Nature Poem zines have begun to snake their way into the natural habitats of peeps who asked for one—I still have some copies left, so if u want to read a long poem that includes combating stereotypes of NDN ppl, a sex proposal in a pizza parlor, and a lil Beyonce thrown in for good measure, send me a message or email heyteebs at gmail PEACE

Five On It: Sam Ross

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I first knew Sam Ross as a friend-of-a-friend: He and BFF Wilkes were both MFAers at Columbia, were in a couple of the same translation classes, and became close when they worked together in the main office as department fellows. A few months ago I was doing some poetry leapfrogging around the Internet and came across Sam’s “Time Expanding the Air Forcibly" in Hunger Mountain—my face went all @_@ and I sent Wilkes a subjectless all-caps email that just read HOLY SHIT SAM ROSS IS SUCH A FUCKING GOOD WRITER. So of course I had to embarrass myself in front of him at a party and gush, which lead to a discussion about Robert Graves and Mariah Carey, which lead to me being able to happily call Sam my friend, and not just Wilkes’s friend lol. I put his poem in my fifth poetry mixtape, and the rest is history. Sam Ross’s poems have appeared in Tin House, Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, Guernica, and other journals. He is co-editor of Circumference, poetry in translation.

1. What’s the last song you listened to?

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2. What did you want to be when you were ten?

  • Large animal vet

3. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

  • Put it in a drawer

4. What’s the last thing you were obsessed with?

  • Herve Guibert’s Mausoleum of Lovers, beautifully published by Nightboat Books. Guibert was a French photographer, critic, journalist, etc. who brought greater attention to AIDS in France in the early 90s when he published a novel about Foucault called To The Friend Who Did Not Save My Life. Mausoleum of Lovers is a collected volume of his journals from 1976-1991, translated from French by Nathanaël. It’s filthy, funny, beautiful, deprecating, French. Wayne Koestenbaum wrote about Guibert in an essay at Book Forum.

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5. Give me some poems or poets you’ve been taken with, recently—

We are the last animal to arrive in the kingdom—even science will tell you that.

My father takes me into the hills we cut sage. He tells me to thank the plant for its sacrifice. Every time I free a switch of it a burst of prayer for every leaf.

I’m swoll on knowing this, sharing the pride of plants. 

My mother waves at oak trees. A doctor delivers her diagnosis.

When she ascends the mountains to pick acorn, my mother motherfucking waves at oak trees. Watching her stand there, her hands behind her back, rocking, grinning 

into the face of the bark—

They are talking to each other. 

I am nothing like that. I say to my audience.

I say, I went to Sarah Lawrence College.

I make quinoa n shit

Once on campus I see a York peppermint patty wrapper on the ground, pick it up, and throw it away. “Yr such a good Indian” says some dick walking to class. 

I no longer pick up trash. 

Poetry Mixtape 9

I thought I was taking a vacation from writing, but then while I was on a porch petting a kitty named Witch Baby, that inspiration thing kind of happened and I started writing a new long poem/zine called Nature Poem. Get at me if you want one. Here are some things I read this week while writing and petting cats that I found pretty damn inspiring/generative/life giving (art by Cat Glennon):

1. Sandra Simonds - “Poetry is Stupid and I Want to Die,” via American Poetry Review

  • "I know how to waste the mellow hour glides like a swan/Into the future (goodbye future) turns into swans gliding/across the ice in Florida Some cursive tongues or calligraphy made/of pure value from the mood descending like soft rains in the tropics."

2. Nicole Sealey - “Imagine Sisyphus Happy,” via Brooklyn Poets

  • "We fell somewhere between god/and mineral, angel and animal,/translated the word into man. Then believed/a thing as sacred as the sun can rise/and fall like an ordinary beast."

3. Claudia Rankine - “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely [On the bus two women argue],” via Poets.org

  • "It is true that we carry the idea of us along with us. And then there are three thousand of us dead and it is incomprehensible and ungraspable."

4. Joseph Campana - “Spring Come to Ohio,” via Slate

  • "come/read, come to the flower/beds and the mowed-down/fields where the heads of/yellow soldiers burst in/the grass."

5. Ari Banias - “Double Mastectomy,” via LATR

  • "a place queerly brimming gold light;/the possibility of/home in my body:

6. Danez Smith - “not an elegy for Mike Brown,” via Split the Rock

  • "think: once, a white girl/was kidnapped & that’s the Trojan war./Later, up the block, Troy got shot/& that was Tuesday."

7. Natalie Eilbert - “Before a Future Generation,” via the Paris American

  • "The body is another kind of evening/under infrared lights."

8. Danniel Schoonebeek - “C’est La Guerre,” via poets.org

  • "It is you with the planks of rotting down barns in your arms I/am barreling toward."

9. Layli Long-Soldier - “from Whereas," via Pen America

  • "I climb the backs of languages, ride them into textual conflict—maybe I pull the reins when I mean go."

Five On It: Ben Fama

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I met Ben Fama approx. 69 million years ago, when we were both baby dino interns at Ugly Duckling Presse—back when everyone wore thin headbands and listened to Crystal Castles and you only knew of maybe one person with a smart phone maybe, and anyways it was that one fancy friend of yrs who was a lil bit older and worked out in a pashmina and literally never sweat once in their entire life. It was a vibrant time for culture. Ben was very good at making books. I was very bad at it. When Ben sewed/glued/printed/folded and finished a book, it was put in a pile to send subscribers. When I finished a book Matvei (Yankelevich) would look at it, then look at me, and say, “Well… that’ll be a review copy.” Ben is the author of the artist book Mall Witch (which I pledged for on Kickstarter!), as well as several chapbooks and pamphlets. His poem sunset, which I put in my first poetry mixtape, has been one of my favorite things I’ve read in the past few years. In 2015 Ugly Duckling, where we met o those millennia ago, will publish Fantasy, his first full length collection of poems. Don’t worry Ben, I will not be making any of them. www.benfama.com 

1. What’s the last song you listened to?

2. What did you want to be when you were ten?

  • First place

3. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

  • Never say anything about someone you wouldn’t say to their face

4. What’s the last thing you were obsessed with?

  • This peach sweatshirt that says SAINT TROPEZ

5. Give me some poems or poets you’ve been taken with, recently—

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god bless u or whatever n have whatever life away from me u want but plz in my presence never say somethin is yr “spirit animal” unless u want up straight rancor in yr face. Intentional or not, u r engaging in some indigenous mockery that i dont want in my earshot thx

from “garbage,” by A.R. Ammons

So I picked up this book poem garbage by A.R. Ammons bc in general I’ve been trying to read more epic book poems, but also I had an idea to do a book exchange with my friend andrewrhysyoung bc he wrote this poem that ended with garbage in a way that reminded me about a poem that I’d written that ended with garbage, so both the length and the title grabbed me. In the beginning it seemed to be about how elders are treated like garbage in society today, recognizing the sharpness of the mind while the body falls apart, but also the nature of advice, how to write a poem, how one comes to poetry, the direction of life, death, etc. I like this section bc he turns on himself, and there’s also this sense of like—I’m 63 and I still feel like I never grew up! Anyway, see for yourself. This is about 2/3rds of the way thru the book:

we

need nothing more, except the spelling out of
these for those inattentive or too busily lost

in the daily elaborations to prize the essential:
(1) don’t complain—ills are sufficiently

clear without reiterated description: (2) count
your blessings, spelling them over and over into

sharp contemplation: (3) do what you can—
take action: (4) move on, keep the mind

allied with the figurations of ongoing: when
I was a kid I always, it seemed, had a point

I couldn’t say or that no one could accept—
I always sounded unconvincing; I lost the

arguments: people became impatient and stuck
to their own beliefs; my explanations struck

them as strange, unlikely: when I learned
about poetry, I must have recognized a means

to command silence in them, the means so to
combine thinking and feeling, imagination and

movement as to spell them out of speech:
people would buy the enchantment and get the

point reason couldn’t, the point delivered below
the level of argument, straight into the fat

of feeling: so I’m asking you to help me now:
yield to the possibility: I’m going to try to

say everything all over again: I’ve discovered
at sixty-three that the other things I wished of

poetry, that it prevent death, has kept me a
little strange, that I have not got my feet out

of the embranglements of misapplication and out
into a clear space to go; that I have to start

again from a realization of failure: in fact,
heaving learned about commanding silence and

having, mostly by accident, commanded it a few
times, I’ve become afraid of convincingness,

what harm it can do if there is too much of
it along with whatever good, so I am now a

little uncertain on purpose: I recognize cases
in other words from time to time that I’d rather

see go through than my own: they seem wiser
cases: they come from people who seem better

wrapped around their spines: then their mouths
are open, their vertebrae form a sounding

foundation for their words: I have never,
frankly, grown up, not if growing up means I

wouldn’t trade in what I have today for something
I might get tomorrow: I am a trader: I’m still

looking for the buy to go all the way with:

Five On It: Morgan Parker

I first came across Morgan’s poetry via my friend mauddeitch who sent me some of her [PANK] poems back in the Spring. The first line of the first MP poem I ever read was “I didn’t come here to make friends” and I knew it was love I was feelin. I included the poems on my first poetry mixtape, and discovered we had approx 1.2 billion friends in common. Our Twitter love affair began—liking, replying, retweeting, the whole nine yards—but it wasn’t until 4th of July, during a party which is loosely depicted in this Blunderbuss excerpt from my long poem IRL, that we finally met in person. We gabbed, we danced, we… well the only thing I really remember is leaving the party together, arm in arm, my face and gut sore from laughing so hard. Morgan is just one of those people who, when she’s around, makes u feel like yr going to change the world together. She is the author of Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night (Switchback Books 2015), selected by Eileen Myles for the 2013 Gatewood prize, and There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé (Coconut Books 2016). She’s a Cave Canem fellow, graduate of NYU’s Creative Writing MFA program, and poetry editor for Coconut Magazine. Morgan lives in Brooklyn and at www.morgan-parker.com.

1. What’s the last song you listened to?

  • You can cross-reference with Spotify, but “Sunset” by The Internet. Before that I was listening to Miles Davis— Stella by Starlight and then Flamenco Sketches. I highly recommend all music made before 1979. If it was made after that, I only medium-to-high recommend it.

2. What did you want to be when you were ten?

  • A writer. Boring answer. Unfortunately I was pretty much fully formed at nine, when I started a publishing house during recess and bought a blazer. I wasn’t very cool. I wrote short stories about pizza. But I hated poetry.

3. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

  • The obvious answer is “Write drunk, edit sober.” Equally important has been to learn to say no.

4. What’s the last thing you were obsessed with?

  • My own feelings. Broad City. Vinho Verde. Beyoncé. Visual art that incorporates text.

5. Give me some poems or poets you’ve been taken with, recently—

  • A couple that just hit the shelves take the breath out of me: Saeed Jones’ Prelude to Bruise, and Claudia Rankine’s Citizen. Always swooning over the work of my dude Danez Smith. I’ve also been hanging out alot with Amber Atiya’s work.