1. Concord- Joel A. Harris
One of those Arcadia Publishing books. Full of amazing archival photos of the city where I grew up, Concord, CA. Used to be called Todos Santos (better) which used to be called Drunken Indian (even better). Concord’s history is all about Native Americans, Spanish Settlers, Mexican Californios and Anglo-Gold Rush settlers. I love where I grew up.
2. Crayon #3
This is the Fernando Pessoa issue, I bought it after Steve Dickison talked about the heteronyms in one of his The Poetry Center classes back in 2002. I just got around to reading it this year. It’s a thick issue, and as with all issues of Crayon, a bit daunting. Reads more like an anthology than a magazine, which I usually don’t like. Crayon #3 works though. Well done Crayon.
3. Tooth Fairy- Brandon Brown
I read this little book in the bathroom. I think Brandon put this out, along with 2 or 3 others, on his own OMG Press. I’m having a hard time remembering this book specifically. I know I loved it. I remember saying to Brandon “dude, I loved Tooth Fairy” late one night at his house drinking beers probably on the back staircase or maybe maxing in “the Boat House” listening to some horrible tween music that Brandon was invariably singing along to.
4. The Grand Piano part 8
I’ve loved every part. Nothing better than 70’s SF nostalgia. The neighborhoods, the bars, the drama. I probably enjoy Silliman, Benson and Robbinson a lot lot lot more than Harryman, Watten and Pearson.
5. Room Are Never Finished- Agha Shahid Ali
Bought this book for a Peter Weltner class at SFSU (or was it for a Susan Browne class at DVC?) . Brandon Brown was in that class too, in fact took the class on the basis of Brandon's high recommendation of Weltner (a very good hard-asssed teacher with a New Critical style). I read this during a particularly bad cold last Jan. I don’t remember anything about this book.
6. The Grand Piano part 9
See above The Grand Piano Part 8
7. Blast 1- Wyndham Lewis
Finished Wyndham Lewis's BLAST yesterday. Still have no idea what Vorticism is. Some of the things I do know about Vorticism don't really point me towards anything useful. I know that Vorticism eschews the romanticism of the past (Impressionism) as much as what Lewis saw as the romanticism of the future (Futurism) ("[Futurism] an accelerated form of Impressionism"-p. 158). You'd think this would point to "the present" as being primary to the Vorticists; e.g., "the new vortex plunges to the heart of the Present" and "with our Vortex the Present is the only active thing." Ah yes now I'm starting to get it...but then almost immediately from the same page (p. 147) "there is no Present—there is Past and Future, and there is Art" and "this impure Present our Vortex despises and ignores"...okay...so what the EF? The Future is romantic and fetishized, the Past is romantic and fallacious and the Present is impure and negated. But the present is also "Art" and thus viola, Vorticism! and what the hell am i supposed to make of that? I guess I'm just not at all clear on how Lewis is defining the Present/Art. And BLAST is 160 pages. I feel like I should be a little closer to understanding what the hell Vorticism is all about after 160 pages. Any comments would be appreciated. Thanks.
8. Stranger In Town- Cedar Sigo
I love this book. I went to the book release party at City Lights with Lindsey Boldt and Steve Orth. Cedar read with Andrew Joron. Cedar blew everyone away, a totally packed house with a full staircase as well. Afterwards everyone went to Specs across the street for drinks. Sitting at the round table next to us, and totally unrelated to our after party were Jack Hirschman and Sarah Menefee and I think Neeli Cherkovoski. North Beach really felt like “North Beach” that night. Took a cab home with Micah Ballard and Sunnylyn Thibodeaux.
9. Mascara- Will Skinker
For the longest time I thought Will’s last name with “Skinner.” I told him that when I met him at a Books & Bookshelves reading last year. Pretty sure this is an Auguste Press book? I love all AP books. One of the better presses in the Bay Area, and that’s saying a lot. They’re discreet, hand typed, stapled and impeccably edited by a couple of the loveliest poet’s in SF, Micah and Sunnylyn.
10. Morning Train- ed. Micah Ballard/ Sunnylyn Thibodeaux
Another Auguste Press project. This is a Magazine/Anthology. I remember really liking it drinking beers on a foggy Sunday afternoon listening to a lot of recently scavenged Gustav Holst records.
11. Avid Diva- Garrett Caples
Lew Gallery book by the great Garrett Caples. Short, musical poems. This may be the first thing I’ve seen from Caples since his amazing Narrow House CD, Surrealism’s Bad Rap (what up Sirois!). Garrett brings it.
12. Wild Schemes- Derek Fenner
Inimitable editor of Bootstrap Press, Fenner’s Lew Gallery chapbook was released at about the same time as my LG book RAVE ON! Kevin Opstedal micro-reviewed both…take it away Kevin! “Lew Gallery/Auguste Press strikes again with a beautiful pair of books. RAVE ON! by John Sakkis, and WILD SCHEMES by Derek Fenner. Whatever these poets are drinking I’ll have the same, & double up on it.
We find consecretion
in Humulus Lupulus
by the misery of America. (Fenner)
Our sunset should be as muted as
my apartment (Sakkis)
Both of these poets have the chops, the workshed rudiments, & the attention, as the line is drawn. Whatever it is to be found, to be lost, to answer when your name is called. Or not. You can’t lip-synch your way through it. Well, you can, but against the oblique desire, pending comprehension. Here we have the songs & the risk taken. If you’re lucky enough to get hold of one or both of these little bokes you’ll know what I mean.
13. Life Of Crime- ed. Steve Lavoie/ Pat Nolan
This is the anti-The Grand Piano. One of my 11 selections for Steve Evans' Attention Span this year. I devoured this book, didn’t want it to end, but end it did, and too quickly. Steve Lavoie and Pat Nolan taking the piss out of everyone and anyone they felt like, totally un-PC, crass and hilarious. From what I hear, with the publication of LOC they made themselves public enemy #1 in SF (and we’re even reluctant to re-publish after all these years). Thank you Alistair Johnston from Poltroon Press for publishing this book, an important moment in Bay Area poetics (wars) that a lot of folks my age are just now hearing about.
14. Aevum- David Brazil
A little chapbook arrives in my office at work called Aevum by David Brazil. I don’t know how it got there and I don’t know who sent it (though I have ideas), I’m just glad they did. I think a little book called Our Insalvagable by Thom Donovan came my way under similar circumstances. Whoever you are Vigilance Society, keep em’ coming. I love these little mysterious chapbook poem objects.
15. The Great Gatsby- F. Scott Fitzgerald
Finally got around to reading it TGG, I liked it. A quicker read than I was expecting. I rented the movie. I remember liking the movie better in high school.
16. Sulfur #3
This might be the Charles Olson/ Edward Dahlberg correspondence issue. I love Sulfur. A real magazine, "feminine and tough." Olson and Dahlberg get into a really sad (yet entertaining) whine fest with each other. Sad because it's a document of a longstanding friendship coming to an end, and entertaining because these dudes really know how to write mean, spiteful, underhanded, passive aggressive letters... Dahlberg is super pissed that Olson won’t write a review of his book called The Flea Of Sodom. Olson is like “dude, I’m working on it…” and Dahlberg is like “I’m starving and I can’t feed my wife…hurry up with that review…if you were ever my friend you’d write that goddamn review…” and Olson is like “bro, chill the ef out…i’m a little busy right now with, you know, THE MAXIMUS POEMS…and I’m not even sure I like your book…” and Dahlberg is like “fuck you, your poetry sucks, remember when I came to visit you at your Mom's house, and she made dinner and offered you the biggest piece of roast chicken? and the last of the scotch? and you accepted them without so much as the slightest acknowledgment to me as your guest...I was starving and I had to sit there at your Mother's dinner table watching you shovel food and drink into your giant gaping maw...I’m not friends with you anymore!” and Olson is like “whatevs…your being retarded…smell you later skater…” etc etc etc…it was epic.
17. Try- Feb 21, 2010
There is nothing else to say about Try. It’s a better magazine than your magazine. as they say in the comic books 'nuff said.
18. The Carrier Of Ladders- W.S. Merwin
Logan Ryan Smith gave me this book a long time ago. I believe for my birthday, probably in 2002. He was still living at Park Merced out by SFSFU with Nick Buzanski. He loved Sharks hockey and Giants baseball. I think he told me that he met Merwin once at a City Lights reading. I want to say that Logan said he was a dick. But maybe Logan said that he was really sweet. I should probably refrain from guessing what Logan told me Merwin was like in 2002.
19. Temblor #1
Finished reading Temblor #3 this morning. I've read 4 issues of the magazine thus far. #1,2,3 and 8. I've had the same experience of dread upon starting each issue and then the same feeling of relief upon finishing each issue. i love [old] magazines. I collect old magazines. i own all 10 issues of Leland Hickman's groundbreaking [??] journal Temblor. i bought them from Green Apple in 2002. it was a big haul, each issue cost 8 dollars, George Albon who was working the counter gave me a complimentary Green Apple tote bag because it was such a large haul (I still use the tote today for produce shopping). Kevin Killian told me that all those Temblor's probably belonged to Lew Ellingham (which is neat). Over the years I've also scored an almost complete set of David Levi-Strauss and Benjamin Hollander's ACTS as well as a smattering of rare and lesser known mags like Steve Abbott's Soup, Cyanosis (out of Santa Rosa) and Aram Saroyan's Lines et al. So yeah, I really really love old po-magazines. But Temblor, man, Temblor is kind of a drag.
Temblor is a medical journal. It looks like one and it reads like one. Each issue is about 140-160 pages. All covers are a variation of 70's ranch house brown. Each issue is filled with a gaggle of poets that appeared in earlier issues (Language based mostly). Each issue contains anywhere from 4-6 "compleat" sections where the poets' work is featured at chapbook length. You'd think the "compleats" would rule, it's a pretty cool idea (and probably the first magazine to do it), but they don't, they are tedious (no matter how good the work)...I don't know if it's Hickman's editorial POV that wears on me, or that is seems like the same coterie of names appear in each issue, or the monotone-stucco design aesthetic that bums me out, or simply the daunting size of each issue that turns me off (poems bleeding into poems which in my experience often happens with oversize issues). Actually, it's all of these things, but it's also the knowledge that groundbreaking, rigorous AND entertaining magazines like Soup and Jimmy & Lucy's House Of "K" and Life Of Crime were contemporaneous with Temblor. Temblor is decidedly not entertaining.
So i finished Temblor #3 this morning and picked up Lines #5. The energy of the two magazines couldn't be further apart. Lines is a magazine - Temblor is a journal. I prefer magazines. If i had it my way I probably wouldn't read the remaining 7 issues of Temblor, but I don't really have it my way, my weird tics are going to make me finish the full run. And I'm glad about that. After all, as much as I don't like the journal, it has it's place in West Coast poetry history, and I'm experiencing that historical moment albeit 25 years later. And I appreciate that. I'm just not enjoying the experience.
20. Can Arboreal Knotwork Help Blackburn Out Of Frege's Abyss- Boyd Spahr
All I remember is that this is a Dusie Kollectiv book. From the 2nd round I believe. If I’m remembering correct I took part in the 1st and the 2nd Dusie Kollectiv chapbook exchange. Is this the book with all the photo’s in it? Shit, I wish I could remember.
21. O Pieces Of The Sky- Greg Fuchs
This is probably a Lew Gallery book. I remember really liking this book. I remember thinking that these poems almost feel like raps, or comic books. Something very city about them. Greg has a great last name.
22. Dispatch- Marci Nelligan/ Nicole Mauro
Maybe a Dusie Kollectiv book? I don’t remember anything about this book unfortunately.
23. Lola- Lyn Hejinian
I have no recollection of reading this book. It must be a chapbook though. I don’t think I’ve ever read a full length Hejinian. Unless Sight or Sunflower count. But those are collabos. Where the hecka would I have picked up a Hejinian chapbook? I know I haven't purchased a Hejinian chap recently. I mean, I see her sometimes at work, but I don't think she's ever given me anything. I remember she was sporting some awesome socks one afternoon, I think they were purple with stripes, and I wanted to say "hey Hejinian, nice socks...!" but I didn't. But if I DID, she would probably say "hey thanks, got em' for my birthday along with a new watch...hey John, have you seen my new book Lola...?" and she would hand me her new chapbook and I would promise to read it sometime in the future.
24. Hamlet- William Shakespeare
Re-read! I re-read along to Rodney Bennett’s version of the theatrical play streamed on Netflix. Derek Jacobi! Right? And then it was pretty neat realizing that Derek Jacobi played Hamlet’s father in the Kenneth Branagh version 20 years later. I plan on reading all forthcoming Shakespeare while streaming the theatrical play on Netflix from here on out. A great way to experience both worlds.
25. Theory Of Colors- Mercedes Roffe/ trans. Margaret Carson
I think this is a Belladonna chapbook. Rachel Levitsky sent me a ton of BD chapbooks while I was at Naropa. Just getting around to reading them. I alternate between backlog of Belladonna chapbooks, Dusie chapbooks, issues of Combo magazne and issues of Temblor magazine.
26. How Many Of You Are You- Philip Jenks
Actually I think this is the chapbook with the photos in it. I love this book. Another Dusie Kollectiv project if I’m not mistaken. A book that engages with what it means to call someplace your hometown. This book is gorgeous. It made me want to immediately write a response series to it. I wonder if this book ever made it out of the limited edition chapbook ghetto. I would kill to see this expanded as a full length.
27. Spy Wednesday- David Brazil
My favorite book of Brazil’s so far. A “day in the life of” epic. I remember Molotov’s, coffee, Greek, protest and arrest. A really beautiful elegy in the form of a notebook meticulously filled out and then reconfigured into a poem. But David’s notebooks are poetry in and of themselves. This is a TAXT book I’m pretty sure. You know, for free, Bay Area, get em’ if you can steez…I recommend your steez goes and gets it. Say “hi Suzanne Stein, Johnny sent me for your TAXT…”
28. Yale Younger Poets #1
Bought this from Moe’s in 1999 I think. Took a trip by myself to Berkeley specifically looking for experimental poetry. I had no idea what “experimental poetry” was, I just knew that I wanted to read stuff other than what they had us reading at DVC (eg. Kim Addonizio, Stephen Dobyns, Galway Kinnell, Raymond Carver). Mike And Dale’s Yale Younger immediately popped. I don’t think I’d ever seen a chapbook at that point, certainly didn’t know what a chapbook was. Picked it up not knowing anything about anybody listed in the table of contents, read a couple poems, maybe something by Duncan Mcnaughton? Fell in love…I also found an Alex Katz and Kenneth Koch collabo book called Interlocking Lives. I remember the guy at the register up front looked at the Katz/ Koch book and said “Where did you find this? Huge score…”…felt like the coolest dude on Telegraph Ave. Moe’s was one of the best places to score rare New College’y affiliated chapbooks/ books/ magazines back in the day (maybe because of Andrew Schelling?). Lots of Yale Younger, Gas magazine, a large assortment of Opstedal's Blue Press stuff, Skanky Possum...so many hard to find goodies. I haven't gone poetry digging at Moe's in over 10 years so I have no idea what used selection is like now.
29. Boston Vermont- William Corbett
Another Peter Weltner era purchase. Hardcover. Don’t remember if we touched on any of these poems in class. I write to Bill at work ordering Pressed Wafer books every couple of weeks. He’s pretty much the dude. He spends time in Boston, he spends time in Vermont. Voila. I enjoyed reading this book on my lunch break in my car in front of SPD on 7th St with KNBR playing in the background. Go Giants!
30. Combo #1
I was gifted a big set of Combo by my co-worker Todd McCarty while working as an audio technician at the Naropa Audio Archives back in 2006. He came in with a Ron Silliman book and 8 or 9 copies of Combo, said “you want these?, not my thing…”…said (while probably sitting at my work station fiddling about with ProTools cleaning up a John Weiners or Allen Ginsberg or Robert Creeley tape) “dude, for sure...”…Combo is a great magazine, just my type, fit, small, beautifully designed, leaves you wanting more, has an aesthetic point of view but isn't afraid of straying, just a really solid mag. Todd was supposed to air my Shakespearian mixtape “Merk’s Macbeth” on his radio program on late night KGNU. Not sure if he ever did (I play it in the warehouse at SPD every couple of months). I'm not sure why, but every time I read an issue of Combo, Rodney Koeneke posts a comment to my blog that reads simply "Combo!"...pretty much, Combo!
31. The Granite Pail- Lorine Niedecker
I think this was a Steve Dickison era book. I think Jenny Penberthy must have been reading at The Poetry Center that semester. Though I could be wrong, was this another Weltner book? This might have been a Weltner book. In fact, now that I’m typing, I’m pretty sure it was a Peter Weltner book. I remember close reading “Paean To Place” in class. What’s the line “fish fowl flood/ water lily mud/ my life.” Yeah, I remember a lot of us were tripping off of that line for a while. I think there is even a story from the old Geary St. apartment where Brandon Brown and Matthew Arnone, while drinking whiskey one night, read the entire book out loud to each other. Don’t mean to mythologize if I’m wrong about that, but pretty sure that happened.
32. Ghosts- Stephen Boyer
Don’t remember if Stephen sent me this book. Or if Bent Boy Books sent me this book. Or if Stephen handed it off to me in person. I think Bent Boy Books sent me this book. I love this chapbook, especially the Craigslist bars/clubs reviews. Cause it’s Stephen, and he actually posted these amazing reviews (nod to Killian) on Craigslist. Stephen invited me to read with him and Jennifer Blowdryer at Dog Eared Books for the release reading. I’ve never written about that reading and what took place afterward…but let me just say…there were beautiful girls, there were boys, there was a band playing in the Mission, there was an art opening, there was El Rio and The Makeout Room, there was an “appropriated” car on Market St, there was hot tubs, there was a lot of nudity, there was rooftops, there was missing pants, there was blackouts, there was making out and whiskey and a wet cab ride home with two of my best homies at 5 in the morning…and then a lot of hilarious text messages the next day/afternoon…pretty much the epic’ist after party to a poetry reading I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. There is a line in Stephen’s book that goes something like “I want to read poetry with Lindsey Lohan in the Hollywood Hills…”…it was like that. You should read Ghosts.
33. Befallen I- Erin Moure (Belladonna #74)
Another Belladonna book. I can’t say I remember this book. These BD chapbooks are so small. Forgive. I remember when Erin came to the poetry center to give a reading back in 2002 I think. I missed the reading for some reason. But I remember talking to Brandon about it later on. He was definitely on a post reading Team-Erin glow. And made me feel bad for missing an exceptional reading. I think Erin talked a lot about translation, and Brandon back then, as now, has a huge boner for Team-Translation. I remember Brandon trying to break down her PoCenter presentation to me. I remember thinking “not sure I know what you’re talking about broseph, but you seem really excited, so I’m excited for you/with you…”
34. from Compass And Men- Jill Magi
Possibly another Dusie chapbook. I don’t remember Jill’s book. I know I probably read it in the bathroom before hopping in the shower. So many Dusie books, so overwhelming. Jill has a great last name, almost don't believe it's real. Maybe "Magi" is a stage name, like Katy Perry born Katheryn Elizabeth, or Wynona Ryder born Winona Horowitz. I wonder what "Jill Magi's" real name is...
35. Lessons Of The Microscopist- Martine Bellen
Again, probably a Dusie chapbook. See my awful review of Jill Magi’s chapbook for context. But on the other hand, “Martine Bellen” sounds like a name that Belladonna might publish. So, I’m not sure how to orient. Probably read it in the bathroom before hopping in the shower.
36. Soup #3
Bought this at Green Apple back in 2003, I think I was with Brandon Brown. I’m pretty sure there were two issues of Soup on the rack, and I wanted them both, but Brandon snagged one before I could call dibs, I’m a bit of a hoarder. I don’t know which issue Brandon ended up with but I’m pretty sure Soup #3 defeats his issue. This one has that great Bruce Boone introduction/ essay about New Narrative writing. Not sure how “new” New Narrative was when he published it, but I’m pretty sure it was pretty damn new. I’m not sure how many issues of Soup Steve Abbott put out before his death. I’ve only seen #3, and Brandon’s issue but only fleetingly. Brandon came over to my apartment a few months ago for beers and records. We were listening to Nana Mouskouri on the turntable, he excused himself to the bathroom. When he came back he was holding my copy of Soup #3, he looked at me disapprovingly and said “dude, you shouldn’t have this in the bathroom, it’s probably worth money…”…and then sat down and proceeded to quote from the Boone essay. He’s right, I shouldn’t have had it in the bathroom. I don’t know if it’s worth any money, but it’s a hella’ve good read, and pretty rare, and one of the better finds I’ve ever had on magazine-digging-sesh.
37. She Talks To Herself In The Language Of An Educated Woman- Frances Jaffer
Frances Jaffer’s husband, Mark Linenthal (RIP), gave me a copy of this book at a reading I gave at The Poetry Center at SFSU. I had won SFSU’s 2002 Frances Jaffer Award for poetry and The Poetry Center was hosting an awards reading. After I read Mark introduced himself, shook my hand and handed me Frances’s book. I was completely overwhelmed, it was an emotional moment and a completely generous gesture from a man who probably had better places to be than a student's award reading. Cut to 6 years later (2008), Rob Halpern invited me to read at The Last Laugh Café in the Mission, a series he curated before leaving San Francisco. I of course agreed to the reading and asked if he had an idea of who he was planning on pairing me with, he said “Mark Linenthal.” I was blown away, and stoked, I told Rob about how I had won the Frances Jaffer award while at State, about Mark coming to my reading and giving me those books, about how much that meant to me as a young guy just coming up in the SF poetry scene. Rob was all “no way, I didn’t know that…I didn’t know anything about the award, or that you had met Mark before...you know I’m co-editing a new Frances Jaffer book right?” And I’m like “what dude? No I didn’t know that…” And he’s like “yeah, weird huh? This reading really was meant to happen!…” And I’m like “uh huh…totally weird.” At the reading I walked up to greet Mark Linenthal as he arrived at the Café, to reintroduce myself, tell him how much I was looking forward to his reading, about what an honor it was to be paired with him. I'm about halfway across the cafe when he spots me, smiles and says “you won the Frances Jaffer Award!...I want you to know, Frances is watching over our reading tonight…”
38. Practice: New Writing #1
I think the eds. put out 2 issues of Practice. I could be wrong; I’ve only seen 2 issues. I remember I got my copy of Practice for free. When the first issue came out you could write the eds. requesting a free copy. Not a review copy, just a straight up free copy. So I wrote, and boom, two weeks later arrived Practice #1. I liked it for the most part, something very “Iowa” about it if you know what I mean. Some good Graham Foust poems from a series I hadn’t seen before, I remember liking the featured art though I can’t remember any names. They had a call for submissions for visual work. I think they very clearly stated under their submission guidelines that they didn’t want to see any more than 3 hi res email attachments submitted at a time. I asked my artist friend Lauren Kohne if I could submit a few of her pieces. She agreed, and I really thought she had a good chance of being accepted. I think I started drinking vodka or whiskey, this was Boulder years, and started going through her work trying to pick out my favorite 3 images. As the night wore on, and the drinking continued I came to an impasse. I liked all of the images the same. So, I opened my email, wrote a long letter pleading my case about the genius of the work, about how I couldn’t just weed it down to 3 images, about how once they see the work they’ll understand why…and then I went ahead and attached 10 or 11 jpeg files and hit send. I never heard back from them.
39. Parish Krewes- Micah Ballard
If you’re friends with Micah then you know what it means to be “goosed.” The dude is the king of “goosing.” It’s uncomfortable, and weird, and confusing while at the same time fraternal and funny and just a wee bit sexy. Parish Krewes is at once a celebration (not elegy) for a city and state (NO, LO) and lyric poem comfortable amongst the poetry-ghosts of his adopted city (SF, CA). Me and Micah and Logan Koreber and Patrick Dunagan were planning on making a skateboard movie called Pushing Mongo. It will be a day-in-the-life of movie. We’ll skate from the Safeway curb, to SOMA down Market on the rack-a-rack-kac-bricks, down to the EMB, up and along the Piers all the way to AT&T park back up to the Mission for burritos then off the skateboards hiking up the hill to grab a beer in Bernal Heights at Wild Side West. Then bombing back down the hill heading towards 16th, almost getting hit by a USPS carrier van, Logan and I will get separated from Micah and Dunagan, but we’ll all end up somehow at Kilowatt for more beers, bros and brouhaha. It’s going to be an epic movie with a happy ending.
40. Spirits And Anchors- Jason Morris
One of my favorite books of 2010 by one of my favorite people, Mr. Jason Morris... This book kills. If you can find this book you should pick it up, it’s hard to find but I’d recommend starting at Books & Bookshelves at 99 Sanchez. Auguste Press, limited copies, hand set and bound. Jason’s first full length right? This book goes well with a 40oz and a pack of smokes. With a Berrigan Collected and a blue Mead notebook on your lap. Read this book on a sunny Sunday afternoon with a view of Lone Mountain with plans on meeting up with your best friends later on. You’re going to want to talk about this book once you’ve finished. To smile about this book, to text Morris and be like “you motherfucker, Spirits And Anchors is the beat…you at the bar? I’m coming up…”
41. Ladybug Laws- Laura Moriarty
Laura is my boss. Laura gave me this new chapbook of hers a few months ago. I don’t remember who published this book. Laura is also my friend. It’s great when your boss is your friend. We take turns taking out the trash at SPD. We divide the labor by month. SPD has a staff of 8. So, every 8 months it’s my turn to take out the trash. I can never remember to take out the trash when my turn comes around. So far I’ve been through 2 chore-cycles and have failed miserably at my duties both times. Laura will come into my office and say “hey John, don’t forget to take out the trash…” and then I will forget. And then she’ll come back and say “hey John, you forgot to take out the trash…take out the trash, it’s full, and disgusting, and overflowing…” and I’ll say “sure thing Laura, so sorry, skipped my mind…” and then I’ll forget…Laura is a pretty patient woman. Laura writes fantastic books and is my favorite person to poetry gossip with this side of the Bay Bridge.
42. Her Friends Down At The French Cafe Had No English Words For Me- Patrick Dunagan
I think Push Press published this book? Patrick gave me a copy when we were hanging out at Mini Bar on Divis. We were out celebrating the publication of the new issue of Jason Morris’s magazine Big Bell. Jason Morris was there, Russ Dillon was there, Micah Ballard was there. We were all drinking whiskey and passing around poetry books. Every cover of Big Bell is unique. I think Jason and some of his artist friends create all the covers: hand painting, photocopying, drawing etc. Neato. I remember a drunk guy that Micah sort of knew sat down with us in the middle of a conversation. Micah looked annoyed so I had the green light to stink eye the bro. Later that night I saw a pretty girl and went to talk to her. I ended up talking to the bartender/owner instead. A few weeks later I saw the pretty girl again, this time we chatted and I asked for her number. She gave it to me and we made plans to go out the next week. I was excited, she was pretty, and weird and had those sexy "I'm a lil' crazy" vibes. I texted her the next Wednesday to make plans. She texted back "Sorry John, this just really isn't a good time for me...," oof, argh, blag. Onward!
43. The Last Avant-Garde The Making Of The New York School Of Poets- David Lehman
Got summoned for jury duty. Unlike most people I was stoked for jury duty. Did everything I could to get selected (acted like a norm, answered honestly but not too opinionated, gave the attorneys a blank slate). Voir Dire was super interesting. The jury pool went from 100 people to about 40. I was still hanging in there. Whittled down the pool from 40 to 19. I got selected as a primary juror, #11 i think. Stoked! A criminal case…dude was accused of stalking, threatening and stabbing his girlfriend in a low residency hotel in the Mission. Crazy right? The judge told us that the trial was projected to last about a week…a short trial for a criminal case. The book that I started, and finished in the week I spent at the court house was David Lehman’s The Last Avant-Garde. A big book I bought back at the SFSU bookstore in 2003. I was really excited to read what unfortunately turned out to be a long boring, messy behemoth. Not so much a cohesive biography on the NY movement, which I was hoping for, as a loose dissertation in 4 parts. Too much close reading and not enough gossip. I don’t care about Lehman close reading a Koch poem. But I do care about Koch. Too much about how Lehman feels about Ashbery’s poems and not enough about Ashbery. Super boo…started the book excited at the beginning of the trial, finished the book bummed on the last day of the trial. It did pass the time I guess, I just wish that time passing was more fun. We ended up finding the guy not guilty after deliberating for a couple days, we were all pretty sure the dude stabbed his girlfriend (in the leg), but the burden of proof wasn't met. The victim of the stabbing was an incredibly unreliable witness. She kept nodding off while testifying, she lied while on the stand to try to try and bolster her case, a lot of what she said contradicted earlier statements. It was hard to sit through, she shouldn't have been made to take the stand (but what else could they do I guess), this was a woman obviously dealing with addiction and mental issues, she was in no state to face her attacker let alone the judge, jury and courthouse. So in the end we were compelled to find him not guilty on the stabbing offense but found him guilty on 3 other felony offenses, including criminal stocking. The accused was already in county jail for another felony offense, and with our guilty verdict on the 3 lesser charges he’s going to remain there for a very long time. Was really glad for the experience, I would recommend everybody serve at least once.
44. United United- Sunnylyn Thibodeaux
Micah Ballard gave me a copy of Sunnylyn’s Lew Gallery chapbook the first time I went over to their apartment. Back then we were in the courting stage, new poetry friends with tons in common wanting to get to know each other more. Went over there to watch the new Alien Workshop video. Micah also skates. Brought them my The Moveable Ones chapbook, Gary Gygax and a copy of BOUT BOUT. In return Micah gave me a brand new World Industries skateboard!, a new set of Spitfire wheels, a misprint copy of United United, a ton of Auguste Press books and 4 or 5 Lew Gallery editions. We drank beers, and talked skating, and talked poetry and broke bread (burnt pizza). Since then Micah and Sunnylyn have become a couple of my dearest friends, poetry and otherwise. Hung out with Micah and Sunnylyn yesterday at Alamo Square Park. I finally got to meet their beautiful, brand new daughter Lorca. We had a few beers and talked skating, poetry, pregnancy, delivery and parenthood. The baby is a gem and so are her parents, I cherish days quiet days like that.
45. Luna #5
A Gulf War veteran poet named Sean gave me a copy of this journal (intentionally not calling it a magazine) back in 2003 at SFSU. I think he had just joined the editorial board or something and was handing out free copies to students in the program. I liked Sean a lot, nice guy if somewhat square. Does Ray Gonzalez edit Luna? I just pulled that name out of the sky, I have no idea if Ray Gonzalez is a real person. I don't like Luna journal at all. I feel bad about putting it that way, but what can I say? Luna is just really not my steelo at all. It just has a very safe aesthetic: a middle-aged Democracy Now listening, black and white photography of indigenous peoples vibe. Boring. I think Paul Hoover had some poems in this issue, but I can't remember anything else specific about the contents. In the end it's my fault and not Luna's, Ray Gonzalez is doing his thing, I just have zero interest in that thing.
46. Identity/ Crises- anonymous
I don't know who wrote/ conceptualized this. It arrived in the mail anonymously. Pretty sure it's a Dusie project. Silver-foil cover wrapped in a silver-foil band. Kind of like the infamous Issue #1 prank from a few years ago. Actually nothing like that at all. Identity/ Crises amalgamates lines from the Kollectiv participants, I think...I remember when I first read it I immediately scanned the entire thing looking for my name. Kind of like reading a new issue of The Project Project Newsletter (I'm 0 for 14 or something like that). Whoever wrote/ conceptualized Identity/ Crises didn't bother with me though. I did spot Logan Ryan Smith, can't remember from which book they excerpted, maybe The Singers, he's currently snowed in in Chicago. I just heard on KNBR that Lou Pinella is coming to work for the Giants in an advisory role. I guess him and Sabean go way back from their days with the Yankees. LRS works for GroupOn. Which is a company that is popular with people for some reason. He really likes his job.
47. New American Writing #13
This one has a really intensely boring baby blue cover featuring a landscape painting (very "viewer supported television" steez). Landscape painting? Hmmm...maybe. A Pastoral? A "NecroPastoral" (what does "Montevidayo" mean anyway? I really don't like the way it makes my mouth feel when saying it). I can't remember anything specific about this issue. I like New American Writing. I like Paul Hoover and Maxine Chernoff. When I was living in Boulder and Paul came to give a reading at CU, I remember I went to his reading, spotted tall ass Paul, and practically jumped on him with hugs. I was just happy to see the Bay Area again. And then Chernoff is solely responsible for me graduating from SFSU on time. She wields hella power hella benevolently. Things got a bit hairy my last semester there, but Chernoff stepped up saved my brisket. Thanks Maxine!
48. Jane Eyre- Charlotte Bronte
I was bored until page 100. Then I was stoked until page 300. Then I was totally bummed all the way until the end. I liked the middle act until Jane Eyre got all insufferable about her wedding and turned into a psycho-billy-yatch. Mr. Rochester needed to check himself. And then all that drama with her wandering the wild heaths of the dangerous British countryside. And then she almost starves to death, after just 3 days of traipsin' the trails! Grow a spine woman! I watched the BBC adaptation which was 5 hours long and satisfying in that languid BBC stage-drama'y way. I saw a preview for the new American adaptation, I noticed they used parts of Goblin's Suspiria theme, strange.
49. Lunch Poems- Frank O'hara
"Lana Turner we love you get up"
I read this on my lunch break in my car. Not so novel I know. I think most people who have read this book probably read it on their lunch breaks. It's the precious thing to do. I like Steve Orth's version best though..."Yeah, I keep Lunch Poems in my pocket at work, I'm always telling myself, 'today is the day I'm going to read Lunch Poems on my lunch break'...but when I take my lunch break I always just go on the internet instead..."
50. Soft Targets #1
Dan Hoy sent me a copy of the debut issue of his very pretty, very smart magazine years ago. I think there ended up being 2 very-phat, very generous issues? I remember this one came with a mini-disc attached at the back, a noise track by Teleseen called "Qassam." I've never met Dan Hoy, he lives in NYC. I have a feeling we would be thick as thieves though. I feel like Dan Hoy wears very smart suits often.
51. Late Returns A Memoir of Ted Berrigan- Tom Clark
I bought the UC Press Collected Poems of Ted Berrigan a couple years ago. I only got around to starting it late last year (and am still only on page 200 or so, I keep it under my nightstand, savoring it). Berrigan was almost immediately enshrined as a major god-head in my personal pantheon. I can't believe I waited this long to read Berrigan. Michael Koshkin (Hot Whiskey Press) used to have a huge thing for Berrigan, Jared Hayes and the rest of the Naropa Goons definitely had a huge thing for Berrigan. But unfortunately I kind of had an SF stick up my ass back then. I was reading a lot of Michael Palmer at the time. It's not that I had an aversion to NY School and 2nd Gen NYS writing, it's just that I was totally consumed with SF/ Bay Area poetry and poetics, frankly I thought anything NOT coming from the Bay Area wasn't worth my time, I was fucking retarded back then and have been reforming myself over the last few years. Late Returns is a good little, hard to find biography by Tom Clark (published in '85 by Tombouctou Books). I read it in an evening. Some interesting anecdotal stuff, some cool photos and correspondences. Anxiously waiting for the news that someone has been secretly working on a Berrigan biography for the last few years on the scale of Poet Be Like God. Cheers to fantasizing.
52. Zazil #1
Magazine I picked up from an SPD Open House 5 or 6 years ago. Did James Meetze edit this bad boy? Or just have poems in this issue? I want to say this was a Southern California based mag. I don't remember anything specific about this magazine besides reading it in the bathroom. Oh wait, I remember that my copy was misprinted, the back cover was printed as the front cover rendering a Japanese-style spine. I think Mark Wallace had some poems in this issue.
53. Jim Goad's Gigantic Book Of Sex- Jim Goad
The best kind of bathroom reading. A coffee table book of Goad's best sex writing. First started reading him on Street Carnage. Then found his website. Then bought The Redneck Manifesto (and read it while visiting a friend in Brooklyn!), then bought the Gigantic Book Of Sex (the kind of book where your legs fall asleep while reading for lack of position change), then bought Shit Magnet (which I started then put down, saving for a rainy day). If they sold Jim Goad t-shirts I would buy one. Now he's writing for Taki's and I'm checking in daily.
54. Ted A Personal Memoir Of Ted Berrigan- Ron Padgett
This is the more free form of the two Berrigan bios. Padgett spends a lot of time talking about Berrigan's time in Tulsa. His friends, his affairs, his habits and eventual move to NYC, and ultimately his death. Again, this is basically a one sitting read; a small, fun, anecdotal book written by one of Berrigan oldest poetry friends. I think this book is officially out of print.
55. Ted Berrigan- Bill Berkson and George Schneeman
This artist's book was put out by Kyle Schlesinger of Cuniform Press last year. It's a visual collaboration between Bill Berkson and George Schneeman. I snagged a damaged copy from SPD. Limited to 500 copies. I have this perched against a wall in my bedroom, right next to a giant William Everson chapbook. From the publisher "Ted Berrigan is a classic collaboration between Bill Berkson and George Schneeman, and an homage to the poet and painter's mutual friend produced as a unique book in real-time at George's studio on St. Mark's Place on March 5, 2006. Continuing in the tradition of New York School collaboration, Schneeman and Berkson's Ted Berrigan is a high-quality reproduction comprised of eight spreads where image and text fuse, bleed off the page and cross the gutter. Includes an afterword by Berkson and a note from the publisher."
56. Too Bright To See And Alma- Linda Greg
They should make a movie called The Marriage of Linda Greg and Jack Gilbert.
57. Combo #4
I've never had lunch with Bill Berkson. I have spoken with him on the phone a bunch though. Berkson once double parked his car in front of my building. He handed me a box filled with his new book. I think he was off to a museum or something.
58. Half Set- Logan Kroeber
Patrick Dunagan is in the new The Dodos video.
59. Moving Pictures- Greg Fuchs
The only Greg I've ever known was a bully. I doubt that Greg Fuchs is a bully.
60. Maybe A Painter- Christina Fisher
I have no recollection of reading this book.
61. The Squalicum Harbor Suite- Anselm Parlatore
Big gothic poems, I think the cover is a bit ugly, Jared Hayes could throw a baseball as hard as I've ever seen.
62. Picture Of The Basket- Sarah Mangold
Picture Of The Basket makes me think of Basket Case, an uneven horror-comedy.
63. Ted Berrigan An Annotated Checklist- Aaron Fischer
One of my staff picks at the last Open House, Alan Bernheimer bought two copies.
64. Bombay Gin #30
I almost tore my ACL skateboarding home from The Catacombs after making out with a girl with a shaved head. I decided not to buy nachos that night. Logan took me to the hospital the next morning.
65. Try- May 10, 2010
The best way to distribute your new poems is to publish them in Try. But you probably won't get contributor's copies. Or even see the issue your poems were published in. Which is pretty fantastic in a way.
66. Pastoral- Carl Phillips
I remember when Carl Phillips won $100,000 for some book he wrote.
67. Wilson- Daniel Clowes
I bought this from Comix Experience on Divis. I also bought white peaches, bananas and apples from the produce market next door. It was a Saturday. I think I also bought Big Baby by Charles Burns. For some reason I bought asparagus. I also bought the horrible Left Bank Gang by Jason. Here's a photo I took...
68. On: Contemporary Practice #1
Michael Cross invited me to contribute to issue #2, but I never got around to writing anything. Michael Cross has this great twinkle in his eye.
69. Combo #2
I have too many Combos. I finish one and pick up the next issue. It's starting to bother me.
70. Heads Up Fever Pile- Karen Weiser (Belladonna #77)
I'm currently reading Rachel Levitsky's New Yipes Reader. I have no idea what Elizabeth Grosz was talking about in that essay on nature and architecture.
71. Belleza Y Felicidad- Fernanda Laguna/ Gabriela Bejerman/ Cecilia Pavon- trans. Urayoan Noel
Some good sex poems. I like when the Beastie Boys talk about "sex raps." There might not be any sex poems in the book. It's entirely feasible that I'm projecting.
72. How To Read The Aura And Practice Psychometry, Telepathy and Clairvoyance- W.E. Butler
This book is mostly filled with bad advice. W.E. Butler was an interesting fellow though.
73. The Redneck Manifesto- Jim Goad
A polemic on the white working class. I read it on an airplane on the way to NYC for a little R&R.
74. Il Cuore: The Heart Selected Poems- Kathleen Fraser
Finished Il Cuore in the waiting room at the doctor's office. I had my lungs x-rayed by a doctor who smelled like Chunky's Pea Soup.
75. Transfer #61
Jesus Christ I can't believe I'm still reading Transfer.
76. Torn Awake- Forrest Gander
Forrest Gander looks like he should work for the YMCA. He looks like he would know how to tie some complicated knots.
77. Zephyrus Image: A Bibliography- Alastair Johnston
Teeter Holbrook and Michael Myers were the dudes. I tried to ask David Highsmith about them, he obliquely avoided the question. Highsmith let's me use his restroom walking back from Dolores Park.
78. Temblor #2
I dislike Temblor enormously. Was this the issue with the mind-numbingly, never going to end, my eye balls are bleeding puss and piss, prose experimentation piece by Johanna Drucker? Yeah, I didn't like this issue.
79. Hyper Glossia- Stacy Szymaszek (Belladonna #80)
I remember Stacy used to take a lot of self portraits. Doesn't she own a dog too? I feel like a lot of her self portraits were staged in her bathtub.
80. You But For The Body Fell Against- Nathalie Stephens (Belladonna #81)
I don't like this title. Reminds me of that Johanna Drucker piece from Temblor.
81. from Human Resources- Rachel Zolf (Belladonna #82)
I didn't meet Rachel when she read at Condensory a few months ago. I don't even remember what she looks like.
82. The Beekeeper's Departure- Jennifer Chapis
Sounds like it should have been written by Margaret Atwood.
83. Lines #5
Aram Saroyan smoked hella weed.
84. New American Writing #13
Didn't I already do a write up about this issue? I bought too many magazines as a lad.
85. ACTS #4
Benjamin Hollander wouldn't blurb my book.
86. Combo #3
Fuck, not Combo again!
87. Been Raw Diction- David B. Goldstein
I also really don't like this title. Reminds me of Scott Walker's "Of Cossacks."
88. Poems Of The Black Object- Ronaldo Wilson
Among lot's of other things, Ronaldo knows how to write about Hip Hop without coming off as an awful person. No easy feat.
89. My Vocabulary Did This To Me The Collected Poetry Of Jack Spicer- Jack Spicer
I remember Peter Gizzi cursing pretty loudly in the Bancroft Library. I remember Kevin Killian disinterestedly listening to the Giants/ Marlins game with me in my car on the way to Berkeley.
90. Ben-Hur- Lew Wallace
Top 5 worst novels I've ever read. I'm not sure what the other 4 would be, so maybe this is the #1 worst novel I've ever read.
91. Stranger In Town- Cedar Sigo
Cedar is sad that I'm moving from SF. This makes me happy. That he cares enough to be sad. I'm only moving to Oakland Cedar! We'll just have to plan some sleepovers.
92. The Great Fires- Jack Gilbert
They should make a movie about Jack Gilbert's despair. They should call it Jack Gilbert's Despair.
93. Shiny #12
Denver is not an impressive city. I really liked the High Dive though. Everyone was so nice and snowboard'y.
94. The History Of Hell- Alice K. Turner
I know more about the history of Hell than you do.
95. Combo #5
96. 26 #B
I was reading Andrew Joron's antiwar essay on my lunch break, and when I looked up from the book I spotted Andrew walking down 7th St. with Laura Moriarty. A very Jungian moment, like plum pudding or Alice In Wonderland.
97. Cows- Matthew Stokoe
I really did almost throw up 3 times while reading this book. Hagbeast. Hagbeast. Hagbeast.
98. Evangeline Down- Micah Ballard
Micah texted me a "sup" on a Sunday while I was in the middle of reading ED. A very Jungian moment, like plum pudding or Alice In Wonderland.
99. Selected Mistakes- Chris Martin
Chris Martin and I talked about Anticon for half an hour in Jason Morris's kitchen. I haven't talked about Anticon since.
100. El Golpe Chileno- Julien Poirier
My book of the year! I think I'm starting to creep Julian out with my praises. I feel like all of Julian's friends have fake names: Filip Marinovich and Eugene Ostashevsky especially. I'm not sure I believe those names belong to real people.
101. Medium Raw- Anthony Bourdain
I'm not sure how I feel about Anthony's wife. I like that if you watch enough No Reservations you start to catch on that Tony is a bit of a poseur. And that endears him to me even more.