Monday, May 29, 2006

some non-blogged comments...


as a writer, it often appears that you work into a void. there is usually a long lag time between a magazine/journal's acceptance of and then final publication of a poem or bit of fiction. certainly there is space between book publications if you are lucky enough to find anyone who cares enough and has cash enough to put one out (and that is if you have the work to fill one) into a world that cares very very little for poetry. at least on a daily basis, as it is my experience that when people hurt, when the pain is more than they can communicate, when the emotions fill up the guts and threaten to destroy them (and of course, me by extension, or better yet, us) most folks reach for a poem in some form. this form could be the Bible (full of metaphor) or Buddhist texts or plain old secular literature or some fragment of a poem they heard someplace, etc; they reach for an old familiar song (poetry in motion), they reach out crying, they reach and the right line, the right word, the right note can ease the suffering a bit, can act as a lifeline to sanity, dragging us back from the brink of despair.

but sometimes you get lucky and you get some feedback while you're alive. and in a subtly veiled self-congratulatory effort to help Bill at Bottle of Smoke Press sell some books of mine that he has courageously decided to publish, I offer some damning praise heaped upon the broadside words like terror from the forthcoming And Still The Night Left To Go: Poems & Letters. thanks to Bill for sending these along to me:

HI cc,
Here are some comments on the little poem... More later

Thanks for the great "Words Like Terror." Great poem..very nice design/print job... -- Jeffrey Weinberg - Waterrow Books

I got the remarkable poem, so needed in my poet's heart right now, from Bottle of Smoke, by C. Cunningham. I am so pleased to have it. Great friggin job! -- Ann Menebroker, Poet

Thank you for Words Like Terror. First of all, the poem is good; I can "hear" it. The choice of font, paper and execution of the presswork is excellent. And the binding, or presentation, is about the finest thing I've seen for something of comparable size. Just a mind blowing item. -- Richard Krech, Poet & former Publisher

Got the mini-broadside, WORDS LIKE TERROR by Christopher Cunningham. Excellent! Beautifully printed, and a great little poem. I've already read it a dozen times and it just gets better. Please thank him for inscribing it to me with the cool little typer drawing. You both outdid yourselves with this one. I know the book will be exceptional. -- David Barker, Poet

cunningham's poem is just unreal, like all of his stuff....i cannot wait to see that book....oh, it will be so amazing....thank you so much for sending all this stuff! :) -- justin.barrett, Poet and former sufferer of writers block

now go there and preorder a copy of And Still The Night Left To Go: Poems & Letters, and Bill will send you a copy of the broadside gratis. help the small press rise up and destroy the pasty thin walls of the academic, anemic, Pinsky-esque, empty headed, worthless, incestuous and cockshaking University Boys. real art is made daily with blood and timeclocks and hard fucking work. real art is made with sweat and spit and wild singing in the darkness. real art is improvised and unstoppable.

it is the concrete soul of man.

now: please tell me I'm full of myself and give me some coordinates for sticking it. I'll understand...


Blogger j.b said...

full of yourself?

well, that might be, but i don't begrudge it because if you're not full of yourself, who else'll be full of you; and who else are you supposed to be full of?

fuck it.

these comments about this little broadside are both right and wrong. it is a fucking masterpiece. it's a gorgeous poem printed in such a way as to NOT detract from the poem (an art in itself), but they're wrong because it's more than that. it's beauty personified. it's crystallized hope. it's flocculated ART precipitating out of a solution of inhumanity.

9:29 AM  
Blogger christopher cunningham said...

well, bubba, I prayed on it and jesus told me to go ahead and post these quotes, he said, "cause if you don't and Bill don't sell no books, then I'm a gonna hafta call you home, son."

I had no choice really.

thanks as always for the support, my man. and I did consider the ego aspect of this post, but I DO want Bill to stay solvent so he can keep putting out assholes like us into the world, and I swore this year that I would lower myself into the self-promoting muck somewhat because shit, the poem is one of the few things I do well and I plan on making it work for me on some level. I think Bill and his magic press are gonna help make it happen. the world needs your words, mccreesh, LCB, Locklin, others others others...

thanks again.

1:25 PM  
Blogger j.b said...

shit, i wasn't AT ALL denigrating your post. no way, no sir. just saying that even if there were some ego, who cares because there HAS to be some ego for exactly the reasons you said. you and i BOTH don't want Bill to go under. why? there are many reasons, and yours may differ from mine, but ultimately (for both of us) it is selfish: we want our books out there.

i find the self-promoting muck distasteful, too. but, oddly, only as i am concerned. i don't mind reading about others and their great turns of fortune, or their newest book, or what have you; but, for some reason, the thought of tooting my own horn to the masses rots in my craw. but, i do it. we have to. there's no one else out there to toot our horns for us (figuratively speaking, that is!).

this might make for a good topic to post about (and i might just do that later on this blog) but the main problem (of many problems) i see in this small press is the dearth of readers and a wealth of authors. don't make for a very good situation.

2:11 PM  
Blogger christopher cunningham said...

no problem my man, didn't think you were "denigrating...", that crack from me was made with a snarky smirk.

I agree with you inre: the ratio in the small press of readers. it is a real problem and it arises in large measure from the "ease" of access in the small press. this makes for a large amount of crap/dross put out there for good or ill. now, who am I to say what is good or bad? shit, nobody really, but I know what works for me as poet, and I see a whole lot of SHIT out there masquerading as poetry. hell you can chop up prose all day long and call it poetry and I won't bitch if the prose sings like poetry. and frankly I get tired of the personal anecdote chopped up and called poetry, espec. when the work in question has NO universal quality, NO metaphor, NO lyrical motion, NO attempt at real depth of feeling, etc.etc.etc.

and out of all of these bad writers comes bad readers. if you took the time to read at all, and here I mean the work of those before us in the literary lineage, the greats and almost greats, then you work hard NOT TO REPEAT THIER WORK, and you seek your own voice in the multitude. and you must read what IS BEING WRITTEN NOW to avoid the same pitfalls. and you must read carefully and widely. I don't always do this, but I try to, and out of this effort, I SUPPORT THAT WHICH SUPPORTS ME. and I do it in the only way that matters to a struggling editor: with cash.

now I also hold that this 'contract' means the editor must provide me with a 'product' that is a WORK OF ART. not average fold/staple bullshit, but REAL ART and REAL EFFORT. I do it, and so should they. this also translates to the work ethic of most hackpoets in the small AND large presses today: most only want to see their name in print and are LESS concerned with the end product all the way around. I mean, shit, you've seen my books and the work I put in. I won the NC contest and instead of just letting them slap a cover on it, I HANDPAINTED 250 of the motherfuckers. each different. this was fun but time consuming and hard goddamn work and who wants to put in that much work when someone ELSE is putting the book out? the return on investment SEEMS to favor doing nothing. (as Buk wrote: "how are you going to tell a dreamer/there's a 15 percent take on the/dream? he'll just laugh and say,/is that all?") I WANT THE WHOLE THING, MY WHOLE LIFE, ALL OF IT, TO BE A GREAT POEM. and that cover is PART of it. so what the fuck am I to do? I have to do it, the extra shit, the over the top bullshit I like to do. but not many do. and it shows. most are lazy and careless and don't REALLY believe in art cause if they DID, they'd put their fucking money/time/energy where there goddamn word processors are, and MAKE LIFE A WORK OF FUCKING ART.
you have to punch that timeclock with STYLE motherfuckers.

and even if you don't read the books you buy the money goes to insure that these editors are still around to maybe one day put YOUR sorry work out there, whoever you are. it is important to keep this quiet revolution alive, to keep the ember glowing so it may someday be blown into a conflagration.

NOW tell me I'm full of myself.

3:17 PM  
Blogger j.b said...

a man of passion. a man after my own heart.

you are right. those covers you did the for the NC chapbook were amazing. simply brilliant. and the likes of which are rarely seen in this small press.

this is one of the main reasons for my getting out of being editor of remark., and a contributing reason to my recent slump. so few people CARE. they say they care, but their actions speak.

case in point. out of the 10 or so people i "spoke" (via email) regularly when i was editor of remark., guess how many are still in contact with me? well, if you said 2, then you'd be right. 80% just up and left when they realized i had nothing to offer them. now, i'm a cynical little bastard and knew all along (despite my hopes) that a good portion of these people would do just that, but 80%? my god.

well, all we can do brother, is try our damnedest to do exactly what you said: MAKE OUR LIVES A POEM. and the only way i can think of accomplishing this act is to MAKE EACH DAY A POEM. to break it down even further, we must MAKE EACH MINUTE, EACH SECOND, EACH INFITESIMALLY SMALL MOMENT OF TIME A POEM!

then, and only then, will we be true poets.

as for the droll crap that's out there, you nailed it. you said it. the vast majority is nothing more than diary entries (the most banal type of literature, save a handful of cases) in a vertical format.


4:58 PM  
Blogger j.b said...

also, just wanted to add that this:

"NO universal quality, NO metaphor, NO lyrical motion, NO attempt at real depth of feeling"

is precisely the ailment afflicting the small press. it's an epidemic only worsened by the infinite number of online "journals" with standards so low that anything and everything goes.

don't just tell me something. anybody can do that (and they do). tell me something important, in a way i've never heard before and with a meaning that's deeper and more lyrical than mere words should be capable of.

THIS is what i need.
THIS is what the world needs.

5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

j.b. & cc,
Anyone can write utter shit if you give them 10,000 words. It takes genius to speak volumes in 40 words. You two are two of the best out there at this. your poems hit me in the chest like a sledgehammer....

Bottle of Smoke Press

7:33 PM  
Blogger Bill - Bottle of Smoke Press said...

Hi again,
I just found my user name.. Much better now....


7:38 PM  
Blogger j.b said...

you are too kind. much too kind. i agree with half of your comment; the Cunningham half. ;)

thank you, though. :)

10:07 PM  
Blogger Bill - Bottle of Smoke Press said...

What's up with the humble shit? Take some time off and come back humble?

what's this world coming to?


10:39 PM  
Blogger christopher cunningham said...

bill you are too kind. but it is important that the work "hit you like a sledgehammer." this is always the goal of real art.

glad to have you posting, and thanks for sending the quotes.

2:33 AM  
Blogger j.b said...

humility is a virtue. no, wait, that's not right. cleanliness is next to viruousness. that doesn't sound right.

well, suffice it to say that something is a virtue and cleanliness is next to something else.

anyway, thanks for the comments. you know they what they mean to me.

and i second Chris's sentiment: it's great to see you one here.

9:01 AM  
Blogger j.b said...

by the way, i LOVE the byline to my quote to bill...hilarious.

former sufferer of writer's block, future emperor of the world. :)


10:43 AM  
Blogger christopher cunningham said...

must give all props to Mr. Roberts on the byline, he is the comedic genius in this melange.

but it is damn funny.

2:14 PM  
Blogger j.b said...

it had me smiling, for sure.

bill's a witty one. always a good time talking with him.

hey, bill, is that an albino?! :)

4:08 PM  
Blogger Bill - Bottle of Smoke Press said...

hey, bill, is that an albino?! :)

I still see that creepy fucker every other day...

by the way, I quit smoking after 20+ years...

Enough addictions without that one...


11:01 PM  
Blogger christopher cunningham said...

congrats on the smoking cessation; I did it back in my mid-twenties. tough but worth it.

and I agree: addiction time can be much better spent than giving those killers at Philip Morris your money...

4:50 AM  
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10:05 AM  

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