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What’s it like to be on a first date and say you wrote a book called Inappropriate Sleepover?

Well, the guys mostly look scared and/or confused, but I feel great!

She liked the crunch of the white snow.
The androgynous bulk of orange
encapsulating her long frame. In town
there were double takes and a sense
of foreboding. You look sixteen, her father said
on seeing her in new ballet clothes.
She was eleven. Bringing down her first
pheasant felt natural. She could imagine
getting pheasants to fall from the sky
without a gun. She could imagine
herself all in white like the fallen snow.

He cleared his throat with bulldozers
had the necessary work permit from the city
taped to the side of his face
removing dirt from the windpipe
he found trapped miners that had died down there
their once blackened faces now skeletal
huddled together like an American football team
discussing a play that never happened
but lest you think my mud brains hung up on simple excavation
there is still the clouded mind to address, always clouded
with a thick haze of grievous confusion
the benchmark of basic clarity never met
sitting in dark cafés with stupid French names
folding the newspaper like a losing hand of poker


Tell us about the most recent poetry reading you gave.

Last weekend I read for a series in Nashville called the Et. Al. reading series. The series has been happening for a while, but last weekend’s was the first to take place in the Sauvage arts space, run by my sister Lydia Gamble and her friend Ashley Boyd Jones. Both are talented photographers. Ashley collects and sells very good clothes (including a nice supply of vegan fur coats) and Lydia does a variety of fine visual art, including woodprints and some glass pieces. The reading felt extra-special to me because my mom, one of my brothers, and both of my sisters were there. The poems I read were some of my most personal and revealing I’ve ever written, I think, so it was really good to have my family there.

—After Catullus

My house disgusted me, so I slept in a tent.
My tent disgusted me, so I slept in the grass. The grass disgusted me,
so I slept in my body, which I strung like a hammock from two ropes.
My body disgusted me, so I carved myself out of it.

My use of knives disgusted me because it was an act of violence.
My weakness disgusted me because “Hannah” means “hammer.”
The meaning of my name disgusted me because I’d rather be known
as beautiful. My vanity disgusted me because I am a scholar.

My scholarship disgusted me because knowledge is empty.
My emptiness disgusted me because I wanted to be whole.
My wholeness would have disgusted me because to be whole
is to be smug. Still, I tried to understand wholeness

as the inclusiveness of all activities: I walked out into the yard,
trying to vomit and drink milk simultaneously. I tried to sleep
while smoking a cigar. I have enough regrets to crack all the plumbing.
I’m whole only in that I’ve built my person from every thought I’ve ever loved.

Brooklyn Book Fest  2014

Jane: So Before Passing is great weather for MEDIA’s fourth poetry and prose anthology, with submissions opening for the next on October 15. As always, it’s a mix of fun, excitement, hard work, and very difficult decisions. David, we published you in our first collection, It’s Animal but Merciful. Any surprises moving to the editorial side?

David: When I agreed to working as an editor on the anthologies, I told myself to prepare to read a lot of bad work in order to find the good. What I have found is that there is worthiness in almost all the submissions we read. The challenge is identifying the pieces that belong together in a given book. Which is why writers should not despair over rejections.

By Rebecca Audra Smith, from Before Passing


I was kissing you, necking on
the Canal Street love boat. We edged up
in our seats and made some space for Jesus
to sit down. Tight squeeze, my kneecaps
knocking yours, my tongue still in your
mouth, not much room for his words.
Still, he started to preach. Jesus
is the man to call when you want
two women to pull apart. Jesus
is the place to go when you want
us to rearrange our bodies till we
sit decorous as flowers in a vase.
Jesus is the man to speak to
when you want to unlink our hands.
I haven’t space enough on this paper
to tell him that I will kiss you
wherever I fucking want to.

By Bob Hart, from Before Passing


Who knows how many worlds
have been ground into detritus
but they make such pretty stones.
One can collect them for
their sparkles or
their dullish characters;
ably make fairy tales about them;
wear them as
a savage wrapping around the
wrist or
round the loins; bed them
in a chapel floor or cavern’s copula;
press their patterns into flesh
as fashion or as torture;
grind out one’s eyes with them as guilty;
give them as worth
and still not guess
the distances they came from—
the processes that formed them.

by Toni La Ree Bennett, from Before Passing


How deep

is the impression

my body makes

in your wife’s bed?

you leave the other on the road when your car careens into the woods & your
airbags deploy & your seatbelts are a god your state doesn’t believe in but the
windshield is a stubborn gate you break yourself trying to break open & it is too
bright to rupture the forest with headlights which  means its still early enough
to bring a body to the coroner & discuss who will call the dead fawn’s mother.

Stand facing east.
There is a seedy dive bar on the corner to your right.

Turn 90 degrees to your right.
There is a tattoo parlor.

Again, turn 90 degrees to your right.
There is always a 15 passenger white van with a graphic photograph of an aborted baby’s head in the clasp of a pair of forceps, ever blocking the entrance to the abortion clinic.

Again, turn 90 degrees to your right.
You’ll see a line of very large people, ever blocking the entrance to the Souplantation.

Bludworth de Barrios horizontal

Can you talk a little about the cover of Splendor, your first book of poems?

Growing up, I was always excited to read a new Christopher Pike book. I remember where they were kept at our local book store, with the other kids’ books on shelves that covered the whole back wall. Christopher Pike books, for the uninitiated, are teen genre thrillers that straddle science fiction, mystery, horror, suspense, and fantasy. Embedded within these stories were questions, or hints of questions, about mortality, time, desire, the limits of human experience, and story-telling itself. I loved the books, even down to their repetitive, marketing qualities—the dreamy, California, quasi-suburban setting of many of the books, the formulaic and familiar narrative devices, and the pulpy covers which always depicted an illustrated scene from the book in bright or neon colors. The covers were a tantalizing snapshot of the world contained within the book.

I wanted the cover of Splendor to have that same feeling of promise and thrill. When I was working with Bri Hermanson, who illustrated the cover, I asked her to conjure a scene of an alien astronaut explorer overlooking an alien landscape, with a nod to the Pike book covers. Bri’s arid, volcanic landscape, done in pink and turquoise colors, feels at the same time desolate and invigorating, which fits the tone of the book. She’s an incredible artist and was really fun to work with.

Being pretty
is how a museum feels

All the money
located in one firm spot

someone owns a mansion and they invite everyone to the mansion

To sometimes
drink wine and listen to smart people think smart things

Wearing perfume
or cologne and spare jewelry and black clothes and shaved legs and clean hair

is a museum the location where it’s luxury to gather and hear intelligent things

Queerer Weather

By Marty McConnell


Language itself inverts, subjugates, and this means
we don’t have to go home alone anymore. This
is a chair that folds out into a palm tree
and I can’t stand Los Angeles. Language
is the locus of all tyranny. Also, love
offered like water, the mouth giving and giving
before coming to silence, before saying
I could give you all the noise in this body
and still the door wouldn’t close. This chair
doesn’t turn into anything and it’s

my favorite. It’s a chair. You
were born in California and that’s
OK. When I consider what it means to be
a tyrant, I think about the need to chew
seventeen times before swallowing. And how
the food slides down the gullet then, already
part digested, less like itself than radio


By Manuel Arturo Abreu