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)

hfm-edisons-lastbreath

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.

Chaplin-Promos-robert-downey-jr-15352630-1300-891

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 

mhemingway

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.

nicki-minaj-nicki-minaj-704342039

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…

12 Dead Poets (I would fuck)

Joe Hall reports on his confusing sexual encounter with pastor & colonial poet Edward Taylor;  Melissa Broder imagines the power & intricacies of Emily Dickinson’s vagina;  J. Hope Stein (me) finds a friend in Goethe and coins the phrase F&M as the new S&M;  Sara Lefsyk takes us on a lyrical surrealist journey with Lorca;  Maria Garcia Teutsch finds the sexual longings & healings of Henry Miller in the ocean tide;  Janaka Stucky gives us a heart-felt & hot-shamed love poem for Jean Genet;  Leah Umansky writes of her forbidden love for John Donne;  Gregory Crosby pens a tender address to the life, writing,  hardships & full woman-ness of Marina Tsvetaeva;  Lauren Gordon‘s heavenly homage gets Longfellowy with Longfellow;  Kristy Bowen meditates on T. S. Eliot & the cruelness of April in an intimate letter;  Joanna Penn Cooper reflects on crush Rainer Rilke at 2 points in her life, getting to the essence of what our crushes say about us in different stages of our lives;  and last but not least – Susan Yount contemplates halloween favorite – Edgar Allan Poe & the Bells!

ON PoetryCrush.com

POETRY FOUNDATION calls us “creepy”

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 INVENTOR DREAMS OF A WOMAN

“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?”
“Laughter.”
“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.

New chapbook with H-ngm-n

My new chapbook “Corner Office” is up at H-ngm-n Books.  Thanks to Nate Pritts! & thanks to Alban Fischer for the cool cover! and David Warmenhoven for the vibrant artwork. H-ngm-n is doing really cool stuff and I feel lucky to be included in their list of amazing authors. “Corner Office” is part of a larger project I’ve been working on & off & on.

“The Inventor’s Last Breath” was a finalist in Kinereth Gensler Awards.  Thanks Alice James Books!

Fun! performing with power-house Joanna Penn Cooper and The Secret Orchestra at the Poetry Project — so many great performers!

The 38th Annual New Year’s Day Marathon Benefit will feature over 140 Poets & Performers:

Ace Mcnamara, Alan Licht, Alex Dimitrov, Amy King, Ana Božičević, Anne Tardos, Anne Waldman w/ Ambrose Bye & Daniel Carter, Anselm Berrigan, Ariana Reines, Arthur’s Landing, Barry Denny, Basil King, Betsy Fagin, Bill Kushner, Billy Lamont, Bob Hershon, Bob Rosenthal, Brian Blanchfield, Brenda Coultas, Brendan Lorber, Brett Price, Bruce Andrews & Sally Silvers, Bryn Kelly, CA Conrad, Charles Bernstein, Christine Elmo, Christopher Stackhouse, Church of Betty, Corina Copp, Corrine Fitzpatrick, Daniel Kent, David Freeman, David Henderson, David Shapiro, David St. Lascaux, Denize Lauture, Dgls. Rothschild, Don Yorty, Donna Brook, Dorothea Lasky, Douglas Dunn, Douglas Piccinnini, Drew Gardner, Dustin Williamson, Edgar Oliver, Ed Friedman, Edmund Berrigan, Eileen Myles, Elinor Nauen, Elizabeth Devlin, Elliott Sharp, Emily XYZ, Erica Kaufman, Erica Hunt & Marty Erlich, Erin Morrill, Evan Kennedy, Evelyn Reilly, Filip Marinovich, Foamola, Frank Sherlock, Franklin Bruno, Genya Turovskaya, Gillian McCain, Greg Fuchs, James Marshall, Janet Hamill, Jess Fiorni, Jim Behrle, Joe Elliot, Joe Ranono, John Coletti, John Giorno, John S. Hall, Jonas Mekas, Josef Kaplan, Judah Rubin, Judith Malina, Karen Weiser, Kathleen Miller, Katie Degentesh, Ken Chen, Ken Walker, Kenny Goldsmith, Kimberly Lyons, LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs, Lee Ranaldo, Lenny Kaye, Leopoldine Core, Lonely Christopher, Macgregor Card, Maggie Dubris, Marcella Durand, Mariana Ruiz Firmat, Mark Nowak, Martha King, Matthew Abuelo, Miguel Gutierrez, Mitch Highfill, Mónica de la Torre, Nada Gordon, Nathaniel Siegel, Nick Hallett, Nicole Peyrafitte, Pamela Sneed, Patricia Spears Jones, Patti Smith, Paul Mills (Poez), Paul Legault, Penny Arcade, Peter Gizzi, Pierre Joris, Reuben Butchart, Rickey Laurentiis, Robert Ashley, Secret Orchestra (with Joanna Penn Cooper & J. Hope Stein), Shafer Hall, Simone White, Sinan Antoon, Stephanie Gray, Steve Dalachinsky, Steve Earle, Steven Taylor, Susan Landers, Susie Timmons, Suzanne Vega, Taylor Mead, Ted Dodson, Ted Greenwald, Thurston Moore, Todd Colby, Tom Carey, Tom Savage, Tony Towle, Tracey McTague, Tyler Burba, Wayne Koestenbaum, Will Edmiston, Will Yackulic, Yoshiko Chuma, Youmna Chlala, Yuko Otomo, Yvonne Meier, Nicole Wallace, Arlo Quint and Stacy Szymaszek.