Saturday, November 28, 2009

The writing on the wall in an Iranian prison

is apparently poetry. Or some of it is, at least.

Newsweek reporter Maziar Bahari accounts of his "118 Days, 12 Hours, 54 Minutes" in Iran's Evin prison after he was accused of and arrested for "being a spy for the CIA, MI6, Mossad, and Newsweek."
"My 20-square-foot cell was like a tomb," he writes. "The walls were made of faux marble. They were off-white, and the texture of the stone reminded me of an old man's pale, transparent skin. You could see grayish-blue veins. The walls were clean, even spotless, except for some defiant aphorisms and Persian poetry in small, crabbed handwriting. Three sentences were written larger than others: 'My God, have mercy on me,' 'My God, I repent,' and 'Please help me, God.'"

Monkey and Poetry Convergence: Baby Einstein edition

Tonight my wife read our son a poem out of the lamely titled Pretty Poems and Wonderful Words by Baby Einstein. It contains a bunch of poems for kids along side pictures full of lift the flap words. It's not a bad book, though I'm sure the flaps will all be torn off and eaten eventually. Okay, hopefully not eaten. On the front of the book a bunch of animals share a bed and a monkey is right there in the center. I'm pretty sure I've seen a similar sleeping arrangement in the wild on the Discovery Channel. Anyway, I bought this book from the clearance shelf at Border's and obviously expect it to turn my child into a genius. Otherwise I'm going to sue.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Baboon raiders of the unlocked car

If you're planning on cruising through Cape Town any time soon, you might want to keep your car windows up and your doors locked. Especially if you plan eating a sandwich behind the wheel. Safety first.

Thanks, Laura, for the tip.

Suzanne Buffam: good poems, nice countertops

Not only is today the day before Thanksgiving (and two days before Black Friday, the day shoppers are most likely to get trampled to death at Wal-Mart), but it's also the day I first read poems by Suzanne Buffam. Mark it on your calendar! Or hit the interwebs and go read some of her poems yourself.

For your reading pleasure are "Ruined Interior" from the November/December 2008 issue of the Boston Review, "Trans Neptunian Object" from issue 8 of A Public Space, and "Please Take Back the Sparrows" which appeared on Verse Daily in 2006.

There are probably more online, but I don't have time to live your life for you. If you want to read more, buy her book Past Imperfect, which was published in 2005 by House of Anansi Press. And then, in 2010 (not that far away!), buy The Irrationalist, which will be published by Canarium Press. I will be first in line. Okay, probably there will be no line. But I'm looking forward to getting both of Buffram's books, even if I am kind of jealous and a little baffled that a poet has such nice countertops (this is not a euphemism. Look at the picture!).

Thank you to the lovely and talented Nami Mun for pointing me in Suzanne Buffam's direction today via Facebook.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Chimp Muppet Rhapsody

Chimp puppet, er, Muppet at 3:48 alongside what appears to be a seasick John Kerry Muppet.

Thanks, Laura, for the tip.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Monkey and Poetry Convergence: Chet Phillips edition

Monkeys and poetry once again collide at the Etsy shop of illustrator Chet Phillips. Not only can you buy prints from the "Literary Pets" series, including "William Shakespaw," "Henry Wagsworth Longfellow" and "Edgar Allan Pug," but he also has dozens of monkeys to choose from, most of which are dressed in some kind of military garb and have names like "Gen. Sir A. Persnicketybritches" and "Gen. Leonid Fleapickinoff." He also has an entire collection of Steampunk monkeys. Because, you know, steampunk and monkeys. An obvious combination.

Thanks, Laura, for the tip.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


So Boing Boing had an iPhone disappointment haiku contest, apparently a million years ago (a.k.a. August). And somebody won. Who said there's nothing to be gained from poetry?

Here's the winning poem:
Winter In Akron
Loved one calling for romance
Off faster, damned gloves!

Thanks, Laura for the tip.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Buff monkeys

Hey scientists: if you keep making them stronger they'll eventually take over the world. You know that, right? And something tells me they're going to be pretty pissed at you guys in particular. I'm just saying. There's not a banana in the world big enough. Unless you're working on that, too.

Thanks, Laura, for the tip.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Walking the chimp walk, talking the chimp talk

One minute scientists are studying speech disorders in humans, the next minute they're "comparing how a gene critical for language works in humans and chimpanzees" and trying to unravel the mystery of language.

So without primates there'd be no words. And without words there'd be no poetry. So next time you read a good poem, thank your local monkey.

Thanks, Laura, for the tip.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Snakes on a Poem

Filmmaker Andreas Mendritzki scored $10,000 for a short film he made using the poem "Fear of Snakes" by Lorna Crozier. The prize came from the The Poetry Foundation (who else has money these days?) and Facets Multi-Media. There are a couple stills from the film alongside a story in The Observer. I have no idea how or where one can see the film, but you can read the poem below.
Fear of Snakes

The snake can separate itself
from its shadow, move on ribbons of light,
taste the air, the morning and the evening,
the darkness at the heart of things. I remember
when my fear of snakes left for good,
it fell behind me like an old skin. In Swift Current
the boys found a huge snake and chased me
down the alleys, Larry Moen carrying it like a green torch,
the others yelling, Drop it down her back, my terror
of it sliding in the runnell of my spine (Larry,
the one who touched the inside of my legs on the swing,
an older boy we knew we shouldn't get close to
with our little dresses, our soft skin), my brother
saying Let her go, and I crouched behind the caraganas,
watched Larry nail the snake to a telephone pole.
It twisted on twin points of light, unable to crawl
out of its pain, its mouth opening, the red
tongue tasting its own terror, I loved it then,
that snake. The boys standing there with their stupid hands
dangling from their wrists, the beautiful green
mouth opening, a terrible dark O
no one could hear.

(Lorna Crozier, from Everything Arrives at the Light, 1995 McClelland & Stewart)

A fine book by Mistry

I finished Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance today. Monkeys are mentioned. Poetry, too. Neither is a large part of the story (though monkeys play a larger role than poetry). If you haven't read this book yet, you should do so. It's really one of the best works of fiction I've ever read. If you're one of those people who roll their eyes whenever they see an Oprah's Book Club sticker, get over yourself. Seriously.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Jane Goodall on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart

Jane Goodall was the guest on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart last night. Needless to say, chimps were discussed.

"The full range of chimp emotions is the same as ours," Goodall told Stewart. "It's exactly the same. They have a dark side, they have a bright side. I've worked with chimpanzees in the wild for nearly 50 years. They don't bite off our faces. They're not meant to be in homes. They're wild animals."

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Jane Goodall
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

More information, including info about Goodall's Roots & Shoots program, can be found at

Oh, and if you're wondering what to get me for Christmas this year, this is it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lil Wayne documentary preview

in which Lil Wayne says something largely inaudible about poetry.

Seriously, put the cough syrup down.

Via Videogum.

The Onion: "Man Dies After Secret 4-Year Battle With Gorilla"

"Although [David] Seaborne never let on to friends or coworkers that he was desperately fighting for his life with a violent primate, many suspected that something was wrong."
Poor guy never had a chance.

Monday, November 9, 2009

"Terrible Poetry Jokes" by Peter LaVelle

"A man, a woman, and a blackbird walk into a bar. 'Table for one, please,' they say."
This joke and more are yours for the taking at McSweeney's Internet Tendency. Try them out at your next workshop or poetry reading. Sure to be a huge hit. Except for the whole "terrible" thing.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Friday, November 6, 2009

Kirby on Gerstler in The New York Times

Poet David Kirby reviews Amy Gerstler's new book of poems Dearest Creature in The New York Times.

The review begins: "Look, a poem either sends you a bill or writes you a check."

It ends: "Dearest Creature is an A.T.M. — the letters standing, in this case, for 'artistic thrill machine.' In Amy Gerstler I trust."

There. I just saved you some time. Now go read some poetry (I hear Amy Gerstler is pretty good).

The performance poetry of Suzanne Somers

Kristen Wiig reads the poetry of Suzanne Somers. (Via Videogum.)

Of course, Garfunkel and Oates did this first.

Video game wagon

Q: Do I want to play video games on my computer?
A: Not really.
Q: What if the video game was based on the music of REO Speedwagon?
A: That would change my answer to a maybe.
Q: What if that game used primarily very recent REO Speedwagon songs?
A: Please see my original answer.

But hey, I'm not the target audience for Find Your Own Way Home, the new REO Speedwagon video game.

Here's how the game's distributor describes it:
"In Find Your Own Way Home, the player takes the role of Ruby, a hip Hollywood reporter for the entertainment television program, Entertainment Now. For the past few weeks, Ruby has been on assignment with the legendary rock band, REO Speedwagon. On the day the game takes place, the band is releasing their new CD at a star-studded album release party. Ruby is on assignment for Entertainment Now, and as her busy day is unfolding, as she prepares for the nightly broadcast and launch party, Kevin Cronin, the band’s leader, goes missing. The player has the chance to be the hero by tracking down clues to locate the missing star, and getting everyone to the party on time."
Okay, first of all, who does Ruby work for? Why would any TV program that's not being made in the 1970s or 80s want several weeks worth of REO Speedwagon footage? As for the "star-studded album release party," I suspect the "stars" are likely of the Bruce Hall, Neal Doughty, Dave Amato and Bryan Hitt variety. Also, did you know Kevin Cronin's name? You did not know Kevin Cronin's name. Also, can you tell from looking at a picture of him that Kevin Cronin is not, in fact, an old lesbian? You cannot tell from looking at a picture of him that Kevin Cronin is not, in fact, an old lesbian.

I discovered this amazing game via Slog. Here's what The Stranger Testing Department (a.k.a. Rob Lightner and Paul Hughes) has to say about it: "Make no mistake: People will pay money for this. Find Your Own Way Home is like a poem about a dead pet waiting for you just outside Heaven—it means something to someone, even if what it means is stupid."

And you can't fight that feeling.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Parry Gripp: monkey burrito man

I know I haven't posted in a while, but this should more than make up for it.

First, watch this, which I came across via Videogum:

Then, visit Parry Gripp's Web site, where you'll find the original song (for your listening or downloading pleasure), as well as classic songs like "Chimpanzee Riding A Segway" and "You're a Monkey" and "Up Butt Coconut," which isn't about monkeys, but features monkeys in the artwork (which is done by Nathan Mazur).

Here's the video for "Chimpanzee Riding A Segway."

More videos on Parry Gripp's YouTube channel (or channels, I should say).

And YOU are welcome.