Friday, April 30, 2010



Mondo Crampo by Juliet Cook
(dusie kollektiv, 2008)

Silveronda by Lucy Harvest Clarke
(if p then q classics, Manchester, England, 2009)

The Contortions by Nicole Mauro
(dusie press, 2009)

Goodnight Voice by Dana Ward
(House Press, 2008)

Gutter Catholic Love Song by Joseph Wood
(mitzvah chaps, Lawrence, KS, 2010)

my day aimlessly walking vancouver, wash by james yeary, illustrated by nate orton
(abandoned bike inc, Portland, OR, 2010)

(Hey Tiger Chaps, Kansas City, Mo., 2010)

When Eileen asked for people to review, I emailed her and said, “Yes, send me books.” She did and here now was a box full of slim volumes…all of them by women. The books, and standards and levels of production various and original and, of course, the spectrum of texts imagined. And then it was, just then, that I began to see, it seemed on every web page or blog or online publication or whatnot was in front of me on screen…was a constant textural barrage about THE REVIEW OF POETRY. In some form or another it seemed everyone one was suddenly commenting on the review…was it necessary, productive, possible…what about the positive or the negative…who should or shouldn’t do it, why do it, did it matter inside or outside the academic the street the MFA the FFA the FAA. Could a man review women’s poetry books? Should they? I was beginning to believe that perhaps I should box up the books and send them back to the mount st poeta from which they came. My first glance at one of the books and my first thought was holy crap, am I old enough to be this persons father, grandfather. Is this going to be like me reading my kids diary for chriss sake? Maybe they are right…I have no fucking business even trying to read these publications….really. Stop it. You’re going to make a further idiot of yourself. Yeah, right.

To begin, this set of chapbooks , obvious not academically produced by look or details or whatnot. Produced with thought though. Goodnight Voice by Dana Ward; The Contortions by Nicole Mauro; Mondo Crampo by Juliet Cook; Silveronda by Lucy Harvest Clarke.

First things first. Grandpa out here wants Dana and Nicole and Juliet and Lucy to send to him some of what they are smoking because whatever it is I need it. I am your elder out here. You got to respect that you know. If it wasn’t for guys like me running mimeo machines 40 years ago…blah blah blah. Okay sorry for that. But geez, this group of publications, every one of them has juice…lots of juice. Each of them knock me out with the immediate reaction to what they are doing with the language…it is on fire, it is knockabout, it is fucked up. It makes me laugh out and keep reading. Oh and sometimes uncomfortable either feeling old or ignorant of some nuance or other. Some shit I don’t know about..but that is not a drawdown at all. And even if I cannot truly know exactly how and with what they were created…that is okay for now. I mean if it has anything to do with drugs, I repeat, you must share. If it has to do with Google or IPad or IPods or whatnot…well don’t know if we can get to same place or not. I still use email I confess don’t have the Smartphone or stuff like that. So what.

[Editor's Note: Am inserting here a photo of Grandpa McCrary with partner Sue gallivanting somewhere in Mexico:

Note the lovely, ah..., befuddled look...]

So here is Goodnight Voice by Dana Ward. Cracks me up the cover has not the title or author…ha ha…but does have nifty drawing of tea party goings on. And wasn’t there a kids book Goodnight Moon (I read my kids Go Dog Go so I don’t know) And it is hand sewn folded…old school for sure. The first lines
The title is Kerri Says…
“I think that I’m somebody else
&that thought is city block common
At every turn dogs pigeon shit lovers too
Where the arm can be slid in and out like a sleeve…….”

So the title is un presumed in that it is simple, Kerri Says…who don’t matter and what why but the two words are immediate and local…I as reader have no need for reference…,it is here is Dana and here is Kerri somehow. Then stated a ‘thought is city block common’ rocks me here. What that does to bring so much into a reading without garbling up the page with ‘need to know’ reflex from me. It just is what it is….that concrete block common. It is like here is a ‘poem’ to call it, that I am invited to walk through, and I can walk with it and keep my head down and mouth shut and just…walk with it…see where it ends up. Oh “Our Pernod” Kerri says”…that’s the last line I see. Perfect. And she continues through this collection of 18-20 poems with a fresh taste for the lingo of her head brought out. How can you not take in the title poem: Goodnight Voice which begins:
“As a simple container of impulse I hew
To her book
Want to version its sudden fluidity
Through it back boring & make something false I could
Care for, I could be that kind of poet…”

Here is the text with enough original and thoughtful and living contained in it and obvious to we who find it that, I think, encourages with an easy feeling to continue. To read. What else is there. I wish Dana Ward all she can.

Reading Nicole Mauro’s The Contortions, to me today, is like trying to read E. Pound a long time ago…what the fuck I gotta learn Greek? And then I heard a tape (Google that if need be) of the voice of Ezra and I was moved greatly. And then I realized that if I listened I didn’t have to know ALL the words to ‘enjoy’ the poem. So too with the first text in this book, Kilter, which is about 30 short lines long. If I were to have to stop and look up unknown words I’d be fucked. Words like oscurations, ologizing, ohphsizing, cavitations, antrum, and fundus. Maybe these kids today have some machine that you can use, I donno. So what, I can imagine, yes? Or not…well that is not what I want to consider just know. Do I get the drift that Nicole is indicating? I think I do. Kilter. What a great word that. Then she does a series of text responses (?) to inkblots and the first one, number 1, begins: “O fuck”. And why not use that to open anything. Sets a lot going. Number VII ends with the lines:
“…Begin again or continue
past. I long for longer
bygones, a box
for the attic.”

Mauro seems to be taking a very familiar combo and making it not so. It is to be recalled again and again for us all that those boxes of memories in the attic…along with what…dead rats and crazy sister dead in a trunk? Sure and why not…she is fucking writing off inkblots. It is a very original riff done well. The book ends with The Ending of Days which is ‘found text’ actual TV Guide soap opera updates…you know Bobby has Jasmine at gun point in the basement which is flooding and Bret has just shot himself in the ass, etc. Mauro does a call and response…but it seems to me like an example of a how to write a poem exercise deal you might find in a ‘teachers handbook’ than anything else. Not that it is poorly conceived, oh no, but just a bit too much for me. But then again I have read the little texts in TV guides about those daily shows for years and I suppose I suffer for that. Nicole Mauro is a good writer. Because I have just now read this book of hers, I will look for more of the same. You too.

Now comes MONDO CRAMPO by Juliet Cook. What is this here…red cellophane cover over zerox of someone’s underwear. A book held together with…are those grommets? Didn’t I make ‘books’ with these same materials for mom in grade school? I see London I see France. That is my first response to finding this in the stack of books received. I can’t help it and don’t apologize or analyze either. So what, again. Point is this book has introduced itself with unique style and agenda and attitude that is hard to resist. Where to begin….aside to Juliet: I flipped open the book to Donut Holes poem and read:
“Now every time I roll up a tube of red lipstick,
I’m going to think about dog penis.
I ‘m going to confuse myself with puff poetry.” (She wrote ‘pastry’)

I would be somewhat misdirecting the reader if I admit that my reading was not just what the author meant anyway…wouldn’t I. One of those questions not gonna be answered here. I should insert a link to some Ken Goldsmith essay but not gonna do that either. Here is what I say….reading Juliet Cook is a total delight and I need no more or less information that what is before me to say that. I do not need to know how she does it (except as requested above), where she does it (what program?), on what she does it (Ouija Board) what font, what device etc etc. All I can do is read it and rejoice and laugh. Bust a gut we used to say. This text comes out my nose about every third page. And what do I know. The freaking CONTENTS page outdoes the majority of what comes down my pike termed poetics these days. This book joins a short list, whip me for that if you must, of the likes of Lenore Kandell, Joanne Kyger, Ann Waldman, Anne Boyer, Shannon Compton and some more women to read and reread. The one who can write out Ovarian Follies:
“I was cutting & pasting the contents of my latest diorama.
It was the pinking shears and re-painted papier mache phase
when I felt them twinging, pinging, plotting, besotting
and then my ovaries jumped ship.”

Thus begins a classic modern text, quite adorable as Ed Dorns Gunslinger in its own way. Cook can take apart any part of her own or the global anatomy and using her graphic ability to write down exactly what sounds and looks perfectly at ease in a stanza, for example, the text called : Clean it Yourself. With a title like that, maybe a bit reluctant to ‘enter into a dialog with the text’. But why not. Am I not to be reamed like a freakin sewer pipe? Skewed like a freakin butthole? So what, read on:
“You’re drinking it up so ‘artistically’
In your latest cum guzzling fantasy.
When you strutted in here, you were svelte enough, but now?”
HA HA I say.

“YOU ARE SO BLOATED!” she continues in the poem. I give up. I can only read it as it is.

More titles Fuzzy Womb, Dim Sum Womb, Smoosh, Kitten Fur, Undressing, Backstage and the postscript…Prune Juice. Eeeeewww. Can I even quote this? But wait. Here is the last ‘sentence’ in the book: “…A speech impediment walks into a breast implant.” And with that Juliet Cook closes the book called Mondo Crampo, picks up her half empty pint of IPA and walks off stage. The itty bitty crowd (that is me)howls and howls and howls. For more. Please.

I am going to give a long quote from beginning of Lucy Harvest Clarks SILVERONDA, which is one good example of some very good poetry being published by small press in the U.K. today. This from poem indicated in contents as: “with map”
“-with map stick sliding on map
-electric rave in woods
how you circum so
circum nomad
-a car crash to be fling
go elope
guilty template
-bullet hole domes
to regenerate
-cold glass alignment
-the stretching contorts
to tether
-all will and above
-remembrance though
and its flowers
it hands
-under trees under
stinking ghosts
-a falling wheel…”

I don’t think reading this again and again that I have anyway to respond except to give you this much from the book. What follows for some 81 pages are, after all, varieties of the above. In placement, in visuality, in ‘subject’ or attitude. I cannot for the life of me give you more than that. I am sure that many, many pages could be given over to ‘close’ or ‘critical’ readings of Clarke’s writings. Hope someone, well maybe…not even sure of that. What I think….a lot more people should read this than will perhaps. If I could I would hang it on doorknobs, stuff it in mailboxes. But can’t do that. You can take the above quoted lines and run with them. Be not confused or afraid. You can wet your pants in joy or fear. Have at it. Let your eyes flicker and follow what the author gives you. Great return for little effort. Remember to breath. I look forward to more.


Three chapbooks received. These, I see, are produced with more intent to physically and visually call attention to the actual materials used i.e. how the cover is folded or manipulated. Could one call them ‘art books’ without laying some horrible pre-conception on them. Oh well.

Gutter Catholic Love Song by Joseph Wood

The unique design of a folded cover with drawing attached hand sewn holding 13 full pages of text broken into 5 line stanzas. The obvious or first response after reading them all is that Wood has given us a heavy dose of his attempts to collect time passed. Here midway thru the chap book, an example:
…a flagellation in silver stain, above the alter ten
Stigmata drip your eye sockets, you’ve grown
Tired of playing the lyre to piss-poor gamblers, you
Stand, flip the craps table, dice fall to the ground
Like broken teeth, halos shoot like Tyson upper cuts…”

As the text continues, so do the images and language of daily stuff…politics, religion, sex , drugs and rock and roll. Not to diminish any of those. Joseph Wood powers through the days of the week and more, leaving behind a record that seems unique and to be looked over. If you can find it. Google Mitzvah Chaps.

my day aimlessly walking vancouver, wash by james yeary, illustrated by nate orton

A slim volume, with holes in the cover, stapled and zeroxed together. Ink drawings of Vancouver in detail or nuance you might not expect. Pieces picked up, gathered from the street are taped inside on some pages. Details, smudges, rubs, graffiti, quotes, overheard lyrics and more. Maybe it is, after all, all collected…as yeary (maybe?) says: what else can you say about a city? You can, as these two have, walk thru it, take note, gather it up and reproduce your ‘notes’. The poetics, if it can be said, of this kind of publication, lives within what is found on the pages…no matter the look, no matter the context, no matter the dirt from the street picked up. That is the magic.

Thanks james and nate.


Alex Savage is a funny guy. He can write something called: Gettin' Baked with Kenny G. and make it work you over on the floor. Join in I guess. And lots of other 'routines' in this collection which have guts and guffs. Like a whole page list of stuff Christopher Columbus did or maybe like "Christopher Columbus wanted to go home." or "Christopher Columbus bought queso." or "Christopher Columbus loved to hold and be held." It goes on. It is all very very whatever and that is okay. Alex Savage is a younger poet. He will grow older along with his talent one hopes. Yes he will. Thanks to Anne Boyer (publisher) for bringing him to print.


Jim McCrary blogs at


EILEEN said...

Nice response by Richard at

Anonymous said...

Just FYI, Dana Ward is actually a man.