Archive | 2008

Essay in Proximity, Marching Backwards, and Passes to Fictionaut

Proximity Magazine Issue 3Essay in Proximity
Proximity was started in June last year six months after the current recession had started and six months before it was officially called. The first paragraph in the first magazine notes the paradox of recession (and even depression) … “Only a bunch of artists would start a new art magazine in the throes of recession. […] Because sure — the economy is receding … cultural production in Chicago is surging yet again.” Ed and Rachael Marszewski. Proximity as a magazine is concerned with mechanisms of cultural production. The first issue, primarily focused on Chicago, featured an article about the collective art production during their factory braks in Pennsylvania of of a group built a communal art project called Swampwall. “Early on this relative of mine and several of his co-workers spent their work breaks attaching newspaper clippings, snapshots, spent soda cans, industrial debris, trashed food containers and similar pieces to one wall of the plant.” Proximity contains charts, diagrams, analysis, articles, and speculation about the persistence of this kind of production.

I have an article in this issue three, which just came out. I spent eight months working as a social media analyst and discovered I enjoyed, perhaps too much, analysis. I used some of the new tools and techniques I learned at this job to compare the blog-based networks associated with three Seattle literary magazines and their corresponding print-based networks. I studied The Raven Chronicles, The Crab Creek Review, and Pontoon from 2003-2008, and discovered some surprising things.

Essay at
Another semi-commie or at least collective effort is is a Web site in Portland. “Each week, the authors in The Portland Fiction Project write on a suggestion word.” They’ve written about wedding anniversiy materials, Paper, Silver, Leather and Lace, answers to unstated questions, and so on.

In addition they have published a few guest essays including an article by Tom Spanbauer on Dangerous Writing. ” I’m right now writing a book on Dangerous Writing and one of the things I’ve come up with is the fact that we are, all of us, in some way or another haunted. These days, we use psychological terms to express our hauntings. But when we come right down to it, isn’t an Oedipal complex, a very specific haunting by a mother and a father?”

They just published my essay, “Marching Backwards into the Future.

The movement to restore the primacy of the printed word is a conservative one with the same degree of sense as might be found among medievalists, adopters of the Paleolithic lifestyle, and steam engine train enthusiasts.

Passes to Fictionnaught
Finally, I have five guest passes to the beta release of Fictionnaught an online writing community with a super clean interface and membership including some huge powerhouse writers such as Pia Ehrhardt, Claudia Smith, Marcy Dermansky, and Gary Percesepe. It was created by Carson Baker and Juergen Fauth. Although as a community it doesn’t contain the mixers that make FaceBook work so well, it is an excellent way to find great fiction and share your work. Commentary tends to be on the gentle affirmative side. If you are interested in one of my passes, let me know, and I’ll send it you. I’m at: matt(dot)briggs(at)geemail.

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PowerPoint Off

On 11.18.2008 at the Jewel Box Theater Matt Briggs and Doug Nufer faced off.

Jewel Box Theater, Seattle, 11.18.2008

PowerPoint Off

November 18th 2008

presented by Final State Press
An audio visual duel to the death between a hippie and a business man.

On November 18th, 2008 at 7:30 PM at the Jewel Box Theater in Belltown (free of charge), Matt Briggs and Doug Nufer presented their “roadmap” for the future of the community writing organization Richard Hugo House. Neither is affiliated with the organization. And neither are you. Present your own vision of the future at or come to the party to heckle, cheer, and consider: is a community writing center a halfway house or school?


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Review: Emily Ate the Wind by Peter Conners

Emily Ate the Wind by Peter ConnersPeter Conners, the author of a previous collection of poems and a forthcoming memoir about following the Grateful Dead, Growing Up Dead, recently published Emily Ate The Wind, a novella of extravagantly tiny miniatures. At five-by-eight inches, the book is the size of a boulder. It is as light as pumice stone. The surface feels like a hardened sponge with just as many gaps and holes as the matrix of what is there. There are repeated sentences with repeated characters engaged in oblique activities of daily life made all the more bleak and oblique because there isn’t any context for their actions. Many times the sentences themselves find themselves unraveling the mystery of the world documented here. “Emily tries to exit the bed on her left and hits a wall. There is no wall. Why is there a wall?” There is in the novel a Dan, an Amber, an Emily, a Lucinda. The events in the book have little to do with each other, and only the tenuous magic of same names, a book jacket, and Conner’s sharp syntax keeps them bundled together. One event happens at dawn one day, or another at dusk. Something happens in a rock quarry. Another event occurs in a trailer.

Narrative can suggest itself in even random occurrences. In a story, two things happening one after the other suggest a correlation and a cause. I learn that the black cats crossing my path are bad luck because of the time a black cat crossed my path and then a man driving an El Dorado shot a stop sign and parked the grill in my back seat. Emily Ate The Wind, however, manages to undo this false logic and reduce the characters to a succession of sentences, garage doors, dirty clothes, applesauce, and Kyle’s Bronco.

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PowerPoint Off: Matt Briggs and Doug Nufer

An audio visual duel to the death between a hippie and a business man.

PowerPoint Off (Poster)

On November 18th, 2008 at 7:30 PM at the Jewel Box Theater in Belltown (free of charge), Matt Briggs and Doug Nufer will present their “roadmap” for the future of the community writing organization Richard Hugo House. Neither is affiliated with the organization. And neither are you. Present your own vision of the future at or come to the party to heckle, cheer, and consider: is a community writing center a halfway house or school? (PDF Poster | FaceBook Event)

The Jewel Box Theater on 2322 2nd Ave. Seattle, WA 98121; 206.441-5823.X2;

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“Half” by Claudia Smith

I think people should read this story. If you haven’t it is here.

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Faire Gallery/Cafe Open Mic – 2nd Tuesday of Every Month

I went to the Faire Gallery/Cafe Open Mic in the shadow of the silver canisters of the Met Park Office towards at the foot of Capitol Hill in Seattle. It was a great evening with all the readers good and short. I saw Willie Smith, who has also been posting his readings on YouTube. Willie reports that his video HOW THE COPS FIXED MY ASS was “accidently removed from YouTube. Another friend won’t use Gmail because she says Google is Evil. She doesn’t trust that her data is save with them. Any coporation with the mission statement, “Don’t be Evil,” makes you wonder. Are they really removing Willie Smith’s video? (It is there now.)

Anyway here is the info about the Open Mic:

Open Mic
The David C. LaTerre Memorial Park’n’Ride
Tuesday, Nov. 11th 2008

Parking Attendant: Roger Weaver

Second Tuesday of Every Month we reconfigure the chairs and sofas so that parking becomes available and rides can be taken, free of charge.
Sandwiches and beer available for purchase. No fear of DUIs while parked.

Park Opens: 7pm
Ride Begins: 7:30pm

Faire Gallery/Cafe
1351 E Olive Way

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Filter II release at Richard Hugo House this Thursday at 7:30 pm


Filter is a hand bound journal produced and edited by Jennifer Borges Foster who produced last year’s Roethke Readings for ACT. The books feature screen-printed covers, an accordion-fold erasure booklet made from hand torn Rives Heavyweight paper, hand-torn endpapers, hand-tipped in original art, and a vast array of talented contributors including Mary Jo Bang, Rebecca Brown, Matt Briggs, Kary Wayson, Trisha Ready, Matthea Harvey and Amy Jean Porter, John Olson and many others.

Get your copy here! (From Etsy)

Readers: John Olson, Trisha Ready, John Osebold, Kary Wayson, Deborah Woodard, Corrina Wycoff, Brangien Davis, Erin Malone, Elizabeth Colen, Carol Guess, Brian McGuigan, David Mitsuo Nixon, Kate Lebo, Emily Kendal Frey, Adriana Grant, Tatyana Mishel, Roberta Olson, Bob Redmond

Music: David Mitsuo Nixon, Jose Bold (John Osebold and Kirk Anderson) — all of whom happen to be members of theater/music/art collective “Awesome”.

Original Erasures on display by: Rebecca Brown, Brangien Davis, Ariana Kelly, Jennifer Borges Foster.

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A Response from Jared Leising

A few months ago I wrote a short review of Jared Leising’s chapbook, The Widows and Orphans of Winesburg, Ohio.

At the time I wrote:

“Is he actually a regional poet? He grew up in the Midwest, and this is a chapbook of poetry rooted in the dirt of the Midwest, and really very few things could be as locally specific as dirt. In ” Loess” Leising writes ” But, this dirt made me, I can’t help it.” The poems are Midwestern poems. It seems odd to me that Leising would place himself so firmly in the Midwest. Doesn’t he risk seeming, well, provincial?”

Leising recently sent me this response:

I like how you’re able to call the concept of regionalism (or why anyone would want to be identified with a region) into question at a time when we can be as connected to people across the street as we are with people on another continent via the Internet. I also like the larger question of writer-identity (“who is anyone”) that you raise. I think that question is one I’ve been avoiding because it’s been easy for me to identify with the Midwest in terms of what I write about and how I write, plus as you indicated, there is a tradition of it; however my feelings about being a Midwest writer have changed the longer I live in Seattle.

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Seattle Magazine – The New Weird

Seattle Magazine The New WeirdBrangien Davis writes in her article about Stacey Levine, Rebecca Brown, Matthew Simmons, and my new book. Seattle Magazine also include part of Stacey’s story, “The Tree,” which is great of course.

It’s great to see the slippery of sense of realism that seems part and parcel with local lit attempts at naturalism. In a longer article, Davis could have mentioned that most local lit attempts to bill itself as “realistic” but end up coming out likeH. L. Davis’ 1936 novel Honey in the Horn, Ken Kesey’s Sometimes a Great Notion, Geek Love by Kathryn Dunn, or more recently Tom Spanbauer’s Now Is the Hour. Davis’s article reminded me of an article Clark Humprey wrote in 1998 for The Stranger.

Davis also wrote: Seattleite Briggs is no stranger to the new weird, and this story (first published in Seattle magazine, October 2007), is among many of a similar ilk in his new collection, The End Is the Beginning. Briggs says he’s been influenced by folk tales, where “weird things happen that wouldn’t make any sense in life…but they make sense in the story.”

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The Future of Hugo House (Not that the Board or really anyone else really cares)

RE: Not With a Bang, But a Whimper

Dear Ryan Boudinot,

I concede that my sources, Jason Epstein writing for the New York Times and the National Endowment For the Arts are probably flawed due to the vagaries of low-paid fact checkers and overworked analysts. We’ve all been there.

The details of our exchange have become too complex to deal with in the confines of a Web forum.

It has come down to this. You and me. The future of the Seattle writing community clearly, certainly, depends on us and our ideas about outreach programs at Richard Hugo House.

I concede, too, that perhaps a business minded approach is appropriate considering we are talking about an arts organization with a budget and employees and things.

In this spirit, I suggest we resolve our difference in the time honored traditional of all business minded people: dueling PowerPoint presentations outlining the potential futures of Richard Hugo House. In the yawning vacuum of Lyall Bush’s mysterious departure, sense must be made, preferably in three word bullet points.

I suggest we meet in appropriate corporate or edgy marketing attire at a suitable location — a whiteboard perhaps, an AV projector.

Go ahead present your vision of the future in a succinct, and sizzly deck.

I will also have a nice PowerPoint presentation prepared.

20 minutes each. 20 minutes to blow people’s minds.

And then, the people can decide provided they are still awake.

Mr. Boudinot, author of The Littlest Hitler and soon to be released novel Egg and Sperm, I am calling you out. I challenge you to a PowerPoint-off. I demand this, or I demand your immediate concession to my generally sensible and cogent explanations and thoughts about the future of Richard Hugo House.

Name your time. Name you place. Check my Outlook calendar and schedule a rumble.

Thank You,

Matt Briggs

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