Rant n' Roll

Slush piles accrue. They get monstrous.

Publishing is about money. Got to earn those bucks somehow. No one's buying poetry books. Maybe, like an English student at Georgia State, because his professor says, "Oh, check out Burt Kristbaum. He rocks." Meanwhile, Burt Kristbaum is his buddy from back in the day.

That's how poetry is sold these days.


The question is will poetry make bank ever again? Will there be more thought put into
poetry collections to make them function as entertainment as well as art?

This is where a book like Harryette Mullen's "Sleeping With the Dictionary" succeeds so well. It has a title that is dope, plus a series of poems that are unified in their process and action. It’s a great book. Really a textbook on how to write poetry and have fun with it. A must have.

It's not as good as WHOLE MILK though. That book is the shiz nit. No doubt about it. Pure entertainment and fun. Helps you dream. The world needs that. The world needs poets who dream. I need poets who dream.

I like the cover of Mullen’s DICTIONARY. It's okay. I guess that's the extent of thought that goes into putting out poetry books. Make the cover look good.

Man, make the cover look fun? Are you kidding? Make the poetry fun. For shiz nit sakes. Make it dance!

That balance between entertainment and language is the key to making poetry marketable again.

Then we segway into Kyle's note about FENCE and naked chiquitas on the cover.

Now don’t get me wrong; poetry can function as art, but it is also entertainment. People don’t like poetry. I don’t write poetry. People are really into movies. Television is the bomb. (For as much as DYLAN hates it). This language. The commercial. The blatant commercialism that makes you cringe a bit. Mmmm. Good stuff. The things dreams are made of. Whole books. Pages of it. Right there.

The best poetry book I’ve read this year is Loren Goodman’s FAMOUS AMERICANS. That is the ultimate shiz nit. Loren, if you’re reading, I love that book and what you’re doing. This is a must have on anyone’s list for what will be the poetry that is a marker for a change in the art form. Then get WHOLE MILK.

These two books are the best I’ve read so far. They make me giddy and a little cartoony. They relate to both the literary mainstream and American culture in beautiful ways.

That contempo lit scene (CLS) will catch on. But right now they ain’t got shit on these books. The CLS are outdated and too much about ego. Nothing wrong with deconstruction. Nothing wrong with messing with a bit of language. But to do it, and have fun, and not care what who said what? Man, that is the shiz nit. That gets you the real accolades. People coming up to you. People buying your book. People saying you made a change in their lives. People coming out in droves, because the poetry makes you laugh, because it can be somber, because it can make you cry and fart at the same time.

This is what is missing, and what WHOLE MILK and FAMOUS AMERICANS bring to the table.

Let’s talk about Benjamin Franklin. No, it’s Super Mario Brothers. It’s transformers. It’s reality TV. It’s the mission to Mars. It’s cup of noodles on a Friday. JP says, “Let’s go to Peaches.”

I’m down. I like fried chicken. I head over. We take JP’s car. Subaru. Laid out. Morphine on the freak show. I try to flick it to the next station.

“Dude, what are you doing?” JP asks.

“How do you get to the next song?” I ask.

“Just flip it,” he says, and flips it.

Then we groove for a bit, driving down Lankershim. JP looks over at a car wash. He points up at the sign, “I like that script.”

I look up. It’s got that kind of Eastern feel.

“It’s Arabian and shit,” he says.

“Mmmm,” I say. “yeah.”

Then I am looking at signs. Pretty soon, there’s too many. I can’t even keep up. None of it matters. PEACHES does though. I like fried chicken. Catfish isn’t bad either.

I order up some catfish, mac and cheese, coleslaw, and mashed potatoes.

“Man, you’re hungry,” JP says.

“Yeah, I am,” I say.

Then we all sit around. The whole WG crew. It’s an MC, 2 writers, a comedian, an actress, and a filmmaker. We're a movie waiting to happen. A production crew ready to be made.

Does anyone realize this? Man, it’s good to be alive. To be rolling with this crew. To be eating catfish on a Friday. To know that artists are working so hard everywhere to bring their hearts to the table. To have fried chicken with other artists—no matter what they do. No matter who they are.

We are the gang. It multiplies upon itself for those who are willing to call themselves a part of this dream. The dream to create for themselves. The dream to connect to the world. The dream to change the way this planet people thumps.

“Is this possible?” a voice asks.

I tell the voice it is. It is possible. This thought. These hearts. They multiply. One on another. Small particles. Like dust. Orbiting. To make deserts and oceans and small valleys, where the conifers grow wild, and Tanto lifts a neck to hum:

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm (turn this sideways) ; >………

Don't sweat the technique, P.


JWG said...

Thanks P, appreciate the love. Milk will be out for the world to see soon enough. I am headed to thailand in a few. U guys enjoy thai town

John Posatko said...

For the record, what I said about the car wash sign was, "I like that font. It looks like Lawrence of Arabia...and shit." I wanted to say "Arabian," but it needed a more focused adjective.

I like the way this post differs from your others. It's bold, man. I can't quite describe it. Good times at the Peaches today. I ate like four plates worth of food. I was hungry, boy.

Dylan Hock said...

Yeah, tv does blow, compared to its potential. Like I was saying to Rory the other day (for example) why isn't there a cable system you can buy that allows you to watch television from all over the world? O, I feel like Nigerian tv today. No, maybe Hungarian... etc. Wouldn't that be an interesting peek into other cultures around the world. So far, we get the Spanish channel and that's about it. Meanwhile, there's the video game channel, the military channel, channels for Men, for Women... tv just scatches the surface of its potential.


Pirooz M. Kalayeh said...

J- I hear that. Happy it's coming. When I sat wiith it on the floor in Boulder. I knew it was money. We got those parts rocking, and then it just clicked into place effortlessly. It's shape was dictated by your magic and mastery of the form.

Decheaux and I will get together today, and bust out some illustrations.

I read the new manuscript. I have ideas for sequence. Email me and we can talk in detail. But to whet your senses, and due to my own excitement, I will say that AFTER MENG CHAIO is a great title. You have 6 pieces that begin in this fashion. You also have 7 of the surreal prose pieces. There is a corralation happening here. Especially if you start marking the language involved within the poems.

I started doing this. A new technique created just for this book. I marked each piece with the following: LINKS, FEEL, and THEME. This organizes the pieces.

Anyway, we will talk more. I also had an idea I will put out there. It might be fun and profitable to edit AFTER MENG CHIAO here on our blogs. This will allow others to witness the process of a book coming into creation. Then, when it does, there will be many, many, who will be interested in seeing the finished product.

You might also want to consider putting a CD with this book of you reading one of the pieces in all its multifarious forms (because of your play with line breaks). This accompaniment will create so much more play for those who do not see the immediacy or possibility.

It also makes the book different. Unify it with illustrations again. Maybe, even put this one out yourself, or wait until you get a reaction from WHOLE MILK.

There's nothing wrong with starting your own press. In fact, with the advent of cafepress.com, I am suprised not more people are taking advantage of this medium. You set the price. You hold ownership. You put it out in the world. Complete with T-shirts, coffee mugs, CDs, etc.

If you're interested, we could just do our own press on the site. No reason we couldn't put out THE WHOPPER STRATEGIES, or whatever else in this fashion. If there ends up being publication from the BIG BOYS, then simply click DELETE, and the listing is no more.

Mmmm. Sounds tasty, eh?

The thing is to unify on a global scale. How do we create community? Well, we put CDs, books, you name it! We create links from other websites. It is completely possible.

For those interested in such a venture, or those of you who have ideas, email me at p.kalayeh[at]att.net. We'll chat.

JP- I am only as bold as you are.

DH- I don't have TV, but I work at a production company. They do lots of programming. They are privy to the world market. Right now they are airing the Africa Channel. Also, in L.A., if I am not mistaken, there are channels representing each culture (Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese, Thai, Persian, Spanish, French, German, etc.)

At the same time, this is not my endorsement of television. Yes, the commercials are watered down like you said. The programming is so-so. America knows this though. And I believe what is actually considered taboo, (like telling it straight or having programming that makes a difference and such, comes from our ability to make money creating such things).

In SHORTSPEAK, for me there is no line between what is considered the subculture and what is the dominant mode of thought. Usually this line is drawn in my own own mind, and hampers down my ability to traverse the chasm. But, when I have the ability to acknowledge that there is no separation, then things become easy, and issues around putting myself out into the world drop away, and I am left with openness and possibility.

That is how I roll. Right now.

Anonymous said...


wish i had more time. just landed in Bangkok. got my place. starting to do the walk. The ideas sound good. I am trying not to think about the manuscript on this trip. didnt even bring it with me. That said, i am very happy you are thinking about it. you rocked whole milk. When i get back to seoul in early oct, we can really get into it. until then, when i post, realize that i am doing so from a bowling alley and the thai pop is penetrating my soul.


fuck tv. get yr ass out of the house and go and see what you want to see. by the way, my folks had the direct tv system, and there was a station (The link? world view?) cant remember the name, but got all kinds of shows from all kinds of places. Thai air is showing a japanese tallent contest right after a j-lo movie. slept through the movie


Dylan Hock said...

Money and a kid, my man. Money and a kid. For the most part, money.


Sean Mac said...

marketing and poetry. most poets don't bridge the gap though - but trust the poverty! we adapt, and some of us gotta be gettign savvy somewhere. melissa's learning. subday's learning. pobre's learning. identitfying your desires, your audience's esires, looking for intersections like smudged directions to a seedy restraunt. when i get there, yes, i order the horchata.

for small press, with limite dpeople and time, marketing often gets the axe as its the last thing anyone wants to do. so we marginalize ourselves. it happens. sweet lord whatcha callit, it happens.

B.A.Rak said...

This rant is rad-i-cal! Stop saying shiz-nit, though I laugh every time so dont stop.

Pirooz M. Kalayeh said...

The shiz nit just happened. I dig it though. Very funny.