I literally love Sean H. Doyle [seanhdoyle.com] [seanhdoyle.tumblr.com] —we go back before we even met each other. His wife Theresa is one of my nearest/dearest, and has been since just after I moved to the city when I was like 18 or 19. It started out that she would cut my hair, but then I’d just come to the salon and hang out, write, do work, we’d get lunch, and just chill. One of the things we always talked about was boys/love. I remember one day T said she met this guy, and if I’m remembering the quote correctly it went something like: “He’s been staying at my place so much I finally just asked him, when are you gonna start paying some of the bills?” So freaking romantique. Anyway that guy turned out to be Sean, and Sean turned out to be a freaking boss ass writer and one of the best and most genuine men in my life. I asked him to be one of the readers at the launch of my poetry app Absent Mindr earlier this year bc he is an absolute crowd-slayer, and it’s exciting to read with other writers who actually take the audience into account—give them something. A “performance.” His book, This Must Be the Place, is forthcoming in 2015 from Civil Coping Mechanisms. He co-hosts the Almost Live at Mellow Pages podcast for Volume 1 Brooklyn.
1. What’s the last song you listened to?
- "Marrow," from Yob’s new album, Clearing the Path to Ascend. I like to zone out to songs that have scope and emotion, to let them take me somewhere other than were I am while listening, and this song covers all of it. Something beautiful about the way they sneak some major chords into the changes of such a slow-crawling beast of a song. This one has been on repeat a lot lately.
2. What did you want to be when you were ten?
- Evel Knievel. I wanted to be fearless and jump over everything and crash through anything and come out the other side alive.
3. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
- It wasn’t given specifically to me, but this passage from The Hagakure is something I think about every single day and try to remember when situations arise that distract me from the life I want to be living —-“There is surely nothing other than the single purpose of the present moment. A man’s whole life is a succession of moment after moment. If one fully understands the present moment, there will be nothing else to do, and nothing else to pursue. Live being true to the single purpose of the moment.”
4. What’s the last thing you were obsessed with?
- The same thing I am always obsessed with: writing sentences that help me untie knots inside of myself to help me understand myself and the world I am living in.
5. Give me some poems or poets you’ve been taken with, recently—
- Natalie Eilbert — Just. Damn. Read everything she has ever written. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
- Joanna C. Valente — Her upcoming book of poems, Sirs & Madams, is lovely.
- Matt Nelson — I keep going back to this —- http://shabbydollhouse.com/How-a-Scene-Changes-So-Fast —- and feeling so much.
- Eduardo C. Corral — I saw him read last night at an Atlas Review event and I had to hang my head because his work made me cry and it was so fucking beautiful.
- Carrie Lorig — Feels like reading secret code that speaks to DNA. Dive in here: http://carrieabigstick.tumblr.com/poems
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."
Last week the dazzling poet Cynthia Manick, who I met in a Brooklyn Poets manuscript workshop run by leighstein, asked me if I wanted to participate in this blog tour making its way around the Internet. I’m a little suspect of everything and everyone, can be a little but of a… hater? A little bit stand-offish? I’m not proud of it, It’s just my nature. Call it where I come from, living in the big city, some shyness. This is especially true of workshops. Once I trust someone, however, I hold on for dear life. That’s the case with Cynthia: she was a generous and thoughtful reader, never quick to judge but still incisive, and (of the utmost importance when reading someone else’s work) she took the time to think about the work from the poet’s perspective. She didn’t just insert herself. Couple that with her own poetry—vigorous & effervescent & haltingly gorgeous—and you have got one of the powerhouses of contemporary poetry.
I was honored that she asked me to participate. And a little gassy. So here goes:
1) What are you working on?
Mostly I’m working on getting laid, which hasn’t really happened in awhile, and being in a relationship, which almost never happens for me, but also sometimes poetry. This summer I have some office space in Greenpoint with some talented cuties and I’m working on finishing my full manuscript by August.
2) How does your work differ from others’ work in the same genre?
I’m not sure, but I think one of the hallmarks of my stuff is that it’s based on my literal voice, as in the one that comes out of my mouth, as in the one that has embarrassed me my whole life and used to get me made fun of daily. The thing that used to cause me so much shame is now my favorite thing about myself, and writing poetry for my voice helped me feel that way.
3) Why do you write what you do?
4) How does your writing process work?
Coffe Tea Diet Pepsi 4 Gallons of Water and Pee Break Pee Break Pee Break. I also talk into the voice memo thing on my phone all the time, and write the transcripts when I get to my “office.”
I’m passing the torch onto Ruby Brunton, who I met in Ariana Reines’s Ancient Evenings series last autumn. I can’t wait to see what she has to say!
If you don’t know Teebs, you’re about to. Eric and I sat down with one of the hardest working and most genuinely love-filled poets in America, who just so happens to live in Bushwick, Tommy Pico. W…
The completely awesome Sean H Doyle and Eric Nelson interviewed me for the “Almost Live at Mellow Pages” podcast interview series (and wrote a totally fucking blushworthy intro), & we talk about, amongst other things, how Tumblr helped me be a better poet. Have a listen—I sound like a bunny on crack and it’s awesome.
I have three poems in the new issue of Ocho, a queer arts mag—check it out here, replete with headshots: http://t.co/pD2jZL69aM :-) :-) :-)
Hey friends, I just finished giving my site a major facelift with upcoming and past readings, recently published works, videos, and media mentions. I think it looks cute, how bout you?!?
So, what do you do? Is a thing people ask
at parties and bars and speed dating
in New York. Whenever I go home to California,
my whole reservation asks: soooo, what are you
doing? Which means, what’s more important
than being here with your family and your people
in the valley we’ve lived in for thousands
of years? Which, heavy. I have people
out here too, who make here feel like home.
It sucks being a sometimes person, some times
here and some times there— the mind like arthritis but really
I’m lucky. Some people never get people. Some
people have to make them up, and get locked away
for talking to them. I’ve never been locked up
but I did come out as bisexual, and was afraid
of my own voice once for 28 years. But now,
karaoke. And the whole block knows when I stub
my toe. It sounds like this: uuuuugggggghhhhhh
"I have this bad date that gets me thinking: if you want to develop a real relationship in the city, I think it’s important to be in the path of that person, regularly, as a matter of course. You have to share a place, a neighborhood, or work or school or a commute or a coffee shop or a bar or scene. Something so the artifice of dating doesn’t overwhelm the function." This month’s “Banal and Profane” column comes to us from writer Tommy Pico.
Hey friends, Lambda Literary just published this thing I wrote for their column “The Banal & The Profane” about a week in my life. Check it out!!!
hey friends n strangers,
i finished my zine with text by me and drawings by THE Dutchesse Crystal
so if you’d like a copy just email me your address and i’ll gladly send you one. if we met like once/never and you feel weird asking me for it over email, don’t feel weird. i often tell people i barely know that they were in my dreams. you’re in good company.
Kayla Morse is one of my favorite living poets and her zine is really really really really really good. SO get one while you can, peeps.
Tomorrow I’ll be tabling at the Brooklyn Zine Fest for Birdsong, hawking some mighty fine self-published writing and art, and promoting our Kickstarter campaign to make a “best of” magazine. I’ll be sitting alongside the dashing Adam J. Kurtz, to whom I owe one million cookies (I forgot to reserve a table this year and he offered me space at his).
Come say hi and rifle through my zines and tell me I look pretty! That sounds like a joke and it kind of is.
Five years ago I started a zine and art collective called “birdsong.” I wanted there to be a home for the work that was being made in my community of writers, artists, and musicians. Today I launched a kickstarter campaign to fund a “best of Birdsong” five year anniversary magazine— I am so excited, nervous, proud, hungry, etc. So please visit the page and pledge and share it with everyone! Love you. Oh and watch the video b/c I am so proud of myself for learning imovie these past couple of weeks!
I resisted the urge to reblog each and every version of the “jennifer lawrence falling” gif and instead set up my editing wall in the new apartment. Everything is finally settled