Tuesday, April 30, 2013

tu(n)esday! by melissa presti

Melissa Presti offers up some tunes she's been feeling lately...

Frank Turner's fifth studio album Tape Deck Heart came out last week, and I'm madly addicted to "Oh Brother" already! Frank writes with such sincerity and wit, and if he writes a song about you, I think you win at life.

Enter the Canadians! "Full Circle" from Half Moon Run might actually break my iPod if I keep hitting replay...they've joined the same record label as Phoenix and Mumford sooo just play this track RIGHT. NOW. Multiple times.

The Great Gatsby movie might totally flop, but Lana Del Rey's new "Young & Beautiful" off the soundtrack sold me in previews.

The Boom Circuits "Everything and Nothing" is yet another underrated talent delivered to me by way of Chop Shop Records under the music supervision of Alexandra Patsavas. I will listen to anything they tell me to. Even if it's on all the Twilight soundtracks they curated.

Jakwob "Fade" featuring Maiday is a pretty sick collaboration I stumbled upon on BBC Radio 1 (much like half the music I own).

Knife Party describes themselves as seizure music/death electro/derpstep (I describe knife party as a form of entertainment in my 'hood) and "Bonfire" is kinda like Skrillex' "Bangarang" minus your childhood hero Rufio's catchphrase.

Currently, I think Macklemore is the coolest, most interesting rapper making some badass music videos. It becomes more than a song, it becomes an art piece, and "Can't Hold Us" with Ryan Lewis (feat. Ray Dalton) is the latest epic creation.

Monday, April 29, 2013

anne spencer

One of my favorite moments from last year was visiting the Anne Spencer house and garden in my hometown of Lynchburg, Virginia.

Spencer was a prominent lyric poet of the Harlem Renaissance and the New Black Movement, and the first black writer to have poetry included in the Norton Anthology of American Poetry.  Visited and befriended by many notables, she lived in the house on Pierce Street in Lynchburg until her death in 1975.

Deemed a Virginia Historical Landmark in 1976, the tours of her house, preserved with Spencer's things, and the gorgeous garden and little retreat room (where Anne did much of her writing and revising - her poems and ideas are found in little spots - on walls and scrap paper throughout) are now run by the gracious and warm Shaun Spencer-Hester.

Here are some of Anne Spencer's poems...

Lines to a Nasturtium (A Lover Muses)

Flame-flower, Day-torch, Mauna Loa,
I saw a daring bee, today, pause, and soar,
Into your flaming heart;
Then did I hear crisp, crinkled laughter
As the furies after tore him apart?
A bird, next, small and humming,
Looked into your startled depths and fled. . . .
Surely, some dread sight, and dafter
Than human eyes as mine can see,
Set the stricken air waves drumming
In his flight.

Day-torch, Flame-flower, cool-hot Beauty,
I cannot see, I cannot hear your flutey;
Voice lure your loving swain,
But I know one other to whom you are in beauty
Born in vain:
Hair like the setting sun,
Her eyes a rising star,
Motions gracious as reeds by Babylon, bar
All your competing;
Hands like, how like, brown lilies sweet,
Cloth of gold were fair enough to touch her feet. .
Ah, how the sense reels at my repeating,
As once in her fire-lit heart I felt the furies
Beating, beating.


The Wife-Woman

Maker-of-Sevens in the scheme of things
From earth to star;
Thy cycle holds whatever is fate, and
Over the border the bar.
Though rank and fierce the mariner
Sailing the seven seas,
He prays as he holds his glass to his eyes,
Coaxing the Pleiades.

I cannot love them; and I feel your glad,
Chiding from the grave,
That my all was only worth at all, what
Joy to you it gave,
These seven links the Law compelled
For the human chain--
I cannot love them; and you, oh,
Seven-fold months in Flanders slain!

A jungle there, a cave here, bred six
And a million years.
Sure and strong, mate for mate, such
Love as culture fears;
I gave you clear the oil and wine;
You saved me your hob and hearth--
See how even life may be ere the
Sickle comes and leaves a swath.

But I can wait the seven of moons,
Or years I spare,
Hoarding the heart's plenty, nor spend
A drop, nor share--
So long hilt outlives a smile and a silken gown;
Then gaily reach up from my shroud,
And you, glory-clad, reach down.


For Jim, Easter Eve

If ever a garden was Gethsemane,
with old tombs set high against
the crumpled olive tree--and lichen,
this, my garden, has been to me.
For such as I none other is so sweet:
Lacking old tombs, here stands my grief,
and certainly its ancient tree.

Peace is here and in every season
a quiet beauty.
The sky falling about me
evenly to the compass . . .

What is sorrow but tenderness now
in this earth-close frame of land and sky
falling constantly into horizons
of east and west, north and south;
what is pain but happiness here
amid these green and wordless patterns,--
indefinite texture of blade and leaf:

Beauty of an old, old tree,
last comfort in Gethsemane.

-Anne Spencer

Donations for the Anne Spencer House & Garden
Tour Information

art by trey wright

Just stumbled upon this artist's work.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

a poem by david groff

I highly recommend David Groff's new collection Clay (Trio House Press). The poems are deeply moving and sometimes playful and witty, with perceptive ruminations on the pain, joy, and eroticism of the human experience.

Below is a poem from the book,"Scavenger."


Yes, like this gull
buzzing the fishing boat,
teased out to sea
too far to fly
if he could not light
on the scaly deck,
lured by guts
the world splits open,
improbably white,
taking to heart
the free debris
and worthless fish,
the castaway who
refuses no refuse,

or this vulture
eying the dying,
patroller of roads,
a hungry undertaker,
savoring stink
the others shirk,
beyond disdain,
doing a favor,
the desert shadow
unflappably there,
no predator but
the death of the party,
his claw an embrace,
his eye on the sparrow.

David Groff’s book Clay was selected by Michael Waters for the Louise Bogan Award and was just published by Trio House Press. An independent book editor, he teaches in the MFA program at the City College of New York.

photo by Alan Barnett

Saturday, April 27, 2013

a poem by dan rosenberg

Wax Bird

you have no taste
for news the house
covers you thickly
you look for lift
from here the distant
lover doesn’t offer
a head’s worth of heat
left in your shoulder
candle wax melted
to the table forms
a fat and flightless
bird watching it
your hackles rise
like tiny feathers


the t.v. hasn’t spoken
for days and you don’t
believe in channels
the world outside
her thrift of self has
left your empty form
kneeling at the closet
whispering nothing loudly
don’t think the sense
of smell can lace you
to what matters she’s
a false bone wrapped
around your sternum


from your window
you see a small bird
suck the sweat
from tiny pebbles
and spit them out
the same pebbles
worried raw
in her silver beak
over and over as if
a piece of stone
could be renewed

from The Crushing Organ (Dream Horse Press).

Dan Rosenberg’s first book, The Crushing Organ (2012), won the 2011 American Poetry Journal Book Prize. His poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in jubilat, American Letters & Commentary, and Beecher’s. A graduate student at The University of Georgia, he co-edits Transom.

Friday, April 26, 2013

a poem by brian francis

Jack in the Box Ode  

How clumsy his hands
proved to be
Carved you to delight
and terrify     Opaque
minstrel visited so
often springs rusty, face
chipped, surely once
you were your own

Hiccup in the music
          Wait on the beat
a drop.
Are you manic
in the silence? Do you
long for Geppetto?

You could be loved
to death.

"Jack in the Box Ode" originally appeared in Fledgling Rag (Issue 12).

Brian Francis is a Cave Canem fellow from New York City. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Creative Nonfiction and is currently an MFA candidate at NYU.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

a house is not a home

Happy birthday, Ella.

a poem by amy meng

To the Modernist Architect

I understand the terror of being remembered.
Beating yourself against night
and still waking human in the morning.

Desire for perfect geometry,
a razing of doubt, lifting up
the vast dream of an architect.

Force of rising line and right angle,
steel and plane and edge like baptism
—clean logic feeding itself.

But maybe the soul unfolds
like morning glories
when the world is easiest,

forgetful of its own fear.
Perhaps lateness, mistake, apology
is all we have to show.

Amy Meng is a graduate of New York University's MFA program. She has been published in various magazines, including the North Dakota Quarterly and Literary Laundry. She was a semi-finalist in the "Discovery" / Boston Review poetry contest. Currently, she serves as a poetry editor for Bodega magazine and teaches creative writing at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

blurred lines

Pharrell has it going on right now.

if it all went up in smoke

If It All Went Up in Smoke

that smoke
would remain

the forever
savage country poem's light borrowed

light of the landscape and one's footprints praise

from distance
in the close
crowd all

that is strange the sources

the wells the poem begins

neither in word
nor meaning but the small
selves haunting

us in the stones and is less

always than that help me I am
of that people the grass

blades touch

and touch in their small

distances the poem

- George Oppen (April 24, 1908 - July 7th, 1984)

art by allan innman

Loving these oil paintings by Oxford, MS artist Allan Innman.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

magic tape 32

New Magician mixtape! Get down.

tu(n)esday! (the coachella remix) by libby hostetler

Well, I have the sniffles and a super sore throat which means I'm in the post-Coachella recuperation phase!  God, what a weekend.  And what a sandstorm that was Sunday night, huh?  Some random disappointments (see: The Stone Roses, Rodriguez and Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and some amazing surprises (i.e., R. Kelly coming out to sing "Ignition" with Phoenix!??!).  So here's my follow up to what I heard and saw on who was amazing.

Jessie Ware

Her set alone was amazing but when she came out to do her remix of Running with Disclosure?  Forget it.  I nearly blacked out and lost my damn mind.

Wu-Tang Clan

Anticipation was building all weekend for them and when they started at the height of the sandstorm Sunday night, nobody was thinking about the sand and dirt stuck in every crevice of their bodies.


This Harlem Shaker had the entire Sahara tent going apeshit and man, was he hyped up!  He just did NOT stop moving and the crowd reciprocated his hyper behavior.

The Postal Service

Easily one of the biggest crowds all weekend and they delivered.  Surprisingly great set and it was awesome to see Ben Gibbard and Jenny Lewis dance around the main stage together.

Vampire Weekend

There was this group of bros to my right that had a specific dance for each and every established song.  It was hilarious to watch and overall, the crowd was loving VW.

Jake Bugg

I still can't believe he's barely 19.  It's just not RIGHT.  He sounds at least 20 years older than that and his lyrics are so unbelievably wise beyond his age.

Local Natives

They played at sunset and their dreamy tunes fit in perfectly with the setting.  Absolutely gorgeous.

That's all for now!  Back to blowing my nose and trying to remember everything that happened!

-Libby Hostetler

a poem by b.j. best

I recently enjoyed B.J. Best's collection of retro video game-inspired poems But Our Princess Is in Another Castle.  Here's one of my favorites from the book.


Sometimes, in the closet of 3 a.m., I imagine the journey we didn’t take. The go-kart track in Fargo where we slammed around corners as easily as swinging a stopwatch on its lanyard. The clouds slinking like submarines through the ocean of an Oklahoma sky. Otters in the Snake River. The girl in the sporting goods store in Cranbrook, British Columbia—purple dress, pink hair, a skull-and-crossbones tattoo on her ankle—standing between us and the fishing poles, saying, “It’s all in the wrist, boys, it’s all in the wrist.”

Then I get out of bed, stand on the deck, look at the stars. The bullfrogs glunk their love songs to the moon. The grass blades gather beads for their morning tiaras of dew. Even the highway is done with driving for now.

I go back to bed, try dipping my toes in the river of sleep. I can almost picture the sunset over the Platte River we didn’t see, ripe as a nectarine, or hear water churning like an engine in a ravine below while I straddle a fallen log.

Some things are too dangerous to cross.

B.J. Best is the author of the new collection But Our Princess Is in Another Castle (Rose Metal Press) and two previous books of poetry: Birds of Wisconsin (New Rivers Press) and State Sonnets (sunnyoutside). He is also the author of three chapbooks from Centennial Press, most recently the prose poem collection Drag: Twenty Short Poems about Smoking. He teaches at Carroll University and lives in the Wisconsin countryside with one wife, one son, three cats, and nine video game systems. He asserts he is the only person in the history of the world to have beaten Super Mario Bros.—with an actual Nintendo and television—on a pontoon boat. Visit B.J.’s website.

Monday, April 22, 2013

i don't get cute, i get drop dead gorgeous.

This is enhancing my day.

a poem by christina cook

For Threads of Saffron

That the rain soaked my espadrilles
and plastered my thin Indian blouse
to your skin. I remember
watching smoke from your Camels twist

until it became fog
and the horses knelt down in prayer.
Silence scissored our words to spareness,
and inside the things
we did not tell each other,
rosewood beads were traded for threads
of saffron, sips of water offered
from cool cupped hands.

Why the heat ladled out of our mouths
made the V that egrets leave along the surface
of water when wading their way
through reeds: in the wake
of a few forsaken words,
the whole marsh had hushed        
and even the mirage-thin birds were aware
that only these words would remain.

Christina Cook is the author of Lake Effect (Finishing Line Press, 2012). Her most recent work has appeared in New Ohio Review, Crab Orchard Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and Cimarron Review. She is a contributing editor for Cerise Press and an assistant editor of Inertia Magazine, and works as the senior writer for the president of Dartmouth College.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

vivaldi recomposed

Loving these Max Richter "recomposed" versions of Vivaldi.

making peace

Making Peace

A voice from the dark called out,
"The poets must give us
imagination of peace, to oust the intense, familiar
imagination of disaster. Peace, not only
the absence of war."

But peace, like a poem,
is not there ahead of itself,
can't be imagined before it is made,
can't be known except
in the words of its making,
grammar of justice,
syntax of mutual aid.

A feeling towards it,
dimly sensing a rhythm, is all we have
until we begin to utter its metaphors,
learning them as we speak.

A line of peace might appear
if we restructured the sentence our lives are making,
revoked its reaffirmation of profit and power,
questioned our needs, allowed
long pauses. . . .

A cadence of peace might balance its weight
on that different fulcrum; peace, a presence,
an energy field more intense than war,
might pulse then,
stanza by stanza into the world,
each act of living
one of its words, each word
a vibration of light--facets
of the forming crystal.

-Denise Levertov

Saturday, April 20, 2013

spring song

Spring Song

Having died
one is at great advantage
over his fellows--
one can pretend.

And so,
the smell of earth
being upon you too--
I pretend

there is something
temptingly foreign
some subtle difference,
one last amour

to be divided for
our death-necklaces, when
I would merely lie
hand in hand in the dirt with you.

-William Carlos Williams

Friday, April 19, 2013


"As I tore open the wrapping paper of my gift from my aunt and uncle (who lived in a slightly bigger small town that had things like MTV and Walmart), I didn’t recognize the beguiling woman on this new, very beige CD. Who was she? Was she crying or praying? What’s that on her eyes? How do you pronounce that?"

Check out this great personal essay by Rick Herron on Bjork's Debut on the New Museum tumblr.

a poem by rio cortez

The Big Screen

breaks the dim
and hushes
us everybody
rapt & watching
the Tyson fight
my father
shadow boxing
on the sofa or

that Luther laserdisc
he is singing
along to
& my mother
looking at him
from someplace
& smiling
& knowing
something I don't
how they're down
there while I sleep
& I sleep harder
for it

Rio Cortez is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, where she received the Lucy Grealy Prize in poetry. She is currently an MFA candidate at New York University, a Cave Canem fellow, and a recipient of the 2012 Poets & Writers Amy Award. Her work has appeared in Clementine, Tuesday, Tidal Basin Review, Sugar House Review, Cratelit & most recently in Saul Williams’ Chorus. Born & raised in Salt Lake City, she now loves & lives in Queens, NY.

we're up all night to get lucky