There are a limited number of participants for the July 11th (Soma)tic Poetry Workshop. ALL DETAILS ARE HERE.
Thanks, see you soon, CAConrad
# posted by a Philly Sound Poet PhillySound : 7:36 PM
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Undone : A Fakebook
My new book is officially out & about. Please see below.
* * *
Undone : A Fakebook by Chris McCreary a Furniture Press Book
"The poems in Undone are like echoes down a canyon — reverberating, overlapping, vibrating, creating a new kind of music — each word like a boat dislodged from its mooring, “like pieces of things / from which to weave / a dreaming.” That words have sound values which translate into meanings is the guiding principal and McCreary plays each note at its own perfect speed. Everything we didn’t know we needed to know is right here." -- Lewis Warsh
"A lynchpin of Philadelphia’s indy avant-garde, Chris McCreary brings a tender swagger to his line, from popsong semiotics to lyric sequence to the mysterious 'The Black Book' mirroring the urban poet’s soul. A very real book, Undone does it all."
-- Garrett Caples
"Undone reveals Chris McCreary as a skilled practitioner of serious play. The poems engage our absurd American moment through critiques of popular culture, while acting as 'songs about buildings and food.' And make no mistake, there is music in this collection. If you aren't familiar with McCreary's ear that is both sharp and barbed, welcome to your discovery. Listen in with this technician, whose third ear reveals the brilliant intuition that could only be accomplished by an artist who has honed this mysterious craft- for your listening pleasure." -- Frank Sherlock
Undone: A Fakebook by Chris McCreary. 6x9. 100 pages. Paper. $12.00. ISBN 10: 0-9826299-1-5. ISBN 13: 9780982629918. Library of Congress Control Number: 2010922783
for orders surface: Furniture Press Books c/o Towson ARTS Collective, 406 York Rd. (lower level), Baltimore, MD 21204 web: furniturepressbooks.com email: email@example.com phone: 410.718.6574
Note: The press's website should be updated within the next week or so, & the book will be available from SPD in the near future, too.In the meantime, email, surface, & phone orders are all a go.
Another note: Cover image & cover design are both by Dan Shepelavy. Check out his blog & portfolio here.
# posted by a Philly Sound Poet PhillySound : 4:03 PM
Friday, May 28, 2010
POETRY IN PHILLY
TONIGHT! Kevin Varrone, Dorothea Lasky, Ben Fama at MOSTLY BOOKS! Which is on Bainbridge Street between 5th and 6th. Starts at 9pm
TOMORROW! Chelsea Thoumsin, Francesca Costanzo, Wade Fletcher at CHAPTER HOUSE! Which is on 9th Street between South and Bainbridge. Starts at 8pm
posted by CAConrad
# posted by a Philly Sound Poet PhillySound : 1:23 PM
Tuesday, 6/8/10, 7pm on the Benjamin Franklin Bridge
in conjunction with Poets for Living Waters all details on Urchin link
# posted by a Philly Sound Poet PhillySound : 7:27 PM
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
UMM KULTHUM: A Voice Like Egypt
Sometime in the 1980's my friend Maria Fama invited me over to her South Philly home for dinner. We spent most of our time talking about poetry, but at one point she brought out a record album and said, "I really want you to hear this. Listen to this with me." It was Umm Kulthum. I still remember sitting there with her, exchanging bursts of surprise with her. The recording PIERCED, it had no other solution in mind but to grab you by the neck and force its blade into your gut. As though music is a SOLUTION to the human condition, music and poetry, Umm and her band of poets PIERCING US ONE AT A TIME! It's impossible to find one word to express the love for this experience.
Maria made a cassette tape of the album for me. And while that was being made she told me of visiting friends in Cairo back in the 1970's. They said, "Maria we have a surprise, we want to take you to hear Umm Kulthum sing!" Maria like 90 percent of western culture didn't know who Umm Kulthum was. She expected to go to a nightclub, but no, it was an enormous stadium. There were thousands of people. Umm was frail and old by then, but she still had power in her voice. The crowd would jump from their seats and scream at the end of a line of music.
All the poets of Egypt and the rest of the Arab world wanted to write for Umm. She remains one of the most celebrated singers in the world. She remains one of the most recorded voices in history. She still remains virtually unknown in America. But the day after seeing Maria I went into a small falafel shop in Philly called BITARS, and I asked the man behind the counter if he had ever heard of Umm Kulthum. "UMM KULTHUM? YES YES OF COURSE I KNOW UMM KULTHUM!" It caused so much excitement! The other man working with him telling him GET THE BAG GET THE BAG! He pulled an enormous, clear plastic bag out of a large drawer FILLED with Umm Kulthum cassette tapes.
All through the early 1990's my friends and I would pour over Umm's cassette's, share new ones. Then one day Maria Fama called me to tell me of a documentary coming to Philadelphia about Umm Kulthum. We went. It was so amazing. It remains one of my favorite movie going experiences. The director was there to present a Q&A, a marvelous woman who was Israeli-American who said that she made the film for many reasons, but one of them being to build a bridge between Israel and the Arab world.
Last night, 14 years later, I saw it again at my friend Mary Kalyna's house with friend Debrah Morkun. It struck me in the very same way. Goose bumps. Umm CHILLS with excitement and longing, her powerful use of her voice taking you OUT OF THIS WORLD whether you intended to go or not. It's bliss. It's ecstasy, Umm is better than any drug I've ever taken.
I'm a HUGE Umm Kulthum fan all over again today! CAConrad
# posted by a Philly Sound Poet PhillySound : 1:16 PM
Monday, May 24, 2010
MOTHER TASTES FAMILIAR BECAUSE SHE'S MOTHER
Click HERE for (Soma)tic Poetry Exercise #41, for David Wolach & Elizabeth Williamson
# posted by a Philly Sound Poet PhillySound : 9:43 PM
THE GOOD FORTUNE OF A YOUNG LIAR
Lately I've been thinking about this because I was listening to NPR's Radio Times and Marty Moss-Coane was interviewing Bella DePaulo about why people lie. Click HERE for the show. I was the first caller in this episode, and it's funny because they thought I was a woman.
I'm not sure when it started, but I think it was ten years ago when I first heard a writer declare, "IT'S ALL FICTION!" And then I began hearing it wherever groups of writers met, each saying it as though THEY had come up with this amazing statement of truth about lying as a writer. It bugged me right from the beginning because I had worked so hard in my life to not lie.
Being the first person in my family to ever go to college might seem like a big deal, but not to my family. In fact everyone treated me like I thought I was better than they were. And maybe I thought I was, maybe part of me still thinks so. But few even noticed, except my father when he found out that he was going to have to continue paying child support by Pennsylvania state law until I was out of college. He certainly noticed, and didn't hide his annoyance. My mother was too involved with her sexual intrigues and busy being inebriated with booze and drugs.
No one in my family caring about me going to college was just fine, I was ready to leave them behind me. All my life I had been incredibly embarrassed about the white trash family I came from. And what fourteen year old wants to see their mom wasted with a bunch of creepy, horny Led Zepplin fanatics, OH GOD, I hated them all! But I hadn't really thought about them when getting my books for my first classes, I was excited to be throwing myself into this amazing world of literature. What I didn't count on was that all my classmates would be talking about their families. I assumed everyone was like me and trying to escape.
It was almost an accident, the first lie. Well it was certainly deliberate, but, it wasn't planned at all. I was so busy being surprised that not everyone hated their families that it hadn't occurred to me that someone might ask me about my family. But from the first question about them the lies began. I reinvented them. Completely. I was so embarrassed. They couldn't know, and they certainly would have judged me if they did know the truth. I knew from experience that when your mother gets arrested for shoplifting YOU get judged by everyone along with her. Even the police sneer and shake their heads when looking at you, in the middle of the parking lot, waiting for your stepfather to come pick you up because your mother was cuffed and put in the back of a police car. You're trash. You're no good and that's that. Nothing good could possibly come of you coming from white trash.
And maybe that's true ninety percent of the time that nothing good could come of you. I was determined to be who I wanted to be regardless, and the person who I wanted to be wasn't my family. And I was NOT about to let any of these new kids in my life find out about them. No way was I going to tell them about the police and booze. About protecting my sister from my evil stepfather's sexual advances. And shoplifting with my mother. And selling flowers for her on the side of the highway. Neglected, I didn't want to be someone who was neglected. It was ugly, I didn't want to be from ugly.
And the lie was simple enough at first. They were boring middle class people. You know, nothing special. That's how it started. But the lie HAD TO grow because more things would come up. Vacation, we went here for vacation, how about you? Or, my mother likes to shop at Macy's, how about your mom? My mother had never been in Macy's. My mother was poor. We lived in a car for half a year, no, my mother did NOT shop at Macy's. You don't go from washing your face in the gas station bathroom after sleeping in the back seat of a car all night to shopping at Macy's. This world doesn't work that way. And it wasn't my fault it didn't work that way, I kept telling myself. Which only made it easier to lie. I kept saying that it wasn't my fault that I'm not from nice people.
The lying went on for about half a year or so. Then one day I went into a convenience store near the school, and I heard a voice call out, "DUDE WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?" It was Wendy, someone I knew from high school. Someone who knew everything about me. Everyone back there did. They knew my mom was a whore and thief and a drunk, and that I was a fag. Wendy was working behind the register, ringing up snacks for an entire line of students in my new school. "Do you know him?" "YEAH, WE WENT TO THE SAME HIGH SCHOOL!"
I'll always remember that Wendy said that we went to the same high school. Not that we "went to high school together." Even for Wendy that would be too familiar. Even for Wendy working at the register at the convenience store I was the lowest. I was the lowest. Where I came from was the bottom. Even Wendy knew this. Even Wendy made it clear in her language. Because where I grew up everyone was poor, but no one judges the poor quite like the poor. If you're all poor, someone has to be the poorest. Someone has to be the dirtiest. Someone has to be the place all the other poor can urinate into. It's the way it is. You're covered in their poor piss, soaked in it.
But I knew that day that it was over. And I went to therapy, and told the therapist. And the therapist annoyed me because she sat on the edge of her seat, excited by my story. Excited that I was a liar. Excited that I was trash but wanting to be from a nice, clean family like she probably came from. I hated my therapist so much that day, maybe I still do, yeah, I think I still do. But after her enthusiastic session with me I never went back again.
Then I started to tell the truth because it was over. Wendy saw me first. If I had seen Wendy first I could have ducked out of the store and NEVER gone back there. But she saw me first. And others saw her see me, and recognize me. It was over. It was really over.
And everyone hated me after that. But to be honest I was used to that. The thing that I hadn't counted on was that my neck and shoulder muscles would feel better. And the funny thing was that I had no idea that they were tight and tense until AFTER the lying stopped. Wow. And soon after that I was asked to leave the college anyway because I was sleeping with a professor.
It was an incredible lesson. It was painful at the time, mortifying having to go into class and have people look at me like I was a liar. Because I was a liar. And for a while I thought, "DON'T YOU GET IT, DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND THAT I COULDN'T TELL YOU THE TRUTH?" I mean, really, "DON'T YOU KNOW THAT IF YOU KNEW WHERE I CAME FROM YOU WOULD HATE ME ANYWAY?" They were going to hate me one way or the other, and in this case it's because I lied about where I came from.
It's like being a faggot or dyke. You know you HAVE to come out of the closet. You MUST. Your life depends on you coming out of the closet. To everyone. When people say things like, "I don't know why you think I need to know this," or (my favorite), "I wish you people would keep this to yourselves," you can explain to them WHY you need to come out, but you don't have to. It's important that you're out. It's important to not lie. Living a lie causes more harm than you will realize. But when you stop you'll know it because you'll feel lighter. It's true, it's corny sounding, but it's true, it's really true. Getting out of the lying trap is the most remarkable, healthy thing you can do.
This is something else I've thought about a lot lately because of the ICA Queer Voice show. There are people in the show who are heterosexual, and that's fine with me. I just wonder if they understand what it means to come out? I mean, really know what it means? How much our lives depend on that. Maybe they do realize. I hope they do. If they're part of the Queer Voice show I want them to not take it lightly. It's a very big deal to know how much some people sacrifice for having a voice they must not lie about. It's important that we all make room for one another so no one has to lie about who they are. How much room is that by the way? What kind of space is that? What's it look like? I ask of course because I feel like I don't know it yet. I feel like there's still so much that keeps people from being honest.
Especially about being poor. No one hates the poor more than the poor. No one hates themselves as much as someone who can't afford to buy their kids that cool new toy everyone else has in their nice houses. And I hate how 2008 became THE marker for economic decline. Yeah, economic decline for everyone, but there have been a lot of people, working class, working poor, and downright poor, who have been in decline long before 2008 ever appeared on the calendar. Does everyone really have to be poor in order for no one to have to feel like garbage anymore about being poor? Is that how this works? Really? That's so much work. This planet is a tiresome amount of work. But I love it here. I'm glad to be here. I'm glad to know who I am, and that I'm honest about who I am. And I want that lightness and freedom for everyone.
All my best to you, CAConrad
# posted by a Philly Sound Poet PhillySound : 5:26 PM
# posted by a Philly Sound Poet PhillySound : 3:32 PM
Saturday, May 22, 2010
GREAT READING TOMORROW NIGHT!
Sunday, May 23, 2010, 7pm - NPP Presents Jamie Townsend, Catherine Theis, Jared Stanley, and Lauren Levin. Fergie's Pub, 1214 Sansom Street.
SHOULD BE GREAT! I'm a HUGE fan of NOT TIME by Levin. Someone borrowed it, shit, I have to remember WHO! CAConrad
# posted by a Philly Sound Poet PhillySound : 11:58 PM
Friday, May 21, 2010
The WINEO READING SERIES: 41, WOMEN WHO WRITE
The WINEO READING SERIES: 41, Women Who Write
words, notes, noise, inappropriate laughter, trial and error
Date: Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Location:Wineo Bar & Restaurant, 447 Poplar Street N 5th & Poplar in Northern Liberties
WOMEN WHO WRITE
Jenn McCreary: is the author of :ab ovo:, published by Dusie Press in the spring of 2009. She is also the author of two chapbooks: errata stigmata (Potes & Poets Press), & four o’clock pocket chiming (Beautiful Swimmer Press); the e-chapbook :Maps & Legends: (Scantily Clad Press) & a doctrine of signatures (Singing Horse Press). Her poetry has been published in magazines including Combo, Lungfull!, Tool: A Magazine, POM2, So To Speak, Sous Rature, Tangent, & How2. She lives with her husband, the writer Chris McCreary, & their twin sons in Philadelphia, where she co-edits ixnay press with Chris, works for the Mural Arts Program, & serves on the board of the Philly Spells Writing Center.
Mecca Jamilah Sullivan: is from Harlem, New York. Her fiction has appeared and is forthcoming in a number of journals and anthologies, including Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review, Best New Writing, Bloom, Philadelphia Stories, Lumina, Baby Remember My Name, X-24: Unclassified, Woman's Work, Homeboy Review, and Baobab South African Journal of New Writing, as well as literary publications from Columbia, Yale, Temple, and Howard Universities. Her nonfiction prose has also appeared in GLQ, American Visions, and other publications. A 2006 Best New Voices nominee, her short story, "A Strange People," received Crab Orchard Review’s 2008 Charles Johnson Fiction Award, and her short fiction manuscript, Blue Talk and Love, was named a finalist for the 2009 Sol Books Prose series award. Her short story, “Wolfpack,” was a shortlist finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award from Best New Writing, and her short story, "Blue Talk and Love," was chosen by Rick Moody as the second-place winner of the American Short Fiction short story contest. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in English Literature at the University of Pennsylvania, and is working on her first novel.
Kim Gek Lin Short: is the daughter of a Scots-Irish geophysicist from the midwest and a Straits-Chinese tenpin champion from Singapore. She is the author of The Bugging Watch & Other Exhibits (Tarpaulin Sky Press), and the chapbooks The Residents (dancing girl press) and Run (Rope-a-Dope Press). Her next book, China Cowboy, will be published by Tarpaulin Sky Press in 2011. She lives with her family in Philadelphia.
# posted by a Philly Sound Poet PhillySound : 7:21 PM
Paul Siegell trailer for *wild life rifle fire*
Here's a trailer for the 21st Century concrete poetry of Paul Siegell. Look for his new book wild life rifle fire.
- Frank Sherlock
# posted by a Philly Sound Poet PhillySound : 4:52 PM
THAT'S ANOTHER SURE HIT FROM ALEX ABELSON! posted by CAConrad
# posted by a Philly Sound Poet PhillySound : 11:25 PM
Monday, May 17, 2010
THIS MADE MY FUCKING WEEK!
I'm SO EXCITED! Scotty Leitch's punk rock song called after reading The Book of Frank was just published on WOBBLING ROOF! Click HERE
The WHOLE issue of WOBBLING ROOF is HERE with some pretty fantastic company! Thanks Scotty! Thanks Wobbling Roof! CAConrad
# posted by a Philly Sound Poet PhillySound : 10:33 PM
Saturday, May 15, 2010
from the vaults : ixnay press chapbooks
After much delay, two classic (and long out of print) ixnay press chapbooks are now available for download. Frank Sherlock's 13 (from 1998) and Kevin Varrone's g-point Almanac (6/21 - 9/21) (from 2000) are both for your reading pleasure at: http://www.ixnaypress.com/ixnay_books___chapbooks.html
Frank's chapbook was one of the very first ixnay publications, and Kevin's marks the beginning of his ongoing g-point Almanac project.
More to come soon, with any luck. Happy reading.
# posted by a Philly Sound Poet PhillySound : 8:18 PM
Friday, May 14, 2010
Philly Poets, NY Invasion
On Sunday, May 16th, Jenn McCreary & Pattie McCarthy will be reading at Zinc Bar in the East Village.
fin de siecle reading at La Tazza in Philadelphia
For nearly fifteen years, Pattie & Jenn have been mistaken for eachother in several cities, including at a reception following Pattie’s reading at the culmination of her MA at Temple in the late 90s (when someone complimented Jenn on Pattie's reading), & at Jenn's reading at Chapterhouse Cafe in Philadelphia this winter (when someone thanked Pattie for Jenn's reading). It is entirely possible that reading in the same place at the same time could cause some sort of tear in the space-time continuum. Or maybe a tesseract.
# posted by a Philly Sound Poet PhillySound : 8:45 PM
Sasha Flectcher special offer!
If you order Sasha Flectcher's new book WHEN ALL OUR DAYS ARE NUMBERED MARCHING BANDS WILL FILL THE STREETS & WE WILL NOT HEAR THEM BECAUSE WE WILL BE UPSTAIRS IN THE CLOUDS before June 1st, you will receive a free PDF chapbook by Sasha, THE WORLD CHANGES AS IT WRAPS AROUND YOU. Order HERE before 6/1/10.
# posted by a Philly Sound Poet PhillySound : 12:51 AM
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Kim Gek Lin Short: The Bugging Watch & Other Exhibits
This week I read Kim Gek Lin Short's The Bugging Watch & Other Exhibits, a book of prose poetry that makes a novel. It's a dark, animated love story told like a fairy tale. I imagine the characters, Harlan and Toland, as cartoons - that perception's aided by the cover art, but it's the anamorphic description of the characters, especially the nebulous quality of Toland, as well as the vibrant language and fantastic imagery that give me the cartoon feel. Throughout much (if not all) of the book, Toland is dead, but present, in many places, while Harlan tries "to land" her by sewing her back together or some other means, depending on the form Toland has taken--she is often made of yarn, sometimes water, sometimes other things. Through Harlan's efforts we traverse his psychological landscape--not only the basement of his bug-ridden house but the basement inside him--and Toland's as well (we hear both voices, as well as 3rd person voice). Harlan grows holes, for example, and I found myself sympathizing with him for his foolishness and denial (or ignorance) of the hopelessness of his situation; Harlan and Toland seem inevitably and endlessly bound, trying to construct each other. The text itself is like that, too--Bhanu Kapil, in her blurb, describes the narrative as a "growing hole"--you can only get lost in the story, which is its pleasure and pain. I recommend it--go buy it.
Here' a poem from the book:
The Tiny Book of Instructions
The time Harlan wore his octagonal binoculars and read from the tiny book of instructions for a meaningful love, Toland called him Lorenzo and together they skipped about the kitchen wearing pots as hats. Then fingering a passage in the tiny book Harlan took his binoculars off, in their place put two slices of onion, and wept up a rainstorm into all his many hats. “Where,” asked Harlan, filling pot after pot with tears, “are my gardening gloves?” Toland from some basil sewed the three pointy pairs and Harlan called her Isabel. And the tiny book became the word for rainbow and spilled into Harlan’s many gloved hands. But the rainbow was thirsty and no matter how many onions Toland sliced Harlan could not go on filling her pots. Will nothing make you wet? she asked, threading her fingers through his nose to inhale the basil. But Harlan shook his head until his gloves fell off. So Toland untangled her head from her body and piled it like plumbing in a nest of pot. As Harlan wept up a rainstorm into Toland’s pipes of hair the tiny book became so meaningful all its words were smudged.
Kim Gek Lin Short will read this Friday, May 14th at 7:30 at Wooden Shoe Bookstore, 7th & South, w/ Carlos Soto Roman and Beth Nixon
and on Tuesday, May 25th atWineO Bar, 447 Poplar Street, at 7:30 w/ Jenn McCreary and Mecca Jamilah Sullivan.
-- R Eckes
# posted by a Philly Sound Poet PhillySound : 4:06 PM
Saturday, May 08, 2010
The City Real & Imagined- a review by Ron Silliman
Jeffrey Stockbridge and Liz Moore's collaborative photo essay on Kensington: While photographing abandoned houses in various neighborhoods of Philadelphia, Jeffrey Stockbridge began to meet and photograph residents of Kensington. His initial focus was on a group of women who struggle with addiction and support their habits through prostitution; since then he has broadened his interest to include other people, places, and features of the neighborhood. In the fall of 2009 he invited writer Liz Moore to accompany him on his visits to Kensington. She is working on a related, long-form piece of creative nonfiction.