Friday, March 20, 2009


I've been reading Michael Gizzi's poetry for three decades now, ever since I got a copy of his early Burning Deck book Bird As, which was the subject of one of my first book reviews.

Now, some sixteen books later and again from Burning Deck Press, comes Gizzi's latest, New Depths of Deadpan.

Here's one poem from the new collection:


A good teacher instructs by swatting flies.

An elephant never forgets an excuse.

What made the tick choose anthropology?

Try this: repair a hubbub.

Studies suggest people who speak in tongues never eat with you again.

And that pieman once thought to be a berry (now a wooden boat) died of seahorse strokes.

He used to baby-sit Leadbelly.

Music--the conduit through which you blindly come into view.

Listen: your initials on the moon.

You can find Burning Deck's web site and catalogue here.

Burning deck editions are also available from Small Press Distribution.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Just before Spring Break, Penn State hosted a centennial symposium on the life and works of novelist Chester Himes. Like all too many of my generation, I hadn't known of Himes until movie adaptations of his works began to appear, movies like Cotton Comes to Harlem. Those movies, along with Himes's autobiographical works, brought about a late life resurgence of interest in his novels. I still remember the irremediably cool Himes being interviewed on educational television (that's what we called it back in the day) wearing a turtleneck sweater and an attitude.

The Penn State symposium was organized by Jonathan Eburne and brought to campus a group of scholars and writers that included Steve Cannon, Norlisha Crawford, Tyrone Simpson, Christopher Breau, Will Turner, Justus Nieland, Pim Higginson, Kevin Bell, Wendy Walters and Lisa Fluet.

Watch for a publication to emerge from this gathering in the future.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

New from Abigail Child

Laura Hinton's Mermaid Tenement Press has just released this new chapbook from Abigail Child.  (I love the name "Mermaid Tenement" for the vision it summons of a mermaid flopping around in one of those kitchen bathtubs with feet I used to see in older New York buildings.)

The chapbook, Counterclock, is described as the first part of "An Experiment in Autobiography" which Child read at the St. Marks Poetry Project and the Bowery Poetry Club in 2007 and 2008.  The cover image you see here is from Child's film The Future is Behind You.

The work starts:

Start here. Uncompensated tongue. Pressure point mortality periodicals linking the present to earlier structural loves.  Read forward, sharp reds. The words take off. Think. It starts. Evaporation of certain volatiles stitched unto space hurtling forward. Hunker present to left stickling pins in a back hammer pile. Enrich the feeling. Elixir. Lucked Structure with which to

You can find more information about Tenement Press publications here.