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.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It Gets Better

A Statement by Lonely Christopher

For those of you unfamiliar with Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project congratulations for being so sheltered from all media, but it’s a YouTube video campaign designed as a reaction to the recent publicity over the bullying-related suicide deaths of gay teenagers across the United States. The idea being that, upon hearing stories of tormented LGBT youth who killed themselves out of despair developed through environments of homophobia, abuse, and anti-gay hostility, writer Dan Savage wished he could speak to the teenaged queer community to try and convince troubled youth that middle and high school is torturous, but life gets a lot better and is therefore worth sticking around for. Then he realized that he needn’t wait around for invitations to address this demographic, as YouTube offered him a platform to forgo traditional venues and speak to them directly. The It Gets Better Project began with a great video by Dan Savage and his husband Terry (watch it here) and then opened up the floor for other video contributions. Since then, hundreds of videos have been posted, including a humorous one by actor Jeffrey Self, a very moving one by a councilman in Fort Worth, and many others by regular folk and celebrities alike. While the furious stream of videos tends to become repetitious (the main message being “Don’t kill yourself, wait it out, because it gets so much better”), I feel the project is complicated and tremendously justified. Early on, I decided to create my own contribution for It Gets Better. After drafting a statement and filming it, though, I declined to submit it for several reasons. The project became a cause célèbre overnight and I felt my slightly academic tone was incongruous with the accessibility of the main and, considering the wealth of videos from everyday individuals as well as the slightly condescending ones from famous media figures, both gay and straight, the anti-suicidal musings of a frequently suicidal experimental poet named Lonely Christopher could be both inconsequential and confusing.

First of all, the idea of some weirdo calling himself Lonely Christopher trying to convince queer youth that one day they will not feel so alone is problematic. I felt like I had to address this situation before reaching the fundamental point of my statement, which resulted in an overlong, self-involved preamble. I explained, don’t worry! it’s only an arty pseudonym, I’m really a friendly, semi-adjusted, and sociable person. Wondering if that was really enough, I then went on to try to posit the concept of “loneliness” as a profound and positive characteristic. I attempted this by citing my favorite poem by Emily Dickinson (you can tell how the video is already derailing here). Here is the poem:

‎There is another Loneliness
That many die without –
Not want of friend occasions it or circumstance of Lot

But nature, sometimes, sometimes thought
And whoso it befall
Is richer than could be revealed
By mortal numeral -

I then attempted to pose this heightened concept of loneliness as a metaphor for queerness, in such a way that a traditionally negatively perceived disposition could be viewed as a liberatory, ultimately subversive, benefit. Like loneliness, queerness is also often viewed in an unfavorable, unhelpful way. But, as Dickinson proves in her poem on loneliness, there is also no singular definition for queerness, what it means to be gay, or whatever word one uses to identify as LGBT. That suggests that one can push past the stereotypes and cultural restrictions around being gay and understand queerness as a special opportunity --- a gift, even, that not everybody has, through which one can really actualize one’s self in a tremendous way. I ended this overwrought point with the only line in the statement I really like: “I guess this is an overly complicated way of saying that I think being queer is basically a super power.”

After that regrettable introduction, which was unnecessary and haughty enough to discourage me from posting the video, I got around to my main purpose (and drew my point out in such a way that my video would have been significantly longer than most offerings available through the project). So that my misguided efforts do not go completely to waste, I here offer the entirety of the rest of my statement (addressed directly to the hypothetical youth watching the video):

You have to celebrate yourself as a queer individual. I know that it’s hard --- and it doesn’t automatically entail coming out to your friends or school or parents, but what I really mean is that you not only have to accept yourself in your own mind, but you have to allow yourself to understand all the ways that you are valuable, unique, and gifted --- and how being queer plays into your perception of self and the world around you. Again, that’s an incredibly hard task. I know I didn’t understand how to view my sexuality in a wholly positive light for many years after I discovered I was queer. That was when I was maybe thirteen, if you can believe it. Many other LGBT people say that they knew at a much earlier age, but I don’t think I was situated in a cultural climate where I was able to understand that about myself preternaturally. It really took until puberty, when I began developing sexual attractions to boys instead of girls, when the possibility dawned on me. And when it did, it was very bad news --- a real private struggle that I was completely alone in and lacked the critical faculties to negotiate. Basically, when these attractions came to my attention, I thought, “Oh no! Please, no! Not another problem I have to deal with!” And this particular problem really did feel like the biggest one in the world --- and one I was experiencing in complete isolation at first.

When I was growing up, “the gays” were only discussed in what was perceived to be a negative context such as AIDS. Being gay was construed as such an unspeakable fault, it seemed almost like anybody so much as talking about it was under suspicion for being a sexual deviant. Sometimes it seems so easy to understand how silly and thoughtless this cultural taboo placed around homosexuality really is, and how insubstantial and indefensible. But that didn’t help me much in school. I was so afraid of being abnormal I really didn’t come out to anybody throughout middle school and high school. It was just inconceivable that something like that, an out gay kid, could actually exist and be in any way accepted or live a normal life. There was a definite environment of homophobia, perpetrated by the students and enforced by the adults, which kept all the queer kids at school very, very quiet about it. At the time, I had male friends who were very worried that I wasn’t taking the same interest in girls as they were. So they set me up with a string off blundering homecoming and prom dates, girlfriends who lasted about a week and couldn’t understand why I wasn’t interested in making out, all of that. And, of course, I had to suffer, day in and day out, hearing almost everybody my age using the word “gay” in a derogatory way, “That’s so gay,” accusing each other of being sissies or fags when they were acting stupid, and all the rest. And whenever I was suspected of being one of those unspeakables, a fag, there was verbal abuse and casual bullying involved.

It was just not a pleasant environment for me to grow up in. I hated school so much. And, you know, when I was a junior, at sixteen, I did try to kill myself. In many ways, first of all, not feeling able to be honest with my parents about who I knew I was, but also, the climate of abuse and mental torture which I experienced, and which I know is prevalent for many others even now, in many ways these were the major contributing factors to my decision to try and prematurely end my life. Fortunately, my attempt was nonfatal --- I was discovered and hospitalized. Being in the hospital, personally, didn’t help me, because even in that drastic situation I was not able to be honest with the doctors and with my family about my sexuality. So that wasn’t really addressed, but I survived, and went back to school --- and somehow I just got through it. And now, of course, it is very obvious that the idea of ending my life was the absolute wrong way to handle that situation. I know that now because, as they say, it gets better.

One of the ways I got through it, I think, was with the Internet. This was a new instrument that just a few years before wasn’t really around. But since it was there, and I had access to it, I was able to discover whole worlds that existed outside of my drab small-town nowhere life --- worlds that were so much more vibrant, cultured, exciting, sexy, and filled with opportunity. I realize that the Internet is and always was a platform for hate and cyber-bullying, which is a problem it seems many teenagers deal with today, but it’s just as much, and I’m sure more, of a positive resource for intelligence, for learning, for communication. Online, I was able to connect with other queer kids my age, far away but in the same situation as I was in, and we were able to form a sort of way of supporting each other from a distance. Also I was afforded access, through the Internet, to forms of culture and troves of information that I would have not otherwise received. If you are watching this video right now, that means that you are utilizing the Internet as a tool to learn about what exists outside of your personal experience. And that’s fabulous.

With the Internet, and reading a lot, and watching lots of movies, and coming into contact with gay culture whenever I could, whether that meant watching Queer as Folk late at night with the volume turned down low so my parents wouldn’t hear or renting John Waters movies from Blockbuster, I gained a lot of perspective and realized that my world, the one I felt stuck in, was not the end of the world. So while my experience with boys was rather limited as a teenager --- and when I did have brief encounters with boys, usually boys from a few towns over, we had to sneak away to the isolated train tracks to even hold hands or briefly kiss --- while I didn’t have much in the way of boyfriends at that age, I did eventually grow comfortable with being more of myself more openly, and expressing myself publically. And although that still did not mean coming out to more than a few very close and understanding female friends --- it meant that I learned how to care less about how the bullies and dullards around me thought of what I did and how I looked or acted. So, with varying degrees of success, I tried to keep afloat during an extended period of depression, self-hatred, confusion, guilt --- all of which contributed to frequent absenteeism in school, plus alcohol and drug abuse --- and then, one day, it was all over.

I left town, went to college in Brooklyn, and never really looked back. And of course I’ve continued to have bad periods, and I make mistakes all the time, but… really, really… the struggle was worth it and the struggle was an education… and, very quickly after I left high school I was prepared to live out of the closest, even though it took me four more years to tell my family, I never again had to lie to my friends about who I was. Because I went to college, I went to art school, I went to the city, and found it very liberating, and found it a place where my queerness was a benefit rather than a deficit, and all sorts of wonderful things happened. I met so many fantastic friends, both queer and straight, who are very supportive, I read a lot of queer theory and became very interested in gay rights activism, I even met my beautiful boyfriend Ryan when we were both featured in a queer poetry reading --- and never again did I have to worry about those things that tormented me when I was younger on the overwhelming level which they were occurring at the time. The first time I held hands with another boy, in the city, and walked down the street without anybody batting an eye, let alone yelling “fag” at us --- it was a revelation. It gets better, seriously, and you’re going to see that so soon.

In conclusion, I want to return to the Dickinson poem, a little bit. Because there is another queerness that many die without. But not you. You have it. If you take anything from this statement, I hope it’s that being queer is whatever you can possibly define it as --- you. Nobody else has the right to define what your sexuality means to you, and the role it plays in your life. And nobody has the right to make you feel terrible about being LGBT. The reality is that we live in a heteronormative society, and that kind of violence and discouragement is still widely tolerated, and you are going to experience discrimination --- but we all face those challenges, we all have our stories, and when we’re determined to stick it out, to refuse to be beaten down by anti-gay abuse, we win. We allow ourselves to live, and to love, and to grow, and that makes us unfathomably lucky. And, you know, I think kids that are fifteen, sixteen, going to school right now --- you are the kids that are going to change the world. So much has happened for gay rights since I was that age --- just that it has become a topic of consistent national debate seems like a miracle to me (despite the vitriol over the issue that comes from certain, ignorant groups of people). So, please, think big, continue, and don’t let your present circumstances cloud your vision of the future.


That is the end of my statement. Reading it over again, I feel slightly sorry I wasn’t able to figure out how to reformat it to fit the general structure of the project, but I don’t think its absence on YouTube is a terrible detriment, especially considering all the great videos available on the It Gets Better channel. I recently visited my family, in Western New York, and regrettably dragged some of my old notebooks out of storage in the backyard shed. Reading my journals and letters from high school for the first time since I wrote them, I was struck by how absolutely miserable I felt. One friend with whom I corresponded at the time described my lengthy and tortured letters as a model in suicidal ideation. And, at the time, I absolutely lacked any foresight whatever, beyond the intense desire to leave my hometown surroundings as soon as humanly possible, so whatever happened in school, with being ostracized and mocked, and with my non-comprehending family, it all felt completely inescapable. But, of course, it wasn’t; that is the primary message the It Gets Better Project is delivering to our nation’s LGBT youth. And that is entirely admirable.

Monday, October 11, 2010


The Corresponding Society is very excited that Splitleaves Press, a chapbook publisher based in Philadelphia, has just released a new poem cycle by Robert Snyderman with illustrations by Esther Ward: River Tried to Not Be River.

Click here to learn more about it!

River Tried to Not be River is a study in contradictions. Graceful and elegant, yet one cannot help but feel an undercurrent of violence and aggression subsumed beneath the surface. Robert Snyderman’s poems can alternately feel like sketches or stories. Either way, one can’t help but relish his turns-of-phrase. Esther Ward’s enigmatic, black and white illustrations could easily stand on their own. Here, as a work of ekphrasis, they only perpetuate River‘s dichotomy.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Okay guys, the Proust Questionaire is back in business (again). This time we are very pleased to feature super-awesome-uber-poet Dorothea Lasky. If you haven’t heard of Lasky, you need to go read her books (Awe and Black Life) right now. But, most likely, you know very well of her and you love her. The Corresponding Society loves her too. For the curious, blog editor Lonely Christopher reviews Lasky’s latest book, Black Life, here. Now, let’s get to it!

A Brief Introduction to Dorothea Lasky

Dorothea Lasky is an American poet. She was born in St. Louis, Missouri on March 27, 1978. Lasky earned her BA in Classics and Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis. She earned her MFA in Poetry from the University of Massachusetts Amherst's MFA Program for Poets & Writers, and her Ed.M. in Arts & Education from Harvard University. (From Wikipedia.)

Dorothea Lasky Answers the Proust Questionnaire

Your favorite virtue.

Your favorite qualities in a man.

Your favorite qualities in a woman.

Your chief characteristic.
A changing center

What you appreciate the most in your friends.

Your main fault.
I always want to make everyone happy.

Your favorite occupation.

Your idea of happiness.

Your idea of misery.
Being constrained

If not yourself, who would you be?
A wolf

Where would you like to live?
Ideally, I would like a house in every town.

Your favorite prose authors.
Lydia Davis, Cicero, Flaubert, Yasunari Kawabata, Eileen Myles, Ivan Turgenev, Flannery O’Connor, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein

Your favorite poets.
Sylvia Plath and Catullus

Your favorite heroes in fiction.
Ivan Denisovich

Your favorite heroines in fiction.
Madame Bovary

Your favorite painters and composers.
Painters: Arshile Gorky, Paul Gauguin, Edouard Manet, Oskar Kokoschka, William Blake
Composers: Timbaland, Virgil Thomson, Handel, Bach, Stevie Nicks, Brian Wilson, Tom Petty

Your heroes in “real life.”
My father and Martin Luther King, Jr.

What characters in history do you most dislike?

Your favorite names.
Violet, Roz, and Buzz

What do you hate the most?

What military event do you admire the most?
The founding of Rome

What reform do you admire the most?
Dorothea Dix’s reform work in improving treatment for the mentally ill.

The natural talent you’d like to be gifted with.
Mathematical genius

How do you wish to die?
In my sleep

What is your present state of mind?

For what fault do you have the most toleration?

Your favorite motto.
Stay loose.

Interestingly enough, Lasky seems to be the only of our participants so far who has previously answered the Proust Questionnaire. Here is a beautiful video she brought to our attention of her answering the questions the first time around:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mischief + Mayhem

Here is a press release and launch party invite from our friends over at Mischief + Mayhem:

New Writers Collective Joins Forces With OR Books
in an Alternative Approach to Publishing

Novelist and critic Dale Peck, blogger Choire Sicha among those collaborating with OR to launch Mischief + Mayhem imprint

Meghan Daum, Nick Flynn, A.M. Homes, and Joseph O’Neill are among the noted writers joining forces on the evening of Sept. 28, 2010 to launch Mischief + Mayhem, a new imprint affiliated with OR Books, the alternative publisher that made headlines and bestseller lists in 2009 with Going Rouge, its controversial anti–Sarah Palin polemic. The event will feature burlesque dancers, live music, a raffle, and an interactive literary game involving more than thirty writers from around the world.

Mischief + Mayhem’s noteworthy founders are Lisa Dierbeck (One Pill Makes You Smaller), Joshua Furst (Short People, The Sabotage Café), DW Gibson, executive director of Ledig House and Sangam House, Dale Peck (Martin and John, What We Lost, Hatchet Jobs), and Choire Sicha, co-owner of The Awl, whose first book of nonfiction is forthcoming from HarperCollins. Utilizing OR Books’ groundbreaking publishing methods, the collective intends to promulgate fiction that is formally inventive, socially irresponsible, and sometimes just plain reckless without having to worry about pleasing conservative editorial boards or corporate bookstore executives. It will also help writers earn a living wage without compromising their radical aesthetics.

“Mainstream publishers are more risk-averse than ever,” said Peck. “Instead of courting a mass audience with formulaic, commercial books, Mischief + Mayhem will look for weird, wild voices and writers of idiosyncratic, even skewed, vision. We don’t just want the new, we want the strange, the unsettling, the scary.”

The imprint’s lead title, Dierbeck’s The Autobiography of Jenny X, forthcoming in November 2010, has already been hailed as “Fast, funny, and twisted,” by Netherland author Joseph O’Neill, while Pagan Kennedy, author of The First Man-Made Man, dubbed it “Baader Meinhof meets Marvel comics.” Dierbeck’s novel will be followed by DW Gibson’s debut, An All-American Field Guide to the Outside World. Other writers on the M+M docket include Calvin Baker (Once Two Heroes, Dominion), Helen DeWitt (The Last Samurai), and Mike Heppner (The Egg Code, Pike’s Folly).

Like OR Books, Mischief + Mayhem’s titles will be produced only in electronic or print-on-demand editions, and will be available, initially at least, exclusively for purchase online from the publisher. This arrangement avoids the enormous waste of the current publishing system, which ships books to stores, fails to promote them, and then sees many of them returned, unsold, to the publisher.

The company’s publishing mission is supported by Wild Rag, a blog and webzine whose regular contributors include such well-respected writers as New Yorker editor Ben Greenman, journalist and editor Zia Jaffrey, and New York Times art critic Martha Schwendener, each of whom will offer a challenging, rambunctious perspective on things literary, cultural, and political. Additionally, the company plans to host readings, performances and other social gatherings in order to build a literary community in the real world as well as online.

“Reviews for Sale”
Launch Party Sept. 28

To coincide with the launch of the imprint, Mischief + Mayhem invites the public to join them for a celebration featuring tequila, burlesque, graffiti, rock and roll, and, of course, literature on Sept. 28, 2010 from 6:30 – 8:30 pm at Room Service, at 35 E. 21st St., in New York City. The evening’s centerpiece will be a massive literary exquisite corpse, a collectively written story that dramatizes what can happen when writers work together for a common goal. Between thirty and forty writers from around the globe are expected to join in; as of this writing, participants include Taylor Antrim, Rebecca Brown, T Cooper, Meghan Daum, Helen DeWitt, Tishani Doshi, Nora Eisenberg, Ben Greenman, Daniel Handler, Mike Heppner, Kaylie Jones, Jim Lewis, Lonely Christopher, Lauren Mechling, Sigrid Nuñez, Joseph O’Neill, Donald Ray Pollock, Irina Reyn, Julian Rubinstein, Ben Schrank, Owen Sheers, Jim Shepard, Karen Shepard, and Amy Sohn.

Also on the agenda: a burlesque dancer with a dress made from the pages of a book, a live band (TBD), and the first-ever Mischief + Mayhem Read-In, which champions reading in any environment, no matter how loud or drunken. Speaking of which: guests are invited to sample the Mischief + Mayhem cocktail, a shot of tequila with a whole habañero pepper dropped in. Don’t say you weren’t warned!

The evening’s final lure is a raffle whose prizes include a graffiti kit (stencils, spraypaint, and a wild rag to conceal your identity), a half-case of wine from Tinto Fino, a free dinner at Tipsy Parson, and a photograph by acclaimed artist Matthew Pillsbury. In keeping with the collective’s mischievous spirit, the grand prize is a review-to-order by Dale Peck---good or bad, of (virtually) any author the winner chooses. Who knows, perhaps the Hatchet Man will end up slamming himself?

“No Book Printed Until It's Sold”
A Bold New Way to Publish Books

“No book printed until it's sold” is the unofficial motto of OR Books, which will publish the Mischief + Mayhem list. A genuinely new type of publishing company, OR sells direct to the customer in print-on-demand formats and e-books. There is no warehouse, no returns, and no waste. The savings this makes possible enables unprecedented levels of marketing, both online and through regular channels. Once momentum has been created behind a title OR looks for rights deals with conventional publishing partners to make the book available in bookstores.

OR was created by John Oakes, who co-founded the independent publisher Four Walls Eight Windows and has published Andrei Codrescu, Sue Coe, R. Crumb, Abbie Hoffman, Gordon Lish, Harvey Pekar, John Waters and Edmund White, and serves on the board of PEN America; and Colin Robinson, the former publisher of New Press and Verso, who, among many other accomplishments, made an upscale edition of The Communist Manifesto into a bestseller. Writers Robinson has published include Tariq Ali, Noam Chomsky, Alexander Cockburn, Mike Davis, Norman Finkelstein, Lewis Lapham, Rigoberta Menchu, Sheila Rowbotham and Jann Wenner.

“We’re excited to be working with Mischief + Mayhem,” said Robinson. “Their zest for adventurous, intelligent writing and enthusiasm for seeking new ways of reaching readers chime very closely with our own approach.”

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Day After I Answered Them

Previously, in June, Lonely Christopher posted an I Remember exercise, inspired by Joe Brainard; coincidentally, fellow Correspondence editor Robert Snyderman was asked to complete a similar exercise in a pedagogy class he is taking this fall at Brown. Please find his piece below, for your perusal.

I Remember
by Robert Snyderman

I remember a paradise of yarrow in each eye

I remember not praying in Brooklyn with my head in the ground asking prayer what
prayer is and thinking to question prayer is prayer

I remember the civil war of sleep

I remember being ashamed of my unruly curly hair in fourth grade

I remember reading Carl Sandburg to a table of friends the night before I left Brooklyn
for Vermont

I remember reciting nothing

I remember wanting to remember the horizon in northern Vermont as a long white force
below the night field falling like a calf slipping bathed in black flies and cow tongue

I remember "There is no paradisal dream. Its hardship is its reality"

I remember practicing my eternal intentions

I remember losing. The earth of my knees. Ash is still

I remember my dreams and my brother's dreams

I remember the uprooted and the falling, where men seemed wooden because I had not
been wooden. Ash is still

I remember the wolf that rested upon the back of my neck in California beside Lake

I remember looking down and speaking. The rules harvested me and so I disobeyed the
illusion of my father. And my brother ran right. My other brother ran left

I remember needing to speak with my brother in the morning after waking. I dream
violence, and he is consistent and I sweat our mother's hands, and here, there is an

I remember praising someone in a formless state

I remember losing strength like a birth
I remember leaping off a bridge after her and after her and after her

I remember the Tower of Babel. Surrender the spherical weather of your sexual beliefs
and improvisational stillness. Sell your books. Maintain the faith of goats

I remember constructing ideals in states of mountainous illusion, though gaining strength
and attention and wingspan, though losing the spade of body mass, though puncturing
though piercing human longevity, hardening longevity

I remember desiring less possessions

I remember desiring more possessions

I remember not to trust myself all day, all night

I remember making so as to ward myself off

I remember my brothers asking me if I believed in G-d. I traveled to see them the day
after the day after I answered them

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Super Reading

From our friends over at SUPERMACINE:

7:30pm, Sept. 10, 2010
The Schoolhouse
330 Ellery St
Brooklyn, NY 11206

Readings! Music! Your Autumn Crush!


Macgregor Card
Chris Cheney
Lonely Christopher
Corina Copp
Jon Cotner
Joanna Penn Cooper
Anne Cecelia Holmes
Lauren Ireland
Simone Kearney
Dorothea Lasky
Paul Legault
Emily Pettit
Christie Ann Reynolds
Matvei Yankelevich
Matthew Yeager

Are You Fucking Kidding Me ?!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Tipsy Critics: Hamlet (Part 2)

The Corresponding Society is drunk to present the second part of the first installment of our new video feature The Tipsy Critics. Recently, writers Mae Saslaw and Lonely Christopher sat down to discuss the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare over drinks. In part one, which you can watch here, an attempt to summarize the action of the play led to a discussion mainly about ghosts and the Twilight movies; in part two it is concluded that, contrary to popular belief, Shakespeare wasn’t a black woman (but he was a terrifically bad writer, who knew?). See for yourself:

Tipsy Critics Present Hamlet, Part II from Mae Saslaw on Vimeo.

Friday, August 20, 2010

New Deadline

Hey everybody! As you might have realized, The Corresponding Society has been vaguely inactive this summer, due to the traveling schedules of so many of our editors. We’re ready to vamp up again and have a lot of work ahead of us --- including finishing our long-awaited, long-delayed second series of poetry chapbooks, which should be forthcoming in the very early Fall and editing issue four of our lit mag Correspondence. As you may know, our original deadline for submissions to issue four was August 15. We have already received a bounty of exciting work, and can’t wait to start sorting through it all, but we’d also like to present the opportunity for those of you who have not yet submitted anything to do so. So! We’d like to announce an extension of our deadline (a very common occurrence in independent publishing, to be sure). We will now continue to accept new creative work for consideration through September 20, 2010. If you are curious about what exactly we’re looking for, please refer to the guidelines on our submissions page. We are very serious about publishing the most exciting work from emerging writers that we can find, so please let us know if you happen to be an extraordinary writer (we bet you are) and have material we might want to publish in our next issue. Thanks!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Fama Rama

big pic!

Ben Fama, in his life and his work, fancifully cultivates an aesthetic somewhere between mid-cult mystic and cosmic troublemaker. Sitting on the couch of his Brooklyn apartment, you’re as likely to find him enthusiastically watching a documentary on Aleister Crowley as you are an episode of My So-Called Life; a conversation with him about the publishing industry is likely to be speckled with incongruous references to the Twilight Saga and the films of Kenneth Anger. The earnestness with which he absorbs a psychedelic patchwork of cultural influences, and reformats them under the rubric of his personal style, eschews the twee irony of hipsterdom. Not to mention he is an exciting and kick-ass poet. Not to mention he is one of the trendiest and integral operators in the youthful Brooklyn poetics scene today.

Let me explain that previous statement. Ben is the driving force behind the Supermachine reading series, which has run at Brooklyn’s Outpost Lounge, and which has routinely featured some of the greatest, probably coolest, contemporary poets in and around the city. A list of the most recognizable names from Supermachine’s sparkly stable of featured readers include Joshua Beckman, Chelsey Minnis, James Copeland, Matvei Yankelevich, Christian Hawkey, Jen Bervin, and Dorthea Lasky. The Supermachine series has been providing a catalog of fantastic examples re what’s up in poetry today (at least on the East Coast), not to mention ensuring an array of fabulous nights for lovers of verse. Moreover, this year Supermachine launched its own biannual journal, also called Supermachine, with the purpose of presenting some dazzlingly great poetry all wrapped up in the giddy, trance-like, but impacting style that characterizes Ben’s endeavors as organizer and publisher. A few poem titles featured in Supermachine #1 might help illustrate what that style leans toward: “Do Me, Dreamlife,” “Your Mom’s a Falconress,” “Journey to the Sun,” “Two Small Vampires,” “Your Sorcery Embarrasses Me,” “Dreams in Winter,” and “When It’s Sunny They Push the Button.”

Fama’s newish chapbook is titled Aquarius Rising; it was smartly selected by Ugly Duckling Presse for their really awesome series of chapbooks. For anybody who happened to miss Fama’s earlier poetry collection Sun Come, or what he’s published in journals like GlitterPony, Pank!, and No, Dear Magazine (plus, let us not forget, Correspondence), you’re going to want to hunt this baby down. A weirdo pessimist might dismiss Ben’s shiny verse with some semi-clever put-down (“Ben Fama is the Progressive Insurance Lady of poetry,” for instance, and no I cannot recall if I made that up, or if Ben did, or if somebody actually said that), and granted: his poems have a distinct and fun lightness to them, but if you let the kid talk to you from his pages, and he will, gregariously, you will, omg, totally develop a crush on this writing. There is a sassy gravity to his lines… take this (the opener from his ingenuously and ingeniously titled piece, “Glitter Pills”): “To live a serious life / that’s a fucked up thing[.]” That really strikes me, for its honesty wrapped in playfulness, but I might as well just reprint the whole poem:

To live a serious life
that’s a fucked up thing
I would have to rent out a cabin
beneath terrible angels
if I get old wipe the dust off my tits
I should have a serious log cabin
the cabin’s name is Ben Fama
find directions on the internet
when you want to leave you can
I’ll stay there just me and my heart
bigger than the sun

That’s not the best poem in Aquarius Rising, but it’s pretty representative of his ability to mix real feeling with the unpretentiously transcendental and some trademark winking, celebratory, hyperbolic mystification of the self. He plays fast and loose here and there, but not to the detriment of the reader’s possibility to enjoy, which seems like something Fama strongly wants you to do, even if he’s dancing around other complicated emotions. So, here’s this book, little and winsome, that Ben’s given us as a sort of spirit gift. Go and play with it in the grass. Try to keep an eye on Fama himself too, as he continues to engineer stellar venues, in print and in performance, for contemporary poetry. Yay!

(Lonely Christopher, editor.)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

White Swallow

The White Swallow series, a queer literary event hosted by Angelo Nikolopoulos, will be featuring the following performers tomorrow (Monday the 9th) at the West Village’s Cornelia St Café: Lonely Christopher, Matthew Hittinger, Billy Merrell, and Paul Lisicky. It’s going to be great fun!

The White Swallow Reading Series
(featuring guest host Zachary Pace)
$7 (includes one house drink)
Cornelia St. Cafe (Downstairs)
29 Cornelia St.
New York, NY

MATTHEW HITTINGER is the author of the chapbooks Pear Slip (Spire Press, 2007) winner of the Spire 2006 Chapbook Award, Narcissus Resists (GOSS183/MiPOesias, 2009), and Platos de Sal (Seven Kitchens Press, 2009). Matthew received his MFA from the University of Michigan where he won a Hopwood Award for Poetry and The Helen S. and John Wagner Prize. His work has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Best New Poets 2005.

BILLY MERRELL is the author of Talking in the Dark, a poetry memoir (Scholastic, 2003), and a co-editor for The Full Spectrum (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2006), which received a 2006 Lambda Literary Award. Most recently, he is co-author of Go Ahead, Ask Me (Simon & Schuster, 2009). He received his M.F.A. in Poetry from Columbia University and is currently the Web Developer of, the website of the Academy of American Poets.

PAUL LISICKY is the author of Lawnboy, Famous Builder, and the forthcoming books The Burning House (2011) and Unbuilt Projects (2012). His work has appeared in Ploughshares, The Iowa Review,StoryQuarterly, The Seattle Review, Five Points, Subtropics, Gulf Coast, and many other anthologies and magazines. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he’s the recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the James Michener/Copernicus Society, the Henfield Foundation, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, where he was twice a fellow. He lives in New York City and Springs, New York, and has taught in the graduate writing programs at Cornell University, Rutgers-Newark, and Sarah Lawrence College. He currently teaches at NYU.

LONELY CHRISTOPHER will be presenting two arias from his new opera Stegosaurus (a collaboration with composer Reese Revak). Featuring pianist Jennifer Peterson, soprano Heather Green, and tenor Brandon Snook. Presented by The Walt Whitman Project.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Tipsy Critics: Hamlet (Part 1)

The Corresponding Society is drunk to present a new semi-regular video feature for our blog, The Tipsy Critics. The premise of the videos will be pretty simple: writers Mae Saslaw and Lonely Christopher sit down to discuss works of classic literature over drinks (lots of drinks). For our inaugural video, which apparently is going to turn out to be a two-parter (we had sixty minutes of soused footage to edit down), we decided upon tackling the immortal classic Hamlet by William Shakespeare. A few drinks in, we also got around a bit to the Twilight movies, but it’s mostly Hamlet. So, Internet, here come the Tipsy Critics:

Tipsy Critics Present Hamlet, Part I from Mae Saslaw on Vimeo.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Delight of delights, this week we are pleased to be featuring the multi-talented Kevin Killian’s answers to our redacted Proust Questionnaire. See here:

Introduction to Kevin Killian

Kevin Killian has written two novels, Shy (1989) and Arctic Summer (1997), a book of memoirs, Bedrooms Have Windows (1990), and three books of stories, Little Men (1996), I Cry Like a Baby (2001) and Impossible Princess (2009). He has also written two books of poetry, Argento Series (2001), and Action Kylie (2008). With Lew Ellingham, Killian has written often on the life and work of the American poet Jack Spicer [1925-65] and with Peter Gizzi has edited My Vocabulary Did This To Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer (2008) for Wesleyan University Press. For the San Francisco Poets Theater Killian has written thirty plays, including Stone Marmalade (1996, with Leslie Scalapino), The American Objectivists (2001, with Brian Kim Stefans), and Often (also 2001, with Barbara Guest). New projects include Screen Tests, an edition of Killian's film writing, and a new novel Spreadeagle which Alyson Books will publish one of these days.

Kevin Killian Answers the Proust Questionnaire

Your favorite virtue.

Your favorite qualities in a man.

Your favorite qualities in a woman.

Your chief characteristic.
Addictive behavior.

What you appreciate the most in your friends.
Looking the other way.

Your main fault.
I can’t stand to have anyone upset with me.

Your favorite occupation.
Following Kylie.

Your idea of happiness.
Not for the public to know!

Your idea of misery.
To have lived without meeting Dodie Bellamy.

If not yourself, who would you be?
Nicholas Hoult

Where would you like to live?

Your favorite prose authors.
Outside of my friends: Agatha Christie, John Cowper Powys, Faulkner, Proust, Charlotte Armstrong, James Purdy

Your favorite poets.
Outside of my friends: Shakespeare, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Jack Spicer, Victor Hugo, Langston Hughes, Mina Loy,Ted Berrigan.

Your favorite heroes in fiction.
Sherlock Holmes, Holden Caulfield, Mr. Knightley, Dr. Matthew O’Connor, Oddjob, Clay (Less Than Zero), “Lord Jim,” Eric Ashley (in Michael Campbell’s Lord Dismiss Us)

Your favorite heroines in fiction.
Cymbeline, Imogen, Miranda, Alice, Scout, Emma, Gwendolen Harleth, Mrs. Moore, Mrs. Dalloway, Janie Crawford, Maria Wyeth, Veronica (Mary Gaitskill), Erica Kane

Your favorite painters and composers.
Outside of my friends, Seurat, Tintoretto, Pollock, Joan Mitchell, Florine Stettheimer, Warhol, Sturtevant, Sarah Lucas; Puccini, Mozart, R. Strauss, Brian Wilson, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Michael Brown, Arthur Lee, Jimi Hendrix, Laura Nyro, too many to name in each category

Your heroes in “real life.”
Not too many! Writers mainly, Robert Gluck, Dodie Bellamy, Dennis Cooper, Sarah Schulman, Samuel Delany, Eileen Myles, Raymond Pettibon, Kota Ezawa, Derek McCormack, Thom Wolf....

What characters in history do you most dislike?
Stalin, Nixon, Mao, Hitler, St. Paul.... On a different scale, Robert Frost, W H Auden, Darwin, Lewis Carroll, Rilke, many more

Your favorite names.
I wanted to have twins Ricky and Raquel, and we would call them Rick and Rack. I also thought Brando Killian would be a nice name for my son or daughter. But that didn’t happen.

What do you hate the most?
The unrelenting ignorance I see in the world and I can see in my own soul.

What military event do you admire the most?
Is this a trick question? I suppose the liberation of Hitler’s death camps, if that was a military event.

What reform do you admire the most?
Civil rights legislation of the 1960s and 1970s.

The natural talent you’d like to be gifted with.
Either drawing or playing the guitar.

How do you wish to die?
“In the saddle” would be nice, though embarrassing for my partner.

What is your present state of mind?
Thanks to Welbutrin, hopeful.

For what fault do you have the most toleration?

Your favorite motto.
“Try anything once. Then keep trying it until you like it. Then never stop.”

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Street Poet

Robert Snyderman, "international editor" for Correspondence no. 3 (when he was abroad, working as an itinerant farmhand in Quebec) and street-poet-of-interest, was profiled recently by the New York Time's Fort Greene blog. Read all about it here (if you haven't already). Unfortunately, if you're tempted to hit the streets to find Robert peddling his verse (at his favorites haunts: the Bethesda Angel, the Brooklyn Bridge, or Brooklyn's flea & farmer's markets), you're out of luck. He's relocated to Vermont for the rest of the summer, to study farming, and heading to Brown in the fall, to pursue an MFA in poetry.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Hey, the Proust Questionnaire returns! with none other than accomplished poet, essayist, blogger Amy King. Amy King’s bio is below, followed by her intimate answers to those Proustian questions:

Introduction to Amy King

Amy King is the author of I’m the Man Who Loves You and Antidotes for an Alibi, both from Blazevox Books, The People Instruments (Pavement Saw Press), Kiss Me With the Mouth of Your Country (Dusie Press), and most recently, Slaves to Do These Things (Blazevox). Forthcoming is I Want to Make You Safe (Litmus Press).

Amy edits the Poetics List, sponsored by The Electronic Poetry Center (SUNY-Buffalo/University of Pennsylvania), moderates the Women’s Poetry Listserv (WOMPO) and the Goodreads Poetry! Group, and teaches English and Creative Writing at SUNY Nassau Community College. Her poems have been nominated for several Pushcart Prizes, and she has been the recipient of a MacArthur Scholarship for Poetry. Amy King was also the 2007 Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere.

She is currently preparing a book of interviews with the poet, Ron Padgett, and is also co-editing Poets for a Living Waters with Heidi Lynn Staples. She maintains a blog you should read, right here.

Amy King Answers the Proust Questionnaire

Your favorite virtue.
I wish I didn’t bleed so much… profusion.

Your favorite qualities in a man.
He thinks about the world and is open and intuitive to the point that people say, “Including Mike Young is like including a woman.” He enjoys the insult as compliment.

Your favorite qualities in a woman.
When she surpasses backchanneling to put her words out there for everyone to target or admire, whichever matters not.

Your chief characteristic.
My last name says it all. “Not as a god but as a god might be.” Determined.

What you appreciate the most in your friends.
Their poetry. And love, which is in the same proximity.

Your main fault.
I can’t keep up.

Your favorite occupation.
Sage. Open to offers.

Your idea of happiness.
A lawn of books, on blanket, bottle of wine, something tasty, my lover and friends, a live band perhaps, events on the horizon and spontaneous poetry.

Your idea of misery.
Going through the motions, fruitless and numb.

If not yourself, who would you be?
That holy hippie guy with the beard and no pants. Or someone like Claude Cahun.

Where would you like to live?
In the cradle of Walt Whitman’s birth, where I live now. And a second home in the south of France or up to Paris or Barcelona. And a few other places. I like living.

Your favorite prose authors.
James Baldwin. Donald Barthleme. Gertrude Stein. Claude Cahun. Virginia Woolf. Laura Riding Jackson.

Your favorite poets.
Ouch, the limits of lists. Cesar Vallejo. Larry Levis recently. Gertrude Stein. Claude Cahun. Walt Whitman. John Ashbery. Tomaz Salamun. Ana Bozicevic. Laura Riding. Many more.

Your favorite heroes in fiction.
Sofia from The Color Purple by Alice Walker.

Your favorite heroines in fiction.
Is that the kind one snorts or puts in the arm?
Virginia Woolf’s Orlando; he’s a hot heroine.

Your favorite painters and composers.
O’Keefe. Picasso. De Chirico. Basquiat. Robert Frank. Diane Arbus. Claude Cahun. Photographers are painters too. Chopin’s Etudes.

Your heroes in “real life.”
In this very moment, Joan Retallack (for recent essays I’ve read online) and Ana Bozicevic. Look them up.

What characters in history do you most dislike?
God, Allah, Jehovah, and the like.

Your favorite names.
Zora. Barack. Walt Whitman.

What do you hate the most?
Apathy. Passivity. Guilt by excision.

What military event do you admire the most?
The disbandment of such machinery. Read Three Guineas. Future forward, baby.

What reform do you admire the most?
Huh? The What Else.

The natural talent you’d like to be gifted with.
Music-making. Bringing an audience to a range of conditions akin to that of Bonnie Prince Billy, the Avett Bros, Chan Marshall, etc.

How do you wish to die?
In love and loving.

What is your present state of mind?
Anxious and hopeful, despite recent environmental undoings.

For what fault do you have the most toleration?
Misguided effort.

Your favorite motto.
Where’s your joie de vivre?!

Friday, June 18, 2010

I Remember

Recently the Wilde Boys, a salon for queer writers, met to discuss the work of Joe Brainard. I was unable to attend, but I hear the discussion was lovely and Keith McDermot was there with some of Brainard’s collages and letters. I did read the text I Remember, which is something I had been intending to get around to for years (I remember Richard Loranger telling me about it when I was a freshman). It was a delightful, friendly book, inventing a form that’s impossibly tempting to try out. Anselm Berrigan, for example, used it here. While I’m sure the risks of narcissism and sentimentality are great, below I’ve written an I Remember exercise focused around experiences related to The Corresponding Society. I was eating a tea-soaked madeleine when I wrote this. (Lonely Christopher)

I remember whole nights writing in the living room with Christopher Sweeney and Robert Snyderman (we were listening to Sufjan Stevens the entire time and even if we left for the day it would still be playing when we got back). I remember The Corresponding Society’s first official meeting, attended by an impractical number of our friends and held in the biggest bedroom in the Bed-Stuy apartment. I remember I serendipitously met Bob Snyderman on the first day of school when he introduced himself after overhearing me telling somebody on the phone the first thing I was going to do in the city was go see the new Gus Van Sant movie. I remember the first verse poem I ever wrote was a rhyming satire called The Joke of Rape. I remember Richard Loranger taking very seriously the readings we held at Central Park’s Bethesda Angel (when we were freshman). I remember filming Bob recite a poem and filming Sweeney, shirtless, talking about Foucault. I remember when Zachary German read for us at the KGB Bar and then wanted to leave immediately. I remember the first time I saw our journal at St. Mark’s Bookshop. I remember reading Kenneth Koch freshman year, around when I decided to study fiction not poetry. I remember drawing a picture of Roland Barthes on the wall, which kept reappearing when we tried to paint it over. I remember I wanted to start a "salon" like Gertrude Stein. I remember when Bob Snyderman made paintings by hanging a canvas on his wall and stabbing it repeatedly with paint-smeared knives. I remember when Bob bought a violin, then decided to play it without formally learning it. I remember stealing bikes from Pratt and riding over the Brooklyn Bridge. I remember seeing Sweeney perform with his hardcore band at ABC No Rio. I remember Sweeney brought a coffeemaker to a party one night and couldn’t explain why. I remember he also would drink coffee in class from a big glass vase and everybody thought it was wine. I remember when our academic advisor, a recovering alcoholic, brought several dozen 40 bottles of malt liquor into our apartment, and we drank it all that night, and somehow it was all paid for by Knopf. I remember Bob became obsessed with this (huge) ratty, creepy doll named Dakota that he found somewhere (he put her in his fiction and plays, but his devotion began to concern us). I remember when Bob brought an entire tree into our apartment. I remember reading Moby-Dick on the subway on the way uptown. I remember eating hotdogs in a backyard and talking about Proust. I remember my favorite random present: a copy of Turco's Book of Forms from Mae Saslaw. I remember my academic advisor telling me he knew I thought I was smart because I understood Gertrude Stein, but I couldn't take an independent study on Joyce's Ulysses. I remember getting expelled from PS 122 for bad behavior at an after party. I remember when Bob observed Shabbat, but he cheated by leaving his room full of lit candles and keeping every door to our apartment unlocked so he could leave and get back inside. I remember the time Bob turned in some dead leaves for a critical theory assignment. I remember sitting on the street near Times Square with Sweeney and watching him as he ripped a book by Beckett in half, gave me a piece and put the other in his bag. I remember the year I was obsessed with Hamlet. I remember driving to Robert Frost’s house, but not going inside because an old lady was there charging five bucks per visitor. I remember walking fifteen minutes in the snow in the morning to study grammar. I remember almost the whole program was hung over in our Friday morning writer's forum because the salon was the night before. I remember Chanelle Bergeron stayed in a teepee in my living room one summer and almost everybody wrote a poem about her. I remember after reading in Providence, a Brown student asked me, “Are you gay?” I remember working in a library and listening to Philip Glass as I shelved books. I remember I wrote a story that won a contest at school, and the prize was a critique by Mary Gaitskill, and she hated my story, really loathed it, and was openly cruel about it. I remember Adrian Shirk, fiction writer, frustrated at rampant abuse of the title "poet," being a super loaded term and easy to exploit, and time was I agreed with her and preferred to think of myself as a "creative writer," but then I gave up again because I secretly wanted to be a Mythic Poet. I remember taking Bob and Sweeney to see the Richard Serra exhibit at the MoMA, trying to convince them I was applying minimalist processes in my poetry, then we sat in the sculpture garden and taped an interview while Sweeney smoked a cigarette. I remember when everybody would talk about Gender Trouble at parties and one girl named her dog Judith Butler. I remember issue 1 of Correspondence went fast because Bob sold copies in Central Park. I remember we called the kids who acted unruly at our salons “the groundlings.” I remember Josh Furst telling me the rules for writing were “live cheaply, don’t kill yourself, and write what hurts.” I remember when everybody but me went on tour for Correspondence and I convinced myself our cat had rabies (when they returned I found out Sweeney had been arrested). I remember Bruce Andrews was extremely particular about how the em-dashes looked in his poems for issue 2. I remember how the spine of issue 1 was accidentally backwards (nobody said anything). I remember our first business card had a misspelling (nobody said anything). I remember Anselm Berrigan approving vigorously of the self-publication in our journal, even sort of angry about people who think it's distasteful. I remember we were going to watch Basketball Diaries because we had that and Hook, but when we put it in the VHS player, we discovered it was really Freddy Got Fingered in the wrong box, but we watched it anyway, and I honestly thought it was a masterpiece. I remember finally reading John Ashbery. I remember the editors binding chapbooks together while watching Do the Right Thing. I remember having to meet with a disciplinarian at school after a production of one of Bob's plays was shut down for safety reasons. I remember when Bob did a play at St. Mark’s Church that also was forced to end prematurely (it never bothered him). I remember acting in a play by A. E. W. at the Bowery Poetry Club, yelling the line, “I gave you that kerosene to save you, not the baby!” I remember Jody Buchman began periodically conspiring to direct Waiting for Godot, staged outside on a huge mound of real cow shit. I remember nobody believed my insistence that "Godot" is always pronounced wrong. I remember we drove to the Cloisters to watch an outdoor production of Hamlet (everybody but me left early because it was terrible). I remember when Dave Swensen got us obsessed with Beethoven’s thirteenth string quartet. I remember the first play I wrote was ten acts long and featured no actual people, only furniture. I remember taking Bob to see Philip Glass at Carnegie Hall for his birthday. I remember trying disastrously to learn music theory (too much math). I remember memorizing the poem “The Rainbow,” by Gerard Manely Hopkins, and attempting to set it to music. I remember the editors trying to figure out what The Corresponding Society was principally about without writing a mission statement. I remember when we went out to buy new footwear and that somehow led to stealing a bagful of books by William S. Burroughs. I remember telling Sweeney all his favorite poets were gay. I remember how Greg Afinogenov would yell “Wisdom, let us attend!” to get people to shut up for readers at our salon. I remember sitting in a pile of trash near Columbus Circle and talking about Kafka.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dead Letters

Hello. As it appears, The Corresponding Society has taken an unannounced hiatus from this blog. Do not fear, it is only temporary. We’ve been living on a farm, writing poems on the Brooklyn Bridge, studying in Berlin, and making new chapbooks. So, busy. We will return to this poor neglected blog soon with a series of entries about our forthcoming chapbook line, “What Where.” Until then, if you are that rare creature who reads what we post here, you’re in luck. We’ve been posting essays and interviews here for years; there is a bunch of possibly distracting writing available in our archives in lieu of a recent update. For your convenience, here is a neat list of some of our articles you might like to peruse. These are some favorites, anyway, or the few anybody once said anything about. These poor things, so long ignored, should at least be mentioned again. And, again, the hiatus’ spell is waning.

Selections from the Archive
old & forgotten essays & miscellany of bygone years

On Why There is No Definition of a Hipster. A critical attempt at reading contemporary hipster culture (part of our ill-fated “hipster week” theme).

Richard Loranger, Mammal of Verse. A profile of the greatest poet you’ve never read (unless, of course, you've read our journal).

Interview with Kenneth Goldsmith. Kenny G talks about Warhol, the Internet, and why he hates creative writing programs.

The World Is Round and You Can Go on It Around and Around. Richard Loranger hosts Lonely Christopher in San Francisco.

Placing Rhapsody in Blue. Adrian Shirk, fiction writer, on her relationship to Gershwin.

Who Cares if You Read?. A poet’s argument against meaning, kind of. (In an article about a recent Supermachine reading in Brooklyn, this essay was cited as evidence that Lonely Christopher doesn’t believe in poetry.)

A Night at the Opera. Richard Foreman and John Zorn at the Ontological-Hysteric.

The Four Seasons. Robert Snyderman on Cy Twombly.

Irony’s Poetics. A convoluted and unfinished study on irony (also, the reason why the blog gets so many Google hits for the line “Like rain on your wedding day").

Why Meadow?. Lonely Christopher on the poetry of Robert Snyderman.

Interview with James Hannaham. Novelist James Hannaham discusses Hassidic Jews at gay bars, gays exorcisms at Baptist churches, and how he nearly ended up with a role on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.

All Warhol. The problem of Andy Warhol, philosopher.

The Epistemology of Emo. What does it mean to be an “emo kid”?

Sentimentalist’s Complaint. New technology, such as the Kindle, threatens a stubborn attachment to the book as object (and also it ruins creepy subway fun).

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Poetry Download

For everybody who missed out on the tremendous reading --- featuring Hailey Higdon, Seth Landing, Lewis Freedman, Robert Snyderman, and Dorothea Lasky --- at Bookspace in Fishtown: fear not! New Mp3 technology will bring Philadelphia to you. A recording of the event is available for download right here! Have a nice day.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


The Corresponding Society is pleased to help announce a not-to-miss poetry event this weekend in Philadelphia:




MAY 21

8:30 PM


@ the BookSpace

1113 Frankford Avenue

(just south of E. Girard Ave)

(BYO and we’ll provide the poets)


LEWIS FREEDMAN recently found himself in Madison, WI and then quickly founded, along with Andy Gricevich, the _______-Shaped Reading Series. He is the author of The Third Word (WHAT TO US press) and most recently CATFISH PO' BOYS, published by Minutes Books.

DOROTHEA LASKY is the author of Black Life (Wave Books, 2010) and AWE (Wave Books, 2007), an educational text Poetry is Not a Project (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010), and numerous chapbooks. She currently lives in New York City.

SETH LANDMAN lives in Denver, CO, and where he edits Invisible Ear and is a member of the collective, Agnes Fox Press. His chapbooks, Parker's Band and The Wild Hawk the Sea, were recently published by Laminated Cats and Minutes Books, respectively, and poems are forthcoming in Skein, Jubilat, The Boston Review, and other places.

ROBERT SNYDERMAN is a poet and playwright. He currently sustains himself by busking with a typewriter and sign that reads 'poems'. He is a founding member of The Corresponding Society, a small press and community in Brooklyn. He is one of the three authors of the newly released INTO (Seven Circlepress) and in July he will walk from southern Vermont onward to the North until.

HAILEY HIGDON lives in Philadelphia, PA where she teaches pre-kindergarten and runs the small, small, small press, WHAT TO US (press). She is originally from Nashville, Tennessee. Her newest small book, How To Grow Almost Everything, is forthcoming from Agnes Fox Press.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


This week we’re pleased to present answers to our version of the Proust Questionnaire provided by the brilliant Joshua Furst. Read it!

Introduction to Joshua Furst

Joshua Furst’s novel The Sabotage Café was named to the 2007 year-end best-of lists of the Chicago Tribune, the Rocky Mountain News and the Philadelphia City Paper, as well as being awarded the 2008 Grub Street Fiction Prize. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune said it “should not be missed by anyone who has an adolescent or has been one…The book is itself a kind of brick hurled at a Starbucks window, but much more dangerous in the end.”

His critically acclaimed book of stories, Short People, was published in 2003 and described by the Miami Herald as “a near magical collection.” The Los Angeles Times called it “Startling . . . a thoughtful if disturbing portrait of what it means to be a child. Or, more to the point, what it means to be human.” And the Times of London said "Any one of these stories is enough to break your heart. . . . Joshua Furst's debut is both enjoyable and important.”

His work has been published in the Chicago Tribune, Conjunctions, PEN America, Five Chapters and The New York Tyrant among many other places and given citations for notable achievement by The Best American Short Stories in 2005 and The O’Henry Awards in 2007.

He lives and teaches in New York City.

Joshua Furst Answers the Proust Questionnaire

Your favorite virtue.
Compassion…is this a virtue? Or is it just an uncommon kind of grace?

Your favorite qualities in a man.
Recklessness, vice and folly. These are also my least favorite qualities in a man. Men are frivolous creatures, in my experience.

Your favorite qualities in a woman.
Forgiveness (see above) and kindness.

Your chief characteristic.
Paranoia…but don’t take that to mean they’re not out to get me.

What you appreciate the most in your friends.
The long conversations during which we can briefly convince ourselves that we hold the world, whole, between us…oh, and their willingness to pretend that my crazy is a kind of normal.

Your main fault.

Your favorite occupation.
Getting it right.

Your idea of happiness.
A brief respite from fear.

Your idea of misery.

If not yourself, who would you be?
I’ve spent so long now pretending to be me that at this point I’m not convinced I could be anyone else if I wanted to.

Where would you like to live?
Far away from it all, right here in New York City.

Your favorite prose authors.
Samuel Beckett, Norman Mailer, Peter Handke, Joan Didion…ask me again tomorrow.

Your favorite poets.
Shakespeare, Baudelaire, Auden…does Dylan count?

Your favorite heroes in fiction.
Don Quixote, Huck Finn, Ivan Karamazov

Your favorite heroines in fiction.
Grace Paley’s Faith, Aurora Zogoiby from Rushdie’s The Moor’s Last Sigh

Your favorite painters and composers.
And artists of other stripes? Painters: Kokoschka, Klee, Rothko, and of course Picasso. But then, also, Modigliani, Edward Keinholtz, Gordon Matta Clark
Composers: Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell

Your heroes in “real life.”
Abbie Hoffman, George Orwell, Emma Goldman, and all other delusional idealists who refuse to shut up when told they’re being childish.

What characters in history do you most dislike?
Sanctimonious inquisitors like Savonarola, Joe McCarthy, Tipper Gore, and the rest of them…oh, and also, Hitler.

Your favorite names.
Do I have a favorite name? I’m not convinced I do.

What do you hate the most?
Mediocrity and those who strive for it.

What military event do you admire the most?
The Long March, the Storming of the Bastille…but of course, I’m not thrilled by the events that followed either of these great irruptions of idealism.

What reform do you admire the most?
I’m not sure I understand the question. You mean like the Emancipation Proclamation? If so, I’ll take that one, and you should too. But in general, I’m more inclined toward revolt than reform.

The natural talent you’d like to be gifted with.
A lack of self-consciousness.

How do you wish to die?
Having done something meaningful.

What is your present state of mind?

For what fault do you have the most toleration?

Your favorite motto.
The Lord said to Joshua, be bold, be brave, for I the Lord, your God, am with you always… not really a motto, but words to live by…

Monday, May 10, 2010

Feed Us

A Triptych of Small but Nice Info Re This Journal, Terminally Featuring Big News Re Same
The journal being Correspondence.

Re no. 3

The biannual journal of The Corresponding Society, Correspondence, is sort of biannual, it really is, and will be even closer continuing; issue no. 3 is newly released (well, March, it’s still fresh) and deftly represents a delicious flux of communities and conversations amongst writers… writers who are kind of sometimes home in Brooklyn, but found maybe also in Berlin, Cambridge, Fife, Portland, Quebec, elsewhere (depending on the season). The editorial intention is to collect works of formal intelligence that spell out a section of the rough and rapturous psychogeography being written through today; the complete diversity of everything else about it, outside craft, has been remarked upon elsewhere. There is no theme bridging our pages except the euphony of poetics in conversation. no. 3 is aware, it is sentient, it will kill again if left alone: Correspondence no. 3 is still available for purchase! right here through our Online Store (or at a hard-to-remember select number of booksellers sprinkled bashfully around North America). We just thought we would remember you this because we like the issue so much so much.

If you are familiar with what we’re up to here…

If you are familiar with what we’re up to here with our sort-of-nominally-sort-of-really punctually released biannual literary journal (bi-ish?), you then know about the balance of community and discovery we try to achieve in every issue. We publish ourselves (we’re participants, not arbiters, in this adventure); also writers who have been involved in our various machinations localized and abroad (from whom we desire badly to see new work, maybe those whom we want to represent in installments over time and issues); unfamiliar voices, recent friends too… reaching us through various channels, networks, parlors, bookstores, and literary instances; a few established writers, the kind you already like like we do, admire, copy, and argue over, the kind we want operating in our architecture; not least, we are found by perfect strangers, wanting their work to flutter into the maw of our open submissions period (a pile of text accumulates thus, from which we are apt to discover surprises and excitements unearthed from the monster heap, de profundis). The editorial process --- featuring a slightly changing group of about seven equally ranked writers of almost violently unique temperaments and textual interests, plus a remotely communicating international editor located in another country (for whatever reason, maybe custom by now) --- is drawn out, articulate, weird, passionate, dramatic, and exhausting. Each editor reads every single submission and the arguments, debates, and compromises over the content continue for weeks. Injury is constant. We don’t visit the hospital: we just put some gauze on it, a wound, and throw ourselves back into the fray. Anyway, the open submissions aspect is very important to the eclectic, happy discursive depth we try for in a total issue. An importance is placed on giving each contributor enough space to actually present a representative selection of work, rather than allowing many many names but a few pages, so we’re able to publish some importantly unruly things, unfit for skinnier periodicals, and this practice withal lets even unfamiliar writers we want with us, maybe a find via unsolicited submission, the serious real estate to smash some brains open on the sharp corner of the alphabet.

Now for no. 4

If you did not read the middle part, it was a friendly warm-up for this announcement, in case some readers like a paragraph or so of related but kind of unnecessary content before the big news. Here is the announcement tucked in the third paragraph instead of just listed large and boring upfront or advertised in the back of Poets & Writers. Anyway, this is important, we feel, for you to know: The Corresponding Society is now accepting submissions for issue no. 4 of Correspondence; the deadline is August 15, 2010. This might mean no. 4 is going to arrive on schedule, sans major delay, barring crisis. All the instructions you might require to send work for consideration in no. 4 are on the related Submissions Webpage. What we want, how we want it, all of that is there. Any additional questions can be directed to our general email address. We look forward to finding some work we would never have otherwise run into but that fits perfectly into our evil plan (as outlined above and elsewhere). We are especially looking for more submissions of fiction, hybrid things, critical essays, and shorter dramatic texts. We are always a hungry throat for poetry. Ok, so we’ve said it.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Into the Document

Into Was to Begin
by Lonely Christopher

NOTE: Into is a new volume of four long-form poems from three poets: “Face” by Christopher Sweeney, “The Mountain” by Robert Snyderman, “The House of There Is” & “The Great Bird Will Take the Universe” by Lonely Christopher. Into is a Seven CirclePress release and features a critical introduction by Greg Afinogenov. More details available here. Here below, contributor LC remarks personally on the project…

Into was assembled erratically, the process spontaneously providential. It’s a thematic confluence of a triad of inextricably related unrelated young poets. We three went into Into out of a consanguinity architected from poets’ communities’ conversations that branch and blossom with weird resonance. No genesis in commissioned project frames the textual narrative full enough here: the editorial anti-process, an amalgamation of intuits and accidents, really groped into being as the conspiracy of a loose association of writers/critics/friends who read and reshaped the cause. The germ was planted by publisher Seth Jani: he requested a document from Robert Snyderman. Snyderman, opaque and gnostic, brought instead, eventually, a giant messy mountain.

The triad of Into went advertising the object upon its release at the end of April; we growled about in a smelly car, highways between locations --- our manuscript tucked in dizzy grasps --- and incited conversations with unfamiliar communities as the word spilled, shared, out with theirs. That we three would publish ourselves thus and in said manner describe our poetics together pushing the tangle through but-discovered contexts… that this would be feels as apposite to our story as it does tending to unruly gurgles. How it speaks in funny gestures: those of all who navigate the slough with us, searching for the mountain, hear.

Principal in Into’s allowance must be Seth; his Seven CirclePress enabled the text and bravely faced it when it came delivered in monstrous shape. The form of this mutated from the promise of a title, for release, from Robert alone, the self-confessed vagabond newly escaped from an undergraduate writing program (where his thesis was a poem cycle, Cloth, terminating in an early iteration of “The Mountain”), thence stalked off to roam North America. Robert had importantly studied poetry closely with fellow Pratt poet Sweeney, he writing “Face” concurrently and at length, in the institutionalized place, the same school where Lonely Christopher was and won the thesis prize for fiction that annum. The relationship of their individual fixtures, and consequent rude and awesome branching, has been treated by Greg Afinogenov, historian and conspirator, who interpreted/linked the valences gauzed round their poetics and those of proxy corresponding kids. His extensive attention, plus critical documenting, authorized him in introducing Into by way of setting the stage for its unfolding. This here rant hints nothing at the helpful clarity and skill in that intro essay in Into.

Christian Hawkey, poet/translator who Sweeney and Rob studied Celan under (who we all withal sat with in a tutorial called “Writing Machines”), became Into’s shepherd. He advised vast aspects of the editorial process, conversing re and critiquing generously/thoroughly the matter’s gamut. When he held the glossy final object in standing for its introduction, at our Brooklyn release, he evinced his mentorish skepticism (+ wisdom) in admitting he didn’t initially like our title. (The title was the subject of heaps of authorial dread, nothing being resolved, until Into sensibly materialized, only later revealing its resonance.) Christian took the singular preposition as positing a movement toward an interior, a delving into, initially. His eventual conclusion, jumpy doubt becalmed, changed agreeably: Into is not an inward direction, a lunge profundis --- it is not movement into enclosing… rather an indication of contact and division. If that is, then “into” is more lateral, even centrifugal, than inwardly plunging. Thus the “into” of Into was located.

The four poems in Into are all treatments of existential problems; that’s my fuzzy conclusion, anyway. We weren’t writing together, or even always talking to each other, when separately suffering the shapes of these things to final form. The poems weren’t written into this book, but drawn, magnetized, thither as an aftermath. Greg reads the results as poetic constructs gaping asunder, wound-like, sans significant bridges between weeping elements. How identify these retarded “bridges” absent over each yawning problematic? My summary following is probably weakly facile, but a trace of the argument at least… Sweeney’s mythological stance mourns threadbare truth, existence diluting faith, finally to be salvaged or sunk in muddy drapes of temporality; Rob’s ecstatic mountain explodes definition, writing itself obliterated by experience as its actualization; my work might be like the pathetic song puked down the echo chamber of vacancy where subject and text fail each other. Maybe.

In Sweeney’s deftly composed, formal miracle of a poem, “Face,” there is a romance of attempting to distinguish values of experience, hold something --- what is being (a kind of awe) in the searing brightness of its uncertainty? The drama unfurls jerkily, language carried at a staggered clip, words floating insolent in a puddle of the page “into time, / looming.” The holiness of place warps, scarefully, and the threat of the wrong place curdles the verse: “place constricts / obliquely[.]” Sweeney fights, implores --- whatever you have, hold, even if what’s held is pain… it is owned pain then. Is the singularity of place possible? will shapes resolve around poetry or will a cruel existential wave make scud of this desire?

Robert’s work has always been more impervious to description than Sweeney’s mannered verse or my own conceptual operating. Greg has it his poetry wakes you hurried in the night, confused of/in place. Christian posits the mountain from “The Mountain” as Into’s central metaphor. The Mountain is a part of the whole and the hole within the parts. “The mountain is an annex,” Rob writes; he writes, “The Mountain must be confronted.” The device is unstable --- the metaphors, mixed (The Mountain is: monolithic and shattered; figurative and a reachable; there, a generic noun, here, a specific name), constitution scrambled --- but, whatever/however this Mountain reads it must be confronted. It is written. “Time writes.” This poem is a confrontation of the mountain that is the Mountain: the contradiction of the idea is the brain of its poetry. Is the Mountain magisterial and/or sinister, what funds its power, is it a consequence and/or an action, does it keep place or eat place, are we going into it or departing? The declarations of this impossible journey spell how, says Greg, “the way in is also the way out.” The document changes into the Mountain.

What place is there then for my terminal poems, lastly drafted into Into and compositionally technically divorced from the formalism of “Face” and, differently, the prophetic depravity of “The Mountain”? This pair of procedural works came from a period of appropriation as textual (re)negotiating. In both, a found source (a sermon and Freud, respectively) are split open, through erasure, letting out a rhetorical demon ever before dormant in the ideological subconscious of the text. The sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” minus the morality, is left its stark spinal secret, turning into an existential harassment of place. Sinners’ hell turns into texts’ hell: insignificance (“to be gone / is”). The final poem, “The Great Bird Will Take the Universe” (from Freud), queers the normative code of the source, problematizes its pulsing rhetoric, thereby opens into allowance to be destroyed by the machine of its title, our great bird, another mountain, a metaphor for the unrecoverable singularity, the place achieved --- and the way the great bird swallows meaning celebrates itself as a suicide bomber inside identity’s fabric. “The universe forces her way into experience.” Boom.

Taking Into out into the little world was scary for this poet. The ghost-thread hung around the four entities inside seemingly so fragile as to read tenuously by a frustrated audience. We’re going on about a year since the poems in Into were being drafted as uncommon projects by three peers --- close, we, but nevertheless absorbed fully in our own creative idioms. The thematic positions and formal mechanisms demonstrated by each member of this published triad are so dense we haven’t done with interrogating each other re the other poems --- my reading of “The Mountain” particularly unfinished, my view of Sweeney’s belief systems always shifting. We packed a lot of study into these poems; the seriousness rattling around in our skulls after four years of vocational development is plain in it all, an over-ever-obvious symptom; they’re not, these, always the friendliest, poem-wise in approach. They are the charts of our obsessions, overlapping as they have despite our refusals of correlative pursuits, artistically. Maybe this all reads unforgivably pretentious, and then I am daft, and this is all a receipt for postured embarrassments. I worry how publishable the triad is, if we can walk into a situation prepared to take the time to hear us at any volume. Yet, on the road (two weeks past at time of writing), beset as I was with doubt compounding with sickness of traveling daily through those states… even though I was moodily cynical then, when Robert got and stood in front of whoever was generously assembled for the reading, and when he began not to repeat but perform the text, act out The Mountain reading “The Mountain,” newly each time too --- the animation of the poem came flickering out of him so, it put back in me the amazed way I read my friends’ verse; it reminded me of where we came from and why we did this like this.