Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Collier Nogues' September Reading Schedule!

Come hear Collier Nogues read from On the Other Side, Blue (Four Way Books, 2011) in Olympia, Enterprise, Cambridge, and Milwaukee! (Read the starred review from Publishers Weekly here.)

Saturday, September 3, 6:00 PM
509 E 4th Ave, Olympia, Washington

Wednesday, September 7, 7:00 PM
at The Coffin House, sponsored by Fishtrap http://www.fishtrap.org/index.shtml
400 East Grant Street, Enterprise, OR

Friday, September 9, 8:00 PM
Timothy Gager's Dire Literary Series
Click here to view the Facebook event page
The Out of the Blue Gallery
106 Prospect St., Cambridge, MA

Thursday, September 15, 5:00 PM
Cardinal Stritch University
6801 North Yates Road, Milwaukee, WI

Friday, September 16, 7:00 PM
Woodland Pattern's Redletter Reading Series
720 East Locust Street, Milwaukee, WI


Collier Nogues, author of On the Other Side, Blue (Four Way Books, 2011) grew up in Texas and Okinawa, and has since lived in New York, Southern California, and the Pacific Northwest. She has been the recipient of fellowships and residencies from the MacDowell Colony, the Ucross Foundation, and Fishtrap, Inc., in Enterprise, Oregon. She lives in Long Beach, California, with her husband, and teaches at the University of California, Irvine, and Laguna College of Art and Design.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Farrah Field in PW's Review of The Best American Poetry 2011

From Publishers Weekly:

The Best American Poetry 2011
Edited by Kevin Young and David Lehman. Scribner, $16 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-4391-8149-2

This year’s volume of poetry’s most popular annual anthology contains the usual eclectic mix of famous and up-and-coming poets; Young, this year’s editor, is in fact among the series’ youngest, though he is himself as well known as any of the other editors have been. His picks are all over the aesthetic map; there’s no better way to show them than to quote lines, so here goes: poetry fans will recognize names like Robert Pinsky (who describes a horn, probably a sax, as “the golden trophy. The true addiction”) and Carolyn Forche (“The water shimmers with imaginary fish”) and will be delighted to meet relative newcomers such as Jaswinder Bolina (“I am grateful for the man now nuzzling with my ex-lover”) and Farrah Field (“No one here has visited a functional hospital”). Wonderful, too, are the aphorisms of James Richardson (“How proud we are of our multitasking. What is Life but something to get off our desks, cross off our lists?”) and the sonnets of Olena Kalytiak Davis (“fuck! I have two loves too, i really do”). There are also several-page poems by the likes of Robert Hass and Paul Muldoon, for those with concentration to spare. As ever, there is something for every poetry lover, as well as for readers who might not yet know they love poetry. (Sept.)

Huffington Post: Carol Muske-Dukes on Sydney Lea's Young of the Year

Syd Lea's Young of the Year (Four Way Books) might seem predictable at first in its narrative of advancing age and family life, its memories of youth and jazz. Small town New England is familiar poetry-territory but Lea is so skillful at injecting emotion into his terse yet lyrical syllables -- the world is uncommon again:

"Under the garish fast-food billboard/which insults a field on Route 10/always in tilth before the farm/like so many others went down/and its owners dispersed -- under that come-on/for the famous Happy Meal/two men of indeterminate age/are plucking dandelions."

It is that tart economical diction and tight syntax that yet reveal a broader empathy -- a soaring sensibility. People are homeless and hungry, the landscape often ungenerous, but in many of these poems, kindness is the miracle. Miracles abound in this book.

Nick Sturm Reviews David Dodd Lee’s The Nervous Filaments

Highly dynamic, irreverent, subversive, and driven by a kinetic music that often breaks into riot, The Nervous Filaments is equal parts burning car and predatory rain, an unstable, hugely intelligent electrical box that bleeds [...]

[...] These poems singe with their limber, imagistic abilities. Reading this book sometimes feels like holding an array of transparencies up to one another, aligning divergent frequencies and worlds in an attempt to see what shines through. Indeed, without due attention it might be easy to dismiss them as totem poles of non-sequiturs, if such a thing even exists. However, there is an uncommonly brave depth to be found in this book. Dodd Lee is a master of attention at the molecular level, casually juxtaposing line, image, and syllable in a fierce, uncompromising weather that accumulates into a brazen aesthetic project driven by place, experience, and a serious conviction in poetry as art.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Interview with Jennifer Denrow in the Sonora Review

Whitney DeVos: Being a CA native, [your thoughts on your most recent collection California are] what I’m most interested in hearing about—the disembodied place and the poetic voice of the 21st century—and how California (or California) speaks to both.

Jennifer Denrow: I had to write something before about California and I said this: California is about the role of California in the contemporary imagination, as an imaginative trope within a dislocated psyche. The escape here has to do with the inability to make things mean—it feels like if I try hard enough there can be a resolution via the imagination. But sometimes when we make things they overcome us. It’s difficult to know the appropriate boundary for imagination—at what point it moves from an attempt to decipher the world into a construction of the reality of the world. I can’t ever tell the difference but I continue to try.

When you say “disembodied place”, I think that’s right—dislocation feels prevalent, necessary (for me, anyway). I think it’s important to stay inside uncertainty, to think about place and imagination as inseparable—I feel like I’m always trying to determine what place is, how it works. Fanny Howe says in “Bewilderment”: “Bewilderment is an enchantment that follows a complete collapse of reference and reconcilability.” Maybe when you say the “voice of the 21st century” this is the voice . . . .

WD: As regards bewilderment and imagination—how do you see these relating to our position in history, our collective consciousness, etc.? Also, poetry? Any advice for a young contemporary writer?

JD: I think imagination and bewilderment are tops—wonder, for me, is the most important emotion—to be able to maintain wonder and be in the world (in order to be in the world, maybe). I can never know what anything means. It feels like I want to—like the correspondence I try to create with everything that’s outside of me is purposed to result in meaning, but I don’t think that’s it—I think it’s more like trying to understand how everything can mean so much and wandering around inside the suggestion that it does. It feels like an invitation I have to remain attentive to.

In terms of how this relates to our position in history, or in poetry, I’m not sure. There is something in the way things are made—or in the way they are made to be to one another: I was standing in a hole the other day, a hole in the beach, the sand had been moved, etc, and this couple walking by (it was dark) approaches, very suspiciously, and the woman says what’s going on here. And the man says, hey, you’re standing in a hole, why are you standing in that hole, and I said because it’s something i do—and then he said, so you know you’re in a hole and I said yes, I love holes. This was all very mysterious for the couple but for me it felt regular. I don’t know why thinking about wonder and our place within history and poetry made me think of this story but it did.

It feels necessary to always make things mean—maybe that’s what that story was about. they had probably narrativized my hole-standing to equate to some great act of faith, or maybe they thought I was stuck, or maybe they thought I had fallen into the hole and didn’t know and they were going to help me by telling me I was there. I don’t know. Maybe they were just drunk.

When it comes to advice, I’m not sure of that either. I know what’s important for me—that I continue to look at things, past the point of seeing them, and then past that, into not seeing them, and then staying out there, as far as I can inside of them, for as long as possible and seeing what that feels like and what can happen inside of that. Maybe other people have to do different things. Maybe obsession. I think that’s good advice.

WD: It feels necessary to always make things mean—I can definitely relate to this… sometimes it is so hard! But necessary, of course, in the face of everything that asks us to find things meaningless or—everyone who tells “us” (poets/artists/English majors) that we are “just overthinking everything”. as humans, we are people of stories and meaning (ceremony seems relevant—and our loss of meaning within, lack of rights of passage, connection with nature, self reliance, commercialization of holidays (“holy days”)…

JD: Meaning, it seems, comes from reference. And that’s why it’s so hard. Because everything feels like hypertext. One thing means not only itself, but it also means what happens when you click on it and when you click on it, you have all of the information of the new thing which is also the old thing and that of course means something else as well. There’s the thing about Stein making a rose mean a rose again, but then what happened—between then and now? Everything means so much. That’s why indefinite and demonstrative pronouns are so important. They are words dependent on external reference, some relation is indicated—to say this is here means nothing unless you can see or have some other reference to this and here. But now, these words feel complete without information outside of themselves because nothing is one thing anymore.

I don’t know. Maybe that’s not right. Maybe nothing has ever been just one thing . . .

WD: What is at stake for us today, as “Californians,” Americans, humans, citizens of planet earth, attempting to make meaning etc.?

JD: What’s at stake: is it loss of wonder?

WD: I wonder, how we can court/cultivate wonder in a world in which we may Google everything, or in which places we’ve never been look exactly how they looked on “Planet Earth” or in some movie, etc., What can things mean in a world in which the survival of wonder is at stake? How do we create worlds in which meaning is integral? Is the point of art to create a mirror/a two way mirror/a different mode of being?

JD: I know. Wonder is so hard to keep. I was reading this article about David Eagleman, a neuroscientist who thinks about time. He says when we’re young, the world is unfamiliar so time takes forever to pass because we’re learning about the world, but as we age, time speeds up because we’re familiar with what’s here. That’s why it’s so hard—familiarity: it can mess everything up. His research was centered on near-death experiences or moments of fear when everything slows down. The best thing he says is that we’re in a time lapse—that our brains need time to figure things out and then what is figured out is revealed to us. That the brain is constantly making decisions about the information that’s important/necessary for us to have is something I like to think about. What else is really happening? What gets censored? How can anyone tell if what we get is the right stuff—it’s necessary for survival, I’m sure, but is it the right stuff?

There’s a book. It’s called The Truth About Stories and in it is written that “the truth about stories is that’s all we are.” That feels right to me.

WD: But if dislocation is prevalent, how does this speak to place? Where might we locate ourselves? Within language itself? Within the wor(l)ds of others?

JD: My estimation of place is very porous. I think everything is a place. I think people are places and I think my arm is. it seems like we locate ourselves in relation to the material around us or in relation to an emotional state or a psychological one. I’m here is one of my favorite declarations because it feels so true. And I don’t know what it means. I’m always wanting to say to people, maybe I do say it, we’re here. I like that there is something we can agree on–that we can know, momentarily, one thing that unifies our experience. I don’t know how to determine place, but I feel like I’m always in it. In something. Here. I always feel like I’m here and that seems important.

WD: I’m here. I have a good friend, and one of his favorite things to do is overhear people on their cell phones telling the people on the other line where they are. I like when people explain their jokes.

JD: That’s so funny—listening to where other people are. Isn’t it weird that everyone is somewhere. I love it when people explain jokes—but that’s mostly because I’m so slow at jokes. Sometimes it takes me so long to understand it and then I have a hard time figuring out how it’s funny. This is my favorite joke: what did the zero say to the eight?

Nice belt!

You should just make that joke the interview.