Saturday, August 28, 2010

Reading this Monday, August 30th!

The Sexy Poets Society presents the Month of August!

Going down at Beezys Cafe @ 5:30 pm. Third room.

Line-up for this month:

Angela Hardy
Elizabeth Dieterich
Daniel Florida
Elizabeth Mikesch
Tony Spicer

Also, the amazing artist, Genevieve Mihalko who is responsible for all of our posters is celebrating her birthday on that day.......
So, come out, hear some poetry, and drink with us at the Corner Brewery afterwards.

Any questions, feel free to hit me up on here, or email me at

Monday, August 2, 2010

Well, maybe if you weren't such a douchebag...

Iain Marshall wrote a great blog post discussing the recent shutdown of comment threads on Ron Silliman's blog as well as on The Harriet Blog a few months ago.

This is a topic that Marshall and I (and plenty o' other people) have been discussing lately since it is quite a big blow to take away a life force for poets, when poets are already struggling for cohesion and satisfying discourse. I agree with a lot of what Marshall has to say about how it's not unprecedented, nor unnecessary what Silliman has done, though it certainly is unfortunate.

It's also encouraging for me to notice that The Sexy Poets are yet to be cursed with a lot of the problems the online-world-o-poetry is experiencing. Certainly we're still a baby as far as communities go, and maybe it'll just take a bit before the milk sours. However I enjoy seeing time and time again such varied voices and poetics being put on display at SexPo readings, and people ending up having great discussions with people they disagree with. I've certainly received negative reviews about people who have read, and about my own stuff, but it's never been in the spirit of trying to prove oneself or shut down other voices.

I really do want to work on making Ypsilanti a place where people can feel free and enervated to discuss what they want poetry to be, and maybe what they think it should be, and be able to have reasonable and interesting arguments and ideas for their beliefs.

And feel free to use this blog and comment threads for your opinions. I've never had problems with any of you, so by all means, use it for discussion.

Anyhow, scroll back up and click on the link for Marshall's blog, unless you opened it in a different tab already.


Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Thousand Words is Directly Equivalent to One Picture

Iain Marshall. Photo taken by Sara Kennedy.

Below you'll see pictures from the July Sexy Poets reading. I really appreciate everyone who took them, sent them to me, or posted them on facebook. Pic creds go to Genevieve Mihalko, Sara Kennedy and Anna Vitale. Totally stole some of these off of facebook, but I don't think anyone cares.

Thanks for an amazing reading and a great hang out afterwards. Part of what I look forward to with the reading is getting drunk at the brewery afterward, because everything is so electric and everyone is so giddy post-poetry. You guys are great :-)

Melissa Welsh starting off the night. Photo taken by Genevieve Mihalko.

Andrew Stevens, MC McGee. Photo taken by Sara Kennedy.

Photo taken by Sara Kennedy.

Half of the audience, laughing at Andrew Steven's hilarious jokes. The audience not pictured may or may not have been laughing as well. Photo taken by Genevieve Mihalko.

Lucy Carnaghi. Picture taken by Sara Kennedy.

Theresa Rickloff. Making a funny face. Photo taken by Sara Kennedy.

Theresa Rickloff, less silly face. Photo taken by Sara Kennedy.

Iain Marshall. Photo taken by Genevieve Mihalko.

Anna Vitale. Photo taken by Sara Kennedy.

More Anna Vitale action. Photo taken by Sara Kennedy.

Crew hanging at the Corner Brewery afterward. Photo taken by Sara Kennedy.

Theresa Rickloff & Matt Thomas in the background looking attractive. John Peter Demsick in the foreground. Photo taken by Sara Kennedy.

Lucy Carnaghi & Carson Boron at the Corner Brewery. Photo taken by Anna Vitale.

A fistful of Sexy Poets. Left to Right - Lucy Carnaghi, Andrew Stevens, Theresa Rickloff, Ian Murray & Iain Marshall. Picture taken by Anna Vitale.

Anna Vitale & Theresa Rickloff. Picture taken on Anna Vitale's camera but presumably not by her. Poets don't do Myspace poses, apparently.

Lucy Carnaghi and Theresa Rickloff. Photo taken by Anna Vitale.

As ALWAYS, thanks to Beezy's Cafe for being an amazing host and supporting Ypsi poetry. Without you we couldn't be doing this!
And to the Corner Brewery for making great beer for us afterward. Without you, we wouldn't be high-fiving as much.

We love you Ypsilanti,
The Sexy Poets

Friday, July 30, 2010

Readings and Craft

Sexy Poets #3: “Required” Reading

Like everyone else who reads, I like to open conversations with things like, “dude, you have GOT to read this book!” I get excited about them, even material that most people might regard as “crap,” ie. genre fiction. For example, I just read my first mystery novel, ever, A.A. Milne’s The Red House Mystery. It was Milne’s only mystery novel. It’s not bad. Predictable, but the accidental detective is pleasurable enough a character that I enjoyed the book. Then there were the first three books in a series called The Chronicles of The Black Company, by Glen Cook. I read much dark fantasy, back when I used to take the time to read such things and, since my wife thought I was about to suffer a stroke after three (joyous) readings of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, she demanded “light” reading. I complied, then went right back to my Stacks-of-Thousand-Pound-Books reading. I’ll delve into “dessert” readings more often. She had a point.
And that brings me to mine. Earlier in the summer, I went back in time–so to speak–and read a few of those “must read” books for poets. Namely, Johnathan Holden’s The Fate of American Poetry, and Robert Pinsky’s The Situation of Poetry. Both are on a dozen Ph. D. reading lists, and for good reasons, but neither are books that I might take to the cliche’ deserted island. I would choose others and, I believe, anyone with a mind toward writing poetry would do well to include them, along with a first-aid kit, Swiss Army knife, and something with which to build a fire. Here are three to begin.

1. On Poetry and Craft, by Theodore Roethke.
This is a compilation (edited by Carolyn Kizer) from his two prose notebooks, On the Poet and His Craft, and Straw for the Fire. His insights into poetry, teaching, and the mind are wonderful. Roethke is remembered, not only as a great poet, but as the first “teacher-poet,” from whose classrooms poets Richard Hugo, Carolyn Kizer, James Wright (outstanding poets, all) and others emerged. By the way, Roethke’s family home in Saginaw, MI is a landmark worth visiting. He was born and is buried there, and it has long been my intention to gather a group of Ypsi folk together and caravan north for a visit. It is something to stand on a place where someone of Roethke’s talent stood, to look around and see what he saw.

2. The Triggering Town, by Richard Hugo.
Hugo’s book contains one of my favorite writing exercises. It contains lines that I have repeated in classes fifty times, myself, and have said to many readers of the SexPo blog, in person. Hugo was one of Roethke’s students, and some of that comes through in this book, but it is Hugo, through and through.

3. Pot Shots at Poetry, by Robert Francis
Francis is not widely known by younger poets. I’d heard his name batted around once or twice, but hadn’t read anything by him. For my birthday, this year, I received a gift certificate for one of my favorite used bookstores (West Side Books in Ann Arbor), and discovered him there. “Pot Shots” is exactly what it sounds like, mostly. Francis fancies himself “the Satirical Rogue,” mostly outside academia and, indeed, outside much of modern, mainstream society, while living much of his life in Amherst, MA. The book was published by the Poets on Poetry series out of the University of Michigan, which has produced numerous books that are damn well worth the effort, written by a veritable who’s who of poets of the last 50 years. Here is a link to their catalog.
These three books are certainly not the only books worth reading on the subject. There are many, many books. Donald Hall’s Claims for Poetry is a collection of essays on the subject written by dozens of good poets. There is T.S. Eliot’s and Ezra Pound’s prose on the subject, and the ancients wrote at length on it as well, not to mention “defenses” of poetry by Shelley and Sidney and numerous others (which has always bothered me; I just don’t understand why poetry needs defending, I guess, but that’s me).
The larger point in bringing the subject up, of course, is not to just give everyone something to read. I bring it up because all of these readings, and the hundreds I have not mentioned, here, is a collective expression of poets considering their craft, and the poet, whether “established” or “would-be,” must consider craft. Poetry is an art, no doubt, but it requires work (and play) to write it well. That work is the craft of it, the serious part, where deep reading and deep thought about it happen. To not engage in the crafting of poems, we risk much, none of which is helpful to the poet, the poems, or to their audiences. In fact, craft is so important that I want to scream and flail about and throw things to encourage others to notice. But that is a subject for another time. I'll try not to break any windows, but I make no guarantees, once I get going.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Now, For My Next Trick

Some Thoughts On Revision: Hardly a Complete Treatment

I am going to write a short article about revision. I will revise it three or four times, put it on the blog (or maybe send it to TR for her thoughts), maybe revise it again, make some last minute changes and, ten minutes after I’ve posted it, wish I had worked through three or four more drafts. That’s how it works. I’m going to make these thoughts public, in writing. That is scary. I am going to make it public before people I respect, and before whom I don’t wish to embarrass myself or damage whatever reputation I possess. In fact, I could spend two hours per day for the next week working on this and, at the end of the week, hate it. But I’m not going to. I just wanted you to know. So...
Among the many questions that arise, subside, and arise again over time is the difficult question of whether one should engage revision. To even use the word, “engage,” is a qualification of its own and merits discussion. Some (almost all) writers claim that revision is a need as vital as water, while others claim that revision intrudes upon their “purest” thought/emotion. These latter stick–at least in public– to Horace’s “first thought, best thought” declaration (to which even he doesn’t seem to have adhered). There are few poets, from any time, whose work has not undergone revision at the poet’s hand. William Blake worked from “divine inspiration,” but Blake was, by profession, an engraver and printer. He gouged words and pictures into copper plates as part of a rather painstaking, expensive, and time consuming process that led to his art. I think we can assume he revised his written “masters” once or twice before he dragged out his numerous other tools. Revision, after all, is one more tool in the box (I hate that metaphor, but it serves well enough, I suppose). Not to do so might have meant a re-making (and the financial cost) a project he believed he’d finished. He was carving it into metal, so it had better be “right.” This is, however, not to say that the end product lacked “divine” influence, whether from the Christian God, or one or more muses. British Romantics often laid claim to such inspiration. And then came William Wordsworth. Rather, then “went” Wordsworth.
After he published his “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tinern Abbey,” which was recognized even then as a masterpiece, he claimed that it was written in one, muse-inspired sitting, during which he was at one with nature. Gosh! How about those muses! Then he died.
This means, of course, that other people perused his belongings, one item of which was a steamer trunk. When opened, they discovered that it was full of one thing: drafts of “Tintern Abbey.” I relate the Wordsworth anecdote because it serves as a lesson in how poets really view revision. All of us revise, and we should. Maybe not fifteen minutes after the first draft is written, but it needs doing. If there is no other reason, there is this: three days (or three minutes) after the initial composition–that is, after the muses whisper their honeyed words into our ears–we’ve grown smarter, more in touch with language, the universe, and ourselves; we turn the honey into mead. The muses did not show up and say, “here, have a poem. Write that sucker down and be remembered through the ages.” I don’t think that’s how the muses–whatever that means–work. It seems to me that the first boost of inspirational goodness comes from “that place.” Great. But it’s a starting point. They’ve shown up and given you a really good idea, an image, a few lines or phrases, a sound, but it is up to us to make something of it. We can see this in myriad artists in all forms who claim they don’t revise; even those who decry it as nearly blasphemy. Turns out, they all revise. Even Michelangelo revised, regardless of which form he worked on a given day.
There are many, many reasons to revise. Understand, I do not mean “editing.” Editing is commas and periods and spelling. I mean “re-thinking,” “re-seeing,” and making what you said be said better than you said it last time. The desire to not look/sound/feel “dumb” before our peers is a pretty solid reason. I think of a man I worked for some years ago, whose English usage–he was American–was so bad that, as a joke, I created The John K. Doe International Dictionary, which operated as a spoof (only sort of) spelling and translation guide. John used the sound, “irregardless” roughly three times per hour. I worked there for 4 ½ years. During that time, I struggled to not spell or to pronounce words like John, speaking properly in his presence without trying to sound arrogant. Now, almost 20 years later, I sometimes find myself having to correct myself, because I used a “Doe-ism” in conversation. Like all of us, upon hearing ourselves commit similar offenses, I roll my eyes, shake my head, and re-speak. This is revision.
Consider it from a teacher’s perspective, since all writers are, inevitably, whether we want to be, or not, teachers. If we create a document in which appear grammar, usage, spelling, or other errors, and a student (audience) points them out, I don’t care how hip, nihilistic, drunk, hip, or intelligent we are, the verbal stumbling and red face washes over us immediately. This is less because we handed out material containing errors, but that we are an authority figure who passed out such material. And, yes: the writer must be an author-ity figure. Sorry. Consider how much worse it feels to misrepresent oneself or one’s abilities. Where writing, using the language, and presenting new ideas are concerned, a writer commands authority or, at least, demands attention for a few lines in time. We have to know “our stuff,” and we want what we’ve written to be the best representation of our minds, and our creative abilities. This is how we convince our audience to read/listen to anything we have to say, which is difficult enough. Making the effort to say it better is a way we show them, and ourselves, both respect and attention. Otherwise, we slobs with pens. It’s also how we, as artists, “own” our creations.
Another place where we meet the problem of revision head-on is when we read our work to audiences. How many times have you read , and changed a word as you approached it? Or stumbled over a line and realized, as you spoke the words, you didn’t like them?
One final example, and I’ll stop harping on revision for a little while, and let you, gentle readers, rend the flesh from the bones of these incomplete and imperfect thoughts. Think back to when you were a student: fifth grade, twelfth grade, freshman year in college last semester of graduate school, it doesn’t matter. How proud of your work were you to turn in an unrevised assignment? This is a popular, “appear smart” (when the smart you are is probably smarter than the facade you put forth), and “see how cool I am” practice that, I think, reaches into that seemingly primal desire we all have to “make art now” and to really own our “first thought, best thought” desires (which probably stem from our desire to be connected to something divine...but who knows?). I used to make this claim regularly, even though it wasn’t always true. And I–like I suspect, you–receive that writing–or even something I’d spent effort upon–back a couple of weeks later, re-read it, and think something to the effect of, “Oh my god, I did NOT turn this in...” As I suggest above, two weeks later, you’re ability to use the language, to refine your own ideas, improves dramatically with a little time away from the piece.
Revision makes our writing better. That is revision’s whole point. Since writing is also a way of teaching ourselves things, of coming to grips with difficult concepts (personal, or not), it makes us smarter. There is a caveat, here, that should not stop us from revising our work, and it is this. As you revise, ALWAYS keep copies of earlier drafts. Over-revising can, indeed, ruin your work. Deleting that stanza may seem like a great idea on Tuesday, but on Thursday, prove the death of the poem. This happened to me. I deleted the last stanza of a 90 line poem, and can’t reproduce the stanza. The poem now lives in my “dead poem” file because I over-revised it (read as: murdered) the poem. But I learned the lesson, and that is the only murder I’ve ever committed.

Post Script: While digging through a box of old “papers,” I re-discovered the lost stanza. I’ll have to read that poem at a SexPo in the future...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Out of the Sands of Time - EMERGES THE NEXT SEXPO READING! also a blog update.

Thanks for staying posted with a silly summer schedule, everybody. The June reading was canceled due to scheduling conflicts and different poets not being available, etc. But no matter, onward to July.

The next reading is Monday, July 26th @ 5:30pm. Beezy's Cafe - 20 N. Washington, Ypsilanti MI
Here's what I have planned for your sensory pleasure:
Lucy Carnaghi,
Iain Marshall,
Theresa Rickloff
Melissa Welsh
& Anna Vitale (who is saying good bye to the area, soon. Le sigh.)

Hope to see you guys out there! Get me on here or facebook if you have any questions.

Friday, May 14, 2010

May 24th Reading @ beezys!

It's springtime for Hitler and poetry.

Isn't she loverly?

Heeeeeeere's the line-up!

Elizabeth Mikesch
Leo Jarret
Caleb Elijah Zweifler
Jon Desjardins
& Nicholas Vanderpool

It'll be a packed and busy reading.

Third room in Beezys, 5:30, Monday May 24th. Can't wait to see you.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Third room open at Beezy's!

Besides that being SUPER EXCITING for the restaurant, it's also SUPER EXCITING for SexPo! We can fit everybody comfortably, and probably even your cool accessories you insist on carrying with you everywhere.

So, bring out your mom to the April 26th reading! Look at post below for details.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April 26th Reading!

Poster by Genevieve Mihalko. Click for blog.

Yo check it:
The next reading is happening Monday, April 26th! 5:30 @ Beezy's Cafe, 20 N. Washington Street in Y-town.

This time on the docket:
Carson Boron
Adam Mitchell
Matt Posky
Tony the T-Spice Spicer

I'm very excited for this bunch.

I'm constantly hoping to expand the sphere of poetry in Ypsi by finding new poets, and also incorporating other artists, musicians and filmmakers. I've got Posky lined up for this reading, and we'll see what he ends up doing (I might not get film together for this reading) and I've been talking with Brett Cimbalik about doing some musical bits for an upcoming reading.
If you're interested in some way, lets chat so at least I can get to know you.

Hope to see you guys out at Beezy's on the 26th! Keep the peace. Fight the power.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The reading is a week away

Just think of where you'll be sitting a week from now.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Yo, Check It: Sweet Shit On the Horizon

There's a lot of great events coming up, and I wanted to post them all up here. As always, if yr interested in going let me know and we can arrange an extravagant car pool event.

Thursday, March 18th 7pm - K. Silem Mohammad @ the MOCAD (Detroit)
More than excited to see this guy. KSM is a leader of the flarf movement.
Click for his blog
More info on MOCAD event site

Monday, March 22nd 5:30 pm - The Sexy Poets Society presents Listening Out Loud @ Beezys Cafe (Ypsilanti)
Yeah, duh. The 3rd room at Beezys may be open so we might be able to be in there this time. (what what)
On the docket this time is Sara Kennedy, Leto Rankine, Andrew Stevens & Brian Tucker.
Be there, or be retarded.

Thursday, April 1st & Friday, April 2nd - Anselm Berrigan (Ann Arbor & Detroit)
I honestly just know this guy as the son of Ted Berrigan & Alice Notley(sorry about that. I feel bad.), but he's supposed to be rad as hell.
I recommend attending the Friday reading out in Detroit, because SPS good friend & awesome poet Anna Vitale will be opening with her work.
Anna was originally the one who told me about the event, and I think she said that Friday it'll be going down at the CCS in Detroit - however I can't find any info on it on the great world wide web. So I'll have to update this later.
Either way, certainly plan on going.

Well, that's all for now lovelies. Hope to see you the 22nd. Kisses and Hugs.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Softer World

THERESA EDIT: I made it into a link.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Next Reading - Monday, March 22nd!

Get your expectations ready and light them! It's happening Monday, March 22nd @ 5:30pm. Beezy's Cafe.

The Sexy Poets Society will be hosting:
Sara Kennedy
Leto Rankine
Andrew Stevens
Brian Tucker

Feel free to leave a comment with your questions, or shoot me an email at

I'll come back with more details later.
Love you, love you, want more of you.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Holden Caulfield - distressed hipster, first ever rockstar?

This is an image I stole from the internet

It's been awhile since I was in high school, hence it's been a bit since I read Catcher in the Rye. But since Salinger peaced out recently, I've been enjoying reading the inspired analysis that has cropped up.

A lot of what I've recently been hashing out in my own work is figuring out at what point sincerity should enter poetry, and the best way to display it. I live in a world where hipsters roam the streets with reckless abandon, doubting sincerity then doubting doubting sincerity, and then wondering if it's more sincere to doubt sincerity in the first, and if they should go back and do what they used to do. And if that's not interesting and daunting enough, add the fact that hipsters are a faceless movement which nobody claims to be apart of, yet everyone has a clear image in their head of hipsters, what they do, and what they look like roaming the streets with reckless abandon (damn vampires.)

Maybe ideological social movements should only happen if the participants of the movement aren't self-aware of what they look like all the time.

Anyhoosies, Holden Caulfield plays into this somewhere, where was it...oh yes. As a sort of proto-hipster, and as the Guardian calls him "the original rock star." Perhaps he was the first prominent voice to hash out the fogginess of teenage angst, and since we've marched forward more uncertainly. Yet, though uncertain, angsty teens and "colleges" (they're getting thrown into this group under than name) have a ridiculous amount of communication ability, and are incredibly influential to social norms and expectations. Are the confused-angsters heading the pack?
(maybe. maybe not.)
(that being what it is, I still maintain my point that middle schoolers run the internet, and invent every single internet meme, and single-handedly write every definition on Urban Dictionary.)

Here's a link to the Guardian article, which if anything, is a fun read: Click that shit. It spends more time discussing Caulfield's influence on rock music than I did.

Oh, and The Onion makes a salient point as usual.

Now, as Iain Marshall literally just pointed out "Salinger died, like, forever ago." Which in internet years is a good point.
So I'm sorry about the untimeliness of this post.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

So Here's the Plan & Pictures

Because you guys have been so good and well behaved, I'll put up a bunch of pictures from the last reading at the end of the post.

So this is what's going on for February: NOTHING! HA!
Due to a couple scheduling items (Beezy's goes on winter break, I'm going out of the country, Feb. is a stupid and short month), it's not going to work too swimmingly to cram a reading into this silly, silly month. I'm planning on reconvening for another reading Mid-Marchish. And I'm stoked and looking for poets.

But I'm planning an informal, small-scale SexPo salon, so get your hopes up, kiddos. It's going to be neat.

The reading last Mon., Jan 25th weirded me out. People keep telling me it was their favorite reading yet, and I'm starting to feel that way too. Still, weirded me out. All the poets who read (including myself) had creepily similar themes in their work. There was also a lot humorous poetry, which happens, but doesn't happen all that much.
I had also been preparing for a ridiculous crowd (I was expecting even more than came last time), but as it turns out a really moderate crowd showed up. We had 25 people, and for the first time, everybody had a seat. At first I was all like "SHIIIIIIT" - but then realized that everyone being comfortable is a good thing, and as a friend of mine put it "I felt like I was really able to listen to poetry this time."

So those are my emotions.
Here are pictures of emotions.
Vinnie was so kind as to take pics during the reading for me. Thanks Vinnie. You're so kind to take pics during the reading. Thanks. You're so kind.

Andrew MCing

Iain Marshall

Theresa Rickloff

Reading poetry written on sticky notes suuuucks.

Nicholas Vanderpool

Anna Vitale

Andrew Stevens

Marshall at the bar afterward

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Exciting News For Everybody!

After careful consideration, I've made a decision:
I feel like we're at a point where it is now safe to refer to the Sexy Poets Society as "SexPo".
I was unsure for awhile, but now I know.
Think of all the time we can save by just saying "SexPo"!

The next SexPo reading is in two days, and I'm really excited. Get ready for the SexPosee.

(On Second Thought: We are not quite ready to start using the term SexPosee. I regret using it, though I'm also too lazy to backspace my way out of it and get rid of it. So I'll let that use stay. Please, however, don't follow my example and start going over board with SexPo. Caution is of the essence.)

Hope to see errbody on Monday!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

January 25th Reading

Genevieve just finished the poster for the reading, which has been inciting Oooohs and Aaahs from everybody. I just wish my hair could do all that (with the words and everything.)
Check out her blog for more of her work.

Final Line-up for the reading is:
Iain Marshall
Theresa Rickloff
Nicholas Vanderpool
& Anna Vitale

Andrew's MCing and will be reading some of his work as well.

5:30pm, Beezy's. That's all.
High-fives & Kisses, everybody.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Punctuation Sonata

As some sort of half-assed but ardent reaction to Tony's post about effective use of punctuation in poetry, I'd like to post a poem that I wrote back in the fall of 2008. As a poet, I've changed quite a bit since writing this poem, but the issues that I deal with are stupid-close to the matters at hand about punctuation.

The story with this poem is that I spent one drunken night on my porch trying to emotionally relate to punctuation marks. Once I felt like I formed some sort of empathetic bond with the comma, I realized that I should probably just write a poem about it and be done with it.

I ended up spending a lot more time on this piece then I regularly do with poetry (which is funny given the nature of the damn thing), and once I felt like it was finished I put it to bed, and have been unsure how to handle it since. So, if anything, I really hope you enjoy it - and that formatting issues aren't too much of a bitch.

The Punctuation Sonata

Movement I - for instrument, not excluding the voice

eerup eerup eerup errup? eerup

I am five commas
cosmic cosmetology caustic commas

doop doop doop
Hi there! I'm a period
once a month
once a sentence
no catches, no hidden fees doop

(stop stomping - I'm trying to balance ice on my nose)
(I mean it! Stomp stopping stomp stooping - no wait, no, wait no...)
Like an elephant, the exclamation
SHOVES aside the period to show that you really mean this!!
eerup eerup eerup eerup eeeeeruuup?
what what what what huh what what
(I just have no idea about it)

whoa! whoa! eerup?

Movement II - For the hands, face & voice. In 3/4 time.

, , , " ? " :
. . - . " "
- " , ; , ; - " - ; ;
" . . . :
" - , ; - ?
, ? - ! ! ! -

eerup eerup eerup dink narrr donk boof
doop doop whoa doop dink donk
whoa dink eerup snarkel eerup snarkel
whoa donk whoa snarkel snarkel
dink doop doop doop boof
donk whoa eerup snarkel whoa narrr
eerup narrr whoa BAM BAM BAM whoa

Movement III - For all creatures on Earth.

watch as I cuuuuuuuurve aROUND you
breaking and connecting you away from your family and into miiiiiiine

The downstairs
The downstairs neighbors
The downstairs neighbors are doing
The downstairs
The downstairs neighbors
The downstairs neighbors are doing it
They are doing the exclamation point stomp

, ? !
what are you not saying
what is your snot saying

i love you apostrophe

Hello how are you Great

i love you apostrophe


The exclamation point STOMP! CLAUSE!
i love you apostrophe what is your snot saying?
whooooooooooa! Hi there! I'm a comma! cosmic cosmetology! STOMP!



Hi there!

I'm a period

Like an elephant

The downstairs neighbors are

Hi there!

How are you Great:

Would like to p < F
Cosmic F>p

try a peanut

whoa whoa


I'm a period
Once a month

once a sentence
Don't lick wet things

Their culture
Just throwing it out
female stereotype there!

The downstairs








Saturday, January 9, 2010


There is an aspect of poetry that seems such a minor matter, but to which poets must give attention, and sometimes do not I think it is not a minor matter, at all. The subject is, simply put, punctuation.
As young poets, and by this I mean any “young poet,” whether aged 10 (William Blake) and making their first line break on a page, or aged 50 (Amy Clampitt), and just picking up the pen, we often find ourselves struggling with how to punctuate a poem. What do we do with it? We read poets who came before us and wonder whether our poems should include any at all, then read others and wonder whether each syntactical unit must be punctuated as sentences broken into lines.
There are many ways to punctuate a poem, ranging from “correct” punctuation throughout to including not a jot of added ink in a single foot. All of them have been done but, when we get down to it, it is not really a question of whether to punctuate but, rather, how to “mess with it.”
There are a number of reasons poems are made with certain punctuation. Sometimes, punctuation is tinkered with (or not) because the poet is trying to be “different,” “creative,” “me”; in sum, it is a matter of the poet, young or old, trying to discover, refine, re-discover, and/or alter their “voice.” All of these reasons are perfectly reasonable; after all, we poets are the vanguard in the battle for “poetic license.”
Another point on which most poets pride themselves is, forgive the cliche, “pushing the envelope.” As poets, it’s what we do. Whitman has us loosing our barbaric yawps, O’Hara has us writing about the seemingly mundane task of buying Strega on our way to a dinner party, and Hall has us, not just reading about swinging on Frost’s birches, but actually going out and doing it. Fighting, fucking, or farting, poets have always suggested we do it all, and with gusto. We’re sort of the anti-parent, and that pleases me. And I applaud all of it. However...
One must learn the rules one intends to break. Urinating in a restroom is hardly exciting because that’s what is expected. Doing so in the fountain at a mall takes spirit, and the awareness of its being taboo. That’s what makes it “fresh.” A poor grasp of punctuation (how to use it, and how to recognize its being used) inhibits the poet’s ability to get an idea across the street, and inhibits the reader’s getting across the street to the idea, without both being run over by endless streams of gas-guzzling, inefficient prose. The poet must break those rules. It is in our natures to do so. What is sometimes not in our natures is controlling it, and knowing when and how to do so. And it matters. 150 years later, we continue to discuss Dickinson’s dashes. We continue to marvel at Whitman’s semi-colons and lists in “Song of Myself,” and his conscious alteration of punctuation in his introduction to Leaves of Grass. Both knew what they was doing, and their styles serve a purpose.
My favorite moment in punctuation (which I’ve begun to think of as an “event in punctuation”) is from Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and appears in “Frost at Midnight":

“‘Tis calm indeed! So calm, that it disturbs
And vexes meditation with its strange
And extreme silentness. Sea, hill, and wood,
This populous village! Sea, and hill, and wood,
With all the numberless goings on of life,”
l. 8-12

There are a couple of interesting things happening, here. First, we find two exclamation points in a mere five lines. We can see the speaker is roused at his realization, and at the realizations coming to him as the poem proceeds, but these exclamation points are muted, almost to whispers, by the tone Coleridge creates in the first seven lines, and are rendered helpless further by the tone he pursues through the rest of the poem. Second, and perhaps more dramatic, is the addition of one comma and one conjunction to the repetition we find in lines 10 and 11. This comma and the word “and,” together, slow what is already a slowly paced, strolling meditation to an almost literal crawl (which makes sense, if for no other reason, because there is an infant in the room with the speaker).
As a whole, the poem creates a sense of security and comfort and, simultaneously, encourages us to be greater than those who came before us, as the speaker in this poem is encouraging his infant son. But those little additions, and the alteration of the meter, pace, tone they create, is of enormous importance, and fails if Coleridge writes without truly understanding punctuation.
I often issue a dare with “Frost at Midnight,” and I issue that dare now. I dare you to read this poem, silently or aloud to yourself, around 12:00, on a cold night (preferably with frost or a bit of snow on the ground), when you’re warm, snug, comfortable near a fireplace or in a similarly cozy environment, and finish the poem without dozing or, at least, finding yourself drowsy at the end. This will not happen because the poem is boring, but because Coleridge is such a master of punctuation, controls it so well, so completely that, by the end, he compels his audience to believe everything he has said to us. Coleridge knew how to do it. Thus, we come again to the point: know the rules, first. Break them when you know how they work. He knew the rules so well that he yells at us in lines eight and 11, yet does not rouse us from the meditation in which we willingly join him.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Date for next reading & Carol Ann Duffy

It's on. Get ready to rumba.
The next Sexy Poets Society reading will be Monday, January 25th @ 5:30pm.

I'm scheduling poets currently. Looking for four, and only have one for sure. If you're interested, now is the time to ask me. I'm asking a few people in particular, but I can probably figure something out for you.

All for now about that. ONWARD....

I got an email about Carol Ann Duffy , poet laureate of Great Britain as of last year, reading her work at the UMMA this coming Monday, January 11th @ 5:10pm. (Damn U of M and their stupid 10 after crap)

So I'm gonna go. And I think a handful of Ian's may go as well. I'd love to get a few more people to come, maybe figure out some rides or bus, and then go for a drink after.

Honestly, I'm not familiar with her work whatsoever (I plan on checking out some of her stuff before going), but the position of Laureate is certainly fascinating and troubling on certain levels, so I'm really enthusiastic about going just to sate curiosity and either encourage or quell bitching.

However, sounds like for a laureate she's sort of a bad ass - she's the first lady laureate, first Scot, and first bisexual for Great Britain. To quote Iain Marshall, "Sounds like they just wanted to knock out all three at once."

for UMMA event page and more info. Either email me or leave a comment in the thread if you're interested.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

a bunch of poets answering that ever annoying question

Found this on Charles Bernstein's blog: George Quasha asks "what is poetry?"

poetry is [vol. I] from George Quasha on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Post-New Year Update: Sorry for the lag, ladies and fellas.

I got busy with that whole "Christmas" thing. This update should have happened a week or two ago, but it didn't. I'll fill it with a lot of pictures to make up for my huge mistakes.

We had another packed out reading - this time we had about 40 people try and squeeze in. Unfortunately, a few people weren't able to squeeze in and had to sit it out in the other room. As far as problems go, this is a great problem to have (I mean, COME ON, since when did 40 people come out for a damn POETRY READING?). However, I'm sorry nonetheless for I hate for people to make the effort to show up and not be able to hear everything. Thanks everybody for making it work and having so much enthusiasm.

Here's a couple snapshots:

Adam Mitchell getting ready to read. Lizzie Dieter being judgmental.

Adam Rzepka - the sexiest poet of all.

Sara Kennedy - the other sexiest poet of all.

Jon Desjardins opened the night up for us.

What a bunch of cool-lookin' dudes.

I'm planning on another reading for late January. Details aren't hammered out yet, but the one big change is that we're going to use a microphone from now on. With the crowds being so large for the last two readings, it's too hard for most poets to project loud enough (Adam Rzepka not included. Good work, buddy.)

So far I have one poet set for reading. I'm looking for three more. Get at me, dogs.

A lot of my energy over the next month is going to be spent on the blog. I hope to make this more than just a place for me to ramble on about the readings and upcoming events (though I sure do a good job.) I've been speaking with a few blog masterminds, hoping to usurp their powers for the good of all mankind. With any luck, this blog will start expanding within the next couple of months.

So hang tight everybody. Thanks for being a part of something really extraordinary. Allow me to reiterate: most other cities around the world would have hard time getting 40 people to come out for poetry that isn't, like, damn Maya Angelou or something. I don't know what is going on exactly...but I like it.