Marsh Hawk Press Review (Fall 2014)

•September 5, 2014 • Leave a Comment


My new poem “Spell” was published today in the Fall 2014 issue of the Marsh Hawk Press Review.  See the poem below and click the image above to see the full issue.  Other contributors include Harriet Zinnes, Jean Vengua, Susan Terris, Eileen R. Tabios, Felino A. Soriano, Barry Schwabsky, Susan M. Schultz, Michael Rerick, Marthe Reed, Paul Pines, Sheila E. Murphy, Daniel Morris, Stephen Paul Miller, Meredith Lewis, Eric Hoffman, Anne Gorrick, Joanna Fuhrman, Donna Fleischer, Thomas Fink, Thomas Fink and Maya Diablo Mason, Brian Clements, John Bloomberg-Rissman and Anne Gorrick, and William Allegrezza.



Eileen Tabios’ 147 Million Orphans (MMXI-MML) (gradient books, 2014)

•September 1, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I just finished reading Eileen Tabios’ fascinating book 147 Million Orphans (MMXI-MML), a long serial poem which takes its title from the commonly estimated number of orphans in the world.

According to Tabios, this is “the first book-length haybun poetry collection”; after the haibun, pioneered by the seventeenth-century poet Bashō, the “haybun” is a mixture of hay(na)ku and prose.  The hay(na)ku, of Tabios’ invention, “is a 21st century diasporic poetic form,” which consists of “a tercet-based stanza with the first line being one word, the second line being two words, and the third line being three words.”  Each haybun in 147 Million Orphans is inspired by hay(na)ku which contain words from Eileen’s adopted son Michael’s school project (which encouraged him to learn 25 new English words a week).

The book amounts to a powerful (and polyvocal) meditation on orphanhood, adoption, parenthood, education, the poetics of language acquisition, and multiple authorship.  It’s both lyrically intense and structurally adventurous.

Midway through the volume (at MMXXX), collaborative haybun appear, giving the book a surprising and dialogic texture; in early 2013, Tabios invited several poets, including myself, to respond to “assigned” hay(na)ku with prose.  She also enumerated two other constraints: “1) I’d like you at the outset of writing to keep in mind a general theme of orphans. If the writing takes you beyond orphans as a subject, that’s okay of course.  2) This is actually optional: It’d be good if at least one phrase (or sentence) within the prose poem must be considered acceptable to be presented with a strike-through over said words (the strike-through can be interpreted as ambivalence over the words, or any way you look at it).” Other eventual collaborators include William Allegrezza, Tom Beckett, John Bloomberg-Rissman, Michael Caylo-Baradi, Patrick James Dunagan, Thomas Fink, j/j hastain, Aileen Ibardaloza, Ava Koohbor, Sheila Murphy, and Jean Vengua.

This is my contribution to the book, which occupies the “MMXXXVI” position:


tribe savage

intricate complex thesis


We were born into a dowerless present, heires of uninhibited civic-spiritedness. On occasions an electric brightness would shoot out over the radioactive wastes of the earthly cytty in traceable lines assembled by an analogous but discontinued destiny. The wild and pharmaceutical path merged with a popular replacement image, which awkwardly isolated the rise in echoed incense from original asylum. Manufacturers charred the captured mesh of crying isolates. In the western soulcase, research will be delayed. Distributing fuel, we know so little of flight. Like the category of “chance,” the thesis of oure enteric minds was cut from the very top of an impossible page.

[A Note on the Text: The haybun above was derived only from language found either in the hay(na)ku provided or in definitions and quotations in the Oxford English Dictionary entry “orphan, n. and adj.”]

Being presented with a number of constraints, I–somewhat paradoxically–decided to impose another one and “borrow” words from the dictionary in the same way I was borrowing words from Michael’s 8th grade school assignment.  From another perspective, I “adopted” the words, placing them into a textual home.

A free PDF download of 147 Million Orphans is available through gradient books and print copies are for sale through Lulu.

From the Goddard BFA Faculty Poetry Reading: PoemCity 2014 (4/16/2014)

•August 19, 2014 • Leave a Comment

This video is from the BFA in Creative Writing faculty member reading at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Montpelier, Vermont. It was part of PoemCity 2014, with additional readings by Michael Vizsolyi, Arisa White, Wendy Call, and Janet Sylvester.

The first poem I read first appeared in the excellent but now-defunct Pindeldyboz, and the second poem, which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2008, first appeared in Opium Magazine; both can be found in my first book e.s.p., which is available from Silenced Press.

Alan Bigelow’s “This Is Not A Poem”

•July 10, 2014 • Leave a Comment


My short article “The Poetry of Non-Poetry: On Alan Bigelow’s ‘This Is Not A Poem’” was published today in Goddard College’s BFA in Creative Writing Blog. “This Is Not A Poem” is a fantastic appropriation of Joyce Kilmer’s famous poem “Trees.” It’s a digital poem that’s well worth interacting with and performs a creative critique of–for better or worse–one of the most well-known poems in American literature.

Amy Catanzano’s “The Periodic Table of Poetry”

•June 24, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Amy Catanzano has a very interesting piece in Jacket 2 called “The Periodic Table of Poetry,” which is part of her series called “Quantum Poetics,” in which she “will write as a ’pataphysical correspondent, speculative documentarian, and poetry informant, reporting on largely under-acknowledged questions about literature and science and drawing from quantum poetics.”

Catanzano discusses Cutting Time with a Knife in the context of quantum electrodynamics:

In contrast to classical electromagnetism, a branch of theoretical physics that relies on the outdated ideas of Isaac Newton’s classical mechanics, which, using Leong’s language, operates as an “economics of only and also,” Robert Feynman’s quantum electrodynamics, the quantum mechanical version of classical electromagnetism, describes how electrically charged particles interact by exchanging photons. Poetry is also an exchange between the text and thinker, and Cutting Time With a Knife, so named after Burroughs’ statement that “If you cut into the present, the future leaks out,” creates an exchange between poetry and science; in these ways and others, I see Leong’s project having a mechanics that is more quantum than classical.

Catanzano ends by mentioning a work-in-progress by Adam Dickinson that sounds extremely cool–Anatomic: Biosemiotic Bodies and Chemical Environments. Dickinson explains, “This is a research-creation project that involves biomonitoring and microbiome testing to produce a book of poetry that reframes the body (my body) as a being overwritten by toxic chemicals yet constantly subject (in necessary ways) to the biosemiotic interference of other microbial lifeforms. My objective is to combine innovative trends in contemporary poetics with science and environmental ethics by researching and writing poetry that will emerge (in terms of themes and methodological approaches) from a toxicological and symbiotic map of my own body.”

Genet Redux

•June 15, 2014 • Leave a Comment

My review of Chris Tysh’s creative translation Our Lady of the Flowers, Echoic (Les Figues, 2013) was published today in Hyperallergic Weekend.

Here are two excerpted paragraphs:

In an online interview about her conceptual trilogy Hotel des Archives, of which Our Lady of the Flowers, Echoic is the second installment (her rendering of Beckett into verse tercets, Molloy: The Flip Side, appeared in 2012), Tysh said, “I extend the concept of translation toward what we might call a transcreation, or a transcultural dialogue….In this type of relational poetics, I try to maintain the narrative spaces and affects, while finding a new set of porous networks – lyrical trajectories that pass through various signposts of the text.” Tysh’s “transcreation,” in the words of Les Figues’ press release, entails a “compressing” of Genet’s text into “cuttingly charged verse.”

Our Lady of the Flowers, Echoic is an “exercise in style” in the strongest, Queneauian sense of the phrase; Raymond Queneau’s Exercices de style [Exercises in Style] (1947 / 1958) retells the same short anecdote 99 different times in such styles as “litotes,” “metaphorically,” “couplets,” “cockney,” and “sonnet.” In Queneau’s work, the original story seems epiphenomenal to the production of its proliferating versions (Barbara Wright, Queneau’s English translator, remarks that “the story as such doesn’t matter.”) But Tysh’s choice of Genet’s Our Lady of the Flowers for her restyling is not arbitrary: it is a text that, like its protagonist, tends toward “being multiple.” Indeed, in Our Lady of the Flowers, Genet writes of a “hundred Jean Genets,” and Tysh has given us a provocative glimpse of one of them through her bold, kaleidoscopic verse. Once complete, Tysh’s Hotel des Archives will no doubt constitute one of the most significant exercises in style of the early twenty-first century.


Linh Dinh Erasure

•April 1, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I own four poetry books by the always provocative Linh Dinh; but not willing to pay an inflated price for the out-of-print American Tatts (“Vault Media,” a seller on Amazon, is, for example, asking $782.60 + $3.99 shipping for a new copy), I checked out the copy at the Mid-Manhattan Library. I was amused to find this little note by a previous user above.

Dinh, indeed, can elicit a strong reaction and that, I think, is one of his virtues. In a way, it seems that this example of vernacular lit crit by way of graffitied marginalia is fitting since “What’s At Franks?” – a poem from American Tatts – ends by quoting a bathroom graffito: “‘Full pelvic undulation will help to dissolve / All neurotic personal armor,’ someone has written / With a Magic Marker over the broken sink.”

Having to return the book now, I’ve decided to make my own little intervention.



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