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Anthony: The official occasion of this psychotic public conversation is our new book—Thing Music—so let’s begin this disarticulation of our so-called self with that book: what’s it been like having this one out in the world?

Anthony: As we’ve experienced now a number of times the release of a book primarily seems to amplify the need—it feels physical—to get going on another one—this despite the fact—and I think you would agree with me here—that we feel richly satisfied with Thing Music. I can actually read it for pleasure—all the way through. Maybe we’ve felt that way after every book? I can’t remember… This one feels different though—like it’s still a little out in front of us, still teaching us about itself, or better put, has just begun to do so. But that only complicates the problem of where to go next. What’s been your experience: have you been enjoying giving readings from the book?

The Nouns

By Anthony McCann

Poem

But I’m a plant
                      you said

           bedewed
        in object drool

                Sometimes
                                 I was shoes

                      I looked down
                      into the earth
                  I saw

                            the feathered clouds

                                 I saw
                                 a rash of light:
                                       Heads ‘n’ Things,
                                                       The Nouns

                                      like when a head comes off
                             and light spreads across the room

kristina-in-edinburgh

Tell us about Fortress. Describe its architecture.

Fortress is my newest book, which was just released by Sundress Publications.  It’s a book-length engagement with Elaine Scarry’s classic work, The Body in Pain.  Fortress begins with an erasure/excavation/rewriting of the first chapter, in which I erase pain from the book.  What’s left?  The small blue thread, the fragile arc, and faint music.

The collection also contains several prose sequences, which engage with the work Romantic poets who experimented with opium.  These “painkiller poems” depict a landscape filled with dead poppies, and consider what it would look like if seen through the eyes of a female speaker.  Underneath all of the dead flowers and burned meadows, though, Fortress is really a love poem.

There are also housefires, red lilies, and a spooky house.  I hope you’ll check it out!

Minor Plot (I)

He hired a woman to look after the garden.  Not the dead poppies, but another garden on a separate piece of land.  They planted seeds in neat little rows . Days passed. When she gaped at the enormous primroses, he began tearing them from the ground.

Bad Directions

By Nina Puro

Poem

i.
the last patients
leave the hospital
through a curtain
of marigolds. the hospital
closes like an eye

ii.
the prairie boys
in john deere hats
and burger king crowns
run through
all the meadows

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Hi.

Hi.

 

I’m not sure what to ask you. What question do you always want to be asked that no one ever does?

I’ll answer with the question I often ask writers and performers, which is: How do you enter the outside world and exist after writing/performing such intense pulled-apart language? For me, it’s difficult. I am still figuring that out.

Do not catalogue, organize or nickname the stone. The stone has been shoved into fires of coordinates that stretch beyond state lines, territories and provinces. The stone has been used as a weapon; it has deflated bone. Notice the blood stains against its minerals. The stone cannot keep a lover; its historical uprooting disallows dialogues on monogamy or the existence of marriage. The stone has been a perch for others, glued into walls, walked over by callused feet, and licked by ocean. Call the stone androgynous, but it refuses to pick a side or stagnant approach to infrastructure. The stone is a danger to itself and others; it has seen too much. Never mention the time the stone ********. Just do not mention that, please. The stone suffers from phantom limb syndrome, even though legs have never existed nor arms or approachable neck. The stone has no womb, yet yearns to publicize fertility. The stone is still in search of its god. The stone does not conform to any political party and yet this stone is queer. And yet this stone marches for the freedom of others and yet this stone is still. And the stone meditates. And the stone chants. And the stone crawls toward a ceremonious existence within its scarred and scared packaging.

And every brittle bone
shivered like an oak leaf
caught in spring thunder,

and each blind eye
glistened with white film
opaque as the sealing wax
on beans jarred in the cellar,

and mud seeped more tar than earth
around the ankles of scuffed
sneakers, their tongues wagging
like dogs panting in summer heat,

Headshot SA Pantry Profile (Copy)[Photo by Mark Hanauer]

What is life?

A Hasbro mind game.

more destination than place
Los Angeles remains a
shifting landscape of
water and sand

mercy has little to do with life here

nor is this city the cruel, friendless,
kitten with a whip that many
would like to believe

make of it what you will
these eviscerated roads are my river
lit by the constant final flash of fame

James Tadd Adcox author picBen Tanzer (for TNB): Does Not Love has a lot to say about the state of marriage. Did you start the novel wanting to comment on the state of marriage or did you end up there anyway?

James Tadd Adcox: What has fascinated me about the domestic novel, and novels in general, is this argument that the novel traditionally has been structured by marriage. The form of the novel has been based on the institution of marriage. Marriage is this massive irreversible decision that change dramatically the rest of your life. Once you’re in it you can’t get out of it. The taboo against adultery is like a horror. What can the novel be now that we don’t have the taboo of adultery and divorce exists?

DNL_cover“I don’t want you to kiss me,” Viola says to the FBI agent. “That is a hard boundary for me, I think.”

“No kissing,” the FBI agent says. “Anything else?”

“Could you turn that light down a little bit? Just for right now, anyway.”

“The light has only two settings,” the FBI agent explains. “On or off.”

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[Questions courtesy of Nicky the Drunk]

When you started writing short pieces, was your purpose to be concise and focused to increase the impact, or do you just hate wasting words?

Well in music and in writing, I tend to like stuff that’s straightforward and stripped down. So the question is always “Does it serve the piece?” I’ve had to cut some of my best lines (or put them in something else) because the answer was “no.” So, like, a song can be ten minutes long if there’s a reason for it to be. Bobby Womack does a version of the standard “(They Long To Be) Close To You” that’s 9 minutes long. It’s really simple, but the nine minutes all serve the piece. But, say, “Freebird”… There’s three minutes of great song there, but it’s nine minutes long. Do you really need to have three solos? No. So cut that shit.

An Errand

By Joel Landmine

Poem

We were going to her family’s house for
dinner,
I think it was her Mother’s birthday.

I had gotten her daughter ready, made sure
her hair was brushed,
gotten her in to her jacket,
gotten her in to the car seat.

OishiAuthorPhotos-17You say it took you 50 years to write your novel. What took you so long?

Fifty years ago, I was still a young man and didn’t have much to do, so I thought I would write the great Japanese-American novel. I thought it might a take a couple of years. But I had the time.

 

So what went wrong?

I needed a story. You know, drama with conflict, passion, pathos. Those kinds of things.