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To Build A Nest of Citation?

That is, to write an academic essay. For a graduate seminar six years ago I wrote a draft of an essay after reading Thomas Heyrick’s profoundly weird late 17th C ode “The Submarine Voyage” and a doing a great deal of research on old-timey diving technology. Now, after countless revisions, rejections, revisions, crashes in motivation, and more, the essay has been published by the good ppl at Eighteenth Century Fiction. In an ideal world, it would be accompanied by this drawing by Ignacio Calero and Sean Parsons:

mechdolphinFor Heyrick’s poem is his fantasy of traveling the world’s seas as a man transformed into dolphin imaginatively projecting English power to the deepest depths of these seas, much as, I’m sure, dolphins dream of transforming into cyborgs, rising from the seas, and, I don’t know, smashing capitalism? Or–gentler–traveling the cosmos, joining the constellations whose pull is threaded through the fabric of our beings?


Bunk geophysics, Defoe’s terrible investments, King James’ plan to build a submarine fleet in the early 1600s–I went down a lot of rabbit holes before I started to build meaningful connections. And what I wanted to do, at first, was to continue to understand the imperial imagination and how poetry and poetics participated in empire in ways that seemed innocuous and fanciful. The idealism beneath that: understanding one of its many forms in a particular time, we can guard against it as time bends backwards to touch itself as it sometimes does. Though, really, a lot of that gets clipped away in transforming a nest of thoughts into a focused journal article and this is just an essay dutifully lodged in and perhaps already lost in an infinite Borgesian library. Long 18th C scholarship doesn’t have much purchase on anti-imperial thought now. And maybe it shouldn’t! Dolphin house:

Dolphin-Lift-481492What was the point? I’ve been asking myself this in regard to this article and graduate school itself after I turned down a decent teaching job. One salvage: I was learning how to build an archive, to track down every last thing on a subject. To build something, patiently, over time. Though I’m deprofessionalizing as an academic, there are more contemporary subjects I want to do saturation jobs on. And the process taught me to value more and more those researchers that can pursue a subject for years, that can keep alive the fires of their obsessions while still not ignoring the rolling crises of hours and days. How do they do that? How will I?

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Ghost Fishing

Thanks to for featuring my review of Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology.  A major work by the editor Melissa Tuckey. I try to be honest and by turns sympathetic, challenging, and accessible. It’s kind of impossible. The long-and-short of it is that I find that Tuckey has identified some great poems in this anthology for the capitalocene/plantationocene and taken seriously the job of compiling a plurality of voices. But I left questioning the value of poems staked in romantic aesthetic and ideals in the work of eco-justice.

I started the review while unemployed in early summer 2018 after a move to a new city. The poetics of eco-justice was something I wanted to think through after getting somewhat of a foundation in grad school. Unemployed, I had time. I finished it mid summer just as I was picking up a few news jobs, one of which turned my attention to class and labor. To bring these two worlds together, I’m working on an essay on garbage strikes. But I’m also aware that the eco-social world is changing by leaps and bounds and that my own archive of thinkers on this subject needs to deepen. Feedback on this review is most welcome.


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reading notes: but he did not know where out was


i’ve been down lately. flat as a floor. i hate moving and not having any money. one small joy was my friend carra giving me this treasure, which she said a lot of the ppl she knew in Berkeley carried around in the 90s. as i move from ithaca, which is where mitchell lived–a commune called lavender hill. short parables and wisdom book in language of pleasure and revolutionary care. & reminded again, to let go more of those habits that make me a man in the eyes of the worst ppl.

“To make his dreams real he lives quietly through his reactionary emotions. He experiences desires to control his environment and he experiences jealousy when his pleasures are threatened and he experiences possessiveness of property. He accepts these emotions much as he accepts depression and the men’s brutality. They have to be acknowledged and gotten through.”

“The men who hate others were false and death-inflicting and obsessed with being strangers.”

“It is categories in the mind and guns in their hands which keep us enslaved”

I melted at the short piece Tourmaline begins the preface w/:

“Heavenly Blue worried all the time. He worried about the bills and the roof that needed repairing and the strange men who always watched the house and what the neighbors might do next and about Hollyhock’s unhappiness. He worried most of all that he would go mad. His worrying got the bills paid and the roof fixed and drove the men away and calmed the neighbors down and helped Hollyhock be happier. and finally his worrying drove him mad. It was the madness of looking inward and being afraid. There had never been enough love and warmth around him and he thought he had gradually dried up inside. He wanted out but he did not know where out was.

Lilac and Pinetree and Moonbeam and Loose Tomato and Hollyhock gathered. They held Heavenly Blue in their arms for days, they let him cry and stare and slobber and scream and be silent. They paid the bills and looked after the roof and watched the street for strange men and talked to the neighbors and Hollyhock kept himself happy. Their house filled up with comfort and routine and gladness until Heavenly Blue could no longer resist and became response-able again” (80)

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new words

Allison Cardon has a tremendous essay on Anne Boyer in the new Tripwire.

Maria Garcia Teutsch included a few of my poems in her final issue of Homestead Review. This isn’t the first time MGT has published my work. It’s good to be known, better for me, lately, to be remembered. Firsts and lasts: Mark Lamoureux was in this final issue. A fun little issue of Lamoureux’s Cygist Press was my first meaningful publication. In my first browse through, I was struck by poems from Joanna Penn Cooper, Dylan Krieger, Joanna Fuhrman,  Alich Rosenthal, and adrian nichols.

My poems are from a cluster I wrote alongside a big academic project, following the research and autoethnography in my last book, Someone’s Utopia. Working to get the MS done this summer. It will have some sort of center in the city of Buffalo, I think.

Lines from my poems:


…You are preparation

getting away with it, cutting

banks, trespassing, giving


all you were hired to sell

“Lv Poem”: “There are small flowers sprouting / from the moss in my tendons and they are turning / their heads to you. You are buying vegan mayonnaise / and doing jumping jacks. I am so bent out of shape / I am missing those jumping jacks and Buffalo”

“2029 Buffalo Alt Ending 3”: “Harper Bishop became mayor, threw up / shots with stoned teens and undid  / the whole executive branch/spectacular decider thing.”


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some thoughts on poetry from someone in 1965 imagining what poetry would be on a post-apocalyptic planet at the end of war whose enemy was imaginary but whose casualties were real

I’ve been falling asleep to Delaney for about six months. Hoping it will irrigate my dreams. And also looking for poetics in unexpected places. Like out of the mouths of characters in a science fiction novel. These are some of my favorite poems, I think. The ones that move characters but whose actual words remain submerged. Anyway, here are some thoughts on poetry from someone in 1965 imagining what poetry would be on a post-apocalyptic planet at the end of war whose enemy was imaginary but whose casualties were real: “A poet is wounded into speech, and he examines these wounds meticulously, to discover how to heal them. The bad poet harangues at the pain and yowls at the weapons that lacerate him; the great poet explores the inflamed lips of ruined flesh with ice-covered fingers, glittering and precise; but ultimately their poem is the echoing, dual voice reporting the damage” – Vol Nonik, City of a Thousand Suns (1965) // “They were very lucid, very clear—and put wild and dispersed matter into a verberating order that came very close to me” (126-7). Clea on Vol’s poems.  //  Kocik, Robert: “When words mean only what they say, we die” (293) Supple Science (2013).  // This was Delaney at 22 // Need some new statements of poetics, I think. And to return to those that matter to me as I mend another book. Not the poem but propositions about how poems might unfold. What’s new?

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Reading in Denver / Death Horse 13

I’m performing in Denver this Saturday w/some rad folks at Death Horse 13.

Death Horse 13.

Here’s some details:

The Time: Saturday, 5/18/19, 6-8 p.m.

The Place: Bar Max, 2412 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80206

Kate Colby is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently The Arrangements (Four Way Books, 2018). Dream of the Trenches, a book of critical poem-essays, is just out with Noemi Press. Fruitlands won the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America in 2007. She has also received awards and fellowships from the Rhode Island State Council for the Arts, the Dodd Research Center at University of Connecticut, and Harvard’s Woodberry Poetry Room, where she was the 2017-2018 Creative Fellow. Her work has been featured at the Beauport Sleeper-McCann, deCordova, Isabella Stewart Gardner and RISD museums, and her poems and essays have recently appeared in A Public Space, The Awl, Bennington Review, Boston Review, Columbia Poetry Review, PEN America, Verse and the DIA Readings in Contemporary Poetry Anthology. She was a founding board member of the Gloucester Writers Center in Massachusetts, where she now serves on the advisory board. Colby was born in Boston, grew up in Massachusetts and currently lives in Providence, where she teaches poetry at Brown University.

Joe Hall is a writer, teacher, and researcher in Buffalo and Ithaca, New York. Joe has authored three collections of poetry: Someone’s Utopia, The Devotional Poems, and Pigafetta Is My Wife (Black Ocean 2013 & 2010). With Chad Hardy, he co-authored The Container Store Vols I & II (SpringGun 2012). With Cheryl Quimba, he co-authored May I Softly Walk (Poetry Crush 2014). With Ryan Kaveh Sheldon and Angela Veronica Wong, he participates in Hostile Books, a publishing collective dedicated to radical materiality. His poems have been translated into Dutch and he has done readings at universities, bars, squats and rivers in most of the 50 states as well as Canada and Washington, DC. Hall has taught community based creative writing workshops through the Worker Center in Buffalo and Just Buffalo Literary Center. Joyous Shrub 666, a 3 piece surf punk outfit, tolerates his bass playing.

Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint is the author of the lyric novel The End of Peril, the End of Enmity, the End of Strife, a Haven (Noem Press, 2018) and the family history project Zat Lun, which won the 2018 Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize and is forthcoming from Graywolf Press in 2021. She is completing a Ph.D. in creative writing at the University of Denver and will be teaching at Amherst College in the fall as a visiting writer.

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Woman Sitting at the Machine, Thinking

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Couldn’t lv this book more. // “a typesetter changes man to person / will they catch her” (17) // “she thinks about everything at once without making a mistake” / yes! / “the layers, fossils. the idea that this machine she controls / is simply layers of human workhours frozen in steel, tangled / in tiny circuits, blinking out through lights like hot, red eyes.” // “All my life, the urgency to speak, the pull toward silence.” CA Conrad says they fled the factory to save themselves then after years of writing found the factory on their desk. Brodine’s poetics shows how to do more than describe work, she engages it, subverts it sometimes –by imagining bosses are elephants, changing the words it’s her job to typeset, imagining fish in darkness glowing their own light. By centering relationships and solidarities. The poems travel, interrupt themselves w/the coordinated scripts of a job: “this set of codes slips through my hands, a / loose grid of shadows with big gaps my own thoughts sneak / through.” Scribe beside the text. As I spent a long time not critically examining the university, I didn’t think much of the people behind the type, what means and social relations of production a mass-market book requires, what oppressions and resistances. Brodine imagining pounding on the pebbled glass of a supervisor’s window. He could I not love this book for writing printing work w/integrity, having worked at an industrial printing press, having printers on both sides of the family. I’ve seen the title poem get pulled into a couple of anthologies as a great piece of labor poetry but that long sequence is ideally read in full and the threads followed through the rest of the book which moves to the other overlapping spheres of Brodine’s life, her activism, family, gender, sexuality, illness. I struggle with labor poetry when it atomizes people into workers as workplaces do. It reduces their identities; it’s gotta be Labor+ poetry. WSatMT giving space to the wide sweep of Brodine’s thoughts and vibrancy of other quarters of her life. It never feels as if Brodine searches for her subjects, is what’s happening to her, her days—a thermos of coffee, helping clean out her grandmother’s home, getting pulled over w/friends by cops, having a breast removed to stop the spread of cancer. A whole life. // “Survival is a repetitive process.”

Introductions and prefaces usually make me want to puke. This is an exception. From Meridel Le Sueur’s compact, raw intro: “As a poet wounded in my time…driven down into the pits.” Le Sueur does seem like one of those great feminist-labor writers overshadowed when the wave of leftist writing broke in the 40s.

Also read the excellent microchips for millions by Janice Lobo Sapigao and Excess—The Factory by Leslie Kaplan (and in one of those strange twists that almost never happens in the diffuse world of poetry readership and my own hermitship, talked to Laura Marris about her reading and review of Excess–the Factory). Together, these books make me wonder what we could call labor poetry now; who is saying what about feminist, queer, & anti-racist labor poetry; its possibilities and pitfalls in this moment. Some research questions.