This morning, as I do every couple months, I was going through my list of “outstanding” submissions, determining whether or not I should send follow-up notes to presses and journals. One of the manuscripts I’ve got out there is a collection of prose poems, seeking blank slate: postcards out of eudaimonia. There are a number of individual poems from this manuscript already out there, and I wanted to make an accurate accounting of where and when these poems were published. So I did a quick search online, which, more than to my poems, lead me to a series of articles about the concept of “eudaimonia.” I don’t usually use this space to re-post material I find interesting, but given the connection to my own writing and thinking, and to the ideal of “the pursuit of happiness,” which is a critical focus in those postcard poems, I thought I’d link to a piece about the differences between “happiness” and “eudaimonia.”

After Furniture Press’ release of Wysihicken [sic], poet/critic Toby Altman interviewed me for Spoon River Poetry Review, asking questions about the politics of mimesis, the ostentatious absence of first-person pronouns, and links to, or legacies of, Wordsworth’s peripatetic lyric. Thanks, Toby!

My latest review, of Dodie Bellamy’s Cunt Norton, now up at Phantom Limb. On the shorter side of my reviewing gamut, but it’s got some dense moments:

The voices in these poems, with their unwavering devotion to the smashing of gorged pudenda and their seepages, is an unflinching affirmation of the roles of all bodies in the grasp of (mostly masculine) privilege, as asserted by that infamous gaze.

I’m a little behind in announcing this, but you can get your hands on my chapbook Wysihicken [sic] through Furniture Press. I recommend reviewing subscription options, which gets many other lovely books into your hands, too. If you order a subscription of $75 or more by April 30th 2014 (the end of National Poetry Month), you’ll also get to choose three additional books in the 2010-2013 back-catalog. You’re probably saying/asking, “Whuck?!” And I’m all like, “Yarp!”

Wysihicken [sic] cover

NOTE from Furniture Press Books Publisher, Christophe Casamassima [get your subscription on]:

I revamped the FPB Subscriptions page. Since you’re publishing with us this year, your book falls within a very lucrative [for the reader] offer of a 2014 subscription for only $75. Please promote the press and these subscriptions (along with your book) at every possible, feasible juncture.

Also, if anyone subscribes at $75 or higher by March 31, they will receive a copy of the 4th annual FPB poetry prize’s winning book, which is selected by Elizabeth Robinson and will be released in early 2015.

And this is the list of books and chapbooks we’re publishing this year:

Jared Schickling, The Paranoid Rader: Essays 2006-2012
Thomas Devaney, Calamity Jane
Ryan Eckes, val-u plus
Kevin Varrone, Box Score: An Autobiography
Dan Thomas-Glass, Daughters of Your Century
Chris McCreary, NEÜRO/MÄNTIC

Jacob Bennett, Wysihicken [sic]
Alicia Puglionesi, Views from the National Forests
Andrew Klein, Bluemore
Erin Dorney, Feather Tracts

1X4 winner: Joseph Cooper, The Caves of Ice [chosen by j/j hastain]
2X4 winner: Nicole Steinberg, Clever Little Gang [chosen by Ryan Eckes]
3X4 winner: Caroline Crew & Chris Elmslie, Your Stupid Fortune Gives Me Stupid Hope [chosen by Joshua Ware]
4X4 winner: [Iris Cushing will make a decision soon]

In anticipation of the imminent publication of my chapbook Wysihicken [sic], by the phenomenal folks at Baltimore’s own Furniture Press, I am posting two little teaser texts:

1. Remarks I prepared to introduce my reading of Wysihicken [sic] at the 2013 Conference of the Pennsylvania College English Association:

History, in the sense of a record of human events or events impacting humans, as written by humans, is always an attempt to organize, to manipulate, to concretize, the alinear, simmering, fragmenting structures of aging, forgetful memory. This is logical, as sequence holds great sway over meaning. This is true in mathematics, chemistry, biology, and also in narrative, and in testimony. What happened first? What happened next? Who knew what, and when? Who did what, and in what order?

Landscape, as sequence, also holds great sway over meaning, as any historian of any settlement, or battlement, as any geologist or ecologist, plainly knows. Embedded in the human events on and around the Wissahickon Creek is the fact of the landscape. The particular geologic makeup and shakeup of the steep ridges, which, with ambivalent chaos, determine the course of the small yellow-brown waterway, also determine patterns of animal habitation and migration, growth and abundance of plants, and behaviors of the people who rely on them all for sustenance: flora, fauna, terra, aqua. This poem is an attempt to mingle those interlocutors, past and present, in a topology that takes note of sequence and landscape in order to merge them.

2. A re-posting of some of my responses to questions for that “Next Big Thing” blog-meme:

Where did the idea come from for the book?

From solo bike rides up to and into Wissahickon Creek Park in northwest Philadelphia, and from research about the geological and human history of the creek and its banks. The title comes from William Cobbett’s Rural Rides (1821), a post-Enclosure survey of British farmland in which he remembers, in a witchy weird way, a visit to the American creek. Halfway through Wysihicken [sic], there is an edited erasure poem drawn from Cobbett’s text, but most of the composition happened in my head as I cruised the gravel path alongside (above) the yellow-brown stream, as I splashed in the water to cool off, or sat on a big flat rock in the sun to dry and warm up. After getting home again, I’d stretch, rinse off, and then type up what I had been repeating over and over to myself.

What genre does your book fall under?

Landscape demagogy.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Ummm…New Zealand. Vermont if we’re on shoestrings. And a young Rutger Hauer as Johannes Kelpius. (Spoiler: his scenes get cut.)

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

We don’t need no stinking sentence: “at the schist there / is unpried // a big old book / left in the rain / to sog / a big / old book left / out in sun / to cement // what nationstory / if the pages / would lift”

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The shapes schist and water make in their slow revision. (I could mention the beauty of the place, but I don’t want to give the impression that this is a work of idyll or bucolic pastoral.) And I owe a lot to the placards along Forbidden Drive – they provided just enough information about the ravine to whet an edge for what I wanted to carve out. Later, I began to owe a lot to Cobbett and Poe, and Sidney M. Earle, and especially David Contosta and Carol Franklin and Gunlög Fur, authors who’ve previously written about issues related to the Wissahickon.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Embedded into the poem is (or is not) a set of very careful directions leading to TREASURE.

Here, finally, are the audio files for the three readings at On Deck (vol. 1.3), from way back on 10 Aug 2013:

On Deck (vol. 1.3) Brandon Holmquest [10aug2013]

On Deck (vol. 1.3) Jacob A Bennett [10aug2013]

On Deck (vol. 1.3) Nicolas Destino [10aug2013]

On Deck is a three-part BBQ-and-reading series, a kind of “summer salon en plein air.” The host, Jacob Bennett, has invited one reader for each installation, and that reader has invited one more reader, who has invited one more reader, for a total of three per event. This invitation process mimics the various networks of friends and acquaintances that a community creates and recreates, organically but conscientiously trading and sharing information and tastes. The third event features Brandon Holmquest, Jacob A. Bennett, and Nicolas Destino.


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