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

Sunday, October 30, 2011

NOLA and Brooklyn Poets Collabs and Readings

Happy to have with us all week the amazing poet Tracey McTague, poet-mama, curator of all growing things at the Mother Ship, editor at Lungfull Magazine and one of the curators of the Zinc reading series. She joined us Thursday night at 17 Poets! Literary and Performance Series to read from a collaboration done with NOLA poet (Bucktown representin') Brett Evans. The collaboration began as a  project for the Boston Poetry Festival but it continues to flourish under the right circumstances, and we were happy to hear the two performing it live for our enjoyment. One of the constraints (joys?) of long distance collaborations other than the time delay in mailing (emailing) words across space is the lack of opportunity to hear the voice of the person you are working with: does the fictional voice you respond to parallel the flesh voice of the poem, and how does the work change when that intimate space of sharing and creating is breached and brought out into the public sphere?

The dynamic duo of Brett Evans and Tracey McTague were reunited again in under 24 hours to participate in the new series Left of the Dial hosted by poet Ben Kopel and housed at Euclid Records in the Bywater. Standing room only among LPs and waves of nostalgia, Brett Evans delivered his usual punch of wit, cynicism, and lyrical delight scraping the detritus of verbal spoofs, twists, and tongue twisters with comedic timing and surprising juxtapositions. Take for instance a series of poems titled "Versus Verses" which is both exactly what it implies with technicolor Evans panache:

"drunk tank vs. Panzer/ weeping willow vs Sword of Damocles/ emergency milk vs. needed ade/ Imaginary Friend vs. Bride of Mother-in-Law handshake/ Cross the Rubicon vs. Jump the Shark..."

From that surrealist game play, Evans turns towards a complicated invented form that involves a sonnet crossed with a cinquain crossed with Evans particular mode of transmitting the image along a play of word exchanges. "XIII" ends (in the sonnet form): "like I told you once in Oahu/ Suzanne Vega turned 50 today carbon dating/ reveals how long I've loved you"

Poet Tracey McTague celebrated her birthday in style by stepping up to the mic to share her blend of words and syllabic gymnastics to her soon-to-become new fans as well as the old. McTague's poems are like waterfalls, you have to just sit back and let them fall over you and just as your poetry eyes are lured into a slightly relaxed squint, the rainbows appear. McTague eschews narrative for the lightning connections made on the cerebral & subconscious levels allowing syllables and synapses to guide the jumps and ducks around the swirl of her language. Poems are filled with concrete nouns stacked up to create tumbling blocks of images as she sweeps around the puns and delicately trips among the catches and consonants that sing us our familiar sounds like a nursery rhyme. Suddenly, Shelley is standing mid-watered in his sea changed grave, a levee is made for breaching, a cup is turned over and your future falls out: That is the poetry of Tracey McTague.

 If these rock stars should grace a poetry venue in a town near you or perhaps you should wake up in the  middle of the night with the sweet sound of WHAM wafting through your walls: know you're in good hands. This review might be slightly biased as I adore WHAM, but who doesn't?

(photo by Michael Dominici)

Also, it's Ezra Pound's B-day. 

From Canto LXXXI

But to have done instead of not doing This is not vanity To have, with decency, knocked That a Blunt should open To have gathered from the air a live tradition or from a fine old eye the unconquered flame this is not vanity. Here error is all in the not done, all in the diffidence that faltered . . .

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Dylan Symposium at UPenn

In celebration of Dylan's 70th birthday, PennSound presents a Dylan symposium by some self-proclaimed Dylanologists. I was a bit surprised Jonathan Cott wasn't included, as I would name him one of the top Dylanologists of our day. If you're a huge fan, this is probably both fascinating and horrifying. And the video is both, as poets and fans try to pin down the elusive aesthetic of a legend as well as present some examinations of an occasionally off-Dylan in the 80s. It concludes with a sing-along of "I Will be Released," which is both endearing and a bit hard to watch. What the participants don't lack is enthusiasm and, in some cases, bold insights into the language of Dylan. The irony, of course, is trying to package, in the university, talks on such a character. These discussions and talks, as well as these sing-a- longs in all their vulnerable glory, should happen in smoky bars and at late night parties when everyone is feeling quite mellow. So, the medium is a bit forced and a bit awkward, but the intention is true. And for any Dylan fan, the enjoyment is real. At about 90 minutes, this video is certainly worth a watch if Dylan lyrics have been spinning through your head most of your life.
Dave and I saw Dylan here in New Orleans right after he turned 70, and the concert he gave was the liveliest I've ever seen him. So, enjoy PennSound's Dylan Symposium:

Friday, October 21, 2011

Live Painting and Poetry at the Healing Center: Saturday, Oct. 22

Fatoush Restaurant, Coffee Shop, and Juice Bar in the Healing Center, (at St. Claude and St. Roch) hosts a live painting and poetry reading this Saturday, October 22 at 6PM.

Painter and Poet Herbert Kearney will be putting the finishing touches on the wall mural: "All Mothers are Boats" which is the image on the cover of Dr. Jerry Ward's The Katrina Papers (UNO Press). Dr. Ward will read from his book as Kearney paints. Kearney and Poet Megan Burns (yep, that's me) will read from their water healing collaboration poem written and first performed at 17 Poets! in March 2011. Dave Brinks will also read and there will be music from John Spuzzillo.

Please join us for a tribute to water and healing in the aptly named Healing Center.

                                                              Artist Herbert Kearney

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

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Thursday, Oct. 20: 17 Poets! Dara Wier, Jen Tynes and Jen Denrow

This Thursday, 17 Poets! welcomes back fantastic poet Dara Wier. There is a beautiful interview with Dara by Cynthia Arrieu-King in the (old layout) Jacket Magazine (2010). Dara says: "Imagination is something that you’re supposedly able to own yourself. It’s your imagination. If anybody starts telling you what you should be imagining or what would be appropriate or good or just to imagine, or necessary or required to imagine, you better be suspicious of that."

Excellent advice. And she will probably be laying so more wisdom pearls out among her wonderful verse, so don't miss her.

Also, super excited to have first-time-with-us readers Jen Tynes and Jen Denrow both of Horse Less Press. Here's a great interview with Jen Tynes from over at the infamous rob mclennan blog. Horse Less press not only puts out a wonderful review in .pdf format for your viewing pleasure stocked full of amazing poets but they just recently started publishing full length books including Richard Froude's Fabric, which I reviewed over at Tarpaulin Sky. 2012 books include: Daniela Olszewska’s cloudfang : : cake dirt  and Kate Schapira’s The Soft Place.

Jen Denrow has a great interview here with Thermos about the publication of her first book, California (Four Way Books). 

I'm super excited about this line up this Thursday at 8:00 ( 

These poets are gonna rock your world. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Free Speech Orchestra at 17 Poets!, Oct. 13th

This coming Thursday, October 13, 7:30pm will be a very special evening indeed for 17 Poets! Literary & Performance Series at the Gold Mine Saloon, 701 Dauphine.
It's been a long time coming.
After several years of hiatus, THE FREE SPEECH ORCHESTRA is returning.
Join us for this inaugural event.
This edition of The Free Speech Orchestra will feature a Jazz Poetry Session celebrating the Living Memory of our co-founder and spiritual mentor, New Orleans flute player ELUARD A. BURT II (Feb. 15, 1937 - Aug. 5, 2007).

This performance will feature musicians and poets:
Mike Mito-reeds
John Spuzillo-percussion
Marcus Bronson-bass
Jonathan Warren-flute
Felice Guimont-poet
Lee Meitzen Grue-poet
Moose Jackson-poet
Dave Brinks-poet
As always, our feature will be followed by OPEN MIC hosted by Jimmy Ross (Sign-Up for Open Mic begins at 7:30pm).
701 Dauphine Street
Thursday, October 13, 2011
The Free Speech Orchestra was co-founded by Eluard Burt and Dave Brinks in 1997. It's primary mission is to provide an improvisatory, synergetic space for musicians and poets to collaborate and explore side-by-side the cultural spirit & essence of the New Orleans' community through Jazz and Poetry.
Every performance by The Free Speech Orchestra is unique since the founding vision is to represent a rotating group of musicians and poets at various venues throughout the city, thus providing an opportunity for all to participate and contribute their dear gifts, talents, and passions in celebration of the New Orleans community.
A brief list of musicians and poets featured over the years includes: co-founder Eluard Burt-flute, Harry Sterling-guitar, Roger Poche-bass, Uganda-pecussion, Richard Theodore-bass clarinet, Hart McNee-bass flute, Earle Brown-tenor sax, Kevin O'Day-percussion, Michael Skinkus-percussion, Kufaro-percussion, John Sinclair-poet,Yolanda Harris-poet, Felice Guimont-poet, Valentine Pierce-poet,
Dennis Formento-poet, Paul Chasse-poet, Tom LeBlanc-poet, and co-founder Dave Brinks-poet.
(from lft to rt) Eluard A. Burt II, Tom LeBlanc, Valentine Pierce


Monday, October 10, 2011

Chapbooks: Collection Tales

The photo on the left is a small collection of chaps that I've amassed over the last two months. About a dozen of them are DUSIE Kollectiv chaps mailed to me from people all over the country who were generous enough to mail their handmade chaps. There are about a dozen Belldonna series chaps in there as well. The photo below is a chap I received in the mail last week from Deborah Poe. I love how the postcard matches the chap, so they got a shot together. 
I tell you these things because all of those chaps on the left were on my desk and my husband somehow managed to spill an entire cup of coffee on my desk-- an entire freshly poured cup, my friends.
In some kind of chapbook miracle, only one chap actually was dripping. There were a handful of other items covered in coffee, including by some weird karmic fate Dave's forthcoming manuscript from Black Widow Press. 

So, the chap below is the one that got the coffee. It's called Turning 25 by Chantel Langlinais from poet Marthe Reed's small press  Nous-Zot. In an interesting turn of events, it created this abstract fade throughout the book. It almost looks like the rib cage of the book is now peeking through, and in an eerie coincidence the subject of the book is death and loss. Formally, the author pares down and extracts from poems, pulling the bones out as it were and then rearranging them so we get these sifted bits that in turn create new poems, albeit sparser echoes of their originals. From the introduction, the author states: "For each text, I turned the book to page twenty-five. The title of each poem corresponds to the 2nd and 5th word that appears on that page, and the poems are created from the words that fall down the left-hand side." Each poem has its own title and then beneath it says to "the poet" from whom the words are borrowed.

Here's a beautiful example from a Plath poem:

Years Familiar

 to Plath

twenty years bred water
waiting in the authentic
we waver from ever

the shape intrudes
is closed
is glittering

yet the fabrication is such
that each day disguises many greens

like icebergs
on arms that navigate
breaking us
among sacred shatters

I'm a big fan of borrowing as it were and rearranging. I think what we do as poets is see well and "see well again" how to shape and reshape words. I think words work in one poem in one particular way, but the amazing thing about them is that you can try them on and roll them out like your own little dough and then they fit you too. In this chapbook, Langlinais looks at not just poems, but the poems  that have shaped her writing. She fits them on to her grief, to her loss, to her sense of how forms change as we change in the world. It turns out that what you need you have and yet you have to take it and make it your own. I'm awed that a book about borrowing and taking then took a bit of the liquid magic that fuels my every morning and made it work as well. It made me look between stains at each word more closely; life is strange.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Little Red Leaves: Textile Series, Edited by Dawn Pendergast

Dawn Pendegast sent me these chapbooks a few weeks ago in the mail to review. I am blown away by how lovely they are and just wanted to take a moment to show some images from the books. This first one is A Reduction by Jimmy Lo.

This is an interior shot of the text of Dawn Pendergast's chap Leavesfallleaves made with the
Dusie Kollectiv chapbook series.

This is an interior shot of the images and text in Lucky by Mairead Byrne with illustrations by Abigail Lingford. 

This is an exterior shot of all three showing their textile sewn exteriors. 

For the full review please visit Galatea Resurrects here.

You can get your own Textile Series chaps here.

Monday, October 03, 2011


Thinking about the eye tooth
the first break
the song before

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Poetry Buffet Reading: Joel Dailey, Brett Evans, and Murray Shugars

Here's a poem from Joel Dailey who read yesterday at the Poetry Buffet held every first Saturday of the month at the Latter Library. Joel Dailey publishes the infamous Fell Swoop Journal in old school pseudo-mimeograph style. He has a new chapbook Surprised by French Fries, (Ugly Duckling Presse) that gets a review in the October issue of Entrepot. When Joel is not trying to spread internet viruses in order to shut down social networks, he can be found  giving a poetry reading every five years before bursting into flames. As I can't even find a picture of Joel Dailey on the internetz, I'm not really sure he exists. His daughter has been babysitting our 3 kids for about 8 years now, so I forgive him all proclivities.

Joining Mr. Dailey was poet Brett Evans who let me run off with a copy of his Pisa Can 74 (Fell Swoop, #109). Basically, as Evans describes, it's a shucking away of the interior guts of the Pisan Cantos (by Pound, do I need to say that?) as one would a mirliton in order to stuff it with delicious seafoody centers. In this case, the seafood stuffing is a mix of New Orleans history, tragedy, obscure references a la Poundian influence and a bit of raunchy flair as in the opening line:
"symbols and tits/ enormous tragedy of the wild country dream/ punc'd by Milano heels/ heels to the ceiling/ where in history's hide and seek/ will you find it?"

I love the dovetailing of the New Orleans imagery:

"lunch of: po-boy paper spread
 on flipped lid  
                                   Of the pick-up truck
                     tailgating with platonic oysters
                       soldiers taking their clothes off
                            Quick n Dirty boat building content"

Covers done by the amazing collagist, Tracey McTague. Let's hope this series continues, and I'd like to see the various New Orleans dialects and spoken languages creep in about the edges as well. Evans is also hard at work on a never ending project about how much he loves this American Life.

You can catch both Brett Evans and Tracey McTague reading a new collaboration they wrote this summer at 17 Poets! Literary and Performance Series, October 27th along with features Lewis Warsh and Marilyn Kallet.

(Brett reading at 17 Poets, 2004)

Rounding out the Poetry Buffet offering yesterday, Vicksburg poet Murray Shugars reading from his book, Songs My Mother Never Taught Me (Dos Madres Press). He will be reading at the Maple Leaf today. Host of the Poetry Buffet,  Gina Ferrara is a big fan of Shugars' collection and brought him to New Orleans to share his work with us. Be sure to check out November's Poetry Buffet on the first Saturday, Nov. 5th with special guest host Jonathan Kline.

Gina Ferrara will be over at the Healing Center signing books as part of the annual Ladyfest New Orleans along with poets Lee Meitzen Grue and Valentine Pierce at the new Maple Street Bookstore Branch in the Healing Center 11-2pm.