Monday, March 31, 2008

I just took my and Gideon's Amazon Wishlists down. I'm not sending those bastards anymore business and I'll start doing all my purchases with B&N instead. Every year Amazon does something to screw over small presses. Last year they threatened to pull all Lulu-printed titles off Amazon if Lulu didn't stop offering them for prices other than retail. No Tell Books titles used to sell for 3 dollars cheaper on Lulu (yet the press still made double the royalty) for every sale -- but thanks to Amazon, no longer.

This whole "you have to use our more expensive POD printer else we won't sell your books" -- whatever, go fuck yourselves. I don't know if Lulu will cave or not, business-wise it would be preferable to have NTB titles for sale on Amazon -- whatever, this is a poetry press, I'm not getting rich anyhow. After Amazon and Ingram take their cuts, the paltry amount I make from retail sales doesn't much help my bottom line. I hope Lulu tells Amazon to stick BookSurge up its greedy, hairy all-encompassing ass.

Once I hear Lulu's decision -- I'll update all the links accordingly. If the books stay on Amazon, I'll list the Amazon links after all the other links and try to influence customers to buy elsewhere. If the books are no longer available, the links will go away completely and I'll move on like I would from any other bad relationship.

Can Big Corporations

ever resist the opportunity to screw over the little guys?

Probably not.

Here's some more about this at DIY Publishing. This new Amazon policy may not affect Lulu printed books after all -- but that remains to be known.

This Week at No Tell

Brent Goodman glowsticks the mailbox for ya this week at No Tell Motel.

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Found this on Poetry Hut:

Poetry Collections by Women

You can contribute articles about women poets you admire.

Latino Poetry Review is live.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Hmm, seems like the USA is full of kids deserving of only gruel-based toys!

Every parent eventually comes to the realization that their child cannot be trusted with anything nice, even something specifically designed to withstand being in the possession of a little kid.

For now on it is strictly gruel-based toys for Gideon. No exceptions.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Oranges and Sardines

A new magazine dedicated to spanning art and poetry. Coming Soon.

Grubby Hand Update

Street, poems by Jim Daniels, photographs by Charlee Brodsky (Bottom Dog Press)

Now Showing, by Jim Daniels (Ahadada)

The Book of Sleep by Eleanor Stanford (Carnegie Mellon)
Convertible Night, Flurry of Stones by Dzvinia Orlowsky (Carnegie Mellon)
Sonnets for an Analyst by Gladys Schmitt (Carnegie Mellon)

Unbecoming Behavior, by Kate Colby (Ugly Duckling Presse)

Drunk by Noon, by Jennifer L. Knox (Bloof Books)

Out of Light, by Joseph Massey (Kitchen Press)
Why I Am White, Mathias Svalina (Kitchen Press)

When I said Goodbye, by Didi Menendez (BlazeVox)

The Stunt Double in Winter, by Robyn Art (Dusie)

The Romance of Happy Workers, by Anne Boyer (Coffee House)

Abraham Lincoln 2 (edited by K. Silem Mohammad and Anne Boyer)
Boundary Street Volume 6 (CMU University CW & The Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts)
LIT 13 (Fall 2007)

If you want to know more about what I'm currently reading and my impressions, I'm on Goodreads.


Monday, March 24, 2008

My suspicions were confirmed: CW undergrads are way more laid back and inquisitive. Had a really good talk today at CMU. First I read and discussed some of my poems from Your Ten Favorite Words at Jim Daniels' poetry workshop, then I gave an informal DIY publishing talk in the fancy new Creative Writing Center. The center didn't exist when I was a student there -- when I was a kid, I had to nap in Hunt library! I brought a bag full of chapbooks, books and journals so folks could see a bunch of different ways micropresses were going about publishing. Then I explained how I did things at No Tell.

Gideon split his afternoon between Pittsburgh Google office with Chris (conveniently located on the CMU campus) and at the CMU Computer Science department. My dad gave him the tour -- except for the machine room, cause Gideon is a notorious button pusher.


Since April 2007 was the most poetry productive month of my life, I'll be trying it again this year. Count me in.


This Week at No Tell

John Findura wonders if you will read his poem and then go onto MySpace and change your name this week at No Tell Motel.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Friday, March 21, 2008

Headed to Pittsburgh tomorrow. On Monday I'll be at CMU speaking at Jim Daniel's poetry workshop. No offense intended to the grad students out there, but I'm looking forward to talking with some undergrads -- anticipating an atmosphere with a lot less publishing/agent anxiety. Or at least I hope, you never know. Kids mature so very quickly these days.

There's a few things, while having plenty of nice results and associations, I'm not interested in repeating due to the nutty levels of anxiety that come along with them. They are: Planning a wedding, birthing a baby and being a recent MFA graduate.

Anxiety from a distance, hearing about TB's wedding planning, seeing a pregnant woman waddle down the street and my feeble attempts to convey to people that their poetry "careers" will not be destroyed by doing a little DIY or posting work on a blog -- that they might possibly be much better off taking control over how their own work is distributed, well, that's plenty of anxiety for me.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Amy Gerstler's Skinny Columns at Dennis Cooper's blog.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"Rock Star" Poets

There's no such thing.

And that's a very very good thing.

It's a common phrase in our vernacular right now and gets bandied around a lot. In fact, a well-meaning individuals have used it to describe me on certain occasions when an endeavor or project enjoys a moment of success. The first time was right after my graduate lecture at Bennington. I did a good job, the audience filled with other MFA graduate students and faculty seemed to like it and apparently nobody could tell I was two seconds away from peeing my pants. Afterward my former teacher Liam Rector said, "How does it feel to be a rock star for day?" At the time I thought, "Wow, a rock star for a whole day! They like me, they really like me."

Rock star is meant as a compliment, it means one is being acknowledged and appreciated for her work. So I always take it for what it was meant and appreciate the sentiment.

But I am not a rock star and I can't come up with a single poet who I think low enough that I would use that term to describe him -- and I have rather low opinions of quite a few poets out there!

Rock stars are inflated, over-rated, STD-ridden, destined for self-demise, pathetic creatures temporarily put up on pedestals, pumped with false, lavish praise leading them to believe they can soar into the heavens. What always happens is that they lose all perspective and sense, take a leap and crash into the concrete. Rock stars become sidewalk kill -- and the ones who make it through that quickly become toothless caricature of their former selves.

When you think about it, it's really not a compliment!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

You can read my poems in the current issue of The American Poetry Review online.

For FREE, the horror!



Monday, March 17, 2008

This Week at No Tell

Jessica Piazza disavows these high-jinks, hurts, these hells this week at No Tell Motel.

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Your Ten Favorite Words is recent and recommended says Verse.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

From Dan Chiasson's review of The Best American Erotic Poems in The New York Times:

If you find yourself in a book with an orchid on the cover, its petal languid and its pistil looking ready for action, it is really best to have written an anti-erotic poem like A. R. Ammons’s bleak two-line “Their Sex Life” (“One failure on / Top of another”) or Jill Alexander Essbaum’s funny “On Reading Poorly Transcribed Erotica” (“She stood before him wearing only pantries / and he groped for her Volvo under the gauze”).

For all you folks getting here in your search for "On Reading Poorly Transcribed Erotica," I would be remiss not to point you to Jill's newest book: Harlot (No Tell Books, 2007).

It has a very naughty cover.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

That's My Boy!

I keep trying to convince Gideon that we should go outside and walk to the nearby lake. He's having none of it. All he wants to do is stay inside and clean the floors. For real, yo!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

At 1:22 PM, Jilly said...
What did the panel talk about?

I was wearing tasteful gray slacks, a purple/gray/black patterned shirt with a long black knit. For practicality, black ballet flats and garnet earrings to pique the audiences' metaphysical sensual desires.

I communicated my condolences to CJ Evan's (Tin House replacement for Brenda S.) regarding his state's governor.

Regarding the panel: each press spoke for a few moments about how they started, the books they publish, what they look for in manuscripts. Each press has pretty different way of operating. Graywolf, a big "small" press has offices in different cities, paid full-time staff -- and does a fair bit of fundraising. Their books occasionally get national attention. Tin House has a staff too that makes decisions via conference calls and have (I think) one major funder. Barrow House has a small staff, not sure where they get their money. Ugly Duckling is a collective, with several members doing the bulk of the work. No Tell, the tiniest of the presses, is all about me and my garish cultural capital, which everyone reading this blog already knows. I think what the paneled showed is the different ways we can go about publishing the books we care about. Nobody, not even Graywolf, is making much money-- hence all the time they must spend fundraising. But the not making money is freeing because there's not the pressure of trying to find the next bestseller. Matvei discussed the "gift economy" instantly making me want to kiss him, or maybe he was wearing garnets too.

During the Q&A people asked about "cover letters" and agents.

That's what always happens. People want to know the secret to being discovered, not ideas for how they can do something themselves -- and nobody wants to hear about the no money part.

Afterwards a couple people approached me with questions or something nice to say about the press. One woman even bought a book. A young lady asked about finding an agent -- I told her I was a poet and she said that she was too, so I had to explain that to her. It was like having to tell somebody there's no Santa Claus.

Then a few of us talked amongst ourselves about how poetry publishers/editors are sometimes seen by other poets not as poets (just like them), but as publishers there to serve them. Someone noted that Fiona McCrae was on the only publisher on the panel who wasn't also a writer.

Then somebody mentioned Jill Essbaum's thong.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008


April 4- 5, 2008
Johns Hopkins University, DuPont Circle
1717 Massachusetts Ave, Washington, DC


Join us on April 5, 2008 in Washington, DC for a different kind of writer’s conference.

The Second Annual Conversations and Connections will help you get the connections and information you need to take your writing — and publishing — to the next level.

This year’s keynote speaker is MARY GAITSKILL, author of the novels Veronica and Two Girls, Fat and Thin, and the story collections Because They Wanted To and Bad Behavior.

Our panelists are experts in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, writing for children, making connections, using the web, marketing, and everything in between. Over 30 literary magazines will be represented. Get the real deal straight from the editor’s mouth.

Your $45 registration fee includes:

- the full day conference
- face-to-face “speed dating” with literary magazine editors
- a subscription to the lit mag of your choice
- a book by featured speakers

Conversations and Connections provides a comfortable, congenial environment where you can meet editors from a wide variety of magazines. Our “speed dating with the editors” (one session is included in your registration fee, additional sessions are available for $5 each) is a ten minute meeting with an editor of your choice, where they’ll review the first two pages of a story, a novel synopsis, or a few poems, providing instant feedback on how you might improve your work or where you might consider sending it. In addition, featured speaker Amy Holman will be conducting more in-depth on-site consultations for a fee of $15. The post-conference happy hour provides plenty of time to get to know your fellow writers and the editors who will be in attendance.


FRIDAY, APRIL 4, 7:30: Pre-conference Reading: VisArts Center, Rockville, MD.


Johns Hopkins University (Washington DC branch), 1717 Massachusetts Ave, Washington, DC

8:30: Registration

9:15 - 10:30: Breakout Session 1:

* Crafting the Poem
* The Business of Getting Published
* Finding a Home for Your Brilliant Work: Amy Holman Workshop
* Starting Your Own Independent Press

10:45 - 12:00: Breakout Session 2:

* The Long Haul: Writing the Novel
* How Can an MFA/MA Help Me?
* Short Story Panel (specifics to be announced soon)
* Nonfiction Panel (specifics to be announced soon)

12:00 - 2:00: Speed Dating and Lunch:

2:15 - 3:30: Keynote: Mary Gaitskill

3:45 - 5:00: Breakout Session 3:

* The Disciplined Writer
* Poetic Forms
* The Novella: Form and Potential
* Web Markets and Marketing

5:15 - 6:30: Reception


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Trained up to NYC this afternoon. Carly and I heckled a famous poet in a pizza shop. He joined us. Being sooooo good looking affords us a lot of room in our assholitude.

Panel went well. On the train back to DC.

I'm such a train-setting poet. Feel the glamour.


Tuesday, March 11, 6:30 - 7:30
The New School, Room 510 (66 West 12th Street, between Fifth and Sixth avenues)

Moderator: Patricia Carlin (Barrow Street Press)

Panelists: Brenda Shaughnessy (Tin House Magazine and Tin House Books), Matvei Yankelevitch (Ugly Duckling Presse), Fiona McCrae (Graywolf) and Reb Livingston (No Tell Motel and No Tell Books).

Monday, March 10, 2008

No Tell Titles Reviewed

in the latest issue of Galatea Resurrects (edited by Eileen Tabios)

Karen Rigby reviews The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel - Second Floor, Edited by Reb Livingston and Molly Arden

Nathan Logan reviews The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel, Edited by Reb Livingston and Molly Arden

Tom Beckett reviews Harlot by Jill Alexander Essbaum

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Note to Self

When you wake up and realize you dreamed the "key" to everything -- do yourself a favor and write it down before you go back to sleep.

Shut, son of a donkey stuck, mothertrucker.

This Week at No Tell

Amy Lemmon drank some more and dodged cockroaches this week at No Tell Motel.

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

Small Press and Publishing Panel

Tuesday, March 11, 6:30 - 7:30
The New School, Room 510 (66 West 12th Street, between Fifth and Sixth avenues)

Moderator: Patricia Carlin (Barrow Street Press)

Panelists: Brenda Shaughnessy (Tin House Magazine and Tin House Books), Matvei Yankelevitch (Ugly Duckling Presse), Fiona McCrae (Graywolf) and Reb Livingston (No Tell Motel and No Tell Books).

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Dear Steve Fellner

I sent you a few e-mails, but haven't heard back. If you see this, please e-mail me. Thanks.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Twice in the Same Day

He went back to his old stand-by, vaseline. He was supposed to be napping. He's most creative when he should be sleeping. Just like his mom.

Do you know how difficult it is to clean a quarter inch of vaseline off walls and furniture? And hair? I don't know, is poop worse than vaseline? At least poop is water soluble.

There is no longer any shelf high enough. I'm considering installing a dungeon. Any brand recommendations?

This afternoon Gideon and I met two writers for lunch. They saw me without my fancy eye foundation that gives the appearance that I get enough rest. Two people now out in the world who know what I look like without my "she's got it together" mask.

Chris just noticed spots of blood on my shirt and I have no idea how they got there. Maybe I blacked out and killed someone? I can't remember.

Washable marker, my ass.

And bye bye fancy, new eye foundation.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Free, Minimal-Time-Commitment Ways To Participate in the Poetry Gift Economy

New feature at the Cackling Jackal!

From time to time I'll post suggestions, more like "tips" -- ones you can do to "help make a difference." Like, for instance, did you know you can save electricity by unplugging your cell phone recharger when you're not using it? Apparently (according to a lady on the radio), if the chargers are plugged in, they use the same amount of electricity whether or not they're actually charging something.

Also, I heard you can lose weight simply by cutting out sodas and juices and instead drinking water.

Small changes to improve your life and help the world thrive!

Now don't you feel good about yourself? But really, is there something you can do to help poets and poetry publications stay afloat, something as simple as unplugging a cord or drinking a glass of water?

Why, yes there are some easy, no fuss things! Here's one:

Did you know, as a patron or a student or a teacher, if you request for a library to order a book they don't currently shelve, sometimes they will order the book? Have a favorite small press or author you'd like to support? Request for your local or university library to carry their book.

Worst case scenario: the librarian tells you to go fuck yourself. Like that hasn't happened before!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Been following with interest the discussion on charging readers for personal poetry blog access. There's nothing wrong with trying to earn money/make a living off one's writing, one's art. If one can find willing customers, why not?

Of course, I don't consider a poet making her blog (either partially or fully) subscription-based to be feasible. While I don't doubt a handful of readers will pay, I don't think the numbers would make it worthwhile. Especially not for $6/year. You'd likely make more money keeping the traffic higher and doing Google AdSense. Or keeping the traffic higher and hope the exposure your blog brings will result in (albeit slightly) higher book and journal sales.

The problem is twofold. One, there are hundreds (more?) of poetry blogs. Yes, not all poetry blogs are created equal, not all enjoy the same number of readers, but there's a lot of options, even for the most discerning reader -- and these options are constantly expanding with more poets getting into the mix. A few of my favorite blogs have closed shop over the years, and yes I do miss them, but my blog-reading time easily and quickly transitioned to other blogs.

Online magazines like Slate and Salon come to mind. They implemented free-based subscriptions in varying ways to little success. They implemented subscriptions after they were established for several years and had a steady, large readership. I'm sure their business folks estimated what percentage of their readership they needed to subscribe to be viable. They must have thought it was realistic since they went through with it. Turns out it wasn't so realistic -- they never got the paying subscriber base they anticipated. Yes, their readers liked their content, enough to visit on a regular basis -- but not enough to pay. They could find other ways to pass their time online elsewhere and for free.

So the question is what type of content inspires people to pay money for an online subscription? The obvious answer is, of course, porn. Seriously, porn sites have a lot of subscribers. So do gambling sites.

OK, so aside from vice, what are people willing to pay for?

Well, it turns out a lot of people are willing to pay for the Wall Street Journal. These days they offer both free and subscriber content, but when they started out it was mostly (all?) paid-subscriber. People pay for a subscription because the WSJ provides information they believe they need, such as business and stock updates and analysis. There are literary industry websites, like Publishers Weekly Virtual Edition (for $180/yr) that certain professionals (like agents and publishers) gladly pay for.

This can be applied to what kinds of poetry (related) books sell the most. How-tos and directories. How many Poets Markets sell every year? I don't know, but thousands I'm sure. Compare the subscriber rates of Poets and Writers or Writers' Digest to say the Paris Review or American Poetry Review. How many people spend hundreds of dollars a year for poetry contests, but only a fraction of that on poetry books and journal subscriptions? Or beer instead of books? A whole bunch of poets.

In addition to the massive "competition" with other personal poetry blogs that are free, the second reason I don't see a personal poetry blog subscription garnering very many subscriptions is because people tend to pay for what personally gratifies them and what they perceive as helping/needing to achieve their own goals. People might pay to subscribe to a poetry blog that in some way helped them (with specific information or a service) or perhaps one that promised constant and very unique titillation that they couldn't get for free. It may not be the finest reflection on human tendencies, but it's what I've observed. Take it from me, I'm a gnarly, grizzled 35 year old. I've seen bunches.

Deep down I hope I'm shown to be totally and completely WRONG. Please somebody prove me wrong. I could use a much sunnier disposition these days.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Christopher William Purdom's brief review of Your Ten Favorite Words.

NYC Next Week

Accepted a last minute invite to participate in a small press publishing panel at the New School. On Tuesday, March 11 I'll join Brenda Shaughnessy (Tin House Magazine and Tin House Books), Matvei Yankelevitch (Ugly Duckling Presse), Fiona McCrae (Graywolf) and Patricia Carlin (Barrow Street Press).

Blink and you'll miss me, I'll only be in the city for a few hours.

Monday, March 03, 2008

I used to be quite the gifted scheduler. Well not really, I was a competent scheduler of one -- and if your hitched your wagon to me, I could schedule you too, as long you accepted my center of the universeness.

Obviously those days are long gone, three years ago my universe centeredness was usurped by someone younger, cuter and move over bacon, there's something leaner. Now whenever something arises where I have to start planning, I become panicky, as noted in last week's preschool melt. This isn't brain surgery, right? I've handled important projects for corporations, ran several small businesses, wrote and edited several books, published other people's book, smoothly run an online magazine, made it through undergrad and graduate programs with no problem, organized events, small and well, medium, I guess, nothing with thousands of people, but I'm good at organizing parties, readings, meetings -- all that sort of stuff.

But when it comes to organizing Gideon's life, I'm AAAAHHH -- and it's simple stuff. Like for instance, this morning his speech therapist suggested speech camp this summer. That's an excellent idea. Perhaps competition will spur him into talking (or damage him, but whatever, it sounds like a good idea). Why did the suggestion panic me? Why am I worrying about how am I going to also schedule swimming lessons this summer? And I haven't taken him to the dentist yet and I've put off scheduling his annual doctor exam for weeks. That's stuff I can handle over the PHONE -- which when it rings, also puts me in a state of morbid anxiousness.

Today I'm grateful that I still have a full head of hair. I was gonna mention my full set of teeth, but I fear that's just tempting fate.

This Week at No Tell

Elizabeth Bradfield lost to the untranslatable body this week at No Tell Motel.

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Saturday, March 01, 2008

Late Night Picasso

So this is three. Sunday morning awoke to our vanity, carpet and Gideon's new shoes covered in my deodorant -- and last night's before bed check (2 a.m.) found this:

The "washable" paint has been confiscated, the deodorant moved to another place . . . the question is, what will be his next medium?