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.