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The Turn of the Thumbscrew June 25, 2008: The late William Talcott, editor of Thumbscrew Press, quite infrequently published a magazine called Carbuncle. The magazine was mostly devoted to poetry, along with artwork by poet Mark Neville, and the occasional interview and review. One of the most provocative pieces of prose I’ve ever read appeared in Carbuncle #3, in 1991. It was a [...] by

Poets Laureate June 23, 2008: Travis Nichols’ post on the current conjecture over who will or should be the next Poet Laureate of Britain contained a wonderfully sad story involving John McCain, Robert Pinksy, Charles Simic and an unfortunately bright-but-not-bright-enough man who wanted to illustrate McCain’s ignorance but instead illustrated his own (sidenote: I don’t [...] by

New Bat City June 21, 2008: The latest issue of Bat City Review is in stores. Edited by graduate students from the UT Austin program, the magazine features beautiful artwork and high-quality fiction. But the reason I bought it, and the reason I recommend it, is the outstanding quality of the poetry. Larissa Szporluk Larissa Szporluk is a poet whose work I find [...] by

Banal Probe June 17, 2008: The Blogosphere is, as they say in stand-up comedy, a tough room: so many audience members seem to have shown up just to heckle. It’s strange how people lob remarks from the void—I wonder, often, how those same people might behave at parties. Of course, a healthy dose of criticism is good and necessary. And it may even be useful to call out [...] by

Call For Donations June 13, 2008: Etheridge Knight When I was an undergraduate, serving as editor of Sonoma State University’s literary magazine, I called my favorite living poet and asked him if he could be the “featured poet” in our next annual issue. Etheridge Knight was flattered, but also frank. “Will you pay me?” he asked. He explained that he’d been diagnosed [...] by

Conceptual Poetics: A Practicum June 11, 2008: I love this idea of valueless, unoriginal poetry based on junk. I’ve been trying to write poems, and now it turns out that I could have just been assembling them. I mean, I’ve done some avant-gardist things in my time (let us call them, for lack of a better term, “poems"), but I think I spent way too much time worrying about making [...] by

Bella Luna June 5, 2008: Last night, re-reading Lina Wertmuller’s screenplay for Seven Beauties. I only made it as far as the scene where Pasqualino (Giancarlo Giannini) kills his sister’s pimp before I decided I needed to read something less brutal. So I picked up the latest issue of Luna, volume 8, and settled into bed. I was absorbed by the poems of Beth [...] by

Poetry and Hollywood June 3, 2008: Major Jackson’s post about poetry birthdays prompted me to pull out my copy of A Book of Days for the Literary Year, put out in 1984 by the Book-of-the-Month Club, this being Allen Ginsberg’s birthday. This was also the day in 1964 when T.S. Eliot wrote to Groucho Marx: “The picture of you in the newspaper saying that, amongst other [...] by

Chinquapins, Elderberries, Dandelion Jam June 1, 2008: In California I often hear the term “slow food.” But in Tennessee, I imagine such a term would be redundant. From grits to ribs to greens, Tennesseans simmer and smoke and stew their cuisine. Vegetables are often still grown on small farms and picked by hand: lima beans, butter beans, collards, sweet corn, melons, cabbage, peaches. Hogs are [...] by

Best New Poets, Most Confusing Deadline June 1, 2008: I have an undergraduate student this year whose work is playful, lyrical and surprisingly tender, given its edgy nature. So I thought I would nominate him for the Best New Poets Anthology. Apparently, it's not as easy as one would hope. On their website, they offer the following information: Best New Poets is an annual anthology of 50 poems [...] by