12.04.2011

i was really holding out for this last little one by your thumb

Whoa, is this thing on? Been a while since we've waved. Awhile is an adverb and "a while" is a noun phrase. That's how you tell them apart. We can wait awhile or be there for a while. Plus there's the wilderness. Let me tell you a few of the things I've done up in this here Autumn:

—Read at the Last Rites Baltimore series thanks to Pat King and Nik Korpan. Read w/ Sid Gold, Eric Goodman, and Wayne Hoffman. Mans hoffing and good. Nik gave me pizza out of his car, like the time I was in the cab to the Greyhound station and someone on Howard tried to sell me and the cabdriver some heroin. The reading was at a hostel and I think I stole the communal water drum. The other readers read things about some pool flirtation and reading periods and and and. I read about the ultimate holla back and tried to explain weakness exotically.

—Then I read again in Baltimore for the WORMS w/ Joe Martin, Chris Mason, and Lola Pierson. Hosted by the delightful R.M. O'Brien, who made a really old monk hilarious. The reading was at the Metro Gallery, which I have fond feelings for because they didn't lose my hoodie when I left it there for two weeks—they just let the hoodie comfortably hibernate on the floor of their walk-in freezer. I read a poem that was bad so I crumpled it up and threw it away onstage, and everyone cheered. Also I read about every weird person I've ever met in a piece entitled "Yo Whatever Happened Yo." Also I read a piece called "C'MON!" where everybody shouted out "C'MON!" after lines like "What kind of beautiful weather doesn't know it's September 11th? What kind of personality trait is a preference for ginger ale?" and so on. Chris read amazing sly poems like an old pro, Joe read a long story where a limo full of prom dates crashed and got bloody, Lola read some hilarious and touching stuff. Then later in the month on the street I met R.M O'Brien's baby and wife while I ate a samosa. That's what friends are for.

—Then I read for Artichoke Haircut's You're Allowed series w/ Kendra Kopelke. Kendra was everyone's teacher and much beloved and belovable. She had some Hopper paintings that stared at us as she read. The crowd was big and feisty. Someone knew what Belchertown Road was. The crowd elected to have the Jewish action figure talk to the ladybug football instead of the other way around. Thanks to Adam Shutz & Melissa Streat of Artichoke Haircut for inviting me and Justin Sanders for being an exuberant ham of a host.

—Then I read in Philly for Tire Fire! Philly is great. I will say what I said on Facebook about it, but I want to add "thanks to Wes for the accordion dance party" to the list: "awesome time in Philly! there was fried chicken next to indian food in Reading Terminal! thanks Christian TeBordo for being a great accordion player and host & Sarah Rose Etter for threatening to murder me within 15 seconds of meeting me and then later giving me a cookie & Karl Taro Greenfeld and Anna Louise Neiger for being lovely co-readers and everybody who came out to sit in bumper cars and watch us read."

—Then I read for the Five:Ten Reading Series, hosted by Michael Kimball & Jen Michalksi. This was at a fancy gallery and there were fancy Oreo type cookies to eat. I was nervous about reading the beginning of the one-balled coach/horse defecation story, but people laughed, especially when I shamelessly yoked the story's searing critique of masculinity to contemporary coaching scandals. Who says relevance never protected a room. I read with amazing human dreamcatchers Stephanie Barber and Ben Loory, who were both gripping. As in their voices and stories were like those little burrs you find in your sandals months after you walked in the woods.

—Oh em gee that's a lot of readings holy geez. Next weekend I'm going to read at Brown University for a New Voices in Fiction event with Matt Bell, Rachel B Glaser, Lily Hoang, Joanna Howard, and Matt Salesses. Lots of goodie gum drops. It'll probably be too cold in Providence to find the coconut milk ice cream truck I found the last time I was there, but I will cry and weep and thrash and get over it.

—Guys let's recap: gender is a performance, identity is a performance, a blog is a performance designed to make you think the only thing I care about are readings and people's names and eating things. Except when I care about frozen zones and, you know, "the slow and rusty American amusement-ride-like descent into feudalism/fascism" thing. The truth is I like eating things and forgetting names. The truth is out there. Somebody lick the dahl off my elbow.

—Things online! A poem in an awesome issue of H_NGM_N called "If the World Is Crazy We Will Be Crazy Too." That's something Gaddafi/Gadhafi said before I did, but at least he got to say it before he died. Probably my favorite line in the poem is "Any exit’s / an emergency once you can’t tell how fast you’re leaving." Lots of other great folks and UMass buds in H_NGM_N 13, so be sure to click that link before it gets outdated.

—The suave and spindly-haired Peter Jurmu interviewed me for Redivider's November spotlight.  We talked about invisible friendship, laundry change, Frank Stanford, batty like knock around, and navigating sacks of breath. Thanks, Peter! Peter is pretty much the only person these days besides Bryan Coffelt and my girlfriend to randomly GChat me at uncannily cozy times, for which I am endlessly appreciative.

—Four prose poems from my ongoing train trash thump project No One Sleeps Beneath the Train Except the Light went up at The Fanzine. Thanks to Casey McKinney and Amy Herschleb. And sweet damn, thanks to Danny Jock for some totally killer illustrations. This is the second time "The Dan Man"—as I just now a second ago nicknamed him—has brought my twisted shit to pixelated life, and that is pretty cool. Do the gawk to see his bowling alley fire, chugged V-8, harassed rickshaw, and Ishi hackey sacking fish guts.

Dark Sky and Big Lucks both nominated a few things of mine for the Plushcart Pies. Fist bumps to their kindness.

"War and domination are the opposite of room." — Carrot Cake Zaikowski wrote an awesome piece on Kenneth Patchen for The Rumpus!


—Some sweet new issues of NOÖ Weekly guest-edited by Ani Smith and Laura Eve Engel. Gobble them all up while you can still gob. While you're doing that, I will finish my semester by cajoling my students to write crazy essays, find some way to buy Christmas presents for people instead of neurotically indulging in the story I've built for myself about being terrible at buying Christmas presents, and get ready to say "where do I go to blog about eating things and forgetting names" in Thai.

10.30.2011

how do you say "

A couple quickies:

—Very excited that I'm going to Thailand in late December to visit Carrot Cake Zaikowski! Thanks to everybody who signed up for my Barrelhouse poetry workshop or spread the word about it, and of course thanks to Barrelhouse! How about poetry, huh?

NOÖ [13] is out! You should read NOÖ [13] if you like  dance-offs, Russian salads, laundromats outside of burnt down malls, people who give you their ADD medication for your birthday, Ivan Lendl nostalgia, Hawaiians with machine guns, fake boyfriends, people who marry houses, confused police, sisters who are boxes of snakes, sisters who threaten you with ginsu knives, pummelhorsing social compromise, meat screams, oysters collected by widows, letters to jailed Lil Wayne, hearts too full of apples and wind, slut bags, triangle booth sandwiches, fucktrys, lung balloons, the bicycle in the wrong part of the neighborhood, the fast snapping motion of a neck during the fickle stages of a swan-dive, whiskey & chocolate, roller hockey coaches, furniture apocalypses, people who swallow entire friends, and eerie floating underwear.

—Speaking of NOÖ, Juan Carlos Reyes very kindly interviewed me about it for a profile on Zine Scene, which you can read by clicking here. Thanks, Juan!

Dark Sky 14 is new on the website and Dark Sky 13 is available to order. Both are the best supermarket dolce de leche cake you've ever eaten, which I know seems like a paradox (both?!) but trust me. I wish I knew how they did that 3D book looking thing.

10.14.2011

October 14th 2011

** UPDATE: Bloomberg hoses can't power wash democracy. "Cleanup" cancelled thanks to the work and presence of 3000+ people in the square and 300,000+ people all over. This is what happens when it's the people who are too big to fail. ***  

Of course you've seen the We Are the 99 Percent Tumblr (in fact I'm plagiarizing my own post from HTMLGIANT for the rest of this paragraph!), but here it is again. It’s PostFrankness instead of PostSecret. Camwhore angles repurposed for a who’s-there roll call in the deep effed.

Now I'm going to plagiarize myself from Facebook, and I'm not even going to add capital letters!

*** new york friends: drink some coffee, stay up late, roast some marshmallows, tell some ghost stories, save a populist uprising, and annoy your future grandkids when your great-grandkids beg you to tell them on the 3D iDingle chat how you were sitting in the park on that same October 14th their favorite history teacher talks about: http://occupywallst.org/article/emergency-call-action-prevent-forcible-closure-occ/ (seriously, of course: PLEASE STAY SAFE IN CA Conrad CAPS LOCK SERIOUS TIME, and READ THE STRATEGIES FOR NON VIOLENT RESISTANCE) — i feel like kind of a pringle for not being there myself right now, but i hope this here echo on this blue website means itself in the right direction ***

And look at that, my blog is blue too! Synchronicity. Seriously, yo:
if you support the movement, please make sure to let your NYC friends know what's going down and know the seriousness of this. Jim Berhle is going to be there dressed as Santa. I will be waking up at 6AM to watch the Livestream: http://occupystream.com/. 10/14 isn't a cute looking date, but let's hope we learn what it will be there to mean.

And heck, since the rest of this is me catching this blog up with what I've said elsewhere, let me end by saying what I said to someone who said the following on HTMLGIANT: "
I don't understand this. I live in the Bay Area. I am a dirty punk. oi. All my friends are dirty punks. We all have jobs and places to live. So are we the 1%?"

(Which is not at all an unreasonable testimony of lifestyle and experience, and a sentiment I think understandable by not only those who self-identify as DIY dirty punks but by all who aren't sure whether they can "relate" to the Occupy movement).

This is what I said: "sounds like you have made decisions in and about your life that make it hard to relate immediately to some of the stories on this tumblr, and i'm with you on that.

personally i make a choice not to have a car, not to have kids, etc. the dirty punk/gypsy lifestyle can be joyfully sustainable and always has been. carl sandburg loved the accordion players by the river. of course: it helps to be young and able-bodied and healthy in an urban place like the Bay Area with lots of cool cultural resources, excellent public transportation, and america's breadbasket for a babushka. but not everybody wants to (or is able to) live in those contexts, and that's not unreasonable.

i think a project like this 99% thing is about recognizing a large-scale collapse of the ability to lead certain kinds of lifestyles that shouldn't be unreasonable: lifestyles that enable raising and feeding children and caring for the rest of your family and living in your own house and taking care of your body without the entire social infrastructure stacked against you like some impossible video game puzzle where a handful use their cheat codes to make it harder for everybody else.

it's totally cool if you don't want to play the game—neither do i—and it's even more reasonable to point out that the game represents a pretty elevated level of privilege compared to the rest of the world. but neither of those things really negates the fact that it kinda sucks to watch so many people around you get the GAME OVER over and over."

how snoop hair look? / hair look good, girl

Pretty exhausting few weeks, but good stuff. Stuff is good. Stuff is stuff. Your stuff isn't you, whatever that stupid Norton commercial says. Your you is you, and your stuff is just there to hide your dandruff in.

Thanks to Ryan Call and Matthew Salesses for running "Mosquito Fog" at the Good Men Project. It's a long story about driving a mosquito fogging truck and eating fajitas and being sad and how sadness is a see-through ghost and dawn looks really pretty on the needles of digger pines but doesn't prevent sadness, and it's basically too long to read on the web and too sad to read, period. So have a look!

What's not sad is that I am teaching an online poetry workshop for the awesome folks at Barrelhouse. It will be 8 weeks long, full of multimedia and fun. Tentative and seasoned poetasters welcome alike. Poem-tazers, even. Anyone in the world can participate, and no one will make fun of your accent. If you could spread the word to interested friends, I will love you forever and build a tiny action figure of you that highlights all your best features and obscures your trouble spots. Along with the workshopping, part of the plan is i will look at full poetry manuscripts for people and offer suggestions, places to send the poems/manuscripts, other poets who might be interesting/helpful to read, all that good stuff.

I am really trying to do this whole thing in as non-skeezy and helpful a way as possible. The cost of it is to cover the time spent and (full disclosure) to help me be able to visit Carolyn in Thailand,
so if you support love and/or airplanes, you can factor that in. I feel like this is something I am genuinely good at and passionate about, and I know a lot of people in this world rarely get the opportunity to get paid to do they love, so I feel excited and grateful that Barrelhouse is presenting me this opportunity. The workshop starts October 24th, costs $175, and there are 4 seats left

Speaking of places to sit: pretty exciting few weeks, right, world? I mean, isn't it exciting how I Skype with Carolyn and put my legless Admiral Kirk action figure in front of the camera? Oh, wait, I think there's more? (This is the cliffhanger ending of this blog post to highlight the important blog post I'm about to make that isn't just about me and Admiral Kirk but is actually about most of us and our ability to do that living stuff) ...

9.17.2011

bodymore, body less, either way i ain't skipping breakfast

One exciting way a cockroach gets to enter your home is through your bathtub drain. I feel like this would be such a fun way to visit friends! But I am too big to fit. So instead I watch The Wire and tweet that I can’t tell whether the sirens are from the show or the world. In other words, I am a white person living in Baltimore. The farmer at the 32nd street market showed me a photo of a tree base he’d painted to look like an elephant foot.

Besides living in Baltimore, what I've been doing is looking at the time and thinking "if it is 5PM here, it is 4AM in Thailand." This is fun because you don't need any special uniform to do this, just something that tells you the time and someone in Thailand you love and miss a lot. Been talking to Carrot Cake on Skype and it's very futuristic! She's in Bangkok, where the travel clinics are open weird hours and one whole floor of a seven floor mall is a food court with directions like: "For Islamic vegetarian food, see C4. For Brazilian liquid-based desserts, see H9." I miss her, but I am excited for her adventuring.

In criticism news, Mark Cugini's students think I'd be a miserable relationship partner based on their reading of "Is That It's You." One of them said "It sounds like Mr. Young does not approve of love." Which is strictly untrue: I prove love all the time, with a beaker and a stylish bevy of equations.

More thanks are due this week to the champ-ass* (*like bad-ass except better) Barry Graham for his review of Look! Look! Feathers at The Collaigst. I haven't got the chance to read the rest of the new Collagist yet, but I am really excited for something called "In the Time of the Blue Ball." Here is the first paragraph of Barry's review:
If Mike Young told me he grew up in a suburban castle full of lawyers and lion tamers and medicine men, or that he was raised on the edge of the ocean, the adopted son of a snake charmer father and truck-driving mother whose real parents escaped a cult and left him on the front porch of an orphanage, I would believe him. If he told me he grew up the son of uneducated peasants who drank and gambled and whipped their pets and their children equally, I would believe that too. That how's convincing his prose is. Young writes with authority. His voice and his words and his sentences feel earned, authentic.

Barry, you were so close. I grew up in a castle made of tamed lawyers on the edge of an uneducated snake. My parents were a front porch and a whip. Together we drove every day in a truck to an orphanage, where we gambled away children in exchange for medicine and shares in authoritative cults.

Speaking of cults, I read part of a long thing I wrote called The Age of the Tire Boat in NYC (this was in the Center of Fiction, which had beautiful balustrades) and here is me reading the whole thing for Peter Cavanaugh's awesome audio mag Tulip: http://tulipparlor.com/issuetwo. Thanks, Peter! Other cool peeps in the issue include Gian Ditrapano, Eylsia Smith, Galen Dekemper, Tyler Gobble, Sam Edmonds, Eric F Johnson, and Ted Barrow.

Warning: my thing is long to listen to, thirteen minutes and forty-two seconds. 13:42. But I have conference called with Table Mountain and Mt Shasta and Arnold Schwarzenegger and the ghost of John Sutter, and together we have concluded that "The Age of the Tire Boat" is the definitive Northern Sacramento Valley poem-ass thing. Now that it's written, no one else has to ever write about the Northern Sacramento Valley ever again, especially not me. So, yeah, we'll see how that works out. In the meantime, I have tokens in my pocket that will allow me to go back to the 32nd Street Market next weekend and buy Old Bay flavored hummous.

9.04.2011

sometimes i live in the country / sometimes i live in the town

So Irene kept us inside with our beans and bottled water. Only some minor flooding in Northampton, but we missed calamity by a whisker. Very bummed for Vermont, which is full of strange antique barns buried behind weird rivers, and might not be so full of dry ones right now. One story I remember about Vermont is a few activists drove to the woods in search of chupacabras, but one of them was a diabetic and started getting insulin withdrawals, so they had to stop at some strange house and knock on the door. Nobody answered. The diabetic began scratching himself. Then a truck pulled up, and this guy got out carrying a cage with a parrot in it. The activists tried to explain the situation to the guy, but he just held up the parrot cage and grinned. He went inside the house. A few minutes passed. The diabetic was kneeling in the driveway controlling his breath. Then an old woman opened the door and invited everybody in. She led them into the living room, which was full of Nestle crunch bars. "I was just watching my programs, which is why I couldn't hear y'all," she said with a Texas accent. The guy with the parrot was in the kitchen still grinning, still with the parrot cage. Someone told me this story at breakfast one time, but it might as well be a story I made up because I didn't eat enough for breakfast. Good luck, Vermont.


In other news, hoo doggie, so much change. Took my last shower on Orchard Street. Moved to Baltimore. Taught my first class at UMBC. Seems good. I'm very excited to ride the 35 back and forth between UMBC: when I first rode it, there was a new father covered with IT'S A BOY STICKERS and everyone congratulated him/joshed him for having too much sex. There was a jovial mass battle over whether to turn the A/C on. There was a man who gave up his seat for an old man and he sat down next to another man and said "If you don't respect yo elders you ain't got no mowls" and they became friends.

Next Saturday, I'm seeing Jeff Mangum in Boston with my carrot cake as a nice climatic-type event before she goes to Thailand. Kind of can't believe we're doing this. Then we're having a big Bye Bye Have Fun in Thailand party on the 10th anniversary of September 11th, which is much better than a lot of other things to do on the 10th anniversary of September 11th. Kind of weird to think my UMBC students were eight years old when Nine-Eleven became more famous than Seven-Eleven. I remember the first thing I heard about it that day was my mother told me the Weather Channel told her that all planes in the country were grounded.

So speaking of hearing and telling, it turns out I am doing a lot of readings this September! There is one stretch where I'm doing readings three days in a row: three readings and one panel discussion. Kind of nuts. I've made a thing on the right side of the blog to keep track of it all. If you live in NYC or Baltimore, I would love to give you a high five.



Thanks Barry Graham for putting Look! Look! Feathers on this list of his favorite books he's read so far this year. And thanks to him also for this Fab 5 feature he did, where I picked my 5 favorite of my online published stories and also 5 other stories online by others that I really like. Also Tyler Gobble and Layne Ransom's ultimate enthusiasm magazine Stoked just put out Volume II, which is full of great stuff from Matt Hart, Daniela Olszewska, Carol Guess, Nate Pritts, Adam Moorad, Joshua Helms, Thomas Patrick Levy, Christopher Newgent, xTx, Len Kuntz, Parker Tettleton, Nick Ripatrazone, Ryan Rader, Ashley Farmer, and J.A. Tyler. I have a little piece in it talking about how much I was taken by the book Sayonara, Gangsters by Genichiro Takahashi. Do do the checking out if you do that sort of thing.

Wow, hard to believe how much is in the pipeline right now, and that's not even counting the pipeline that people are sitting down about. Let's end on a sad and happy thing and thing: sad is that my sister's dog Sasha is gone. =( My best energy and love her way. The happy thing is this:


8.12.2011

i put an ultimatum on your cut off khakis

WARNING: FOR ONE REASON OR ANOTHER, THIS POST HAS A LOT OF NAMES IN IT. IF YOU HATE NAMES, YOU SHOULD REPLACE THE NAMES IN YOUR HEAD WITH THINGS YOU LIKE, LIKE TINY PHOTOS OF TATER TOTS YOU CAN LICK AND TASTE.


Summer's got a basement full of blow-up dolls. Summer takes a nap in a lake of dry Froot Loops. First there is the weather and then there's the plan, except when there's no weather. White people in the park playing Ultimate Frisbee. Where you move to have kids is where your kids will be from. As in accents. The real life basis of the biopic is flattered when the actor visits to perfect his impression. The nerdy teenager greets strangers the way he 
saw NPCs do it in his sandbox video game. You know your town's special when it's got a Presidential library. Certain kinds of infrasound can produce what a show on FX would call a ghost.

Here is a video of me reading some poems in March at the Collected Poet Series with Polina Barskova. My collar is effed the whole time, but there is an uncouth laugher who really and continually asserts herself starting about 60% of the way through. So, you know, win/lose.





In other news, I had an awesome time at the Boston Poetry Marathon. Friends new and old. Cuban sandwiches. Billowing white pants that reminded me of traders riding camels through lots of sand, probably, is where they would ride them. Much respect to everyone there, and especially to Jim Berhle for inviting me in the first place and to my Western Mass car companions Emily Pettit, Ish Klein, Greg Purcell, and Lewis Freedman. Also got the chance to meet Andrew Hughes and pick up the journal project he put together with Whit Griffin, Bright Pink Mosquito. Some lovely buzz in there. Also Dana Ward is as cool as everyone says he is, so don't worry if you were worrying.


In September, as Thailand increases its imports of rare and amazing carrot cakes, I am moving to Baltimore for a while. Got a job teaching at UMBC, which architecturally resembles UMASS except, hmm, let's see: UMBC is Crystal Pepsi and UMASS is when the soda machine messes up and starts ralphing everything inside itself plus some sarsaparilla no one realized was there. Basically what I mean is UMBC has less buildings, and they actually look like each other. UMASS you know I love you, don't throw your library at me, please. Because your library is tall and ridiculous and made of bricks. Anyway, I am excited to live in Baltimore with Mark Cugini and eat soul food and Old Bay seasoning and see Orioles games and take any and all mustache advice from Adam Robinson. Plus there are a lot of other cool Baltimore people that I will list one by one eventually, except I will do it secretly, like when I say "softball" I will actually be talking about Michael Kimball, and when I say "bachelor pad" I will be talking about Justin Sirois, and when I say "campfire" I will be talking about Laura van den Berg, and when I say "Baltimore is a city in which he used to drive around wasted in the car from Back to the Future," I will be talking about Glenn Beck, and when I say "Mad Men" I will be talking about Jamie Perez, and when I say "willow tree" I will be talking about Joe Young. Shh. It's a secret.

7.21.2011

but now i can't use the curbstomp line as the post title


Totally zonked on Sherlock and word origins, but here is a spray of em dashes to consider:

Players by DeLillo: amazing. Running Dog: not as good, very fun.

—Dobby Gibson is doing Poetry Crossfire and it's better than guaranteed financial collapse of the world's grooviest superpower. Ben Mirov and I faced off over Bei Dao's "Morning."

30 Under 30, an anthology of words by folks who barely know how to shave—edited by Blake Butler and Lily Hoang—is now out. You should put it in your DVD player to express your outrage over Netflix's policy changes. You're welcome.

—Carrot cake conspiracy in the Advocate, which is something I advocate. What she says is "My actual songs don't seem political, but they are; they're about oppression and liberation of bodies—and not just human ones—and mourning, witnessing and healing at both political and personal levels."

—Speaking of carrot cake, the new Dinosaur Bees is a blast, and the new NOÖ Weekly is a blast of scuff-eyed soul.

—Finally, thanks to Tyler Gobble for reading my poem "Is That It's You" for a big audio thing on Small Doggies. Beat the heat. Curbstomp the heat until its teeth fall out.

6.30.2011

if you really want to write the great american poem, you have to realize that Redbox killed Blockbuster, not Netflix

Just a quickie to say thanks for some new LLF reviews: In the Emprise Review, Nathan Huffstutter has an insightful, evenhanded, and well-written look at the book. He also seems fairly familiar with the territory of the stories, as he says of I-5: "In this corridor, Red Bluff to Yreka to Talent, the weeds and speed give way to off-ramp drags of greasy spoons and grizzled beards, canned greens and un-ironic curios, potholes and slush." I can't even feel annoyed at his criticism of a few stories because he understands them so well and so eloquently. Kudos, Huffstutter! Which I've italicized because it sounds the title of a TV pilot Saul Bellow might've written in the bathtub during a fever, but here is Nathan Huffstutter saying eloquent things:
Make no mistake, this isn’t participation-ribbon or up-by-your-bootstraps trying; in these dozen stories, Young exposes character after character who are trying to trust. Trusting themselves, trusting adulthood, trusting the internet, trusting the people they just might love, all while suspecting the very suckiest, that with both sides predisposed to fuck things up, maybe the best they can do is try. These are the same twitching, fragile moments Jim Shepard engulfs in avalanche and flood and Young dares them au natural, in high school gyms and tribal casinos and Pollard Flats. And if you’ve never stopped for the restroom in Pollard Flats, let me be the first to tell you, that mannequin in the tub will haunt you way longer than any old rockslide.
Also in the eloquence department, Kimberly Ann Southwick has a review of LLF in the new Gigantic Sequins, wherein she says "Young's characters are hunter-gatherers of the fiction world, trading any normal identification of themselves or their possessions for something both more interesting to us and more useful to them." Sweet. Also she says some of the people in the book have green hearts, which is a smart thing to say. The whole issue of GS is full of poems, stories, and illustrations of naked ladies with dinosaur heads. Some of my favorite lines from the issue include Leigh Phillips's "You stole my song / by dying into it," James Caroline's "We were 14 when I tried to give him my winter coat," Adam Atkinson's "Months pass. Mongolians pass," and Michelle Cheever's "We ate our pancakes on opposite sides of the room."

In tennis news, Tsonga the butterfly defeated Federer the napper. A major upset in this riding lawnmower of a summer.

6.28.2011

pioneer auto body iced coffee: some thoughts on the english tennis tournament i've been watching alone in my kitchen in between jags of crying softly while staring at the garage

What? You wanted to hear about a new sea star that feeds exclusively on driftwood? Oh, okay.

Jay-Z was at Wimbledon. He sat in the corner like a vacuum you thought you'd lost.

Nadal's foot is hurting because it also makes the Nadal face, which is the face your little brother makes after he's spent months practicing his carnival horse race skeeball game on a homemade sock-based skeeball machine, and finally the carnival rolls around and he beats everyone by like ten "leagues" or whatever the fuck they measure horse races in but all he wins is a headband and a beautiful Spanish model, and as we all know beauty is fleeting and death arrives like the death of your favorite musicians after they've spent the ends of their lives putting out one embarrassing album after another.

Mardy Fish is the last American, just like John Wayne and Barack Obama and that girl who murdered her mom or daughter or stepped really hard on her inflatable pool or whatever.

If Andy Murray were a real conceptual artist like everybody keeps saying he is, he would retweet every article suggesting he shave with the hashtag #yourmomneedstoshave. Alas Andy Murray is just some guy who will lose to Nadal in the semi-finals unless he hires those dudes at Wimbeldon who stopped shooting pigeons to shoot Nadal's bum foot.

Feliciano "Delicioso" Lopez is attractive to old British ladies. Congratulations! Unfortunately, my grandmother is more into pickleball these days.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga looks and plays like Mohammad Ali. That is, he turns into an actually butterfly and carries the ball on the back of his wings while the other player chases him around and swats at him, never catching him, before finally Tsonga the Butterfly drops the ball right on the white line, which isn't even chalk anymore, it's some kind of weird titanium spraypaint, but at least the grass is 100% rye, and what Tsonga doesn't tell anyone but you can see in his face is that butterflies don't want to do something as inconsequential as win at tennis because they'd rather be losing themselves among the trippy patterns—hedgerows, garage roofs—you don't appreciate because you're too big.

When David Foster Wallace killed himself and my mother (who hadn't previously heard of him or read anything by him) emailed me an article about David Foster Wallace's documented mental illnesses, it was Federer who I found sleeping on my couch. And I don't even have a couch! When I walked through the door, I saw Fed's dozy Swiss I-used-to-be-a-fat-kid face and I followed his footprints (which were tiny cities of tinier bluebirds) back to the window he'd flown in through. Then Fed woke up and took me into his arms and bought me a custom-tailored white blazer and assured me that, when you get down to it, 1) nothing in life is documentable, 2) there are still whole tribes of uncontacted people living in dense jungles, no matter how many times helicopters take photos of them and some of them look exactly like people you went to high school with, and 3) there is in life, finally, only the way we avoid or don't avoid the smoke produced by inexhaustible contests of human desire, which is of course a conceptual smoke, which is a concept he demonstrated with his wrists.

Bernard Tomic
is an eighteen year old Australian in the quarterfinals. He doesn't so much play tennis as do your dishes without telling you. He doesn't so much play tennis as replace your doors with automatic, Star Trek style sliding doors.

Djokovic plays tennis like someone who discovered that when he bought a can of Pringles it was only 3/4 as full as it should be; so he goes back to the store and tries to get his money back; but they tell him to talk to the company; but the company has a robo-operator no matter how many times he punches 0; so finally he rents an SUV with tinted windows and drives to the Pringles factory in the middle of "Nebraska" or whatever and crashes his SUV into the SUV parked in the spot reserved for the owner of Pringles; then he walks inside and steals Pringles from all the assembly lines; even after the alarms are going off and the lines have stopped moving; he even steals the half-done Pringles; the unsalted Pringles; the Pringles that don't hold their shape; the rejected Pringles; the raw potato and oil mash that is begging and pleading for its life (I'm not even a Pringles yet!) as Djokovic stuffs it in his cheeks like chewing tobacco; until finally Djokovic has eaten all the Pringles in the factory and set Pringles back an entire day in Pringles supply; and as the police are arresting him and his stomach is bleeding and his face is shining from all the oil, he turns to the security camera and makes that self-satisfied fuck you, world, ha ha, up yours face that I actually like and appreciate and respect a lot despite conclusions you might be reaching from estimating the tone of this analogy because tones are fleeting and tomorrow Pringles will be back on track and we are but measly sacks of willpower set against everlasting tides of progress and comfort equipment and dizzying economic inequality and faraway stars exploding in tremors of terrifyingly un-self-aware star gas.

6.21.2011

lover's just another word for cough syrup in the snow

The spontaneous and endearing Mark C of Big Lucks is staying with me this week for the Juniper Summer Writing Institute, so we are doing things like eating pineapple salsa and buying bike pumps. Today I'm going to get my tennis racquet restrung at the sports store that's so right next to the liquor store that people often get the two confused.

I asked Twitter if there's an emoticon for "that thing where you're writing a book about the internet but it turns into a book about trains?" Two suggestions, which I dutifully retweeted: ಠ_ಠ & :000000000000. It's the first day of summer and I can hear things so well I don't know how far away they are.

Some exciting things that happened in my hometown recently are 1) someone stole a tractor from a high school, but no one knows what they looked like 2) someone stole a wedding dress and a trailer, but they looked like Colonel Sanders.

People have been saying kind things about Look! Look! Feathers of late. Diana Rickard had a nice write-up on her blog where she said: "There is a strong sense of community within these small towns and cliques, a sense of belonging even while there is simultaneously a strong undercurrent of alienation, isolation, and twenty-first century futility." Thanks, Diana! Postitbreakup, whose name I've seen in comment sections a lot but I just now figured out (Post-It Breakup) posted his review of the first two stories, wherein he talks about violence and endings. Thank you! Also he posted a video of Bo Burnham doing a cool piano song about self-loathing and art. Bo Burnham looks like a dentist's son I once knew. The dentist had an office caddy corner from a tackle shop.

Finally, Michael Goroff reviewed LLF for the Barn Owl Review, and it's a very enthusiastic and articulate review. He says the voice behind the stories "is like the debasingly articulate Jiminy Cricket I seem to hear whispering at me on my shoulder every time I open Firefox or pull up to a Taco Bell drive-thru window or simply walk around in the haze of a world that’s mine but that I don’t understand—an ontological cocktail that’s one part disembodied techno-juice, one part actual, physical, real, beautiful, natural living." Gracias, Michael! He also compared the book to E.M. Forster's 1904 Matrix-y sci-fi story "Machine Stops," which anticipates online culture in an amazingly prescient way. "There were of course the buttons by which she communicated with her friends," Forster says. Probably a lot of people—especially hardcore sci-fi fans—already know about this story, but I didn't because I have been too busy changing my Google background to a picture of a breakfast sandwich.

6.15.2011

the 44 books i've read so far in 2011 not counting chapbooks and anything i forgot to put on the list, i finished all of them except I AM A STRANGE LOOP, feel free to ask me about any of them or harrass me if i misspelled someone's name



1 - Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
2 - Coffee Coffee - Aram Saroyan
3 - Fancy Beasts - Alex Lemon
4 - And Then There's This - Bill Wasik
5 - April Galleons - John Ashbery
6 - Neighbors - Thomas Berger
7 - I Have Touched You - Gregory Sherl
8 - Nick Demske - Nick Demske
9 - The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas - Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis
10 - Couch - Benjamin Parzybok
11 - Plants Don't Drink Coffee - Unai Elorriaga
12 - Monster Party - Lizzy Acker
13 - The Universe in Miniature - Patrick Somerville
14 - Hush Up Stinky Poo But - Ken Sparling
15 - Cardinal Numbers - Hob Broun
16 - I Am a Strange Loop - Douglas Hofstadter
17 - I <3 Your Fate - Anthony McCann
18 - Odditorium - Hob Broun
19 - Abbot Awaits - Chris Bachelder
20 - Bobcat Country - Brandi Homan
21 - I Is To Vorticism - Ben Mirov
22 - Inner Tube - Hob Broun
23 - Selected Poems - Ted Berrigan
24 - Normally Special - xTx
25 - Campfires of the Dead - Peter Christopher
26 - Await Your Reply - Dan Chaon
27 - About a Mountain - John D'Agata
28 - jPod - Douglas Coupland
29 - There Is No Year - Blake Butler
30 - The Girl With Brown Fur - Stacey Levine
31 - Veronica - Nicholas Christopher
32 - Cowboy Maloney's Electric City - Michael Bible
33 - Us - Michael Kimball
34 - The Book of Interfering Bodies - Daniel Borzutzky
35 - The Disinformation Phase - Chris Toll
36 - Triggermoon, Triggermoon - Julia Cohen
37 - The Exile: Sex, Drugs, Libel in the New Russia - Mark Ames and Matt Taibbi
38 - Casino Moscow - Matthew Brzezinski
39 - Masters of Atlantis - Charles Portis
40 - Madame Bovary - trans. Lydia Davis
41 - Culture of One - Alicey Notley
42 - Three Letter Poems - Josh Brandon and Chelsea Martin
43 - The Financial Lives of Poets - Jess Walters
44 - They Could No Longer Contain Themselves - Elizabeth J. Colen, Mary Miller, John Jodzio, Tim Jones-Yelvington, and Sean Lovelace

6.07.2011

video of poem "Is That It's You" and some banter from NYC June 5th Disinformation Party

Thanks Adam Robinson for the video! You can read along with the poem in Dark Sky magazine: "Is That It's You"


people keep hugging their giant hamsters

Back from NYC safe and sound. Spilled some wine on my shoe. Random rooftop statues. Lucky streak included finding a Mexican restaurant in the middle of nowhere. Someone had a stroke then petitioned people on the subway for benefits. Had quite a time catching the bus to the city; had to jump out in traffic while stopped behind the bus at a red light near a church and pound on the door. The driver said "This is a first." Thanks to Francesca Chabrier for due diligence. If you were a lawyer making a pickle joke, the phrase "due diligence" would come into it somewhere.

In NYC I read at the Disinformation Party, a party for Chris Toll's new book The Disinformation Phase, which is like a pop sci-fi Lorca. Lots of fun. Day after that I biked around Prospect Park on a Japanese mom bike with my friends John and Lincoln, then I gave John tennis racket advice and we speculated about the logo of the Brooklyn Nets. Why didn't they call them the Brooklyn Ballers? You really effed that, Jay.

What else in NYC? I went to the Brooklyn Flea Market and bought an expensive artisan grilled cheese sandwich. Just kidding I bought a cookie. Not kidding: I bought a cookie and Ben Fama's chapbook New Waves, which I read on the Megabus back to Western Mass in the very considerate orange twilight, which Fama suggests is one of the only two colors that exist. Also in NYC I asked someone what their favorite food was and they said "I don't like rap or country." Also in NYC the subject came up "Does Chainy live like this every night?" but that subject also probably came up outside of NYC. Also in NYC the L wasn't running so I walked around the Hasidic part of Williamsburg for a long time and thought about how the school buses looked normal except for the writing on the side. Do you want a payot? I do not want a payot. I mean, it's like, you buy one thing from Gardners Supply Outlet then they won't stop sending you emails. Tornadoes suck. People carry strollers up/down subway stairs and through emergency exists. There's a store somewhere on the way out of Manhattan called Insomnia Cookies. How do people blog about anything without giving up and talking about cookies the whole time? Your guess is as good as a mime.

Many thanks to Matt Margo for reading "The Peaches Are Cheap" and "WTF Is An Electroylte" from LLF on his Cormac McCarthy's Dead Typewriter Anniversary Ustream Event. He soldiered on during a storm. He asked his audience if they wanted him to read the whole long story and they did. Matt really nailed the dialogue during the garage rehearsal scene.

Have you seen The Lit Pub yet? You should see it!

Sometimes people enter into relationships and sometimes they then turn around and think about them, which is the subject of my poem "Is That It's You" up at Dark Sky. Thanks to Kevin Murphy for publishing me, and gawk all those other fine soulja boyz/girlz in the contents of this fine summer issue, which will be online only for a short time. Love is when you take someone more seriously than you take people.  Not sure what else to say, but this is already too long of a blog, so here is a part I cut from the thing I'm working on because nobody cares about Y2K philosophy:

"Is it even worth saying that Y2K mongered its scares because no programmer in 1970 imagined their code would still be afloat thirty years later? Not in 2000, land of star-clogged obelisks and robot maids. Should we admit that even late as the mid-90s, the idea of civilization making 2000 seemed mildly bonkers? Like God was bound to punch his way out of the Sphinx’s nose, sand crumbling and God flicking sand off his ponytail, stepping mincingly on hot sand underfoot. Then He’d clear His throat and call the whole show off, tell us to find a ride home and try not to trip on the gila monsters. This seemed more likely than one big computer bug. Ten years. Goes where?"

5.23.2011

when will the long-play video community embrace this adventure game i'm making by breathing on you when you can't see me

Went to the attractive Salem, MA the other weekend to participate in the Massachusetts Poetry Festival. Ate a delicious sandwich with pickles in it. Androgynous old people played bluegrass in overalls. There was a statue of the attractive Samantha from Bewitched. No statues of the attractive Darin. Free antipasto, lots of cobblestone. Cold because of the attractive ocean. I could see why you'd dress up in black and put things in a cauldron. Ambiguous suggestions on the train platform. Spoke on MFAs, encouraged people who wanted alternatives to MFAs to just find people on the internet who like to write and read the things they like to write and read. Made an impassioned argument about the absurdity of all writing/reading and its roots in a peculiarly egotistic form of loneliness, a broom knocked against the wall between the soul and the world, blah blah blah. People raised their hands and asked about summer writing camps. A woman in a wheelchair asked, during the Q&A, if we knew that her first book was coming out. A bee played the piano. I told the story of how the attractive Chris Cheney tried to run me over with his car, and how MFA programs encourage this overly romanticized disengagement with the world, but my fellow panelists provided welcome dissenting maturity and stressed that, don't worry, the pursuit of an MFA can be a very adult activity indeed. Later the attractive Gene K. asserted that I was obsessed with cars that have red spoilers. As usual, he's right. Many thanks to the attractive Danielle Jones-Purett for inviting me to the festival/panel.

Before I left Eastern Mass I ate some Indian food. Cold coconut chutney, very refreshing. Friendly cops came in and talked with the dishwasher. Orchids floating in tall glass cylinders. Boxes of copper pots, a sign that says DO NOT OPEN THE BOXES. WE ARE WATCHING FROM CAMERAS. YOU OPEN YOU BUY. Bollywood music videos that rival mid-90s MTV: sexy, corny, so much spent on the video there was no budget for good beats.

Someone where I am just said "The bleeding edge or the leading edge?"
Then she said "It's magnetic. You can take it off or leave it on."

The attractive Gabe Durham visited Northampton mostly while I was away, but we got to hang out a little bit and eat couscous. We talked about plagiarism and American Idol. Recently Gabe interviewed the attractive Chris Bachelder for The Rumpus and then followed up with him on his blog. Lots of terrific probing about wives and dogs. On the bus back from Eastern Mass, it was raining very hard and I was reading the attractive Lydia Davis's translation of Madame Bovary and thinking about doing something called ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT WRITING LAVISH "REALISTIC LITERARY FICTION" YOU CAN LEARN BY ATTENTIVELY READING THE LYDIA DAVIS TRANSLATION OF MADAME BOVARY, but maybe I won't do that.

The attractive Dennis Cooper recently and very generously included Look! Look! Feathers in one of his 3 Recent Books I Loved posts. He included a video of me in 2006 in Ashland telling a story about Tom Waits murdering me. Thanks, Dennis!

On June 5th I'm going to NYC to read in celebration of the attractive Chris Toll's new book from Publishing Genius, The Disinformation Phase. Click here for details on the reading. I will post again about it before June 5th gets closer. Gawd there are so many things to post! And here I am just waiting for Massachusetts to realize it's spring. About The Disinformation Phase, I wrote a note in my reading log that says: "Pop sci-fi Lorca waiting in line to mail Tom Waits some tom tom drums and muttering invocations while he waits." So that's two mentions of Tom Waits, which means I should put a picture of him in this post, but I decided to put a picture of Dennis Cooper instead.

5.06.2011

america looks at itself in the cough

Heard a song in KFC the other night whose hook goes "That's not my name. That's not my name." This is preceded by "They call me Jane, they call me her," etc. A sort of feminist dancehall rally, which is great, but also kind of amazing to remove the song from that context and think about all these people in the KFC just soaking in this very decisive mantra of disorientation. What is it doing to them, what is it doing to their fiesta bowls (it's a KFC/Taco Bell). When I looked up the video for this song, I discovered 1) the people who made the song are very conventionally attractive, and 2) it was used in some sort of Victoria's Secret show, which like most of the world is its own joke.

Where is the boogyman and why is my chair orange? Why are there pipes mysteriously falling on our desks when we're not there? One student told me how kids climbed on top of the cafeteria when Osama died and asked each other to show each other their boobs. Another student told me how kids were printing out pictures of Osama's face just so they could throw them into a bonfire, which makes me think of a lot of thinks, including the way the university ID card website encourages you to ask a "friend or relative" to send you money as often as possible. It also makes me think of those "news organizations" that misprinted Osama as Obama, which is actually pretty forgivable, considering the insanely pat shadow/empty mirror narrative space Obama occupies in the national psychology. If America were a workshop story, people would be like "Come on, the president is named Obama?" But all the workshoppers want to do is eat fancy cheese, so whatever. Also I think of how Yahoo is listing bullshit articles from its "contributor network" in the same "top stories" space they list actual news stories, which makes me feel like I will need to drink a lot of iced coffee and stare at a lot of beautiful bodies of water if I'm going to make it through the weekend.

Onto good news! We Are All Good was voted as #18 in The Believer's Top 20 Poetry Books of 2010. Very honored and surprised. Kudos to other awesome writer-friends listed in the Poetry & Fiction lists: Rachel B Glaser, Alex Phillips, CA Conrad, Ben Mirov, and Nick Demske. Thanks Believer readers.

Over at the GIANT, Gabe Durham wrote a really generous and comprehensive breakdown of "The World Doesn't Smell Like You" from Look! Look! Feathers. Why don't I go ahead and quote at length the most flattering thing he says! Self-esteem! When self-esteem's on a bagel, you can have self-esteem anytime! Here we go: "Mike’s stories, poems, and songs, taken together, form an America that doesn’t know that its beating heart is the hungry cluttered small towns of the Pacific Northwest. It’s the fiction, though, that for me does the most at once: Language, character, plot, place, inventory, experiment, emotion, and ambition are inextricable from each other in this book. Look! Look! Feathers does the old things and the new things. We can have it all, and should." Holy goddamn, Gabe Durham. You are a sky pie. Come back to Massachusetts but force your kids to have Southern accents anyway.

Final item of business: the beautiful Carolyn Zaikowski and I recorded a version of Chelsea Hotel: I play guitar and she sings. Carolyn has written two novels that are as beautiful as her singing voice, so someone should up and put those out already. When that happens, I will celebrate by taking her to a bed in the Chelsea Hotel and making sure it's unmade.





4.29.2011

piano players are more interesting songwriters than rhythm guitar players

This is something I reached while walking home today with my first iced coffee of 2011. It is based on watching American Idol do Carole King night, which taught me surprises like: Carole King wrote "I'm Into Something Good." Further research has now taught me that "I'm Into Something Good" was in one of the brave little toaster movies.

In other news, a story from L!L!F is up at The Fanzine: "Same Heart They Put You In." The story is about Napa Valley 90s weird kids and features krill, nintendo, Rottweilers, cannibalism, and writing 80085 on your calculator. Thanks Casey McKinney and Benjamin Bush for publishing it, and Danny Jock for the badass dog art. This story was one I almost cut from L!L!F, but I'm glad I didn't because several people have told me it's their favorite story. I guess I'm reminded again that people are weird, which is always a huge relief.

Very stoked to announce that Ofelia Hunt's Today & Tomorrow is available for pre-order from Magic Helicopter. Read more about it with a clickity on the title. Blake Butler said on FB: "it really rules hard. it gives no fuck about how fully it gives a fuck. big." Also some other magic people said things about it, like Stacey Levine, Amelia Gray, and Matthew Simmons. I approved the final high-res zamboni line art today. Very eager to get this hunk into the world and see it do a little melting of brains and such.

Finally, I'm going to be at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival on May 14th in Salem, MA, doing a panel about MFAs at 3PM. This will be in competition with Steve Almond's Bad Poetry presentation, so you know [insert any joke ever]. If you're around Salem, let's hang out! I've never been to Salem. I will wear a pointy hat.


4.18.2011

cleaned my house and now netflix has one more copy of annie hall back, congratulations annie and netflix

So down in the nation's capitol again this weekend, and Baltimore, to hang out with great folks and talk about sentences in poetry and finally eat chili dogs at the famous chili dog place. They have pictures of Ghostface Killah and Larry King eating chili dogs. The chili dog girl was dancing along with the radio and asked me if I wanted anything to drink with my half-smoke, and I said, okay, yes, a glass of water, and she pointed her spatula at me in a very authoritative way. Thanks to Mark C and Laura for shepherding me toward chili dogdom. And thanks to the ever wizardly Adam Robinson for long conversations into the night, gracious hosting, and driving me to Royal Farms very late at night to buy fried chicken and smoothies. And to Michael Kimball and Barrelhouse and Joe Young and Stephanie Red Shawl and Birthday Justin Ukulele National Anthem Jasper Johns Cake.

Dan Wickett at Emerging Writers Review did a really nice little write-up about All Good for National Packing Tape Month. He understands my holistic life philosophy when he says: "The list of things that get brought up, again seemingly randomly, throughout this collection is immense: Craigslist, MySpace, emoticons, antelopes, NyQuil, The Decemberists, and the list just goes on and on. But each of these is important to somebody or they wouldn't exist, or co-exist with each other." Co-existence is all there is. Birds keep choosing or not choosing my window. Garage doors open for no reason. Presidents steal pens. Engineers design machines to shrinkwrap things, and during the troubleshooting process something funny inevitably happens. Someone who works at your favorite restaurant steals steak knives from the discount store and robs the bank across the street, but he's tackled. People do or do not understand your personality based on the subletting ad you post on Craigslist. My stand is for replacing my shrunken, over-focused subjective experience of the world with the world itself, and also for spicier pickles.