Olin-Darling/Zultanski/Ward/Davis report & when will spring come? Happy Purim!

I walked through Borough Park today as an ethno-tourist. Is is still ethno-tourism when, strictly speaking, it’s one’s “own” ethnicity? I wonder. Well, I certainly do feel like a different breed of person than the denizens of Borough Park, but I was sort of admiring them today, in their crazy Purim finery (I saw several pirate hats and cowboy hats, one green dinosaur, one “gangster” in an electric blue suit, one tall male youth in a slutty blonde wig, several children – boys and girls — dressed as cops and soldiers [what’s that about?], a couple of small girls dressed as grandmothers, lots of face paint: charcoal eyebrows, hugely rosy cheeks). When I told Gary I was going, he said, “but they’re dressed up anyway!” He’s right of course, but the ebullient expressiveness of Purim costumes is so perfectly bizarre; if I were Hasidic I’m sure I would live for this day. Well, of course I wanted to take photos, but they seem not to welcome that. They seemed once to even think it odd that I was taking pictures of signage, so I thought, well, I won’t be intrusive, I’ll just carry their images in my mind. I did, though, sneak this one, from the back.


I’m worn out, winter will never end, I’m thinking, but Segue is galloping along beautifully, and I apologize for my lapses in reports.

Last weekend was Jeni Olin a.k.a. Truck Darling and Steve Zultanski. Here is my intro for Jeni, who wore, as you may be able to get some sense of in this lousy iPhone photo, a red sequin tank top over a white boybeater, false eyelashes, 70s jeans, those “foot” things that surfers wear as shoes, a wooden cross, and sometimes designer-y black spectacles with dragon shapes on the sides:

Truck Darling/ Jeni Olin


I saw the Who play San Francisco’s Winterland in 1976.

In 1978, I was there for Patti and Bruce.

In that same year, I saw the Ramones live at the Old Waldorf.

I saw the Rolling Stones live in Prague a year after the Velvet Revolution.

In Tokyo in 1990, I was there for Madonna’s Blonde Ambition tour, when she wore the now-iconic gold metallic Gaulthier bra.

And now, devoted listeners, I am here today, with you, at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York City, to hear… the amazing… Jeni Olin.

Jeni’s poems are as crisp and powerful as pop songs, but more surprising. That’s a rare thing. They are fearless in their total embrace of affect. As she writes in a facebook update under the name of her Alter Ego, Truck Darling, “My idea of Heaven is feeling absolutely everything to an excruciating degree but nothing hurts.”

If she carries the torch for the New York School (she authored, after all, A Valentine to Frank O’Hara, published in 1999) she does so better than anyone else, without a trace of Sha Na Na-like nostalgic reification. Instead her poems are time capsules of contemporary New York, transposed into her own mode of the boyish feminine, infused relentlessly with wit, compassion for self and others, and an endearingly mannered sort of melodrama. As she writes in another update, “I want to be a holder forever, dropping everything, so when we swallow we choke a little & feel things like clumsy reindeer grace.”

Her first book, Blue Collar Holiday, with art by Larry Rivers, was published by HL in 2005. Her new collection, Hold Tight: The Truck Darling Poems, forthcoming from HL this fall. I urge you to put in an advance order.

And now, with almost inexpressible excitement, I bring you the jewel of our city: Jeni Olin.

some lines:

Kids sway finchlike in the breeze

Are you so strong, or is it the Black Russian in me?

You cannot bring sexy back without a receipt

I feel virile, like an alpha lemming shouting “next!”

I’m all about silly cavorting here on earth

The agents of chaos grow glammier

I love you more than you love me just by loving you at all


Steve actually read first. Gary wrote a conceptual introduction for him:

Steven Zultanski is the author of the chapbook This and That Lenin (BookThug), plus the forthcoming volumes Pad (Make Now) and Copkisser (BookThug). He edits President’s Choice magazine, a Lil’ Norton publication.

Close observers of the steve project may have noted that the project’s first paper was entitled “Social Terminology Enhancement through Vernacular Engagement,” a bit of an in joke, but not (as some have suggested) the source of the project’s name.

Steeve. Etymology: probably from Spanish estibar or Portuguese estivar to pack tightly, from Latin stipare to press together — more at stiff. Date: circa 1644.

Go steeeve. My first planned project is to paint steeeve three metres high on a large white board near my residences. I’ll be purchasing the paints in four weeks: Night Black and Verdant Sunrise. He shall be rendered in total glory.

Steeeeve wrote: I don’t mean to be insulting but it’s just not that hard to grasp. Yes the Sun is small if you compare it to something much bigger. That doesn’t chage the fact that the Sun is still incredibly large (trying to avoid the word massive since we’re talking about size).

Did you mean: steeeeve.

Hey there! steeeeeeve is using Twitter. … Join today to start receiving steeeeeeve’s tweets.

Haaaapy Biiiiiiiirthday dear Steeeeeeeve.

NASCAR definition by Steeeeeeeeve. I’m sorry, but I would rather watch competetive elephant ejaculation than a NASCAR race.

Re: The biggest whores in Hollywood. Nickyboy mentioned a giant of a contender today, a truly mammoth name in Hollywood whoredom. A once talented guy who dropped his strides and wrote “get it here studios” with lipstick across his buttcheeks. Who can it be? Steeeeeeeeeve Martin!!

And yeah, if you really want a bit of a meet, then Feb 5th is the time. Woo, Colin! Woo, hanging out with Steeeeeeeeeeve again! Woo, awesomness!

Please help me welcome the awesomeness that is Steve Zultanski.

Sadly, I forgot to take notes, but here’s what I remember about his great reading: he read a sizeable chunk of My Pad, his conceptual work listing all the things in his apartment he can and cannot lift with his dick. Each line begins, “My dick can lift/ My dick cannot lift” and catalogues every object in minute detail. The section he read focused on a bag of garbage in a garbage can in his bathroom, and we learned, for example that he could not lift the garbage can with his dick, but that he could lift the Q-tips in the bag, even the ones with earwax on them. This poem occasioned some pleasantly racy aftertalk at the bar, during which someone said he wanted to remind Steve that there might be better tools and appendages for lifting, and I told Steve, making sure to preface my comment with a disclaimer that I didn’t mean to be coy, that I appreciated the radical, self-reflexive masculinism of the poem. Blushing banter! Love it! OK, but it was the next poem he read that everyone seemed to agree was his tour de force. It was a kind of psychedelic list poem involving Lenin… stuff was shooting out of Lenin’s mouth or eyes… there were different sections… oh I wish I had notes… it was a terrific poem. Then he read a poem called “All My Women,” which was a list of women’s names preceded by “my.” I’m sure there was a trick to the poem, because the names sounded very much like pop star and actress names, and there were some repetitions, and I wondered whether he had gone through, perhaps, a magazine? or a CD/DVD collection? to compile them? Well, I was interested in how many of the names themselves, such as Brianna and Tiffany, had, for me, semantic/generational resonances, were somehow, without needing anything else to determine that: they were always/already superficial and diminufying. Steve dives into the wreck, I think. I’d be curious to know how other people apprehend possibly provocative gestures like this poem or My Pad.

Yesterday’s reading was, wow, the incredible Dana Ward. Look at him, with the kewpie hairdo! and the deep powder blue skinny jeans! And those frosty looking Timberland boots: what would you even call that color?


Here’s my intro, which was so absolutely connected to what he read that it was almost spooky:

I keep hearing people say it: Laura Moriarty, Brandon Brown, and just last week Sharon Mesmer, in a phone conversation: prosody is what we live in, the shiznit, if you will it’s all there is: we’re soaking in it. Dana Ward’s poetry I hold up as exhibit A. Let’s say prosody is a crimson peony as big as a trampoline, its petals all satiny and crenellated, and in the center of it, like a latter-day Momotaro, is this bioluminescent being, poetry’s beatific firefly: Dana Ward. Dana and I, who magically share both a birthday and a first name, have been having an on and off correspondence around the notion of lyric. I think, you know, there’s Stepford lyric, a kind of zombified moldy twinkie of lyric, precious and myopic and self-important, and this might be what prevails, has prevailed, in the popular idea of what lyric is, an what has caused much discussion, even contention, amongst avant-gardistes about whether or not lyric is useful, valid, worthy of interest, and so forth. And then there’s lyric, which, like porn and beauty, I know when I see, and which Drew Gardner usefully reminds us, basically just means “guitar.” Not only is it not dead or dying, or in need of resuscitation, but it in itself is a resuscitator, an inflamed liquid fearless exploration into forward moving thought-as-song, born, like Dana, of prosody’s giant peony. Dana writes, in his Notley-infused poem “How Spring Leaves,”

every rapturous word pulling through naming nature
as if saying “lambent” acquitted my fear
in the timbral wing of the house of possession
the mouth making sounds toward the tree

It’s luscious, right? I’m reminded of how the Beatles in Nowhereland in Yellow Submarine SOW a path in NOTHINGNESS with magically arising foliage in the wake of their forward movements; they clutter an empty world into exuberant being. But lyric, real lyric, is more problematic. It’s not just pretty; it’s pernicious, too, and alarming. Dana writes in our correspondence, “A lyric then is… a struggle, with our inability to know it, skin-grafting our bodies on a topos for which there isn’t any map, an a temporal space contingent on a series of temporalities—prosody then of the living unknown.” So… the living dead (faux lyric) vs. the living unknown…

If, as I said two weeks ago, Anselm Berrigan’s poems are a little like carnival rides, Dana’s seem to more like slides, their temperature-conducting metal rubbed smooth by sliders’ gleeful bodies, their shapes and twists designed for both the unexpected and for whooshing momentum. That acceleration is part of the brilliance of their prosody. When they stop and I come to that bump at the bottom of the page, I find I wanna climb up the ladder and go again.

He read fast and I couldn’t stop to write down many lines, but here are a couple I fished out of the stream:

I summon my inner Snow White

babies dressed as ladybugs and spiders in the twilight

milk thistle flows through the tunnel of love, at the end of which is just intensive care

[and my all-time favorite ever]
the marriage of Watten and Watteau

Jordan read next, having made it down from Briarcliff where he’d been roughing it with no power, and looking very countrified indeed in red fleece, brown check shirt, jeans, and oldish black socks. No shoes.


Here’s Gary’s intro:

Jordan Davis’s poems have appeared in Poetry, The Nation and The Poker. His chapbook POD: Poems on Demand is forthcoming from Greying Ghost.

When I think of some of the more memorable or defining quotes of the last half century of American poetry:

Frank O’Hara’s “Grace to be born and live as variously as possible”

Philip Whalen’s “Continuous nerve movie”

Ted Berrigan’s “Feminine, marvelous & tough”

Rod Smith’s “Take what you need and leave the rest”

Jordan Davis’s work feels to me like the most successful embodiment of all of them. This is, after all, the guy who, in the late 90s, promised the world he would write a million poems and who has, since then, acted as though he meant it, producing, in addition to the lyrical and buoyant Million Poems Journal

(1) a handful of chapbooks, including A Little Gold Book; Poem on a Train; Yeah, No; Upstairs; and A Winter Magazine

(2) a translation-version project, My Orhan Veli, which takes English translations by Murat Nemet-Nejat and Talat Sait Halman of a poet—Orhan Veli—internationally known for his off-handed candor and makes him actually, finally read in English as off-handed and candid

(3) conceptual poetry projects, such as Poetry on Demand, wherein he writes poems in response to searches that have led people to his Million Poems blog over the years (e.g., “Poem for a Sixth Wedding”; “Pictures of Bugs Bunny Dressed Like a Thug” and my all-time favorite, “Turtles Generate Poems”

(4) some of the greatest flarf classics of all time, including “The Influence of Anxiety”; “Not Enough Pussay”; and the equally anthemic “Stupidity Is Eternal.”

I’m out of time and I haven’t mentioned even a half of Jordan’s projects—his numerous and insightful sweeping essays on major avant-garde poets for the Nation, his several-season running Million Poems talk show here at the BPC, his eye-opening wholesale lifting and relineation of biographical citations from a congressional Web site, his typing up and editing of all of the voicemails left to him by a certain former New York poet which resulted in what some might go so far to argue is that poet’s best book to date—the list goes on, as long and as various as life itself.

He is one of my favorite poets, and it gives me great pleasure to invite him now to the stage.

He read first a piece that appeared to be responses to war and violence, a frustrated musing?…. then some shorter poems “eagles nesting in the gargoyles,” “I stayed up writing a report on the sphinx…. then what he called “blues poems” from 7th/ 8th century Japan… it had been a long time since I had thought of the Manyoshu, and these poems were hugely pleasurable: “the ruined castle/ they unfriended it,” “ so much better than committing all this bullshit/ is this sake,” “oh my god , I better do something good ¬– I’m a man!”

Favorite title came next: “The bright ages”

and this line: “as for me, I like liking. There you have it, I’m a liker.”


Thank you, poets! Now, this is my Sunday evening, and I must try to wind down, in hopes of slumber. I would like to dream at the very least of crocuses, if it’s too much to ask for wisteria…

(snow-weary, pink-haired, and dreaming of spring…)



Little boy around five on the subway with his father, asking questions in English his papa answers in French, all starting with “why”:

Why do we have trains?
Why do we have shoes?
Why do we have hair?

etc. This goes on for several iterations, but my favorite is, “Why do we have writing?”


In the Clinton/Washington station, a group of police officers standing around. A police dog – a big, dreamy-eyed German Shepherd – is tugging at the strap of one of the officer’s batons. He wants to play.


A guy on the train platform who looks like he has the elephant man syndrome (Recklinhausen neurofibromatosis?). His head and face are big and assymmetrically swollen almost like a Casper character. His skin is bicolored, in a brown v shape on his cheeks and chin and mouth, pinkish elsewhere. He keeps clearing his throat, and there’s something echoic in the gurgly rasp of his phlegm.


Something brown and chunky splashed up against the wall under the station stairs.


<a href="http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/1735208/like&quot;
title=”Wordle: like”><img
alt=”Wordle: like”
style=”padding:4px;border:1px solid #ddd”>

Fudging an interest in the frantic morning, hangul specks on my missing milkteeth. Arrogating the irritant, which is not real at least not in this morning of smooth distrust. Lend me your hankie – today doesn’t feel solid yet – because of the anxious fluff on the thinktank of everything. There’s a poetry on my waist that smells like incompleteness, but then, everything is incomplete, and then you die, like a silly rabbit. I don’t mean to be negative… there’s a brightness on the terra cotta and pale blue – both – and that’s your homework – to understand that more completely – not the levelings of the imaginary city or its meticulous restorations – the “human community” is just chaotic… we can’t seem to get it right, and most people are too austere in their sophistry … a smudge… on an iphone… a fried cricket… fruit I listen to for its dumb lyricism… the grapes sing prettily, even the horrible news is full of poetry… but I don’t mean exactly to celebrate it for that because life is too…. The easy seductions of puns, dandies, cats, all abloom in my womanly voice as imaged flutter: these are the cantilevers of my inveterate secretions. Come on, we’re either posing, positing, or ovapositing the brittle germs of our little theories.

day now starts to take shape beneath my wondering arms: the star reason, the man reason… and person reason… I’m not sure why I always want to break the day into mists… something to do with havoc… the not-so-erudite lisp of my human musing…. the women have ponytails… the men… stocking caps… nested like phrases on their active heads this rattly morning. Now when I think of you I think of me… green screen, flying…. in a shao-lin goddess kick through the air, aimed… at you. I do also wear the chiffon – it streams behind me to show my vigor and my direction. I feel anyway like just part of the season, an ingredient in a dish, not the whole dish… light on the teal girders… hoping this revels some externalized inner cadence… trying to “externalize” the day: it starts again like a pop tune. Every day thrust into windy life… work… the slurring of midlife a kind of milky whirr. An admired hat or groovy stranger… the discomfort of receptivity – I watch everyone with curiosity, blue and gold gems crowding the scene like fires – not saleable and not dismissive.

I wonder if you think of the starlit movements of the hairy mind in all your snits and rages. So I don’t sleep as an elegant duck, sleek and tucked and rotund in comfort. No. Those happy workings are here revealed as flimsily mundane renderings, not so much toxic as averagely creative, and that is what I mean by distraction: his green hair, her leopard tights, etcetera.

on the Snyder/Berrigan Reading

Magnificent readings from Rick Snyder and Anselm Berrigan at the Bowery Poetry Club on Saturday.

Here’s Gary’s intro for Rick:

Sometime between 2002 and 2004—my memory of the exact year is too hazy to retrieve—Rick Snyder stunned New York’s experimental poetry scene when he announced that he was leaving not just the city, but the east coast, to study Classics in Los Angeles.

According to San Francisco poet George Albon, no less a figure than W.H. Auden once claimed that the ideal home for the poet—if he or she was to be truly contemporary—was somewhere that had recently gone from hopeful boomtown or near Utopic status to disappointing, crumbling—ideally frightening—Dystopia. For reasons that George explained, but which were nonetheless still unclear to me, while New York had been that place at the time of Auden’s residency here, Los Angeles—Rick’s new, if temporary, home—was Dystopia Central, and thus where you as a poet speaking of and to your time wanted to be now.

I was not exactly convinced by this, and am still not. But there is something distinctly contemporary and American that resonates with this idea of boomtown/utopia gone afoul—which seems to be not only part of the “natural” course of our cities—consider the steady “clean-up” of New York only to end in the apocalyptic 9/11 attacks and subsequent economic slump—but our online and other, conceptual, spaces, too.

Of all of the poets I can think of, Rick Snyder seems particularly keyed into this entopic aspect of American space and culture. It’s almost frightening, for instance, what he sees, focusing on what is still the primary site of most poetic dissemination: paper. As he playfully writes in Paper Poem:

Your papers litter the floor
your litter papers the floor
your papers had a litter
and none of them survived
the poems you put on them

That Rick seems to be particularly aware of the seeds of Dystopia in every Utopia is particularly evident in his first full-length book, just out from Ugly Duckling Presse: Escape from Combray. Combray refers of course to Proust’s fictionalized childhood village, and this book features a detail of a map of Rick’s own “childhood”—poetic childhood, anyway–“village”—Chicago, where, as he writes:

cars volleyed
back and forth
but no one else
was out

the storefronts
were dark and hollow

the higher windows
flickered in
tv light

and far ahead
the expressway
glowed so bright
I could hear it

And here’s my intro for Anselm:

One reason, perhaps, that the audience for poets is composed mostly of poets is that to really get inside a poem, it’s very useful to try to put oneself inside its compositional gestures, almost as if, in reading or experiencing it, you are writing it yourself. For me, some poets facilitate this more readily than others, and I’m thinking of those whose work is imbued with a sense of its making-at-the-moment, like Philip Whalen, and Bernadette Mayer, and Allen Bramhall. I would include Anselm Berrigan among them. At the outset of each Anselm poem, I feel as if an exploration or adventure is about to start, rather like waiting in line for a ride at a carnival or starting a road trip. His poems seem not so often created with strategy aforethought: rather, their strategies emerge in time as discoveries. They are full of the propulsion of lyric, but it is a totally non-precious lyricity enriched with a swirl of influences (many outside of poetry) as well as what he endearingly calls a “messiness” that shows up in the poems as multiple unpredictable registers and vocabularies, although what dominates is his own “Anselm voice”, which strikes me as kind of boyish and at once funny and sadly ironic, and not at all ever stuck-up.

Asked in an interview a few years ago about the ratio of “found” to “created” language in his poems, he responded,

I could be a pain in the ass and say that all language is found and all language is created, but I’ll spare you that even though I just said it. I’d say it is something like 85/15 created/found. I’ll take a little from here, a little from there, but I like to come up with my own combinations as much I can. My mind is a just a little too blank sometimes. I often think that there are no words in my head until I write them down.

Anselm thinks and writes and talks about writing a lot, and always engagingly. I love these two quotes from his mutual interview with Marcella Durand in Gary’s old magazine readme from ten years ago:

I leave wide open the possibility that this world is not the real world. But I’m interested in this world as a subject for poems. I had an interesting experience once, which suggested to me that the dimension which we take ourselves to reside in is rather thin, and could be torn away as if wallpaper.

The compositional space I operate out of is living, and ideas related to artifice, language, form, etc. I take to be encapsulated within that space, so that it’s completely open as to what a poem can do, or be.

Nick Piombino responds to the readings here.

Some favorite lines:

(from Rick)

I guess the ass is cleaner and better and doesn’t have any teeth

It curls up at the corners like a dog’s mouth but only if you think about it

They don’t have syntax so we can eat them

I hear the watercooler bloop bloop when I close my eyes

(from Anselm)

It’s uselessly unhip to penetrate a machine gun

I pushed the stroller calmly, deliberately, past the wild turkey

I only eat chicken before I swing

My bones are filled with pink lemonade

No one listens to bios

I hate pathos


Dangerously Hot, Fast Thrill, Mellow Mood and Vanity’s Child. Color(s): 15 minutes (a), 1n (g), 2n (l), 3-d (f), 3n (l), 4n (l), 5n (l), ahoy, there!, aloof (l), amorous (s), angel (f), antiquitease (f), back to del rio (l), barely lit (l), berry boost (a), blankety (a), blast o’ blue (l), blonde on blonde (f), bombshell (f), brave (s), brew (l), brick-o-la (a), bronze shimmer (f), budding lust (f), buoy-o-buoy, burnin’ (ac), capricious (l), captive (s), cb-96 (f), charismatic (l), charm factor (l), chatterbox (a), cherish (s), chic (f), chili (m), chintz (f), chintz on chintz (l), classical (l), coconutty (f), cosmo (a), craving (a), creme de la femme (f), curtsy (l), cyber (s), dangerously hot (a), danse (f), dark side (a), deep attraction (l), deep love (m), del rio (s), delish (f), dense (a), desire (l), destined (a), diva (m), double shot (a), dubonnet (a), eager (l), eden rocks (f), embraceable (l), emphatic (a), enraptured (l), entwined (l), exhibitionist (a), fabby (f), fast lane (l), fast play (a), fast thrill (f), faux (s), feel so fine (m), festivity (f), fetish (f), film noir (s), flowerplay (l), fluid (f), freckletone (l), frenzy (f), fresco (s), fresh brew (l), fresh moroccan (f), frou (f), full blown (f), fun fun (l), gel (f), giddy (l), gilty kiss (f), girl about town (a), gleam (f), half-n-half (a), her fancy (f), high strung (f), high tea (l), hipster (f), honey love (m), honeyflower (l), hot tahiti (f), hotscotch (a), house wine (l), hue (f), hug me (l), hyper (f), icon (f), impassioned (a), instinctive (l), jest (l), jist (f), jubilee (l), kinda sexy (m), lady bug (l), lame (f), lip treatment (lt), lovedust (m), lovelorn (l), lustering (l), mac red (s), mauv…



Oh how I HATE fleetwood mac. I think its partially because I have them associated with Baby Boomers (sorry boomers, but you guys sure left us nothing but crap. thanks for nothing)…that and fleetwood mac sucks. This song I submit as concrete evidence.



Soft rock fascism.



i am listening to rumours right now, it’s marvelous but fleetwood mac still reminds me of being in convenience stores because they always play fleetwood mac in convenience stores (classic rock stations)

god, i hate fleetwood mac. considering im agnostic, those are strong words. …

Resolved Question
Show me another »
What is your favorite Fleetwood Mac song???????
i HATE fleetwood mac

this is ANOTHER stupid answer by:

Saint Jimmy

PS: bush is a terrorist

. 1) I hate Fleetwood Mac. 2) I’m hungry, let’s go eat. Time to get this Battle Royale going!

# I hate Fleetwood Mac.
# I am part of Generation X.
# I love going to concerts.
# I loathe Walmart to the point where I lobbied to keep them out of my neighborhood.

I will chime in to say that I hate Fleetwood Mac … mostly because I have ears … That stuff about what Stevie Nicks did with cocaine, though, makes me think …

(Let me reiterate the ways how I hate Fleetwood Mac.)

… “Doo-Wop”, =, =, =, =, Classical., =, =, =, =, Disco., =, =, =, =, =, =, =, =, I HATE FLEETWOOD MAC., =, =, =, =, Not really into “Glam Rock”. …

I HATE Fleetwood Mac. I’ve always hated Fleetwood Mac. My friends and I make disgusting jokes about the band members of Fleetwood Mac.

I hate Fleetwood Mac with a deep passion.
I hate Fleetwood Mac. That band is super *** and fuck them.

Am I a douche if the only reason I post in this thread is to say that I hate Fleetwood Mac? .

I hope I don’t get flogged for this, but I hate Fleetwood Mac. More specifically, I hate what’s-her-face’s voice.

I hate Fleetwood Mac. My mom used to listen to them when I was in elementary school and over time I learned to hate all of their songs

I was thinking about adding Landslide but decided against it because, well, I hate Fleetwood Mac with a burning passion.