Information about the Desert City Poetry Series, contemporary poetry & poetics, and poetry readings & events in central North Carolina.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Lee Ann Brown & Carl Martin This Saturday, Apr. 30, 8pm @ Internationalist Books!

Who: Lee Ann Brown, author of Polyverse and The Sleep that Changed Everything, babbitter for the IFGO, can juggle hogs while reciting verses from "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came" in Polish.

Who: Carl Martin, author of Genii Over Salzberg and Go Your Stations, Girl, haberdasher for Jay Leno, person behind the decision to make grass green.

What: Desert City Poetry Series, LAST Reading of the Season: In with a BANG, out with a Ka-BOOM!!

When: This Saturday, April 30th, 8pm, 2005, putting the period on Poetry Month.

Where: Internationalist Books, 405 W. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, to the right of the sun and under the stars.

Why: "The world's agog with use / like a saint's patrimony" "Convert play's determining eye-- / to sight -- jolt my light propensities"

See you there....

Internationalist Books

Lee Ann Brown

Carl Martin

Contact the DCPS: Ken Rumble, director
rumblek at bellsouth dot net

"Quantum Sonnet"
by Lee Ann Brown

The particle waves -- in your firmament -- comb
A golden mane -- thereof -- a graph --

Cruel behavior's handiwork -- undone --
All phenomenon O Lord -- can laugh

At the bright apparatus -- of redeemers -- come
To circuit round sharp amplitude --

Jumpstarted -- wavelength -- honeycomb
My commandment -- to your frequency's mood

Thy experiment is way past way --
Outer space -- Meditation's intensities

Convert play's determining eye --
To sight -- jolt my light propensities --

To click my arms around your glory --
Converting gentler light -- to photon's stranger story

" The Prescription Drug Challenge"
by Carl Martin

It was while popping members of the "triptan" family
That I began dreaming of the South African killer bee.
Trapped inside a diamond shaped molecule its sticky, yellow venom
Slides inside its slick confinement like wind sliding
Through the furry cuffs of the pussy willow.
This bee is a good swimmer, but not a great swimmer
Though its talent has been honed bouncing through the waves
The spray and loneliness of the South Coast.
I know deep in the knobby, long distance knees of the soul
That it has not spread all the pollen that I would like to spread with it.
Somehow, in my wise inclinations I fear that this is a truly American
"Stinger," a short spanned hum-vee of the wild Florida grasses
Plowing through the airs and porches like a long-legged advert
In ways that Maeterlinck could never have imagined,
Not even poetically, "just as Deborah, whose name means Bee"
Judged Israel--in a story I may not actually have read.
This is the way the blind see, even in Miami. Jehovah forgive us
And excise from the brain: the flesh, the hubbub, and the rub
For sometimes through the digital transference that is all we see
Though the light is blinding.
And the contest never as numbing as we would like.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Many Thanks to The State of Things!

I'm back sun-lovers and I don't think I stumbled too many times in the interview today on WUNC's The State of Things.

It was a lot of fun and good to meet Frank, Alan, Glenis, and Susan -- thanks everyone!

At any rate, the show has been archived on the SOT's web site; you can find it here.

And remember that the last Desert City reading of the series is THIS Saturday, April 30th, at 8pm at the Internationalist. It will feature Lee Ann Brown and Carl Martin.

More info soon....

DC & Me on the Radio Today!!

Hello sun-lovers,

So I'm going to be on WUNC (the local NPR affiliate) radio today to talk about the state of poetry in North Carolina (prognosis? Good!) on their show (appropriately titled) The State of Things.

WUNC is 91.5 FM on your radio dial in the central NC area; if you're a little further afield, you can listen online here and find info about the show here.

The show will be on from noon to 1pm today and rebroadcast at 8pm tonight. Why not listen twice??

Also, it's a call-in show, so if your iambs in trouble, call us on the double....

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Readings, Greyhounds, Spartans, Caracals, and Two Tiger Charges: April DC Weekend #1 in Review

Lisa Jarnot and Andrea Selch put on a great reading Saturday night -- it was, indeed, a study in contrasts and similarities. Surprisingly, both Lisa and Andrea read a fair amount of formal verse in traditional forms.

Andrea opened the evening and read a good mix of poems that operated within and against a variety of formal constraints, including one series of "euphonics" -- poems that relied primarily on one or two letter sounds as their organizing principles. Andrea's poems ran the gamut: personal histories, public histories, motherhood, love, domestic life -- there were even several poems written by her dog, quite a vocabulary on that little canine. Andrea's an excellent reader, comfortable, funny, and personable.

Lisa then read poems from Ring of Fire and Black Dog Songs (speaking of conversant K-9s) and some new material, largely sonnets about animals like the fennec that might have also been about love. Lisa read many of my favorites of her poems: sections from "The Eightfold Path", "Swamp Formalism", "Indian Hot Wings", "Hockey Night in Canada", and "Seal Ode" among others -- she read a couple haiku like pieces that got a good laugh from the crowd and generally entertained us all. There is something peculiar -- and compelling -- about Lisa's delivery of her poems. I've been reading them to myself and to others lately in prep for the reading. My vocalization of the poems was quite different from hers -- I wasn't reading them "wrong" at all -- it seems more that the poems are open to several vocal cadences. In Lisa's articulation though, the inherent speed of her poems mingles with a sycopation that deepens the experience of hearing them. She's quite a good reader. It reminded me of hearing Gwendolyn Brooks read "We Real Cool" when I was in college. As many times as I read that poem, heard that poem read by others, and imagined what it would sound like -- Brooks's performance of it was something I never would've imagined and couldn't have imagined would be so perfect.

It was a standing room only crowd that spilled out to the street at various points -- this is a great town for poetry.

Afterwards, we adjourned to the home of Todd & Laura for the post-reading reception known as the Blue Door.

I've been saying all year that the Blue Door has elevated the Desert City evenings into something even more special than they would be otherwise, and it is absolutely true. After each of the readings this year, Todd & Laura have welcomed any and everyone into their home for food, drinks, another reading by a local poet, an exhibit of local art work, and general comraderie. I can't quite articulate how much the receptions mean to me and how much I appreciate Todd & Laura's efforts. They are super people who care and give their all to our community down here. They are my dear, dear friends.

Saturday was the last Blue Door of the year, and the reader was me actually. It was a real honor to be invited, particularly in light of the previous readers featured in the series. I read from a series of poems I've been working on lately called "A Monologue for Voices."

It was a great night -- thank you Todd & Laura, thank you Lisa & Andrea, thanks to everyone who came out to the DC and the BD, thanks to Marcus for inviting Lisa to visit his intro to poetry class on Friday, thanks to Randall & Chris & Todd & Kathryn for helping me read my monologues, thanks to everyone for a wonderful year. Thank you particularly to Rob Sikorski and Duke University's John Hope Franklin Center for sponsoring, thus making possible, Lisa's visit.

To close the weekend, Lisa, Kathryn, myself, my parents, and daughter Violet all visited the Carnivore Preservation Trust in Pittsboro. You can read about it from the poodle's perspective at Lisablog.

Thanks again everyone -- below are the introductions I gave for Lisa and Andrea:

Lisa Jarnot & Andrea Selch Intro

1. Announcements
a. Blue Door tonight featuring me!
b. April 30th, Desert City with Lee Ann Brown and Carl Martin
c. May 7th at the Carrboro Arts Center the first annual Carrboro Book Fair
d. May 21st & 22nd the second annual Carrboro Poetry Festival

2. Welcome
a. Thanks for coming
b. Introduce yourself
c. The Desert City is a non-profit, volunteer run and funded organization. Both of the poets tonight are appearing without receiving any compensation. Please make a donation to support the poets and the series. Please buy books to support the internationalist.
d. Sign up sheet in the back for announcements of future events

3. Thank yous
a. Internationalist
b. Lisa & Andrea
c. all of you
d. Violet
e. my parents
f. Kathryn

4. Tonight, though, we are here to see Lisa Jarnot and Andrea Selch

5. “With a chainsaw, my girlfriend is Evel Knievel,” writes Andrea Selch in a line that exemplifies the blend of worlds that Selch’s poems distill into a solution: the worlds of domesticity and motherhood, a world of lesbian relationships and identity, the world of American entrepreneurism, pop culture, and personal and public histories. Through all these worlds the narrator is guided by desire, by passion: she writes, “Oh you honey dew / come back soon. Who cares / if it’s true but while it’s new / I’d rather my two hands / were full of you.”
6. In the not so regular world of the day to day, Selch serves as the president of Durham’s Carolina Wren Press, is a mother of two, is fluent in at least two languages, and recently returned from Philadelphia where she gave a reading with poets Erica Hunt & Evie Shockley at the Kelly Writers’ House. She earned a PhD from Duke University for her thesis on a period in the early 20th century when national radio networks kept poets on salary. The author of the chapbook Succory, Selch’s first full length collection of poems, Startling, was released last fall.
7. It is to changes in Selch’s worlds that the poems’ eye is drawn. In “The Lithuanians” she sketches the shifting passions of several generations within a family. She writes of the older generation, “It was Paris where these two exchanged vows. / And afterwards, raw oysters in their stomaches and drunk on champagne, / doctor and doctor walked the Champs Elysees / and talked of buying art.” After following this couple through their lives on the Upper East Side, the poem ends “Now, instead of quartets and Grade-A beef, / the table is set with peanut butter sandwiches, buffet style.”
8. In “Christmas at Home,” she writes, “I used to be the butch one, but now / she lifts whole oaks and splits them with one blow.” And lastly in “1979: Tearing Down the Morris House on Perth Avenue” she writes of the startling evolution of a family home into a monastery into a building waiting for destruction: “In the wet bar stands a marble altar and walnut kneeler; / the gown room's been a dormitory; the closets, vestiaries.”
9. Throughout these changes her poems locate and search for a place of stability, connection. She writes of another mother’s visits: “every afternoon / they come here: five slender gray ones, / coffee muzzles, white tails twitching. / The two who just two months ago were fawns / dare to nibble on the lawn”, and a home decorated for the winter: “the front door creaks under garlands and wreaths. / This year we won’t brave the river or cross the woods.” And finally in “First Words to My Son” she writes, “here, let me take the bannister, / study each stair: Let nothing disturb you / nor ruffle a single russet hair.”
10. Please welcome Andrea Selch.

11. “I am barbecuing eucalyptus pigs of hills and brightly colored housetops, I am waiting for my senses to come back, I am a cabbalistic moment all in black, I am your drunken Irish brother and the plantains on the lawn, I am the tourists hoarding sharks teeth, I am the empty grain silos of Bernal Heights and god, and I am you on the back of a motorcycle crossing Dolores in the pineapple groves of Elvis Costello, sleeping all night, inside the artificialist lagoons, beyond the palm trees, I am a drag queen named Heather not quite ready for New York.”
12. I am Ken Rumble, and I am introducing you to Lisa Jarnot.
13. “I will make you understand, I, being who I am will make you understand who I am, on a Sunday.”
14. This Lisa Jarnot is the same Lisa Jarnot who wrote a poem called “Lisa Jarnot.” This is the Lisa Jarnot who wrote three books – Some Other Kind of Mission, Ring of Fire, and Black Dog Songs – all by Lisa Jarnot.
15. “You, armadillo, the dark and stately shape of armadillo, the street the shape of armadillo.”
16. “I am traveling to edges made of night, I am not sure where I am and I am traveling to edges made of rock in the avocado night, I am traveling to the edges to the plane to where I am to cross the parking lot to stand upon the median to edges made of rock in avocado night.”
17. This Lisa Jarnot is knitting hats – she is not knitting hats now – she is knitting hats, one each to commemorate each US soldier killed in Iraq. Lisa Jarnot is sitting in this room and uses her web log which is sitting in cybespace to protest the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan and the current administration, the Lisa Jarnot who wrote the poem “Swamp Formalism” for Donald Rumsfeld who has received several letters from Lisa Jarnot.
18. “As if they were not men, / amphibious, gill-like, with / wings, as if they were / sunning on the rocks, in a / new day with their flickered / lizard tongues.”
19. And for Dick Cheney, “Dumb Duke Death”
20. “chimp chore / damp dank / death do / dead deal / duck”
21. The poems written by Lisa Jarnot take small moments -- mammal moments, bird moments, love moments – moments Lisa Jarnot has seen, read, and heard about, takes these moments and peels them like an artichoke, peels moments and words and mammals and things like artichokes because there are so many things and artichokes and words and mammals and words like everything mean everything.
22. “They lover to go on unmistaken, that they loved to not to be gratuitous or cry, that they loved the fortitude of yaks, that suddenly they loved the whiskey and the sunlight and the key, that they loved the corn cow and the cow corn that it ate, that they loved the cat food as it rolled across the floor … that they knew they loved the river that was made where people dream.”
23. An agoraphobic writer named Robyn Taylor is not Lisa Jarnot, but Lisa Jarnot pretended to be Robyn in the award winning film The Time We Killed directed by Jennifer Reeves about the days in New York after September 11th. Robyn says in that film, “Terrorism got me out of the house, the war on terror drove me back in.”
24. The following lines written by Lisa Jarnot sum up some ideas of Lisa Jarnot: “In this most perfect rhyme / that takes up what it sees, / with perfect shelter from the / rain as perfect as can be … in these most perfect habits / of the waving of the trees, / through this imperfect language / rides a perfect brilliancy.”
25. I am Ken Rumble and I am asking you to please welcome Lisa Jarnot.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Jarnot & Selch April 23rd, 8pm, Internationalist Books

Please spread far and wide.....

Who: Lisa Jarnot, author of
Black Dog Songs, Ring of Fire, & Some Other Kind of Mission, star of The Time We Killed, knitter of hats, keeper of cats, sometimes says "That's that."

Who: Andrea Selch, author of
Startling & Succory, president of Durham's Carolina Wren Press, founder of everyone's favorite season: Spring.

What: Desert City Poetry Series, deep in the heart of Poetry Month.

When: This Saturday, April 23rd, 8:00 pm, 'oh5 - ohyeah.

Where: Internationalist Books, 405 W. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, betwixt the mountains and the seas.

Why: "you the atm of longing, the longing for the atm machines, you the lover of the banks and me and birds and others too and cabs, and you the cabs and you the subtle longing birds and me" "I watch you swim. Silently, you practice surface dives / and flips—a thumb-sized Esther Williams, / minus the bathing suit. // We are both waiting / for the music to begin."

See you there.....

Next and LAST reading of the 04/05 Season:

April 30th: Lee Ann Brown & Carl Martin

*Internationalist Books

*Lisa Jarnot

*Andrea Selch

Contact the DCPS: Ken Rumble, director
rumblek at bellsouth dot net

"The Specific Incendiaries of Springtime"
by Lisa Jarnot

Inside of my inspection house there are
things I am inside of lacking only linens
and the tiniest of birds, there are small ideas
of tiny birds and things they are inside of,
in the middle of the small ideas of genius
we began inside of sundown,

I am hiding from relationships of springtime
in the tiny rooms with tiny birds, and there
are functions of relations, there are springtimes,
there are tiny birds and checkbooks and some

I am wanting only lemons where you have
wanted only linens in the center of the room,
I am waking up in long corroded rooms,
near Bakersfield and farmteams, in the vivid
dreams of rain, having dominion over these
animals and the salesmen on an island in
relationships with shepherd girls who carry
soft umbrellas,

Toward sundown, let me say that I am in
your absence forced to read a smallish book,
to read ideas of farmteams in the twilight
in the spring, where on an uninhabited
island I strangled all the shepherd girls and
then became a smallish book, and doused
the bed with kerosene he sleeps in doused
with birds and twilight books I dreamt of in
relations of the springtime that I dream,

Of farmteams, clearly let me say of sheep
and clearly let me say of spring in Bakersfield,
where I have strangled all the sheep and
several shepherds, where to read ideas
of twilight in a book, today, to a new love,
where in briefly retouched currency, functions
of inspections in the house now lacking lemons,
here I strangled all the shepherd girls and birds,

Where I read ideas of twilight to a newer love,
where the genius of liberty we began in the
middle toward sundown was a smallish bird
in spring outside of Bakersfield, where,
on an uninhabited island, to the twilight
of this genius in the book, to the mouthpiece of
the smallest sunlit bird, of the farmteam in
corroded blue relations, of ideas and in
inspection blocks, of occuring in the middle
of the twilight, of the dreams of smallest books
and salesmen inside Bakersfield, of wanting
only linens having wanted only wicker in
the center of the room,

I am a soldier of this wicker chair, I am
brandishing a welding torch and drill,
I am the island with the shepherds and the
sheep, I am waking up in Bakersfield in
rain, in a long corroded room, near the
farmteams in the vivid dreams of rain,
and in turning in the kerosene being slowly
doused in fire, I am, toward sunlight,
strangled by a shepherd girl, I am a salesman
of the islands of this currency,

Of rain, let the farmteams in relations
with the springtime in the checkbooks
find the rain, corroded I am, wanting only
lemons, only linens and then you, let me say
that you are on an island with umbrellas,
that we are woken in a room of springtime
birds, that nowhere is a smallish book,
and in the twilight reach dominions of our liberty.

by Andrea Selch

Because I spent all night
dancing with you
I said last night's prayers
this afternoon

And then this evening
when you were—who knows—
at your home? and I
was here alone, thinking could this love
be true? I found myself

with folded hands, praying anew:
what should I do? what should I do?
After the one-two one-two
of all night dancing with you,
what else could I do?

Oh you honey dew
come back soon. Who cares
if it's true but while it's new
I'd rather my two hands
were full of you.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Jarnot & Selch April 23rd

Two readings this month!!

April 23: Lisa Jarnot & Andrea Selch!!!

April 30: Lee Ann Brown & Carl Martin!!!!

Saturday, April 23rd, at 8pm at the Internationalist

Lisa is apparently going to Mallorca soon, so if you you know anything about Mallorca, come down so you can give her some advice!

Andrea is not going to Mallorca any time soon, but she speaks French quite fluently and can tell you lots of things about the days when national radio networks in the US had staff poets.

Lisa recently starred in a movie (some might call her a movie star), so practice simultaneously squealing, jumping up and down, saying omygodomygodomygod, and pointing with the other hand on your head.

Andrea has not recently starred in a movie, but she watches lots of movies that have people in them. She also watches movies with talking vegetables, fruits, animals, rocks, buckets, and soap.

Lisa was an editor of several literary magazines, anthologies, and is the foremost biographer of the American poet Robert Duncan.

Andrea is the president of Carolina Wren Press in Durham. Her poems have been chosen by editors to appear in anthologies and magazines.

Lisa has two cats.

Andrea has two children.

April in the Desert City! ::: a study in contrasts.....

or similarities??

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

From Kent Johnson

What a sweetie -- we miss him already.


Ken and Everyone,
Just up here after getting back last night. I wanted to send a big and sincere thank you to all of you for the hospitality and warmth you extended my way on Saturday (and into the dawn on Sunday!). I really do want to move to Chapel Hill now. Let me know, Ken, beautiful man, when one of those farmhouses in the Blue Heron shangrila comes available. I have a printing press, a gun, twenty cats, and a copper distillery handed down to me from grampa.

Patrick, thanks to you, too, for your brilliance at the reading, which more than made up for what was lacking in my own, somewhat unremarkable, presentation. You are an incredible poet and person.

Tony, you, on the other hand, are very boring and rather dumb. I was really disappointed. It is astonishing to me that you are about to marry the likes of Leigh.

Sorry about that. A little sudden aggression from the smelly hole of my chronic insecurity. I just don't like it, I guess, when someone who is 19 is smarter than I am at 69. (Patrick is in his early thirties and has a kid, so he's cool.)

But now I have to stop mentioning names, for I met so many wonderful people and I know I will forget someone, or more, if I continue into the tremendouly delicious dinner, the quaint terrorist bookstore, and the surreal Maoist party. Better to limit myself to the names of those who made it to the bar on Main Street before the event, those who knew me when I was still more or less sober.

I thought I'd also let you all know that in Chicago a bunch of people wanted to know what I thought of Chapel Hill. "What is all this stuff we are hearing about the scene in Chapel Hill and Carburator?" the brilliant profs and grad students from U of Chicago, Northwestern, and Columbia asked me, "Is it true that they are all a bunch of incredible drunks and that most of them live in the woods?" I threw back the last of my Bud, looked them straight in the eyes, and said, "Well, my fellow Illinoians, that would be something of an understatement."

love to all. And my big thanks, again.