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.

"Train" by Rasheeda Plenty

My fellow UofM MFAer and friend Rasheeda Plenty's poem "Train" is in the Boston Review with a glowing introduction by A. Van Jordan. This makes me very happy.

"Romantic Moment" by Tony Hoagland

Poem from Tony Hoagland's new collection of poems, Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty. And it features a chimp.
Romantic Moment

After seeing the nature documentary we walk down Canyon Road,
onto the plaza of art galleries and high end clothing stores

where the orange trees are fragrant in the summer night
and the smooth adobe walls glow fleshlike in the dark.

It is just our second date, and we sit down on a bench,
holding hands, not looking at each other,

and if I were a bull penguin right now I would lean over
and vomit softly into the mouth of my beloved

and if I were a peacock I’d flex my gluteal muscles to
erect and spread the quills of my Cinemax tail.

If she were a female walkingstick bug she might
insert her hypodermic probiscus directly into my neck

and inject me with a rich hormonal sedative
before attaching her egg sac to my thoracic undercarriage,

and if I were a young chimpanzee I would break off a nearby tree limb
and smash all the windows in the plaza jewelry stores.

And if she was a Brazilian leopard frog she would wrap her impressive
tongue three times around my right thigh and

pummel me softly against the surface of our pond
and I would know her feelings were sincere.

Instead we sit awhile in silence, until
she remarks that in the relative context of tortoises and igunanas,

human males seem to be actually rather expressive.
And I say that female crocodiles really don’t receive

enough credit for their gentleness,
Then she suggests that it is time for us to go

do something personal, hidden, and human.

(Tony Hoagland, from Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty, Graywolf Press 2010)

Monday, April 5, 2010

"Love Song (Sycamores)" by Dan Chiasson

Love Song (Sycamores)

Stop there, stop now, come no closer,
I said, but you followed me anyway.
You made a bed for us in the woods.
There were sycamore boughs overhead.

Stop there. Stop now. I calculated that
the number of birds singing
on any given morning
was a function of the sycamores plus my hangover.

I said, Stop there, but you followed me
even when I tore our bed to pieces,
I did that, I brought anger into the bower
and the sycamores became menacing shoulders.

And the birds cried, scared, a little embarrassed.
And we paced back and forth, under
the menacing shoulders of the sycamores.
The birds made nests inside our heads.

When you held my fist between your two hands,
I pretended to be subdued. But then
I opened my fist easily
and scattered your strength all over the bower.

When you ran towards me, I said, Stop there,
stop now, you'll end up
in a stranger's life
; and when you ran away
I said the same words over again, louder.

(Dan Chiasson, from Natural History, 2007 Knopf)

Friday, April 2, 2010

"Natural State" by Albert Goldbarth

Also in the March 2010 issue of Poetry, "Natural State," a really, really good poem by Albert Goldbarth. I'll admit, I thought maybe I didn't like him. I take it back.

A stand-up comic and a wailing preacher walk into a bar: discovering Dorothea Grossman

I really liked the March 2009 issue of Poetry. The issue started with a whole slew of poems by Dorothea Grossman, a poet I'd never heard of before. My favorites were "I have to tell you," "The Two Times I Loved You the Most In a Car," and "Love Poem." They also published an interview with her in which she says, "I think what I’m always striving for is to keep a balance. I have a lot of humor in my stuff, and that’s fine. There’s the more serious stuff, too, but I like to mix it up. When I read in public, it’s very important for me to stress that balance. I don’t want to be a stand-up comic, for God’s sake, but I also don’t want to be some wailing preacher."

This only serves to make me like her more.

"Loosely Based" by Randa Jarrar

Randa Jarrar is a writer and friend of mine from grad school. Here she writes about her father. She writes, "He stalked famous poets and novelists and playwrights, wrote bad poetry, and wooed my knotty-haired mama, a soft-spoken pianist."

Read the rest on the Utne Reader blog.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The fiction writing workshop of your dreams

How about we kick of National Poetry Month with a little satirical fiction via Videogum?

A little background, Videogum has lampooned (does anyone really use that word anymore?) both Nicholas Sparks and James Franco recently. And now they've been pared with the kid from Finding Forrester (a movie I have never seen and would probably hate) in a writing workshop. It's pretty brilliant. And it does mention monkeys, which is half the battle.