Thursday, February 10, 2011

Earshot of the Endless Room

As you might have noticed, The Corresponding Society's blog is on a bit of a hiatus. While you wait for us to get our shit together, though, we'd really love for you to come to this event in Brooklyn tomorrow:

Earshot of the Endless Room: a Reading

Friday, February 11 · 8:00pm

Unnameable Books
600 Vanderbilt Ave.
Brooklyn, NY

This won't be your standard "I've finished my wine and these mono-toned, self-absorbed academic laureates won't shut up so I can get more and ultimately tolerate this" type of reading. Physical, theatrical, and non-academically self-absorbed, maybe with a little wine spillage on your new coat if you're lucky. Think the Donner Party with plenty of meat, but no knife, just voices.

Plus, It's free.


Jody Buchman is a storyteller from Brooklyn, New York. His work is focused on making new oral traditions out of the old-hag mythologies his ancestors put on his bookshelf when he was sleeping.

Popahna Brandes lives in Europe for some time, Chicago for some time, Providence for some time, and has been writing a book she can not not end, and bows a cello she can not end, and teaches young writers in Brooklyn that she can not end.

Benjamin Winkler lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he serves as the editor of Splitleaves Press. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Monongahela Review, The Apiary, Otoliths, Counterexample Poetics, and Raft Magazine.

Robert Snyderman will be reading from his new chapbook RIVER TRIED TO NOT BE RIVER, which he wrote last summer in Brooklyn, while he was making a living writing poems for passersby on the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

All the Conspirators

Lonely Christopher is reading All the Conspirators by Christopher Isherwood; below are his initial thoughts.

I was recently given a copy of All the Conspirators, Christopher Isherwood’s first novel from 1928, and, by a fluke, began reading it immediately (instead of relegating it to languish on the shelf, next to my unread copy of The Berlin Stories). I am not a diehard Isherwood fan, having only read A Single Man after watching Tom Ford’s delicious film adaptation, and was wholly unaware of this novel’s existence.

All the Conspirators, from what I understand, is commonly perceived as a piece of juvenilia: an amateur attempt that falls too often into pastiches of various modernist writers. It is indeed rather tonally uneven, overly ambitious in technique, and lacking clarity of style. Despite its obtuseness, though, I instantly found the story to be engaging. Although Isherwood apparently lacked a fully developed craft-sense, he was the perfect age (at twenty-one) to tackle a story about a listless young man named Philip who harbors a perpetually unfulfilled desire to become a painter and writer while his mother pressures him to keep his boring desk job.

Philip’s lazy idealism betrays his unfocused nature, especially in this self-righteous speech he delivers to his sister: “Mind you, I need every bit of my time. Just because I don’t want to be cooped up in this room all day, it doesn’t mean I could be at a job. One must move about and see things. Get ideas. Go to theatres, cinemas. One’s mind’s got to be free. Oh, it’s so obvious. But, of course, nobody understands. How can you, unless you paint or write yourself? People think an artist ought to sit on a stool and do his seven hours like an office clerk.” Of course, when given the freedom, Philip merely sits about, brooding and chain-smoking cigarettes. His mother, a few pages later, rebuffs her son’s ideological stance in this way: “When one’s young one wants to have all the fun out of life one possibly can. It’s only natural. And it isn’t till you grow older that you begin to see how true that old proverb is of the Hare and the Tortoise. The people who’ve idled about and wasted away their time get left behind[.]”

Although, later on in the story, the narrative begins to focus more on the courtship and engagement of Philip’s sister Joan, I instantly connected and identified with the struggle of the young artist desperately trying to actualize himself only to fall further into a despondent rut. This is basically the story of a family ruled by a practical matriarch. Her daughter falls under her reasonable influence while her son petulantly (albeit unsuccessfully) tries to break free. I have about fifty pages to go and Philip has just decided to leave his office job to relocate to Kenya and work on a coffee plantation. I can only guess he is riding, again, toward humiliating defeat.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


This week the Proust Questionnaire sheds some light on poet Christie Ann Reynolds. For the uninitiated, she co-wrote one of our great What Where chapbooks (Girl Boy Girl Boy) with Ben Fama (his Proustian answers can be found here). Enjoy!

An Introduction to Christie Ann Reynolds

Christie Ann Reynolds is a native New Yorker and was once the president of her sorority. She was the winner of the 2008 New School Chapbook Contest and has two other chapbooks out with Supermachine and The Corresponding Society. Christie Ann teaches writing at Hofstra University and her work can be found or is forthcoming in BlazeVox, Maggy, Lit, La Petite Zine, Pax Americana, So and So Magazine and Sink Review. She is the co-curator of the Stain of Poetry Reading Series at Good Bye Blue Monday.

Christie Ann Reynolds Answers the Proust Questionnaire

Your favorite virtue.

Your favorite qualities in a man.
Ambition, creativity, humility, friendliness, open-minded view of the world,

Your favorite qualities in a woman.
Same as men!

Your chief characteristic.
I had trouble with this one, because I would say, “friendly.” That seemed boring. So I asked Ben Fama and he said: Compassion in the long-run, stubborn in the short-run. Also you don't respect authority and it makes it impossible for you to use a GPS device.

What you appreciate the most in your friends.
Friends that weather all.

Your main fault.
Sometimes I’m really oblivious, even when I think I’m not being oblivious.

Your favorite occupation.
Teaching, writing, being just a little bossy

Your idea of happiness.
The excitement of planning for things and then that planning not happening but then still arriving somewhere amazing anyway.

Your idea of misery.
A room of old ladies wearing too much Jean Nate.

If not yourself, who would you be?
When I was little I thought I could actually grow up to be a horse. I love horses.

Where would you like to live?
Brooklyn--or any city within driving distance of a beach.

Your favorite prose authors.
Murakami, Brautigan, Jane Austen, Salinger, Capote

Your favorite poets.
Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Alice Notley, Jack Spicer, Larry Levis, Hayden Carruth and Henri Michaux is a new one!

Your favorite heroines in fiction.
Holly Golightly, Franny Glass

Your favorite painter.
Louise Bourgeois

Your heroes in “real life.”
The little kids I nanny for. They wear Batman capes and such.

What characters in history do you most dislike?

Your favorite names.
River, Cecily, Reeve

What do you hate the most?
People who don’t use their blinkers before making a turn.

What military event do you admire the most?
Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride

What reform do you admire the most?
Roe v. Wade, no cell phones while driving.

The natural talent you’d like to be gifted with.
I wish I could sing and also not hyperventilate while snorkeling.

How do you wish to die?

What is your present state of mind?

For what fault do you have the most toleration?
People who chew with their mouths open.

Your favorite motto.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Tipsy Critics: The Trial

Happy Thanksgiving, Americans. The Corresponding Society is drunk to present a little holiday treat: the long-awaited return of the Tipsy Critics. Lonely Christopher and Mae Saslaw sat down recently with way too much red wine to discuss The Trial by Franz Kafka. And they filmed it. We think everybody will agree that nothing says Thanksgiving like Franz Kafka. Thanksgiving is a pretty miserable holiday but the Tipsy Critics have reserved all of their vitriol for The Trial, which they have decided just plain sucks. You heard it here first from the definitive source. Enjoy the following video and, we hope, all the libations and regrettable behavior (typically unfolding in close proximity to family members) that accompany this joyous season!

Tipsy Critics Present The Trial from Mae Saslaw on Vimeo.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Chapbooks 4 Sale

The Corresponding Society is pleased to announce that our new What Where series of chapbooks is now available for purchase through our website’s online store. Please click here to check it out. This limited edition series --- including titles by Anselm Berrigan (pictured), Ben Fama & Christie Ann Reynolds, Ryan Doyle May, and Robert Fitterman --- is already very popular and has been selling fast; so, as it is said, order without delay!

Monday, November 15, 2010

What Where

If you are in the New York City area, make sure to come join us for the launch (at long last!) of the What Where chapbook series. More information on these wondrous poetry books to follow...

The Corresponding Society presents
The What Where Chapbook Series Launch Reading

featuring Anselm Berrigan, Ryan Doyle May, Christie Ann Reynolds, Ben Fama, and Robert Fitterman
hosted by Lonely Christopher

at Unnameable Books
600 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn
Wednesday, November 17th, 8pm

The Corresponding Society is pleased to announce that its long-forthcoming second series of poetry chapbooks is finally ready! The What Where series, curated by Lonely Christopher, features gorgeous looking editions of these titles:

Primitive State by Anselm Berrigan --- a sculpture of sentences, a mad device sans off-switch, establishing a poetry of subjectivity

The Anatomy of Gray by Ryan Doyle May --- melts definition off the skeletons of words, turns the page into an arresting hospital of identity’s tragedy

Girl Boy Girl Boy by Christie Ann Reynolds & Ben Fama --- uses a discursive form to develop a love story of achingly clear ambivalence, revealing the lover’s dialogue as truths written down in dreams in disappearing ink

Pillbox by Robert Fitterman --- sinisterly inappropriate slogans in advertising culture are redacted into giddy pills of rhetoric, bizarrely complex pageants for the happy consumer now available in an adjusted dose

Together, these titles represent an exciting step forward for The Corresponding Society. Never before published works by the heroes Berrigan and Fitterman plus glowing introductions to projects (which you will never shut up about when you finish them) by three writers at the beginning of their individual careers.

Each title is available in a handmade edition of 100. As we have already said, these little books look beautiful (letter press printed covers were created by Sonia Farmer through Peter Kruty editions) --- and it only gets better when you open them up and, you know, read them. So please come celebrate with us at Unnameable Books, where all five authors will be on hand to read and otherwise make your dreams come true. The titles will be available at terrific discounts! plus in bundles! plus there will be a raffle! This is the first public event The Corresponding Society has thrown in a long while, so we really hope to see you there.

Friday, October 29, 2010


This week, for our modified Proust Questionnaire project, we are very lucky to be able to feature the poet Christian Hawkey. Mr. Hawkey’s latest book, Ventrakl (which was excerpted in issue three of Correspondence), was just released from Ugly Duckling Presse. If you are unfamiliar with Christian Hawkey, read his bio (below), read his books, and, more immediately, you might be interested in this awesome conversation (PDF) he had with Bill Martin, where he asks the very important question: “is that Mike Myers/Austin Powers, playing Derrida, with a wig?!”

An Introduction to Christian Hawkey

Christian Hawkey is the author of three previous books of poetry. His first book, The Book of Funnels, appeared in 2004 and won the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. His second book, a chapbook called HourHour, includes drawings by the artist Ryan Mrowzowski, and was published by Delirium Press in 2005. Citizen Of, his third book, was released by Wave Books in the spring of 2007, and received enthusiastic reviews from numerous magazines and online journals, including Time Out New York, Octopus, Silliman’s Blog, and the New Yorker. His poems have appeared in Conjunctions, Volt, Denver Quarterly, Tin House, Crowd, BOMB, Chicago Review, Best American Poetry, and Conduit, and his art criticism has appeared in frieze and Meatpaper. He has received awards from the Academy of American Poets and the Poetry Fund, and in 2006 he received a Creative Capital Innovative Literature Award. In 2008 he was a DAAD Artist-in-Berlin Fellow. He is currently an Associate Professor at Pratt Institute, where he teaches the practice of writing poetry in the Writing Program. (via UDP)

Christian Hawkey Answers the Proust Questionnaire

Your favorite virtue.

Your favorite qualities in a man.

Your favorite qualities in a woman.

Your chief characteristic.
Lack of self-knowledge.

What you appreciate the most in your friends.
Rutilant loyalty.

Your main fault.
Lack of self-knowledge.

Your favorite occupation.
Hand-taming wild birds.

Your idea of happiness.

Your idea of misery.
Industrialized animal slaughter.

If not yourself, who would you be?

Where would you like to live?
To live in contact with those I love, with the beauties of nature, with a quantity of books and music, and to have, within easy distance, an art-house movie theater.

Your favorite prose authors.
Beckett. Stein. Marie Redonnet. Walser. Derrida.

Your favorite poets.
Stein. Clare. Vallejo. Edward, Lord Herbert of Cherbury.

Your favorite heroes in fiction.

Your favorite heroines in fiction.

Your heroes in “real life.”
Andy Kaufman. Mandelstam. Anna O.

What characters in history do you most dislike?
Karl Lueger; Mayor of Vienna, 1897-1910; he brought anti-Semitic rhetoric into the political discourse of a fading Austrio-Hungarian empire; big influence on Hitler.

Your favorite names.
Gerald. Riven. Blondie.

The natural talent you’d like to be gifted with.
Ability to carry a tune.

How do you wish to die?
I will die in Paris, on a rainy day, with all of my school loans unpaid.

What is your present state of mind?
Distracted attentiveness.

Your favorite motto.
An embryonic thing is a sort of embryonic thing.