Tuesday, May 24, 2011
We wanted to learn a little more about our June 5th Cousins. And we want you to know what we learned. Here's what we learned about Laura Cherry, Susan Scarlata, Michael Stewart, and Ben Tanzer:
> Tell us about your new book...
Laura Cherry: HAUNTS is a journey from California to New England with some back-country stops along the way. It's about the places we haunt and the people who haunt us, the strangeness of the suburbs, and the appalling call of the hometown. Like me, it relies heavily on coffee, flowering trees, unrequited desires, public transportation, and the word "vermillion."
Susan Scarlata (It Might Turn Out We Are Real): These poems show their cracks, accept their ruin, and get on with it. They are strung, one to the other, linked with no intent of presenting any sum total. They are the interplay and intercourse of ancient principals and contemporary technologies. Old like the lyre and new like the iPad. Old like fire and language thought of as technology, and new like the ever-quickening development of gadghttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifets today. Old like form and newer like the field’s beyonds.
Michael Stewart: My latest book, The Hieroglyphics, is a mess. It is made up of seventy fragments which build into something larger—a creation myth? a re-imagined history? These fragments are all based on chapters from The Hieroglyphics of Horapollo, a 14th century symbolic reading of the Egyptian hieroglyphics. I tried to play with Horapollo's lines and mix them with mine, see how far away from the original intention I could take them while still keeping the sound and movement. The result? One fragment is about birds in the south who do not eat, but live off the heat of the sun. At night these birds are so still they appear dead, but the heat from even a small fire is enough to make them stir and to blink their eyes, ahttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.giflthough it is not enough to allow them to fly. The other fragments are like that too.
Ben Tanzer: Many have described You Can Make Him Like You as a cross between Twilight and The Hunger Games, with a touch of Harry Potter. Which I really appreciate, but I see it as more of an homage to the characters who populate the songs of The Hold Steady, if those characters were a little older, heavier and less likely to end up in medical tents at concerts all tweaky and freaked out. That said, If you are a producer looking to option the book, it is also helpful to think of it as the story of a guy trying not to sleep with his intern, kill his neighbors or be freaked out by becoming a dad.
> Can you name one person—living or dead, famous or unknown—who is unassailable? If so, who and why?
Laura Cherry: I don't think anyone is unassailable, really, but nonetheless I'll pick Leonard Cohen for his humility and passion and kickass lyrics.
Susan Scarlata: My Italian grandfather, my father’s father, comes to mind. He largely raised himself on the streets of Pittsburgh, where I am from, and worked many odd, liminally-legal “jobs,” which I am sure were as often about being scammed as doing the scamming himself. But in my own memory of him, when he was in his late seventies and eighties, when approached with anything he would rather not engage with he feigned bad hearing. His ability to hear lessened when he was attacked or even questioned, but this was clearly not due to infirmity or a weakened mind. Instead, he was sternly refusing to hear –looking up at the ceiling as if nothing had been said. Watching my grandfather as a ten-year old it was not that he, like a politician, would give you the answer he thought you wanted to hear, if he did not like it he just didn’t entertain that a question or comment had appeared at all. Re-reading this, I realize that on a macro level I could be describing China’s Communist party, which living in Hong Kong, I have had glimpses of so far, but seems to be also, largely unassailable.
Michael Stewart: The only unassailable people, I imagine, are the imagined ones. Holmes' deductive magic in Doyle's clockwork London; Daisy dressed in Fitzgerald's svelte, flattering sentences, money in her voice; Colette's Claudine; etc.
Ben Tanzer: I am very tempted to say William Walsh, though not entirely because of the potential brownie points and book sales, okay, mostly because of that, and I feel fairly obligated to say Nelson Mandela, because I suppose there isn't a better candidate, anywhere, but the first name that came to mind when I read this was Luke Skywalker, who didn't cross over to the dark side despite every opportunity to do so, which is pretty cool I think, and then maybe Johnny Cash, who sort of did cross over, but arguably made it work for him, which was also pretty cool.
> Who are some of your literary cousins?
Laura Cherry: Sylvia Plath. Dorothy Parker. Cynthia Macdonald. Marie Howe. And granddaddies Stevens, Keats, and Eliot.
Susan Scarlata: Writers attune to the sound-sense of words. Harryette Mullen is a cousin in generations above me (I have twenty-nine first cousins, so I understand how this can work); she is one of the inspired practioners of sound-sense type poetics. Writers who like a mouth full of language. In years closer to me, Arda Collins for her depth down to the deepest downs and because she recently talked of poem-land. Sandra Doller for her idiosyncratic break-up and re-positioning of language. Eric Baus for his tuned ear and solemnity; and Andrea Rexilius for her fabric and continuousness. And so so many more –too many to name.
Michael Stewart: At my literary family reunion Joanna Ruocco and Brian Conn would be talking with Lily Hoang over potato salad. Molly Gaudry and Joanna Howard would be playing horseshoes against J. A. Taylor and Matt Bell. The nieces and nephews would be gathered around Brian Evenson, who would be trying not to look bored. Rikki Ducornet would be looking beautiful. Shya Scallion and Caroline Whitbeck, the cool cousins, would be smoking by the car, a little whiskey secreted into their drinks. And off somewhere would be Gary Lutz and Peter Marcus dong something creepy.
Ben Tanzer: I suppose if we understand this to mean that like my real life cousins, my literary cousins have every right to reject any association with me, and probably would if given the choice, I would say Barry Graham, Mel Bosworth, Mary Miller, Tom Williams, Caleb J. Ross, Lindsay Hunter, Spencer Dew, Victor David Giron, Ken Wohlrob, Lauryn Allison, Ryan Bradley, Jason Fisk, Mark Brand, Pete Anderson, Brandon Teitz, Lavinia Ludlow, Michael FitzGerald, Scott McClanahan, Dave Housley, Brandon Will, Nik Korpon, Tim Hall and David Masciotra. And yes, I believe in big families. Just not nuclear families. Mine anyway.
Join us on June 5th at Abe's Bar for the next Cousins Reading Event!
Saturday, May 21, 2011
An excerpt from Michael Stewart’s upcoming novel, THE ASSOCIATIVE METHOD:
At University I roomed with Andrew Lowdosky and while our peers were making names for themselves in sports or the classroom, Andrew had found a different niche. He had it turns out a certain magnetism that the local girls could not ignore. This coupled with his generous nature—he would no more turn out an older woman with a threadbare dress than he would a young actress with perfectly painted lips—made him a bit of a legend. Half of my nights I was sent from the dorm room by a tie looped over the doorknob.
After a successful conquest Andrew would, like a perfect gentleman, let her lounge in the bed while he went about, stubble and oily hair, and collected her things. Once he had them in a bundle, he would, with a subtle but quick jerk, remove one of the buttons from her blouse or jacket. He kept these trophies in a cigar box beneath his bed. Once he took them out for us; we sat like children over pirate's treasure, they were more beautiful than gold doubloons for what they represented: a little brown button, from a serving girl's skirt, a horn button from a wealthy girl's Barbour jacket, a navy button from some girl with a man in the service. We tried not to count them.
One day, when he was out, I took a button from my sports jacket and traded it for one of those in his cigar box. I threaded it quickly and a little imperfectly, it was always a little loose when I buttoned up. Nonetheless, it was my prized possession, like a schoolboy's rabbit foot. And although it was not my trophy—I had no trophies from school: I was an unremarkable student and not much of an athlete; I did not have Andrew's way with woman and my family did not make enough money to give me any pedigree—it was a trophy, a physical sign of a great achievement, an object that had meaning. By wearing the button I became like one of those American Indians who eats the heart of his opponent to gain his power. The button gave me a small part of Andrew's prowess: it made it easier for me to talk with girls, to talk back to my professors, to assume an adult air at the bar. I still have it somewhere—in my cufflinks box, I think—a black, plastic button with a thick lip, shiny despite years of use.
Michael Stewart is currently the Rhode Island Council for the Arts Fellow in both fiction and poetry. His work has appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies, including Conjunctions, DENVER QUARTERLY, and American Letters & Commentary. He is the author of A Brief Encyclopedia of Modern Magic (The Cupboard), Almost Perfect Forms (Ugly Duckling Presse), THE HIEROGLYPHICS (Mud Luscious Press), and Sebastian, an illustrated book for adults (Hello Martha Press). He lectures at Brown University. And he will be reading with Cousins on June 5th at ABE's BAR, Wickenden Street, Providence.
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Show starts around 6:30 at Abe's Bar. It's the last Cousins Reading until September. So please come and bring a few of your cousins.
Laura Cherry's first full-length collection of poetry, Haunts, is now available from Cooper Dillon Books. Her chapbook, What We Planted, was awarded the 2002 Philbrick Poetry Award by the Providence Athenaeum. She is co-editor of the anthology Poem, Revised (Marion Street Press). Her work has been published in journals, including Forklift: Ohio, H_NGM_N, The Vocabula Review, Newport Review, LA Review, and Naugatuck River Review. It has also appeared in the anthologies Present Tense (Calyx Press) and Vocabula Bound (Vocabula Books). She received an MFA from Warren Wilson College. She lives near Boston, where she works as a technical writer.
Susan Scarlata's essays, poetry, and reviews have appeared in Conduit, DENVER QUARTERLY, FENCE, The Horse Less Review, Typo, and are forthcoming in 1913. Scarlata is the author of It Might Turn Out We Are Real (Horseless Press) and Lit Instant (Parcel Press). She has designed and taught courses at universities, held residencies, and led writing workshops for students of all ages as well as teachers. Scarlata received her PhD from the University of Denver, where she also taught and developed writing courses that integrated service into the writing curriculum. She taught at and holds an MFA from Brown University. She is the Executive Editor of Lost Roads Publishers, an independent literary press, and is currently an Associate Professor of English at the Savannah College of Art and Design's newest campus in Hong Kong.
Michael Stewart is currently the Rhode Island Council for the Arts Fellow in both fiction and poetry. His work has appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies, including Conjunctions, DENVER QUARTERLY, and American Letters & Commentary. He is the author of A Brief Encyclopedia of Modern Magic (The Cupboard), Almost Perfect Forms (Ugly Duckling Presse, THE HIEROGLYPHICS (Mud Luscious Press), and Sebastian, an illustrated book for adults (Hello Martha Press). He lectures at Brown University.
Ben Tanzer is the author of You Can Make Him Like You (Artistically Declined), Lucky Man (Manx Media), Most Likely You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine (Orange Alert Press), Repetition Patterns, and 99 Problems (both from CCLaP). He also oversees day-to-day operations of This Zine Will Change Your Life and blogs at This Blog Will Change Your Life the centerpiece of hisvast, albeit faux media empire. He is currently watching Sports Center, but upon his deathbed, he will receive total consciousness, so, he has that going for him, which is nice.