Sunday, July 01, 2018

We Who Are About To Die : Eric Schmaltz

Eric Schmaltz is an artist, writer, and educator living in Toronto. His work has been previously featured in Lemon Hound, Jacket2The Capilano Review, The Berkeley Poetry Review, The Puritan, and Open Letter. His first book of poetry and text-art, Surfaces, is available from Invisible Publishing. For more: or @eschmaltzzz.

Where are you now?
Physically, I am in Toronto, Ontario, a city that occupies the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and the Mississaugas of the Credit River. Mentally, my sense of where-ness is distributed across this space and a multiplicity of other spaces, networks, devices, and future tenses.

What are you reading?
I’m reading a lot again. Most recently,
Living a Feminist Life by Sara Ahmed, Johnny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead, Sludge Utopia by Catherine Fatima, and I Left Nothing Behind On Purpose by Stevie Howell.

What have you discovered lately?
I’ve recently discovered the privilege of a less structured mode of living that is very temporarily untethered from the direct machinations of the neoliberal institution of higher education. 

Where do you write?
I create wherever I can I place my laptop.

What are you working on?
I’m working on a few things: I’m researching for a new poetry project, (finally) completing a final draft of an edition of
I Want to Tell You Love by bill bissett and Milton Acorn, and editing the inaugural issue of Not Your Best, a new periodical published by Knife | Fork | Book.

Have you anything forthcoming?
I have a handful of periodical publications forthcoming, including poems, articles, interviews, and book reviews.

What would you rather be doing?

from Assembled Lines

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

On Writing #153 : Lorri Neilsen Glenn

Writing, Attention and Words from the Wise
Lorri Neilsen Glenn

Every so often something shatters like ice, and we are in the river of our existence. We are aware.  Louise Erdrich

Why do I write? I think it’s because writing forces me to pay attention. The worn decals on the repairman’s flatbed truck, a grimace on the face of the young mother struggling to lift the rain-soaked stroller into the bus, the nest of tubes hooked up to my mother’s arm in the ER. These moments of human despair, joy, resilience and triumph are atoms in our macrocosm, ordinary stardust, according to theoretical physicists--and, of course, Joni Mitchell. They’re the basic stuff of life. Paying attention, according to philosopher and activist Simone Weil, is the purest form of generosity.
When I turn the pen inward, paying attention to my own responses to losses or grief or perplexity, I am buoyed by the revelations; buoyed, that is, until the words begin to ask me uncomfortable questions. Who do you think you are? What have you learned? Are there other perspectives you’re not listening to?
Or, as Lee Maracle says: Where do you begin telling someone their world is not the only one?
When I read poetry and prose, I am, to paraphrase the Brazilian activist Paulo Freire, reading worlds. I’m in the hold of the ship with Aminata Diallo, at the Colonel’s table with Carolyn Forché as ears fall to the floor, walking in the reserve’s graveyard with Louise Bernice Halfe.

I linger inside the richness of another universe, admire the exquisite workings of the human imagination.
Reading can challenge me, but writing seems to ask more. If I truly attend to what’s going on around me, my assumptions will be pried apart and I’ll be pushed into uncertain territory. Most writers know this uncertainty. And, as Pema Chödrön says: Sticking with uncertainty is how we learn to relax in the midst of chaos.
And, lately, that’s where my mind is: in chaos. Climate disasters, political goat rodeos (as one wag put it), shootings, unsafe water in countless Indigenous communities, the volume of the abhorrent and absurd raising higher and higher. Add to those the cold breath of mortality—time is short. If it’s critical that I pay attention now, and I believe it is, how much attention -- and to what -- is too much? too little?
Chaos finds me measuring out my life in the online equivalent of Eliot’s coffee spoons. My mind floods with inchoate fury at another incidence of violence against women, BIPOC and non-binary people; erasures of whole communities; and the rising tide of everyday mean-spiritedness and injustice. I am over aware.
And torn: the written word seems impotent.
Yet more necessary than ever.
Enter the uncomfortable questions. Who needs your privileged tears? Yes, you’re mortal, so where will you focus your efforts? Why can’t you, like the inimitable Diane Lockhart advises, work on keeping your own little corner sane?
Albert Einstein was right: The only thing that can defeat absurdity is lucidity.
I admire writers who overcome their uncertainties and work their way through chaos. I’ll start with Einstein’s word, lucidity –a word whose origins refer to light.
Simone Weil said only beauty and affliction can pierce the human heart. When I first began to write, I felt that truth in my bones. If I can step away from the clamorous racket around me, if I am to effect any change or wrest any beauty out of the goings-on in my corner, I have to return to the elemental, to small illuminations, seek meaning again in particulars. My Métis grandmother’s enigmatic smile in the last and only family photograph. The frenzy of gulls behind my neighbour’s fishing boat, returning home.
Word by word by word by uncertain word.  

Lorri Neilsen Glenn’s latest book is Following the River: Traces of Red River Women (Wolsak and Wynn), a multi-genre memoir about her Cree and Métis grandmothers and their contemporaries. Professor Emerita at the Mount, Lorri is the author and editor of fourteen titles, and her award-winning poetry and prose are widely anthologized. Lorri has led writing workshops across Canada, and in Chile, Ireland, Australia and Greece. She teaches in The University of King’s College MFA program in creative nonfiction. @neilsenglenn

Friday, June 01, 2018

We Who Are About To Die : John M. Bennett

John M. Bennett has published over 400 books and chapbooks of poetry and other materials.  Among the most recent are rOlling COMBers (Potes & Poets Press); MAILER LEAVES HAM (Pantograph Press); LOOSE WATCH (Invisible Press); CHAC PROSTIBULARIO (with Ivan Arguelles; Pavement Saw Press); THE PEEL (Anabasis Press); GLUE (xPress(ed)); LAP GUN CUT (with F. A. Nettelbeck; Luna Bisonte Prods);  INSTRUCTION BOOK (Luna Bisonte Prods); la M al (Blue Lion Books); CANTAR DEL HUFF (Luna Bisonte Prods); SOUND DIRT (with Jim Leftwich; Luna Bisonte Prods); BACKWORDS (Blue Lion Books); NOS (Redfox Press); D RAIN B LOOM (with Scott Helmes; xPress(ed)); CHANGDENTS (Offerta Speciale); L ENTES (Blue Lion Books); NOS (Redfoxpress); SPITTING DDREAMS (Blue Lion Books); ONDA (with Tom Cassidy; Luna Bisonte Prods); 30 DIALOGOS SONOROS (with Martín Gubbins; Luna Bisonte Prods); BANGING THE STONE (WITH Jim Leftwich; Luna Bisonte Prods); FASTER NIH (Luna Bisonte Prods); RREVES (Editions du Silence); NEOLIPIC (Argotist); LAS CABEZAS MAYAS/MAYA HEADS (Luna Bisonte Prods); BALAM MALAB (Logan Elm Press); LA VISTA GANCHA (Luna Bisonte Prods); THE SOCK SACK/UNFINISHED FICTIONS/MORE INSERTS (with Richard Kostelanetz; Luna Bisonte Prods); T ICK TICK TIC K (Chalked Editions and White Sky Books); THIS IS VISUAL POETRY (This is Visual Poetry); EL HUMO LETRADO: POESÍA EN ESPAÑOL (Chalk Editions; 2nd ed. White Sky Books); ZABOD (Tonerworks); TEXTIS GLOBBOLALICUS (3 vols.; mOnocle-Lash Anti-Press); NITLATOA (Luna Bisonte Prods); OHIO GRIMES AND MISTED MEANIES (with Ben Bennett, Bob Marsh, Jack Wright; Edgetone Records); SUMO MI TOSIS (White Sky Books); CORRESPONDENCE 1979-1983 (with Davi Det Hompson; Luna Bisonte Prods); THE GNAT’S WINDOW (Luna Bisonte Prods); DRILLING FOR SUIT MYSTERY (with Matthew T. Stolte; Luna Bisonte Prods); OBJECT OBJET (with Nicolas Carras; Luna Bisonte Prods); CARAARAC & EL TÍTULO INVISIBLE (Luna Bisonte Prods); LIBER X (Luna Bisonte Prods); CUITLACOCHTLI (Xexoxial Editions); BLOCK (Luna Bisonte Prods); THE STICKY SUIT WHIRS (Luna Bisonte Prods); PICO MOJADO (with Byron Smith; Luna Bisonte Prods); SOLE DADAS & PRIME SWAY (Luna Bisonte Prods); OLVIDOS (Luna Bisonte Prods); SACARON NAVAJAS (Redfoxpress); AREÑAL (with Luis Bravo; Yaugurú); LA CHAIR DU CENOTE (Fidel Anthelme X); THE LUNCH THE GRAVEL (X-Ray Book Co.); BRAVÍSIMA RESEÑA (with Diana Magallón; Luna Bisonte Prods); TURNS IN A CLOUD (White Sky Books); YES IT IS (with Sheila E. Murphy; Luna Bisonte Prods); DE LA MEMORIA EL PEZ (with Lola López-Cózar; Luna Bisonte Prods); AMINIMA (with Richard Kostelanetz, Archae Editions); MIRRORS MÁSCARAS (Luna Bisonte Prods); VERTICAL SLEEP (Luna Bisonte Prods); SELECT POEMS (Poetry Hotel Press/Luna Bisonte Prods); THE WORLD OF BURNING (Luna Bisonte Prods),  THE SWEATING LAKE (Luna Bisonte Prods), and OLAS CURSIS (Luna Bisonte Prods).  He has published, exhibited and performed his word art worldwide in thousands of publications and venues.  He was editor and publisher of LOST AND FOUND TIMES (1975-2005), and was Founding Curator of the Avant Writing Collection at The Ohio State University Libraries.  Richard Kostelanetz has called him “the seminal American poet of my generation”.  His work, publications, and papers are collected in several major institutions, including Washington University (St. Louis), SUNY Buffalo, The Ohio State University, The Museum of Modern Art, and other major libraries.  His PhD (UCLA 1970) is in Latin American Literature.

Where are you now?
In my office at Luna Bisonte Prods in Columbus, Ohio usa.

What are you reading?
L:a Noche de la Usina, por Eduardo Sacheri.

What have you discovered lately?
A mexican potsherd in my garden.

Where do you write?
Mostly in my office; sometimes in a hotel room or wherever.

What are you working on?
Oh many many things: poems, art, sounds, books, articles, presentations, cooking dinner.

Have you anything forthcoming?
Many many things, all over the place. I'd tell you to contact my agent, if I had one.

What would you rather be doing?
Right now, taking a nap; I worked too hard (for my back) in the garden this morning.

flood of moons
     - For C. Mehrl Bennett

the dream of seeing your
parents' basement through a
hole in the driveway

representative of a foaming
,lack of ,chase a lung wh
at columbine gurgles in a
ear a n ear a ear ly snake~ish
sm eared into yr sandwich :my
fellow comb your swallow's ch
ittering air swirls in the
attic lengua p ants st
icky was the tide's gone
out a penciled shadow
and your fought fake lake
is a beehive murmuring in
the wall you sleep against
your hand held in
mud brick palace melts be
fore a mountain wiitz your
speaker's name or antihistamine a
cup of gravel and urine
scr a wl eg
limptner ch ain g loss
tu olvido era ,de
caminar por una playa car
mesí y sumar la arenasca


)your swea
ty shirrt
caps aweigh
dr ink

daw h
um uh
whiffled ear

should neck
short a
mile d

d rim
bas t ante
lento ni
ojo hole

br reach a
f ist br
eath ah
g nat            *

sungg s
nail unh
bag s nore
)(  )(  )(  )(  )   ( 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

On Writing #152 : Travis Sharp

Travis Sharp

In the lyric many echoes fill the space and everyone is a speaker and a listener, which is to say a witness, as in this I bears witness on the body like a heavy weight, and all of the I’s are being burdened, and the exhalation of air in the shape of letters generates an atmosphere in which all of the I’s can go on speaking and listening and bearing their witness.
In the writing of the lyric there’s the pointer, and the pointing, and the being-pointed-at. And the pointer stands across from the being-pointed-at, in a field of other pointers and being-pointed-ats, and the pointing is a sign. It’s a sign like a letter with other letters and a sign like a billboard is a sign. Sometimes it’s a sign that says DON’T LET ME BE LONELY and sometimes it’s a sign that says BUT I AM VAST WHEN ALL IS POUNDING SLAUGHTER WITHIN US.
And it’s a sign that comes from a gesture, the moving towards the sign, which doesn’t exist without the gesture. And the gesture that becomes a sign is from the I that is both made by and makes the moving toward the sign. So there’s the pointer, an I, who is moving towards a sign through gesture, who is being made an I in the gesturing, and in the arrival of the sign. And the arrival of the sign is the pointing, which was a gesture but is now a sign, which is an image. It was a video and now it’s an image.
So the I is an imagining image, is imaging that which is being pointed at, and the act of pointing is the imagination. In which case the imagination is what makes the I an I. I am an I in utterance. I say, “I say,” and the saying is both an I saying I say and the creation of the I, which is a speaking being speaking itself into being. But then we’re just talking to ourselves.
But then also the being-pointed-at is another I saying I say. We say I say back and forth and that is called recognition. It’s an I saying I say to another I saying I say and that is called love. It’s an I saying I hear to an I saying me too and that is called poetry. Really it’s only a lyric poem if an I is talking and another I is talking and all the I’s are talking and the first I is listening and the second I is listening and all of the I’s are listening and that is called a community.
The lyric I is just a lyric We that forgot about its others.
“Don’t let me be lonely” is from Claudia Rankine’s Don’t Let Me Be Lonely
“But I am vast when all is pounding slaughter within us” is from Nicole Brossard’s Ardour, translated by Angela Carr


Travis Sharp is a teacher, writer, and book artist living in Buffalo. A chapbook, Sinister Queer Agenda, is forthcoming from above/ground press in 2018, and he co-edited Radio: 11.8.16 (Essay Press, 2017) with Aimee Harrison and Maria Anderson. He's an editor and designer at Essay Press and a PhD student in the Poetics Program at SUNY Buffalo. Poems and essays have appeared in Columbia Poetry Review, The Bombay Gin, The Operating System, LIT, Puerto del Sol, Big Lucks, Entropy, and in other things and places.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

On Writing #151 : Sandra Moussempès

Poetry as the ultimate language

Sandra Moussempès

As a french poet I find it exotic to explain my own creative process in another language; it’s like expressing myself on different psychic levels. When I used to live in London I remember feeling a total freedom in speaking english. I used to live at the home of Olwyn Hughes, Ted Hughes's sister, who was also the editor of Sylvia Plath. Olwyn was a close friend of my dear father (he died in 1981) in the sixties, Olwyn was the sort of an auntie who helped me dealing with relationship issues using through her astrology skills (as she did for Plath and Ted Hughes, she was an expert). She encouraged me to write and read all my manuscripts in French. Reading Plath in English in Olwyn's attic made me also see how much languages can bring different perceptions to art and life. 

Actually, the ultimate language for me became poetry (and music to a certain extent), a real language as a laboratory of my own perceptions, not the daily language made with social  and mental codes but a way to recycle and work with those social stereotypes, reconsidered as issues I could use them as creative material.

I started writing because I had nothing stable in my life, although I was brought up in a intellectual and hippie family. I was a teenager when my dad died; I could only rely on myself. I always felt different from other people and this dramatic event made my life even more out of the ordinary. First, I trained to be an actress (played in few short films) and was a singer (making a few records in the UK), I also started learning sculpture. But I was looking for something that I could express instantly and not depend on anybody else. While writing, I could explore my own creativity and maybe other people who read me would end up allowing themselves to explore their own paths. When I taught creative writing in underprivileged high schools I wanted to pass this message: expressing yourself through experimental writing will be a good way of being an activist in your own life. It's exactly the meaning of art. And this is how I always felt with my own creativity and experimental writing.

When I was 30 years old, I was awarded with the Villa Médicis prize in Rome, I could suddenly make money with my art, and this was like the word telling me you really are a poet now, I felt I was allowed to write, to make art. On the other hand, I needed to be surrounded by “underground” people and artists, in 1997, I decided to move to London and left Paris. I had already made music, vocals, with indie bands like The Wolfgang press from the label 4AD and few Electro bands and DJ’s. Music and poetry were quite separated in France at the time and didn’t seem to be connected at all. Now I use my vocals and music when I perform my poetry. Being a sound and vocal artist as well as a poet is different from being a singer who makes songs, different from being a sound poet who doesn’t sing. It’s more like an hypnotic experience for the audience. Singing during my readings is exactly like making the sound track of my own “mental-film”.  Nevertheless my books have their own life, my albums as well. I often include my music in my books (a CD attached inside) the text is always central. 

In pop culture, music and visual art seemed to touch more people than poetry, but this is also what I love about writing poetry, there is no space for mainstream approach, I don’t have to fit in a casual model. But it also includes visual and sound art. In my writing I experiment and explore all forms. I can use pop culture, as I did when writing on Cindy Sherman photos, David Lynch or Harmony Korine’s films, the iconic pop stars Britney Spears, or the iconic poet Emily Dickinson. This freedom is precious.

My poetry is mainly linked to my own life and what I observe from the inside:  family issues, hidden traumas, social rules and façades, sensations of “deja-vu”. In my art and own life I try to break social codes and stereotypes. I need to express what happens behind the norms and “sunny” people, and usually it's pretty dark. That's what  Sunny Girls is about (Poésie/Flammarion 2015), cinematographic and fairy tale atmospheres driving to hypnosis and transe. My new book Colloque des Télépathes (Editions de l’Attente 2017) is about the Fox sisters who invented ouija boards and spiritism, with the gothic and victorian atmosphere of paranormal phenomenon, linked to the Californian dream and it's cinematic approach (in films like Mulholland Drive”). “Post-Gradiva” my last album (CD) is included in “Colloque des télépathes” as a sound track experience with mental and sound images involving an hypnotic atmosphere. In Sunny girls I wrote on films like  Zabriskie Point” and Spring Breakers”, and I’ ve actually been invited to read and perform pieces of Sunny Girls at the Centre Pompidou, in Paris, in relation to Harmony Korine’s retrospective.

Now, I'm working on a new poetry book based on love and sex, questioning stereotypes in our capitalistic society and the conventional approach of what society and fairy tales try to impose as "norms” in term of couple, sex and family. There is a political approach in my work, as a woman, a single mother and artist. What could be “true love” in a society based on fears as well as the social image of a fake self. The spiritual and physiological experience of love and sex in a non conventional approach. Exploring all those issues in my poetry is also for me a way to create my own life.

Sandra Moussempès was born in Paris in 1965. She writes primarily in fragments that trouble stereotypes, particularly those surrounding femininity, by creating linguistic environments rich with anxiety, cinematic beauty, and déjà vu. Moussempès is a former resident of the Villa Médicis and she has published ten books with publishers including Poésie/Flammarion, Éditions de l’Attente, and Fourbis, as well as a bilingual Chapbook at Abovegroundpress in Canada. Also a vocal and sound artist, as well as a photographer, Moussempès infuses her poetry with her sensitivity to auditory and visual affect.  She reads and perform her poetry (using sometimes a vocal and sound device) in various places  including festivals and Modern Art Museums : Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, Musée du Carré d'Art in Nîmes, MAMCO in Geneva, Kunsthalle Mulhouse, Centre Pompidou in Paris etc.. As a sound artist, she uses her vocals in her poetry reading and colaborates with other artists/musician,  such as  DJ/Producer Black Sifichi on her last Album “Post-Gradiva” CD included in her new book "Colloque des télépathes & CD Post-Gradiva" (Editions de l’Attente, 2017)

Books :

-Colloque des télépathes & Album CD Post-Gradiva (Editions de l'Attente, 2017)

-From: Sunny girls (above/ground press, 2017) translation by Elena Rivera

-Sunny girls (Poésie/Flammarion 2015)

-Acrobaties dessinées & CD Beauty Sitcom (Editions de l'Attente, 2012)

-Photogénie des ombres peintes (Poésie/Flammarion 2009)

-Biographie des idylles (Editions de l'Attente, 2005)

-Le seul jardin japonais à portée de vue (Editions de l'Attente 2004)

-Hors Champ (Editions CRL Franche Comté) 2001

-Captures (Poésie/Flammarion 2004)

-Vestiges de fillette (Poésie/Flammarion 1997)

-Exercices d'incendie (Editions Fourbis 1994)

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

We Who Are About To Die : nathan dueck

nathan dueck’s middle name is russel, which means his initials spell “nrd.” His parents tell him that no one used that word when he was born, but dictionaries say otherwise. He is the author of king’s(mère) (Turnstone Press) and he’ll (Pedlar Press). His next poetry collection, A Very Special Episode, is forthcoming from Buckrider Books.

Where are you now?

Cranbrook, BC: right of the Purcell Mountains, above Mount Baker, left of Kootenay River, below St. Mary’s River. My wife and I moved here with our kids a little while ago, so I’m still looking to the map for help. All I know for sure is this is the traditional territory of the Ktunaxa Nation.

What are you reading?

I’m in the middle of Brecht on Theatre because I’m researching for a project about der Verfremdungeffekt, which translates as “the Alienation Effect,” but it sounds way more scholarly in German.

What have you discovered lately?

The German word Gestus, which translates as both “gesture,” suggesting movement, and “gist,” attitude. In “A Short Organum for the Theatre” Brecht describes “the realm of gest” as those “attitudes adopted by the characters towards one another” (translated by John Willet). Actors, then, in Brecht’s “epic” theatre have to move in ways that portray their attitude, only those movements are not meant to appear natural or representational, but artificial or presentational. Instead, they mean to reveal their characters through “a set of social relations.” Also, I need to come clean: I’m a poser. I’m throwing German around here, but barely know a word of the language.

What are you working on?

I just don’t understand what lead to the emergence of the alt-right. I suspect it has origins in historical events and figures from the 1990s – e.g., Marshall Applewhite and the Heaven’s Gate cult, the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, the detectives who beat Rodney King, Stacey Koon, Laurence Powell, Timothy Wind, and Theodore Briseno. I’m writing poems about that history that incorporate Gestus by “writing through” (as John Cage put it) lines of plays by Brecht. I’ve just started on this project, though, so I’m still working on the angles. That’s why I’m hiding behind all this academic-speak.

Where do you write?

At home, whenever I find time, on a computer with a family portrait on the desktop.

Have you anything forthcoming?

My next book of poems, tentatively titled A Very Special Episode – alternately titled Brought to You By – will be out with Buckrider Books in 2019.

What would you rather be doing?

God’s honest? Watching cartoons with my kids.

You have died