Daily Postings
Literature : Word Choice

from Blonde Summer

by Andrew Durbin

In Basel, I smoked hash and listened to Sophie’s “Bipp,” a little out of date by the time I heard it, zoning out on the line I can make you feel better. I used to think life was about feeling better and searching for the better in what is not. I have now realized that there are errors in this pursuit.

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Literature : Word Choice

Three Poems

by Gale Nelson

Lasting Cure’s Ideal

Filters draw on water’s flow, spell specks
in unfit draw and bring the well
past clouds. After such, quench every
thirst. Exceed thirst, drip on this water’s tap
as thirst extracts a fine drench. The
ooze infecting us panders and
enters flooded senses—
it logs up past swollen pipes,
and wading past tap’s flow, engulfs
tide’s water. Quench anew, but
floods anew swell even now. Quench
the thirst after water ebbs—endow
extended bursts as if a tap’s
long oozing lurks—bottom’s up. As
ice melts, fountains blend the ice
and coil water—long drench that well.

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Literature : Interview

David Ohle

by JA Tyler

Camera-eye in the future ruin, “freedom” prison, and cutting up the news.

One of the most frightening and brilliant aspects of David Ohle’s futuristic novels is how eerily they parallel our own landscape. Motorman (1972), The Age of Sinatra (2004), The Pisstown Chaos (2008), and Boons and The Camp (2009) all share the same backdrop, a realm not explicitly said to be post-apocalyptic, but certainly one where the workings of the world have been inhumanely redefined and most of its inhabitants struggle for life and scrap for sustenance—physically, emotionally, and psychologically.

Ohle’s latest foray into this world is The Blast (Calamari Press, 2014), which centers on Wencel, a teenager at St. Cuthbert’s Boys Academy, a school unafraid to torture and maim students for their grooming habits; and Wencel’s mother, whose daily combat is to make what little they have count, braving the “souk” market and the threat of wild and vicious poodles, all the while attempting to instill her own slim virtues on her son as best she can. Wencel’s father reappears mid-novel, too, having been arrested for stealing a radio, then released from his sentence as another victim of an awful and rampant illness—one that turns people into husks of their former selves, with bodies that no longer require food or sleep, but tooth pullings and odor shellac instead.

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Literature : Podcast

Contemporary Poetry Marathon Reading

The NADA Contemporary Poetry Marathon Reading from May 10, 2014.

Contemporary Poetry was a marathon reading featuring thirty emerging and established poets, which took place on May 10, 2014 at NADA New York. This is a podcast of the program with portraits of the poets by Mariah Robertson, which also serves as the announcement for Contemporary Poetry Too, a postscript to the first reading.

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Literature : Interview

Jeff Jackson

by Joyelle McSweeney

Trauma, gatekeeping, and a bid for the youth cult of decadence.

Jeff Jackson’s intensely lyrical first novel, Mira Corpora, arrived dressed in praise from such authors as Dennis Cooper, Don DeLillo, and David Gates, and made many of last year’s top ten lists. This triumphant reception is happily at odds with the minor-chord timbre of Mira Corpora, which traces an unnamed protagonist as he is shot from the cannon of a mythically violent childhood through various lives of estrangement and intimacy, nomadism and arrival, pleasure and fright. Throughout the book, Jackson’s prose style continually astonishes, tossing up hot sugar-clouds of language that cool into fatal blades. The straits our hero endures—not to say survives—are both impossible and somehow plausible, surreal and all too real in the brightly lit misery-scape that is contemporary America. Our homeless speaker is both everyman and nowhere man, prone to wander and tugged stumbling along by a mysterious inclination toward the hidden and the bright.

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Literature : Word Choice

Three Reports

by Brian Evenson

I am reading the philosopher W. Not, however, the most famous philosopher W., the one who had only one glass that he kept his toothbrush in and had to wash out when visitors came if he was to offer them a drink. No, the W. I am reading had sufficient glassware and, as far as I can determine, very few eccentricities.

The W. I am reading was always photographed wearing either a tuxedo or a three-piece suit and tie. I have only found one picture in which the other W. wears a tie; he is sixteen, and clearly has been forced to wear it. But the W. I am reading doesn’t always write like he is wearing a tie, just as the W. I am not reading doesn’t always write like he isn’t.

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Literature : Interview

Momus

by Ross Simonini

Myths in the educational ghetto.

In the 1980s, Nick Currie took the pseudonym Momus, after the Greek god of satire, writing, criticism, and—maybe, indirectly—of postmodernism. He has since recorded over twenty-five albums of avant-pop, blogged compulsively, performed stories in museums, contributed journalism to Wired, and published four novels, all under this moniker and almost always with an attitude in keeping with his namesake. The most recent of his books, UnAmerica (Penny-Ante Editions, 2014) is something like an adaptation of a little-known Christian myth as applied to an alternate history of America. It’s an erudite narrative that gives us a glimpse of Currie’s wealth of idiosyncratic knowledge and his healthy appetite for scathing, provocative humor. It is as apt an introduction to his vast body of work as anything. After reading the book and listening to his album Ocky Milk (American Patchwork/Analog Baroque, 2006) about a dozen times, Currie and I spoke about daily life and myth.

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Literature : Interview

Phil Klay

by Matt Choate

War with and without words.

We have heard this before. That war is unspeakable because of trauma. That the language used to describe experiences of war will always be inadequate. That war negates language, destroys the meaning system. How does the marine, who is under fire, who watches a friend die, relate such an experience back? How does the pilot who misses a target and destroys a school speak about what he feels? Theorists of trauma argue that in these moments language fails and things are best left unsaid.

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Literature : Word Choice

BB and Calla Lily

by Evelyn Hampton

That was the night we got older. Momma had just been canned. We were going up to the Dairy Land when Calla Lily asked, Don't you think we should bring Thomas. Thomas was our dad. He was not our father, but he was in the position of the man, having been married to Momma for a few weeks. Funny about their wedding—nobody came because the invitation said the wrong day. It said the right day, but Momma and Thomas got fidgety and went ahead with it a day before the day, like time wasn't for them, only for the RSVP'd. The folks did come, but there was no gown for them to see, and no aisle, and no Momma and no Thomas—me and Calla Lily had to tell everybody that, see, they had gone to Thomas's parents', sort of, or that's what they said to say, because they had already done the wedding. I hate being looked at like that by so many relations I never see, it's like the air itself suddenly lays claim to me, wasps flown from a falling tree. We didn't hear of them again, the RSVP'd, and a few days later Momma and Thomas came back to time and asked had we eaten. Took us out for supper, me and Calla Lily, ate our favorite chicken. Creamed.

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Literature : Essay

Masha Tupitsyn’s Love Dog

by Carmen Giménez Smith

A hypertextual diegesis on love and vulnerability.

Masha Tupitsyn’s Love Dog (Penny-Ante Editions, 2013) is my new favorite taxonomy. The book reads like a reboot of Barthes’s A Lover’s Discourse, but instead of Goethe, Tupitsyn uses the dense range of twentieth-century popular culture for part of its allegorical infrastructure, even addressing the reader outright: “This book is polyphonic. It should be read, listened to, and watched.” To read it polyphonically, I re-watched Say Anything, listened to Radiohead’s Kid A, watched clips of canonical '80s movies, scoured for Italian film stills, and fell in love with Avital Ronnel and Elaine Castillo. The book is immersive in this way—it requires the reader to mine the abyss of popular cultural referent in order to evoke the particular material universe that defines not only the love affair that serves as the backdrop but also what leads the speaker to complex and sometimes idealistic notions of philia.

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Literature : Word Choice

Four Poems

by Sophia Dahlin

Tandem

I’ll take a long view of the legs
and I’ll readily endure them
I will even hallow them, as a speaker-set,
I am actually tripping. I’m not,
but you see how some skins
go red-yellow-red-yellow? I was tripping
saying I could see all my fat and the blood cohabiting

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Literature : Interview

Trisha Low

by Sarah Gerard

Language like tar, pick-and-mix identities, and a long sputtering of retcons.

Trisha Low is an electric writer and performer whose work rejects easy categorization. She manhandles sex, race, and the rigidities of form. She’s self-deprecating but unapologetic, with a voice like a post-doc teenage girl—rebellious and giggly but rigorously intelligent, with a talent so powerful she had to write a book with it. The Compleat Purge was published by Kenning Editions last year, and was a proud Emily Book in March.

We spoke on a Saturday afternoon. Imagine this conversation full of small pleasantries and endearing asides. Trisha was also generous enough to record a passage of The Compleat Purge for BOMB, which you’ll find above.

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Literature : Word Choice

I’m on Fire

by Micaela Morrissette

One of my wives is given to repeating things our other wives and husbands have said. It wins her no admirers. But she only cares what the family thinks of itself, of its other members. She doesn’t mind what anyone thinks of her. Is this formidable? No one is sure. My wife says, “I don’t say anything that doesn’t bear repeating.” We do repeat what she has said, but that is only her repetitions of our own words. We say, “No! Did she really say that?” But what we really mean is Did I really say that? or Did you really say that?

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Literature : Interview

Takashi Hiraide

by Will Heyward

A fateful cat, the infinitude of the home-run zone, and literature that cannot tell a lie.

This conversation with Japanese author Takashi Hiraide took place under somewhat unusual circumstances. We met at a noisy bar in downtown Manhattan along with several staff members from New Directions—publisher of For the Fighting Spirit of the Walnut (2008) and The Guest Cat (2014), Hiraide’s two books in English translation so far. And there was good reason to toast him because a week or so earlier The Guest Cat had, to the surprise of many people, appeared on the New York Times Best Sellers list. But time was scarce. It was Hiraide’s last night in town, and he was soon to read at St Marks Bookstore alongside Lynn Tillmann.

The interview had to happen now and fast. So after some deliberation as to which language Hiraide would respond in, we began, his English steady and clear, referring only occasionally to his interpreter, Sho Sugita, for clarification. It became apparent midway through that we would have to set off for the bookstore in order to avoid Hiraide missing his own reading. Our conversation continued on the street. In the recording, my questions are punctuated with “Excuse me!” and “Turn right here,” while Hiraide’s answers carry a polite amusement. All of it is washed over by the unremitting atmosphere of a New York sidewalk.

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Literature : Word Choice

Three Poems

by Arielle Greenberg

Pastoral: Commons

I have always loved a village green, a commons.
I do not love a commodity,
until I’ve owned the shit out of it,
and we are twin depleted.

If learning is changing—
if ecology is adaptive and it’s we who are stuck in our think-holes—
then fuck me so hard I spot pale pink blood.
Alter me a little.

My body is a commons.
You can pleasure yourself through me
like a haunted house at a theme park.
On the other end, it’ll be you all shaky.

I’m not animatronic, a barely clicking swamp.
I’m mowed but still lush, a thoroughfare for glad tidings.

What I am really after is connection.

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Literature : Interview

Stanley Crawford

by Stephen Sparks

Voices in the countercurrent, gentle satire versus jugular-vein satire, and the material world of growing things.

A visitor to Stanley Crawford’s website will immediately notice a curious thing—along the page’s sidebar there is a link to purchase books, as one might expect, but also, placed just as prominently, a link to purchase shallots by the pound. Crawford, who in 1970 settled in Dixon, New Mexico after years of study and travel, says he did not intend to become a farmer, but that having done so, he took to the work. Indeed, his three works of nonfiction—Mayordomo (1988), A Garlic Testament (1992), and The River in Winter (2003)—reflect this commitment and display a fierce, yet practical, attachment to his calling and community.

Crawford’s works of fiction—five novels published over the course of nearly fifty years, including the cult classic Log of the S.S. The Mrs Unguentine and the recently reissued Travel Notes—display their own kind of ferocity. These novels tend to extremes of character and setting. His narrators, with the exception of Mrs Unguentine, are all, to varying degrees, monsters. They are puffed up with self-importance, espouse unpopular opinions, and suffer from lack of self-awareness. They’re also funny.

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Literature : Word Choice

Jesuit Priest Who Loves Scriabin and Isn’t a Jesuit Priest Seeks Life Elsewhere

by Mauro Javier Cardenas

I wanted to become a Jesuit priest, Antonio wrote, hoping his impulse to become a Jesuit priest when he was fifteen or sixteen years old and still living in Guayaquil could sustain a novella or at least a short fiction about youth and god and so on, the kind of fiction that would rhapsodize his time at the hospice Luis Plaza Dañin and would exalt his role as a catechist to the poor in Mapasingue, and yet a week or two after writing down that first sentence about wanting to become a Jesuit priest...

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Literature : Interview

Nicholas Rombes

by Andrew Gallix

Constraint as liberation, knife-wielding film scholars, and the human brain as total cinema machine.

There was a time when movies lived up to their name. They moved along and, once set in motion, were unstoppable until the end—like life itself. What you missed was gone, lost forever, unless you sat through another screening, and even what you had seen would gradually fade away or distort along with your other memories. I recently happened upon a YouTube clip from a film I had first watched in 1981. I thought I knew the scene well, but it turned out to be radically different from my recollection: the original was but a rough draft of my own version, which I had been mentally honing for more than three decades. Such creative misremembering—reminiscent of Harold Bloom’s “poetic misprision”—is now threatened by our online Library of Babel. According to Nicholas Rombes, who is spearheading a new wave of film criticism, movies surrendered much of their “mythic aura” when they migrated from big screens to computers via television.

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Yossi Tavili Stands in the Field

by Bethany Ball

Now it is just a question of what to do with Yossi Tavili. He works in the fields, with his dogs and guns, frightening the birds that eat the crops. At night, he hunts the wild boar in the fields with his brothers and his dogs. But now he has gone mad.

Before harvesting season begins, he drives his truck into the middle of the wheat. In the center of that golden sea, he arranges stones, huge twenty-kilo stones that he pulls from the back of his truck. He arranges them and rearranges them until the sun comes up. He spreads birdseed all around. The birds come from the Golan to the north and the Kinneret to the south. They fly over Americans and Africans in white robes baptizing themselves in the Jordan. They come from Syria and Lebanon, but not the West Bank or Gaza, where there are no birds. Yossi Tavili stands in the middle of the field, very still, and counts and names them as they come. A helicopter flies overhead and bathes them in a shower of pesticide. Someone calls the police. He can see them coming over the highway. He hops into the cab of the jeep with his dogs and drives off. For a few days no one knows where he’s gone. Later that week, a group of kibbutzim see him building stone cairns off the side of the highway, on the way to the Roman baths. “Come on, Yossi! Come with us,” they shout from their jeeps. “Leave the stones to the ground and take a rest.”

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Literature : Interview
Literature : Word Choice

Three Poems

by Brandon Krieg

Litany

I am with you where no preference is
Sunlight climbs the nail
I am a with a with          not a you
where the ice has gone

two planes fly over
a deer skeleton dug up
I am with you where no preference is     la la

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Literature : Review

Nanni Balestrini's Tristano

by Jane Y. Kim

A novel in need of 109,027,350,432,000 readers.

Nanni Balestrini’s Tristano is a project realized, though sixty years after its inception. When this experimental novel was first published in 1966, the author was able to get only one version of it printed. He had wanted 109,027,350,432,000 different versions.

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Literature : Word Choice

Henri

by David Emanuel

It’s always uncomfortably warm here, regardless of the season. We’re in this same boat, myself and the others (sometimes one, sometimes two, depending upon the wind). One of us always eats my bread. At midday, less than a tenth remains for myself. The others are here to help take me down to the pier, sleep in their eyes, dripping from the low ceiling of the sky, droplets becoming people or droplets still. As soon as they begin to fall, the boat fills and they start to take shape. I take buckets full of them—lungs and hearts and bits of flesh—and send them back into the water where they disperse. Those not bailed out in sufficient time begin to talk and eat. There is nothing I can do but let them stay. Even a bag of saltwater gets a seat at the table now.

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Literature : Interview

David Brazil, Jackqueline Frost, & Evan Kennedy

by Thom Donovan

Activism, biblical prosody, the productive capacity of negativity, and bonhomie among poets.

2013 saw the publication of books by David Brazil, Jackqueline Frost, and Evan Kennedy—all writers based in the Bay area. These works, read in tandem, produce a unique dialogue about politics, theology, and activism. All the authors were involved, to greater or lesser extents, in Occupy Oakland and I wanted to ask them how the compositions both anticipated the events of 2011 and spoke to their experience participating therein.

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