Tuesday, May 24, 2011

More on Our June 5th Cousins...

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!