BREACH BIRTH Is Here!

My chapbook Breach Birth is now available from Propaganda Press. For the price of a venti soy caramel macchiato, you can get fifty-two pages of poetry that fit in your pocket. The next time someone confronts you on the street and calls you a dung-smeared Philistine who doesn’t support the arts, you can whip out your copy of Breach Birth and say, “Ha! Arts support! In your face! Eat it! Eat it! Eat all of it!” And then you can buy another copy of Breach Birth to replace the eaten one.

OK, that was stupid. But have you ever been so excited by something that your brain turns off, that all you can say is, “Huggabah. Huggabah. Hugga-bah-bah-bah-bah…” That’s kinda how I’m feeling. I’ve published a bunch of individual poems, but this is my first published collection. It has a pun for a title. It has a front cover featuring a piece of art called “Unknown Journey.” It has twenty-five poems, including a long one at the end. I hope people want to buy it, either through the publisher or through me. What more can I say? I’m excited.

World Poetry Day

Yesterday, “The United Nations…celebrated World Poetry Day, highlighting the role of bards in bearing eternal witness to the great transformations of the world and humanity’s aesthetic yearnings.” I like being called a bard.

In honor of World Poetry Day, everything that came out of everyone’s mouth around the world Monday was poetry. As of today, has every verbal utterance gone back to being prose? I have to admit, I wasn’t paying attention. I just talked and talked and saw where it got me.

Sex Is the Mother of Death

They say Sex is the Mother of Death: El Sexo es la Madre de la Muerte y otros poemas is a book by David Price. They say he wrote the poems in both English and Spanish. (I don’t fully understand why, but I say okay.) They say he was inspired by haiku and “Japanese Nobel Peace Prize-winner” Yasunari Kawabata. (Actually, Kawabata won the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1968.)

I looked up David Price. I found his blog, which includes some poems from his new book. I especially like the first one, “The Book of Laws.” I don’t know Spanish, so I can’t speak for the quality of his Spanish-language pieces. But if he’s able to preserve the artful yet accessible tone of his English poems, along with his sometimes interesting use of enjambment, then he’s probably in good shape.

So there you have it. One more book to read, or at least buy. Maybe buy it, leave it prominently displayed in your living room, and when your next date remarks on the title, move closer and croon, “Yes, but love is the favorite child of life.” Then try to harvest some smooches with the mechanical combine of your twitchy little lips.

I don’t know. It could be worth a try.

March 21

March 21 is World Poetry Day. March 21 is the fifth anniversary of the first Twitter message. A coincidence?

The New York Times thinks so, but it finds it an interesting one nonetheless. Twittering poetry used to be a joke, and many still ascribe it only to practitioners like Charlie Sheen. But many others are taking their twaiku seriously or otherwise trying to use the format to achieve noble artistic ends.

Here are four Twitter poems by big names.

Edith Sitwell: Electric-Eel Celebrity

West End Extra offers an interesting review of what looks to be an even more interesting book on eccentric English poet, critic, and provocateur Edith Sitwell, Richard Greene’s Edith Sitwell: Avant-Garde Poet, English Genius. Reviewer Gerald Isaaman criticizes Greene for not quite inserting himself inside Sitwell’s skin, but I think even an outside view of this strange, complex, somewhat notorious woman could be pretty rewarding.

Rachel Cooke, in a review for The Observer, also finds fault with Greene for not discussing Sitwell’s noteworthy appearance, a significant aspect of her fame: her striking features, sartorial outrageousness, and fondness for massive accessories. But Cooke admits that his work will probably be found “definitive,” as she asks the Powers That Be at BBC4 to transform the life of Sitwell the Spectacular into a program.

Watching and Trying to Emulate the Pros: “Spectator Sport”

I wrote “Spectator Sport” on the third floor of the main library at the University of California-Irvine, on April 8, 2009, waiting for my wife to get off work a few buildings away. The deluge of poems that had gushed out of me in early March had stopped entirely after St. Patrick’s Day, then picked back up to a trickle on April 5. But the crazy manic energy was gone. I really had to work at getting things on the page.

It was mostly a time for reflection, for reading more than writing. I realized I didn’t know who almost anyone was in the field of poetry. I didn’t even know where to start. I had never even heard of Billy Collins. I signed up to receive a Poem-a-Day as emails from the Academy of American Poets. I started looking through the archives of Poetry Daily. I picked through my boxes of graduate-school texts to uncover the sixth edition of Contemporary American Poetry. That day in the library, I think I read my first Tony Hoagland and Louise Glück, their collections found on the right and left sides of a particular aisle. But I honestly don’t remember. I pinballed all over the place.

“Spectator Sport” discusses my evolution from epic television-watcher to scattered yet obsessed poetry consumer and budding producer. I read the professionals as though they were athletes or performers, exemplars, verbal rodeo stars-cum-blacksmiths, each poet “a rope tangler who can / wrangle tropes to fit his or her will, torquing / ordinary concepts into wrought ornamental vines.” And like a kid watching Cristiano Ronaldo dribble past an opponent to score for Real Madrid, I would occasionally stop watching and try to maneuver the ball myself.

Although I had over 150 poems to choose from by this point, something about this newcomer stuck with me, so I sent it out to a few places. On August 5, “Spectator Sport” was accepted by Canadian online magazine The Writer’s Block, appearing in Number 3 (August 2009). If you’d like to check it out, go to The Writer’s Block home page and download the issue; it’s free! Alternately, wait a few weeks for Breach Birth to come out on Propaganda Press. “Spectator Sport” will be the twentieth poem in my chapbook.