Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Narratives of Poetry Publishing

"what was still, surprisingly, the primary material medium of poetic texts in the late twentieth century: 'The figment of a book.' " - Craig Dworkin

Stacey Lynn Brown began/continued/reopened a debate about contemporary poetry publishing and the contest system with her disturbing account of her experience not just at Cider Review Press but also as a finalist or first runner up at several other presses. At the heart of the issue, aside from specifics relating to an individual poet and individual press, lies questions as to how and why poetry gets selected for publication, what happens to it during the publication process, and where it goes afterwards. As Stacey Lynn Brown most recently writes "Given what I now know about that press, I'm relieved that my manuscript is out from under them and that it won't be associated with them when it gets released."

Before we continue, it's important to note that many of Stacey Lynn Brown's poems are up at the wonderful "From the Fishouse"; there is a risk that in this sad narrative of publishing, the poetry itself gets lost.

There have been many interesting and thoughtful (and, it must be said, emotional and passionate!) responses to the situation: Reb Livingston points out the difficulty of "a compatible working match" where random press and random author are combined; Barbara Jane Reyes asks "How do we subvert this poetry contest system when so many poets (literally) buy into it so completely?"; and Collin Kelley answers that 'Poets need to stop buying into the contest cycle of abuse, let go of the notion that self-publishing makes you less of a poet and that working with a small or micro-press won't bring you any "prestige." Basically, get over yourself. There are many ways to get your poetry to readers besides the ones pounded into your head at MFA programs.'

Rather than attempting to analyze how contests and open reading periods do and do not work for poets, publishers, and poems, I want to pay attention to an issue mentioned earlier: "where it [poetry?] goes afterwards [after what?]"? The word that isn't often mentioned by those of us who identify as writers and publishers before or as much as we identify as readers (at least in these posts - the word only occurs three times in the posts quoted above, and only once does it refer to actual or potential readers of poets' poetry).

One reading of such articulations is that readership has become subordinate to publishing, even where the articulator is a publisher. Firstly, narratives of poetry publishing as it supposedly is, should be, or might be hide the work in question (whether Stacey Lynn Brown's or another poet's). Secondly, the focus of our discussions becomes how to get the work into the world (i.e., Livingston argues, usefully, that magazine publication should not be less prestigious than book publication; indeed, prestige should not perhaps be the issue) instead of how the work works in the world. The "many ways to get your poetry to readers" mentioned in the discussion tend to include micro presses, poetry collaboratives, etc - methods which, however useful they are, continue a narrative in which a poet writes poems until such a point as they take shape in some form of (chap)book (and I include journal within this). The narrative (accidentally) ends at this point, with a book or book equivalent, self-published or not.

All of this brings me back to the epigraph for this post, from Craig Dworkin's 2003 study Reading the Illegible. Lyn Hejinian, in her "notes towards a poetics" for American Women Poets in the 21st Century discusses poetry as a "happening," and the question I think we need most to ask, both before and in light of Stacey Lynn Brown's experience as it stands in for many other poets' experiences, is, What is the happening of poetry as it intersects with publishing as the first decade of the 21st century draws to a close?

Given that much of the poetry written in America at this moment is either not narrative or even nonnarrative, it is especially important that this question include reconsiderations of why the book is the end-goal of publication. What other forms are available to us? Here I do not mean that we need to find a digital equivalent of the book, such as the online journal or the flash poem, but that we might reconsider how books are books and why they are books. In doing so, we might learn to value them as unique and separate objects from one another: Craig Dworkin's latest book, Parse feels and acts, appropriately, like a grammar handbook, in contrast to an earlier volume like Strand . In other words, an intervention in the narrative of book publishing is not, per se, a disruption or rejection of it, but an awareness of it: an alienation in order to re-renter the book as a foreigner (a distinction made by Hejinian, ibid).

The quotation torn from Dworkin and used as an epigraph itself quotes Susan Howe from her book Singularities. "The figment of a book" is contained within and disrupts a (fragmentary) book, which has, as part of its poetics, the disruption and fragmentation of a book or set of books Howe has found from "wilderness" America - Thoreau, for instance, becomes Thorow (or does it/he?). Add to this Ann Lauterbach suggestion, also in American Women Poets of the 21st Century that we might consider fragmentation as a whole, and one begins to see the ways in which we do not need to dispense with the book.

In that last sentence, it is the "do not need to" which I want to hold stress. Where we do not need to, we might choose to. Where we choose alternatives to the book, or choose the book as an alternative to something else, I think we come closer than we currently are to not only thinking about how the work gets into the world, but how the work works in the world - especially where the world doesn't itself work.

Maybe, then, at the heart of this issue isn't the question of how publishers should receive and select manuscripts, how poets should select and/or become publishers, or even how the financial aspects of poetry should be managed. Qua Debord and the Situationists, I'm not sure we can avoid capitalism in thinking about poetry, but we can arrive at "freely chosen variations in the rules of the game" (Debord, Guy, The Society of the Spectacle , 24). Questions about publishers and poets matter, but questions about how the work's publication relates to the work it seeks to do matter, I suggest, a little more. The form of the book is not inevitable. Or: the book is not an inevitable form.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cancer-Free Christina : )

Christina Applegate is 100% clear of cancer! The Samantha Who actress had a double mastectomy three weeks ago to completely kill the disease. Her reasoning, she tested positive for the breast cancer gene BRCA1. Appearing on Good Morning America this morning, she described her emotions as this, "Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I scream, and I get really angry and I get really into wallowing in self-pity sometimes, and I think it’s all part of healing."

She will be going through reconstructive surgery for the next eight months in which she says, "I'm gonna have cute boobs till I'm 90."

Photo Credit: WireImage

- Erin Dustin

Wow, Can We Say Muscles?

Dear Zacky,

Where you been hiding those big guns?



Photo Credit: WireImage

Team Audrina

Last night kicked off the season 4 premiere of The Hills and there were no dull moments.

Looove Whitney, Doug's a hottie, Lauren's always the peacemaker, (at least she's trying) as far as Audrina and Lo's friendship goes, opposites don't attract this time, still can't stand Heidi and Spencer, um and how big is Lo, LC and Audrina's house?!

From the Laguna days to this, I never thought I'd say this, but I'm gonna have to take Audrina's side on this one. Sorry Lo.

Looks like this season won't disappoint!

Photo Credit: WireImage

- Erin Dustin

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Demi Loves Her Some Jo Bros

Especially Nick, I mean thats what I hear.

In yet another YouTube video, Selena promotes the boys' new album. Like, she REALLY wants you to buy it!

- Erin Dustin

Monday, August 11, 2008

Britney's Promos

Britneywith long blonde hair!

Britney cracking jokes!

Britney laughing!

Britney looking GOOD! It kinda makes me smile : )

Check out her and Russell Brand's promos for the 2008 VMA's:

- Erin Dustin

R.I.P. X 2

Sadly this past weekend the entertainment world lost two superstars.

Actor and comedian Bernie Mac, 50, died Saturday morning due to complications of pneumonia. Mac had been hospitalized since July 24 and there had been many rumors going around about the condition of his health. His wife of 31 years, Rhonda, and their daughter Je'Niece were with him when he passed.

Singer and songwriter Isaac Hayes, known for the theme song from Shaft, collapsed at his home in Memphis on Sunday. He was taken to a nearby hospital but was pronounced dead soon after. The soul man was 65.

Ironically, both Mac and Hayes had already started filming scenes for the movie Soul Men, in which they were both appearing in.

You both will be greatly missed!

Photo Credit: WireImage

- Erin Dustin

Tori Is 9021-Out

Tori Spelling will no longer be reprising her role as Donna Martin in the 90210 spinoff starting in Sept.


Sources are saying that she pulled out due to her salary. Apparently it wasn't the same as her other original costars, Jennie Garth and Shannen Doherty.

Photo Credit: WireImage

- Erin Dustin

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

He Babysits Too?!

If George Clooney wasn't perfect enough! Get this. While vacationing on the Mediterranean this summer with various friends including Cindy Crawford and hubby Rande Gerber, Clooney has not only been showing off his barbecuing talent, but also lending a helping hand, babysitting the couple's two kids, Presley and Kaia!

Let's all say it together now, AWWWW!

Photo Credit: WireImage

- Erin Dustin

Suri Joins Katie and Her New 'Do

Suri is now in town! The mother-daughter duo have been spotted around NYC at playgrounds and attending shows like "The Little Mermaid."

And p.s., what do y'all think of Katie's new do! I love it so much, I've been slightly considering chopping off my own locks!

Photo Credit: WireImage

- Erin Dustin

Monday, August 4, 2008

Meet The New Breakfast Club

I love me some Breakfast Club (Sat. morning detention never looked so fun!) and at this moment I am loving JCPenney's back to school commercial! And I even don't mind seeing it played many a time during the day! It gives me an excuse to sing at the top of my lungs, "Don't you, forget about me..."

- Erin Dustin

The Teens Chose Who Surfed Away With A Win

Miley was the ultimate triple-threat as she performed (in SUCH a cute outfit) slash hosted slash danced-off.

Gossip Girl and the Jo Bros struck gold.

David Beckham shared the award with his boys. (And cutie Cruz danced!)

LC and her Hills are still oh so popular.

Hayden Panettiere screamed with glee, loving her girl power.

Vanessa Hudgens is a hottie. (And obvs. Zac is too!)

Will Smith still rocks the summer screen and the teens know it.

Fergie and her braid looked amazing.

Ed Westwick is TV's best villian. (Chuck Bass - Heart!)

I must say it was a very fun-filled, entertaining evening!

Photo Credit: WireImage

- Erin Dustin

Morgan Freeman in Car Accident

Morgan Freeman was in serious condition after being involved in a car accident Sunday night in Mississippi. Him and a female passenger were airlifted to a hospital in Memphis after the actor's car flipped several times. Although the "jaws of life" were used to extract him from the car, Freeman was said to be in good spirits, conscious and even making a few jokes as people crowded around to see the star.

Update: Freeman suffered a broken arm, a broken elbow and some damage to his shoulder. He will be having surgery to fix his injuries and is expected to make a full recovery.

Good news is that there were no drugs and alcohol involved!

Best wishes for a full recovery Mr. Freeman!

Photo Credit: WireImage

- Erin Dustin

What Is She Hiding?

Apparently nothing according to her lawyer Michael C. Miller. "Despite tabloid speculation, Mary-Kate Olsen had nothing whatsoever to do with the drugs found in Heath Ledger's home or his body, and she does not know where he obtained them."

I wonder why she won't speak to investigators in the case surrounding the late actor's death unless she has immunity from prosecution?

Photo Credit: WireImage

- Erin Dustin

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Oh Em Gee, So Excited!

The pictures are in and double the cuteness! And can we please pay special attention to Shiloh holding her little sister, so so precious! First on the agenda tomorrow, buy People's newest oh so exciting issue! (19 pages of pics and Jolie-Pitt family fun! I'm trying to think of something better than that, and nope, nothing!)

Photo Credit: People

- Erin Dustin

Friday, August 1, 2008

Christina For Macy's

Abso-freaking-lutely gorgeous! Xtina at her best!

-Erin Dustin

I Dig Them Too

"I dig Jake and Reese together. They seem happy." - Clifton Collins Jr., old friend of Reese and costar of Jake in their upcoming film Brothers.

Photo Credit: Google

- Erin Dustin

If I Were You...

I'd be on this Sunday, 7 p.m. (Eastern time) to check out the first pics of Angie and Brad's Vivienne and Knox! I can barely contain my excitement!

Photo Credit: Google

- Erin Dustin