Few Things

Few things!

[mary] - cover - 51)  Reviews of [Mary]:

Thanks to Dan Shapiro for a thoughtful review of my chapbook [Mary] which is up at Poetry International. (Also on Poetry International—  check out Ilya Kaminsky’s beautiful and scary piece on the situation in Ukraine, which gives glimpse & voice to what’s happening on the ground through poems and correspondence.)

Thanks also to Laura Madeline Wiseman for this lovely review of my chapbook [Mary]: at Galatea

2.  Creative Community Review reviewed my reading at Myopic Books in Chicago last month.  & took a loch ness monster kinda picture of me.

3)  Thanks to Lisa Bourbeau for curating a fantastic issue of Talisman & including two of my Edison pieces:  Invention of the Electric Chair (about existential love & Edison’s invention of the electric chair) and Elephant (about existential love & Edison’s public electrocution of Topsy the Elephant).    This poem will be an installation this fall at the Parachute Festival on Coney Island where Edison’s demonstration actually took place.

4)  Thanks to Joe Hall for including one of my Edison pieces, which is about Edison losing his hearing and which  breaks off into Morse Code in the January Everyday Genius. Joe Hall has curated an eye-opening and diverse month at Everyday Genius, which really challenges the boundaries of what poetry can do on the internet.   The pieces take all forms:  forms I don’t even have names for.   Through urgent assortment & experimentation you can feel these pieces try & break through the computer screen.  There is something here that exemplifies and celebrates how strange & glorious it is to be a writer in this moment in time.   

5)  Book of Crushes 

IMG_3848This mysterious book of secret crushes is designed to be read aloud, but in hushed voice & by candlelight. (Poetry Crush, 2014)

Edited by J. Hope Stein

Artwork by Sara Lefsyk

Featuring:   Jennifer Knox on Walt Whitman,  Sara Lefsyk on Federico Garcia Lorca, J. Hope Stein on Sylvia Plath & Ted Hughes, Melissa Broder on Emily Dickinson,  Janaka Stucky on Jean Genet,  Joanna Penn Cooper on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar,  Todd Colby on Mina Loy,  Kristy Bowen on James Franco,  Amy Lawless on Mariah Carey,  Rauan Klassnik on Ron Silliman, Noah Falck on Bill Murray, Leah Umanksy on Don Draper, Joe Hall on Edward Taylor,  Maria Teustch on Henry Miller, Monica McClure on Lindsey Lohan, Lauren Gordon on Brittany Spears, Brandon Brown on Amanda Bynes, Sampson Starkweather on Weekend at Bernies & Hamlet,  Janaka Stucky on Clarice Lispector, Joanna Penn Cooper on Wislawa Symborska, Victor D. Infante on Anne Sexton,  Christine Hamm on Marianne Moore, Lauren Hunter on Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Countee Cullen, & Jean Toomer, Miracle Jones on Emma Lazarus & Julia Ward Howe, Sasha Fletcher on the presidents,  J. Hope Stein on Shakespeare.

6)  New from Poetry Crush Digital Publications!!!

May I Softly


May I Softly Walk:  The Santa Fe Journals

by Cheryl Quimba & Joe Hall

I feel so lucky to get to publish this gem by Joe Hall & Cheryl Quimba.  Click here to engage in the elegant trappings & wonder-nuggets & surprise of the joint-mind of Cheryl Quimba & Joe Hall. 


7)  Poetry Crush’s 3rd annual 10 Dead Poets I would Fuck , which was recommended on the Poetry Foundation blogis up & features: Miracle Jones,  Janaka Stucky, Jennifer L. Knox, Todd Colby,  Joanna Penn Cooper,  Lauren Hunter,Gregory Crosby, Lisa Marie Basile and Gabriel Don. 


crush-on-you_reasonably_small8)  Poetry Crush’s  Everyday is Valentine’s vol I & vol II , which was recommended by the Poetry Foundation blog, features pieces by:  Shane McCrae, Hannah Gamble, Paige Taggart, Amy Lawless, Todd Colby, Joanna Penn Cooper, Douglas Piccinnini, Jared White, Melissa Broder, Rauan Klassnik, Rena Mosteirin, Lee Ann Roripaugh & J. Hope Stein, Joe Hall, Cheryl Quimba, Joanna Penn Cooper, Leah Umansky, Larry Sawyer, Peter Kline, Brittany Perham, Sara Lefsyk, Gregory Crosby, Kristy Bowen, Maria Teutsch, not_I (Ana Bozicevic & Sophia Le Fraga), Sasha Fletcher, Lauren Hunter, DJ Dolack, Stephanie Berger, Justin Petropoulos, Erika Anderson.  

9) Immediate upcomings:



Corner Office, Chic Flix, Baz Luhrmann

corner office handsewn

Who knows how it’s March already, but it is:

Artist/Poet Sara Lefsyk handmade & sewed with genius fingers a limited new version of my chapbook Corner Office which will be available at the H_NGM_N BKS table at AWP.  I’m also going to read from it at the Ping Pong offsite reading.  Also, my chapbook [Mary]: will be at the Hyacinth Girl Press table.

Has everyone seen this Chic Flix Series on Delirius Hem curated by Jennifer Knox?  –I wrote something on the spooky/erotic Picnic at Hanging Rock.  Here’s a thing on Poetry Foundation about the series which includes essays from poets on film!   There are loads of great essays, as of today there are 66!:  Jennifer L. Knox on Gidget, Amanda Deutch on Gena Rowlands, Joanna Penn Cooper on Bell, Book & Candle, Tanya Larkin on The Women, David Lehman on Brief Encounter, Becca Klaver on Foxfire,  Amy Lawless on Young Adult & more!

Also, my short film The Inventor’s Last Breath screened at Greece’s first international poetry film festival last fall.  And next month I get to working on a new batch of pieces, including a piece on the public electrocution of Topsy the elephant by Thomas Edison.  Yes, there is footage.


LOTS of book reviews coming up on POETRYCRUSH. Leah Umansky, Leigh Stein, Christy Ann Reynolds, Joe Hall, Brian Henry, Carol Frost, Todd Colby, Laura Madeline Wiseman, Maria Garcia Teutsch, Hannah Gamble & more.  Also, the first Poetry Crush event will take place this May in Brooklyn as part of the week-long Henry Miller Festival. More info soon.  And there are 2 special issues of Poetry Crush coming soon:1) The Masked Ball – 10 Poets disguise themselves as Shakespearian characters. 2) Music Issue Volume 2.  – 10 poets speak about song lyrics.

But mostly I’ve been wishing I was Baz Luhrmann

The Next Big Thing

Joe Hall, who is one of my favorite poets writing these days, tagged me in this interview series that he described as “spreading like the flu”.  The Next Big Thing is a neat, pass-it-on, chain-letter-ish interview series in which you conduct a brief interview with yourself and post it on your blog & at the end of the interview tag 2- 5 poets– thereby passing it on to them– It’s true, Joe Hall, just like influenza! or birdsong!

So here goes Me conducting an interview with Me. (everyone has to answer the same set of questions below)


Me :What is the working title of the book?

Me: The Inventor’s Last Breath.

Me:  Where did the idea come from for the book?

Me: The Inventor’s Last Breath gets its name from Thomas Edison’s last breath, which was allegedly captured and saved in a test tube and is on display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI.

The Inventor’s Last Breath is the cobbled story of an Inventor character (loosely based on Edison) told from interwoven perspectives.  Linguistically, I experimented with modernizing the forms that were relevant to Edison’s time:   the rhythms and exuberance of Whitman who was a contemporary of Edison to compose love poems,   the tone of Dickinson’s letters (also a contemporary) to compose journal entries, the rhetorical device of Genesis combined with the rhyming styles of light verse to motor longer narrative poems.  There are also poems that contain lines in Morse Code, poems that contain lines from archived newspaper and poems that work as film snippets, pulling from movie script format.

The Inventor’s Last Breath is a love story between an Inventor and his wife against the historical backdrop of American history, spanning Edison’s life – from the Cilvil War to the Great Depression– including the invention of the phonograph, the light bulb, the motion picture camera, the talking doll, the stock ticker, the electric chair,  the assassination of President McKinley, the electrocution of his killer and Edison’s public electrocution of an elephant.


Me: What genre does your book fall under?

Me:  Experimental love song.   Historical narrative hopscotch.

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

Me:  I love casting!  It is the ultimate fantasy.

The Inventor:  Robert Downey Jr. — Have you seen him in Chaplin?  WOW!  he’s got to be sexy but he’s got to be a goofball and capable of great physical comedy. (Also Jonathan Rhys Meyers – who skews scary-sexy and Matthew 


Broderick who skews silly-sexy.) (Also Paul Rudd who is a devastatingly clownish stage actor as well as box office comedy star.  And handsome.)

Mary:  The Inventor’s wife.    Mary’s got to be soft and earnest and curious.  She has a habit of overusing the word “husband”  and she is obsessive about the details of nature.  For instance, she captures samples of things in test tubes -like her husband’s semen, breath, etc.    Young Mariel Hemingway (circa 1979) has a convincing intensity and softness.   Ultimately, in my story, she is the person who captures the Inventor’s last breath in the final scene.


The Talking Doll:  The Talking Doll is one of Edison’s inventions.  Her character has a biblical-like authority combined with a light verse nonsense which she uses to attempt to tell the story of her maker.  Nicki Minaj– As heard in her gibberish, story-telling intro to Kanye West’s My Dark Twisted Fantasy would be the perfect balance


Me: What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Me:  “All there is to know about a man is in his breath.”

Well, that’s not exactly a synopsis –it’s a line from the book.  (see 2nd question above for more details.)

Me:  How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Me:  About a year before I wrote my first 50-page draft.  About 4 years to the most recent draft.  or 5? I forget.

Me: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Me:  I was inspired by an article I read in an archived newspaper about “Light’s Golden Jubilee” – the celebration in honor of the 50th anniversary of the light bulb.    It was a huge party thrown by Henry Ford in 1929 in honor of Thomas Edison – all the luminaries of the day were there- Edison, Ford, John D. Rockefeller, Orville Wright, J. P Morgan, Charles Schwab, Herbert Hoover, Will Rogers, etc.  It seemed like an interesting intersection of American history, because 4 days later, the stock market crashed leading into the Great Depression.  At the celebration, there was a “let there be light” type of re-enactment of Edison inventing the light bulb.   The newspapers wrote about Edison as if he were a magician or a religious figure and that made a lot of sense to me.

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

Me:  A long poem based on Edison’s public electrocution of an elephant.

Me:  My tagged writers for next Wednesday are:

Me:  Joanna Penn Cooper ! Christine Hamm Janaka Stucky !

Thanks Me.  Me should do this more often…

Chapbook: [MARY]:

My chapbook [Mary]:  is now available.  I’ll be reading from [Mary]:  alongside all kinds of mad poets I admire in Jan & Feb.  & more announced soon….Unnamable Books – Boog City NYC & Phili Poets – Jan. 12 *** Sidewalk Cafe – Hyacinth Girl – Jan 29 *** The Delancy – Couplet Reading Series Valentine Edition! –  Feb 16

There is a piece from  [Mary]: up at Verse and several pieces in the new issue of Ping Pong and 1 up at Poetry International and right here on my own dumbass blog.  Also pieces in the Boog City Anthology of NYC & Phili Poets.

Here is the prologue to [Mary]:


“The sky,” she said, “is a vast sexy nothing.
Makes you so tiny, you want to fuck.”
& the Inventor fed the woman berries but she debated
& they burst into purple on her lips & skin.

Now, the Inventor held the woman’s face
as though he were about to gulp
But he did not gulp—
& with his forefinger, tickled under her chin.

“What do you want?”
“I have no laughter,” said the woman—
Her hands were tied to a maple at the wrists.
The Inventor tickled again
& the woman felt the slow reluctant sap in her hair.

—No laughter.

The Inventor wedged the woman’s
garment tight up her ass
purpled her neck
with the suction of his mouth
hung her higher
in the trees & tickled her feet
with a blade of grass.

“There is laughter in the grass,” said the Inventor.
“There is loss in the grass & enough
dead ants to fill a dump truck.”
His pinky ambled in her mouth— tickled her gums
& the back of her throat—Scrambled an egg inside her.
& the woman felt a deep discussion in her psoas, but still no laughter.

“The sky is a brat pissing & sneezing & running its nose on us.”
“There is laughter in the sky,” said the Inventor.
& the woman caught berries in her mouth & smiled like a seal.
Occasionally one would balance on her nose & bounce
down her blouse. Still no laughter.
“Close your eyes.”

& the woman closed her eyes & the Inventor
tickled her ribs until there was a laugh in the hip.

“Chicken feathers.” He whispered.

“Chicken feathers?”

& the Inventor tickled behind the woman’s ears.
& the woman laughed until she was a woman.
When the woman opened her eyes—the Inventor was milk.
She disrobed in the yellow grass—Belly round
as a blueberry, pregnant with laughter. & life –
a gemmy animal, went lightward to its lit song.

about [Mary]:

[Mary]: is part of a collection I’ve been working on for years called The Inventor’s Last Breath, about an Inventor character loosely based on Thomas Edison and his wife Mary.  This chapbook is comprised of Mary’s love poems and diary entries as well as poems that act as intimate telegraphic communications (Edison was deaf and often tapped in Morse code on Mary’s wrist, he also did substantial work on the telegraph and stock ticker)  and poems that act as film snippets (Edison invented the motion picture camera).  This installment of the Inventor’s Last Breath focuses on the domestic aspects of the Inventor– The Inventor through his wife’s eyes.   I felt very close to Mary and Edison when I wrote this and will always remember my time with them. (Mary is also written for Mary Shelley).

Dancing Girl Press, Poetry Crush, NYC Poetry Fest

Thanks so much to Kristy Bowen at Dancing Girl Press who made this beautiful broadside with my poem Invention of The Phonograph from the chapbook [Talking Doll]: – using the illustration from the cover by Sara Lefsyk.  This will be available at The Printers’ Ball event in Chicago this week – I wish I could go! Looks loads of fun for paper-lovers & the like.

Kristy also did a great interview at Laura Madeline Wiseman‘s site – The Chapbook Interview, which also got picked up by Poetry Foundation.  (I did an interview at The Chapbook Interview last month)  In Kristy’s interview she says,  “…publishing moves further and further away from paper and the handmade-ness of books and book objects, the more I move toward them.”   ( she also gives my chapbook [Talking Doll]: a sweet shout-out!  Thanks Kristy!)

What Kristy contributes to the poetry community and the way in which she does it — with such remarkable positive vibes, is really special. —  Here’s Poetry Crush’s – Hey Kristy, what are you reading?


POETRY CRUSH! — Triple Book Crush:  Jenny Zhang, Rena Mosteirin, Christine Hamm– Also! Follow @poetrycrush on twitter — that just launched yesterday.   And – a new Music Issue and the 2nd annual “10 Dead Poets (I would fuck)” issues in the works.

NYC POETRY FEST July 21, 2:40 pm THE ALGONQUIN:  Stain of Poetry Reading:  Todd Colby, Claire Donato and Melissa Broder — hosted by Joanna Penn Cooper &  J. Hope Stein.

Also! A bunch of great readers coming up this fall – we are still booking — but so far:    Joe Hall, Dolan Morgan, Brenda Coultas, Todd Colby (again!), Leigh Stein, Christopher DeWeese, Jennifer Knox, Jordan Stempleton, Shanna Compton, Sandra Simonds, Christie Ann Reynolds, Douglas Piccinnini & much more in the works.   So happy be a co-host/curator of the Stain of Poetry Reading Series along with Jenny ZhangJoanna Penn Cooper and Erika Moya!


Inventor’s Last Breath, Stain of Poetry, Poetry Crush

1  Inventor’s Last Breath update

Thanks Alice James Books for naming The Inventor’s Last Breath as a semifinalist for the Beatrice Hawley Award!  Meanwhile, I’ve been playing around with aspects & characters of The Inventor’s Last Breath, which is about an Inventor character based loosely on Thomas Edison —

The 1st installation of The Inventor’s Last Breath is a short film by the same title.  You can see excerpts here at Moving Poems and here at Prick of Spindle.  All the images and music are from Thomas Edison’s early movie image and sound recordings.

The 2nd installation of  The Inventor’s Last Breath is a chapbook called  [Talking Doll] (Dancing Girl Press, 2012) — Told from the perspective of a talking doll — one of Thomas Edison’s inventions.  There is an interview here by Laura Madeline Wiseman and here by Jillian Mukavetz and a review here by Maria Garcia Teutsch.

The 3rd installation of The Inventor’s Last Breath is the chapbook [Mary] which is from the perspective of the Inventor’s wife, Mary.  It will be published this summer by Hyacinth Girl Press You can see excerpts here at PI Reports and another here.

The 4th installation of The Inventor’s Last Breath will appear here on my own site shortly.  It’s called Conglomerate and it’s an interactive long poem derived entirely from archived newspaper spanning the life of Thomas Edison – from the American Civil War to The Great Depression.

2  Dancing Girl Press Reading in ChicagoI’ll be reading in Chicago on June 16 at Edge Gallery with Laura Goldstein, Tricia Taaca and Laura Madeline Wiseman.

3  The Poetry Crush Music Issue was recommended by the Hair Pin and Poetry Foundation.   It features James Harms on Mark Eitzel, Maria Teutsch on Radiohead, Niina Pollari on Joni Mitchell, Ryan Mihaly on Cass McCombs, Joanna Penn Cooper on Will Oldham, Gregory Crosby on the Mountain Goats, Tony Bonds on Joanna Newsom, Erika Moya on Leonard Cohen and Nina Simone, Kristy Bowen on Tori Amos & more.

Coming up this week on Poetry Crush:  Book reviews of:   Echo Park by Christine Hamm, Dear Jenny We Are All Find by Jenny Zhang and Nick Trail’s Thumb, a novella by Rena Mosteirin.

Also in the works:  An essay I’m writing which examines chemistry (sometimes bumpy)  in artistic collaboration:  Rodin & Camille Claudel, Fleetwood Mac, Swell Season, and others, including my imagined story of an affair between Byron & Mary Shelley.

Also Poetry Crush Music Issue vol II. later this summer.

4  Stain of Poetry Reading Series:  Runner-up for L Magazine‘s “2011 Best Reading Series” in Brooklyn, Stain of Poetry showcases a mix of “weirdo and beautiful poets,” (BlackBook magazine).  Readings are held on the last Friday of every month (7 – 9 p.m.) at the beloved Goodbye Blue Monday in Brooklyn.   The series is curated by poets Erika Moya, Joanna Penn Cooper, Jenny Zhang and J. Hope Stein.

Former hosts include founders Amy King and Ana Bozicevic as well as Christie Ann Reynolds and Steven Karl.

Upcoming events (lots more in the works)

Popscicle Festival– June 23

Host:  Erika Moya, Joanna Penn Cooper
Readers:  Jenny Zhang, Mike Lala, Dan Magers

Stain of Poetry Reading Series– June 29

Hosts:  Joanna Penn Cooper, J. Hope Stein

Readers:  Loren Erdrich, Rebecca Howell, Monica Hand, Aubrie Marrin

NY Poetry Festival – July 21–  2:40 on The Algonquin

Hosts:  Joanna Penn Cooper, J. Hope Stein
Readers:  Melissa Border, Todd Colby, Claire Donato

[Talking Doll] Chapbook

1) My new chapbook Talking Doll from Dancing Girl Press – thanks to Sara Lefsyk for the cover illustration which is pulled from an iphone photograph I took of a handmade postcard she once sent me in the mail.   Many thanks to Kristy Bowen at Dancing Girl Press.  Lots of other great chapbooks up there:   Joanna Penn Cooper, Sarah Sloat

2)  Here’s an interview I did with Jillian Mukavetz at  Women’s Quarterly Conversation in which I touch on some things I usually don’t get into.

3)  Poetry Crush has become my new way of asking people what they’re reading and what poetry they recommend:  Valentine Issue,  Hey James Harms, What are you reading?  Hey Kristy Bowen what are you reading?

4)  February-March Readings.

    • Chicago/AWP off site—   March 1 |  5:00-7:00 p.m. at the Chicago Poetry Center – Reading with people I love.  Friends and teachers.
    • Chicago/AWP offsite— March 3|  6:00-8:00 p.m. Dancing Girl Press – this is a chapbook signing actually.
    • North Hampton, MA/ Naugatuck River Review – March 10th |  2 – 4:30pm at the Forbes Library, 20 West St.

5)  Caldera.  I spent most of January at an artist residency in a cabin in a volcanic caldera in the central mountains of Oregon.  This was the greatest gift to my work and my person.   More about this later… but I found these 2 videos made by Suniti Dernovsek  who is a brilliant dancer choreographer  whose cabin was next door to mine and this captures so much of what was magical in life at Caldera

this one is called:  This is how we disappear

this one is called:  snow day

6)  My poem ” Invention of the Phonograph”  is in the Winter 2012 Issue of Naugatuck River Review.