Saturday, December 27, 2008

Video Feature 3: Christopher Arigo plus A NEW POEM

Embedded is a 5-minute video of Christopher Arigo reading from his poetry collection
In the archives. This reading (9/20/07), hosted by Steve Dickison and the San Francisco
State Poetry Center in conjunction with Omnidawn, was held at the Unitarian Church
on Franklin St in San Francisco, CA. Other readers that night were Donald Revell
(link to his video here), Bin Ramke, and Laura Moriarty (link to her video here).
(We plan to have Video Features of Bin Ramke as well as other wonderful writers
in coming weeks.)

For more information about In the archives, published by Omnidawn, click this link.

And here is a new poem from Christopher Arigo:


And the explosions forced away the hummingbirds


and the air surrounding them screamed
(did they scream or was it you)
startled by their own flight
by shrapnel by phosphorescent buzz-bombs
byproducts of terror and potential terror
the potential dormant in mating index finger to trigger
the finger’s potential when hovering
above buttons red and dead-like—dead-making


and they wait—

breathing shallow muscles tensed pupils dilated to swallow
more light more light

some freeze flooded with endorphins some flee flooded with fright some fight
and reasons come in waves of chemicals and flashes and screaming


someday the hummingbirds may return
to a hole in the earth to wait for a time more loving
please don’t leave us—
sadly most won’t miss you until you do


and the hummingbirds fly until they lose momentum until they run out of air
and the machines are patient
and the birds will wait for their malfunction
violence mates with an efficiency some call modern living
the birds occasionally twitter and vrrrip in response
the timers are set to kill


hummingbirds wish the war would end
(or is it you or me)
it is hard to hum when children die from bombs
this country is killing hummingbirds
(or did you mean children)


hummingbirds live in a world where people destroy their homes
because people want bigger homes
because children need to write poems
because I kill forests too


—pens have potential for dead-making too
—pencils are made of trees and rock
—poems are made of trees and rock
—poets should be soft stones willing to erode


the hummingbirds visit the poinciana not you
they do not bloom on their own

these hummingbirds are of the desert to which I must say goodbye
they cannot be made machines—
the hummingbirds are not helicopters—
they care nothing for airlifts or fleeing criminals
their red throats do not imitate gunshot wounds
the whirring of their wings brings air strums to your ears
the chatter of helicopters sweeping with menaced eyes upsets your ears every


listen did you hear what the birds say:
they say a nest is a refuge is a home
a nest is a place for real children unkilled
a kinder-refuge untouched by almost-adults


you hope the hummingbirds are not disturbed in their nests of plant down and
spiders’ webs

covered so perfectly with lichens as to appear part of a branch


Christopher Arigo's first poetry collection Lit interim won the 2001-2002 Transcontinental Poetry Prize (selected by David Bromige) and was published by Pavement Saw Press (2003). His second collection In the archives (2007) was published by Omnidawn Publishing. Additionally, he co-edits the literary magazine Interim with poet Claudia Keelan and is currently working on a book-length hybrid scholarly/creative nonfiction project on the intersections of ecopoetics, ethnopoetics, hunter-gatherer culture, language extinction, and anticivilization theory. He is an Assistant Professor of English at Washington State University.


Monday, December 22, 2008



check out this review by Jeffrey C. Robinson
of Lyn Hejinian's THE FATALIST at DOUBLE ROOM.


check out this review by Ron Slate of Paul Hoover's and Maxine Chernoff's translation of the Selected Poems of Friedrich Hölderlin.


check out this feature of RUSTY MORRISON and OMNIDAWN at the EAST BAY EXPRESS.


Lana Turner, A Journal of Poetry & Opinion, No 1 is now available. Edited by Calvin Bedient and David Lau. Subscriptions, $12.00. Send check to Calvin Bedient, 2309 Pearl St., Santa Monica Ca 90405.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

POETRY FEATURE 13: Christina Mengert



            each time I think of you, you cease to be
                         -Jacques Roubaud

A bird, a stone – the body

is overturned. We lay it down

and call it “bolts of cloth.” Also

“lands of unlikeness.” Like a

phonograph, it is proof

we render the natural to scale,

more than motion, an incantation

brought back to the slick wreath

of human expression. Listen:

the page shudders, yes, like a sea.

Listen: who can hear the rest           (only the rest)


Christina Mengert is author of As We Are Sung, forthcoming from Burning Deck Press, and co-editor of 12x12: Conversations in Poetry and Poetics, forthcoming from the University of Iowa Press in 2009. She teaches creative writing and literature at the University of Colorado in Boulder and through UCLA's Writers' Extension Program.


Monday, December 8, 2008



More Bay Area readings courtesy of Jordon Zorker

November 16, Canessa gallery - Brian Lucas, Valerie Witte, Brian Strang

November 18, Books & Bookshelves, Colleen Lookingbill & Joseph Noble


3 new Burning Deck titles are available from: Small Press Distribution, or Press: (after January 1, 2009)

translated from the German by A. Duncan, T. Frazer, N. Grindell, C. Hawkey & R. Waldrop
Poetry, 144 pages, offset, smyth-sewn
ISBN 978-1-886224-92-6
original paperback $14
Publication date: December 15, 2008

A magazine issue with poems by Ann Cotton, Franz Josef Czernin, Michael Donhauser, Ute Eisinger, Daniel Falb, Hendrik Jackson, Marget Kreidl, Bert Papenfuss, Steffen Popp, Monika Rinck, Farhad Showghi, Hans Thill, Raphael Urweider, Anja Utler, Ron Winkler, and Uljana Wolf.

The poets in this issue, mostly in their thirties and forties, show great formal diversity. The works range from the sound explorations of Anja Utler to the camp sonnets of Ann Cotten; from Czernin’s puns and permutations to Rinck’s and Falb’s deceptively simple parlando; from Donhauser’s grammatical disruptions to Papenfuss’s baroque lists and “sassy East tone.” But they all share a concern with form and with language as material. The poets have also all received at least one prize.

2. Série d’Ecriture #21:
Isabelle Baladine Howald
translated from the French by Eléna Rivera
Poetry, 64 pages, offset, smyth-sewn
ISBN 978-1-886224-91-9 original paperback $14
Publication date: December 15, 2008

SECRET OF BREATH is a suite for two voices — a voice from outside and a voice from inside, a voice of the living and a voice of the dying — in a race against death and toward death. Caught in a narrative frame and a landscape marked by war, snow, cold, speed, and separation, these two voices, even while facing death, embody the approach of love. The secret of breath is as much a kiss as a last sigh.

ISABELLE BALADINE HOWALD lives and works in Strasbourg, where she directs the “Philosophical and Literary Encounters” of the Librairie Kléber. Her books of poetry include LES NOMS, TRÈS BAS (A Passage, 1986) and LES ETATS DE LA DÉMOLITION (Editions Jacques Brémond, 2002). Our present volume, SECRET DES SOUFFLES, is her most recent book (éditions Melville, 2004).

ELÉNA RIVERA was born in Mexico City and spent her childhood, to the age of thirteen, in Paris. She is the author of MISTAKES, ACCIDENTS AND A WANT OF LIBERTY (Barque Press, 2006) and SUGGESTIONS AT EVERY TURN (Seeing Eye Books, 2005). Her translations have appeared in the CHICAGO REVIEW and CIRCUMFERENCE: POETRY IN TRANSLATION. She was recently awarded the 2007 Witter Bynner Poetry Translator Residency at the Santa Fe Institute for the Arts.

3. Série d’Ecriture Supplement #5
Anne Portugal
translated from the French by Rosmarie Waldrop
Poetry, 24 pages, offset, saddlestitched
ISBN 978-1-886224-95-7 chapbook $8
Publication date: December 15, 2008

As Anne Portugal has said, her poetry breaks with elevated subjects as well as with the beauty of phrases. “Poetry is is a laboratory of languages. It is first and foremost physical.” Here, she truncates words to give rise to new rhythms, puzzlement, and sheer fun.

ANNE PORTUGAL was born in Angers, in 1949. She lives and teaches in Paris. She is also the model of a famous “Poets’ Calendar.” Her most recent books of poetry are DANS LA REPRODUCTION EN DEUX PARTIES ÉGALES DES PLANTES ET DES ANIMAUX (1999) and DÉFINITIF BOB (2002). Norma Cole has translated NUDE (Kelsey St. Press, 2001).


From 32 poems:

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