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 CafĂ© 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.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Chapbook Festival

The Annual Chapbook Festival is upon us, taking place May 3 and 4 at the CUNY Graduate Center, and this year The Corresponding Society is pleased to announce our participation in the festivities.

Firstly, The Corresponding Society will have a table at the book fair, which runs both days from 11:30am to 7pm. We will be displaying titles from our first chapbook series, “No Know,” discussing the soon-to-be-released new series, “What Where,” and promoting Correspondence and related titles. Also, Robert Snyderman will be on hand with his popular Poem Shop project.

Monday morning Lonely Christopher, “What Where” series curator, will present a workshop titled “Producing Chapbooks for Poets”; he will be joined by Rachel Levitsky, of Belladonna, and Brenda Iijima, of Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs. The workshop will occur at the Graduate Center from 10am-11:30am; it is free, but registration is required (see official site).

Finally, David Swensen, co-editor of Correspondence and author of the “No Know” series chapbook Elegies for A.R. Ammons will make an appearance during the marathon reading of chapbook poets. That’s happening on the second day of the marathon, Tuesday, during the 4pm-5pm set.

The marathon reading is free and open to the public. The full calendar is available for download on the official website, but here are a few highlights (or at least the readers we’re really excited about):

May 3

H_NGM_N: Ben Mirov
Forklift, Ohio: Amy King
Ugly Duckling Presse: Dorothea Lasky

May 4

Flying Guillotine Press: Steven Karl & Angela Veronica Wong
Small Anchor Press: Joseph Mcelroy
Poets Wear Prada: Austin Alexis & Michael Montlack

The Corresponding Society is very happy to be so involved in the Chapbook Festival this year. We hope to see you there!