Sunday, November 21, 2010
Octopus Books is proud to announce the publication of the 5th and 6th full-length poetry titles in our catalog. Both books are now available for $12 (free shipping) on our website here.
Poems should go to where we think, which means that they often end up in the loneliest, most impossible places. (California'll do, but there are others.) Once, when I was a little kid, I burned my hand with our car's cigarette lighter while my mom was busy paying for the gas she'd just pumped. I remember the meaty stench, the little crop circle in my palm, but mostly I remember wanting badly to know a thing, a thing that sped off as quickly as it came, maybe quicker. Claire Becker's poems seem both driven by that impulse and in love with that result. They've got a throb at which it's hard not to wonder and, like more than one of us, an aching oddball soul—Graham Foust.
I can't remember when a book of poems has invited such an attentive reading as Cindy King's marvelous first volume, People are Tiny in Paintings of China. Each poem, a descent through shifting strata of syntax and history, requires a sustained renegotiation of one's balance in language and the world. As I read I had the feeling of launching myself from an opening line and falling past gorgeous and complex surfaces, an intricate landscape of experience, until landing on the solid earth of the final lines of these extraordinary poems. People are Tiny in Paintings of China is a work of uncommon talent—Lynn Emanuel.
6 full-length titles including books by Heather Christle, Rebecca Farivar, Jenny Zhang, and Christopher DeWeese and 4 limited-edition chapbooks.
"Playing back the events of a deep and ambiguous emotional moment, you realize you’ve irrevocably disturbed the sequence of what happened to the extent that cognizance frays at the edges and drifts away in pieces of microscopic phalanges in dark liquidy matter"
Ok, Goodnight gets eloquently reviewed by Luke Bloomfield in the new Noo.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Some books I've blurbed recently. Some books you should read sometime soon, obviously.
Gendron leans in like he's going to tell you a joke, but who knows what a joke is anymore? All I know is I want to die. And by that I mean I want to live. I mean, what choice do we have? The sky is speckled with motionless burning airplanes, and vomit hums deafeningly under the street. Let's write these smart absurd little poems on dollar bills until there are no more problems.
Natalie Lyalin is writing some of the best poems in the world. There is an evil in her gorgeous poem-hearts. She must have sold her heart to the devil to write like this--so beautiful, so funny and so strange. Her images stack and stack down the page without spilling, each line such a bombshell you'll start reading backward to the first line. These poems are like babies--they will pop out of trees.
California (forthcoming from Four Way Books 2010) by Jennifer Denrow:
In Jennifer Denrow's California, California doesn't exist so it devastates us. It's like heaven that way: it's there just to remind us that we're already dead. In fact, very little is real in these obsessive poems--not the sky, not anything in it. We are just vowels amplified through a microphone full of throats.
When I was a boy, I choked on a piece of candy outside the kitchen window for a few minutes while watching my parents making dinner. I thought I was going to die, but I didn't want to scare them. Our existence was so separate, a dying and a doing well, an outside and an inside. Trey Moody's poems hover in that cold, wet, refrigerator-lit place between the dying and the doing well, the outside and the inside. His poems are the thoughts of the person you love who is always standing behind you, slowly and silently suffocating. But they're not afraid to say hello, and please, and I'm scared.
I often have a difficult time distinguishing between the memories of my childhood nightmares, the movie Time Bandits, and now Kings of the F**king Sea. At the heart of each is an unrecoverable distance from home. In Dan Boehl's poems, the sea is not home. If we stay on it, we will eventually drown in it, but there is nothing we can do. His poems are unforgivably wise. Like the sea, they are an unafraid mirror. And though they remind us it's always too late--that our adventure is a constant failure--their beauty keeps us afloat for just long enough.
Ben Mirov is the champion of the sentence. Every sentence is perfectly carved from a cold metal machine in the BART tunnels of Oakland that loops reality. They erase what they compress. I read this book and then puke in the shower. I read this book and then bleed on the sheets. My earlobes are wet. My pants are too small. These poems are about needing to touch something that you know your hand will go through. Mirov's poems are sick and crushing. This book marks the end of fucking around.
Friday, November 12, 2010
If you know Rebecca Hofrichter of Chicago, you should ask to see her new tattoo. It is an interpretation of an old poem of mine from The Man Suit called "The Center of Worthwhile Things." It was designed by Allie Sider. You should ask her to roll up her sleeves and recite this poem to you from memory while it stares at you. Black Ocean, does this qualify one for a lifetime subscription?
The Center of Worthwhile Things
I found her repeatedly jumping out of a large wooden wedding cake on the cliff overlooking the lake. She said she was obsessed with the idea: the surprise, the male fascination with sudden and bursting femininity, the pink tutu. I was walking away as a drunken avocado from that night’s costume party. I was paper-mache, chicken wire and green paint. It was 2 a.m. and there we were on that cliff: her, the center of a wedding cake, and me, the center of an avocado.
After she helped me out of my costume we sat there on the edge of the cliff, our legs pendulant. The lake was below us. We had nothing to say really. Her cake was on its side, lifeless. My avocado was on its side, a shell torn at the arm holes. When we made love I couldn’t help but think that we were just two passing invalids, both of us representing only the center of worthwhile things. It was easier for me to concentrate on the lake than her body, though they were both dark and looked like desert.
I remember when she tore that pink tutu from her waist as if it were some large production, as if some brass section somewhere, maybe down by the lake, should take notice and salute her suddenly exposed hips. It was a night of being backstage I thought, where nothing held its illusion, where everything was exposed as an actor.