Thursday, February 26, 2009

Poets and Their Own Greatness

It's not that I don't believe a poet should be ambitious for her poems, I most certainly do. When I write, I strive for a divine connection between the poem and readers. When I read, I hope for a divine connection between myself (as reader) and the poem. In many cases, there's a level of disappointment. I can't tell you how many times I read poems recommended by friends I admire and respect that never come close for me. Or I recommend poems that I consider divine to those who feel/think differently.

I'm using "divine" because I don't like the word "great" in this context. It's been sullied by what I consider a perversion, an immature fixation, an authoritative, negative patriarchal perspective (which is by no means limited or inclusive to all men, so many women share it too). It's a static, one-sided fantasy. It discourages development, ignores wholeness (which always has limitations and inferiorities). When one puts her focus on her own greatness, which basically comes down to how others perceive and consider her poems, she is betraying her poems. Her priority shifts and is no longer on making the poems what they're supposed to be. How can they? She's too self-conscious of others and attempting to manipulate forces out of her control.

Once upon a time there was a very great poet. He won many great awards and was invited to speak at many great events. For the most part, his work was declared great and he had many readers and sold many books published by great presses. His greatness drove him to spend a great deal of time tormenting and attacking non-great poets who disagreed with him. His greatness led him to spend a great deal of time discouraging and bullying younger poets, young poets few ever heard of and nobody ever called great. He spent a great deal of time asserting his own greatness to all the less-than-greats. He was a very great, but miserable man. Some people said he felt constantly threatened and needed to protect his greatness at all costs. Some people said he was very sick and should be pitied. Some said he was just plain mean. Some said being great gave him every right. Some said greatness required a certain amount of hatefulness.

Who wants to be great?

Not me.


p.s. I wrote this before I realized Amy King tagged me, but seems like we're on a similar wave length.


I changed my mind. I stand by my claim that Rauan Klassnik's e-chap is offensive (and demented), but no longer believe he should cut off his monkey fingers

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

OK, One Last Fight

and then I'll get back to work.

My review of Rauan Klassnik's new online chapbook, Ringing from Kitchen Press:

This book is offensive to those who are in love in filthy puddles, in jungles chained together, crumbling. To those who fuck while crying. To those turned into huge, concrete, black birds. To jackals filled with milk. To the doomed who who watch Titanic. To glowing wolves in darkness. Rauan Klassnik should cut his monkey fingers off.

Rauan and I are reading with Contessa Riggs next week on Thursday, March 5, 8:00 p.m. at Sova (1359 H St, NE, Washington DC). Come and experience the tension.

Happy Enough

My little dance card is filling all up. You know how I always moan about not getting readings in DC? Well, I can't moan about that anymore. I had two last year and have three scheduled for 2009 so far, two of which are happening in the next two weeks (I'll post more on that soon). This Saturday I'll be moderating a New Media panel at a fiction conference. That's right, the fiction folks are turning to the poets for guidance, hah hah, the end of days is near. In April I'll be moderating another panel about the amazing publishing opportunities and freedoms poets can enjoy, if only they embraced them. It's up against a "contest panel" which is entirely fitting and makes me quite happy.

I may be speaking up north at some respectable university in April and they say they're gonna pay me. Happy.

I'm focusing my time on Karl Parker's PERSONATIONSKIN galleys and writing my own poems and finishing God Damsel. I'm learning a lot writing the book and don't want to rush it, but I also feel like the time is approaching to wrap it up. So far I have over 120 pieces and I intend on writing another 20-50 and then figuring out how I'm going to put it all together. Don't be too impressed with my big numbers, these are mostly short pieces. As a busy mom, I can't be writing long poems. Mary Behm-Steinberg already agreed to design the cover (another thing that makes me happy) and maybe do some illustrations. I'm pleased.

I'll be posting lots of poem drafts. If you're not into that kind of thing, this blog might not be your bag for a while. Sorry, I don't have time to pick fights and get unfriended on Facebook. Too much to do. I have to get into shape for NaPoWriMo. The dreams and tarot readings all say the same thing: Get to work and weave that despair into the jigsaw banner.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009



Monday, February 23, 2009



This Week at No Tell

Adam Deutsch only wishes closer matched his pants this week at No Tell Motel.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009



Thursday, February 19, 2009





Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wound Poetics

My voice is back to regular strength and my hand hurts like a you know what.

Last night Chris turned the tables using my stock lecture on me.

See usually it's Chris who's impaling himself.

When that happens I give him a big long speech about how this is a sign that he needs to slow down, pay attention to his surroundings, re-access his actions and perception.

Last night as I was on the receiving end, I realized it's a really annoying lecture.

But it's accurate.

Last time I hurt myself, over five years ago, it stuck me on the sofa for a couple weeks where I had nothing better to do than passively read poetry blogs and magazines. Something I rarely did before.

And now look at me.

I'm totally informed and shit.

Last night I dreamed that I showed up to the big dance. There were two rooms, I had no idea who was in which, so I randomly picked one. I saw a friend who was surprised to see me. He had not believed me before when I said I'd be back. I don't know why, like I told him in the dream, my word is always good.

I'm back, baby,

with a hole in my palm and a

teacup teeming with really good words

that I can't wait to pour in your lap.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I just stabbed the palm of my right hand with a pair of very sharp scissors - a Christmas gift from my father.

They were up on a high shelf in a cabinet and they fell, pointy end into my palm.

I needed them to open the packaging of a new musical SpongeBob thermometer.

Now my hand is sore and it's not comfortable to type.

Chris says that since I can make a fist and move all my fingers, I should be OK.

One summer he interned at a hospital.

He worked on fresh frozen cadaver arms.

He says mine smells much better.

That's good enough for me.

When we first started dating he used to always talk about his internship.

Usually over dinner.

Until I told him to cut that shit out.

If I still owe you an e-mail from last week, it'll have to wait until tomorrow when (hopefully) my hand stops tingling.

Gideon has a fever. 101.7.

Chris took his temperature with the ear thermometer we already had, the one I couldn't get to work earlier this evening, the one Gideon wouldn't let me use because he wanted a "mouth" thermometer.

When Chris got the musical SpongeBob thermometer out of the package (after he wrapped gauze on my hand), Gideon insisted on the ear thermometer.

Typing "thermometer" really hurts my hand.

I'm going to stop typing "thermometer" now.

Grubby Hand Update (AWP Edition)

Ever by Blake Butler (Calamari Press)

Kiss a Bomb Tattoo by Hoa Nguyen (Effing)
In the Bird's Breath by Marcia Roberts (Effing)

Some Bridges Migrate by Scott Pierce (Small Fires Press)

The Bodyfeel Lexicon by Jessica Bozek (Switchback Books)
Talk Shows by Monica de la Torre (Switchback Books)
Oneiromance by Kathleen Rooney (Switchback Books)

Recovering the Body by Nicole Cartwright Denison (Dancing Girl Press)

Torched Verse Ends by Steven D. Schroeder (BlazeVOX Books)

from Unincorporated Territory by Craig Santos Perez (Tinfish Press)

Ballast by Nii Ayikwei Parkes (Achiote Press)
Achiote Seeds Fall 2008 poems by Hugo García Manríquez, François Luong, Evie Shockley, and Roberto Harrison (Achiote Press)
The Moon ain't nothing but a broken dish by Luis Felipe Fabre, translated by Jason Stumpf (Achiote Press)

Two Musuems by Paula Cisewski (MaCaHu Press)
Kodiak Herball by Caroline Goodwin (MaCaHu Press)

Souvenirs by Bronwen Tate (Dusie)

The City Visible: Chicago Poetry for the New Century Edited by William Allegrezza and Raymond Bianchi (Cracked Slab Books)
Rafetown Georgics by Garin Cycholl (Cracked Slab Books)

Barrelhouse (Issue 6)
Barnaby Jones (1 & 2)
5AM (Issue #28)
The Missouri Review (Winter 2008)
Crab Orchard Review (Volume 11, No 2)


Fiction Writing Seminar

Saturday, February 28, 2009
George Mason University, Johnson Center, Campus Cinema

Register online at, by telephone to (202) 775-5150 or by FAX to (202) 775-5810.

AIW Members $119, Non-members $189, and Students $69.

* * *

1:30-2:45 p.m. New Media and Publishing Creative Writing

Literary publishing and marketing are currently going through a rapid transformation with rise of New Media and the reduction/evaporation of traditional media outlets. How do writers find their ways among these changes? Panelists will discuss new models for publishing, book reviewing and promotion (including social networking), as well how short fiction is evolving in response to a new generation of readers on the screen. This panel will probe assumptions of fiction being a commodity and the conventions associated with that.

Moderator Reb Livingston is the editor of the online poetry magazine No Tell Motel ( and publisher of No Tell Books ( ). She's the author of YOUR TEN FAVORITE WORDS (Coconut Books) and co-editor of THE BEDSIDE GUIDE TO NO TELL MOTEL anthology series. Her poems have appeared in THE BEST AMERICAN POETRY 2006, The American Poetry Review, Coconut and other publications. During the '90's she worked as a programming manager and producer for America Online. She blogs at

Mark Athitakis is a D.C.-based writer and editor who has spent more than a dozen years contributing news, features, and reviews to daily newspapers, alternative weeklies, and magazines. His book reviews and author interviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Washington Post Book World, the Chicago Sun-Times, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, among other publications. He maintains a blog, American Fiction Notes (, that features regular commentary on books and trends in the publishing world, as well as a schedule of upcoming literary events in the greater Washington, D.C. area. He can be reached via e-mail at or via Twitter (

Bernadette Geyer is a freelance writer and poet in the DC area. She has founded and manages five web sites and three blogs. Her articles, book reviews and poems have appeared in Go World Travel Magazine, Freelance Writer's Report, Sustainable Development International, 32 Poems, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, and elsewhere. She publishes a monthly electronic newsletter on energy issues and tracks energy funding opportunities for one of her blogs.

Laura Ellen Scott teaches fiction writing in the undergraduate program at George Mason University. Her fiction can be found in print and online in Ploughshares, Mississippi Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Identity Theory, Hobart, Plots with Guns, Ink Pot Special Edition Short Story & Flash Fiction, Eclectica’s Best Fiction, Storyglossia, elimae, Behind the Wainscot, and Juked. Stories are forthcoming in Barrelhouse and the Paycock Press anthology GRAVITE DANCERS: MORE FICTION BY WASHINGTON AREA WOMEN. Her writing blog is

Let Me Share My Numinous Wisdom With You

Sign up for my class at the Writer's Center:

Kooky Creations and Radical Revision

This workshop focuses on non-traditional, unorthodox ways to create and edit poems such as “inspired” translations, collage and alchemical revising. Exercises are designed to push students out of their writing comfort zones in attempt to generate different types of works than they’re used to writing. We will also apply radical makeovers to existing poems in the hope to transform them into something completely new.

Instructor Bio: Reb Livingston is the author of Your Ten Favorite Words (Coconut Books), Pterodactyls Soar Again (Whole Coconut Chapbook Series), co- author of Wanton Textiles (No Tell Books) and co-editor of The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel anthology series. Her poems appear in Best American Poetry 2006, American Poetry Review among other publications. She's also the editor of No Tell Motel and publisher of No Tell Books.

Chris Makes Funny Faces Too

Monday, February 16, 2009


This Week at No Tell

Stacy Kidd is all you need to pollyanne the trees this week at No Tell Motel.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

What AWP Means to Me

But that's OK, your experience is valid too.

Hah hah hah.

Was it the Emotion of the Poem or the Potato Chips?

Every photo of my reading looks like this:

Aside from some minor drama I momentarily stirred up (and in the big scheme doesn't really matter) and my lost voice and the fact that Hilton nickel and dimed us on everything yet provided little for it and all the usual complaints, this was a decent AWP. For the most part, people were pretty cool. Well, the woman who cut in front of me in the tarot reading queue at the Effing table after I specifically told her that I was just walking four feet away to say hello to a friend, she wasn't very cool. I'm not going to dwell on the small stuff. Perfection is perversion, ya know.

I mentioned that there were too many things happening -- and there were. I told several thousand people that sorry, I will not be making their reading/panel. Several thousand of my closest friends.

My favorite events were the El Lit on Friday night where 80 people got on the El Train and aha, spontaneous-feeling poetry reading and of course the Coconut MILK reading last night because all the readers were both wonderful and considerate: nobody went over their 8 minutes, in fact, most stuck to under 5. When you have a thousand readers, that's critical.

I took a picture of a piece of art I saw on this trip that sums up AWP in general. I'll post it tonight after I get home.

Special thank you goes out to Rebecca Loudon who is not at AWP.

She informed me that if I ate a few potato chips before my reading, the oil would coat my throat and allow me to read for several minutes. I had never heard of such a thing. But guess what. It's true. I was able to read. I sounded like I just smoked two packs of cigarettes in ten minutes, but it got the job done.

I was even able to have conversations with people afterwards. During the day I wrote up some canned cards to communicate. Just the basics to help me get by at the book fair.

But that's all in the past now. I had no AWP dreams while I was at AWP. I dreamed of an ocean, a loud television, an intervention, a little girl eating dirt and plants, recycling, finding a map, a school bus, an airplane, a spilled glass of wine and finding my gray bra and underwear in the kitchen of my childhood home.

What a relief.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Tonight I have a reading and I have completely lost my voice.

This is all my fault of course, I was losing it yesterday and instead of taking it easy, like an asshole, I ramped it up.

So now I'm practicing my interpretative dance so I can express my poems through the beauty of hand puppets.

I'm gluing googly eyes to my socks now.

Friday, February 13, 2009

People are being really nice to me (except for Rauan Klassnik).

I should write disconcerting stuff on my blog all the time.

It makes people think before flipping you off.

And for the 100th time -- I do not have a table at AWP.

I much too young and pretty for that nonsense.

Wish you were here

I don't like the number 49.

It haunts me. No, stalks me.

I'm stalked by 49. In all its permutations. I can't even read the newspaper without it mocking me.

If I could finger bang 49. I would.

Not in the nice finger bang way.

I saw too many poets today. It felt unnatural.

If ever I didn't belong somewhere.

Fiction people are nicer.

I don't belong with them either.

But no fictioneer ever made me cry and I appreciate that.

Thanks Barrelhouse, you guys are OK, even though you fuck up a perfectly straight forward drink order, you monkey fucks.

Some lady heard me say "fuck" and was all FUCK! And I was all fuck fuckitidy fuck fuck fuck.

I had a really nice dinner.

Nice people paid for me.

Nice POETS who write PROSE paid for my meal.

Even though I have absolutely no respect for genre-mixers.

My soul conflicted and then a taxi arrived.

I went to Bruce's panel.

Before all that nonsense.

It was good.

I hooked Charlie Jensen up with Poughkeepsie.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

My first poet sighting was Jehanne Dubrow at Dulles airport. My final poet sighting was Rauan Klassnik at the hotel bar. There were a bunch of poets in between. Apparently I tried to muscle some lady poets out of their booth and then rubbed something in -- but honestly, I was just trying to be friendly. Also, there was sexy Irish music.

I am a very misunderstood person.

Thank you for reading my AWP report.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

impending doom report

The menacing AWP dreams are back. I have them all year long, but they step up as the date approaches. The latest involves sharing a hotel room with my dad, Posh Spice and some other guy. We're doing a panel together. We're very late and I'm not even registered. I use Posh's tiny eyebrow scissors to cut the tags off my underwear. Last year before the conference I dreamed the hotel lobby was full of meat, like a butcher shop (or a meat market) and then my legs were knocked from under me. Yep, that about sums my experience.

I have said "maybe" or "yes" to about a trillion readings, panels and book signings at AWP thanks to Facebook. My event calendar is an impossibility and kind of makes me wanna throw up. It goes against nature. Therefore I'll be sending a proxy to every event. That strange woman who says the really freaky thing that sort of frightens you. Know that I sent her and I'm sorry I couldn't be there to do it myself.

Monday, February 09, 2009

This Week at No Tell

Nicholas Manning is a harem of synaesthesic sense this week at No Tell Motel.

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Gideon SweetHart Morrow

Friday, February 06, 2009

Kurt the No Tell Intern's Next Big Interview

is with Mr. Rauan Klassnik.


Decomposition (or spoilage) refers to the process by which tissues of dead organisms break down into simpler forms of matter. Such a breakdown of dead organisms is essential for new growth and development of living organisms because it recycles the finite chemical constituents and frees up the limited physical space in the biome. Bodies of living organisms begin to decompose shortly after death. It is a cascade of processes that go through distinct phases. It may be categorized in two stages by the types of end products. The first stage is limited to the production of vapors. The second stage is characterized by the formation of liquid materials; flesh or plant matter begin to decompose.

Two dreams last night:

I'm on a building roof in a city. A man and I are getting rid of a bunch of dead bodies that were accumulating over the year. We hook some of the corpses to a zip cord and push them off. Some of the corpses are already liquified. These we pours down the side of the building. We might be splashing people. Folks below are screaming.

* * *

I'm planning on attending a leg waxing convention for a free waxing. The best leg waxers will be there. This is good because both of my legs are dry and scaly, in fact, one turned black.


Sounds morbid, sure. But these are good dreams. Don't feel bad for the folks getting splashed with the liquid corpse, I bet these are the parts of myself that are either resisting or aren't doing anything to help growth and development. Let them stew in their corpse juice.

Please ignore my comment about "running away from you" -- it's not intended for you. It's for the masses.

Thursday, February 05, 2009


I'll be in Chicago next week.

On Valentine's Day I'll be reading at the Coconut / MILK reading with Denise Duhamel, Jenny Boully, Susan Wheeler, Daniel Nester, Prageeta Sharma, Gene Tanta, Jen Tynes, Lea Graham, Mirela Ramona Ciupag, Ken Rumble, Gina Myers, Natalie Lyalin, Emily Kendal Frey, Zach Schomburg, Larry Sawyer, Bruce Covey, and others at Myopic Books (1564 N. Milwaukee Ave Chicago, IL 60622).

8:00pm - 10:30pm. Details here.

The rest of the time I'll be running away from you.

Unless you want to buy or review Rebecca Loudon's Cadaver Dogs. If that's the case, I'll shower you with love and undivided attention.

I'll have copies of my book, Your Ten Favorite Words, too. Buy or offer to review that and I'll even laugh at your jokes.

If I strike you as weird, don't take it personally. I'm an empath, just like Deanna Troi. When I show up to AWP I absorb everyone's anxiety, insecurity, stress and rage and internalize it. Unlike Deanna Troi, my body can't process this level of emotional fungus so don't be expecting a hug and don't be giving me any sharp objects.

You should probably be running from me.

Grubby Hand Update

That Gorgeous Feeling, by Sueyeun Juliette Lee (Coconut Books)
Heron/Girlfriend, by Jen Tynes (Coconut Books)

Warsaw Bikini, by Sandra Simonds (Bloof Books)

Mommy Must Be a Fountain of Feathers, by Kim Hyesoon (Action Books)

Picture Palace, by Stephanie Young (ingirumimusnocteetcomsumimurigni)
Starsdown, by Jasper Bernes (ingirumimusnocteetcomsumimurigni)
Action Kylie, by Kevin Killian (ingirumimusnocteetcomsumimurigni)

Novaless, by Nicholas Manning (Otoliths)

Of All The Things That Don't Exist I love you best, by Marcela Malek Sulak (Finishing Line Press)
Savage Machinery, by Karen Rigby (Finishing Line Press)

The Book of Flashlights, Clover, & Milk, by Joshua Marie Wilkinson, Cecilia Johnson (artwork) (Pilot Books)

Selected Poems, by Fanny Howe (University of California Press)
The Wedding Dress: Meditations on Work and Life, by Fanny Howe (University of California Press)
The Age of Huts (compleat), by Ron Silliman (University of California Press)
The Poems of Catullus: A Bilingual Edition, by Gaius Valerius Catullus (University of California Press)

American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Where Lyric Meets Language, by Claudia Rankine (Wesleyan Poetry)
The Best American Poetry 2008, by Charles Wright (Editor), David Lehman (Series Editor) (Scribner)


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Reb's Triangle

Thanks everyone for your kind comments in the last post. I'm feeling better today. Someone introduced me to Karpman's Triangle.

You know I dream of triangles sometimes:

I'm making breakfast. Phil Collins is singing on the television. There are several annoying flies flying around. I'm handling a couple of dead ones. Also, there's a large bee flying around that's a bit more menacing than the flies. I open the back door and shoo it out. Gideon says: "When you have an unwanted triangle: use your own algorithm."

I came up with this last year! I'm a god damn oracle, I tell ya.

                              Phil Collins

Flies                                                                 Bees

(Reb's Triangle copyright 2008)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

I'm in one of these (temporary) lulls where I want to give up publishing and live out the rest of my life in a molehill. I've been here before and it passes -- although never quite this bad. I'm gonna ride it out like I always do. It only takes a couple poets to put me in this funk. It's always dealing with the most basic of expectations: respond to e-mails and don't freak on my ass. All I want is to do is publish your poems. Why do you have to make it so difficult? I really take the freaking on my ass personally. No poems are worth being abused. That's how I feel right now, abused.

I'm thinking about requiring poets to take a Myer-Briggs test before they ever submit a single a poem. That and a 30 minute consultation with my personal astrologer. Instead of a book contest, I'm gonna send potential book authors to Poet Survivor Island for a month making them eat snails while competing for toothpaste and condoms. I'll interview them in a dark closet and ask questions like: How bad do you want this book? and Do you think I'm pretty? I'll put it all up on YouTube and let the filthy internet people vote on it.

Sigh -- the thing is, a lot really nice things have happened this past week. I should be focusing on the wonderful people instead of fantasizing of a hermit-lifestyle. Seriously, I wouldn't have a thing to wear.

Monday, February 02, 2009

This Week at No Tell

Paul Siegell is ah, ha!—oh, it is so on—as his id is so in on it— this week at No Tell Motel.

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Three menacing dreams last night:

Some "fake police" were breaking down the door of my apartment. One of the cops had a machete. I gave Monk (Tony Shalhoub) his gun and an extra ammunition clip. Then I noticed there was a window and fire escape -- we ran out through there. But I didn't take my purse. How was I going to start the car without my keys? How would I survive without identification and money?

In the second dream I was living in an apartment owned by a poetry organization. Turns out a poet who harassed me into a closet with another poet was moving in. I told him if he came near me, I'd call the cops. Hopefully these would be different cops than the ones in the first dream. Either way I was going to have to move.

The last dream involved loan sharks. Chris and I owed a lot of money. The loan sharks stoles our possessions, but agreed to sell them back to us for just a few pennies. They also wanted their $200k. I had no idea how we were going to pay so I suggested to Chris that we pack our stuff and run. I put on my running shoes. Then I saw the hidden cameras and knew that wasn't a possibility.

So the question is, what the hell am I running from? Aside from machetes, poets and bills.

That's what I'll be pondering at our Superbowl party today. That's right, we're having a "party." I finally figured out how to get Gideon to clean. I tell him we're having a party and we need to get the house ready. He loves parties. So the three of us will watch the game and order pizza. Par-tay. I love this age. Well, mostly. This morning he drew all over the floor with colored pencils and cut up my favorite bookmark. I don't love that part. Last Sunday I dreamed Gideon and I were in a museum and I let him have the run of the place. He drew all over the musuem with a black sharpie. When I woke up I discovered he drew all over the kitchen with a black sharpie. That's not the first time I've had one of those prophetic dreams. I should stop here before my tales blow your mind.