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DIY Poetry Publishing Cooperative

August 11, 2006

Villanelles Are Retarded: new from Big Game Books!

What's that sound? That mad buzz, that rapid-fire stapling, that whistling needle, that flashing X-acto? Was it wearing a hand-printed tee shirt? A straw cowboy hat? You, my friend, have just been buzz-dived by a red-headed poetical blur known as Maureen Thorson, speedy creator of chapbooks, tinysides, stuffed animals, bookmarks, Clip-Art collages, drunken sailor poems, & repeated collaborative sillinesses. Hurry, hit the PayPal button. She's fast!

Thorson recently combined forces with the infamous Texan poet Shafer Hall in an exercise of formal ridiculousness. It's called Villanelles Are Retarded, and it's now available from Big Game Books for $6.00, including US shipping.

I got my copy yesterday, packed in a protective sleeve with a sobering (but not too sobering) warning label. I carefully slid the little book from its wrapping and turned to the informative (if somewhat retarded) introduction by one Jennifer El Knox:
"The villanelle was invented by retard François Villon in France in the early 1400s, as period now known as 'L'Age d'Or des Crétins.' It is assumed he derived the form from a peasant dance performed on the first day of April in which the stupidest child in the village would jump back and forth over a rope on the ground until he or she passed out. The priest would then scrawl RETARD across the unconscious child's head with a Sharpie."

El Knox's introduction further claims that Thorson, who works in a law office by day, "is paid peanuts to read enormous three-ringed binders overflowing with documents that are so mind-bogglingly boring they have been known to throw lawyers twice her size into Rip Van Winkle comas," and Thorson's accomplice Shafer Hall (who for reason or reasons unknown habitually lies "under a pile of 2-liter Mountain Dew bottles on the floor of his dark, fecund apartment" in Brooklyn) collaboratively created the villanelles included herein line by line over the communication technology known as e-mail. "Now that's retarded," Knox concludes. Well, we'll just see about that, I'll admit I scoffed.

But, Reader, no sooner did I turn to the first poem than I too became convinced. Witness "You're Bored, We're Hot":
Summer on the Swanee. It's a hundred degrees
And confusing for all of the whiskey and blonde chicks.
At this lowly meridian, we space out under the trees.

I'll spend most of my time down beneath my knees,
Looking for bottles to pass all this time in the sticks.
Summer on the Swanee. It's a hundred degrees

And I'd rather be naked as hell but for all the fleas,
Singing love songs to the forest's myriad ticks,
To whose lowly harmony we space out under the trees.

If you're as hot as I am, you're sweating seas,
And a little distraction is what our situation predicts.
Summer on the Swanee. It's a hundred degrees

Above zero; insects hum a humid reprise
And I am willing, as always, to take multiple licks,
A lowly harmony spacing out under the trees

As some equatorial virus turns us dead over easy.
We'll go out in style--tragically beautiful, completely transfixed
As we space out harmoniously under the trees:
Summer on the Swanee, one hundred degrees.

I mean, really! Who else but poets as retarded as the retarded form they repeatedly torture nearly two dozen times would rhyme degrees and reprise, or allow ticks to follow so soon on the tiny heels of fleas? In a stupor that can only be described as retarded, I made my way through the subsequent pieces, each more blatantly absurd than the last--"Disturbing Ringtones," "Telescopes, 80% Off," "Betsy Pickle," "Want to Get Huge?" and "Visit New Jersey," among others equally dull-witted. Some of these poems were almost definitely written under the influence of retardation. In the end, I put down the little book with a relieved sigh. Thank goodness most poetry is not like this! How lucky we are that these retarded poets with their retarded obsession are only two of a kind!

Get yours here. (& I mean it, you better act quick.)

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Have yourself a ball in a small town

From editor/publisher Logan Ryan Smith:
small town 10 is here to bite your cheeks and pinch your nose. And what do you say after? You say, 'wow, I love you, small town. I love you.' That's what you say. And you know why you say that? Because of these beautiful fucking people:

Jess Mynes (western, ma)
Susana Gardner (switzerland)
Gina Myers (brooklyn)
K. Lorraine Graham (san diego)
Joseph S. Cooper (boulder/buffalo)
Suzanne Stein (oakland)
kathryn l. pringle (san francisco)
Sabrina Calle (north carolina/ nyc)
Joseph Massey (arcata)
Cynthia Sailers (alameda)
Maureen Thorson (dc)
Michael Farrell (australia)
kari edwards (india)
Mairead Byrne (providence, ri)

This issue is 54 pages, staple bound, and has end papers! WOW! REALLY? END PAPERS?!! Yes, end papers. Different colors look good together, no? Yes. small town reminds you of the time before you knew what flourescents and pastels were.

There's a handy PayPal button in Logan's blog sidebar here (scroll down), or you can send a check/money order for $5 made out to Logan Ryan Smith to: 615 Leavenworth St., #201, San Francisco, CA 94109.

The Chapbook Review

From Neil Aitken, editor:
The idea for the Chapbook Review has been kicking around for some time. As a struggling poet in Los Angeles, I kept thinking there should be some better way to market my chapbook. As I talked to other poets and built up a collection of their chapbooks, I was amazed at the diversity of work and appearance. Chapbooks ranging from 15 minute Kinko productions to painstakingly stitched or wire-bound ensembles. And, in one case, a poet-artist produced a series of poem-postcards, each illustrated with her own watercolor artwork.

So, in the spirit of community, the Chapbook Review seeks to present new and old chapbooks from all over. I will begin with the ones I own, but welcome any chapbooks you wish to send in for review. If you have chapbooks you love and want to write a review, I’d also love to hear from you. See the Submissions page for directions on sending your chapbook(s) or reviews. (Sorry, we can’t afford to purchase chapbooks at this time.)

If you like what you’ve read, be certain to contact the poet and let them know. Better yet, buy their chapbook .

So, send 'em your chaps & send 'em reviews. (& just a reminder, I'll also publish chapbook and micropress reviews here, or link to them when they are published elsewhere, just shoot me an email.)

The Chapbook Review has also been added to the resource links in the sidebar.

Hey, there's a new failbetter too!

Check it for fiction, poetry, art & this great interview with Stephen Dixon (who is, uh, great).

Your first book wasn’t published until after you turned 40, although you’d been writing for a number of years. Had you ever considered giving up? Where did you find the motivation to keep writing?

I thought of giving up a few times before I turned 40, but I was kidding myself. I never could have given up writing. It was the one thing I liked doing most. Why would I ever give it up? And I knew that my work wasn't for everyone and that it wasn't something that'd make me enough money to live on. I knew that early on. But I did sometimes get frustrated that my full-length work (I always sold my stories) wasn't getting accepted by publishers. So I'd tell myself: Give it up if you don't have a book out in two years. But who was I fooling? Me. But clever foolishness. I was saying that to myself to work even harder and longer at what I was doing. I would "show them," so to speak. The best thing about not getting my full-lengths published earlier than 40 was that it showed me whom I was writing for: myself. It gave me full license to write the way I wanted to without thinking of an audience.

He even doodled a self-portrait for them.