Friday, December 31, 2010

Give Dean Young your heart

Give Dean Young your heart. Or at least give some money to his heart transplant fund. And then make sure you register as an organ donor in your state. If it's the last thing you do this year or the first thing you do next year, it'll be a damn fine way to end/begin.

Monday, December 13, 2010

And monkey makes three

Even the monkey's hair looks feathered.

Best comment: "Can he REALLY convince himself this is HIS child????" Also, another reader pointed out that the guy looks like Jason Mraz. True.

Via Awkward Family Pet Photos.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Two piece bathing suits and wicker furniture sets of confusion

There are so many questions to ask about this photo. The only thing I am certain about is the presence of a flying monkey.

Via Awkward Family Pet Photos.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Baby lemur at the Banham Zoo

I could look at the Zoo Borns site all day. And maybe I will once I get laid off at the end of the year. But for now: Hamish, the baby bamboo lemur!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thomas Lynch has a new book of poems

Thomas Lynch has a new book of poems. Walking Papers is out now via W. W. Norton. Please buy it for me for Christmas. Or any other holiday. Or just because you love and appreciate me. Oh, forget it. I'll buy it myself.

"Calling," which is from the new book, was Poetry Daily's pick for Nov. 2. You can also read and listen to "Euclid" at Poetry Out Loud.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Poetry is moving

We should all be so lucky to look this good and be this self-confident when we're 100 years old. But self-confidence doesn't automatically translate into self-awareness. Or good poetry. Or clothes, for that matter.

I wish there was a "behind the scenes" video to accompany this. Because, seriously, what is she swinging on? There's very little camera shake and the camera seems to be moving with her. I don't know. A tire swing? A stripper pole? Or is she just floating on a cloud held up by fairies and wood sprites?

Via your mom Videogum.

Also via your step-mom Slog.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Adam Roberts reads my mind

In The Atlantic, Adam Roberts writes "a five-part series about the value of verse in the 21st century." And at the end of Part Five he somehow reads my mind. Or not "reads" so much as "translates."

Part One: "The Righteous Skeptic's Guide to Reading Poetry."
Money quote: "Yeah, poetry sucks! It's confusing, it's pretentious, it's precious, it's frivolous and disconnected and has nothing to do with my life. Right on."

Part Two: "What Makes a Poem Worth Reading?"
Money quote: " If you don't have your graduate degree in comparative literature, wtf is irreducible alterity????"
(A good question. The simplest translation is "hard and weird.")

Part Three: "Flarf: Poetry Meme-Surfs With Kanye West and the LOLCats"
Money quote: "This game of WTF one-upsmanship ... is quickly becoming a recognizable phenomena in everywhere from YouTube to advertising to mainstream news coverage. Sometimes we call it lowest common denominator--but other times, it's something different. Poems, and poets, can learn from it."

Part Four: "Good Poetry Is Like Good Food: How to Find It ... and Savor It"
Money quote: "In the world of literary culture, the small press is probably the closest equivalent to your local farmer's market. (The carrots might look funnier, but, after you're used to it, they taste about five times better.)"

Part Five: "7 Poets I Love"
Money quote: "Delusionally or not, I always feel, when reading, as if quite a bit is at stake. At their core, poems remind me of at least one thing: that I have only one life, and that it's a life with others: other people, other creatures, complicated and interrelated systems of life. Urgency—right—that's what calls me back to read."

And this, the "high stakes" of poetry, is exactly how I feel about poetry. Exactly. Except it's never been something I've been able to articulate. It's as if Roberts reached into the mud of my brain and said, "Here. This is what you've been wanting to say all along."

"Wave" by Alan Shapiro. So good.

"Wave," a really beautiful poem by Alan Shapiro, is in the latest issue of The Atlantic. Me like.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Please buy Christian Wiman's newest book for me. Thanks.

Clive James reviews Christian Wiman's Every Riven Thing (published this month by Farrar, Straus and Giroux) in the UK's Financial Times. Perhaps James just writes an especially good review, but I am very much looking forward to reading Wiman's new book.

Via Slate.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Book to buy: Between Old Trees by francine j. harris

francine j. harris has a chapbook and you should buy it. Between Old Trees via Organic Weapons Arts can be yours for only ten cash dollars (or Paypal dollars, as it were). That is cheaper than so many things. And probably better than whatever else you were going to spend it on anyway.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I can read

This evening I had the awesome pleasure of reading with Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Jamaal May, and Adrian Matejka at the Virgil Carr Center in Detroit as part of the Robert Hayden Poetry Series. They're all incredible poets and it was great to get up and read again, especially with such fine company. It was a really good crowd, too. Imagine, people actually showing up for a poetry reading. It happens in Detroit, folks. :)

All of them have books you should buy if you know what's good for you. As for me, to borrow from Whitney Houston, "I have nothing, nothing, nothing..." But, to borrow from her yet again, "It's not right, but it's okay."

So thanks to the wonderful and talented poetry duo Vievee Francis and Matthew Olzmann for asking me to read. I am very lucky to know such wonderful people who do so much for poetry in Detroit.

Thursday, Dec. 9 is the final reading in the series. I plan to be there. If you're also there then we'll be there together. At last.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Fight monkeys with monkeys

India unleashes langur patrol in New Deli to protect Obama from "maurading" rhesus monkeys.

Hey, if it's good enough for Stephen Colbert, it's good enough for Obama.

Oh, and speaking of langur monkeys... I know. That is just so much aww. So much it hurts.

Via The Awl.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sloth, sloth baby

Rosamond Gifford Zoo in New York welcomes a new addition to its family: Ruth, a six-week-old two-toed sloth. Proceed at your own risk because the intense cuteness will burn your eyes.

Also, Zooborns has so many adorable baby monkeys and other primates.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

"Sparrow’s, Poet’s Deaths" by Christine Rhein

"Sparrow’s, Poet’s Deaths" is a truly beautiful poem by Christine Rhein about the death of poet Nadia Anjuman and a sparrow killed to save some dominoes. Guess which one got more news coverage?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Rose by any other name is an asshole

I just finished reading a book about Guns N' Roses in which it was revealed that the lyrics for "Sweet Child O' Mine" were originally a poem written by Axl Rose. The book also revealed that Axl Rose is one of the biggest assholes ever in the history of popular music. But no matter. I'm excited about the poem part because I can link to John Moe's "Notes on 'Sweet Child O' Mine,' as Delivered to Axl Rose by His Editor" on McSweeney's Internet Tendency. You're welcome (to the jungle). Get it?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Don't be a jackass

Lane Smith, my favorite childrens book illustrator, has a new book out. It's a Book is about a curious jackass friend who can't wrap his tech-geek brain around this strange thing in his monkey friend's hands. Moral of the story: read to your kid or he'll end up a jackass.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The unspeakable acts of Chimp and Frog

So apparently there exists a video on YouTube of a chimp and a frog engaged in unspeakable acts. You can Google it if you want. I'll pass. The artwork said video has inspired is enough for me.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Poetry and monkey convergence: Harry Harlow edition

I just finished Wire Mothers: Harry Harlow and the Science of Love, a comic book about that scientist who did the wire mother experiments on monkeys. The book is okay, though if you're already familar with the experiments and their results there's not much new here. Harlow's experiments helped put "love" into science, though ultimately were bad for the monkeys he used. Still, his results were in stark contrast to the prevailing belief at the time that children who were given too much affection would be messed up and that mothers who kissed their babies on the lips were perverts.

Harlow also wrote poems, some of which appear in his 1958 paper "The Nature of Love." Like this one:
The Elephant
Though mother may be short on arms,
Her skin is full of warmth and charms.
And mother's touch on baby's skin
Endears the heart that beats within.

For an interesting account of Harlow and his research, go here.

Friday, September 10, 2010

I'd like to buy a vow

"You'd like personal, unique words to say but you are pressed for time and unsure of your skill with language."

Hey pig, there's a monkey on your back

I do not pretend to understand this video. I do know that the monkey gets awfully pissed when he's knocked off the pig's back. And that those fences are a tight squeeze.

Via Videogum.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Monkey immorality

Evolutionary biologist Marc Hauser busted for monkeying around with research.

Wild crochet kingdom. And by "wild" I mean insane

Patricia Waller is officially my favorite crochet artist ever. Granted, I don't know any others to compare her to, but there is really no need. She has a couple of monkey sculptures, and they're cute, but they're nothing compared to Miss Piggy in a meat grinder or intricately detailed prosthetic limbs or her conjoined twin bears.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Dorianne Laux poems in APR

There are a handful of new poems by Dorianne Laux in the latest issue of the American Poetry Review, including the very good "Timing" and one about Dolly Parton's breasts that I really love but sadly APR does not have online. Seek out the issue and read it. Totally worth it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sunday, August 22, 2010

"The Swing" by Don Paterson

I just finished reading a review of Rain, the new book by poet Don Paterson, in the May 2010 issue of Poetry and I immediately sought out Paterson's "The Swing." A.E. Stallings ends the review with the last few stanzas. I'm very thankful that it's online at via Granta, where it was originally published in 2007, so that I could read the whole thing immediately.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Katrina and the waves

A couple of years ago my friend and colleague Ray McDaniel published his second collection of poems, Saltwater Empire. In it there is a poem called "Convention Centers of the New World" which is about Hurricane Katrina. Currently he is under fire for how this poem was compiled. It is a conglomeration of various first-person narratives from the website Alive in Truth, a collection of oral histories of Katrina survivors and he acknowledges such in his book.

Yesterday the Poetry Foundation published on its website On The Voices of Hurricane Katrina, Part I: "What are the ethics of poetic appropriation?" by Abe Louise Young, in which she more or less accuses Ray of being a racist plagiarist. Then there is Ray's measured response, The Voices of Hurricane Katrina, Part II: "Reflections on found poetry and the creative process." Both Young and McDaniel are good people, but I can't help but feel that McDaniel is being unfairly maligned for the world's wrongs here.

Here is my take on the issue, which I submitted to the Poetry Foundation's comments section under Young's essay:

It seems to me that McDaniel's error is in not getting permission to use stories from the Alive in Truth website. Young is, understandably, unhappy about this. However, McDaniel does acknowledge AIT in his book as the source material for his poem. He's not trying to hide anything. Whether or not one thinks McDaniel's poetic aims were realized -- or even very good in the first place -- is another matter. But even if McDaniel did egregiously thumb his nose at copyright (and I don't think he did. His poem falls under "fair use" as I understand it, whether or not Young likes how he did it), that in itself does not make him a "Neo-colonialistic prick" as someone commented on Young's Facebook page. There Young trumpets her "essay exposing the white man who plagiarized the oral histories of african-american katrina survivors--publishing them as his own poems." This is an awfully reductive way of looking at McDaniel and his work and does not do even her own argument justice. It is understandable that Young feels protective of the stories on AIT and the people who told them. There are many, many injustices surrounding Katrina and so many reasons to be angry. McDaniel, however, is not one of them. Not really. The issues about appropriation in Young's essay are important and there is no doubt a larger discussion to be had. But it seems that perhaps Young is too close to the source material. It's too raw, perhaps, too sacred in her estimation. While there is no doubt that these stories -- indeed, the people who have shared them -- are important, Young's criticisms of McDaniel's (fair)use of these stories contain a barely contained charge of blasphemy. It's an awfully difficult charge to prove. After all, what is considered sacred is hardly universal. And even when, say, two people find the sacred within, say, personal histories about Katrina, one man's attempt at honoring the sacred is another woman's perceived decimation of it. I do think intentions matter. And it's rather clear when you read the McDaniel poem in question that he is, however flawed it may seem to some, striving for reverence not insolence. Young's anger is, I think, misdirected in this case. Clearly her passion for social activism has led her to do urgent, brave, and important work and she will no doubt continue to do so. I do hope that she is one day able to see that the poem "Convention Centers of the New World" does not reduce McDaniel to a racist plagiarist.

Monchichi mongrel

Lance Bass and a Monchichi walk into a bar...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Monkey and Poetry Convergence: Dennis Cooper and James Tate edition

Dennis Cooper has good taste in poetry. Which is how I came across James Tate's "Teaching the Ape to Write Poems."
Teaching the Ape to Write Poems

They didn't have much trouble
teaching the ape to write poems:
first they strapped him into the chair,
then tied the pencil around his hand
(the paper had already been nailed down).
Then Dr. Bluespire leaned over his shoulder
and whispered into his ear:
"You look like a god sitting there.
Why don't you try writing something?"

(James Tate, from Absences, 1972 Little Brown & Co.)

Palin's poetry picks

If you ever wondered about Sarah Palin's literary tastes then you'll totally want to run to the bookstore in November and get her latest book. From Harper Collins: "Written in her own refreshingly candid voice, America By Heart will include selections from classic and contemporary readings that have moved her - from the nation's founding documents to great speeches, sermons, letters, literature and poetry, biography, and even some of her favorite songs and movies."

Can't wait to hear what her favorite poems are.

Thanks, Laura, for the tip.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


I saw a sloth today! A real sloth! Also bats. I took my son to the Cranbrook Institute of Science for the Great Lakes Bat Festival, which means he also saw a sloth and also bats. His Aunt Laura accompanied us. Since my son is one year old, this would be the first ever sloth he's ever seen and the first bats. The sloth was very active when we were there, crawling along the ceiling of his cage with his huge gnarly toenails. Then he got a strip of yellow squash out of a basket and hung there looking at us and eating it. A woman who worked there told me that since his digestion is so slow they carefully monitor his diet and weigh what he eats so he doesn't eat too much (I think). She also told me he's litter box trained and pointed to a litter box in the corner of his cage. He only goes every three days, she said, and she's been told it's very stinky but she's never witnessed it herself. I am not sad that I, too, did not get to witness this. I am not sure why there is a sloth housed in Cranbrook's Bat Zone, but it certainly was an amazing thing to see. The Bat Zone as a whole smells very strongly of pee. Just a heads-up.

If you're into bats, definitely check out the Organization for Bat Conservation.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Emily Kendal Frey is totally a winner

And now her book of poetry, The Grief Performance, will be published thanks to the 2010 Cleveland State University First Book Prize and judge Rae Armantrout. And I will pay real live money for this book once it's published in Spring 2011. And you should, too.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Look at this fucking Poets & Writers cover

I can't even really tell you how much I like that the cover of the latest issue of Poets & Writers is featured on Look at this fucking hipster. Although to be fair, James Kaelan is a fiction writer, not a poet as LATFH suggests.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Monkeys are #1

Monkeys top the list of Time's July 19 Top 10 Militant Animals list. For whatever reason humans are not on the included.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Hey, we didn't kill the slender loris after all!

Scientists thought the slender loris was extinct. But apparently it isn't. So hooray for humans for not killing something for a change. Granted, it's probably only a matter of time. :(

Win a gorilla, my ninjas

You know, I totally wasn't even going to go to the annual Gathering of the Juggalos this year. Until, 20 seconds into this video I saw that you can win giant stuffed gorillas there. And they show them again at about 10 minutes and 57 seconds in. Also there will be seminars? Because it's like college? I don't know. All I know is I've got to get me a Juggalo gorilla.

Via Videogum.

Friday, July 16, 2010

If "Howl" were written today

A really awesome "Howl" parody over at McSweeney's. Though calling it a "parody" really doesn't seem right. You'll see.

Via Buzzfeed.

Monkey guns for hire

Taliban fighter monkeys? Is this real life?

Don't they know that by giving monkeys guns they're only hastening the monkey world take over?

Via Buzzfeed.

Fluffy specimens

There is, no doubt, a monkey to be found somewhere on this shelf.

Ginsberg on film

Actually it's James Franco as Ginsberg in Howl, the new Allen Ginsberg biopic, but still. Also stars David Strathairn, Alan Alda, Jeff Daniels, Mary-Louise Parker, Paul Rudd and Jon Hamm. Looks okay, though I fear it will be ham-fisted and overly long like, say, Kinsey.

Via Videogum.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Gorilla rugby hunk

A rather awesome photos posted in the comments section on Videogum. I've never understood rugby, which is why it makes sense to hand the game over to gorillas.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Vs. verse

If you like poems about sports, here are a bunch of them courtesy of Carol Ann Duffy. She is, after all, a lesbian and a poet, which automatically makes her an expert.

Added bonus: apparently kids these days use the term "verse" as a verb. As in, "I'm going to verse you at recess." If only this meant that they were having little poetry slams. That would be the best.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Monkey and Poetry Convergence: Joe Henry edition

In his new book Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life: A Book by and for the Fanatics Among Us, Steve Almond mentally connects Joe Henry, whose 1999 album Fuse not only opens with a song titled "Monkey" but also features a photo of Henry with a literal monkey on his back, to the Iliad to Faulkner, which may just be a first. This results in the epiphany that,"The connection in my head being that all language began in song and that the best stories inevitably return to song, to a state of rapture. For years, I had assumed that throwing beautiful words at the page would make my prose feel true. But I had the process exactly backward. It was truth that lifted the language into beauty and toward song."

As they say in French, c'est possible.

Almond, a huge Joe Henry fan, then writes about the time Henry sent him a poem to read and asked for feedback. Almond thought, "Holy shit, Joe Henry just sent me something to read."

The poem, writes Almond, started out good. But then "the poem's pathos sputtered into rage. There was a lot about how stupid Americans are. Red Bull was cited, as were the ravages of global warming. I was reminded (unpleasantly) of my own writing. And thus my next thought: I'm going to have to tell Joe Henry that his poem kind of sucks."

Thankfully he didn't have to. Henry turned the poem into song lyrics, the resulting song, according to Almond, capturing "the dream of America as a holy wilderness whose decline is properly understood as a cause for lamentation, not sermons."

You can listen to a demo of Joe Henry's "Our Song" as part of Almond's "Bitchin' Soundtrack" to his new book. It's a really good way to spend 5 minutes and 46 seconds of your life.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Get those Steampunk monkeys out of Pleasantville!

Get our yer crayons. This should take you awhile.

Via Boing Boing.

Thanks, Laura, for the tip.

Monkey and Poetry Convergence: Kyle Stone edition

Kyle Stone, a children's book illustrator and the man behind The Tickled Ape, did the paintings for the 2005 book Please Bury Me in the Library, a collection of poems for children about reading by J. Patrick Lewis.

Stone is also kinda friends with my sister's girlfriend. Small world, eh?

His art is really awesome and you should check it out. On his blog he has several posts about the Please Bury Me in the Library art, including models, cover art, and drawings (and more drawings).

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sheera Talpaz in La Petite Zine

Two poems by Sheera Talpaz in La Petite Zine: "Birthday Poem" and "Believable Stutter."

The classics, one panel at a time

Just finished reading R. Sikoryak's Masterpiece Comics (2009 Drawn and Quarterly). Highly recommended whether you've read the classics or, like me, mostly haven't and would like a comic-paneled primer. The book features Dante's "Inferno" told via Bazooka bubble gum comics and Shakespeare's Macbeth channeled through Mary Worth. There's also Voltaire's Candide featuring Ziggy, which has monkeys chasing naked ladies in the fifth panel. Check out some excerpts here and here and then befriend Masterpiece Comics on Facebook.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Khaled Mattawa is full of win

I saw Khaled Mattawa read tonight at a very unique venue in Ferndale that was part performance space, part Ikea showroom, part someone's house. I've never been to a place like it. But it's cool to know that it exists.

Khaled was great. One of the best readings I've been to in a long time. The kind of reading that made me feel very proud to know him and also proud to be a poet. I rarely feel like this after seeing poets read. Quite the opposite, in fact.

During his introduction it was mentioned that Khaled had been published in Poetry. I've been reading poetry consistently since 2004 but didn't remember seeing him so I looked Khaled up on the Poetry Foundation's website. In the April 2006 issue there's a translation he did of "Occupation 1943" by Saadi Youssef. It is quite good. You can read the poem and Khaled's translation note on the Poetry website.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Khaled Mattawa reading in Ferndale this Friday

Poet Khaled Mattawa will be reading in Ferndale on Friday with fellow poet George Tysh. Since that's in my neck of the woods and all I am planning on going. You should, too. Khaled's got a new book out, Tocqueville, published by New Issues/Western Michigan University Press.

The reading is Friday, June 18, 2010 at 7:30 p.m. at the Societry of San Jordi (Chez Elie) (407 West Marshall, Ferndale, MI 48220). I will see you there.

His poem "Ecclesiastes," which is from his new book, appeared recently on Verse Daily and Poetry Daily.


The trick is that you're willing to help them.
The rule is to sound like you're doing them a favor.

The rule is to create a commission system.
The trick is to get their number.

The trick is to make it personal:
No one in the world suffers like you.

The trick is that you're providing a service.
The rule is to keep the conversation going.

The rule is their parents were foolish,
their children are greedy or insane.

The rule is to make them feel they've come too late.
The trick is that you're willing to make exceptions.

The rule is to assume their parents abused them.
The trick is to sound like the one teacher they loved.

And when they say "too much,"
give them a plan.

And when they say "anger" or "rage" or "love,"
say "give me an example."

The rule is everyone is a gypsy now.
Everyone is searching for his tribe.

The rule is you don't care if they ever find it.
The trick is that they feel they can.

(Khaled Mattawa, from Tocqueville, 2010 New Issues/Western Michigan University Press)

Sloth t-shirt!

From Shirt.Woot today.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Monkey and Poetry Convergence: Rudyard Kipling edition

While this monkey and poetry convergence is Rudyard Kipling's, it is by way of Glenn Beck that I encountered it. Beck has a trailer for his new book The Overton Window (it's a thriller. Which you can obviously tell from the very thrilling title). Now, I don't really "get" book trailers, but hey, anything to get the word out, right? Because how else are you going to reach people who don't read? Obviously your target audience. But whatever. Make trailers for books. I don't care. What's really weird about Beck's trailer is that he the writing of another author in order to sell his writing. The trailer uses the last two stanza's of Kipling's "The Gods of the Copybook Headings". No words from Beck. Can you imagine a movie trailer that used footage from another movie entirely instead of clips from the movie being promoted? That would be weird. It would almost make it seem like whatever movie (or book) the trailer was for probably sucks. But who knows? Maybe Beck is better at writing books than making trailers (I am doubtful).

In any case, the monkey connection comes in stanza two:
We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

"Song" by Brigit Pegeen Kelly

Just finished reading this poem and am pretty blown away by it.

Listen: there was a goat's head hanging by ropes in a tree.
All night it hung there and sang. And those who heard it
Felt a hurt in their hearts and thought they were hearing
The song of a night bird. They sat up in their beds, and then
They lay back down again. In the night wind, the goat's head
Swayed back and forth, and from far off it shone faintly
The way the moonlight shone on the train track miles away
Beside which the goat's headless body lay. Some boys
Had hacked its head off. It was harder work than they had imagined.
The goat cried like a man and struggled hard. But they
Finished the job. They hung the bleeding head by the school
And then ran off into the darkness that seems to hide everything.
The head hung in the tree. The body lay by the tracks.
The head called to the body. The body to the head.
They missed each other. The missing grew large between them,
Until it pulled the heart right out of the body, until
The drawn heart flew toward the head, flew as a bird flies
Back to its cage and the familiar perch from which it trills.
Then the heart sang in the head, softly at first and then louder,
Sang long and low until the morning light came up over
The school and over the tree, and then the singing stopped....
The goat had belonged to a small girl. She named
The goat Broken Thorn Sweet Blackberry, named it after
The night's bush of stars, because the goat's silky hair
Was dark as well water, because it had eyes like wild fruit.
The girl lived near a high railroad track. At night
She heard the trains passing, the sweet sound of the train's horn
Pouring softly over her bed, and each morning she woke
To give the bleating goat his pail of warm milk. She sang
Him songs about girls with ropes and cooks in boats.
She brushed him with a stiff brush. She dreamed daily
That he grew bigger, and he did. She thought her dreaming
Made it so. But one night the girl didn't hear the train's horn,
And the next morning she woke to an empty yard. The goat
Was gone. Everything looked strange. It was as if a storm
Had passed through while she slept, wind and stones, rain
Stripping the branches of fruit. She knew that someone
Had stolen the goat and that he had come to harm. She called
To him. All morning and into the afternoon, she called
And called. She walked and walked. In her chest a bad feeling
Like the feeling of the stones gouging the soft undersides
Of her bare feet. Then somebody found the goat's body
By the high tracks, the flies already filling their soft bottles
At the goat's torn neck. Then somebody found the head
Hanging in a tree by the school. They hurried to take
These things away so that the girl would not see them.
They hurried to raise money to buy the girl another goat.
They hurried to find the boys who had done this, to hear
Them say it was a joke, a joke, it was nothing but a joke....
But listen: here is the point. The boys thought to have
Their fun and be done with it. It was harder work than they
Had imagined, this silly sacrifice, but they finished the job,
Whistling as they washed their large hands in the dark.
What they didn't know was that the goat's head was already
Singing behind them in the tree. What they didn't know
Was that the goat's head would go on singing, just for them,
Long after the ropes were down, and that they would learn to listen,
Pail after pail, stroke after patient stroke. They would
Wake in the night thinking they heard the wind in the trees
Or a night bird, but their hearts beating harder. There
Would be a whistle, a hum, a high murmur, and, at last, a song,
The low song a lost boy sings remembering his mother's call.
Not a cruel song, no, no, not cruel at all. This song
Is sweet. It is sweet. The heart dies of this sweetness.

(Brigit Pegeen Kelly, from Song, 1995 BOA Editions)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Frost's "whimsical" UofM gig

Interesting piece about Robert Frost's stint as an artist in residence at UofM. A student at the time called him "humorous and ruthless" and "an excellent gossip." The arrangement with Frost is similar to what the MFA program does today, though Frost's tenure seems like it was more intimate as far as interacting and working with the students.

Also, I have to point out that the student literary journal at that time was called Whimsies. Really? Whimsies? Gross.

Thanks, Laura, for the tip.

Friday, June 11, 2010

From "Composition In Loneliness" by Barbara Jordan

Composition In Loneliness

I keep what I've lost, the past being
a kind of compass,

a place where the light will hold
its breath.

And today climbs toward uncertainty,
deciduous moods that leaf

and regret.
I walk in the woods. I get over you.

A burled stick becomes a talisman
for an afternoon, lost among many

sequestered now. A light snow, deer tracks
into wordless places -- no memory

has currency here. Flying off, a crow veers
to look at me:

I'm only a woman
holding a broken branch.

(Barbara Jordan, from Trace Elements, Penguin Books 1998)

Bee still my beating heart

I just finished reading I Know I Am, But What Are You? by Samantha Bee and have not laughed so much out loud while reading a book in a long, long time. While not the funniest part of the book, she does mention poetry in her essay about being a perfectionist when it comes to gift giving.
"I would be extremely happy if I came from a family that composed original poetry, or pulled names out of a hat to give one single gift as our preferred mode of holiday expression. But in our family, everybody has to get everybody else a present, and that's the way it goes. If you tried to give someone a poem instead of a present, you would find yourself on the receiving end of a clusterfuck of confusion, as the person repeatedly tried to dig through the envelope it came in to find the gift card for Best Buy that surely must have dropped out somewhere along the way."
I strongly suggest  that you read this book. In fact, I demand it. Because I have that kind of power.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A sock monkey in the oven

The perfect gift for that mother-to-be in your life. Okay, maybe not. But I promise you won't have to suffer the embarrassment of giving her yet another Baby Bjorn because some asshole bought it off of Amazon instead of her registry.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Smartypants monkey prayer

From my new favorite blog, Mimi Smartypants:

Have you seen these ads on El platforms that ask “Can We Pray For You?” Supposedly you text-message your prayer and they…take care of it…somehow. I thought that the whole point of prayer was one person talking to his or her own version of god, directly, but I am an atheist so what do I know. Anyway, I was curious about how exactly this worked so I noted the number and texted the following:

Hi I need a monkey rlly rlly bad can u pls ask jesus to send me a monkey. Howler monkey. thx.

NO REPLY! I am floundering alone in a spiritual abyss! Perhaps the church decided that my text-message prayer was insincere but how can they know my heart? Or maybe a reply is not part of the deal, and the person on the other end just gets down to prayer-business immediately. In which case I shall wait in joyful expectation of my monkey.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

That sneaky gorilla

Would you notice the gorilla in the living room (or, in this case, the gymnasium)? I've read about this study before. And I would have gladly volunteered to be the woman in the gorilla suit. Provided that the suit had been very, very carefully laundered and sanitized.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sadness Never Ending by Ryan Adams

I'm a big fan of Ryan Adams. His music, anyway. I could not finish Infinity Blues, his collection of poetry. The title of the book, however, is very appropriate: "Infinity" because the book is over 280 pages long, and "Blues" because of how much I wanted to like it but sadly don't. In this light, the fact that the last two lines of the last poem appear by themselves on the last page of the book is also appropriate: "and / disappointment."

That said, considering his gift for song writing, I have no doubt that many of his poems that come across as rambling, half-hearted, and self-important on paper would work very well as song lyrics.

Monday, May 31, 2010

"Replica" by Marvin Bell

The Poetry Foundation put "Replica" by Marvin Bell on their Facebook page today. It seems rather appropriate for Memorial Day, actually.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Physics for [plagiarists]

You know, sometimes imitation isn't the best form of flattery. It's plagiarism. You'd think that Columbia University's General Studies Valedictorian Brian Corman would know what plagiarism is since it's kinda important in college to, you know, not do that. Except that he did, during his largely masturbatory speech about how wonderful he and his fellow classmates are, plop Patton Oswalt's "Physics for Poets" bit right in the middle of his speech as if he'd written it himself. But hey, maybe they don't cover plagiarism in the General Studies department because it's not general enough.

Corman's speech starts at about 34 minutes in (yes, MINUTES. It's the longest video in YouTube history, I think), though if you want to watch him being introduced for added irony, start at 31 minutes.

Via Videogum.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Free iPoetry

The Poetry Foundation now as a free app for the iPhone. No doubt there was tremendous demand for this. Still, if I had an iPhone, I would totally get it.

Dance [Monkey] Dance

While I am not a fan of the band Dance Gavin Dance (I am not an anti-fan or anything, I'm just not into their style of music), they do have some of the coolest t-shirts of any band I know, including this monkey one.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sloth orphans!

From the video description: "Filmed at the Aviaros del Caribe sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica - the world's only sloth orphanage. Baby 2 and 3 toed sloths, whose mothers have either been run over or zapped by power lines, are brought to the sanctuary."

Meet the sloths from Amphibian Avenger on Vimeo.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Everlasting gorilla love

Gorilla and caretaker reunion. Amazing.

Via Huffington Post.

Hey, there's a monkey on your back. Like, forever.

A compendium of primate tattoos via Maxim. I've seen some of these before (the ones that use bellybuttons as monkey buttholes, for example -- what the fuck is wrong with people?), but some I have not. Many are astounding, though few in a good way.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Monkey and Poetry Convergence: Japan edition

This is close enough to poetry to me, and it's from a sign in Japan, which is where a monkey touched me.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Primates and friends

On Videogum there's a post about Roman Polanski and new sexual abuse allegations against him. In the comment thread there are many pictures of adorable animal odd couples. The title of the post is, after all, "New Sexual Abuse Allegations Against Roman Polanski Surface Or Pet Worlds Colliding" lets people choose whether they want to focus on cute animals or child rape. Several commentators used photos featuring primates. So I have rounded those up and included them with links to their origin. You are welcome.

Freud's guide to Mother's Day

Yes, Mother's Day has come and gone this year, but I just stumbled upon "Sigmund Freud's Step-By-Step Guide to a Perfect Mother's Day" By Paul Kleinman on the McSweeney's website. Number 15 on the list is, "Read a selection of Robert Frost poems to her." Out of context this is not creepy at all.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Poetry from God

From God's mouth to this woman's ears to her fingers to her computer to a bunch of files burned on disc that you can buy with cash dollars.

From Regretsy, of course.

Daniel "Poet Man" Songer

He had a dream of a show called The Dan Poet Man Show. And for some reason that didn't work out.

Via Videogum.

Glenn Beck's "paranoid Nazi comparison using poetry"

Lewis Black calls out Glenn Beck for his Nazi Tourettes. "He can even make a paranoid Nazi comparison using poetry," Black says.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Back in Black - Glenn Beck's Nazi Tourette's
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My friends are inside of Spinning Jenny

Megan Levad and Emily Kendal Frey have poems in the latest issue of Spinning Jenny, which came out in March. And I am just hearing about this now because why? You know what they say, you snooze you lose poetry.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Bad Poetry Oh Noetry t-shirt by Toothpaste for Dinner

You should totally buy this shirt. I have it in orange. We could be twins. In a not-really-twins-at-all-but-have-the-same-shirt way.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Bill Murray reading poetry to construction workers?

Of course. Especially if they're the construction workers who built Poets House. And they loooooooooove it, if by loving it I mean not loving it so much. Who's idea was this?

Via Slog.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Monkey and Poetry Convergence: Stay At Home Mama D edition

I've got a mom blog. Today's entry includes a sad reference to Sylvia Plath's children and mention of my newborn son's monkey feet.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"A Mown Lawn" by Lydia Davis

In honor of Jamie, who cut my lawn today and did the edging, which revealed miles of sidewalk previously consumed by grass and weeds.

(Lydia Davis, from Best American Poetry 2001).

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Kid finds man-like/ape-like fossil in South Africa

"The species ... strode upright on long legs, with human-shaped hips and pelvis, but still climbed through trees on apelike arms."
Further proof of Evolution, or a hoax propagated by a godless 9-year-old?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Maybe she was adopted

More chimp family members via Awkward Family Photos. I would be lying if I said I had any idea what's going on in this picture. Or why the chimp is wearing what looks like sneakers and a bathing suit.

Chimp dreams are made of this

There have been some really fantastic photos at Awkward Family Photos recently, including this photo of a little girl in her bed with a chimp. I presume she knows the chimp, but you never know. Maybe he sneaked in through her window. I certainly hope he doesn't have fleas.

PS: Touched By A Monkey and its affiliates do not advocate keeping primates as pets.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Sock Monkey's wild Kia nights

My mom has been telling me about the new Kia commercials with the sock monkey and saying how great they are. Since I don't watch TV (not a dogmatic choice, I just don't have time, cable, or one of those digital boxes to make an old TV work in real life) I didn't know what she was talking about. So I Googled it. And sure enough, here it is. I can see why she likes this. It's a pretty great commercial. And the sock monkey getting the tattoo is definitely the best part.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Nancy Pearl's poetry picks

Celebrity librarian Nancy Pearl was on NPR with her picks for National Poetry Month. They are:
1. The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker
2. Blue Dusk: New & Selected Poems, 1951-2001 by Madeline DeFrees
3. My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge by Paul Guest
4. Collected Poems by Donald Justice
5. The Blue Estuaries: Poems 1923-1968 by Louise Bogan
6. The Way It Is: New & Selected Poems by William Stafford
7. Making Certain It Goes On: The Collected Poems of Richard Hugo by Richard Hugo
8. "Visions in Poetry" series by various poets Kids Can Press

A Robert Frost State of Mind

The Super Secret Project has gone and made a pretty faithful parody of "Empire State of Mind" by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, both in song and in video. Ordinarily this kind of thing wouldn't concern us here. But at about 2:30 dude throws Robert Frost into the mix. Can I get a snowy woods up in this bitch? Holla!

Via Boing Boing. Thanks, Laura, for the tip.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Drive-By Wonder Twins

The Wonder Twins, a.k.a. my sister Laura and I, went to a Drive-By Truckers show and wrote about it for The Metro Times. And the Drive-By Truckers have an insanely evil looking monkey on the cover of their new record. Coincidence? Well, yeah, but still.

Harry librarian poetry

So I guess it is National Library Week. Who knew? Well, the folks at Buzzfeed. And they have provided an assortment of passive aggressive library signs to mark the occasion. This particular one is quite poetic. It's not the best one, mind you, but it's the only one that pays attention to rhyme and meter. Also from what I can gather it's a take on something from Harry Potter. Which may or may not be a strike against it depending on your feelings toward said Potter.

Slowly, Slowly Said the Sloth [around your neck]

This is one of the cutest necklaces I have ever seen. Nothing like a sloth around your neck to remind you to take it easy. And mind the claws.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

LOLiot: "The Wasteland" gets a new translation

T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland" has finally been translated into LOLcat.

Where this:
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

Becomes this:
april hates u, makes lilacs, u no can has.
april in ur memoriez, making ur desire.
spring rain in ur dull rootzes.

Genius, I tell you. Genius.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monkey and Poetry Convergence: Tony Hoagland edition

I just finished reading Tony Hoagland's new collection of poems Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty and I have some good news and some bad news.

The good news is that monkeys are mentioned in three of his poems. The first is in the poem "Poor Britney Spears" when he writes about the pop star:
Oh my adorable little monkey,
prancing for your candy,

with one of my voices I shout, "Jump! Jump, you little whore!"
With another I say,

in a quiet way that turns down the lights,
"Put on some clothes and go home, Sweetheart."

The next is in "Disaster Movie," which features a jet crash:
It must have been Borneo, or someplace tropical like that,
because vines had strangled the propellers into stillness,
rust was already licking the battered silver wings--

monkeys had commandeered the cockpit
and were getting drunk
on the miniature bottles of vodka and Jack Daniels,

wearing the orange safety vests backwards
and spinning in the empty swivel chairs.

The last is in "Powers," which includes the lines:
What are we but monkeys who learned to drive cars,
who have the freedom to read or not to read

And now for the bad news. Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty is probably Hoagland's weakest collection of poems to date. I've been a fan of Hoagland's work for years and have all of his books (minus his latest chapbook), so it pains me to say this. And I don't know, maybe it's me. Maybe Hoagland and I have grown apart. But there's something about many of the poems in this book that seems too predictable, too "aren't I clever," perhaps.

For example, in "Dialectical Materialism" he mentions "the pretty cashier with the shaved head and nose ring," and I had the uncontrollable urge to roll my eyes. This kind of supposed paradox is classic Hoagland, but I feel like he's done it before. And maybe it would have been fine in, say, 1993 when his first book came out and when women with shaved heads and nose rings were more unusual. And maybe I just inhabit a life where that kind of thing is more commonplace that it is for others.

Some of the poems feel phoned in, while others come across as preachy. Like the Britney Spears one mentioned above. I can't help but feel like it's a condensed essay written for a women's studies or human sexuality class. Same thing with "Plastic," but substitute an environmental science course.

There are some really good poems, though, don't get me wrong. "Romantic Moment" for one, "The Story of the Father" for another. Then there's "Sentimental Education," my favorite, which begins:
And when we were eight, or nine,
our father took us back into the Alabama woods,
found a rotten log, and with his hunting knife

pried off a slab of bark
to show the hundred kinds of bugs and grubs
that we would have to eat in time of war.

"The ones who survive," he told us,
looking at us hard,
"are the ones who are willing do anything."
Then he popped one of those pale slugs
into his mouth and started chewing.

And that's why I will still look forward to the next Tony Hoagland book. Amen.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Hail monkey full of grace

This is certainly an adorable rosary, but also WTF?

Buy buy monkey

So I've been checking out the site I mentioned yesterday,, and it really is quite awesome. Every day there's a new monkey-themed product to spend your hard-earned dollars on. Some of the descriptions are quite funny, like for the costume monkey tail: "Why bother getting a costume for next Halloween or for your next costume party? You don’t need to if you have this costume monkey tail. Just add it to whatever you’re wearing, and you instantly have a top-notch costume! Go in your gym clothes and you’re a Gym Monkey! Go in sweats and a t-shirt and you’re a Slob Monkey! See, it’s easy!" Obviously I'm going to be going as a Slob Monkey this Halloween. Thanks for the idea!

MonkeyADay even did an entire week devoted to wine-related monkey stuff. I don't even drink wine and I loved it.

Added to my daily list for sure.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Father knows best

I love Shit My Dad Says. Here's a recent one that gives me the perfect excuse to put it on my blog.

"There's a word for people like that...No, I'm saying, there's a word and I don't know what it is. I'm not being fucking poetic."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Poet ink

So there's this tattoo blog that's featuring poets with tattoos every day throughout April in honor of National Poetry Month. This is so far the best way I've seen NPM acknowledged.