Thursday, August 30, 2007


Claudia Carlson's The Elephant House has just received its first -- and lovely -- book review from Galatea Resurrects reviewer Laurel Johnson. Click HERE for the review in which Claudia is called a "master of the metaphor."

Also, poems in Sandy Mcintosh's 49 Guaranteed Ways to Escape Death and Eileen Tabios' The Light Sang As It Left Your Eyes are also featured in the just-released issue of SENTENCE: A JOURNAL OF PROSE POETICS, No. 5.

Here's the official announcement from editor Brian Clements:

Sentence 5 is now available, including:

Feature section on The Prose Poem in East-Asia, edited by Steve Bradbury with co-editors and translators Don Mee Choi, Jeffrey Angles, Andrea Lingenfelter, Sawako Nakayasu, and Hiroaki Sato; translations of Lu Xun, Shang Qin, Liu Kexiang, Hsia Yu, Xi Chuan, Jiao Tong, Hung Hung, Ye Mimi, He Chuanfu, Ch?oe Sung-ja, Yi Yon-ju, Kim Hyesoon, Kasuya Eiichi, Takahashi Mutsuo, Suzuki Shiroyasu, Ito Hiromi, Hirata Toshiko, Yuko Minamikawa Adams, Abe Hinako, and Tatehata Akira.

Prose poems by Joe Ahearn, Kazim Ali, Erica Anzalone, Sally Ashton, Edward Bartók-Baratta, Bill Berkson, Raymond L. Bianchi, Daniel Borzutzky, Geoff Bouvier, Jenny Browne, Christopher Buckley, Kevin Cantwell, Peter Conners, Mark Cunningham, Chloe Daimyo, Jon Davis, Neil de la Flor, Carrie Etter, Kass Fleisher, Charles Fort, Angela Jane Fountas, James Fowler, Alex Galper (translated by Mike Magazinnik and Igor Satanovsky), Christine Gelineau, Daniel Grandbois, James Grinwis, Kelle Groom, Maurice Kilwein Guevara, Richard Gwyn, Tanesia Hale-Jones, Kalev Hantsoo, Kevin Haworth, Karen Holman, Brooke Horvath, Ann Howells, David James, Brian Johnson, George Kalamaras, Luke Kennard, Jill Khoury, Rauan Klassnik, Michael Koshkin, Richard Kostelanetz, David Lazar, Robert Hill Long, Sandy McIntosh, Michael Meyerhofer, Steve Myers, Andrew Neuendorf, Ed Orr, Virgilio Pinera (translated by Alexander Cuadros), Emma Ramey, Jessy Randall, Kristin Ryling, Catherine Sasanov, Liana Scalettar, Siobhan Scarry, Jim Scrimgeour, Ravi Shankar, Jay Snodgrass, D. E. Steward, Julia Story, Robert Strong, Wayne Sullins, Eileen Tabios, Steve Timm, Nick Twemlow, Alexandra van de Kamp, Monique van den Berg, and Mark Yakich.

Joe Ahearn reviews Daniel Rzicznek, Sally Ashton reviews Noah Eli Gordon, Brian Brennan reviews Gloria Frym, Thomas Fink reviews Sheila E. Murphy, Brooke Horvath reviews Etal Adnan and Sherwood Anderson, Matthew W. Schmeer reviews Skip Fox, Ellen McGrath Smith reviews Elizabeth Willis, Rebecca Spears reviews John Olson, Jerry McGuire reviews Peter Johnson, Chris Murray reviews PP/FF: An Anthology; and an essay by Brian Johnson.

Due to increased postal and shipping rates, Sentence must increase subscription rates. New rates are $15/$28/$36 for 1/2/3 issues. Send check made to Firewheel Editions to Box 7, Western Connecticut State University, 181 White St., Danbury, CT 06810 or subscribe using PayPal at the website: http://firewheel-editions.org. Customers from outside North America and the Carribean must include an extra $6 per copy for delivery. Sentence is also available from EBSCO and Amazon.com.

Forthcoming features: The Prose Poem in Italy (#6) edited by Luigi Ballerini and Gian Lombardo, Native American Prose Poems (#7) edited by Dean Rader.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Two events in New York City celebrate Marsh Hawk Press' Fall Releases:

Passing Over by Norman Finkelstein
Forty-Nine Guaranteed Ways to Escape Death by Sandy McIntosh
The Light Sang As It Left Your Eyes by Eileen R. Tabios

Poetry Reading
DATE: Sept. 19, 2007
TIME: starting at 6 p.m.
LOCATION: Cornelia Street, 29 Cornelia Street, NYC 10014, 212-989-9319
Cover $7 (includes one drink)

Rochelle Ratner hosts 3 Poets: Norman Finkelstein; Sandy McIntosh; Eileen Tabios

Official Book Launch Party & Book Signing at Poets House
DATE: September 20, 2007
TIME: 7:00-9:00 pm
LOCATION: Poets House, 72 Spring Street, Second Floor, New York, N.Y. 10012. (212) 431-7920

Hear our featured poets, Norman Finkelstein, Sandy McIntosh and Eileen R. Tabios read. Wine, cheese and other good things will be served. (All free, of course). This is a wonderful opportunity to socialize with outstanding poets from NYC and around the country. Authors will be happy to sign books.

Monday, August 20, 2007


The following missive from Belladonna is a useful recap of activities from this wonderful women poets series:

Hi friends!

We hope you are having a great summer! Belladonna*'s been busy these past few months...

We've moved!
Please note the new address/phone/fax:
Belladonna*/Belladonna Books
925 Bergen Street, #405
Brooklyn, NY 11238
phone/fax: 718.398.9003

What better way to break in a new place than with some mail!
(see attached catalog/order form for our full list of books)

And...Make sure to mark your calendars--see below for our upcoming events!

~Don't miss the first reading of the 07/08 Season! ~




Carol Mirakove &
Harriet Zinnes

Tuesday, September 11, 7:30PM
@ Dixon Place
(258 Bowery, 2nd Floor—Between Houston & Prince)
Admission is $5 at the Door.

Carol Mirakove is the author of two books of poems, Mediated published by Factory School, a collective concerned with the social and cultural reproductive function of the multiple media arts, and Occupied published by Kelsey St. Press, dedicated to experimental poetry by women. Additionally, she has authored two chapbooks, temporary tattoos and WALL, and she appears on the Narrow House spoken-word CD Women in the Avant Garde. Recent poems appear in The Brooklyn Rail, MiPoesias, and West Coast Line: Poetry and the Long Neoliberal Moment. She is currently at work on The Fiesta Project (http://thefiestaproject.wordpress.com).

Harriet Zinnes is Professor Emerita of English of Queens College of the City University of New York. Her many books include Whither Nonstopping (poems), Drawing on the Wall (poems), My, Haven't the Flowers Been? (poems), Entropisms (prose poems), Lover (short stories), The Radiant Absurdity of Desire (short stories), Ezra Pound and the Visual Arts (criticism), and Blood and Feathers (translations of the French poetry of Jacques Prevert). Forthcoming are a new edition of the Prevert and a new collection of poems called Light Light or the Curvature of the Earth. Zinnes is a contribuing editor of The Hollins Critic and as art critic a contributing writer of The New York ARts Magazine. Her poetry will be included in the September 2007 edition of Scribners The Best American Poetry.

Founded as a reading series at a women¹s radical bookstore in 1999, Belladonna* is a feminist avant-garde event and publication series that promotes the work of women writers who are adventurous, politically involved, multi-form, multicultural, multi-gendered, unpredictable, dangerous with language (to the death machinery). In its eight year history, Belladonna* has featured such writers as Julie Patton, kari edwards, Leslie Scalapino, Alice Notley, Erica Hunt, Fanny Howe, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Cecilia Vicuna, Latasha Natasha Nevada Diggs, Camille Roy, Nicole Brossard, Abigail Child, Norma Cole, Lydia Davis, Gail Scott, Renee Gladman, Rachel Blau Duplessis, Marcella Durand and Lila Zemborain along with nearly 100 other experimental and hybrid women writers. The curators promote work that is explicitly experimental, connects with other art forms, and is political/critical in content. Alongside the readings, Belladonna* supports its artists by publishing commemorative chaplets of their work on the night of the event. Please contact us (Erica Kaufman, Rachel Levitsky, et al) at belladonnaseries@yahoo.com to receive a catalog and be placed on our list.

Dixon Place, a home for performing and literary artists, is dedicated to supporting the creative process by presenting original works of theater, dance and literature at various stages of development. An artistic laboratory with an audience, we serve as a safety net, enabling artists to present challenging and questioning work that pushes the limits of artistic expression. With a warm, nurturing atmosphere that encourages and inspires artists of all stripes and persuasions, we place special emphasis on the needs of women, people of color, youth, seniors and lesbian/gay artists. Dixon Place is a local haven for creativity as well as an international model for the open exploration of the process of creation. Please visit www.dixonplace.org for more information.

*deadly nightshade, a cardiac and respiratory stimulant, having purplish-red flowers and black berries
Belladonna* readings happen monthly between September and June. We are grateful for funding by Poets and Writers, CLMP, NYSCA, and Dixon Place.

October 9, 2007--Stacey Levine & Maggie O'Sullivan
November 6, 2007--R. Erica Doyle & Tracie Morris
December 11, 2007--Fiona Templeton
January 8, 2008--Book Party: Lila Zemborain
February 12, 2008--Barbara Cole & Elizabeth Robinson
March 11, 2008--Jean Day & Kathy Lou Schultz
April 8, 2008--Dodie Bellamy & Kevin Killian
May 13, 2008--Book Party: Marcella Durand


Thursday, August 16, 2007


Kate Greenstreet of Kicking Wind interviews our Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize Recipient Steve Fellner as regards his first book, Blind Date With Cavafy. The interview may be found at http://www.kickingwind.com/080907.html, but we also have permission to post it in full as follows:

How did you find out that your manuscript was the winner of the 2006 Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize? How often had you sent it out previously?

I had been sending my book out for many years, and I was crazy determined to get a book of poetry published. I got an MFA and PhD in creative writing. During all this time, I was sending out various incarnations of the book. No one wanted it. It was (and still is) an uneven book, but there were a lot of worse books out there, and I liked sending things out in the mail. Even when you get a rejection in the mail (and I got a zillion of them), it's always fun to have opened the envelope. It's like watching the Oscars. Even if the actor you love loses, you at least enjoy the spectacle.

I knew my book would never be accepted by a huge press, but I was completely comfortable with the idea of being insignificant. Still am. The world is nice that way: no one holds insignificance against you.

I can still remember the day I got the email from Marsh Hawk Press that Denise Duhamel had chosen my manuscript. My boyfriend and I decided to go see the Al Gore documentary, so I went upstairs to check my email and the showtimes. There was an email from Marsh Hawk Press and I assumed it was a message informing me that I lost and then an announcement of the winner. When I read the news, I couldn't believe it. I had given up hope.

What made me most sad is I couldn't call up my best friend and tell her my lucky fortune. She had won a major contest a few months prior and we stopped talking, partly because I couldn't deal with my own jealousy over her success. When she won her contest, I felt abandoned. I liked the idea of both of us failing forever together. We're talking now and laugh about it. But I wish I could have shared the news with her.

What do you remember about the day when you saw your finished book for the first time?

This is funny in dumb way: I was so sick with a serious thyroid condition (that had yet to be diagnosed), I didn't care. I was in the worst mood. My partner was jumping up and down, saying we had to celebrate, and I told him to shut up and then ordered him to put the copies in our basement. I didn't want to see them. My book made me sick. Everything made me sick. Synthroid has cheered me up considerably.

Were you involved in designing the cover?

The front cover: no. Claudia Carlson did the best job. I'm indebted to her.

I was obsessed with getting blurbs for the back cover. I didn't want anyone I knew personally or had met to blurb me. I knew that my book was coming from a small press (I don't know if my Amazon sales rank has ever risen above a million, and I check it every hour), and I knew I needed to trick people into reading it. So I sent 40 emails (all the same night) to 40 different poets I really admired, and told them how their work influenced me, and asked if they would consider looking at my book, and if they felt moved to do so, offer me a blurb. 15 out of the 40 poets responded. Most ignored me. Two told me to Fed Ex them the manuscript and then never contacted me again. One significant gay poet read the book and told me that he didn't like it. It hurt. I'm gay. He's gay. I thought he'd say yes simply because of those two facts. But that was cool. I admire people with discriminating tastes, and also, I'm a masochist. Because he rejected me, I'm even a bigger fan.

David Kirby said yes, and has helped me in so many different ways. He is a man who has so many students and he has been so kind to a total stranger. Says so much about his commitment to the poetry community. Timothy Liu was very nice: he gave me a great blurb and also in an email listed his favorite poems. I am also grateful to Steve Orlen and Jim Daniels.

Before the day you first saw your book, did you imagine your life would change with its arrival?

No. I lucked out and already had a tenure-track job at SUNY Brockport. I knew very few people would read my book and I didn't expect anyone to ask me to read. Which is fine. At the same time I do get jealous of people who are able to promote their books and make readings happen. I should be more like that, but my self-consciousness gets in the way.

Has your life been different since your book came out?

No. I lead a very small, simple, happy life with my partner Phil.

Actually, the more I think about it, my initial no is a lie. It has been different. I teach at SUNY Brockport, and all the other creative writing faculty have always had a book, as long as I had known them. I was always embarrassed that I didn't. I felt like they secretly pitied me. Once I got my book, I felt like I was more worthy to be on the faculty. This is silly. They hired me knowing I was bookless. But still.

Were there things you thought would happen that didn't? Surprises?

I'm surprised when anyone mentions my book, and I mean anyone. I had a student ask me to sign a copy and I was shocked he would have bought a copy. I was also taken aback that my book was mentioned in a poetry column in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution. Or when Mid-American Review, Quarterly West, Art Voice, and Salt Lake City Weekly published reviews of the book.

What have you been doing to promote Blind Date with Cavafy and how do you feel about it?

It's hard to get readings when your book comes from a small press and you're an insignificant writer. Again I don't mean insignificant as pejorative. Most of us are. There's comfort in being insignificant: you're free to do what you want; no one is watching you. In fact, I want to write an essay, a meditation about the power and positive consequences of being insignificant. There's so much pressure to matter in the literary community. This isn't to say there shouldn't be significant writers who win major awards, but aren't there any other alternatives to aim for?

I have a friend who is a significant poet and he's working on his second book. Occasionally, I've watched him work, and he is constantly looking at his first book when he writes poems for his second. He wants to make sure his new poems are as good as the first. If I were a significant poet, I would engage in this behavior. But I don't, because no one is watching me, and as a result, I don't need to watch myself as closely. To draw an analogy, if you are a beautiful person, the world expects you to leave your house looking attractive, well-groomed. If you're a person like myself, no one cares if you leave the house wearing dirty socks or if you have a stain on your shirt. You're free. Significant poets and beautiful people shoulder a great deal more responsibility than the rest of us.

I should add here that Marsh Hawk Press threw me a book launch in New York at Poets House, along with the other two poets who had books coming out with the press. Also this fall semester I have four readings scheduled, three in the Upstate New York area and one in New York New York. I'm excited. I love to read. And I like that for most of the readings I'm performing with someone else. I like the idea of two or three people reading together. That way if someone doesn't like your poems, they may like someone else's and that means you don't feel like they wasted their time coming. Time is a huge issue with me. I don't think there's a greater thing you can steal from someone else, and I don't want to be a criminal in that way or at least as little as possible.

What advice do you wish someone had given you before your book came out? What was the best advice you got?

When my best friend and I were still talking after her book was accepted she told me that the initial excitement rubs off quickly. (We lived and still do in different states.) So celebrate. Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate. Because my boyfriend and I are geeks (our idea of a fun Friday night is making quesadillas on our George Foreman Grill and watching Farscape), we didn't go out and do anything surprising, novel. In a way, I wish we had.

What advice would you give to someone about to have a first book published?

If your book comes from a small press, give up your prize money and ask for it in copies. Then do a lot of work yourself. Sandy McIntosh, Claudia Carlson, Rochelle Ratner, and everyone at Marsh Hawk Press, works so hard. I felt it was my obligation to send out my book to as many places as I could for review. Which I did.

Also, if you have a book coming out and you have a friend who doesn't have a book, do NOT say to them, "You're next." They might not be next. They might not even be the next after the next after the next. So many of my more talented, significant poet friends said to me after they got their first book accepted, "You're next." I never was. We all gave up on me before my book came out.

I also find it sad that I read so many young poets are constantly changing their manuscripts after not placing in a contest. When everything is so oversaturated and so many contests are run by committee, taking your losing to mean anything is dangerous. Having been a screener for contests, I can say that I've seen so many manuscripts look overlabored. You need to let go of your manuscript. There's only so much you can do.

Unless you have a bad title. Here's an embarrassing confession: for years I sent out my manuscript and never placed. I called it the dumbest, dullest things! Aesthetics of the Damned was one. Hoaxes and Scams was another.

As soon as I called it Blind Date with Cavafy (all the poems were basically the same ones that appeared under the other titles), I started being named a finalist. And I won pretty quick. After many, many years of bad titles. This is my theory: most screeners, most poets are insecure in making aesthetic judgments. The mention of Cavafy made it clear that I knew something about poetry. The humor of the phrase "blind date" juxtaposed with the literary allusion signaled I was a poet. I am very embarrassed to admit this, but I think it's true. There's so much out there, and most people are tentative, they need clues that they're giving the right book the award. That isn't to say this is why I won, but I did notice that I started making it past the initial rounds much more often. Choose a smart title. Most titles suck. They're boring and pretentious and vague.

What influence has the book's publication had on your subsequent writing?

I think a lot about a second book. And I am sometimes embarrassed that I am creating (have created) one. Does the world need another book by me?

I wish I were a more formally interesting poet. I belong (almost whole-heartedly) to the School of Quietude, and I wish I had more of a desire to explore innovative forms, but that's not where my heart is. Often times I feel that my poems are too journalistic. Also: I wonder if I should be writing poems at all. I don't take advantage of the line as much as a poet should.

How do you feel about the critical response so far and has it had any effect on your writing practice?

Anyone who spends time writing about someone else's poems is a very generous human being.

Do you want your life to change?

I'm OK. I like my life, my partner, and Synthroid.

Is there something you're doing now that you think will bring about a change that you seek?

I'm writing overtly political poems. I'm getting away from the autobiographical "I." The world is in such bad shape that for me to drone on about my life is pretty disgusting. And I do think that political poems are important, necessary. It may not be true that one poem can change the world, but cumulatively, all the writing that seeks and encourages goodness can make an impact. I have no doubt about that.

Do you believe that poetry can create change in the world?

I started writing because I wanted love. I think all writers write for that reason. And I think smart writers write so that their ideal reader will love them. Hopefully, the writer is choosy and wants an ethical, big-hearted person to love them. If that's why they write poems and they craft their poems to win that love, an honorable love, they can do no wrong. In fact, it's a small gift to humanity.


A poem from Blind Date with Cavafy by Steve Fellner:

God in a Box

Everyone gave me money to sneak a peek
at God. My grade school friends
wanted to look through the slits
of my cigar box which contained
His elbow, surrounded by three
ladybugs. They were His bodyguards.
To claim I captured anything more
than a limb of the Lord seemed odd.
Surely God was bigger and swifter
than the fireflies we smashed
with our puny fists. I charged a quarter
for a five second look. All the kids
handed over part of their lunch
money. Some their lunch.
No one was disappointed
with what they saw. My best friend
stole a five dollar bill from his
mother's purse so he could have
the box for a night. A kid who lived
three houses down from mine claimed
he captured a strand of God's hair.
It was bright yellow and twelve inches long.
He charged one whole dollar.
Soon everybody claimed they had
part of God's body: earlobe, thigh,
lower intestine, pancreas, spleen,
toenail. Someone tried to charge
a dollar for a look at His navel. I left
letters on all my friends' and enemies'
front door steps, asking them
to come to my backyard and bring
whatever part of God they had.
We stood in a circle and named
the limbs and organs. All
together we had enough
for almost three full corpses.
I threw my box into the air
and watched His elbow
soar toward the heavens.
Cans, boxes, thermoses and pails
littered the sky. That night
we went back to sneaking up
on fireflies, surprising them
with our tenacity
as they surprised us
with their weak humble light.

. . .

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