Friday, October 31, 2008


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Letter to Sam

Today was Gideon's Halloween party at preschool. I was in charge of organizing it. Over the weekend, we had dinner at Al's and I told him about the gift bags Gideon and I were putting together. We decorated orange bags with ghosts, pumpkins, black cats, glitter -- and filled them with stickers, spider rings and candy. Gideon and I had a lot of fun doing it. Al didn't think it sounded very fun. Al thinks I've become really lame. Al alluded to a time when he believed I once hated children. Al thinks I was much more fun when I was all god damn kids this and that. Then Al took me upstairs to show me his new industrial sewing machine, complete with oil pan.

Well you assholes better start getting used to this -- today I was Head Parent, my first taste of executive experience. I was GOOD at it. I'm going all the way. All I need is a better wardrobe.

Senile Near-Death Old Man/Livingston 2016!!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008



Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Letter to Sam

In the last 24 hours I dreamed of a disagreement over nail polish, poetry books not selling, a home invasion, a dragon who wanted to talk about one of my books, a brain in a jar, violent unrest in Washington DC, me getting shot in the hip, a strange man answering Chris' phone and telling me he's not available, a cab driver who accepted $2, some foreign coins and strange carved tablets as fare then turned into a frightening woman involved with Chris' disappearance -- and lastly, being woken by a dream (in my dream) in my dorm room at the AWP conference (which I don't want to attend in the "waking" dimension).

Sometimes the most beautiful moments in life are when we shut the fuck up. It would mean a lot to me if you agreed.

Monday, October 27, 2008

This Week at No Tell

Michalle Gould is *torn* this week at No Tell Motel.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008




Friday, October 24, 2008


Rigoberto Gonzalez interviews Rebecca Loudon:

My ideal reader is a person who has suffered, who feels apart, who has known trauma, and who is capable of honestly engaging with the lot they've been handed. Everyone has suffered, but some people are willing to embrace the forest that surrounds us, some are not. Many readers prefer the tranquil, the pastoral, the serene. These are not usually my readers. The groundbreaking photographer Diane Arbus once wrote of her work, "There's a quality of legend about freaks. Like a person in a fairy tale who stops you and demands that you answer a riddle. Most people go through life dreading they'll have a traumatic experience. Freaks were born with their trauma. They've already passed their test in life. They're aristocrats." (From Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph). I think perhaps Diane's aristocrats are my ideal readers.



Thursday, October 23, 2008

The New Poetry Order

Every few weeks or so random poets will ask me to suggest presses to send their manuscripts. I try to think of suitable publishers, refer them to places like Press Press Press where they can peruse the latest titles from a number of small presses they may be unfamiliar with. I understand the frustration of "breaking in," many presses are not open to unsolicited submissions or charge considerable reading or contest fees. As I stated here a number of times, presses do this because they don't sell enough books and have to come up with additional ways to generate income. Go back to August 2008 on this blog if you missed my discussion on this subject. I understand why contests exist -- but I think they're a really poor solution to this problem. A few people took my statements to be attacks on them as poets and human beings, somehow identifying themselves personally with the contest system that I criticized. I found this bizarre and disconcerting -- almost as if certain people were part of a group identifying as "contest poets" and considered my criticisms on a system to be attacks on their identities or lifestyles or . . . To be honest, I'm not really sure because it came across that so much of this response was something totally different projected on what I said. It was impossible to have a discussion that didn't result in a lot of rage sent back my way. I'm a not interested in delving into that abyss, I don't have the psychological training. If you love contests or just think they're the right thing for you, go on with your bad self. I have NO problem with you.

I send people to places like Press Press Press with the suggestion that they check out these books (i.e. support the presses, authors and poetry in general) before they approach publishers. I'm pretty sure most people ignore this suggestion -- I get the very strong sense that what they want is for me to give or act like a directory or offer some sort of inside scoop on publishers -- publishers few are interested in until they themselves have a manuscript they're looking for a home.

Well here's the inside scoop: Small and micropress publishers are 1) POETS, 2) PEOPLE, busy people with a lot going on trying to figure out how to promote and support poetry. They're not this mythical "them" hoarding all the precious cultural capital -- they're very similar to the poets they're publishing. They have time and financial constraints too. If you think it's been tough to break in before, it's gonna get a lot tougher. Presses that rely on donations, grants and fundraising will likely see a good bit of that dry up. Presses that rely heavily on personal funds, well, that's doubly so. Whatever you want to call it, deep recession, depression, strong fundamentals, -- there's unemployment, serious housing issues, a stock market in the tank . . . paper prices are going up, royalties are going down, book sales dropping even lower -- I don't have much financial training, but I see this as the beginning of a trend that's going to last for at least a few years, maybe longer. Expect to see small presses close shop, go on hiatus or dramatically reduce the number of titles published each year. In No Tell Books' case, I have two more books under contract and when those are out I'll do my own book -- and after that? I don't know, ask me next year. But whatever you ask me, do not ask if I can consider your manuscript -- I CANNOT.

For those poets who are not married to a particular way of doings things, i.e. Legitimacy's Bitch -- it's time for more of us to start using that creativity we possess towards getting our work out there -- in ways that don't rely on the already strapped poets who've been carrying so many others for so long. There will be a re-balancing of responsibility, it's coming down the line whether we like it or not. We can participate voluntarily or have it forced upon us. It's really up to each and everyone one of us. Time for our inner artists to wake the fuck up.


The Contester: Down Came a Contest, Cradle and All

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Good Christian Mustn't Fear the Darkness of the Grave

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Family Fun Day

Feel the fun.

Monday, October 20, 2008

This Week at No Tell

Crystal Curry croons to the spies: papa november, papa november this week at No Tell Motel.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Letter to Sam

Chris and Gideon carved a pumpkin this afternoon. Gideon insisted on a happy face. A happy face is much better, he says. Chris unintentionally wore the same shirt he wore last year. Or at least he claims it was unintentional. He owns 50 t-shirts, at least. What are the statistics on that, Sam?

Letter to Sam

People keep asking about you, Sam. But don't worry, I'm not gonna tell them about the time you fried all those pens in your skillet. That was a long time ago and you're a professional now.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Letter to Sam

Remember that time we threw the "Welcome Back Ivan" party at your place and I cooked a turkey dinner? Remember how Ivan watched the pay-per-view boxing match instead? Remember how upset I got that the party sucked and nobody showed any appreciation for the turkey dinner? And how I left early and went back to my apartment? Do you know what happened after that? Chris, Al and Herb showed up an hour later and said they ordered a Dominos pizza. I thought they were joking. That was just a year after I marched on Washington carrying a "Nobody Likes Dominos" sign. Mere months after my domestic terrorism against Dominos on campus. But no, they weren't joking, they truly ordered Dominos to be delivered to MY home. Do you know how hurt I was? It was like Chris and Al didn't know me. I put my soul into a turkey dinner which they accepted and consumed and . . . absolutely nothing. To them it was just another tasty meal on par with a Dominos fucking pizza. I yelled, "How dare you fuckers bring right-wing Dominos into MY home. GET OUT!" Rarely a day goes by when I don't experience that same twinge of disbelief and pain. You think I'm still talking about Dominos, don't you?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Letter to Sam

As I follow your liveblogging of the presidential debate, I'm reminded of the time in college when we were mistakenly invited to the White House Universal Healthcare pitch to talk radio people during the early days of the Clinton administration. I'm not thinking about the second day when Tom Brokaw rubbed my back or our rude brush with Mr. WOLF who-the-fuck-ever-blitzer. I'm thinking about what we were wearing on the first day. I was wearing a pea-soup green and black houndstooth blazer two sizes too big that my grandmother gave me. You didn't own a tie and I said I'd get one from one of my ex or current boyfriends, but forgot. B was there too and I don't remember what she was wearing, but she was a college Republican so surely she owned a plethora of suitable outfits. When we got to DC we bought you a tie off the street. When we got to DC we discovered none of us knew how to tie a tie. Well, you said you did, but it would take an hour to knot it. When we got to DC we stood in the security line outside of the Old Executive Building with all the other talk show hosts as you held your tie in your hand slowly making your knot. B snapped, "Either put that tie on or put it away, you look ridiculous." Inside the Old Executive Building we heard from a lot of top level officials and learned that Tipper Gore loved to roller blade and when she roller bladed she listened to the RADIO. Inside the Old Executive Building, a talk show host implied President Bill Clinton had a venereal disease during the Q&A with Donna Shalala. Then he got into a shouting match with another host and told him to go to hell. Then Donna Shalala, who was standing on a box so she could reach the microphone, told them both to sit down and shut up. While we waited a really long time for President Bill Clinton to appear, the talk show hosts yelled they wanted lunch. While we waited a really long time for President Bill Clinton to appear, B kept telling the other talk show hosts that we were college talk radio hosts. I snapped, "Shut up B, we can fool these assholes."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Letter to Sam

I don't just dream of poets and presidential candidates. I dream of you too. That means there's a part of my psyche that assigns you to be its symbol. Probably my fact-obsessed, irritating, graph-making part. Oh, I take that back, sort of, well partially, I'm enjoying your electoral college graphs.

You want to know what the dreams are about, but you're a little worried they might creep you out. Well, you should be worried. Sometimes I do have creepy dreams. For a while I used to trade dreams with two friends, but one time I only shared with the woman-friend because I was so ashamed and couldn't bear to tell the man-friend. That's cause the man-friend is a man. I couldn't bear for a man to know I dreamed such a thing. Honestly, I couldn't bear for most women to know either, but my woman-friend has a giant penis on the cover of her book. I thought if anyone would be OK hearing such a horrific dream, it would be her.

That dream didn't involve you. It was a poet dream.

Most recently I dreamed you and Ivan were in the basement I used to sleep in as a child. It was an Eastern European prison camp and we were journalists. Then Ivan turned into this really hot guy and we started getting it on. See I can admit that because it wasn't Ivan, it was metamorphosis. This wasn't the first time Ivan changed into a completely different person in my dreams. But it was the only time I got it on with the person he became. Anyhow, the prison warden tried to steal my pen and I acted like I had a weapon and snarled "Go ahead, I can fuck him and kill you at the same time!" I was totally fierce, but totally bluffing. I didn't have a weapon.

Hmm, maybe you think that's a horrific dream to share? You're so sensitive. It was supposed to be funny. Let's see, more Sam dreams. . . one time I was on my way to meet you and clams fell out of the palm of my hand. I lifted up the skin to see underneath and found a bunch of rainbow-colored worms.

In another dream a young man approached me on the street and gave me a formula and directions. He said, "Six times S and M." and I said, "S & M? Do you mean Sam Minter?" And he said, "Yes."

Letter to Sam

Yeah, I never painted a pumpkin with you either, etc. You see where this is going.

Recently I had a conversation about how opposites were once the same thing before they split and became opposites. The goal is not to pick a side, but to balance the two, let the two's strengths offset one another's weaknesses. The person I was speaking with brought up the play Wicked as an example. You gave me the book as a gift years ago. I never read it because it was a novel and I'm better than that. Hearing this person describe it made me feel like I missed an important opportunity. Then I remembered that I still have the book and I still know how to read. It's never too late, Sam.

Monday, October 13, 2008

This Week at No Tell

Steve Kistulentz is new leather jacket and stiletto boots and four girls from high school this week at No Tell Motel

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Letter to Sam

Hey, Bruce Covey wrote about me at the Best American Poetry blog. You should check it out and learn all about my wonderfulness.

While driving back to my dad's tonight I heard a radio station promo that suggested for all Pittsburghers to warn out-of-town guests that the Strip District is not clothing optional. I never warned you. I'm sorry. I'm starting to see how I could have been a better friend.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Letter to Sam

Today my father bought Gideon a Mister Roger's Neighborhood train set. The train man said the reason Mister Rogers always wore long sleeves was because his arms were covered in tattoos. He said Mister Rogers was a marine in the special forces and killed a bunch of people. The train man said Mister Rogers became a born again Christian after that. The train man also made a big deal about the trains being made in the USA (it's not like we asked) but when we got home we noticed the boxes all said "Made in China." Sometimes people lie for no good reason at all. As a busy mom in these tough times, it's difficult to trust.

Letter to Sam

This morning we went to a train and toy show at the Monroeville ExpoMart. I never took you to the ExpoMart either. Did you know the ExpoMart is closing? They're building a new one where the Wicks Furniture used to be.

Once I wrote a poem that ended with the lines:

I followed the sound,
the trail of steam.
“Choo choo, you useless slut” cracked the train.
I ate bread crumbs from the ground.
“Choo choo, you’ll never survive on your own.”
I found home,
never realizing the tracks were so close.
“Choo choo, go back to your husband.”
I hope you derail and all your passengers die! I cried.

I wasn't thinking of you when I wrote that poem. If I had been, it would have been a very different poem. I'm thinking of you now, but am not writing poems. Do you understand?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Letter to Sam

Today we took Gideon to the Carnegie Science Center. It occurred to me that we never took you to the Carnegie Science Center when we went in college. I should have taken you on that submarine and read poems about 100 men sharing one bathroom. It all could have been so different.

Letter to Sam

Have you eaten your pets yet? We haven't hit bottom until we've eaten our pets -- oops I mistyped "pets" and typed "poets" by mistake. I fixed it cause I don't want to give you corporate types any ideas. Please don't eat your poets. Even though this is mostly the poets' fault for not writing perfect poems. I'd try writing that perfect poem to transcend your dread, but fear if I did you would eat me. Remember when we were in college and we'd take turns buying one another dinner and you always paid with a credit card? Even though you had thousands of dollars of debt and no way to pay it off? I think it all began there. Instead of going out to dinner I should have bought a bag of Funyuns to share and invited you to my place so I could read poems to you. I'm sorry I didn't write you poems when I had the chance. I wrote a poem for Randy, but not for you. How fucking elitist of me. Now you work for Amazon and it's too late. How did this come to be? Weren't you supposed to grow up and become a physicist?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Trouble and Honey reviewed at Bookslut

Jilly Dybka is a generous poet. I know this because she gives her work away on, as do Bill Knott and others. Poet-editor-blogger Timothy Green claims that Lulu is losing some of its stigma. I don’t know why it should carry any stigma at all. There’s more poetry being written now -- more good poetry -- than foundations can support, presses and webzines can publish, or readers can read. If a writer wants to join the game under such circumstances, self-publishing seems like a fine way to do it. It’s true there is no editor or prize judge acting as a gatekeeper, but this just means that poets and readers must become more attentive

Monday, October 06, 2008

I changed my mind, I am suing. In this economy, I could really use my cut of the $150,000. Preschool ain't cheap.

This Week at No Tell

Martha Silano is thankful quite thankful for the suctioned legs of an octopus that color like a bruise this week at No Tell Motel.

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

I am a very powerful poet. I know people. I am connected. My sister, brother-in-law and sister-in-law are lawyers and my husband works for Google which basically means I can file lawsuits all day long and make anyone "virtually" disappear. Snap. Just like that. While it is well within my realm to obliterate certain editors who intentionally attributed a poem that I did not write to my sacred name, I have decided to show mercy to those punks who didn't know who the fuck they were dealing with, Reb Fucking Livingston, that's who!

I show mercy, cause I'm spiritual and shit.

This is the poem (sans the pretentious computer-generated indents) attributed to me:

Possessing air

Simpler than a callous
Smarter than an administration
More intelligent than a tin
An immense heart, indistinct heart,
unexplored heart of a stupid
There is no air more intimate
than water
Distant memory in typical bale, where
tins will go
Like a symbol
Like a power
There will be time
for the lank muddle
We will unearth
her muddle in armfuls of self-defence
We will have one agent, she will
have two
We will say her in
late autumn
Writing drollery from
It will be like hiding a

Here is the true, soul and flesh Reb Livingston poem:

Owning the Nightprayer

Garblier than a cowlick, heartier than governance, more vacant than tipwoe. An entombed hark, a pinked hark, and unprobed hark of a muted voyage. Snare is no more bootied than therapy. Vacant meltfrown in a tingling horsewail, where tipthroe will ghost. Ghostlike a double. Deathlike a gift. There will be a frame, for splayed bangle. We will birth her bangles as armlets of wonderdamsels. We wondered pregnant, she wondered seastunt. We partwayed astray. Ripewise from oppowit. It will be like chiding your double.

Bruce Covey presents Jill Alexander Essbaum

Saturday, October 04, 2008

I don't really know anything about NetGalley, but Lytton Smith writes about what sounds like an unnecessary $400 fee here.

Also, Lulu recently announced that the cost of making books is going to go up (they say because materials are more expensive now, seems like everything is more expensive now). I haven't been able to figure out how much it's going to go up for No Tell's titles -- but I assume this is going to cut into our royalties and raise the cost of author/review copies for the press. I'm hoping the increase isn't so much that I have to raise the price of the books.

So if you were planning on buying any No Tell titles in the near future, please do so before October 28 when the new costs go into effect and our royalties shrink.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Jill Alexander Essbaum on the Joe Milford Show

Listen listen live on Saturday at 7 p.m. -- or hear it in the archives any time after that.


Ok, I will confess, last night I went to the NKOTB concert with Tender Buttons. I was never a fan of the group, by the time they hit the scene I had breasts and didn't have to imagine what it would be like to have a boyfriend. At that time TB didn't have breasts, but once she did get them she didn't need NKOTB either. But they were an important part of her adolescence so when they announced the reunion concert, she became nostalgic and asked if I'd go with her. I became nostalgic for the times I could easily and without effort tease her mercilessly about Donnie. It was a nostalgia event for the both of us . . .

and thousands of other seemingly dorky women. I'm being a little judgmental, but remember that's my role as "big" sister at the NKOTB concert.

This was the STRANGEST concert I ever attended and note, I've been to GWAR for Christ's sake.

The male:female ration was about 1:75. There were two types of women. The women dressed in their brand new "party" shirts trying to hide that extra baby weight (hey I empathize!) and the frightening number of women who seemed to have not changed at all since middle school. I have never seen so many young 30-something women who looked, dressed and acted like they were still in middle school. At one point Donnie even said to the audience about how happy they were they could make them all feel 15 again and he was right, these women WANTED to feel 15 again.

If I woke up tomorrow and discovered I was 25 -- I'd fall into a very deep depression, if I woke up at the age of 15, I'd fill my pockets with rocks and march right into the nearby man-made lake. Who the hell wants to feel 15 years old again -- even for one split second?!? I was in a stadium full of these people.

Everyone wanted nostalgia and it was delivered to them. The screens flashed GIRLFRIEND. There was pyrotechnics and smoke machines. NKOTB came out and they all looked really good, handsome, in great shape performing the same dance moves which I remembered to be quite "fresh" in the 80's, but rather silly looking now, especially by a group of men pushing 40. Donnie still wore a baseball cap and took on his NKOTB persona as the street-wise bad boy -- which I found off-putting because I've seen him in a number of interviews for his acting career where he was mature, charming and likable. Big Sister was probably was the only person there bothered by this. There was a hilarious part where Jordan wore an open white billowly shirt with a wind machine for an entire song -- and yes he was cut and waxed and oh boy, was it the goofiest of all performances.

The songs weren't very good. They didn't sound very good. I can't tell if it was the sound system (the opening act didn't sound very good either) or not. Half the time we couldn't understand what they were saying.

If I'm sounding a little critical maybe it's because I had to STAND the entire time because we were behind #1 NKOTB FANS!!!!! who refused to sit down, even during the slow ballads. My feet are swollen, even though I wore "comfort" shoes and yes, my ass is 40 times it's 1988 width and yes, I'm 35, pushing 36, but at least I don't feel 15, hallelujah.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Update: On the way to school this morning Gideon said I could come to the picnic if I brought sandwiches. Yay, he loves me, he really loves me!

Today is the preschool family picnic. We're going even though Gideon specifically told us that he doesn't want us to, that he wants to eat lunch "all by himself."


I have "big" plans this evening. I not admitting to them here.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

And it's October . . .

which means the No Tell Motel reading period is open for the month.

Follow the guidelines. Simultaneous submissions are OK, but if your work is accepted elsewhere tell me immediately (via proper e-mail channels) else I will forever hate you and add your name to the blacklist shared by 100,000 poetry editors around the world (yes, the list really does exist).

If we don't take your work, and statistically we won't (we take around 3-5%), do not, under any circumstance, freak on my ass or try to make me feel bad about it. If you cannot handle rejection, don't send.

With that all said, I look forward to reading your submissions.

Just a note regarding yesterday's post about the Facebook translator -- a few folks posted or wrote concerned that I was getting too entangled with him. First, thanks to everyone looking out for me -- maybe I overstated the situation, but I haven't invested much time into it. I will e-mail my poems to pretty much anybody who asks, Charlie Manson, Sarah Palin . . . and that's all I did. I get approached by editors on a regular basis, occasionally in strange ways that turn out to be for perfectly legitimate projects. Since I'm used to dealing with this strangeness from poets, I tend to give people more benefit of the doubt than they deserve -- as in this case -- meaning a chance to clarify. But that's all -- and there was no clarification so that's done. No more contact. I might be an asshole, but I'm not a fool. My point which I seem to have poorly demonstrated in that post is that sloppy, lazy correspondence can easily get lumped into this kind of shady correspondence (which I certainly recognized as shady). This is a note to "real" editors, poets and other folks -- don't send requests or official business correspondences to my Facebook (or Goodreads) accounts. You're coming off a lot like that guy -- even if your intent is good. And I am tiring of giving people the benefit of the doubt which means if you don't approach me properly I am gonna disregard your communication.