Pity the Fool: An Interview

For Drunken Boat 20, I did a micro-review of Paul Hannigan’s The Problem of Boredom in Paradise, which is mostly an interview with Flim Forum Press’s Adam Golaski about putting together this book. The piece includes The Fool from the Tarot deck and a Venn Diagram, which is my version of Hannigan’s version of the circles of hell. Enjoy!

A fab poem from Transom

“Icons” by Chelsea Weber-Smith


This is a fabulous and astute essay at Delirious Hem by Natalie Eilbert on women’s bodies, selfies, exercise, obsession:


A few juicy quotes:

“Shakespeare’s famed description of masturbation, “having traffic with thyself alone,” is a compelling phrase when put into the context of female sexuality, and then again when put into context of any type of lone physical release we perform. Exercise, masturbation, nervous breakdowns. To call what happens in our bodies traffic is to make more complicated traffic. Though of the terrible traffic, exercise is the one that is socially acceptable to perform in public, and the visibility of my exercising is often part of what makes it so vital in my life.”

Exercise, masturbation, nervous breakdowns. Yes, yes, yes…

“That no one really looks like their selfies offers a kind of Internet mask, a temporary annihilation of the yucky responsibilities in their everywhere yuckiness. I have used the word temporary to describe beauty too, which can be a mask as much as it can be a weapon.”


My best selfie, performing Jeff Alessandrelli’s “Poem Against Selfies” at Poetry Press Week, Portland.


“I feel the deity of my neurosis like a bad light shed somewhere nearby.”


“Exercise gets complicated when you introduce the female body into the equation. There is a pressurized ghost of the perfect woman’s body hidden in every machine, and as we ellyptical, as we lift ourselves up, a new iota of self creeps out. We notice the dimples of cellulite now more than ever, the light that doesn’t radiate out from between our thigh gaps. Exercise re-navigates our investigations of mind to inspections of the body. And yet, despite this potential obsession, exercise is very good for us. And so we embrace the need to do it while reconciling its imperial presence over our psyches. But it is good for us. It is good for us. Nothing works until it does.”

Thanks to Chuck Young for making me read this essay yesterday.

Watching, listening

I’m thinking this week. This is a thinking week, which sometimes means an obsessively looping track of nonsense. While that’s there (self-doubt, self-blame), there are important things to think about too. There’s the urgent conversation of racial injustice in our country. I didn’t know how to speak about it, particularly after the Ferguson fiasco, as a white woman, but then I discovered that I can share things that move me. I can’t preach, but I can share. The #BlackPoetsSpeakOut tumblr is unbelievably powerful, particularly this video in which Rachel Eliza Griffiths reads “Incident” by Amiri Baraka over some brutal, necessary images:


I’m also thinking this week about being a writer and what that means, the impetus to action, the desire to be fearless. I finally watched the documentary The Artist is PresentMarina Abramović last night. It’s about her 3-month retrospective at MoMa and the days leading up to it. For me, the film felt like a call to arms, a stand-up-and-make-your-life moment. I transcribed a lot of her words from the film, which I’ll share over the coming weeks, but here are two moments I loved:

“I lost the man I loved, I lost my work because we did it together. It was, like, a new beginning or I totally go down and destroy myself in depression.”

“Artists have to be warriors, have to have this determination, and have to have the stamina to conquer not just new territory but also to conquer themselves and their weaknesses. So it doesn’t matter what kind of work you’re doing as an artist, the most important thing is from which state of mind you’re what you’re doing.”

I won’t stop thinking about the haunting and beautiful nature of her new piece for this show: sitting in a chair 6 days a week, 8 hours a day, meeting the gaze–every time–of each museum goer who sits opposite her. The mining of inner silence, the wash of present-tense, to meet eye-to-eye so many people, wordless and stripped of everything but the gaze…

from The Flame Throwers

These two excerpts from Rachel Kushner’s The Flame Throwers are really speaking to me as I’m navigating a new city and new ideas about what it means to love someone.


“But he was elsewhere. I was alone and rootless. I had fallen through a hole and landed in a massive crowd of strangers, this stream of faces, a pointillism of them. Face after face after face.” –p. 278

“Lovers offered only what they offered and nothing more, and what they offered came with provisos: believe what you want and don’t look carefully at what isn’t acceptable to you.” –p. 279

On Loneliness

Headlong into my third week in Portland. Still sitting on the floor.

But–here’s the bright sunrise–the couch is on its way. Like me, it’s traveling

from coast to coast. The dog has cataracts, maybe. I have bags

under my eyes, new like Christmas presents. Alone, a person feels

her heart changing. What may have been exciting once is a deflated

beach ball past its season. The wind got taken out of her sails. Watched Robert Redford

in his sinking sailor movie last night. He looked old & tired. But (spoiler alert)

he made it through that ordeal. Today, I swear, the world’s more silent.

The homeless man on his corner tells me that Virgos like to bake,

that he loves to bake. The newspaper dispenser is his oven, an empty beer can

his cookie dough. I watch him do it, open the oven to check on things.

I didn’t imagine starting over like this, not with the bracing undertow, the waves.

Josh makes me a surfing metaphor. Because of him, I know how surfers talk,

I understand the physics of the wave. I tried to call Ben today but have been

cut off. No answers. No replies. The bleak October of my heart.

On Empathy

We have not been taught to have the empathetic capacity to clearly see another person’s pain when that pain is caused by our own actions. But we do have infinite capacity to dream up justifications.

“I Don’t Want To: Two Possible Responses” by Frances Dinger