetry--the most recent of which is Necessary Stranger (Flood Editions, 2007)—he lives in Oakland, California with his wife and son.

Sawako Nakayasu is currently writing about, through, on, around and with ants and other insects, but mostly ants. She was born in Yokohama, Japan, and has lived mostly in the US since the age of six. Her books include Nothing fictional but the accuracy or arrangement (she, (Quale Press), So we have been given time Or, (Verse Press), and Clutch (Tinfish). Her most recent publications include a book of translations of Japanese women poets in Four From Japan, as well as a chapbook of translations of Sagawa Chika's poems, from Seeing Eye Books.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

All-Time Chair Burners

Kazim Ali, Samuel Amadon, Stephanie Anderson, Reneé Ashley, Andrea Baker, Jim Behrle, Edmund Berrigan, Anne Boyer, Lee Ann Brown, Jenna Cardinale, Adam Clay, Julia Cohen, John Coletti, Carla Conforto, Phil Cordelli, Joshua Corey, Bruce Covey, Simon DeDeo, Michelle Detorie, Timothy Donnelly, kari edwards, Jeff Encke, Joanna Fuhrman, Lara Glenum, Johannes Göransson, Arielle Greenberg, Kate Greenstreet, Jane Gregory, Matt Hart, Matthea Harvey, Anthony Hawley, Brian Howe, Dan Hoy, Thomas Hummel, Brenda Iijima, Kent Johnson, Erica Kaufman, Amy King, Aaron Kunin, Mark Lamoureux, Katy Lederer, Tao Lin, Brendan Lorber, Alex Lemon, Timothy Liu, Sarah Manguso, Sabrina Orah Mark, Justin Marks, Peter Markus, Joseph Massey, Aaron McCollough, Paul McCormick, Andrew Mister, Ange Mlinko, Marie Mockett, Jeff Morgan, Rachel Moritz, Valzhyna Mort, Anna Moschovakis, Gina Myers, Amanda Nadelberg, Eugene Ostashevsky, Juliet Patterson, Christian Peet, Arlo Quint, Thibault Raoult, Chris Salerno, David Shapiro, Brenda Shaughnessy, Frank Sherlock, Brandon Shimoda, Peter Shippy, Sandra Simonds, Sheila Squillante, Heidi Lynn Staples, Stacy Szymaszek, Craig Teicher, Maureen Thorson, Gabriella Torres, Jen Tynes, Charles Valle, G.C. Waldrep, Shanxing Wang, Africa Wayne, Joshua Marie Wilkinson, Dustin Williamson, Jonah Winter, Max Winter, Sam White, Jake Adam York, & Rachel Zucker

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Geraldine Kim. Povel. New York: Fence Books, 2005.

It is difficult to say exactly where the poetry starts in Geraldine Kim’s Povel. A lot happens before you reach what would, in another book of poetry, be considered the text. The book begins with an introduction by Lyn Hejinian, claiming that “there has never been a successful merging of confessional verse poetry and the novel . . . until now.” Before you can consider why on Earth Hejinian would care about this potential merging of styles the intro proceeds to quote a bewildering three-page long book title, which is a comically self-effacing stream of consciousness. And it turns out that Hejinian does not care: the intro is a fake. Another fake-into follows, which is Jim Carrey’s Academy Award acceptance speech given the new title of “Transcript of Geraldine Kim’s Acknowledgment Speech.” Then the previously quoted expansive title reappears in bold font, spread over four pages. After this comes the epigraph: “’Beginning texts by quoting someone else’ –Me.” And then a seemingly nonsensical list that equates important characters in the book to musical instruments. And then we get to the poetry. Or novel in verse. Or whatever.

These false starts and bad jokes refuse a stable, chin-strokingly serious reading of Povel. It takes joy in the silliness in contemporary poetic conventions. However these jokes reinforce the importance of the mocked conventions. Lyn Hejinian is fake-quoted because she is, in fact, a driving influence behind the book. Povel bears significant influence from Hejinian’s My Life in its fragmented creation of personal experience. The acceptance speech points out the strange equivalence between status in award honors and the choosing of first books through poetry contests. Kim gets the chance to both express an exuberance for having her book chosen and to completely undercut the possibility that she would take it this seriously. And it's pretty funny. The epigraph both negates itself and works as a useful epigraph to the satirically self-reflexive narcissism in Povel. There is a formal constraint to the presentation of the work; each stanza has a different kind of justification, left, right, centered and repeated. This constraint, however, is so arbitrary as to be almost a joke on the conventions of formal constraint. Following the body of the book is an almost book-length set of footnotes. The book works to situate the reader between attitudes about poetry and the text before you get to the main body. It tells you that this is a book that both cares reverentially about the conventions of contemporary poetry and also finds them silly. It is as much a book of poetry as it is a work of situating the writer in relation to the forced constraints of a constructed text.

The main text of Povel spills out in a caffeine-fueled dance of statements, individual moments, non-sequiturs, information heard from others or read, family events & pop culture references. The book is so packed that it seems to emulate the Romantic mode in which the expression of experience cannot be written quickly enough (I’m thinking of stories about Shelley writing frantically with both hands). The language of Povel is in action; first person statements lack the subject, instead jumping into the action of each moment. This energy and propulsion is the prosodic driving force to the book.

From the first moment I opened it I found Povel is wildly delightful. The problem with writing a review of it is that this delight is an effect of the book as a text. Any passage is going to lack the provisional situation that makes the writing come alive which makes most of the passages lose their energy when quoted out of context. The book is delightful because of its brash comprehensiveness and inertia. The first stanza sets up some of what makes reading Povel exciting:

My roommate complains to me about how she couldn’t enjoy

Matrix Revolutions because everyone else in the theater was laughing at it. ‘Too

much psychobabble for your puny minds?!’ she asks our dorm room. I glance at her

cow-print slippers. The vomit from my Vicodin overdose was green. One of the first

things I am told as a writer is to write about what I know. (1)

Kim shifts sharply between internal and external, between immediacy and reflection, between concrete and abstract. These shifts are propulsive, and within the framework that the opening materials set up the shifts all seem to be based on a kind of desperate playfulness. These shifts consistently turn attention back to the creation of a sense of self in the book and in the writing of the book. Because of the propulsion this inward turn works to consistently recreate, and further understand Geraldine Kim as a stable entity. She reveals a life in the immediate moment-to-moment expressiveness of experience, but contains enough direct personal connection to allow for it to be read as more than an experiment. Povel is a constantly unfurling, seemingly stream-of-consciousness exploration of an individual attempting to make sense of her coming of age intellectually, culturally and sexually. But this stream is deceptive. Despite the constant search for a new turn or a new move a story builds. Characters reappear. An autobiography develops through the work. Kim doesn’t shy away from including seemingly anything in Povel.

Because of her continuous multiplicity she succeeds in moments that would seem precious in another book. “My dreams where my ex and I are siblings anyway. Feeling as lonely as a dependent/ clause without. Instead I said ‘no’ and watched his sneakers run back in the rain.” (79) But she is also able to include moments of simple presentation that ring especially true in counterpoint to the poetic play. When she talks about her brother Kim is especially direct, turning even the most ridiculous scene into a moment of dry existential wonder such as this moment of understanding budding sexuality:

‘And when I see a guy and girl kissing, it starts to rise,’ my brother says to his

twelve-year-old friends while we’re all watching TV, his voice wavering. ‘Me too!’

says his friend. Feeling extraterrestrial. (76)

Because of the exuberance of revelation Povel continually surprises me. Statements or moments arrive that feel entirely new, but continue to be absorbed by the growing body of Povel. These moments are sometimes immediate and the familiar becomes somehow profound, such as “‘Paypal scamming worm asks for bank/ details’ the computer says. That explains everything.” (13) Some of them are more traditionally imagistic, such as “Imagining the/ inside of my body as a densely crowded forest.” (27).

Even those moments that are so affecting to me are couched in the overall framework of the text and I have to distrust them. What is important about them in the context of Povel is that they are not to be dwelt upon. There may be moments of beauty or personal revelation, but they are always going to be followed by something else. Sometimes the following statement undercuts the effect; more often it is simply disinterested in it. Povel pushes forward, refuses to make any single statement more important than the next.

This form of autobiographical writing, of confessionalism, challenges the reader to mediate between the very things the writer mediates between, ironic awareness of the sterility of conventions (even experimentally-based conventions), a belief in the power of these very conventions, a desire to accurately present a life and the awareness of not only the conceit of this desire but the impossibility of successfully satisfying it. Kim builds this mediation by her switches from meta-contemplation of the text itself, mild profundities, personal experiences and reportage without hesitation:

Thumbing through everything I’ve written. The granite was shaped into a

gravestone. An elaborate attempt at immortality. My avoidance of reading The

Denial of Death on my desk. For his birthday, I got my ex a Jesus nightlight and

seventy-five dollars worth of stickers. The protagonist of Fight Club chose the

penguin as his power animal. ‘Quality over quantity’ my physics teacher said to us.

marx said it was quantity over quality since the chances of quality are higher when

there is more. (54)

This comprehensiveness creates an intimacy that for me is more interesting and direct than the attempt to tell the “story” of a life. It is not a confessional poetry impressed by its own epiphanies nor a revelatory bragging about personal failings but rather an accumulation of experience. It is a fresh form of personal poetics, based on the daily revelations of blogging or late night conversations rather than the linearity of narrative or even the conceptual openness of Hejenian’s My Life.

Neither does Kim attempt a solid stand about sexuality or gender identity, though these are also important to the book. She is constantly aware of the eyes of men on her. They arrive at the most simple times, giving daily life a creepy feel: “I could use my declining dollars all day, drinking coffee and staying permanently/ awake. The guy sitting across from me watches me.” (12) She grows angry in the text at being constantly looked at, but does not display her anger in the actions of the book:

This creates a fascinating and frustrating version of biography. That force me to be aware of the conventions I expect out of autobiography. I came to this book with an expectation that somehow cultural identity would be important to Povel. Perhaps it seemed to me that a young Korean American woman talking about her life would have to focus on categories of cultural identity. Though we know in this book that Kim is Korean American and this comes up frequently she is never attempting anything like a categorical definition of her place in relation to this identity. Out of context I can analyze the cultural politics at work in Povel, such as when she relates “Watching my sixty-six-year-old/ Korean dad copy the gestures of a car dealer on TV. How my tall friend kept on being/ asked if he played basketball.” (111) With any other book I might try to understand the anti-essentialist elements of this, but with Povel I instead move forward into another experience and moment.

‘What were you listening too? It sounded familiar’

the guy sitting next to m says. Stop looking at my legs. ‘I’m sorry was it too loud?’ I

say. Stalling. Go away. ‘No not at all, I was just wondering since it sounded familiar,’

he says. ‘It was Control Machete, a Mexican rap group,’ I say. Dull nodding. ‘And

before I was listening to Cex. C-E-X,’ I say. (33)

She considers the kind of sexual identification by which one builds structures of understanding the world:

Sleeping at my bass teacher’s

apartment when he introduced me to pot and his dick. ‘Kiss it,’ he said in total

seriousness. Since I felt obliged to. Deciding what constitutes ‘rape.’ Before that he

said, ‘You’re beautiful,’ to my black bra. (79)

She expresses her own fourth-wave style redefinition of sexuality and identity as well, at one point stating “It’s pathetic that these knee-high boots give me such joy.” But the following sentence immediately undercuts the potential for digging into these kinds of statements: “I start to get jealous of/Quentin Tarantino. Shit he’s even included on the spell checker.”(39) Though identity is crucial to Povel, it refuses to give you time to stop and attempt a structured system of ideas. Instead Povel resists definition by pushing forward, the moments that could be definitional pass by as quickly as name-checking a punk band or discussing coffee again.

A reader might look for clues or keys within the text for ways to decode and understand Povel. Instead of satisfying this desire Kim packs the book with self reflexive ars poetica statements; rather than giving a single key to the rhetoric of the book the reader receives multiple keys that provide new ways of viewing the writing. In the same way that the book presents identity in action, constantly reforming it presents potential reading strategies that evolve, rather than allowing for a single way to understand it. In the end content gives way to the prosody of propulsion.

And this is the pleasure of Povel, the constant dance and play of self-in-action rather than a static self recollected and recreated for a reader to consume. However there comes a point in this book where the poetic moves Kim pulls fail to surprise. The book becomes too comfortable in its twists and turns. It becomes a novel without a plot, which reflects somehow on the experience of the twenty-year old writer, but does not create a satisfying complete book. By the end of the book a stanza that might have been evocatively puzzlingly is instead too easily understood:

It’s acceptable here. Fold my legs into themselves then sit atop them. Pushing back

chairs that sound like farts. I tried parables. When I was done with the popsicle, I

would chew the fibers of the stick apart. Why I wasn’t born with a filter between my

mouth and brain. A matter of tautology, really. (94)

The movement between internal and external seems rote by this point and the comfort level makes the scatological jokes fall flat rather than providing new ways of looking at a life. With a book that bases so much of its effectiveness on brash intimacy I don’t want to feel safely intimate with it. I feel that this happens because Povel is a book that resists a reader sitting down and reading it in one sitting. It invites you to dip in and out, to find a few great lines and then page forward to find some more.

I say this because the book is thrilling for its brashness, it’s constant play and its willingness to show its smarts & be silly and banal at the same time. Povel is a creation in process. Not only in a standard reading response way but in the mechanisms of how the text relates to itself. Its ideas continue to reach for satisfaction as it reaches for an understanding of identity. Povel resists or works through poetic constraints of both form and expectation to express an individual experience in a manner unmediated by structural clichés. It attempts a convincing confessional mode within a poetic aesthetic based on the prosodic experimentation (and implicit anti-Confessionalism) of the Language poets. It is not the reporting of a life but an attempt to present the experiential qualities of a life. There is not beginning or ending. You can open it anywhere and find some moment of delight, some moment that evocatively situates the highly poetic with the mundane or even the crass.

--Review by Mathias Svalina.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Sunday at The Fall Cafe

The Burning Chair Readings
Encourage You To
Get Down With Your Bad Self
w/ the hardest working poets in show business

Kazim Ali, Bruce Covey & Juliet Patterson

Sunday, October 29th, 6PM
@ The Fall Café
307 Smith Street
Between Union & President
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
F or G to Carroll Street


Kazim Ali's first book of poetry won Alice James Books' New England/New York Prize and was published in 2005. He's also the author of a novel, Quinn's Passage. Kazim is the publisher of Nightboat Books, assistant professor of English at Shippensburg University and teaches at Stonescoast, the low-residency MFA program of the University of Southern Maine.

Bruce Covey is Lecturer of Creative Writing at Emory University and the author of The Greek Gods as Telephone Wires and the forthcoming Ten Pins, Ten Frames (Front Room Publishers, Ann Arbor) and Elapsing Speedway Organism (No Tell Books, Washington, DC), both due to be published in the fall of 2006. His recent poems also appear or are forthcoming in 26, Cannibal, Bird Dog, Aufgabe, Verse, LIT, Bombay Gin, Boog City, Explosive Magazine, 580 Split, and other journals. He edits the web-based poetry magazine Coconut ( and curates the What’s New in Poetry reading series in Atlanta.

Juliet Patterson’s first book, The Truant Lover, was selected by Jean Valentine as the 2004 winner of the Nightboat Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in American Letters & Commentary, Bellingham Review, Bloom, Conduit, Hayden’s Ferry Review, New Orleans Review, The Journal,Verse and other magazines. She is the recipient of a SASE/Jerome fellowship in poetry, a 2004 fellowship with the Institute for Community and Cultural Development through Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis, and an arts fellowship from the Minnesota State Arts Board. She teaches poetry and creative writing in Minneapolis through the College of St. Catherine, Hamline University, The Loft Literary Center, and the Perpich Center for Arts Education. She has worked with children as a volunteer educator with the Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights and with the United Cambodian Association of Minnesota youth programs. She lives near the west bank of the Mississippi in Minneapolis. For more information, visit her website: .

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Two Readings This Weekend

Live Like You Want to Live, Baby,
w/ The Burning Chair Readings

Lee Ann Brown, Joanna Fuhrman, & Erica Kaufman
Friday, October 20th, 7PM
The Fall Café, 307 Smith Street, between Union & President
F or G to Carroll Street

Adam Clay & Kate Greentreet
In celebration of their books The Wash & case sensitive
Saturday, October 21st, 8PM
Pierogi Gallery, North 9th Street, between Bedford & Driggs
L to Bedford or B61 Bus

Contact matthenriksen AT yahoo DOT com or 917-478-5682

Born in Japan on October 11th, 1963, Lee Ann Brown is a poet, filmmaker, performer who now divides her time between New York City and Marshall, North Carolina in the Blue Ridge mountains. She is Assistant Professor of English at St. John’s University, and occasionally teaches as part of Naropa University's Writing and Poetics Program. She is also founder and editor of Tender Buttons Press. Her books include The Sleep That Changed Everything (Wesleyan), Polyverse (Sun & Moon Press), and she just got back from the southern portions of the 2006 Wave Book Tour.

Joanna Fuhrman is the author of three books of poetry published by Hanging Loose Press, Freud in Brooklyn (2000), Ugh Ugh Ocean (2003) and Moraine (2006). Her poems have appeared in all the usual places: New American Writing. Conduit, Lit, Court Green, American Letters and Commentary, and in anthologies published by Carnegie Mellon Press, HarperCollins and Soft Skull Press. She works as a private tutor, and teaches creative writing in the NYC public schools.

Erica Kaufman co-curates the belladonna* reading series/small press and is the author of the chapbooks: from the two coat syndrome , the kickboxer suite, and a familiar album (winner of the 2003 New School Chapbook Contest). Her poems have appeared in or are forthcoming in Puppy Flowers, Bombay Gin, The Mississippi Review, jubilat, Good Foot, CARVE, and elsewhere. Other things are also coming soon from different places.

Adam Clay lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Parlour Press recently released his first book, The Wash. Recent poems appear in Denver Quarterly, CutBank, and Barrow Street.

Kate Greenstreet's chapbook, Learning the Language, was published by Etherdome Press in 2005. Her first full-length book, case sensitive, is newly available from Ahsahta Press. Her blog, Every Other Day, lives at

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Burning Chair Readings
Say Why the Hell Not
Whirligig it Like Ya Mean it w/

Dan Hoy, Justin Marks & Chris Salerno
Friday, September 29th, 7:29 PM
@ The Fall Café
307 Smith Street
Between Union & President
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
F or G to Carroll

Free, dude.
No outside booze, please.

Dan Hoy lives in Brooklyn and is co-editor of SOFTTARGETS. His work has appeared or is forthcoming injubilat, Octopus, H_NGM_N, Effing, the tiny, CUE: AJournal of Prose Poetry, and elsewhere. His moviecriticism and videos are available on his website,

Justin Marks' poems have appeared in The LiteraryReview, MiPoesis, McSweeney's, Typo, Word for/ Word,Can We Have Our Ball Back?, and are forthcoming inH_NGM_N, Fulcrum and the Outside Voices 2008 Anthologyof Younger Poets. His chapbook, You Being You byProxy, is available on Kitchen Press. He is editor ofLIT and lives in NYC.

Christopher Salerno's first book, Whirligig, wasshortlisted for the Walt Whitman Award and wasrecently published by Spuyten Duyvil Publishing House.His poems can be found in such journals as: Verse,LIT, Carolina Quarterly, Colorado Review, Jacket,Jubilat, The Tiny, MiPOesias, New Hampshire Review,Free Verse, Forklift Ohio, Electronic Poetry Review,Barrow Street, River City, and others. Two of hisrecent poems are included in the anthology, The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel and others will appearin the forthcoming Outside Voices anthology. Hecurrently teaches Poetry Writing, American Literature,and First-Year Writing at North Carolina StateUniversity in Raleigh, NC. He blogs


At The Fall Cafe:
October 20th Lee Ann Brown, Joanna Fuhrman, & EricaKaufman
October 29th Kazim Ali, Bruce Covey, & JulietPatterson
November 17th Julia Cohen, Mark Lamoureux, & AfricaWayne

At the Pierogi Gallery:
October 21st Adam Clay & Kate Greenstreet

Monday, September 18, 2006

Michael Sikkema. CODE OVER CODE. Lame House Press: 2006.

“One Truly Human Act” —Sikkema & Simple Wants

Despite a surface flash, a linguistic rupture that permeates some of the poems (or poetic utterances) that make up CODE OVER CODE, Sikkema's work is a profoundly human one, a searching utterance.

The book begins simply enough, with the controlling consciousness, the center of the vortex, proclaiming, “I wanted everything with you to be nicely round in a square of berry patch,/dirt and sky.” So much of what this book, finally, generates for the reader is initiated here, a revving that spans the length of the collection. Here is urge towards coupled with wariness of; there is a cynicism here that wants the “round” to exist in the “square,” that wants the impossibility of non-conformity within conformity & is still naïve enough to think that, if it can be achieved, there will be a nicety to it all. The book, then, the rest of the poems, are notes from the war, the speaker’s realization that this cannot be—implied syntactically already: I wanted…

If the world view of CODE OVER CODE is “romantic,” if it can be said to aspire to “organic unity,” the project of CODE OVER CODE, what the poems accomplish, can be said to reveal to us an interrogation of that Romantic sensibility & the fact that we live in a world that is openly antagonistic to it. Such simple & lovely & intimate whispers such as “Here is where I am looking at you/in me” have no place in the new mechanisms of poetic language, which use the gears of irony & fear & distrust to spin our selves further & further from real human connections.

Sikkema’s speaker asks “Is there one truly human act left?” The direct answer seems to be no, or at least that it is decidedly not the kind of act we want to be remembered for. Pure animal functioning does not make a human & I stand with Sikkema, chagrined & angry, baffled that we live in an age where poetry that enacts the purer functions of emotion (including, yes, love) is viewed suspiciously.

--Review by . Nate Pritts

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Burning Chair Readings
Invite you, pussycat,
To resign yourself to the luxurious pleasure
Of auricular satisfaction

auricular sensations

Thibault Raoult, Sandra Simonds & Maureen Thorson

Friday, September 15th, 7:30 PM
The Fall Café
307 Smith Street
Between Union & President
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
F/G to Carroll Street

Of course



Thibault Raoult was a Dolin Scholar at the University of Chicago. One of his pieces in Octopus #4 was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He co-edits Coalesce (with Adam Weg), writes songs, paints, cooks, & cleans (sometimes) in the nude (sometimes). Born in Pithiviers, France, raised in Rochester, NY, Thibault will soon move to Providence, RI.

Sandra Simonds is a Phd student in Creative Writing at Florida State University. Her poems have been published in the Colorado Review, Seneca Review, Barrow Street, e, Castagraf, Cannibal, California Quarterly, Ampersand, 3am and others. She edits Wildlife Poetry Magazine.

Maureen Thorson lives in Washington, D.C., where she is sometimes a lawyer. Her work has appeared in numerous tiny chapbooks, some magazines, and often in her head. She is editor, publisher, and janitor of Big Game Books, the smallest press in the world.

Friday, September 08, 2006



I need to get in touch with these poets:

Erin Martin
Kenneth Harrison
Peter Milne
Craig Blais
Megan Mercado
Ash Smith

Please help. Email: adam (AT)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Fall Line Up

Always Free!

The Fall Café
307 Smith Street
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
Fridays, 7:30 PM

August 18th______Jenna Cardinale, Michelle Detorie, & Arlo Quint
September 15th___Thibault Raoult, Sandra Simonds, & Maureen Thorson
September 22nd___Jane Gregory, Frank Sherlock, & Jake Adam York
September 29th___Dan Hoy, Justin Marks, & Chris Salerno
October 20th_____Lee Ann Brown, Joanna Fuhrman, & Erica Kaufman
November 17th ___Julia Cohen, Mark Lamoureaux, & Africa Wayne

The Fall Cafe
Sundays, 6PM

August 27th _____Reneé Ashley & Shanxing Wang
October 29th ____Kazim Ali, Bruce Covey, & Juliet Patterson

Pierogi Gallery
177 North 9th Street
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Saturdays, 8PM

September 23rd __Alex Lemon & Brenda Shaughnessy
October 21st ____Adam Clay & Kate Greenstreet
The Burning Chair cordially invites you to once again

Come On Get Happy!

Jenna Cardinale, Michelle Detorie, & Arlo Quint

The Fall Café
307 Smith Street
btwn. Union & Smith
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

Friday, August 18th
730 PM

It’ll be like we never took a vacation.
Keep an eye out, because the entire fall line up is coming soon.

Jenna Cardinale is the author of Journals (Whole Coconut, 2006). Her poems appear in recent or forthcoming issues of nthposition, Cannibal, Court Green and eratio, among others. She teaches poetry writing at Lehman College and Explorations Academy, an experimental public high school in the Bronx.

Michelle Detorie lives in Kyle, TX where she is the writer-in-residence at the Katherine Anne Porter house. Her poems have appeared in Chelsea, Verse Daily, Typo, DIAGRAM, and elsewhere.

Arlo Quint is author of Days on End from Open 24 Hours press. Some of his poems have recently appeared in The Recluse and others are forthcoming in Cannibal. He lives in Brooklyn.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

An open letter to Amanda Nadelberg from Andrea Baker

Re: Isa the Truck Named Isadore (Slope Editions, 2006)

Dear Amanda,

If I had your cell phone
Number I would call and tell you
How lovely your book and reading were
But actually I’m shy and would not call but
I like to think that I would and I would like to write
A review and say how good your book is which I purchased last night at
Your reading here in Brooklyn hosted by the Burning Chair Series but I don’t know if it’s
Ethical to write a review when we share a press. And I was interested in your work for a while
But when I heard you read that poem about the Fifle in American Tale and
Jews and many other poems which were very very good and so refreshing because they were
Happy and sort of hip but chipper and underscored by goodness, I brought your book home and read it this morning-
It is making me feel so good. Frank O’hara was one of the first poets I felt attached to
I loved that poem Why I Am Not a Painter when I was in high school
But I can’t really get into him anymore though I would like to but
The Frank O’hara-ness of your poems I can get into though they are Midwestern and not
At all New York
I like them so much. So thank you. Also
People should buy your book because the poems are good and fun
Individually but really super-good and super-fun when read all-together.

Roses From,

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Anne Boyer & The Pines Sunday, June 25th

The Burning Chair Readings
want you to

get auricular

Anne Boyer
The Pines (Phil Cordelli & Brandon Shimoda)

Sunday, June 25th, 4PM
The Cloister Café
238 East 9th Street
Between 2nd & 3rd Avenues
East Village, NYC

Always, always free.

Our last reading of the season!

Contact Matthew Henriksen
matt at typomag dot come

Anne Boyer was born in Kansas in 1973. She grew up in Salina, a small city in the very enter of the country, just south of the World's Largest Ball of Twine. A life-long Midwesterner, she earned degrees at Kansas State University and Wichita State University, lived for a time in Kansas City, Missouri, and now lives in central Iowa where she raises her daughter and teaches creative writing at Drake University. Her poetry and prose can be found in a variety of journals, including Typo, Cannibal, The Denver Quarterly, The Canary, and Lit. Her first book is forthcoming from Coffee House Press.

Phil Cordelli and Brandon Shimoda have been collaborating on various projects since the early 1990s. Their collaborative writing has appeared under the name “The Pines” in such journals as POOL, BlazeVOX, Cannibal, and elsewhere, as well as in the ongoing book series, The Pines. Volume One: Southern California and Volume Two: Ridgefield Connecticut, were both released in 2005, with Volume Three: The Knights of Columbus following in March of 2006. Together and apart they have lived and worked in Acadia National Park, Albany, Asheville, Boston, Bronxville, Brooklyn, Capay, Chatsworth, Cottage Grove, Hopkins Village, Jersey City, Mount Vernon, Oaxaca, Overijse, Pacifica, Pleasantville, Point Arena, Ridgefield, Saratoga Springs, Studio City, Troy, Woodfin, and Yonkers, and help to edit CutBank, Ugly Duckling Presse, and Octopus Magazine. They currently live in Manhattan and Missoula, and at, respectively.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Harvey, Kunin & Shippy: Sunday, May 28th

There is no shaming in hearing

Matthea Harvey, Aaron Kunin & Peter Jay Shippy

Sunday, May 28th, 4PM
The Cloister Café
238 East 9th Street
Between 2nd & 3rd Avenues
East Village, NYC

The Burning Chair Blog:
Contact: Matthew Henriksen at matt at typomag dot com

Author Bios

Matthea Harvey’s books include Sad Little Breathing Machine (Greywolf Press) and Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form (Alice James Books). She serves as poetry editor of American Letters and Commentary.

Aaron Kunin is the author of Folding Ruler Star (Fence Books), a collection of small poems about shame; a novel, The Mandarin, is forthcoming in 2007. His work has appeared in The Germ, No: A Journal of the Arts, The Poker, and elsewhere. He recently moved to California, where he is an assistant professor of negative anthropology at Pomona College.

Peter Jay Shippy's first book, Thieves' Latin (University of Iowa Press) won the 2002 Iowa Poetry Prize. BlazeVOX Books will publish Alphaville, an abecedarian suite, as an e-book in 2006. About Thieves' Latin, Bin Ramke, editor of the Denver Quarterly wrote, "Shippy's strange little machines of words are all kinetic, disturbing, and weirdly graceful, unlike anything else available in American poetry. A dazzling book." Claudia Keelan called it, "... a surrealist elegy for the earth... a fierce accomplishment." His work has been published in numerous journals, including The American Poetry Review, Fence, FIELD, The Iowa Review, McSweeney's Internet Tendency and Ploughshares, among others. Shippy has been awarded writing fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2005 he received a Gertrude Stein Award for innovative poetry. He teaches at Emerson College and lives with his wife in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.

Harvey, Kunin & Shippy in NYC Sunday, May 28th

There is no shaming in hearing

Matthea Harvey, Aaron Kunin & Peter Jay Shippy

Sunday, May 28th, 4PM
The Cloister Café
238 East 9th Street
Between 2nd & 3rd Avenues
East Village, NYC

The Burning Chair Blog:
Contact: Matthew Henriksen at

Author Bios

Matthea Harvey's books include Sad Little Breathing Machine (Greywolf Press)
and Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form (Alice James Books).
She serves as poetry editor of American Letters and Commentary.

Aaron Kunin is the author of Folding Ruler Star (Fence Books), a collection of
small poems about shame; a novel, The Mandarin, is forthcoming in 2007. His
work has appeared in The Germ, No: A Journal of the Arts, The Poker, and
elsewhere. He recently moved to California, where he is an assistant professor
of negative anthropology at Pomona College.

Peter Jay Shippy's first book, Thieves' Latin (University of Iowa Press) won the
2002 Iowa Poetry Prize. BlazeVOX Books will publish Alphaville, an abecedarian
suite, as an e-book in 2006. About Thieves' Latin, Bin Ramke, editor of the
Denver Quarterly wrote, "Shippy's strange little machines of words are all
kinetic, disturbing, and weirdly graceful, unlike anything else available in
American poetry. A dazzling book." Claudia Keelan called it, "... a surrealist
elegy for the earth... a fierce accomplishment." His work has been published
in numerous journals, including The American Poetry Review, Fence, FIELD, The
Iowa Review, McSweeney's Internet Tendency and Ploughshares, among others.
Shippy has been awarded writing fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural
Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2005 he received a Gertrude
Stein Award for innovative poetry. He teaches at Emerson College and lives with
his wife in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Edmund Berrigan & Joshua Marie Wilkinson

Come and get your heart broken

Edmund Berrigan & Joshua Marie Wilkinson

Sunday, May 21st, 4PM
The Cloister Café
238 East 9th Street
Between 2nd & 3rd Avenues
East Village, NYC

Sunday, May 07, 2006

5.12.06 ~ Moschovakis & Squillante ~ Carroll Gardens

Hear the ears of

Anna Moschovakis & Sheila Squillante

Friday, May 12th, 7:30 PM
The Fall Cafe
307 Smith Street
btwn. Union & President
F/G to Carrool Street


Sheila in Typo 5:
Anna in Octopus 7:

Contact: matt at typomag dot com or 917.478.5682
Found In Nature by Jen Tynes
horse less press 2004

In her debut book of poems, Jen Tynes summons a new structure of space and time with autonomous means: a phenomenology of tongues born from the “bare bones and thin-skinned” horse less press she co-founded herself. To enter these new and charged spaces demands surrender, a willingness to be spoken into by multiplicities; a desire to be aimed at, fired upon, breached. These poems deal a healthy crushing blow to poetry that is safe; poetry that assumes everything in this world simply corresponds. Tynes explores with scrutinizing acuity the ontological consequences for abandoning the thick skins of meaning associated with [language].

The book itself is simply constructed with hand cut pages and securely bound with red string. One should be careful not to lump the appearance of its form with the demands of immediacy. Wise things are simple; some are even bound in red string. Comprised of one poem per page in the form of paragraphs, one is elegantly vaulted into a quotidian landscape where hope is a leaky bucket, memories break the same way twigs do, and (un) certainties are always fluid. First assault:

that the photo represents our face

The complexity of the image traditionally takes precedence in all referential frames (even math needs objects to manifest itself. Nature?) However, where our beehives of meaning yield consolation, Tynes puts a dress on meaning and demands it to dance. The photograph could in fact be the image of a face, but a face is never a face. Very wise indeed.

Memory in these poems is pliable and may change momentum or direction at any moment. Perhaps this is one axiom one may lean on for a moment. Consider the randomization of experience when reading a poet that offers not only appetizers and dinner, but also a chance for you to eat you own heart for dessert. The subsequent motions of language uttering contradictions, tautologies, even truth!-are enough to send one spinning in syntactical ecstasy. Until you read that

Sometimes there is no choice, the rest of your life vibrating out of some hole.

Perhaps you shouldn’t lean on that axiom after all.

That which is, which is somehow lost in the stringent technical codes of our language is revealed in Tynes’ poems; these traversings, motions, splicings; these meanings. There are subtle gestures of reconciliation entwined in the strata crumbling before you face. Healing finds a voice in the violent sentence. Much is still hidden in the resonances here. (Yes, I am writing from there.) Like a forest, it is safe to call this multiplicity of her pen a Nature in of itself. This is a safe, predictable, and justifiable enterprise. An enterprise built on the de-centered experience. But this not the case. She does not allow us a calculus for feeling. If I tell you how these poems make me feel, that would be cheating. Or, how do you remember a dangerous flower? Remember: the finality of each poem is a continuation. In the poem there are many mansions. Consider how:

There are methods of strangulation.
Or its nearest subtitle: strange me, strange me now.

It is my suspicion that big things move underground (small presses in the shapes of horses included). Epistemology functions this way. Movements are slow, but every now an then we are reminded of its presence. Suddenly, the earth opens up and swallows a few people. These poems were forged there. De profundis. Do not expect short-term rewards for reading these poems. If you listen, they will haunt you. They will kick you, bite you, perhaps love you. They have already begun to strike at al you hold dear. If you are lucky, the earth may swallow you.

                                                    --Review by John Mulligan.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Jen Tynes. The End of Rude Handles. Red Morning Press: 2006. $12.

This Is (Never) The End

It is common knowledge that a magician, having beguiled her audience, must never produce her secrets to even the most imploring ear, even when prodded, the lucky recipient of squalid apples tossed on stage. Should she let slip her magic potion, her recipe of fashioning, her scrolled map in cipher, our magician risks mockery, or better yet, imitation of the closest degree. Jen Tynes come dangerously close, in the final pages of The End Of Rude Handles, her debut collection of poems from the newly engendered Red Morning Press. But dangerously close is not giving in, and Tynes lingers on the edge for a reason, to sustain her craze with language and its ever pushing limits. The book’s closing section cum prosaic poem cum guidebook colophon is perhaps the collection’s finest feature. In it, Tynes writes:

       I’m still new blood and I can’t tell you what I’d do in your
       shoes, but I’m trying here to manage two things: always maintain a con-
       stant and a variable, make them both get up and walk around sometimes.
       Want to have a difficult conversation with someone, ask them what they
       mean when they say traitor.

This section, ‘Ways of Contrariness’, acts as a sort of summary and explanatory note to the poems in the rest of the book. This is an odd choice, though, this explaining, since ‘Ways of Contrariness’ is perhaps the book’s most syntactically lucid ‘poem’, while the rest of the book is anything but. ‘Ways of Contrariness’ peels back the curtain on the poet’s philosophy and approach in piecing together the book, and it comments, if obscurely, on the contrariness and cryptic nature of the book’s other pages. The End Of Rude Handles is a brazen collection, progressive in its syntax and form. The very way it presents itself as a book both enacts and possibly shadows its very premise, that language is one tough cookie, and a bottomless cavern of variety. Tynes presents her readers with interactions and meditations on family, on love(r(s)), on the constant combat between and coalescing of power and vulnerability, risk and safe seclusion. And this all against a rural landscape of back yards and unending fields.

Don’t magicians, artists, and writers alike all place their work close to, if not directly upon, the apex of their passions? Here, the poet, along with Foucault and Butler, finds chronic interest, even, at times, obsession, in and of language, its scaffolding and its fleshy parts. In a poem titled fittingly ‘THE END OF RUDE HANDLES’, the poet writes ‘Your hands make / jars everywhere.’, implying that, although meaning is embedded in words (i.e. woman meaning literally ‘of man’), sometimes words mean more than they let on, as in the above reference. The End Of Rude Handles aims to do away with the handholds we think we have on language, and likewise the grip language undeniably has on us.

Tynes seems to simultaneously be in love with and abhor the very wordstuff our world—terrestrial and ethereal—comprises. At first, Tynes comes off as just another Post-Modern voice, pinning words to the page in seemly erratic fashion, all pattern and form gone missing, and thus all sense gone too. She seems to toy with language repeatedly, and baits her readers just so. But simply dismissing Tynes as another Post-Modern oddity wrongly one-ups her otherwise roundabout end—that one cannot, despite all effort, talk about language without first drawing a line where it no longer speaks of itself, but circumnavigates itself. From the page en face to ‘WHO HAS BEEN DEAF FROM BIRTH’:

                    A continuous economic pressure is between my
       skin and yours,

                                               switches its tail.

While, at times, and mostly, the poet’s use of italics and all caps proves useful and uniquely sundry:

     Pushed a chair away from the table




FROM BARK                    AND SEEDS

                                                            GOUGES AND OTHER


                                                                                         AROUND DINNER’S NECK BUT NOT WITHOUT


                                                                                         WHEN YOU CALL IT DOES IT


ultimately this system tires because it is so random and may or may not be a system at all. Some poems have titles, while others don’t; some poems are titled in all caps, while others aren’t. The pattern is not an easy one to follow, and my guess is Tynes knows this, and respects and feels endeared to it for this very reason. In ‘Ways of Contrariness’, she tells her readers:

      hear that some families pass their patterns down by writing them in code
      that outsiders can’t decipher. Meaning: first item on the to-do list of any
      quilter’s legacy: learn the code.

      I don’t write the way people talk; my intention is to make conversation,
      make it over and over again until it figures out, fills out, shows itself.

      [. . .]

       All the italics are mine.

      [. . .]

                                                                                                            I’m partial to stealing
      the heavy, charged parts of things that wouldn’t walk off by themselves.

Tynes knows well what she’s doing, and likely that The End Of Rude Handles requires some additional work from the reader, in a way the reader may not want to dispense his or her energy. It’s not the content and message of Tynes’s poems that becomes taxing and, at times, distracting; there the book lacks nothing of ingenuity or anything novel to say. The back and forth slingshot of Tynes’s method left me wading in her wake, bobbing and groping for a handhold, though not entirely bothered by the sway.

Lines like ‘Caught in the / act of emphasizing.’, from a weighty, imagistic poem describing a pant leg soaked through with monthly blood, ‘Women as waterproof / as pails, men / as waterproof as water.’, ‘WE ADOPTED / THE INSPIRING PRINCIPLE’, and ‘No one traveling / through the country / eats at the side of the road.’, and I’ve again secured my balance, brushed my hair from my eyes, resolved to unlock this book in my hands and get to the marrow of it.

The poet’s diction and her syntax might befuddle readers, but it’s her fearless facing and exploration of life’s scarier corners that holds interest. Jen Tynes’s book sides with a version of poetry that implores readers to do more than just read. The End Of Rude Handles is a dictionary, a phone call, a bus conversation, doing back flips repeatedly. Like a ruddy wise old orangutan hanging from your kitchen light fixture, Tynes has something really good to say, if only you can decipher her.

                                                    --Review by Erin M. Bertram.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

It's a Two Reading Weekend, Folks

Slope Editions: Matt Hart & Amanda Nadelberg
Friday, April 28th, 8PM
Pierogi Gallery
177 North 9th Street
Between Bedford & Driggs
L to Bedford
Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Timothy Donnelly, Sarah Manguso, & Eugene Ostashevsky
Sunday, April 30th, 4PM
238 East 9th Street
Between 2nd & 3rd Avenues
East Village, NYC

Monday, April 17, 2006

Matt Rasmussen. FINGERGUN. Kitchen Press: 2006. $5.

“Suddenly and Suddenly”: All Those Important Moments—

The delicate compression of Rasmussen’s narrative & clear-headed voice in FINGERGUN carefully & discretely amp up the emotional power of these lyrics. Here there are moments considered, juxtaposed, and then held up “against a future/that never arrives.” Rasmussen locates the power of his work

In the moment between
what happens
and what doesn’t […]

(“Suddenly, the Poem Is”)

Figuring out how this poetry works is the key to its heart, really, which is deep & complex. The work throughout this sharply designed book demonstrates a range of earnest sentiment presented as a plea. These things happened & are crucial but they just as easily could not have happened & what would have happened in place of that happening would be just as crucial. Each poem is, then, a kind of question: does what I’m feeling make sense to you? Is it ok to feel this way? Is there something else I’m missing?
“Please read this and tell me/how much it moved you” (“Titled”) is both a central question for the speaker & an ultimately unimportant one. It’s as if the sensibility here needs support & an acknowledgement of human-ness. But it is that moment of bare & open address that resonates, that purely hopeful need for connection.
A poem like “Dream after Suicide” is a good example of the shifting registers in these poems, a kind of scenic estrangement shackled to this plain spoken emotional depth. Here, the speaker deals with the image of his brother “in the refrigerator light/drinking milk that poured/out of his head.” Such a jarring juxtaposition forces the reader to reconcile the quotidian nature of the scene with the shockingly macabre figure of the brother. Except the moment is decidedly not macabre or sensational, or even especially pitiable. It’s all presented in a matter of fact tone, a diction that is equally suited for dealing with the apparition of the brother as it is the weekend sports scores. The main concern here is connection:

I wanted to put my finger
into the hole,

feel the smooth channel
he escaped through[…]
These poems show that the future never arrives because it is always becoming the present, something we can’t consider & prepare for but must live & live through.

                                                    --Review by Nate Pritts.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Chris Tonelli. Wide Tree. Kitchen Press: 2006. $5.

What seems to be the fabric that weaves itself through, and holds together Chris Tonelli’s collection of short poems, Wide Tree, quickly wears thin in subsequent reads. Most of these poems work like jokes that turn on us in the last line. They are punchy and intelligent, juvenile and unapologetic. They bravely toe that line between profoundness and shameful failure. His poem, "Think Outside the Box", for example, reads (in its entirety):

                Think inside the butthole.

But these poems only wear thin in subsequent reads because they can be read so quickly and unabashedly at first, it causes burn-out. Tonelli manages to sell these brave little poems well (he somehow writes them with a straight face) so the reader has no choice but to let go and think inside the butthole. And they work. They are funny, and oddly enough, thought-provoking. But when the reader returns to these poems, he or she must look for something new, or else the poems will fall flat and have nothing left to give.

Luckily, most of Tonelli’s poems reach through the strange humor and tug at heart-strings, evoke emotion beyond peculiarity. His best poems ("At a Theater Urinal," "Public Garden", "Nearing Summer") do this with ease and manage to create a pining (for a place in life, for guidance, for woman). In "Marxist Poem w/ Rodent," Tonelli pines for a place in life:

                When I was in NYC,
                I made a pact w/ the
                rats. I will help you
                take over, I said, if
                when you gain control
                you give me a job.

And in the very next poem, "Funeral Eve," he toasts his newly dead family with Manhattans "because I’m one step/closer now to being/king of nothing." There is nothing funny about the turn at the end of this poem. It is brief and poignant. It uses the same tools as the poems that make us laugh, which allows a sad punch-line to be all the more painful.

"Night Terror" evokes a similar emotion while pining for woman. Although Tonelli’s intentions here are likely to only drop a good Benny Goodman-esque one-liner on us, he perhaps inadvertently manages to plant a seed of emotion for later in the book, when he dims the lights and gets more serious with us:

                I had a dream that
                the train seemed
                important in passing,
                something charged.
                And I felt as if I was
                easily going to have
                sex w/ somebody
                on that train. But, as
                usual, it was someone
                on the train before.

This poem is within a group of poems that, together, holds up more thematically than emotionally. The first five poems occur on trains or have trains in them. With these, a setting was created, a metaphor that we could climb aboard. But after these five, Tonelli forgets about trains and replaces them with trees. It is at the beginning when the book reads most cohesively. The train is the same train, but the trees that replace it are very different from one another.

There are a few poems that do not belong here: "Dabbler", and the two poems titled "Poem." These three poems are absent of any thematic or emotional connection to any of the other poems. "Dabbler" is one of the poems that leans too far toward shameful failure (but it is exceptionally difficult to make a penis work well in any poem, particularly one called "Dabbler"). Also, "For Robert Creeley." Halfway down the page, it reads (in its entirety):

                I’m flying
                my poem at

It is not because Creeley is somehow above poems with farts and penises in them, he’s not. But Tonelli’s poems still work as jokes, regardless of how successful they are at evoking emotion. So, we’ve been falsely instructed to read the Creeley poem ironically, when it is my guess that Tonelli wants us to read it without irony (unless he is far braver than I think). The only thing holding this poem within the collection is the fact that it is very short. And brevity is not the most significant qualifier for these poems. The rest of the poems in Wide Tree are way too strong for that.

                                                    --Review by Zachary Schomburg.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Friday, April 7th ~ Howe 'n' Peet ~ The Fall Cafe

Get yrself rocked!
w/ The Burning Chair

two true rockers

Brian Howe
Christian Peet

Friday, April 7th, 7:30PM
The Fall Café
307 Smith Street
btwn. President and Union
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
F/G to Carroll Street

Questions: Call Matt (not The Fall Café) @ 917.478.5682 or email matt @ typomag dot com
Note: Please respect our free space at The Fall Café by not bringing in outside food or drink.

Brian Howe is a writer living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where he carouses with the Lucifer Poetics Group. He writes about music for and Paste Magazine, and his poems have appeared in various journals he's too much of a gentleman to mention by name. He's sitting on a nearly complete manuscript called F7, portions of which will appear as a chapbook called Beta Test, forthcoming from Atlanta's 3rdness Press in early 2007.

Christian Peet's chapbook, The Nines, will be published by Palm Press ( in Spring 2006. His poetry and prose appears in Bird Dog, Drunken Boat, Fence, Octopus, Parakeet, Pom2, SleepingFish, Unpleasant Event Schedule, and other great independent journals. He teaches Poetry and Creative Writing classes at Brooklyn College and at Hunter College, CUNY, and edits Tarpaulin Sky (

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Sunday 3.26.06 ~ Greenstreet, Iijima, & Massey ~ Brooklyn, NY

Note: Yet another trying change of time and location.


Kate Greenstreet
Brenda Iijima
Joseph Massey

Live and direct
Sunday, March 26th
The Fall Cafe
307 Smith Street
Between Union & President
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
G/F to Carroll Street

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Cannibal Release Party (New place, new time)

Let your Cannibal take over.

Sunday, March 19 ~ 6 PM
Cannibal Release Party
Jim Behrle, Anthony Hawley, & Tao Lin

Note change of time and venue.

The Fall Cafe
307 Smith Street
Between Union & Pacific
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
F/G to Carroll Street


Contact Matt
matt at typomag dot com

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Don’t you have a map?

A collaborative, traveling essay in letters
'twixt Erika Howsare & Jen Tynes.

Part 3, E to J-

In the morning the lady at the Irish-theme store hangs out her Irish flag.

This bar has erased its mark from sand.

Where? The girl is training to run across the water, holding a magic feather. Wind distributes tiny red flowers and a beach is born.

—All day this bar sits and slowly extrudes its beard.

Google "magic feather." You get feather magic.

You get flying. Broken waves and traveling are bent back on themselves like crowbar.

This bar will open certainly in late March or early April with singing and square tables. It is being very strict with itself although it cannot walk nor swim.

A train is what you follow as in form that hitches up and leaves some independence. This is a spine-form and the bottom of my foot cramps. Where? This bends on itself. It's the business of the spine to bend, and because it bends, it pains, when you are crawling out of the post office and down the street, squeezing water out.

You get that one tosses his children post-surgery. Another phones it in.

Google "spine foot". You get drop foot.

It is preserved in museum-oil. The coin gives ideas of diamond-sized rocks "after the bones had been through the final furnace" and looking very dated, like eyes are different now.

—Its little foot opens like feathers.

Am I just imitating some known genus? Am I a calcium deposit inside the territory of leg? It is known that I bled on your reply. We're sharp as a tack here. It is all over the water, or its thoughts come from deep up in the continent, the mountains we bridge out, when we stop on the long side.

What is a form you have to run to catch?

What is a form that accesses wind or falls on the grass like balloons?

What is a form that flies and calls out at once?

This "is a credit to the Chief Engineer" and itself produces smoke as in the output of what it hunts. Human invention extends to the bottom of the ocean. This crosses Slate River and misses the point.

The man who looked after it has glasses that crumple his mouth-parts, and is wearing blue business.

She "did and did not frighten the whales" with her diesel engine and brutal pistons. You get this nice life with fish and radios. This is loud travel down any uninhabited line. This finds it.

—As in, the tough end does the work.

Google "whale hammer." You get conk hammer, floppy hammer.

He crosses the bad foot over, a fire hazard. It looks as though a whirled deposit has protracted itself. Its components decay at different speeds so they separate and make a new habit individually. "Are you still there? This session will close in 30 seconds if you do not press OK."

They say the red boat dropped anchor half a mile onto shore because the charts are off. We are at an unknown position within the back.

"The dead giveaway" "was a tremendous splash on the horizon."

J responds to E at in late March.
Please visit for the whole hog.
Email Erika & Jen: editors AT horselesspress DOT com.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Two Chapbooks from Portable Press

when you awake. Diane Ward. Portable Press: 2006. $6.
Physical Kind. John Coletti. Portable Press with Boku Books: 2005. $6.

Portable Press books look and feel like those old issues of Kayak which inspired my first aspirations as a poetry editor. Saddle stapled and simply designed, Portable Press, like Kayak, shows as deep of a love for the work inside as a small run press can deliver through appearances. Once the reader gets into the pages, though, Brenda Iijima’s ear as editor shows exactly the secondary consideration packaging requires for auricular presentations.

“when you awake”: Diane Ward’s “survival pander”

Ward refuses the narrative as a constraint. As time threatens to extinguish the mind, the mind requires a method of immediate knowing through which to understand experience. Many innovative poets share this ontological project, notably G.C. Waldrep in The Goldbeater’s Skin and Eleni Sikelainos in The California Poem. However, to call Ward, or poets of similar instincts, lyrical is not accurate, as the movement through her poems closely resembles narrative. Time passes almost media res: “well, it’s not just passion fading now. watch the image, the long line of ourselves, wait.” Ward does not refute the narrative, but rather she refutes the narrative’s authority to impose chronology upon perceptions and to dictate the validity of them. In the image of an “endless chain,” time can be conceived of in its entirety. Time, too, comes from an unknown source (“whose roadside has grown this?”). The mind conscious of time as an image, thereby understanding it almost as a thing, is somewhat freed from time as a constraint on our experiences.

Comprehension results from looking outward, not from looking at a progression through time: “no vocabulary to modify the ache for the present and no direction that is not facing the field that is not us, no presence. the distance between myself and the screen has no reference point.” Neither narrative nor landscape are referential.

Only the mind can reference the mind, and, thus, the mind can exist outside of the narrative: “the roadside won’t matter, the thicket will flag away. he dropped everything and ran, wilting the narrative.” What authority can a narrative have if when the characters are capable of existing outside it? Ward declares a coming-out-of time:

after the worst has passed, its name forms on daffy-duck lips. honestly, harmlessness grows out of control in wet places in every amplified declaration. and if i am an ashen space, and if the echo of our dissonance has been rung, and if it’s damaged time that cradles what can’t be.

The if statements have no consequent then; immediate possibility, even in doubt, has more validity concerning our experiences than sequential chains, which are endless and therefore unlike us: “an enormous minute pointed to nothing outside itself and what it revered: to bring it into the clear world, place it above, to illustrate it, survive. and eventually to survive itself.” What’s certain about us is the surrounding uncertainty.

However, with uncertainty as the mind’s only mirror, the self, too, must be broken down:

“yes, that was an obstacle: a picture, a noun, but that’s not important now. my noise isn’t important. we’re not trying to be quiet here movement concentrated and unidirectional, folding inward so tension increases, won’t stay put.”

Ward comes to a weird cosmology, Keatsian in its approach to objects, Emersonian (early essays) in its sentiment, and strangely echoing both Pavlov and Predestination: “I’m embracing the time/ashen-space continuum when I, as ashen-space, say all the choices I, mistaking myself for a dissonant object, didn’t make have still existed all along.” More oddly than the combination of associations, Ward reveals her “mistaking” and the subsequent realization (despite her negative capability, transcendental humility, and quirky sense of uncontrollable destiny) that she “still existed all along.”

The breakdown to experience free of constraints comes down, now, to a needed break with poetry, the vehicle of her breaking down of constraints. Here Ward relies on poetry that asserts an existence outside of poetry: “the background became filled with her, though it was empty and she was absent. a trace occupied what had been called ‘hearing’. if it had been in poetry, it was not anymore.” The gesture is entirely ironic, and leaves us with the problem of whether constraints on experience can be broken down outside of poetry. Ward does a fine job of deconstructing her original aims, though: “to say it could all be taken in, all that panoramic distortion, that was a lie. our teeth are parting in advance of the central light source. that feeling? that’s the feeling you have when you know you should stop, but the barrier’s indeterminate.” We’re left with some golden language (“immortals dance on incendiary tail fins” and “all these facts crammed into a half-step, survival pander”) but no ontological questions answered. We get a voice of resistance that will not give up on our exercises in futility, an example of courage that needs no hope.

No Code and Not Nonsense: “embrace your dash” in John Coletti’s Physical Kind

John Coletti has fun in his poems but puts no one on. Much of the humor we find in today’s poetry is smug, contrived, insular, or just not funny at all. Coletti’s poems do not arrive at funniness when Coletti, at an appropriate moment, decides, “okay, now, it’s time for a laugh,” because Coletti finds humor constantly in the world, in himself, and particularly in the act of writing poetry, which offers among myriad emotions the underused option of joy. And why in hell shouldn’t poetry be fun and interesting? Stevens’ declaration that an oyster playing the accordion is invention, not imagination, is a valid strike against poets who present surreal imagery as if it carried exact meaning, or a definite anti-meaning. The monkeys and donkeys that have populated poems since the seventies, the recent explosion of dead animal poem satirists, the return of Whitman’s virile “I” with only a hint of sarcasm, are signs of the emergence of a serious irony, a not-yet-indoctrinated philosophy asserting that humor means the way the fox trot and electric glide mean.

Coletti begins poems cleverly (“How did Robin/Get around in those elf shoes”), anecdotally (“Coach used to say/Hey, we won the French toast/We won sleep in your eyes/We’d never wear bear suits”), with allegory (“Broad prose prairies”), with imagery (“The fire-swallower’s tricycle”), or with a music-struck idea (“Out getting wasted wells up it does”). However, hat attracts me to these poems, what makes them ecstatically lovable and never infuriating, despite their apparent resistance to comprehensibility, is Coletti’s refusal to get suckered into his own poems. He takes the poems point of conception and thwarts it, as in “ A New Round of Touché”:

How did Robin
Get around in those elf shoes
Life is not this
Bullshit art scene

The flat, literal statement that defies the clever opening is livened by the ironic tone of anger, yet the self-destructive declaration is not a ploy to manipulate us into the poet’s agenda (because Coletti’s agenda is to have none, but without trying too hard to not have one).

In “A New Round of Touché” Coletti continues to avoid the poem’s predictable directions by offering an incongruent image (“Dollop of Miller foam”), and then by revealing a subjective perspective (“Blue hair layaway”). The poem could easily slip into a run of images and language play and maybe survive, but that would be no fun for Coletti, who continues the sequence of images by inserting himself and the narrative: “Phlegm slipping I swallow/Sad eyes collapsed.” Of course, the narrative won’t hang around for long. A gorgeous and hilariously delivered allusion interrupts: “Satyr’s strung out flowers.” Still, the poem retains a crystalline structure, which Coletti continues to smash for forty more lines. A new and more startling whole configures, an amalgamation of pop culture references, apostrophes from the lovelorn, and bits of common speech, before halting at “70s 80s 90s dancing,” the perfect end to a wild Tom Waits-type-of-night on Coletti town.

Coletti is neither merely zany nor ultimately meaningful in “Everyone I Want to Be”:

Fresh melt rubber burns circulates air
Chicken skin fighting for a pass at the sky
I keep keeps moving up additive life
Crystal grains surround in some evident mourning.

Neither the social value nor linguistic play will win out, but both aspects of the poem call for a place, which Coletti provides beautifully, while parting drastically from the previous lines: “Possums bent neatly preaching old chestnuts/L.A. manic painted painful egg blue.” Of course, in a Coletti poem such intimacy must be ruined as quickly as possible, so Coletti violates Stevens’ axiom in a way that nearly mocks the previous two lines: “Choir boys grilling steak in my/Emotions snapping bikinis.” However, his is just the type of interior awareness Stevens came upon in his early poems, an internal world based in but not entirely separate or distinguished from reality.

“As of Late,” a poem nearer to the overt expression of short form poets Joseph Massey, Anselm Berrigan, and Stacy Szymaszek, Coletti messes with a more conventional contraption, but the sputtering engine revs heavenly:

early enough, here we are
squaring off at Victorian robins
seasons supporting
each other with day work

The poem begins with a linear force that suggests a resolution as certain as that of a Hardy poem. Coletti retains the serious tone, though he alters the context: “gritty, noncommittal/stray alarm clocks.” In a move out of a nineteenth century anthology, Coletti reveals the narrative: “she’s a little weird and happy/leading me in her direction.” The “little weird,” were this my only experience with a Coletti poem, would seem precious, and if I hadn’t thought and even argued with myself over where Coletti is coming from, I’d think “little weird and happy” must be a put on. The final lines, rather than condescending to humor, understand where they must go: “head back eyes strainfully closed/enough to be perfect/motionless, missed.” It’s a flourish of everything Coletti does, made clear. I don’t know of any poet who has pulled off “strainfully” as at a necessary quirky moment of seriousness. In one improvised word he once makes sense of “a little weird and happy,” justifies “enough to be perfect,” and sets up the poetic, and rightfully poetic, “resolving music of “motionless, missed.”

Coletti’s poems are not flawless, and they evade a direct reading into their weaknesses, but without condescension or self-aggrandizement they welcome the reader to a new way of reading. His poems are instructive because they are intended not to show or tell, but to do. The poems are extremely elusive and will be frustrating, even infuriating, to those trying to break a code that is amiably not there. Also, the nonsensical language would make a redundant exercise of the book were there not a clear sensibility driving each poem. Somehow his breaking of stylistic entrapments always results in more than the act of breaking.

                                                    --Review by Matthew Henriksen.

Monday, February 27, 2006

TYPO Submissions


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Send us some poems.

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TYPO eds.

Friday, February 24, 2006


Greetings, friends:

Thomas Hummel, Brenda Shaughnassy & Craig Teicher will be reading Sunday, Feb 26th at THE FALL CAFE at 7:30PM.


The Fall Café
307 Smith Street
Between Union & President
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
F or G to Carroll Street

Lara Glenum. The Hounds of No. Action Books: 2005. $12.

If, as Jacques-Alain Miller proposes, “the choice is a forced choice: either our clinic will be ironic...or our clinic will be a resucée of the psychiatric clinic,” then perhaps we are getting a little bit closer to understanding what Lara Glenum’s poems are doing. But Miller’s admission (cf. Breton’s Anthologie de l’humour noir) that surrealism affords humor sets up an interesting continuum. The pivot between this ironic clinic and Breton’s black humor is a good way to approach Glenum’s brilliant work, which I find both troubling and liberating.

But let’s put that idea aside for a moment, for, plainly, Glenum’s poems both delight and instruct. In “How to Discard the Life You’ve Now Ruined,” Glenum gives us a step-by-step process for ridding ourselves of an unhealthy “life” in order to make room for a new one:

       Sneak into the “shame hole”
       Remove the squirming pink sack from the gray pelt & put a second
               body inside
       Or hang the body from a telegraph wire that transmits instructions

Which instructions are we to pay attention to? Glenum’s, or the eerily “state-licensed” telegraph’s? My favorite stanza in this fabulous poem provides a more than explicit answer:

       In the evenings
       Use the spine as a flute to play
       the soft nationalistic marches of the “bodies without organs” collective

Here Glenum taps into her first point in the “Manifesto of the Anti-Real”: “Art is neither a form of consolation nor a butler to hegemonies.” Both nomadic and collective models of protest are here brilliantly swept aside as “nationalistic” in the context of a brilliant book that serves as a protest itself. Incredible.

The last stanza:

       You’re a weeping brute clogging the light-hole
       in the eye of the sun

What could be more profound? A perfect ending, I think, to perhaps my favorite of Glenum’s poems.

Another favorite of mine is “Message to the Department of the Interior,” whose title doubles (triples?) as an address to both the state, and the subjective “realm,” and the physical interior of a body. I read the speaker as a pregnant woman, with good reason. Here’s a taste:

       I have decided to grow a second body This may be of some concern
               to you

And here’s a poignant parent-child moment that speaks directly to the aforementioned subjective “realm”:

It will most certainly attempt to cut off the face of the first body & wear it as a mask whenever it enters “the reality testing booth”

Or does it? Let’s see where the poem goes.

       I know you said I should try to relax & ignore the residue the bombs
               left in my torso

       by eliminating all my bodies & proto-bodies, but who can relax in our
       republic now that it’s laid its terrible eggs on our tongues

The poem becomes less a mother’s confession than…a mother’s lament. The speaker shifts here entirely into the subjective, becoming the subject of the realm formerly addressed (a shift that I think mirrors what I spoke of earlier—a move into the ironic clinic). First the bombs are a “residue,” and then the awareness of them (may I call them scars?) shifts, in the last stanza, to an admission of carrying “bodies and proto-bodies” (concepts? ideologies? more scars? fecundity?). Glenum then brings the poem home with a zinger—revolution as a… snake, infesting its true believers with the inability to speak truthfully and singularly. Incredible, revolutionary, etc. It cuts like a knife.

In closing, it’s possible to both look for, as well as find, these rewarding and illuminating shifts and placements in this amazing debut. Glenum takes her readers through what we safely call the psyche, but, wisely, she does not neglect the complex relationships that we have to the state, to our families, to those we have loved. And her wildly ironic humor helps the medicine go down.

I leave you with Glenum’s words, an address from Kreimhilde (an inmate) to the scientists:

       I am very interested in your experiments. I do own a baton. When do
              you visit?

                                                    --Review by Laura Carter.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Fall Café 2006 Reading Series

The Fall Café ~ Fridays 7:30 PM
February 17th ~ Brendan Lorber & Dustin Williamson
February 26th ~ Thomas Hummel, Brenda Shaughnassy & Craig Teicher
March 17th ~ Samuel Amadon, Stephanie Anderson, & kari edwards
April 7th ~ Brian Howe & Christian Peet
May 12th ~ Anna Moschovakis & Sheila Squillante
June 16th ~ John Coletti & Stacy Szymacek


The Fall Café
307 Smith Street
Between Union & President
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
F or G to Carroll Street

The Cloister Café 2006 Reading Series

The Cloister Café ~ Sundays 4 PM
March 19th ~ Cannibal Release Party: Jim Behrle, Anthony Hawley,
              & Tao Lin
March 26th ~ Kate Greenstreet, Brenda Iijima, & Joe Massey
Mid-April (tbd) ~ Slope Editions: Matt Hart & Amanda Nadelberg
April 30th ~ Timothy Donnelly, Sarah Manguso, & Eugene Ostashevsky
May 21st ~ Edmund Berrigan & Joshuamarie Wilkinson
May 28th ~ Matthea Harvey, Aaron Kunin & Peter Jay Shippy
June 25th ~ Anne Boyer, Phil Cordelli & Brandon Shimoda


The Cloister Café
238 East 9th Street
Between 2nd & 3rd Avenues
East Village, NYC

Monday, February 13, 2006

"Crimp with the Universal Accordion": Corinne Lee. Pyx.
Penguin Books: 2005. $18

The poems within Corinne Lee’s debut, PYX, each contain a unique and fully manifest beauty, but what really compels is her elegant crafting of the collection’s whole. Within the entire arch there is a sense of continuity akin to what might be expected from a single long-poem and a sense of tonal control that is rare in a first book. While the work is divided into four sections, TERRANEAN, MEDIAN, ASCENSION, and EMPYREAN, categories that adeptly reference the dominate emotional state of each grouping, there is also a secondary logic of order that, with lace-like complexity, interweaves this primary ordering and dually guides the book’s fundamental structure.

This secondary principle is lens-like and, as if with a steady and well-directed cameraman’s hand, the book opens to blurred images of sonic and pictorial beauty. These spectacular images keep such a pace of steady splendor that they can be culled nearly randomly. In “Manganese Variations No.1” we read that “In the barn,/ the rusted tractors begin sizzling// into laughter.” In “Lysistrata Motley” “Even the quitch loves, sashaying/ belly-blade to blade-belly.” In “Allegory of Venus and the Oligarch” “Our former nudes observe/ from an olive grove.”

Throughout the bulk of the middle sections the lens comes gradually into a focus of nearly crystalline clarity as Lee joins, in a straightforward manner, the large voice of younger female poets, such as Rachael Zucker, Catherine Wagner, Kristen Kaschock, Arielle Greenberg, and Julie Carr, who are writing frankly on the pleasures and challenges of marriage and child-raising.

In the poem “Excavation” the scene is one likely to strike a familiar cord with any reader who has spent much time with a child. The speaker here watches an “apostasy of the visual” as “children crouch among mobs at a mock dinosaur dig,/ exhuming plastic bone” while her own idle mind wonders, stopping at this thought and the next, until her “son and daughter run up,/ shellacked with muck… [and] flesh chooses to embrace and tickle,/ its tenderness a mere hint// of Paradise.” Then, in a moment of everyday revelation, a sparking parallel to the earlier excavation is drawn as the following final phrase arises: “Longing from below, buried--/ our insatiable bone.”

Lee’s tone, though, is not always this serious. When she writes about the domestic, elements that set her work apart include a finely tuned balance where there is no over-emphasis of any one emotional state, but rather an unflinching compassion that is both human and humane, and a kind humor that neither obscures earnestness “Hallelujah/ for our ragged vegetable plot” nor seeks to disguise pain “Give me/ attachment/ or give me death.”

Eventually, the focused lens of more literal poems pulls subtly away and we journey into the final section with the advice that “[a] chord cannot be held always/ or boxed.” And so, the cord struck is not boxed but allowed to gradually lift and dissolve into meanings that are wider than any crystal articulation can contain.

Although the images grow more surreal as Lee’s gaze softens, there is never a break in continuity. Rather, we continue to take in moments of domestic and interior life that are, again, presented with such balance and so unaccompanied by banality that the most common incidents and emotional states arrive with a sense of surprising disclosure. In “What We Fail to Read, is Reading Us” one who has lost love is described as “[b]lank and mute, blind/ like worms nosing loam.” In “Risorgimento” “our children// [are] fizzing in glee/ as their lungs expand, crimp/ with the universal/ accordion.”

It is a testament to how seamless PYX truly is and how elegantly Corinne Lee’s vision rests, deeply personal yet supported by a foundation of knowledge, which works for her rather than intruding into her project, that the vast scope of illusions drawn upon—at one moment Greek, then originating in quantum mechanics, then surrealism—that her encyclopediatic knowledge and undaunted vocabulary have not been mentioned. Her gift is one of tolerance. She can look into “measureless waves/ … galloping—in random directions” and not draw back, but rather construct an order that seems nothing other than natural, true, and complete.

                                                    --Review by Andrea Baker.