Archive | August, 2007

Fire is The Shadow of Zero, Poems by Roberta Olson

Roberta Olson.jpgRoberta Olson published a chapbook of poems, Some Numerous Dwarf Rippings with Flash+Card. I was happy to read these poems becaue they made me happy to be reading. Sometimes I am reading something that makes me unhappy to be reading mostly because I understand too clearly what the writer is saying and because I am reading a book I cannot object. I can only read or not read but by this time it is too late and I have read what has made me unhappy to be reading and if I stop reading, then I will be not reading and not happy.

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Roethke Readings – The Penile Colony (A Story)

Theadore Roethke Readings ACT and 11th Hour ProductionsThis is a story I wrote that appeared in a book hand-bound by Jennifer Borges Foster accompanying the ACT/Roethke Readings this month. The book includes work by Jonathan Crimmins, Rebecca Hoogs, John Olson, Trisha Ready, and others.

My first father worked as a mechanic on airplanes, but he couldn’t fix his own car, a 1939 Pontiac with secondhand wheels with wooden spokes. It had wheels like a Conestoga. He enforced his rules with a swift smack to my back. My second father worked in a bank and came home after six tired. He took off his jacket and lay on the couch where he snoozed until dinner. After dinner he had a glass of sweet wine that was as thick as molasses and the color of cola. That improved his mood for about half an hour so I could stand him. We played a game of chess. He always won, except for our last game. I started to study chess books and learned chess traps. We sat down to play, and within ten minutes I had him. “Checkmate,” I said. “Checkmate?” He repeated back to me. He sat looking at the board for a long time. “Well,” he finally said. “That settles that. “We didn’t play chess anymore. He never told me his rules, but I knew them.

My third father designed control panels for submarines. He talked with a slow, country drawl and always wore a felt hat. When it rained, which it always did in those days, the hat turned funny colors and all splotchy like a giraffe’s neck. He used to tickle me until the insides of my rib cage felt bruised. The muscles in my belly twitched. He hooked a finger, when I was paralyzed with laughter, under my bra, and peeled it back so that the cups squashed my boobs. He acted like he didn’t know what he was doing. When I squirmed away from him, he would walk slowly after me calling out in his country drawl. During his regime, I lived though an uneasy lawlessness.

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Roethke Readings

ACT, Seattle, August 2007

Presented by ACT and Eleventh Hour Productions

The Roethke Readings, a new event inspired by the early 20th-century nightclub, Cabaret Voltaire. The readings took place after First Class on August 9, 16 and 23 at 9:00 p.m., and on August 3, 4, 11, 18 and 25 at 9:30 p.m. From Roethke-inspired compositions by Ken Benshoof, former UW faculty member and Kronos Quartet composer, to new poetry from Kary Wayson, Rebecca Hoogs, Jennifer Borges Foster, J. W. Marshall, Joshua Marie Wilkinson, Vis-á-Vis Society and others, to prose by Rebecca Brown, Matt Briggs, Jonathan Crimmins and Trisha Ready, the cabaret will be an exuberant celebration of Roethke’s literary legacy.

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The Sky is a Well and Other Shorts by Claudia Smith

Claudia Smith - Sky is a WellThe Sky is a Well won Rose Metals Press‘s first short short chapbook contest. The book is beautifully produced: letter press cover and amazingly sharp typesetting. Claudia Smith, who lived in Seattle briefly, has published a whole bunch of stories in mostly online mags, including two issues I’ve also been in, The Mississippi Review and The Steel City Review.

I haven’t read a collection of realistic stories since Christine Schutt’s A Day, A Night, Another Say, Summer, that I’ve enjoyed this much. I think part of this is that Claudia Smith’s characters don’t live in a kind of tangential world. Schutt’s novel, Florida, for instance is set in decrepit mansion of a wealthy family. Or Edisto by Padgett Powell has a professor mother named The Duchess. I have a completely unconfirmed theory that fiction about working class people, no matter how well done, if anyone will pay any attention to it has to have some kind of off-kilter angle — fallen aristocrats, boot-leggers, drug fiends, etc. How to explain the obscurity of Well by Matthew McIntosh?

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Shoot the Buffalo –a Quiz at Evil Editor

This from Evil Editor:

Guess the Plot Saturday, July 14, 2007
A while back I posted the titles of some books that were nominated for some award from some organization and invited Guess the Plot writers to try their hand at them. There wasn’t a lot of interest, but here’s what we came up with. Correct answers at [Evil Editor].

Shoot the Buffalo

1. Come one, come all and watch as Buffalo Bill Cody, Annie Oakley and Spot, the wonder Chihuahua, battle Cherokee indians and drunken settlers to carve a new Ponderosa in South Pass City, Wyoming. Also, the ghost of Andrew Jackson appears as a railway conductor.

2. Nine-year-old Aldous Bohm’s parents leave him alone with his younger siblings. When the kids go looking for the parents, one of them dies of hypothermia. Aldous is wracked by guilt, and later joins the army. Also, a drug-addicted uncle in the attic.

3. He has no name; he is of the herd. The mother protects him, the cousins gather round him as they follow the paths of sweet clovers across the plains. But to others he is special, unique even. They give him a name: Cloud Mane. They follow the herd on their striding beasts and watch him, waiting for the time when they can harvest his pure white pelt. Only by learning the arts of the ancients, and learning to trust his human instincts, will Cloud Mane the Minotaur be able to escape the Alustrein Hunters.

4. All anyone at Sherman High cared about was hot cars, fast women and totally wicked skiing. To get the girl of his dreams, Matt Dongle has to ski the Buffalo: an illegal slope with a deadly record. Matt learns a little about life, a little about love, and a lot about skis when he attempts to Shoot the Buffalo.

5. When a lesbian big-game hunter and a gay National Geographic nature photographer meet over a water buffalo carcass in Africa, they form an unlikely alliance to expose deadly corruption in the world’s largest intravenous drug manufacturing company.

Check Evil Editor for the complete quiz and answers.

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