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Archive for October 2014

Michael Ruby interviewed in The Conversant

 SEPTEMBER 12, 2014


Photo of Michael Ruby 3In American Songbook (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2013), Michael Ruby’s fifth full-length collection, Ruby responds to recordings of 75 American vocalists, each an homage of sorts. Many musical traditions inform the poems, including blues, jazz, gospel, country, folk, bluegrass, electric blues, R&B, rock, disco and hip hop. This interview took place both in person and by email.

Marietta Brill: What inspired you to write American Songbook?

Michael Ruby: I’ve always been unhappy with the political direction of this country, ever since the assassinations and Vietnam War of my childhood.  Carter and the slide to Reagan were very hard to bear.  In the late ‘90s, I could feel it again, the slide to George W. Bush and everything that came with it. I felt so unhappy about America that it somehow triggered an opposite reaction in me, a desire to find something beautiful about America. What’s more beautiful about America than American singers and songs? Isn’t that our most influential art form worldwide?

While my initial gesture might have been celebratory, I don’t believe the poems themselves turned out that way. My unconscious, apparently, isn’t a patriot. My unconscious probably went too far in some poems. It blasphemed. It was perverse. It was criminal. Language contains infinite blasphemy, perversity, criminality, when words are truly free to combine with other words. Language might contain far more monsters than it contains real beings.

MB: The songs are solely 20th century—some are very obscure. How did you select them?

MR:  It certainly isn’t the greatest hits of the 20th century. I’m sure there’s some ideal view of American songs in the 20th century that would pick out a better selection, from a position of greater knowledge of all the genres, and more singers, and obscure American singers. But I’m just a person who listens to music, listens to the radio, hears a singer they like and listens to a bunch of their songs and wants to work with one or two songs poetically.

It was the transport of listening that led to the transport of engaging artistically.

There are many singers and songs I wish I had used, and I hope to work with them poetically someday. Oddly, I didn’t use many of my favorite songs, or my obsessive favorite songs—you know, songs you play five times in a row. It wasn’t really about my favorite songs. It was about the songs I wanted to work with artistically. But I do hope to work with more of my favorite songs, too, someday.

MB: Are there through lines that connect these poems, aside from their being from the 20th century?

MR: That’s an interesting question. I have a book built on “through lines,” or “through phrases,” called The Edge of the UnderworldAmerican Songbook doesn’t have through lines as such. With one exception: “In the Good Old Summertime.” That poem, one of the last written for the book, was constructed exclusively from what I call “compulsive words” in the older poems in the book. Those are words that are repeatedly displaced from my total vocabulary during composition.  I suppose compulsive words are, overall, “through words” in the book.

Read the whole interview here

Check out Michael Ruby's BlazeVOX Books here 

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Elizabeth Block part of the San Francisco LITQUAKE Festival.

Elizabeth Block will participate in a poetry panel on Saturday, Oct 18th, as part of the San Francisco LITQUAKE Festival. I hope to see you there.

Follow this link to find out more on the Lit Quake Festival:


Elizabeth Block is the author of the novel, A Gesture Through Time, written under fiscal sponsorship of Intersection for the Arts, SF.  She is the recipient of a Doris Roberts/William Goyen fiction fellowship from the Christopher Isherwood Foundation and of many other awards and residencies such as an award from Poets & Writers and from the Djerssi Resident Artists Program Tread of Angels Fellowship.  Also a filmmaker, her film poems have traveled extensively throughout the United States and elsewhere.  She has published work in many genres and in many journals and her work has also appeared on public radio affiliates, KQED, KSFR and others.  She has often collaborated with musicians and visual artists.  Her writing has appeared on stage, in film, in public art, in books, on audio CD and podcasts.
Book Information:
· Paperback: 142 pages
· Binding: Perfect-Bound
· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 

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New materials and links from Tim Myers author of Dear Beast Loveliness

New materials and links from Tim Myers author of Dear Beast Loveliness






And my new children's book Rude Dude's Book of Food was just released:  http://www.amazon.com/Rude-Dudes-Book-Food-Crazy-Cool/dp/1939629217

Check out Dear Beast Loveliness by Time Myers here 

Tim J. Myers is a writer, songwriter, storyteller and university lecturer. He won a poetry contest judged by John Updike and and has published much other poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. His Glad to Be Dad: A Call to Fatherhood is out from Familius.com. He's also published 11 children's books. Find him at www.TimMyersStorySong.com.

Book Information:

· Paperback: 114 pages

· Binding: Perfect-Bound

· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 

· ISBN: 978-1-60964-123-8


Dear Beast Loveliness by Tim J. Myers

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The Color Symphonies by Wade Stevenson reviewed by Rebecca Reads


The Color Symphonies
Wade Stevenson
BlazeVOX Books (2014)
ISBN: 9781609641757
Reviewed by F.T. Donereau for Rebecca’s Reads (9/14)

5 stars Universes Colors Running Through Deep Layered Poems

When I first realized Wade Stevenson's book of poetry, “The Color Symphonies” would use the world's colors as a motif running throughout the collection, I wondered how, without straining too hard and breaking the thing, it might be possible to accomplish this feat, manage to find ways to keep it interesting and bring forth ideas in poem after poem, while adhering to such a self imposed restriction. The collection, after all, runs two hundred and eighty-four pages. Imagination and heart are wonderful advantages though. When the creative mind is engaged, and a deep flow, a wide-open vision, is at hand, bright lights can be left on the page, landing from any number of angles.

The triumph of these poems is, indeed, the imagination and heart of Mr. Stevenson. There must be a well-tended core to any poet, if he or she is going to be able to grab hold of a reader's mind and soul and make them feel. Here we have works of art rendered with brushstrokes similar to a great painter. Colors explode forth in almost every piece, splashing the eye and engaging the senses. Luckily, they are not one note wonders, all feeling and no substance. The author builds descriptive layers that, at least seemingly, lay down tangible place settings. The esoteric rides over these works. But also, there exists the concrete. It is a feat not often accomplished, but still yourself a moment and read these lines: “Orange is dying and it roars.” “Just don't stand there like a pig/routing your snout in a slimy/ under-water hardly good enough for the fishes.” “A sudden surge of black,/tornado vortices, a web/of powerful deep lines...” Tremendous. Full. Visceral. A poetry of shimmering worlds, alive at the side of your vision. Yet solid too, the sense of earth and human endeavor coursing in them. The poet that cuts both ways, making you stand up and see.

There is something of the novel to Stevenson's “The Color Symphonies.” You feel at the end, as if you have been told a story. Beauty. Color. The human soul. It is laid alive here. You understand a little more about your everyday walk upon the earth after coming to the end of this cycle of poems. I think you will be intensely aware of your surroundings, the depth of life on earth, after taking in Mr. Steven's Symphonies. Because we're a fallible animal, the gist of such won't last. The great blessing though, is that these poems don't fade upon the touch. You can return to them, as I have, read them over again, ingest them anew. Each time brings a new color to the pallet. More resides between the web of lines on each page than a first reading allows you to know. It is a pleasure when a poem can give you more than one answer, one sensation. Here, Wade Stevenson manages to do it again and again. Open your heart, your eyes, and your ears. Dive in and enjoy.

Check out The Color Symphonies by Wade Stevenson here

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Susan Lewis interviewed in The Review Review

 Sophisticated Contemporary: a Chat With Susan Lewis, Editor of New Online Magazine Posit 

Interview with Susan Lewis—Editor of Posit

Celebrating their third issue and working hard on their fourth coming out in November, 2014, Posit is a journal soliciting accomplished pieces that have an immediate and direct impact on the reader. Posit publishes poetry, very short fiction, and visual arts, and takes in submissions through Submittable. 

Interview by Martin van Velsen

Posit is a journal very much in between established genres/formats and cutting edge or perhaps thought-provoking. First of all does this characterize the journal accurately and if so how did this come about?

Yes, very much so. We are all about publishing work we can’t NOT publish – work that commands our attention and continues to reward it with layers of implication, innovation, and artistry. It’s worth pointing out, though, that subtlety can also take our breath away. We’re not all about shock value. Posit’s goal is to provide an aesthetically pleasing showcase for carefully curated, highly innovative work that is not circumscribed by affiliation with any particular poetic movement or aesthetic clique.

For any journal featuring pieces that are perhaps a bit hard hitting, thought provoking or perhaps even shocking is always a risk. How has this worked out for the journal so far? 

Well, so far we feel rewarded rather than punished for taking those particular risks! We’re thrilled and grateful for the response we’ve gotten to our first three issues – as gauged by reader responses, of course, but also by the number, quality, and style of the submissions we’re getting. As a result, our next two issues (Posit 4 and 5) are already closed, and we’re on the way to filling issue 6!

Read the whole interview here

Preview Susan's forthcoming book, This Visit, here 

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Extra Pages

Photos on flickr