Monday, August 29, 2011

Michael McClure Reading Poetry to Lions

Today's poem-performance:

Thanks to Thurston Moore for the tip on this one. It gets real good at the 2:06 mark.

Let's meet our poet-pundits:

Ben Estes is the author of The Strings of Walnetto Arrangements, forthcoming from Flowers & Cream. He is the co-editor of The Song Cave and lives in Northampton, Mass.

Ben Kopel currently lives in the Bywater neighborhood of New Orleans, La. He teaches creative writing and English literature to high school students. He is the author of the chapbook Because We Must (Brave Men Press). His full-length collection Victory is due out from H_NGM_N Books in spring 2012.

Ready, set, crossfire!

Ben Estes: This makes my fanny beat.

Ben Kopel: 1. Personally, this makes my beat beatific.
2. Allen Ginsberg wrote about H-O-W-L-S, not R-O-A-R-S!
3. a.k.a. DANIEL 6:22 – The Motion Picture.
4. Hell, Mike, you had me at …and the vampire neon codes.

NOTE: No hurt was done during the making of this movie.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ragged Old Flag, by Johnny Cash

Today’s poem-performance:

In our last show, we witnessed the poet Jewel recite a poem proudly before us while wearing a tattered American flag across her ample bosom. Today, the late, great Man in Black does the same while flying a tattered stars n' bars inside his heart. Please remove your hats and stand silently at attention. Thank you.

Our poet pundits:

Matt Mauch is the author of Prayer Book (Lowbrow Press), He teaches writing and literature in the AFA program at Normandale Community College. He lives in Minneapolis.

Chris Martin is the author of American Music (Copper Canyon) and Becoming Weather (Coffee House Press). He lives in Iowa City.

Ready, set, crossfire!

Matt Mauch: Inside this Johnny Cash is, matroyshka-like, a smaller Johnny Cash. The smaller one is flipping the bird, which makes this Johnny within a Johnny both matroyshka-like and Metamorphosis-like.

Were this turned into a Schoolhouse Rock animated short, we might see an uptick in the "general historical knowledge" that all the scorers of the tests that test for that say is in decline.

Like Johnny, more people should say "yella" when they mean the color of dandelions and the sun, since "yellow," everybody knows, is what you say when you answer the phone.

Chris Martin: All my meat-flag life I've desired it. Each flag that carries the fly from fruit to shit. I've flagged at the very moment of ecstasy, just so my head wouldn't hit the ceiling. Scott Joplin was known as the King of Ragtime and now Elvis and Michael are dead, too. But I've heard "Bethena" played as slow as a drunken flag waves. I'll never know if it waved goodbye or hello.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Love Poem, by Jewel

Today's poem-performance:

Let's meet our pundits:

Sun Yung Shin is the author of Skirt Full of Black (Coffee House Press), which received the Asian American Literary Award for Poetry in 2008. She is the co-editor of Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption (South End Press) and the author of bilingual Korean/English illustrated book for children Cooper’s Lesson (Children's Book Press).

Juliet Patterson is the author of The Truant Lover (Nightboat Books), which was selected by Jean Valentine as the 2004 winner of the Nightboat Poetry Prize and was a finalist for a 2007 Lambda Literary Award. She lives in Minneapolis.

Ready, set, crossfire!

Juliet Patterson: First off, while I'm generally a fan of metaphoric thinking, it's hard to think clearly about metaphor especially if it leads to equations such as you = wild horse, you = wings in the foothills of Montana and me = your hungry valley.

What kind of love are we talking about here?

Sun Yung Shin: I think I need to watch it again, I just kept thinking, "Jewel is HOT."

Sun Yung Shin: I just watched it again. I like how she pronounces her short "e"s like short "i"s as in "bend" sounds like "bind." I also like how she says "orchard" like "oh-r-chahd." I use the Def Poetry series in the classroom and I'm always surprised by my students' various reactions. I did enjoy Jewel's use of alliteration and her perfect enunciation. I liked the image of "calico children." The whole thing was lyrical, I guess I'll say that for it. Who am I to judge cowgirl poetry?

Juliet Patterson: And how about that "o" in Pooo-ems"?

Certainly, I'll allow for her perfect enunciation and Jewel's shy-sexy (is shy really sexy?) performance and this IS Def poetry afterall, where performance may indeed trump the mechanics of ANY POO-OEM, but I can't find the same sort of neutral (if not complementary) position you're taking here, Sun Yung: sorry.

I just can't get past those bulging metaphors, y'all, "my lover in the ocean of the worlds."

Please bring back the guitar and leave the American Flag to future burnings, Jasper Johns or uniforms.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Poetry Crossfire! News Bulletin

Did you know that Poetry Crossfire! is on Facebook? That's right. We hope you'll like us. We'll keep you up to date with all the action on Poetry Crossfire! right inside your News Feed. And we'll post "Happy Birthday!!!! Have a great one!!! Many more!!!" on your Wall each year on your birthday.

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Anne Waldman, Uh Oh Plutonium

Today's poem-performance:

Let's meet our pundits:

Brandon Downing is the author of Dark BrandonDark Brandon: Eternal Classics, The Shirt Weapon, and Lake Antiquity. He lives in New York. His website is

Dorothea Lasky is the author of AWEBlack Life, and the forthcoming Thurderbird, all from Wave Books. She lives in NYC and can be found online at

Ready, set, crossfire!

Brandon Downing: "I adore how, amid asymmetrics & era robotics,
The poet still managed to pull off a scarf;
Wove it into the alertness jumpsuit rather well."

Dorothea Lasky: "What gentle wind has fallen on the wings of my beloved?"
"Oh no, it is the wings of the three strange, glowing angels. Admit them. Admit them."

Thursday, August 18, 2011

From "Trilce," by Cesar Vallejo

Our poet-pundits:

Bryan Thao Worra is the author of four books, most recently Barrow. He is the first Laotian American to receive a Fellowship in Literature from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Lorena Duarte is a spoken word artist and performance poet born in El Salvador, raised in Minnesota and educated at Harvard University, and currently living in South Africa. She performs regularly with Palabristas, Latin@ Wordslingers, a Minnesota based Latino poetry collective.

Today's poem:

From "Trilce"
by Cesar Vallejo, trans. by Clayton Eshleman


Tomorrow that other day, some-
time I might bind for the saltatory power,
eternal entrance.

Tomorrow someday,
it would be the shop plated
with a pair of pericardia, paired
carnivores in rut.

Could very well take root all this.
But one tomorrow without tomorrow,
between the rings of which we become widowers,
a margin of mirror there will be
where I run through my own front
until the echo is lost
and I'm left with my front toward my back.

The crossfire:

Bryan Thao Worra: Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow in three verses today, eating moments with echo and widows. Some ink splashed on the paper hem of Truth, dancing sassily with the 25th hour whose face we can’t see.

Lorena Duarte: That I might leap, indeed, but I've no use for fancy words.
Prefer the starfish. No-front, no-back.
Just stomach, inside out and devouring.
On the sea – shitting – mouthing more useful than poet.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tunafish Sandwich Piece, by Yoko Ono

Poetry Crossfire! attempted, and failed, to secure Charlie the Tuna as a guest for this segment. We received only a curt, two-word note from the StarKist Corporation: "Sorry, Charlie." Happily, the team at Rain Taxi Review of Books was on call, and responded immediately to our urgent page.

The pundits:

Kelly Everding is the author of the chapbook Strappado for the Devil (Etherdome Press). She is the art director and business manager for Rain Taxi Review of Books.

Eric Lorberer is the editor of Rain Taxi Review of Books and the director of the Twin Cities Book Festival. He's served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts and speaks at conferences and literary festivals around the country as an advocate for independent publishing and literary culture.

The poem:

Tunafish Sandwich Piece (from Grapefruits, 1970 ed.)
by Yoko Ono

Imagine one thousand suns in the
sky at the same time.
Let them shine for one hour.
Then, let them gradually melt
into the sky.
Make one tunafish sandwich and eat.

The crossfire:

Kelly Everding: I am not partial to tunafish sandwiches, but I am partial to apocalyptic scenarios. One thousand suns in a finite space obliterates self, everything, including tunafish sandwiches. Makes me hungry.

Eric Lorberer: Holy acid refluxus! This is good advice, even if it's in a poem. Word to the wise, however: you'll need a critical can opener.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Ultimate Poem Is Abstract, by Wallace Stevens

Our guests:

Heather Christle is the author of The Difficult Farm and The Trees The Trees, both published by Octopus Books. She lives in Northampton, MA.

Michelle Taransky is the author of Barn Burned, Then, which Marjorie Welish selected for the 2008 Omnidawn Poetry Prize. She lives in Philadelphia where she teaches at the University of Pennsylvania.

The poem:

The Ultimate Poem Is Abstract
by Wallace Stevens

This day writhes with what? The lecturer
On This Beautiful World Of Ours composes himself
And hems the planet rose and haws it ripe,

And red, and right. The particular question—here
The particular answer to the particular question
Is not in point—the question is in point.

If the day writhes, it is not with revelations.
One goes on asking questions. That, then, is one
Of the categories. So said, this placed space

Is changed. It is not so blue as we thought. To be blue,
there must be no questions. It is an intellect
Of windings round and dodges to and fro,

Writhings in wrong obliques and distances,
Not an intellect in which we are fleet: present
Everywhere in space at once, cloud-pole

Of communication. It would be enough
If we were ever, just once, at the middle, fixed
In This Beautiful World Of Ours and not as now,

Helplessly at the edge, enough to be
Complete, because at the middle, if only in sense,
And in that enormous sense, merely enjoy.

The crossfire:

Heather Christle: Surrounded by such reason one cannot help
but imagine that the middle is at last at hand
and that whichever edges one has seen
one also has imagined. Has had. Has held.
Having in point though disappeared one is
weatherlike. One are all clouds.

Michelle Taransky: Reading this poem this particular time, for the first time I think:
It is possible that Marjorie Perloff's chapter "Pound/Stevens: Whose Era?" is a homophone for Hugh Kenner's book "The Pound Era."
It is possible that Marjorie Perloff is "The lecturer/On This Beautiful World Of Ours."

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Endless Endless Night Night, by David Huberman

Today's poem:

Our guests:

Paula Cisweski's second book, Ghost Fargo, was selected by Franz Wright for the Nightboat Poetry Prize and released in 2010. She is also the author of Upon Arrival and of three chapbooks: How Birds Work, Or Else What Asked the Flame w/Mathias Svalina, and Two Museums. A Jerome Grant recipient and Pushcart nominee, her poems appear regularly in literary magazines such as A Handsome Journal; H_NGM_N; Forklift, OH; failbetter, and Poetry City, USA .

Sarah Fox was born in the year, month, and hour of the Horse. She lives in NE Minneapolis where, with John Colburn, she co-imagines the Center for Visionary Poetics (a future & futuristic collective) and hopes only & always to liberate her imagination from the snares of neoliberal imperialism. Her book Because Why was published by Coffee House Press, and recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Spout, Conduit, Tammy, ElevenEleven, Action Yes, Boo: A Journal of Terrific Things, and Rain Taxi. She contributes to the multi-author blog Montevidayo, teaches English and Creative Writing at the University of Minnesota, and serves as a doula. Her current manuscript project, Mother Substance, seeks to document the experiences of women exposed in utero to the synthetic estrogen Diethylstilbestrol (DES), and to subsequently suggest, by association, the multiple ways the bodies of women, children and all marginalized humans, as well as animals and nature, are contaminated by corporate greed and patriarchal institutions. She performs "poetry rituals" and other acts of intersubjective communion in public and private spaces whenever she can.

Ready, set, crossfire!

Paula Cisewski: At first I felt Huberman yelling at me. I was resistant. Then I focused on his hat's pin like a pendulum, and later on his pendulum fists. His pendulum fists! I know now Huberman yells through me. It's always been so. Vive le France!

Sarah Fox: My great-grandmother was a little called Pauline, but I don't know about a Little Sarah, or More Light! More Light! in this endless endless night night. Who's the host of "Poetry 88," he's like a world-is-too-much-with-him "Magnum P.I." (which Italians pronounce "manyum pie"), like he's so in-TENSE, don't you think? If I were a Jungian, I might say he's very "Tom Selleck Shadow Anima." John Colburn (below) made the claim that D's "doing all this at work," that is: dredging the web for obscure/occult-ish videos (etc) and really really this video is pretty fucking fucking amazing amazing! A little apple apple on his hat hat, a hanging dangling kinky appleness kinda "David Hubermeister" lovesexylovesexy but, "more than, to me [i.e. Manyum Manyum Pie Pie], about homosexuality or het-hero-sexuality… there is no one on the scene who writes quite like this Hollerman…I wish I could say something a little bit more interesting but…Mister David Hover-me." David √úberman's RimbaudRainbow Poetry King Poetry King, "cuz in the night anything can happen and in the morning that's when you find the bodies." Don't we don't we know it know it! evoke the demon spirit!! sperm sperm night porn night porn icky icky help help help. Help! I'm in the outerwebs going on 1 month & can't google David Hooverman or Madman Sigh, or the obscurish Adam Fell, Zach Savich, & Mark Leidner. Well, I could've, but I watched this video from my car in the (serial killer serial killer) parking lot of a gas station with wireless! gas station with wireless! where I recorded Endless Endless Night Night on GarageFeces! GarageFeces! and now, I get that the video's the thing, the thing the thing the thing the thing, which I've only watched once once, because the sun sun was blazing blazing through my windows windows on little little me-me, sweating sweating sweating sweating! I spent part one of this endless endless month month at an "artist retreat" in Red Wing, MN (Vive la France, Vive la France!), where I met Tom-Tom Virgin (Virgin Virgin) from Miami Miami who's making a book book of glass glass, and Tom Virgin told a story story about a "Sincere [sincere] Poet [poet]" named Zach Zach Schomberg Schomberg. I don't know what that means, "Sincere Pope"—perhaps it turned up in our dark basement dark basement during my webless webless retreat reheat repeat—or how ZaxZax sin-sin-sin-cerity goes down in Miami Miami one thousand Miamis, maybe it's a forebear to the Lazy LAZY Compartment Poet. I experience David Huberbro as neither a "Sincere Killer" nor lazy—lazy people can't yell through Paulines, or through anyone else. Furthermore this is the first time I've ever seen A Little Called Paula YellYellYell. But Flavor Flaveman appears appears sincere sincere, if not too too (choo-choo cukoo) sincere to really really be a poet poet king king. His hat—if I recall—is like an embellished, but possibly leather (S&M! S&M!), fishing cap, very "Gilligan meets Richard Brautigan," and might belong to a descriptive category coined by my daughter when she lived in Williamsburg (you FUCKING FUCKING BROOKLYN BROOKLYN) known as "the 'Ironic Ironic Mustache.'" I don't recall David Hubiquitous having a mustache, but Magpie certainly did, didn't he? Is David Hubrismen a serial serial killer killer (Ted Bundy Ted Bundy's sea of fatal sperm sperm) (I'm in Wisconsin nownow, all ¡Vive Wisconsin! ¡Vive Le Part-tay!) or is he part of a microgenre we might classify as Crazy Banishment (demons demons demons demons) Gnosisetry? Don't hurt her Don't hurt her, Dave David Daver-man man MAN, are my finalsexy finalsexy word-words: endless endless endless endless blood blood blood blood don't dont don't don't Don't.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Allen Ginsberg Beat Poet Figurine

At issue:

Today on Poetry Crossfire! we examine the sheer existence of the "Allen Ginsberg Doll + CD Set," officially approved by the Allen Ginsburg Estate and yours today for a mere 4,500 yen. Comes with fabric cloth jacket and interchangeable accessories including glasses, a book, Uncle Sam hat (the Japanese website calls it an "Uncle Tom hat"--whoopsie daisy!), and a beaded necklace.

Our panel:

Travis Nichols is an editor at the Poetry Foundation and a columnist for the Huffington Post. He is the author of two collections of poetry: Iowa (Letter Machine Editions) and See Me Improving (Copper Canyon Press) -- and the novel Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder (Coffee House Press).

Monica Fambrough is the author of a chapbook Black Beauty (Katalanche Press). Her poems have appeared in H_NGM_N, Open City, Glitterpony, jubilat, and the anthologies Poets on Painters and Poems about Horses. She lives in Chicago.


Travis Nichols:  This is what family, alumni, and co-workers hope for when they hear you're a poet. Toy poet, not homo deadbeat monster pacifist wheezing in your ear about bindlestiffs & sexy boys. If you're so smart, why ain't you rich, art boy?

Monica Fambrough: This is something your parents would get you from the mall for a stocking stuffer, except, hmm it costs 4500 yen. How much is that?

I actually think this is probably something Allen would be into, because it is so weird and precious. Toys have a sort of sweetness to them. Also, it is dependent on his fame, which I understand was actually important to him. And it has a self-mocking element. It would have been sort of cool if it was made in the sixties. But now there is so much remove that it feels safe and he seems safe, like Travis said, Toy Poet like Toy Poodle. I prefer the full sized poodles.

Also, this is something we have in the back of one of our closets:

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Haiku, by Basho

Tonight, on Poetry Crossfire!, we ask the poetry punditocracy to contemplate a haiku written during the wanderings of a mysterious Edo Period poet. If we're still reading verse written by a drifter, does that mean America has lost it's competitive edge in the global economy?

Our guests:

Joshua Beckman is the author of seven books, most recently Take It (Wave Books). He is an editor at Wave Books and lives in Seattle and New York.

Steve Healey is the author of 10 Mississippi and Earthling, both on Coffee House Press. He lives in Minneapolis.

The poem:

by Basho

Across the road
from a field of sunflowers:
a sunflower.

Ready, set, crossfire!

Joshua Beckman: First let me preface my remarks by saying that it is exactly this sort of anti-social behavior I would expect from both a poem and a flower. I am certain my colleague here finds it all very charming but if we are to keep any social…(interrupted)

Steve Healey: Well, that may be true in your dark little vampire fuckfest, but guess what? Regular folks want more heliocentrism. Have you ever really been alone with your own sunflower seed and sucked out all the salt until it falls apart in your mouth?