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ugly child 2

Even with the new year and the exciting publication of DB 20, let’s not forget how fantastic 2014 was, especially considering the wonderful DB 19 that contains a myriad of works still craving (and deserving of) your attention. That’s why this week’s vintage selection is the first of our lineup to appear from Issue 19. Brendan McCumstie’s four works of collage, “She Feeds Them,” “Ugly Child” (above), “Music,” and “Self Portrait as Le Spectre du Gardenia (with Marcel Jean),” stir powerful tides of emotion through provocative juxtaposition, so be sure to check them out.

Brendan McCumstie currently lives and works in Beijing, although many of his ongoing projects span as far as Europe and Australia. His works primarily consist of collage, concept-based work and sculpture, integrating both images from his own life as well as drawing from pop culture. His art has found its way into many corporate and private collections and numerous public galleries including the National Gallery of Australia. To learn more, visit mccumstie.com.

Click here or the piece above to enjoy “She Feeds Them,” “Ugly Child,” “Music,” and “Self Portrait as Le Spectre du Gardenia (with Marcel Jean)”

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Published Jan 08, 2015 - Comments? None yet

Over the past few months with Michael Ruby I’ve been intensively reading (proofing) Eating The Colors Of A Lineup Of Words: The Early Books Of Bernadette Mayer, which Station Hill will publish in a few months. It’s an eight-book collection, finally allowing her first books to be read at once. It’s been awesome, invaluable, exultant reading.

 

Charles Olson’s Maximus: An Introduction, by Don Byrd. Prescient in laying out ground much traveled and deepened in the 35 years since its original publication, it’s a fantastic Olson primer. This book should be back in print.

 

Aesthetic Ideology, a collection of Paul de Man lectures, edited by Andrzej Warminski, might be called “poetry” in the sense of Byrd (and Joris) that the best late-last-century European poetry was written by philosophers (and the best American philosophy by poets). Its recent rereading was instigated as I recalled de Man’s discussion of language imprecision in relation to scientific irony that I thought would be useful for a friend teaching at a technical institute – so to lots of proto engineers for whom poetry might seem buggy – but actually haven’t found that piece. But this collection does include the rousing lecture “The Concept of Irony” that runs around and in part evolves Frederick Schlegel’s intuition that irony is a “permanent parabasis”, which is how in turn he defines poetry. I love Schlegel (and de Man’s insights thoroughly engage him) and am taking under serious consideration a committed interaction/translation of his novel Lucinde, for which I think the title would be “Lucy”, our Queen Under The Hill – also known as AL 288-1, the 3.2-million-year-old fragments of an Australopithecus skeleton. She’s also called Dinkinesh which means “you are marvelous” in Amharic.

 

The Self-Originated Victorious Peak of Pure Perfect Presence, with Commentary by Nubchen Sangye Yeshe, translated into English by Jim Valby. “Illuminating names point out the precious meaning. Countless words constitute the chakra of Voice. The universal base, beyond the limits of existence and non-existence, is the state that assembles the multiplicity of words and names. Presence is not existence and it is also not non-existence. There is no limiting extreme of eternalism and there is no limiting extreme of nihilism. There are no selves and there are no objective characteristics.” Just like poetry.

 

I got Rome by Dorothea Lasky yesterday as I read a few weeks back in a blog Lasky likened “the heir to Ashbery” in so many words. I found this sick and wanted a context in which to say so. I am all for Lasky, whom I know and find truly convivial and sympathetic – and a quick glance at Rome reveals lyric delight, a beguiling personality, appetite, irony and charm – even that of a magical probity – albeit with Olson’s “public wall” behind it and before it (touching on de Man as it happens) the thesis “I am” which is, according to de Man above, “an empty prediction, infinitely empty” in that “the statement ‘I am’ is as such to some extent an empty statement.” That’s a statement that in its infinite gambols and poignancy we love, like in Lasky’s attitude, and in fact makes some moves – and I guess now I’m weaving a strand of this reading list together – a taste of Self-Originating insight into we beings as “shackled with the symptoms of ‘I’ and ‘mine’”. We’ve all heard, felt and heartily expressed this, in so many words, as Lasky does with art. And as “symptoms” implies, it is a disease, and poetry is medicine, broadly speaking, or at least in its cabinet. But the notion of “heir” implies not just that there is a king – a red flag to anyone bent on anarchistic biomimesis poesis – but also something that one may pass on and/or inherit. It implies a commodity within a lineage. The blogger may not have evolved this social engineering but inherited its trope, which I reckon probably anathema to Ashbery and Lasky themselves. It denotes hegemony and an exclusivity which seems contrary to poetry’s porosity and multidimensionality. Heir to air? Rather, poetry inherits us. And really there is no such thing as poetry, only poets. But starting out, one of poetry’s early beauties had been for me that even relative to other art products the poem lacks much economic value and so promised a paucity of hierarchy – or that any power would be empty – because its composition practices with primal verve and healing manumission in things of inascribable value. I will take Rome with that at heart, reading for a smaller and smaller circle until one blink and the reader is gone.

 

 

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Published Jan 07, 2015 - Comments? None yet

 

I was nowhere near the internet when 2014 finally went away so maybe I missed the irritating best-of list surge? Or maybe 2014 was so bad there were fewer lists? That can’t be true, it’s probably just my feed. (I confess there are some lists I rely on, and was glad to see The Top 40 According to Virgil Maro and Said the Gramaphone’s 100 songs, which comprises most of what I listen to every year, last year’s songs.)

 

I thought someone should do the worst of 2014 just, you know, generally, rather than by genre but I guess there is already an internet.

 

Here is my first take at drawing 2014 by emoji:

 

2014

 

I don’t know why I clicked on the acorn for that drawing. The page of possible emojis was taking a long time to load.

 

But maybe it is the right emoji.

 

So many other terrible years preceded 2014 and made the worst of it possible; years like 1769 when Franciscan missionaries first arrived in California. All the death and stolen land that followed. Acorns were a staple food for the Ohlone people.

 

If I were to close my eyes, open the internet and point to a place where some of the terrible and beautiful parts of 2014 reside in a tangled wave, a seismic wave, my finger would almost certainly land on Cassandra Gillig’s Introduction to the New Order of St. Agatha. One good thing about 2015 I feel confident about: forthcoming posts further describing the New Order’s sacraments, along with habits and ways of the Agathites.

 

At the Poetry Center’s reading for Anne Boyer last month, everyone read poems by Anne and some also read poems for Anne or written with Anne in mind and it was remarkable in a way that’s hard to describe, to hear so many poems by Anne in the voices of friends and maybe this is a form of The Reading poets should undertake more regularly? When travel budgets run low? When air travel is over? Somehow it all worked out and nobody read the same poem although that would have been fine too and part of the pleasure was waiting to hear who chose which poem. Jasper Bernes read Revolt of the Peasant Girls (hear Anne read it here) a clear antecedent or fellow traveller on the road to the New Order.

 

Lauren Levin and Juliana Spahr read some of my favorites: “How a Revolution” from My Common Heart and what resembles a grave but isn’t.

 

 

I chose 2008’s “Difficult Ways to Publish Poetry” from ART IS WAR. I also wrote a poem for the event, indebted I hope to Anne’s imaginative capability, a quality so present in her work, of imagining if not another world, the worlds possible within this one, alongside it, imagining a beautiful destruction of the worlds we live through, worlds descended from 1769, from 1587.

 

The poem I wrote is minor but maybe a beginning, by which I mean it arose from the situation of seeing myself in a photograph and–I am sorry to write this out loud again–worry complaining to a friend that my arms “looked fat.” I thought I would try writing a poem with more imaginative capability in relation to this situation of seeing my body in a photograph. It’s a pantoum, a form I feel sort of conflicted about and have never written in before.

 

I post it here in the spirit of the new year, in place of resolution, in honor instead of the New Order’s first sacrament: a full reclamation of one’s body & its power.

 

written under the sign of and for anne boyer cassandra gillig & king tender, with beatriz preciado hiromi ito alice notley monique wittig rosa luxemburg, with thanks to the list of 20 things you absolutely cannot wear over the age of 30, louis-ferdinand celine, and the british board of film censors

 

my arms in that photo, two slabs of meat

just an image but it has potential

to defile itself

to grow older

 

just an image but it has potential

I could crush the men

to grow older

between the slabs

 

I could crush the men

between me and you

between the slabs

my head is making my shoulders look huge

 

between me and you

deep and wide

my head is making my shoulders look huge

oh let me cross over

 

deep and wide

flex and heave

oh let me cross over

wearing scrunchies and platform flip flops

 

flex and heave

with the given supplies

scrunchies and platform flip flops

that is my father’s uterus

 

the given supplies

swimming against a heavy tide

that is my father’s uterus

or I am qualified to give you pain by telling the truth

 

swimming against a heavy tide

I did not cross my arms over the uncomfortable region

I am qualified to give you pain by telling the truth

a single time wasn’t enough

 

I did not cross my arms over the uncomfortable region

in spite of all directives

a single time wasn’t enough

curl back my lip to show my teeth

 

in spite of all directives

great horsey thighs

curl back my lip to show my teeth

slightly more oily skin, sexual excitement, sweat

 

great horsey thighs

the night of reaction

slightly more oily skin, sexual excitement, sweat

I spent an hour in the bathroom

 

the night of reaction

booty shorts leopard print hoop earrings

an hour in the bathroom

nourishing the spinal cord

 

booty shorts leopard print hoop earrings

the fantastic confused news

nourishing the spinal cord

cries of delight and of enthusiasm

 

the fantastic confused news

spanking facesitting female ejaculation

cries of delight and of enthusiasm

lively agitation

 

spanking facesitting female ejaculation

my head is making my shoulders look huge

lively agitation

urination in various contexts

 

my head is making my shoulders look huge

just an image but it has potential

urination in various contexts

all the latent possibilities

 

just an image but it has potential

then all of me would be full of courage

all the latent possibilities

I’ve had it up to here

 

then all of me would be full of courage

a sexual colossus of self-design

I’ve had it up to here

bare-chested on a winter day

 

a sexual colossus of self-design

a thorn planted in the somatic field of the mind

bare-chested on a winter day

my arms in that photo, two slabs of meat

 

-STEPHANIE YOUNG

Stephanie Young lives and works in Oakland. Her most recent book is URSULA or UNIVERSITY. Other poetry includes Picture Palace and Telling the Future Off. With Juliana Spahr, she edited A Megaphone: Some Enactments, Some Numbers, and Some Essays about the Continued Usefulness of Crotchless-pants-and-a- machine-gun Feminism. She edited the anthology Bay Poetics, and is managing editor of Deep Oakland (www.deepoakland.org).

 

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Published Jan 06, 2015 - Comments? None yet

Happy New Year! As luck would have it, the first day of 2015 is a terrific Throwback Thursday, and thus the perfect opportunity to usher in the new year with a post that combines both old and new. Alicia Eggert and Mike Fleming’s symbolic sculpture, “Eternity,” which appeared in DB 14, Summer 2011, is the perfect post to mark the passing of 2014 and ring in another amazing year for Drunken Boat, the vintage series, and all our readers.

Eternity is a wall mounted sculpture made by American artists Alicia Eggert & Mike Fleming consisting of 30 electric clocks rear-mounted to a large sheet of white acrylic. During installation, the black hour and minute hands of the clocks are aligned to spell the word “eternity”, and the clocks are plugged in to a series of power strips on the floor. The hands begin to move as soon as the switch on the last power strip is flipped, and the word almost immediately becomes a jumble of moving black lines. “Eternity” does not reappear until the hour hands return to their original positions twelve hours later. And even then, it lasts a mere split second.” 

Alicia Eggert’s work has been exhibited throughout the world and featured in such notable publications as The Huffington Post. You may have even seen her TED talk, “Making art is like speaking in tongues,” in which she mentions “Eternity.” This past year, she received a 2014 Direct Artist Grant from the Harpo Foundation and the 2014 Individual Artist Fellowship from the Maine Arts Commission. You can check out more of her work at aliciaeggert.com.

Mike Fleming, now working in Alfred, NY, has been active in the Philadelphia arts community since 2003 and has an extensive photography portfolio. His works have been featured in exhibitions from Canada to the Czech Republic and are scheduled for an upcoming solo exhibition in 2016. Fleming and Eggert began collaborating in 2009 and have shown their work together on multiple occasions. You can see Fleming’s work at mikeflemingphotography.com.

Click here or the video above to view “Eternity”

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Published Jan 01, 2015 - Comments? None yet

From the Standard Cyclopedia of Recipes: Adapted Poems by B.C. Edwards

I rarely pay close attention to year-end lists, there are so many of them, and they are so subjective, but some very interesting people have been recommending some very interesting books. I came across this book on one such list. It is one of the weirdest most haunting poetry books I’ve read in a long time, full of twisted tales and teachings, love poems and poems as balms. It is a surprisingly gorgeous work, too, one that feels very modern while harkening back to an old-timey bourbon in hand yesteryear.

 

Second Childhood by Fanny Howe

This book was like a breath of fresh air. Or a breeze. Or breathing. There is a timelessness at work in these poems. On the surface the work seems simple but Howe’s use of language is simply stunning and anything but simple. I was reminded of Linda Perhacs and her gentle and complex album The Soul of All Natural Things; there seems to be an ageless kindred spirit and also one of defiance. Once I found my way in to these prose poems it was hard to put this book down. Another work that felt to be a sort of literary balm. There is something deeply soulful about these poems.

 

Sorrow Arrow by Emily Kendel Frey

Thoughtful poems full of humor and heart. Like wearing a leather jacket over a long, romantic gypsy dress, these poems are hard and soft, and edgy. The non sequiturs and unexpected juxtapositions between lines makes this book feel alive and surreal at the same time each poem feels like it’s being whispered in your ear.

 

Maumau American Cantos by Tom Weatherly

I came to this book purely by accident. A friend brought it to lunch and I thought it was such an unexpected choice. Of course I’ve read Leroi Jones/Amiri Baraka and Etherirdge Knight, but hadn’t heard of Weatherly. After our lunch I hunted down a copy, which turned out to be a first edition when it arrived. The language is spiritual and exciting, folksy and familiar. Really glad I got this introduction to Weatherly’s work.

 

Want for Lion by Paige Taggart

One of the most inspiring things that has happened to me this year was getting to know Paige Taggart and her beautiful work. Her debut collection is a surreal dreamscape, a sweet sucker punch of worlds within worlds. It has been an amazing experience to read her work and witness her artistry and watch her continue to define what it means to be a fierce female artist today.

 

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Published Dec 24, 2014 - Comments Off

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