Sunday, March 18, 2012

Things I've Been Keeping from You: Dispatches from the Most Boring Man on Earth (#1)

Today, the most boring man on earth checks his instruments. They read normal, as always.

First! I have a short piece, “The Spirits of Imaginary Animals,” in the March 2012 edition of Bluestem Magazine. Read it, tell me what you think. I would like to know.

Second! I actually, really, truly got invited to participate in a reading (!) with NAP Magazine in Indianapolis this Friday, March 23. It’s called NAP SLUMBER PARTY ONE, takes place at a book-recycling warehouse, and includes five (!) readers: Joshua Young, Meg Forajter, Davee Craine, Sarah Tarkany, and myself. WOW. It’s all been put together by Chad Redden, mayor of NAP, who deserves many raves.

Beforehand, there’s a reading at Butler by Roxane Gay (!!) and BJ Hollars to celebrate the release of Pressgang’s first book, Monsters: A Collection of Literary Sightings, which promises to be awesome. So if you’re in Indy this weekend, you should attend one/both of these events, meet me, hear some great words out loud. Up close, and personal. Because I will be IN YOUR FACE. Actually not. I’m pretty nice.

Third! This has been news on the Safety Pin Review site for a few weeks, BUT, there are now SPR buttons available, and they are beautiful. There’s a spiffy new “Support!” page on the SPR site as well, where you can make donations ($1.00 gets you a button, or hell, you could just ask me and I’ll send you one) and see exactly what the SPR runs on. In the spirit of openness and the DIY ethic, I’ve posted approximately how much the SPR has cost me (it’s pretty modest) and where the money goes. Iluminating, maybe? Probably not.

Other than my taste, there’s nothing inscrutable or mysterious about the way the Safety Pin Review works. No secrets here. I want to be as down-to-earth as possible, maybe debunk some of the pretension that exists around so-called “literary magazines,” which, in many cases, are just a guy with a blog. (I am a guy with a blog, for example.) Long live the editorial we!

I just got back to school from an exhausting spring break, and I’ve decided not to sleep tonight, so it’s time to write some letters. Catch you later.

Friday, March 16, 2012

"It's on My Blog": Vouched Presents in Indy

Basically, all I had to do was go west.

On Tuesday I drove over to Indianapolis to this Vouched Presents event, my first, a poetry reading by Tyler Gobble, Ben Hersey and Heather Christle. I got to meet Christopher Newgent, founder of Vouched Books, ultimate booster of indie press in Indy, and see the Vouched table up close and personal.

It was something to see all of the books I’ve read about online laid out before me in real life array. I have a bunch of Tiny Hardcore books that I stroke every so often for aesthetic comfort, but this was something else. Every time I thumbed through Blake Butler’s Scorch Atlas, I kept thinking that my fingers would come away smudged with black ink. This, set alongside slim little shrink-wrapped Annalemma’s. Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Chronology of Water, with its censorious cover-flap to hide the nudity. Christopher let me stud the table with Safety Pin Review buttons.

I’ve made my way through The Fullness of Everything, the Tiny Hardcore anthology by Christopher Newgent, Tyler Gobble, and Brian Oliu (macho, macho, and macho), and, as per norm, it cannot disappoint. Christopher’s stories are little diamonds, Tyler is exuberprime, and Brian’s New Jersey is a marvelous textual landscape. (They are all going on tour next month, and will arm-wrestle you to death if you let them.)

Now I’ve met him and heard him read, it’s safe to say that Tyler Gobble is one of the most pumped individuals this side of the Pump Kingdom (which is somewhere to the east, if it exists at all). He read one poem from Fullness whilst enveloped in an oversized Hooters t-shirt. It actually made perfect sense. When I read through Fullness now, I hear all the poems in Tyler’s voice. It helps. It is not a bad voice to have in one’s head.

Ben Hersey’s set was disconcertingly awesome, a wash of mumbled accents, ambient noise, masticated lettuce, and expressive, salty poetry. Heather Christle (pronounced like the jewel) had us all scoot our chairs closer to the podium, creating an intimate context for her smiling poems of almost brutal whimsy, a series of shy, bubbly punches to the gut.

After the reading, Ashley Ford showed me all manner of handshakes, tried to explain where the wind comes from.

And I met Chad Redden, NAP’s current mayor. I must say, NAP Magazine is doing such beautiful and elegant things. There are so many reasons to read NAP. NAP has its own pronoun, an entity in and of NAPself. NAP has a new issue up, 2.4, which you should bounce on over to post-haste (I think Joshua Young’s piece is my favorite).

All in all, it was like a micro-AWP for young Simon. So here’s to meeting a bunch of awesome people, with high hopes that it happens again very soon (it will).

Thank you, Internet, for making this happen. Chad and I eagerly await your revamped, second iteration, with full, sideways-scrolling capabilities.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Reading Steve Roggenbuck in a Tornado

I got Steve Roggenbuck’s book Crunk Juice in the mail last Friday and I still haven’t gotten over it.

A kind of dreadful wave of tornadoes hit the midwest last weekend. We avoided it for the most part in Richmond, but some folks to the south got hit pretty hard. I heard about one guy whose sister and her husband were killed; the tornado picked up their trailer and spun it around and around and around. Some say it never came down.

I was in the campus coffee shop with my friend Tyler and I was reading aloud from Steve’s book, and Tyler was taking to it something awful. Eventually, we started reading it aloud to each other, alternating, in different tones of voices, different accents. We, too, may have been slightly carried away.

four hours of rain in the corn
i kis you and i dream that i am a raccoon

When Tyler was young, he wanted to be a rainbow chaser. Looking outside after a thunderstorm, he’d see a rainbow forming and think, “I could chase that.” He would imagine leaping into the car and driving towards it, trying to get closer, trying to find where it would end.

This weekend, I imagine there were lots of rainbows. Carpe dime. It hurts to get fucked by god.

When the storm got really bad they made us all vacate the coffee shop and go to the basement of the student center, where we huddled on couches with everyone else who’d been forced from their pursuits to hide from the wind. This did not stop us. Tyler read aloud from Crunk Juice; we had a reading there in the basement. There were several people who tried to avoid eye contact.

Tyler spoke of a time when he was sitting in the living room of his house, alone except for one other person, Joey, and he said, out of the blue, “Let’s go to California.”

They didn’t, not that day. But they could have. I think a part of Tyler might still regret that, although I cannot speak to Tyler’s regrets with any sort of authority.

Tyler is in London now, for spring break. I am fairly jealous of this. He may actually find those two English women I met in Jordan. At last.

Go get Steve Roggenbuck's book. There's no excuse not to. You don't even have to pay (you should though, you want the print version).