Poetry and Pine Reading at CounterEvolution

It’s no secret that pine wood is one of my favorite woods. It smells nice, it looks nice, and, dare I say, it tastes passable. I am thoroughly pine-biased, I admit. Luckily for me, this smoothly sanded wood seemed to be the at the center of the aesthetic at Flatiron performance space CounterEvolution on the night of a recent fiction and poetry reading.

It was an aromatic summer night when writer Andree Green, singer/songwriter Phoebe Lichty, and the wonderfully-talented novelist Renee Watson took charge of the microphone at CounterEvolution. Once the evening was over, only a truly wooden listener could remain unmoved by the pathos and power of these charming and accomplished artists. A spirited open mic session rounded out the lineup and allowed for a brief reading from poetess-about-town Grisel Yolanda Acosta, who some will remember from other readings of note at Newark’s Brick City Speaks series.

Poetry and Pine, you’ve won my heart. And you’re BYOB, to boot! Visit the reading’s Facebook page to learn more about the artists who graced its stage in July.

 

Hate or Love Twitter, It Found Me Joy Williams

joy williams barn oklahoma

In “When An Internet Skeptic Takes to Twitter,” Sven Birkerts, author of The Gutenberg Elegies, decries the flittersphere in no uncertain terms. Denigrating the “toddler-talk sound of the word” Twitter, Birkerts goes on to call the popular site an “unceasing purposeless chatter-stream” and a “mad bazaar of self-promotion…”

I agree. How hard it is to keep one’s head on straight in these heady days of our budding information age! Alas!

Shortly afterward, on Twitter, I came across a link to a Vice News interview with acclaimed short story writer and veritable luddite Joy Williams, known by many as an early darling of both Gordon Lish and George Plimpton during the early days of her career in the 1970’s. According to interviewer (and member of the Big Apple literati himself) Lincoln Michel, Williams commenced to schedule their talk by sending him a postcard from Oklahoma with a picture of a barn on it and her phone number on the back. She then mailed him a hard copy of her answers to his questions.

I recommend perusing the interview in its entirety. Among other things, Williams declares:

I used to rather like the word “empathy.” Now I feel it’s not nearly strong enough. Nor is sympathy hard enough. We need a radical shift in consciousness, a more generous conception of the whole, which is far more inclusive than we prefer to believe.

And just one of her rules for writing effective short stories:

8) A certain coldness is required in execution. It is not a form that gives itself to consolation but if consolation is offered it should come from an unexpected quarter.

Try to find a ruby with that kind of shine inside the Twitter mine, why don’t you?

I’ll Be President One Day

Trump and Clinton

Hello, everyone. My name is Chet the Sasquatch, and I am running for president. I would also like to take this opportunity to inform you that I have defecated in the bushes.

Forgive me. Have I offended you? No, not with the latter declaration, but the former. I apologize. Presidential election season is a truly nasty business. I understand why it might crinkle the more discerning noses among us.  But, having noted the tenor of political discourse in this country today, I thought I could boost my faltering campaign by taking the moral high ground and appealing to the highest common denominator. As I mentioned earlier, I have recently defecated in the bushes.

It was quite satisfying.

Furthermore, I am confident that this recent accomplishment – my vibrant, sonorous flatulence followed by my desperate sprint for that boxwood hedge over there, yes, the one with with plenty of shade underneath – makes me more qualified than at least half of the candidates now in the running for President of the United States.

And I am sure you will agree. Do I have your vote this November? Notify me of your adoration @City_Sasquatch. My campaign continues!

 

Podcast Alert: New Episode of ‘Words For Dinner’

wfd logoFrom time to time, I like to relax by jumping into my pod with a pair of designer earbuds and listening to an audio collage of ambient forest sounds from my ancestral home in the pacific northwest. Nothing calms the nerves like a dose of crickets, bullfrogs, and leaves rustling in the breeze. In fact, on my way to the latest literary readings, I sometimes practice my budding ventriloquy skills by attempting to mimic these sounds with my own voice. The looks of wide-eyed, slack-jawed admiration proliferate along the streets of my city like crocus flowers opening with the dew of Spring.

Other times I listen to a wonderfully entertaining podcast by the name of Words for Dinner, a program described on its Podbean page as a “podcast for the people” hosted by “mild-mannered English professors Mike and Max.” The etymology and cultural signifiers of a different word or phrase serves as the topic of each episode. The latest installment looks closely at the word ‘buffalo’ and its role in the bizarre and grammatically-correct sentence, Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo. 

Give them a listen, humans. You won’t regret it. You can also contact the hosts directly on Twitter @Words4Dinner.

Interview of the Week: Becky Tuch of The Review Review

man at desk by pedro ribeiro simoes

This article of the week comes from my ghostwriter. How thoughtful of him to interview the founder of one of my favorite literary resources on the global interweb net, The Review Review, that most effective tool for researching literary magazines.

The innovative and delightful editress Mlle. Becky Tuch opens up about motherhood, her short story collection (and novel!), and the ongoing evolution of The Review Review in an interview for The Rumpus. Don’t miss it. Be a dear and leave a comment at the bottom, or tweet your reactions to @City_Sasquatch. I will be sure to pass them on to the author.

Find a list of my ghostwriter’s other publications on the About page at the top of your screen, and be sure to keep abreast of his weekly Song of the Day column for The Rumpus. I promise I’ll get around to it, as soon as I open this fan mail.

Today at Lithub

watch phone notebook

Excellent reading can be found, as usual, over at Lithub, your friendly neighborhood webnet site. Today I came across a few tidbits of particular interest.

  • Here you’ll find Lithub’s link to a wonderful Esquire essay by none-other-than the incredible Norman MacLean, author of A River Runs Through It. MacLean speaks persuasively on the merits of rhythm in prose.
  • A comprehensive run-down of essential literature about the sport and the culture of surfing. My nod to the summer season. Here I go – nod. Nod. Nod again.
  • Finally, the book review aggregator we have all been waiting for! Yahoo circa 1998, eat your heart out. Lithub should make a splash with this elegant, easy-to-use portal into the world of book reviews. Not sure what to think of a new title? Find it on Book Marks, the “rotten tomatoes for books,” complete with a handy letter grade, averaged from its available reviews.

Thanks to The Review Review, as always, for the helpful tips.

NY Review of Sci-Fi Readings: Robert Levy & Roz Kaveney

Sometimes, when I want to feel less horrific, I don my mysterious cape, style my Chewbacca-esque bouffant into something erudite, and head down to the best science fiction and fantasy reading series this side of Hogwarts. It’s called the New York Review of Science Fiction Readings (NYRSFR), and it takes place on the first Tuesday of the month at the Brooklyn Commons performance space, just down the road from the Barclays Center.

Affiliated with Lightspeed Magazine, this series has been facilitated for many years by the indefatigable producer and host of WBAI’s Hour of the Wolf, Jim Freund. This month’s reading featured the fantastic writers Roz Keveney and Robert Levy.

Levy’s chilling story about a mysterious telescope with the ability to blend two souls together had me absolutely riveted. A scary black goo and the reappearance of an old lover made his tale all the more captivating. Levy is a Shirley Jackson Award winner and a recent Lambda Literary Award finalist for his buzz-worthy book, The Glittering World. His work has also appeared in the Lovecraftian horror anthology, Autumn Cthulu.

Kaveney did, in fact, win a Lambda Award this week in the category of Transgender Fiction for her book Tiny Pieces of Skull, Or A Lesson in Manners. She read two perfectly charming, witty excerpts from her published work, and even shared a darkly funny,  narrative poem. The moral of Kaveney’s poem, which included a kind of truism about classism, had the audience chuckling with appreciation. Buy her award winning book on Amazon.

Read a full list of this year’s Lambda Award winners over at Slate.

Do yourself a favor, mortals, and pop on over to the NY Review of Science Fiction series at Brooklyn Commons. Next reading will be July 12, an irregular date to accommodate the Independence Day weekend. Suggested donations welcomed.

Kickstarter Spotlight: ‘Distilled Lit’ Magazine

notebook pen

“Write dangerously” is coined from Nietzsche’s “Live dangerously.” We believe if you’re not writing dangerously, not taking risks, not telling secrets, not being vulnerable, not throwing yourself into into the craft, then you’re not truly writing.

These are fighting words from the Kickstarter fundraising campaign page for an exciting new literary journal based in South Florida called Distilled Lit. South Florida, you say? Quite so. This region rarely receives the attention it deserves for its literary scene. I remember the constitutionals I used to take in my youth, several hundred years ago. I loved to lumber dashingly through the knee-high marshes of Florida, swatting egrets and singing Baudelaire at the top of my lungs. Ah, youth! Those halcyon days cause a swell of nostalgia to flow through me like a churning tsunami through the ocean of time!

Anyway, Distilled Lit proclaims its intention – feistily, no less – to champion the “ignored voices of South Florida writers,” especially those writers who have been “ignored for your unknown name, lack of awards or prestige, lack of titles, or lack of conformity to a contemporary aesthetic…” Hear, hear! This journal has won me over. Let’s offer them our support.

Visit their fundraising campaign page sometime in the next 41 days and contribute whatever you can, humans. As of this moment, they only have $2,379 left to raise. Sally forth, I say! And do your duty.

Also, if you know of another plucky journal, underrated author, or dogged artiste that would benefit from a tad of internet publicity (a la sasquatch), refer them to me! Little birdies may tweet me @City_Sasquatch or email me at chetsasquatch@humanoid.net

 

Burned! The Toast Is Closing!

burnt-toast

Alas, another reputable journal stops its presses. This time it’s the thoughtful online zine, The Toast, founded by Nicole Cliffe and “Dear Prudence” columnist Mallory Ortberg.

Slate magazine offers a wonderful list of ‘best ofs’ from the archives of The Toast. How did I miss “Let’s Make Meat Loaf A Lesbian Icon“?

Thanks to the untiring folks at The Review Review for tipping me off to this sad bit of news. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Follow me on Twitter @City_Sasquatch, you inimitable humans, so you don’t miss my next prescient prediction.