The New Year

First, this post owes a big debt of gratitude to Kelli Russell Agodon. A few months ago, Kelli tweeted about “the old days” when poets blogged widely and regularly. I, too, missed that spirit of community, and in the tweets that followed from others, a movement took back its shape, and many, many poets committed to returning to blogging in 2018.

So, here I am. Here we are.

My first post in this blog was published on August 31, 2004. I was going into the last semester of my MFA program. I was thinking about poetry community and where I might find it. I was thinking about my writing, and I was thinking about LGBTQ voices in poetry. I was reading widely, voraciously, and I wanted to talk about those books. I was constantly inspired.

Through blogging, I found….everything.

Now, with six chapbooks, a full length collection, and a forthcoming second collection, my writing career is a lot different, but my writing life is the same. I still crave community, to talk with poets and share ideas and discuss books. But having rested in my efforts to challenge myself the last few years (for a variety of personal reasons both publicly known and publicly unknown), I started to fall short. Reading less. Seeking community less. Hiding in my house. Working on poems–sometimes.

There’s something about this format I don’t get on social media, and I miss that thing. I can’t wait to read people’s deep dives into the books they’ve just read and the creative questions they’re asking themselves. I hope this blog ends up inspiring people the way blogs have been such an important resource for me.

Here is my 2018 Literary To Do List. I’m trying to get back into the habit of setting good habits.

  • read 1 book per week
  • write 1 book review per month
  • write at least 1 blog post per week
  • submit to 2 publishers per month
  • attend 1 literary event per month

Maybe it’s too small. Maybe it’s too ambitious.

But here we go.

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.

Click for more!

Here’s what I posted at Radar-Collective.com this week.

RADAR COLLECTIVE

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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One Pause Poetry

A new poetry media resource has opened up shop on the interwebs: check out One Pause Poetry.

The mission of One Pause Poetry is to “make poetry accessible to all. We are non-academic and non–market-driven. One Pause Poetry honors diversity and quality in our selection process and is dedicated to supporting Michigan poets. We select both established and emerging writers for our series and website, with the goal of breaking down categories and camps and encouraging collaboration and innovation across poetic forms, the arts, and media.”

Poets on the site contributed recordings of three poems—one of their own, one by another poet, and one poem for children, making space for a unique and accessible archive of new and classic work everyone can enjoy.

Poets who contributed to the site include Mary Jo Bang, Joel Brouwer, Bryan Borland, Alfred Corn, Victoria Chang, Oliver de la Paz, Kathy Fagan, Sarah Messer, Kevin Simmonds, and Daniel Nathan Terry.

xoxo!