Review of Nanopedia

From the Washington Independent Review and the lovely Grace Cavalieri:

The Nanopedia Quick-Reference Pocket Lexicon of Contemporary American Culture by Charles Jensen is a chapbook. By definition a chapbook is “a small pamphlet containing
tales, ballads, or tracts, sold by peddlers.” (I like that!) Or, ―A small paperback booklet, typically containing poems or fiction.‖ Apparently these are sold by publishers who are not peddlers. The chapbook has a time-honored tradition in American Letters, and we can cite first editions from such influential poets as Eliot, Stevens, Pound—in fact, most estimable poets at one time or another issue a chapbook. However, because of its length, the publication is wrongly considered less than a book. It is a type of book and I like to think back to the 18th century when even more diminutive books could be slipped into the pocket of a frock coat. Charles Jensen’s poems are political statements in prose verse. Like a new Mazerati or Lady Gaga’s shoes, the poems are always surprising, never disappointing. His poetry seems to say: If some of us are here to wake you up, then what are the rest of you here for? Jensen’s line lengths trace exactly what the poet feels about a subject, but it happens to be in a unit of measure. Jensen’s poems are acts of civil disobedience. Each is a tiny discourse commenting on society’s foibles and artifices. The musicality and poetic perspective lets the poet speak without having to write an Op Ed piece. Poets wish to be of use. And Jensen certainly is, 25 times in this small book.

My interview with Megan Volpert…

…is now live at Lambda Literary:

2011 saw the publication of several new biographies about Andy Warhol, but perhaps none with such an unusual voice as Megan Volpert’s Sonics in Warholia, from Sibling Rivalry Press. She wrote the book as a direct address to Warhol’s ghost, and took a tone with him that most people never dared to while he was alive. In this interview, Charles Jensen sits down with the author of this distinctive new book to dig into the connections between Warhol and, well, everything.

Sonics in Warholia is a fiendishly complex book, so let’s start with the wide angle establishing shot: as the title suggests, the main throughline of the book is a Hoarders-level obsession with all things Andy Warhol.  What drew you to this subject, and why with such intensity?

I prefer to write in response to things, and the main criticism of my previous books is that they are not “accessible.” So I ran in the extreme direction of Andy (we are on a first name basis), because whatever you think about Warhol, you do think something. And Andy is so invested in this very notion of accessibility—that a Coke is a good subject for a screen print because whether you’re Liz Taylor or a janitor, Coke tastes the same and costs the same for everybody. Also, I have always been interested in empty signifiers, very concerned with people and objects that appear to contain multitudes. As an undergrad, I bet myself that I could use a Rubik’s Cube as a visual aid for every presentation I gave until graduation—and I did. Andy is most certainly an empty signifier; I’m hardly the first person to write about that. I should’ve said first thing that I owe a tremendous (really, tremendous) debt to Wayne Koestenbaum.

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Here’s what I posted at this week.


We agreed early on that the web site would be an essential tool for us in expressing our brand identity, reaching out to new clients, and helping clients see our network of consultants (assuming anyone cares to join us, when we’re ready, on this crazy ride).

We have crazy web site experience among the three of us.  Our most astonishing factoid?  The three of us, along with 5 other staff members at an organization that previously employed us all, built an entirely new organizational web site from scratch (including an e-store with over 250 products!) in two weeks.  This includes the full week of training we received in navigating and using the CMS (content management system), so honestly we built everything in a single week.  And nobody worked overtime!

I took up the mantle of bringing the web site to the world.  For the past eight years, I…

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For the last ten years or so, I’ve had a recurring lower back problem that has only been prevented with consistent exercise, especially yoga, or sporadic visits to a chiropractor.  It flared up again in early December, but I was able to find a good doctor in Tucson to help me work out the kinks.  During treatment, I stopped exercising and then, what with holidays and travel and such, I wasn’t able to recommit to my routine until this week, when my schedule finally returns to “normal,” or what passes for normal for a crazy person.

I use a published weight lifting routine because I’m not confident enough to figure things out for myself.  The routines are tough, though. I do three weeks of three different exercise days.  On the fourth week, I’m permitted to do “any exercise activity that isn’t lifting weights,” which generally means cardio like running or tennis when the weather’s nice.

I’m back into the first set of exercises, which are hard because they are supposed to shore up strength for the more focused exercises to come.  But I noticed I came back from my first workout what can only be described as “giddy,” as embarrassing as that is to admit.  I’d forgotten how good it felt to exercise.  In addition to the routines, I’m also jumping rope on the days I don’t do lower body exercises.

I’m currently 10 pounds from my goal weight–under, that is.  (I have lofty ambitions!)  In the weeks I wasn’t exercising, I frustratingly lost muscle and gained some chub.  I’m hoping over the next six months I can add 10 pounds of good, healthy muscle.

I like working out partly because it gives my creative brain a chance to go hogwild.  While the logical part of my brain is focused on the activity, that other part, the imaginative part, can go off on its own.  I think about revising poems, about poems I want to write, about things I can do with stories and essays and scripts…so the time is dually important for me.  Not only do I feel healthier, I feel more connected to my artistic practice.

As of yet, I haven’t had to drop a weight and run off to find pencil and paper because inspiration struck, but I’ll tell you if that ever happens.

Coming Soon!



Randall Mann, CAConrad, Lloyd Schwartz, Edward Field, David Trinidad, Forrest Hamer, Alfred Corn, Scott Hightower, Timothy Liu, Tom Healy, Frank Bidart, Joseph Campana, Wayne Koestenbaum, Regie Cabico, Paul Lisicky, Jericho Brown, Peter Covino, Rigoberto Gonzalez, Rafael Campo, Jason Schneiderman, Michael Klein, D.A. Powell, Mark Doty, Reginald Shepherd, Douglas A. Martin, Mike Albo, Richard Blanco, Mark Bibbins, Kevin Killian, Steve Fellner, and more

writing about

Sappho, Alice in Wonderland, Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf, Martha Graham, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Frida Kahlo, Carmen Miranda, Lucille Ball, Julia Child, Edith Piaf, Eva Peron, Judy Garland, Maya Angelou, Anne Sexton, Elizabeth Taylor, Yoko Ono, Tina Turner, Martha Stewart, Wonder Woman, Barbra Streisand, Jessye Norman, Bette Midler, Dolly Parton, Cher, Patti Smith, Stevie Nicks, Meryl Streep, Oprah Winfrey, Chris Evert, Courtney Love, Bjork, Parker Posey, Mary J. Blige, Princess Leia, She-Ra, Lady Gaga, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Jerri Blank/Amy Sedaris