Solid Quarter

Visit Trembling Pillow Press for poetry books, broadsides, chapbooks, and Solid Quarter Magazine.

Visit New Orleans Poetry Fest for the annual 4 day poetry festival directed by Bill Lavender and Megan Burns.

Megan Burns' Poeticsofbone&city project on Tumblr

Monday, December 20, 2010

Running without Kids: Jonathan Cott Books

Ok, the kids are gone until Wednesday and Dave and I are awash in adult activities... and by that I mean sleeping in, having coffee, taking books off the shelf and talking about them without being interrupted or having a crisis or a diaper to deal with. It's strange the amount of space in the room...suddenly, as my friend Tracey likes to say.
Dave and I are both reading Jonathan Cott but for completely different reasons. And this happens, as Jonathan Cott is a writer of any and many various things. I first read Cott's The Search for Omm Sety after I returned from Egypt in 2000. It's a very strange tale of a woman and her relationship to an ancient pharaoh, their love rekindled through her use of astral projection. It sounds ridiculous but Cott uses his skill as an investigative journalist to present a plausible and unbiased account of this woman's belief. I followed that with Isis and Osiris, an examination of the ancient myth and how it has trickled down into our contemporary culture.

Then I read Wandering Ghost, one of the best biographies of Lafcadio Hearn ever written. I'll quote Dave Brinks in his essay from Art Voices: Vivant Dans La Ville Fatale (Summer 09) "It's a wildly engrossing tome about a half-blind, Greek-Irish, eccentric vagabond journeying across 19th century Earth from bohemian New Orleans to New York to the Caribbean, and then later to Japan." Brinks goes on in the essay to excerpt selections from Cott's book to illustrate Hearn's time in New Orleans and how this influenced his Hearn's writing and thinking.

Beyond the Looking Glass is one of my favorites as I adore fairy tales. It's a compendium of novels, stories and poems from the Victorian Era with delightful images and pictures to accompany the stories.

Dave is currently reading Thirteen, looking into his upcoming poetry book on complex mathematical theories that I hear about on a daily basis but really don't understand.

I've been reading the complete Dylan interviews edited by Cott for my own work on a long poem about Wuthering Heights in conversation with Dylan lyrics; a topic which confounds Dave as much as his hexagrams confuse me. Coincidentally, Dylan refers to his music as mathematical.

Jonathan Cott is probably best know for his Rolling Stone interviews with Dylan and John Lennon. But he is also a poet; his book of poems City of Earthly Love (Stonehill Publishing, 1975) is filled with beautiful lyrics such as "He Dreams What is Going on Inside His Head." This poem opens with the line: "Angel Hair sleeps with a boy in my head," which Anne Waldman and Lewis Warsh named their magazine and press after; The Angel Hair Anthology (Granary Books, 2001) has Cott's poem in the opening.

Here's a poem from the collection:

Studying Water

I write you in small print

Waking up in little moments

Round like d's or sleeping fingers

Slipping through the intervals

As deck chairs turn in themselves

A wind blowing through

As a sun fan lifts

Birds float to dawn shadows

Rolling in dark grass to your hand

There's an interesting article at Slate about Cott's experience with ECT and his memory loss. It's a subject he explores in his book On the Sea of Memory: A Journey from Forgetting to Remembering.

Dave and I are checking into a hotel later for some more childless adventures, and this means that we have to pack our books.

Here's my list:

Exilee/ Temps Morts by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha

Justifying the Margins by Pierre Joris

Cast A Cold Eye by Mary McCarthy

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (reread)

Here's Dave's List:

Chita by Lafcadio Hearn

Osiris with a trombone across the seam of substance by Julian Similian

Transgender and Grinder by J. Semilian

Thirteen by Cott

Dear Sandy, Hello by Berrigan

Harry Partch, a biography by Bob Gilmore

Keep in mind we are going to be there a whole 24 hours, so we have to be prepared.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

New Orleans Craft Mafia Goodies

I've spent most of my life not winning things, so I'm absolutely stunned to have won this fantastic handmade gift basket from New Orleans Craft Mafia. I thought I would take a minute to pay homage to its greatness while I draw attention to how completely uncrafty I am. Macaroni Kid New Orleans held this contest; they have one of the most complete newsletters of family events in the New Orleans area. And they hold great giveaways each week.

So, I was sitting in my front yard this afternoon with the kids opening my mail only to find our ridiculously high (thanks, Katrina residual) home insurance bill when this lovely lady, (thanks, Mallory) came to my fence with a bag of crafts. I'm glad I didn't scare her off with my sad, angry, post bill viewing face. Here are a few goodies:

Three Bars of Soap from Sweet Olive Soap Works ( They have fun New Orleans names and the Carnival Time one has hints of gold, green, and purple. I opened C'est Levee (Lemon Grass and Aloe Vera) and it has a fleur de lis imprint on it. The soap smells wonderful without being overbearing. They are made with a combnation of oils such as olive, soybean, almond, coconut, which is perfect for me as I use coconut oil as a lotion practically.

Here's a fun New Orleans inspired keychain from Green Kangaroo, an Abita Beer Top with a Mardi Gras baby. Two items that would usually end up in the garbage put to good use at

This Saints colored fleur de lis pin is from Kristina Renee Jewelry ( I'll be wearing that on Sunday!

Here's a fun craft idea: a rocket ship clock made from an old 45 record, Disney album from Snow White. This is really fun. I think it'll decorate the playroom. Made by Art by Mags (

My kids are already using the nightlight below in their room as they broke their old one about a month ago. It's really well made and my four year old approves.

This is a beautiful and well made hand bag from Bayou Salvage, comes in its own stamped case to protect it and zips down the side with a wrist strap. Bayou Salvage ( says they make rustic and romantic designs from down south, Handmade with care in the city that care forgot.

Two necklaces, one with a classic antique feel and one with a contemporary abstract look.

Some fun rainbow earring and oversized ring from Shop Miss Malaprop ( Unique handmade and eco friendly gifts. The earrings remind me of my Rainbow Brite obsession circa 1987.
I absolutely adore this ceramic wall hanging. The picture doesn't really capture the detail. This is from Lucky NOLA by artist Reagan Robinson (

Here's a link to the New Orleans Craft Mafia Blog where you can see some of the artists above highlighted and get an even better selection of their work. You can access all the artists' etsy stores from this site.

Miss Malaprop has a terrific blog here if your interested in crafting and reusing:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Julian and Laura Semilian at 17 Poets! Thursday, Dec. 16

Thursday, December 16 at 7:30

17 Poets! Literary & Performance Series presents an outstanding double-bill featuring JULIAN SEMILIAN and LAURA SEMILIAN.

Our features will be followed by Open Mic hosted by Jimmy Ross.

Julian Semilian is a Romanian Poet, Film maker, novelist, and accomplished translator. His writings have appeared in journals and anthologies around the world. Recent translations include: Nostalgia by Mircea Cartarescu, Paul Celan's Romanian Poems, and many translations within the comprehensive: Born in Utopia, Anthology of Romanian Literature. With his wife Laura Semilian they have translated Max Bleecher's Scarred Hearts, Gherasim Luca's Inventor of Love (Black Widow Press 2009), Micea Cartarescu's Levant, and works by Gellu Naum. In addition, Laura Semilian has performed opera and oratorio roles with numerous orchestras. They both reside in North Carolina.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Trembling Pillow Press Broadside Poetry and Art Display

Trembling Pillow Press will be displaying Broadsides from local New Orleans poets at an upcoming Artfully Aware Art Show. These broadsides represent over 10 years of publishing poets in New Orleans and include poets such as John Sinclair, Lee Grue, Bill Lavender, Arturo Pfister, Kalamu Ya Salaam, Dennis Formento, Biljana Obradovic, Camille Martin, Megan Burns, Herbert Kearney, and B.J. Raineri, Jr.

The show is Dec 11, 6-10 PM at 2822 St. Claude Ave. in the St. Claude Arts District and part of the second Saturday Art Gallery Tours.

For more info. visit:

For more info about Trembling Pillow Press:

Monday, November 29, 2010

New review up at Tarpualin Sky

I've been really bad about updating this blog, but Issa is now mobile and partially walking so she is no longer content to sit quietly while I type. In fact, this experiment has led to some disasters that involve cords, small objects, speakers crashing to the floor and her sucking on a ink cartridge that fell behind the desk.

I did recently get a new review up at Tarpaulin Sky:

I'm reading another Julie Carr right now: 100 Notes on Violence, which is equally impressive. I have the wonderful opportunity to read the work of poet Tracey McTague as she has sent me her latest manuscript in progress.

I can't believe this year is almost over.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

This Thursday at 17 Poets!: David Rowe and Upcoming Artspill Show this weekend

Thursday: Nov. 11, 7:30 PM

David Rowe reading from his new book, Unsolicited Poems (Verna Press, 2010). for more info.

Unfinished Business by Nicole Peyrafitte

Also, this weekend Saturday, Nov. 13th, 6:00 PM

Art Spill: Disaster, Art, Activism, and Recovery

Opening November 13-November 20

17 Poets! Hosts a Poetry Reading for the opening reception

November 13, 6:00 PM

featuring poets Dave Brinks, Gina Ferrara, Bill Lavender, David Rowe, and Megan Burns

St. Claude Arts District in The Marigny

2822 St. Claude Avenue

6:00 PM

Wine and Water provided by the Gold Mine Saloon

Tea by Bayou Brew


Thursday, November 04, 2010

Ann Akhmatova tribute: Bilingual Reading at the Gold Mine tonight

Nov. 4th, 7:30 PM at the Gold Mine Saloon

17 Poets! Literary & Performance Series presents a Bi-lingual poetry reading celebrating legendary Russian avant-gardist poet ANNA AKHMATOVA featuring readers Daria Souchkova (Russian) and Megan Burns (English).
---Art by Jim Fingal---

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

1718 Reading Series features poet Megan Burns

I will be reading tonight at 7PM at the Columns Hotel on St. Charles Ave. as part of the 1718 Reading Series that is sponsored by Loyola University.

In this reading, I will attempt to link together the mysteries of Wuthering Heights, the lyrics of Bob Dylan and fathers. Also, there will be much made of disasters, earthworms, and two dozen species of birds. I will speak about the corpse and the Exquisite Corpse and diseases.

So, if any of these topics mildly interest you, then you should be there. I believe the Columns is haunted and of course, it is election day. So, there are also these things to consider and sway you.

In other news, there should be a fabulous bilingual reading of the poetry of Anna Akhmatova at the Gold Mine this Thursday.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

17 Poets! Literary & Performance Series: featuring poets CHRISTINE TRIMBO and PAGE 1NE.

This Thursday, October 28th at the Gold Mine Saloon, 17 Poets! features:

******* CHRISTINE TRIMBO *******

About the Poet, Christine Trimbo

Originally from Shakopee, Minnesota, Christine Trimbo also lived in New Orleans next to Edgar Degas' house on Esplanade for many years, and was a major poetic voice and regular participant at the infamous Dragon's Den's Thursday Night Madpoets Express. During her time in New Orleans, Trimbo was also a mainstay of the weekly New Orleans Poetry Forum poetry workshops along with other notable poets Paul Chasse, Gina Ferrara, David Rowe, Robert Menuet, and Kevin Johnson. Trimbo's poetic signtaure lay in the depth and detail of her extraordinary use of image underscored by intricate rhythms. Trimbo is also a huge fan of Sonic Youth and the Rebirth Brass Band.

************************ PAGE 1NE ************************

About the Poet, PAGE 1NE

PAGE 1NE is a New Orleans native, stand-up comedian, musician, poet, and gymnastic instructor. He has amazed audiences with his amazing acrobatic performances in the French Quarter, as well as for circuses, NBA half-times, festivals, and private venues around the world since 1983. Page 1ne was a 1997 winner at the Apollo and starred on the 2008 hit NBS series America's Got Talent. He is currently at work writing & recording his eight album and performing across the Gulf South.
As always, features are followed by an open mic hosted by Jimmy Ross. Sign-up 7:30PM, limited spots.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 7:30 p.m.: BUD FAUST book release party

Thursday, October 21, 7:30 p.m.
BUD FAUST book release party, signing & reading of Great Moments in New Orleans History, Volume 2, Introduction by Douglas Brinkley (Levee Media 2010).

Our featured program will be followed by Open Mic hosted by Jimmy Ross.

Admission is free.

Bud Faust is a humorist and playwright from New Orleans, Louisiana. He is the author of Great Moments in New Orleans History (Volume 1) and has had several plays produced in and around the city, including one (Gettin’ Dirty with Guy Camaro) performed as part of the New Orleans Improv Festival and another (To Hell and Back, Somewhat) being a winner in Le Chat Noir’s 7th Annual New Play Festival.Beautiful Bastards, his critically acclaimed play about the founding of New Orleans, was likened by The Times-Picayune to “what it must have been like watching the Marx Brothers segue from vaudeville to Broadway comedies.”

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Loup Garou Book Release at 17 Poets!

Thursday, October 14, 2010, 7:30 PM

17 Poets! Literary & Performance Series presents an evening with poet MOOSE JACKSON, book release party, signing & performance of The Loup Garou: A Lunar Cycle, a performance poem by Moose Jackson, Introduction by Kathy Randels (Lavender Ink, 2010).

Our featured program will be followed by Open Mic hosted by Jimmy Ross.

Admission is free.

What is a Loup Garou?

He is a wild and dangerous entity (some say a werewolf ) well anchored in the folk traditions of southern Louisiana. His story comes from France through Acadia down the Mississippi and numerous inland routes to Louisiana.
Here, in print for the first time, is the text of the critically acclaimed environmental performance that investigates the deep interconnections between land and culture in Louisiana. This compelling poem is part performance, part ritual, part howl to the world about the plight of southeast Louisiana and all the other places in the nation and the world facing environmental destruction from corporate development.

there’s an edge zone between
water and land
monster and man
love and lust; blood and rust
righteous anger and
blind carnal rage
that’s the territoire of the Loup Garou

on the savage bayou
the leeward side of the moon…

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Michael Gizzi

Michael Gizzi (1949-2010)

"Description ends at death.
A Robotic realm of light bears this out:
tears don't fall in outer space."

-from New Depths of Deadpan, (Burning Deck, 2009)

Michael Gizzi reading at the Gold Mine Saloon, 2004.
Here Michael read at Penn Sound:
Michael gave me the nicest compliment at Crossiant D'or in the French Quarter. In the middle of a conversation, he just leaned over and said, "You are an accomplished young woman." And for some reason, on that day, in that moment, his saying that filled a little empty spot in my heart that I had barely known was there. Sometimes the people who should say these things to us don't for whatever reason, and when we least expect it, someone else steps in and fills those shoes.
Thank you, Michael

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Andrei Codrescu Reading and Book Signing at the Gold Mine Saturday

17 Poets! Literary & Performance Series presents an evening with poet ANDREI CODRESCU signing & reading from his new book The Poetry Lesson (Princeton) at the Gold Mine Saloon this coming Saturday at 7:00 p.m., September 25, 2010, admission is free.

The Poetry Lesson is pure Andrei Codrescu: irreverent, unconventional, brilliant, and always funny. Codrescu takes readers into the strange classroom and even stranger mind of a poet ... as he introduces his students to THE TOOLS OF POETRY (a list that includes a goatskin dream notebook, hypnosis, and cable TV) and THE TEN MUSES OF POETRY (mishearing, misunderstanding, mistranslating...), and assigns each student a tutelary "Ghost-Companion" poet... From arguing that Allen Ginsberg wasn't actually gay to telling about the time William Burroughs's funeral procession stopped at McDonald's, The Poetry Lesson is a thoroughly entertaining portrait of an inimitable poet, teacher, and storyteller.

Andrei Codrescu is an award-winning poet, novelist, essayist, and NPR commentator. He edits the online journal Exquisite Corpse and taught literature and creative writing at Louisiana State University for twenty-five years before retiring in 2009 as the MacCurdy Distinguished Professor of English. His recent work includes The Poetry Lesson (Princeton), The Posthuman Dada Guide (Princeton), and a collaborative book of poesy with Ruxandra Cesereanu Forgiven Submarine (Black Widow Press).

Cobb Review in Rain Taxi, SO and SO Magazine and Romanian Stories

My review of Allison Cobb's book, Green-Wood, is in the new print issue of Rain Taxi.

Also, I have a poem in the new issue of So and So Magazine: Yeah!

The other poems in this issue are stunning.

The new issues of Solid Quarter should be done very soon.

Last night was the first night of our 1001 Story-Telling Festival with our guests from Romania. The crowd turn out was awesome and the performances were great. Just a quick reminder that books from some of our performers can be ordered from Black Widow Press:

Forgiven Submarine by Andrei Codrescu and Ruxandra Cesereanu. Translated by Andrei Codrescu
Also available in translation: Crusader Woman by Romanian poet Ruxandra Cesereanu. Translated by the poet Adam Sorkin with an introduction by Andrei Codrescu.
Explore many great books in translation over at the Black Widow Press website.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Two nights of Creole Arabesque & Transylvanian-Moldavian Fascination
Gold Mine Saloon, 701 Dauphine St in the French Quarter

Wednesday, September 22, 8:00 p.m.
featuring guest writers & poets Lucian Dan Teodorovici, Bogdan Odagescu, Marius Conkan, Bill Lavender, R. Moose Jackson, Jonathan Kline and DeWitt Brinson

Thursday, September 23, 8:00 p.m.
featuring guest writers & poets Andrei Codrescu, Ruxandra Cesereanu, Corin Braga, Dave Brinks, Jessica Faust-Spitzfaden, Kip Cairo, and James Nolan.

EVENT PROLOGUE: Sheherezade, the medieval storyteller, told stories for 1001 nights in order to save her life from the cruel sultan Sharyar, who married a virgin every night and had her killed next morning. Only Sheherezade’s stories could stop him from his murderous insanity. The 1001 Nights Storytelling Festival and its participants are out to prove that the 21st century is the new Oral Century. They believe that New Orleans and Transylvania are the places where Sheherezade 2 is going to offer a new model for survival through storytelling. The events will center entirely on the human voice and imagination.

The Transylvanians will unveil sequels to the 1001 Nights in English translation, some of them interpreted by New Orleans actors, surprise musicians and dancers, while the New Orleanians will unveil accounts of unmerciful fabulosity.

Also featured in this festival — A meeting of Two-Continent Imaginations: Corin Braga, founder of The Center For Imagination Studies from Cluj, Transylvania, and Confessor Emeritus of Abomination and founder of The New Orleans School for the Imagination Dave Brinks joined by collaborateurs Andrei Codrescu and Bill Lavender.

F R I D A Y , S E P T E M B E R 2 4 2 P M

After the Wednesday and Thursday night readings the Gold Mine:

•AN ENCOUNTER between the Center for Imagination Studies from TRANSYLVANIA and its founder Corin Braga, and the NEW ORLEANS School for the Imagination, represented by Dave Brinks, Andrei Codrescu, and Bill Lavender.

•A writing workshop on collaborative poetry will precede the discussions.

TRAC building, Room 103

Directions: Take Elysian Fields toward Lake Ponchartrain. Turn left on Leon C. Simon, go to thenext traffic light (St. Anthony Street) and turn right. Turn into first parking lot on the left. TRAC is the3-story building at the end of the parking lot. Park in a spot marked by white lines only; retrieve yourparking pass and put it on your dashboard.

S P O N S O R E D B Y :UNO Press
For more info, or if you get lost, call 504 813 9891

This festival is made possible by the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York and the Gold Mine Saloon, in collaboration with the University of New Orleans (UNO) – UNO Press and the Division of International Education.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

17 Poets! Reading Series Resumes on Sept. 16th

17 Poets! Literary & Performance Series is excited to be back at the Gold Mine Saloon after a brief summer hiatus. So much to celebrate in these coming weeks and months, but first...

We engage in a passionate, soulful night of sincerity and expression to honor & bless the Gulf, its creatures, and its peoples!

"A CEREMONIAL COMMUNITY BLESSING for the GULF REGION" featuring: Works by contributing artists of The New Orleans Photo Alliance, A Drum Circle Ceremony (bring yours!) led by poet Dave Brinks, tasty morsels of Alligator-Crawfish JAMBALAYA for everyone; as well as word offerings by writers & social activists SUSAN PREVOST, NEELY SHUJA, JAMES NOLAN et al...followed by OPEN MIC hosted by Jimmy Ross.

Additionally, I invite everyone to join me in offering respects to one of the finest professional human beings I've ever known: New Orleans poet, brother and friend PAUL CHASSE (1966 - 2008) who left us so unexpectedly two years ago this week on Sept 12; and whose unprecedented bardic presence and strength of spirit shall forever reside within us as a undying source of inspiration, blissed and blessed!

(oil by Joshua Walsh)

Visit for more information about the series and the open mic.

Sentence: A Journal of Prose Poetics

Seriously, Sentence: a Journal of Prose Poetics, where have you been all my life.
This journal rocks, and I am biased because I happen to adore prose poems/ poetic prose. Doubly amazing, the Sentence Feature in issue 7 is Contemporary American Indian Prose Poetry with poems by Sherman Alexie, Sara Marie Ortiz, Orlando White, LeAnne Howe, Susan Deer Cloud, and more to just name a few.
The feature section has a wonderful introduction by Dean Rader exploring the link between prose poetics and oral tradition, esp. in relation to American Indian Poetics. The rest of this journal is just as wonderful with a rich range of styles and voices that keep you wanting to read this thick tome. This is 300 pgs of great writing for 12.00 bucks from Firewheel Editions.
Order below:
I just ordered this book, Had Slaves by Catherine Sasanov from Firewheel as they had sections in #7 Issue of Sentence. Here's a brief description of it from the website:
"Two words, stumbled across while going through family papers, upended everything poet Catherine Sasanov thought she knew about her Missouri ancestors. Using extensive research and imaginative speculation, Sasanov not only constructs fragments of what might have been the lives of the central figures in this tragic drama—the eleven men, women and children held in bondage by her great-great-great-grandfather and his family—but also offers a larger view of American slavery and the artifacts and attitudes that are its ongoing legacy."
In the excerpts in Sentence, one of the things I like about these poems are the titles. Here is an example "Line Drawing of Ex-Slave, James Cannefax, Consisting of Ink Lifted from Newsprint, Probate Files, Census Pages, Historical Gossip, a Cemetery Map, and One Ripped Watercolor." The poem then tries to assemble these disparate pieces so that a collage emerges of the character. I like the scientific catalogue of where the facts are coming from, and the idea that we are being given the medium before viewing the "painting" in its entirety.
Morton Marcus has two poems in Sentence, "Pears" and "Navel" which both present an image, and then the writer turns and turns and turns the image until its inside out and upside down. Marcus does this with great effect. "The Guitars" by Ray Gonzalez is another one of my favorites; it literally catalogs famous guitar players and the weird incidences involving their instruments; it's both fascinating and macabre as he places these instruments in the room where "Eric Clapton's four-year-old son fell out of a 49th floor apartment to his death..." All of these tales swirl around these guitars that are part of these musicians like an extra limb.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Nicole Peyrafitte in New Orleans: A Poet's Response

Check out all the awesome updates/repairs/ renovations nearing completion at the building, beautiful photo taken by Nicole Peyrafitte. Read her amazing blog entry about her trip to New Orleans. I love to see the city from other people's points of view. Check out all her amazing food recipes as well:

Here is the meal she was gracious enough to feast us with while here:
Quail with a fig sauce, fresh figs, pasta with black bacon and green bean medley.

"Fast Food" Nicole Style as she calls it.


Just got in the mail two new books for review, one is from one of the editors of a press I am liking very much right now. Counterpath press is putting out some beautiful poetry books. This book is by one of its two editors, Julie Carr, and is put out by CoffeeHouse Press as a winner of the National Poetry Series award. It's titled "Sarah-Of Fragments and Lines" and is yet another book I have been reading lately that is in part about mothering and conception, etc. So far, it's stunning. I can only read parts of it at a time as it speaks about loss, mothers, death, love, much to take in and such breathtaking phrases.

New Poetry in New Orleans:
Just got word from Verna Press that their newest book of poems is out:

Unsolicited Poems
by David Rowe

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Protect our Coastline Benefit at Gold Mine Saloon

Poet Christine Hume

Shot by Christine Hume
Counterpath Press, 2010

I've been reading this amazing new book by poet Christine Hume. Doubly interesting to me as it uses as subject matter the experience of mothering.
There are tons of reviews online about the book, so I just wanted to point out one aspect that I find most interesting. The beginning section of the book, about 12 pages, opens with a series of questions and answers, presumably between a mother figure and her fetus. The book revolves around images of darkness, night, moons, and internal/ external dichotomies. In this opening sequence, the questions are straightforward, generic while the answers seem to emanate from an abstract, surreal plane. The mother/ baby call and response is complicated by this interesting twist on the voice and tone of the answer. The answers play with the idea of the other, separate but also part of, as well as the other who is listening but at the same time made in translation. The answers come from within, but are they truly other than the mother/ Language begins to mimic biology. Hume attempts to give voice to the singular experience of the fetus to know the mother from the inside, to know the mother's voice and language internally, an experience lost to us in memory but still somewhere in the nexus of our brains.

What is interesting to me outside of this poem called "Incubatory" in this text is an earlier published version of this poem which appeared in Not For Mothers Only (Fence Books), an amazing collection of poems on mothering. In the collection, Hume titles this poem "Hatch" and changes the order of some of the questions as well as the answers. The poems feel the same but they have slight differences. Some words are added while others are excised. The biggest difference is that the opening question is changed. "Incubatory" opens with the question: "Are you comfortable?" which is always an enigmatic way to begin a book. I think it's interesting to see how poets rearrange and continue to edit their work. I wonder what decisions prompted Hume to make these changes, further readings by other trusted friends and poets or maybe her own sitting with the text. My favorite exchange is the question: "Can you hear the sound of my voice?" And the texts have two different responses, with the poem from the book Shot elaborating more on the image of the trap "I place ears like traps on the amniotic shores", is added in "Incubatory", the fetus lays traps and seems to be hunting what the mother gives in sounds.

Christine Hume at Counterpath Press

Also by Hume, if you can find it, is this beautiful book made by Ugly Duckling. This book comes with a CD and explores that first sense developed in utero: hearing. Ugly Duckling makes such exquisite books.

I also just got Karen Weiser's To Light Out, another book examining the crazy situation of inhabiting and making another human being in your body. I adore the cover art on this book. Check it out:

Issa is now fully mobile and is making her way under the computer as I type this in an attempt to pull the plug.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Protect our Coastline Benefit was Awesome!

Michael Fedor has an amazing array of photos from the event on his FB page that capture just how much fun we all had dancing to Rockin' Dopsie and the Zydeco Twisters, and Cyril Neville and Gayneille Neville. It was awesome. The art auction went great. We had a lot more items then we anticipated. The readings were beautiful. The two sets the band played were jumping, and the tribute Cyril paid to our dearly missed friend and mentor, Eluard Burt, was poignant and touching.

I woke up depressed August 29th and couldn't stop watching the news footage of where we were five years ago. By the time, we went to set up for the benefit, I was ready to put it all behind me and look forward. And by the time Rockin' Dopsie and the band got going, I was ready to dance and celebrate being in a city that five years ago nearly washed away and some months after that, a city that people and politicians were saying shouldn't be rebuilt. It's surreal, here we were five years out, dancing our funky butts off at the Gold Mine in a place that almost wasn't anymore and trying to save our waters and our way of life still. You can't write or make up this shit. We have to dance like our lives depend on it and we have to fight for everything we love; but I will always put my money on New Orleans' people. We are the most resilient city in the nation at this point.

Thanks to everyone who came out and supported Protect our Coastline. Thanks to all our sponsors. Thanks to all the poets, artists, musicians and friends who made this possible. This is just the beginning.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Howling Success: Book Launch Reading for A Howling in the Wires

Dave, Nicole Peyrafitte, and I had a tremendous evening attending the book release for the collection: A Howling in the Wires edited by Sam Jasper and Mark Folse. The collection covers blogs, poems and stories in response to Hurricane Katrina and the failing of the federal levees in New Orleans. Here's a few photo shots of the readers.

Valentine Pierce got the night off to a tremendous start with her poem "Reluctant Migrants," a poem full of hard truths and moments of levity and joy for all things New Orleans.

Editor and Contributor Mark Folse is seen here reading r. moose jackson's poem "o'neil's lament" since Moose is out and about promoting and staging the great play he wrote: Loup Garou. The poem speaks to the ghosts and the lost of this city as well as to those of us still, "upright" but not "alright."

Toward the end of the reading, after some hard tears and many more laughs; Dr. Jerry Ward took the stage to remind us of the importance of making history with our stories. As always, a true spiritual mentor and beacon of wise words, he cautioned us to take care with our words as we are the ones who must manifest this history, not the news media or those who would generalize and stereotype us.

What a beautiful night and what a beautiful archive of those terrifying and life changing moments in our lives.
To learn more about and purchase this collection, visit

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Silent Art Auction Preview for Protect Our Coastline Benefit

Here is just a preview of the great art up for Auction at the Gold Mine Saloon, August 29th, 5PM
701 Dauphine St. All proceeds benefit

For a schedule of performances, visit or

Signed/ Framed George Rodrigue Saints Blue Dog

Signed/ Numbered/ Framed 1992 Jazz Fest Poster, Irma Thomas

Also: 1997 Numbered/ Framed Jazz Fest Poster Signed by The Neville Brothers

Mixed Media Art Collage by Tracey McTague

Acrylic on Wood/ Board (2 Pieces) by Tasha Robbins

Also Pieces by New Orleans Artist Dr. Bob and New York Artist Nicole Peyrafitte as well as several jewelry pieces from Renaissance

Monday, August 23, 2010

Blake at NOMA, Ladyfest, Remembering Katrina at Tulane

NOMA's Book Club is doing a special William Blake reading this week.

Friday, 27th August, 11:30 - 1:00 p.m.
Special Event. Poetry Reading - The Poetry and Prose of William Blake. - Bring your favorite literary work by William Blake to read aloud and share with the rest of the group. Does your poem remind you of art in NOMA's collection? If so, why? We will meet in the library at 11:30 a.m. and head up to the galleries at 12:00 p.m.

Poet Gina Ferrara sent me this email about the upcoming Ladyfest:

"roselyn leonard, who is coordinating ladyfest, asked me to contact some lady poets to read for poetry day of lady fest. lady fest is a festival that takes place in early november. it celebrates the immeasureable talent of female artists, poets, musicians and dancers in our community. it runs from wednesday, november 3rd thru sunday, november 7th. roselyn has marked saturday, november 6th as poetry day for the festival. basically, each poet will read for fifteen minutes. the readings are from 12noon to 6pm. the poetry reading will take place at the Love Lost Lounge, 2529 Dauphine (on the corner at Franklin) Also, the event is in dire need of someone who can function as an emcee. if anyone would like to emcee or know of someone who can emcee, please email me. pass this email along to any poet i might have admitted."

You can comment below if interested and I can pass it on to Gina.

Also upcoming poetry events:

August 29 · 3:30pm - 5:00pm

Kendall Cram Room, Lavin-Bernick Center Tulane University

Nicole Cooley, Peter Cooley, Yusef Komunyakaa, Kay Murphy, Brenda Marie Osbey, Alison Pelegrin, Brad Richard, and Martha Serpas, with Alice Quinn. Co-sponsored by the English Department, Tulane University. Admission is free.

You can hit this poetry reading and then head downtown to the Gold Mine Saloon, ( to hear even more poetry, dance, eat and maybe win an art auction, all for a good cause. 5PM-11Pm, 701 Dauphine

Sunday, August 22, 2010

What We Need to Revist this Katrina Anniversary

The Katrina Papers: A Journal of Trauma and Recovery
by Dr. Jerry Ward, Jr.

Published by UNO Press (2007)
ISBN: 0972814337
233 pgs, paperback
Cover Art: Herbert Kearney

This journal begins on Sept. 2, 2005 and ends August 29, 2006 containing a year of the author's struggles, defeats, and triumphs in the face of the destruction of his city and home. In a larger and more poignant sense, Dr. Ward tackles the destruction of one's faith in the face of disaster, a faith beyond the borders of religious ideals, it's a simple faith in the way that the world should work, in the way that the day should hold its shape. There are so many beautiful insights, so many heartbreaking truths laid bare on the page. The journal is a gumbo, a composite of the professor in his academic world, a man breaking bread with his friend, an African-Amercian responding to the coded speak of those who hold forth in the recovery of New Orleans. Dr. Ward pours it all in: the suffocating days exiled in the shelter, the catalogue of things lost to water, the anger, the depression, the weight of trying to move forward into the next actual entry in the journal's progression. In there as well lies the keen eye poised on literature and what it teaches us; Dr. Ward shares peer reviews, colleague emails, letters of recommendations and advice to young teachers. His schedule to appear and speak, to grant interviews and to be present civically in this tumultuous year is admirable and exhausting. There is a return again and again to the body, its need to slow down, and the mind, which cannot sit still long enough to let the sorrow seep in. Dr. Ward tends to his "post-Katrina" heart in the journal, aware of the tenuous thread anchoring him to the city and to the life he can lead within its recovery. He repsonds with the poet's declaration: "I elect... to exploit language and my own emotions" (38). This will be difficult to read if you were here, if you too have a post-Katrina heart. You will feel it in your skin, be it color or non colored, the prickly anxiety and fear that shadowed that first year back. You will be forced to recall the smells of your moldy possessions, the loss of your home, the sounds of the empty streets, the joy of each returning business and neighbor, the frustration of insurance contacts and FEMA paperwork, the endless lines, and the falling asleep truly not knowing what the next day would bring. You will be taking a strange boat like the one on the cover, "all mothers are boats," is its name, and you will be rowing toward an island where we keep these things tucked away for they never truly leave us. The mother in this case is your city, your survival; she weeps for you even as she turns her back. "The perpetual wonderment of tragedy is that we do not tire of looking into its fractured surface to see ourselves as we really are" (150).

Dr. Jerry Ward, Jr will be reading with us on August 29th, 5PM for our fundraiser at the Gold Mine Saloon. Visit for full schedule.

Here is a veritable treasure trove of everything Jerry Ward kept here at ChickenBones: A Journal

Saturday, August 21, 2010

August 29th, All Hands on Deck Benefit with Art Auction

Here are some of the great pieces on the wall for our silent art auction August 29th, 5PM at the Gold Mine Saloon to benefit:
Framed/ Signed George Rodrigue Saints Blue Dog
Framed/Numbered and Signed 1997 Jazz Fest Poster signed by the Neville Brothers
Framed/ Numbered/ Signed 1992 Jazz Fest Poster signed by Irma Thomas
Come on out and join us for a great cause and enjoy poetry, music, art and food.
Visit 17poets. com or for a full schedule

Friday, August 20, 2010

"Appropriation" is boring to debate!

I can't believe the amount of energy being expended on this discussion about whether it is ethically right to borrow other people's words to create poetry.

How much poetry would we have to strike from the record if we decided people should only write what they have experienced firsthand?

That's what poetry is: using your imagination, speaking in, of, and about others, telling and retelling of stories. etc///oh, this is so boring to me to relate. I can't believe people debate this junk.

You know what's on the other side of that fence: censoring words. Telling poets what they can't say and what they can't use. There is nothing ethical about poetry. At the end of the day, all that should matter is what he made: was it beautiful, was it worthy, did the effort and energy amount to something that was more than the sum of the parts before...

What is this convoluted idea that we have a right to our stories? How did these poems help or hurt anyone who experienced Katrina? My guess is that they didn't do either, because it's poetry, not FEMA, not the Army Corps of Engineers, not insurance companies, not contractors putting in Chinese drywall. It's poetry. So, give me a break. I lost my home in Katrina. I have a story about my experience in the disaster. Does it bother me when people not from here try to tell it as if they were and get it all wrong? Sure, but I don't go around telling people what they can and cannot write. If the writing sucks, it'll come out in the end. Let it be noted that neither Young or McDaniel are from New Orleans. And neither Young nor McDaniel were the sole artists producing oral history projects following Katrina or writing poems in response to Katrina. Let it be noted that the Poetryfoundation and the national eye remains more focused on work coming from outside of New Orleans rather than trying to find out about poets and oral historians actually from New Orleans who are doing the work here.

Really, it's all a scam between these two to draw attention to their own egos. This discussion doesn't help any of us still trying to put the pieces of our lives together after the storm. So, FU poetryfoundation and your stupid article.

Here's where you can go, if you would like to be bored to death:
Reflections on found poetry and the creative process

Here's where you could go to actually make a difference:

“Poetry is never going to directly induce that level of change (nor should it, lest it become indistinguishable from those authorities it ought to upset), but it can remind people, and teach them to realize in practice, that things can be made—literally made—different, and differently.”

-Raymond McDaniel

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sunday, August 29, 2010 @ 5:00 p.m.
701 Dauphine Street, 504-586-0745

The Saintsations from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Rockin' Dopsie, Jr. & The Zydeco Twisters w/ special guest Cyril Neville perform at 7:00 p.m.

Artist George Rodrigue Silent Auction of Blue Dog/Saints Art from 5:00 to 9:30 p.m.

Celebrity Bartender WWL Tv Sportscaster Juan Kincaid from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

La Voix de Nola Poetique feat. Dave Brinks, Megan Burns, Lee Meitzen Grue, Nicole Peyrafitte, Jerry Ward Jr. perform at 5:30 p.m.

Food by WoW Cafe & Wingery (uptown location)

15 $ donation, All Proceeds benefit

Every donation HELPS our Louisiana Fisherman and the Barrier Island Restoration Project!

For More info, visit: