Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Still Blaming the Messenger 

The month of rioting in France could be seen as the inevitable result of anti-immigrant racism & an intra-imperialism enforced by businesses and police. French politicians prefer to blame hip hop for angering young people into a blazing frenzy. They might have seen it coming if they took immigrant youth culture seriously in the first place.

* photo from La Haine by Matheiu Kassovitz

- Frank Sherlock

Monday, November 28, 2005

Paul Naylor Interview 

I've just posted an interview with poet-editor Paul Naylor over at the ixnay blogsite, which is going to be hopping once the new ixnay reader comes back from the printer in a week or so - the first in what will hopefully be a persistent rash o' publishing. Pop on over and check out the interview when you have a moment. Thank ye.

- Chris McC

First Friday! The B. Franklin Basement Tapes by Frank Sherlock & CAConrad 

This Friday, Nexus Foundation for Today's Art (137 N. 2nd St.) will be featuring an audio installation entitled The B. Franklin Basement Tapes. The collaborative piece is part of the gallery's Benjamin Franklin: American Idol exhibit to commemorate Franklin's 300th birthday. The show runs through January 2006, & will offer website access to many of the works via podcast. The opening reception is December 2, 5-9pm. We welcome you to stop by & listen. You may see our street team on your way to Nexus, handing out fliers & hyping the project, thus participating in the show beyond the gallery walls. (If you're interested in rousing with the street team, please email us.) Hope to see you there.

Frank Sherlock & CAConrad: The B. Franklin Basement Tapes


Be cupid to world government. - “Pops” Lonnie Lynn

The B. Franklin Basement Tapes is a lo-fi response to the institutionalization of the Franklin myth. On the occasion of the 300th birthday of this visionary rebel & sexy nerd, much will be made of Franklin the statesman, the writer, the founder of services, and of course- the inventor. Rather than exalting the larger-than-life creator alongside his voluminous discoveries, we choose to take it back to the beginning. We channel Benjamin Franklin, DIY Idea Man. Mythology has a life of its own, establishing vertical relationships and hierarchical systems. But before mythology, there was/is the seed. Since we've yet to discover the Franklin Sun Recordings or Ben's Woodstock Years, The Basement Tapes document the kinds of beginnings that propelled Franklin to rock star status. Before the marble busts and the institutes, there were moments- as basic & genius as re-imaginations of the present.

The project can alternately be known as The Be Franklin Basement Tapes. In the spirit of the democratic thinker, these dream liberator exercise tapes can be worked out in basements all over the world. The poems are instructions to coronate our private parts. Make new musical instruments. Develop new ways of communicating subversions. Be a douser of flames. Make up lies & stoke revolts. This kind of urban planning & good-natured treason requires no degrees, and no academic pedigree. Franklin stopped schooling at age eleven and started studying margins, where all things are visible/possible. The Basement Tapes are not an homage to The Great Genius, but a recognition of the G-E-N-I-U-S that is not born & does not die. Today is your birthday. Be Franklin.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Take 'em to Church 

Speaking of Ted Berrigan- Jonathan Skinner, CA & I headed up the Jersey Turnpike last Wednesday on a pilgrimage. The Poetry Project hosted a celebration reading for the release of The Collected Poems. The night gushed rain. The streets were messy & the lights beautiful, just like Ted imagined life & poems. We talked about our first & favorite Berrigan poems on the ride to New York. The three of us heard our faves & firsts aloud once we got there.

Some highlights:

- Eileen Myles broke the tone of solemnity when she outed Ted Berrigan as a big lesbian, just before reading the sonnet that contains the classic lines, "Some people prefer the interior monologue/ I like to beat people up."

- Kit Robinson gave a Kit Berrigan reading of "Things to do in Providence"

- Ed Foster laid down a badass version of "Certain Slant of Sunlight"

- Pierre Joris was (as far as I know) the only poet who didn't read from work that wasn't in The Collected. He pulled out a piece of paper with words glued all over it that Berrigan gave him one New Year's Day in the 1970's.

- Alice Notley read the final poem Berrigan wrote. He wrote it laying in bed & watching an old film on TV, with Alice in the room.

- Anne Waldman & Alice Notley read from the end of my favorite, "Memorial Day". Just incredible & moving. And still moving.

The aesthetic diversity of the readers (from Bob Perelman to Jacqueline Waters to Andrei Codrescau) shines the vast influence of Ted Berrigan's force. Some are more reluctant to embrace it than others. But I saw it & I heard it. It's unmistakable in its grand & everyday presence. Thanks to all who shared the experience last week. Here's to falling in love with poetry all over again.

- Frank Sherlock

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Without a doubt my favorite painting at the Alice Neel show a couple of years ago in Philly was this striking profile of Frank O'Hara. There was another portrait of O'Hara, but he looked scary in that one --to me-- teeth like a can opener, and grayish-green, set in an evil grimace. This one gives me an inkling of his wonder and his hunger to express that wonder. It's a beautiful painting of a wonderful looking man, and strange, yeah, he's a weird beauty.

It was around this time of the year when I was on Fire Island with my friend Crystal Virginia Bacon, late at night, a little drunk, reading tarot and poems on the beach, right where O'Hara had been killed by a dune buggy. Crystal had a book with this Alice Neel painting in it, and I remember studying it this first time by our candle's light, falling in love with its colors and lines as Crystal read from MEDITATIONS IN AN EMERGENCY. When I looked up there was a young stag looking right into my eyes. Then looking at Crystal as she finished the poem and also looked up. Granted, these dwarf deer on the island are tame, but that was unlike any encounter either of us had ever had on the island with deer. He was twelve inches away, and neither of us had heard him approach. We gave him corn (I had several ears of buttered, cooked corn from a restraurant where we saw a drag show earlier called You-Gotta-Wanna).

A visitation? Yes, I'll be bold and say so. That deer had the deepest black pools for eyes I'd ever seen, so delicious I wanted to pluck one out and suck on it. Then put it back of course.

He ran off at the sound of moaning, which turned out to be a couple of guys fucking in the bushes a few feet away, something you're bound to hear at night on Fire Island, no matter how cold the weather. But that night turned into one of those events, or should I say mystical experiences which get swept away with the daily drudge. We all have such stories I've discovered, and I love hearing from everyone and anyone who wishes to share such things.

The most warmth I have ever felt reading a poem aloud was when the sun finally broke over the ocean, and we took turns reading O'Hara's "A True Account Of Talking To The Sun At Fire Island."

There's a veil that gets lifted from time to time, and it's no surprise to me when it involves poets and poetry, meaning to say that poetry often opens unexpected doors to the everyday, which in turn show how the everyday is nothing but Holy. The other night at the Poetry Project for the COLLECTED Ted Berrigan event the electrical current zipped through the hundreds and hundreds of bodies in the room, and if you were there you felt it, and you understood it to be good and loving as you felt it.


Friday, November 18, 2005

fantastic new Joseph Massey book BRAMBLE (Hot Whiskey Press) 

                staring at water
             in a glass
                      you felt the earthquake

Did you see the water move in the glass? What a terrific book! Joseph Massey has learned what I believe was one of my most valuable lessons as a poet, and that is to trust readers. So much overwritten poetry in the world in the name of believing no one's as smart as the poet. It annoys me because...

A) it's so obvious, this overwriting for lack of trust that we will get it

B) it's insulting, this lack of trust (I hope people were annoyed and insulted with me when I was a kid with a bloated head. It takes someone SAYING they are annoyed though to help change the poet)

Better than that, Joseph Massey has a handle on the follow-up lesson (which took me a little longer to learn) which is to not only trust, but allow. Allowing everyone to get what they get: see, feel, believe what they see, feel, believe. Let us readers Be in the poem as we damn well want to Be.

With Massey's latest book -- this poet's on a ROLL writing/publishing -- there's SO MUCH sSspace you will find yourself wading into each page, slowly, and getting warm your own way, stopping, to, just let your mind build a trellis out of his beautifully chosen, few, words.

He of course doesn't just create space, he often uses the line to make the breath of the reader follow the shape of the space of land, air:

                pulp mill steam plume falls
             up against
                      dusk, the stretched red clouds

Like my singing bowl I'm fond of traveling out of myself with, I feel Massey's new book can place us, each, on our own plane, to the center of the sound's wave.

His political themes remind me of illustrator R. Crumb's drawing of a wooded area, still-by-still, becoming paved, human, shit.


                Indian Island
             where they sing
                      the world's renewal


                Indian Island
             where a few
                      private docks reside

Joseph Massey's new book BRAMBLE makes me feel fortunate I'm alive today to read his pages. There's a few dead poets I wish I could mail a copy to right now! They'd LOVE it! Is that silly? I never seem to know if I am silly, but poems for the living please, these poems for us! This much I am sure I know.

                there's a metaphor
             behind each
                      breath your life lets go

Thanks, and much love to YOU Mr. Massey,

The Germ & Sweet on Jacket 

See an online edition of The Germ #6/7 for a number of good poems and poets.

Also Erik Sweet's two poems from the current issue of Jacket.


Sunday, November 13, 2005

Please join us for November’s Benna’s Café Sunday Poetry Series, featuring:

Lauren Ireland


Chris McCreary

Sunday, November 20th

Benna’s Café
8th & Wharton Streets
Philadelphia, PA

Lauren Ireland grew up in coastal Virginia. She now resides in Philadelphia, where she is a copywriter. Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming in, the Black Warrior Review, jubilat, lungfull!, and the Colorado Review, among others.

Chris McCreary
is the author of The Effacements and the forthcoming Dismembers, and he reviews fiction and poetry for venues such as Rain Taxi and the Review of Contemporary Fiction. He is co-editor of ixnay press (
www.durationpress.com/ixnay) and teaches writing and literature at Temple University and Drexel University as well as in Germantown Friends School's Essentially English program.

A brief open reading will follow. Please bring no more than two poems to share & sign up before the start of the scheduled readers.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

What the NY Times Won't Tell You 


Monday November 14, 7:00 p.m.
American Friends Service Committee, 15th and Cherry Sts.
(At the front desk, ask for 'nonviolence tour' )

Largely unreported by the media, thousands of Palestinians and hundreds of Israelis are waging a major grassroots nonviolent campaign of resistance to the construction of Israel’s Wall. Palestinian farmers, workers, mothers, and students, together with Israeli and international volunteers, are braving teargas, beatings, bullets, arrest, and risking death to block the construction of the Wall with their bodies.

Ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004, the Wall appropriates Palestinian land and destroys villages for more Israeli settlements. In a victory for nonviolence, Ayed led his community of Budrus in a peaceful campaign of 50 protest marches to stop the construction of the Wall on Budrus’ land. Jonathan has participated in over 200 West Bank protests and has helped to mobilize hundreds of Israelis to join Palestinians in resisting the Wall. Both Ayed and Jonathan have been imprisoned for their prominent roles in the nonviolent movement. Don't miss this exciting opportunity to learn about cooperative nonviolent resistance in Palestine/Israel!

- FS

thank you Jenn 

Jenn, thanks so much for posting about Nadia Anjuman. Ron Silliman also posted this story on his blog, and it made me SO ANGRY as soon as I read it.

Silliman included a photograph of Nadia, and it MADE the experience sink in. We need to SEE the face of someone who has been subjected to violence because of WHO they are, it's important, very important. It's sad, but it also makes me angry, very VERY angry and anger is nothing but healthy when faced with such a brutal world, anger infuses the bloodstream, gets us acting!

President Bush and his wife Laura toured the US telling horror stories of the way women had been treated in Afghanistan, but say nothing about the Taliban being allowed to reform so soon in the hills after accomplishing what they wanted. Of course it was a ploy, but he used that ploy, and we should use that ploy against him. This is an issue the Global Women's Strike deals with every day.

The president should be told that he does not get to use women's rights, and women's health to get want he wants without giving to women's rights and women's health. That goes for the women in the US as well as Afghanistan and Iraq!

Thanks Jenn for posting about Nadia. For Nadia Anjuman, and ever other woman who will be beaten to death today, somewhere, in our world, count on it.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Afghan Poet Beaten to Death 

Police found the body of Afghan poet Nadia Anjuman at the home she and her husband shared. The 25-year-old rising literary star died this weekend after being knocked unconscious by her husband, Farid Ahmad Majid Mia. Anjuman was an undergraduate student of literature at Herat University, and this year published her first collection of poems, "Gule Dudi" which means "Dark Flower." "She was especially famous among the female poets in Herat," and was to publish a second volume next year, said Ahmad Sayed Haqiqi, a local journalist and colleague of Ms. Anjuman in Herat's Cultural Association. Her husband was an administrator in the literature department of the same university.

This is a tragic loss for Afghanistan," U.N. spokesman Adrian Edwards said of the slaying. "Domestic violence is a concern. This case illustrates how bad this problem is here and how it manifests itself. Women face exceptional challenges."

Her husband confessed to the beating, but denied that he had killed Anjuman. The woman's mother was at home at the time and is suspected of having had a role in the death. Both were arrested, but no charges were immediately filed. The Pajhwok News Agency reported that the family has refused to have her body autopsied.

She is survived by a six-month old daughter.

--posted by jenn mcc

more on FRANK SAMPERI poet-mystic 

Kyle, it made me happy to see you talking about Frank Samperi on the blog (see 10/27). I've photocopied the long piece NIGHT & DAY for you from Cid Corman's anthology THE GIST OF ORIGIN. Yeah-yeah, I know it's against copyright laws, but the anthology is out of print, and as far as I can tell this piece has never been published outside the anthology, and the magazine from which the anthology is made. (It's a fantastic anthology by the way)

To be honest my first feelings about Samperi were mixed, mostly because I kept getting stuck (annoyed is a better word) with his religious ideals. Soon enough though it became clear (or so it seems) that he was a spiritualist who happened to be catholic. I've met other spiritualists who were also catholic. My old friend Rosina is a pagan who follows her Sicilian mother and grandmother's traditions of the Strega, but also has a serious PASSION for the Eucharist. It can all be just fine together, and I guess I needed to relax about this, and both Rosina and Samperi helped me realize this.

And I'm glad I didn't let the religious language interfere because Samperi is unlike any other poet I can think of from our time (almost from our time).

One HUGE Samperi fan was Gil Ott. One of the questions I asked the first set of 9for9 poets was, "There's a face of a poet on the kite you are flying over the city. Who is this poet? When you reel them back from the wind what will you ask?"

Gil Ott answered:
The poet's face on my kite is Frank Samperi, reclusive when he was alive, but now deceased at least a decade. I would ask him to elaborate on the word "procession," which he used to distinguish from "process." I imagine this man's mind as pure witness, tuned to the essential deity of events, and so

Samperi has always been so elusive, physically, and more than almost any other poet I have wanted to know WHAT he looked like. He has a way of making you fall in love with him, really fall in love with him, without ever knowing him. For me, the only other writer who has done this is Franz Kafka, but for very different reasons, and in very different ways. Gil Ott is the only person I've ever known who met Samperi, and so I liked to pump Gil for details.

In that interview I did with Gil for BANJO, Samperi comes up again. Here's an excerpt of that section:

CA: Earlier you mentioned Frank Samperi, and he's someone you have mentioned over the years as being an inspiration to you. Can you share some of your thoughts about how his poems fit into your life as a poet?

Gil: Poverty and art is something I've discussed with the Australian poet David Miller, who is also familiar with Samperi. At the time--which would be the early 80s--Frank Samperi seemed to me to be a great undiscovered poet in our midst. The notion of poverty and art was very strong, and he seemed very monkish to me. This is something I have adopted, as a condition, which is what's interesting in that quote you pulled out earlier from my book WITHIN RANGE.

CA: You met him once didn't you? At the Ear Inn, isn't that right?

Gil: Yes. He gave a once in a lifetime reading at the Ear Inn. It's funny, because sometimes you meet people at the Ear Inn and you expect something from them that they're not. I guess that's true of many things. I expected this guy to look like a monk. And he shows up with his wife, who is wearing a frilly outfit, with fur around the edges. Everything I saw in them bespoke a struggle to maintain a middle class existence. Anyway, he sat down and read, and he read very softly. I have long-sought a recording of that reading, but apparently, due to the Ear Inn's technological failures, no recording is available. But it was beautiful! You really had to listen hard, because his voice was so soft, and the microphones weren't working.

CA: Didn't you say that he died soon after that reading?

Gil: Yes he did. He seemed fairly fragile. I also want to say that part of the appeal of Samperi were the books of his work that were produced. Grossman and Mushinsha published his trilogy. Also some very nice chapbooks of his work that Cid Corman had put out at one point. The linkage with poverty was through the line. His line was very spare. Sometimes one word or two words to a line. And you get these long thin lines that are just barely there, but powerful.

No one put it quite like Gil did.
Thanks Kyle for bringing up Samperi, let's get more going on this amazing poet!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The FBI's shadow "national security letters." FBI: Investigating Citizens National Security Letters 

There was alarming article in The Washington Post last week: "The FBI's Secret Scrutiny." It's a lengthy story of the unchecked growth and use of so-called "National Security Letters" to secretly investigate ordinary citizens not suspected of having done anything.


The W.Post article examines National Security Letters in depth:
The FBI now issues more than 30,000 national security letters a year, according to government sources, a hundredfold increase over historic norms. The letters -- one of which can be used to sweep up the records of many people -- are extending the bureau's reach as never before into the telephone calls, correspondence and financial lives of ordinary Americans.

Issued by FBI field supervisors, national security letters do not need the imprimatur of a prosecutor, grand jury or judge. They receive no review after the fact by the Justice Department or Congress. The executive branch maintains only statistics, which are incomplete and confined to classified reports. The Bush administration defeated legislation and a lawsuit to require a public accounting, and has offered no example in which the use of a national security letter helped disrupt a terrorist plot.

The piece starts out crazy and gets crazier right up until the end.

What the FBI is doing seems to surpass its most questionable practices used under J. Edgar Hoover.

With over than 30,000 national security letters being issued each year -- it's safe to ask (though it doesn't make me fell safe at all): Has the FBI issued a national security letter on you?


Saturday, November 05, 2005


Hosted by Philly Jobs with Justice
in collaboration with Brave New Films

The High Cost of Low Price
November 13th
The Gershman Y
Levitt Auditorium
401 S. Broad Street
This is a FREE screening!
Spread the word!
for more information contact Shivaani Selvaraj at 215.735.3615
(posted by CAConrad)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

anyone seen this yet? 

heather radawski just sent me this link - short movie of yesterday's protest march in chicago


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

DON'T MISS this Thursday's event! 

Temple University Poets & Writers Series
Presents - Author - Rodrigo Toscano
Thursday, Novrember 3, 2005
Temple University Center City Campus
1515 Market Street, Room 222 - 8:00 P.M.

(Rodrigo Toscano will be reading from new
work which includes Truax Inimical, a work
for four voices read by some PhillySound
and other voices. Come hear, and come
early as seats fill up fast in this room!)

(posted by CAConrad)

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