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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

In Salt Water

In Salt Water

The sea. He came up from the sea. His voice green, water tones, splash of froth, spray, and crash, crash. I’d swim on my back and listen, legs and arms out, listen. Tentacles tipped. A clown fish with intelligent eyes looks into my eyes. Questioning. A hatchet fish frightens me so I swim on.
            And then he’d speak. I’d often cut my feet on his words sharp like urchins, and get pinned in by the tide. My footprints a lexicon of glyphs on rocks, slap, smack, splat.
            He would leave me then and return. Where eels arrow their way across fields of vision, I’d kayak, and cast a net to catch the giant fish. But no one goes as deep as he does. But stay in the shallows, where light refracts and turns the ocean blue. The sun cannot reach his home, only elongated eels to conduct electricity. I almost caught this fish once. But capsized, swallowed salt water, coughed up foam on the shore like some wide-mouth gulper eel, sucked air, blacked out, woke up aglow, coughing, choking, coughing, until I coughed up a lantern fish, death-twinkle.

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Triangle of Palm Fronds In the Window Means it's Morning

A triangle of palm fronds in the window means it’s morning

A colony of souls
to a murder of crows fighting over coconuts.

Boats waffle blue waves.
Signs say:
Noel Coward fucked in this hotel.

And white sheets froth the bed.
Somerset Maugham
here to the batik face of Gauguin.

You use a straw as a snorkel
to navigate the day—
A cruise ship cuts through the champagne cake

but this is the year of no cake,
only salt and
the one tooth left a ravenous dog.

Come, dogs, a triangle of palm fronds
in the window
means it is morning

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

“You can’t keep me from drowning if it’s what I choose”

“You can’t keep me from drowning if it’s what I choose.”

your voice is an osprey’s
to catch a fish.

The answer of nests
on telephone poles.
The blue lilt of my sigh,

on this kayak
slapped by the sea, I tilt.

At the last gulp of salt water:

my stubbornness
a hammerhead
a vortex
buoys me up
into the day’s
long light.

slap my silver
self on board,
and gasping--

Monday, November 7, 2011

East Coast Release Party was Amazing!

 On November 7th Ping-Pong magazine once again took NYC by storm with its annual release party, this year it took place at the One and One Lounge on the Lower East Side.
Much fun was had by all!


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Henry Miller in NYC (again) Ping-Pong East Coast Release Party!!!

Thaddeus Rutkowski and the late Cheryl Burke with friends at last year's reading
One and One Bar
Saturday, November 5 · 7:00pm - 10:30pm
76th East 1st Street, New York, NY 10009

A comedian, a burlesque dancer and 8 poets walk into a bar... It's the Ping-Pong East Coast Launch Party! One & One Bar (1st Ave & 1st St. on the LES), Sat., Nov. 5, 7PM. Featuring BRANDO! the funky No Cal band, Leta LeNoir, the fancy dancer, and Kathy Smith, the family-friendly comedian. With readings by Ping Pong contributors Cynthia Cruz, J. Hope Stein, Phyllis Wat, Sara Goodman, Joanna Fuhrman, Whitney Porter, Thaddeus Rutkowski,and Mark Lamoureux, as well as editors Maria Garcia Teutsch and Christine Hamm. Performances begin at 7:00. The event is free and open to the public. Pushing the envelope till it bleeds!


Thad Rutowski: Thaddeus Rutkowski is the author of the novels Roughhouse, Tetched and Haywire. Haywire reached No. 1 on Small Press Distribution's fiction best-seller list. Both Roughhouse and Tetched were finalists for a Members' Choice Asian American Literary Award. He teaches literature at City University of New York and fiction writing at the Writer's Voice of the West Side YMCA in Manhattan.

Cynthia Cruz: Cynthia Cruz’s is the author of Ruin. Her second collection, The Glimmering Room, will be published in fall of 2012 by Four Way Books. Her poems have been published in the New Yorker, Paris Review, Boston Review, American Poetry Review, Kenyon Review and others. She has been the recipient of fellowships from Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and a Hodder Fellowship. She currently teaches at Sarah Lawrence College.

Joanna Furhman: Joanna Fuhrman is the author of four books of poetry, most recently
Pageant (Alice James Books 2009) and Moraine (Hanging Loose Press 2006.) A new chapbook The Emotive Function came out in June. To learn more, please visit her website JoannaFuhrman.com.

Mark Lamoureux: Mark Lamoureux lives in Astoria, NY. He is the author of thee full-length collections of poetry: Spectre (Black Radish Books 2010), Astrometry Orgonon (BlazeVOX Books 2008) and 29 Cheeseburgers / 39 Years (Pressed Wafer, Forthcoming 2012). His work has been published in print and online in Fence, miPoesias, Jubilat, Denver Quarterly, Conduit, Jacket, Fourteen Hills and many others. In 2006 he started Cy Gist Press, a micropress focusing on ekphrastic poetry. He holds an MFA from the New School and teaches in the CUNY system.

J. Hope Stein: J. Hope Stein is the author of the chapbooks Talking Doll (Dancing Girl Press) and Mary, both forthcoming in 2012, and her chapbook Light’s Golden Jubilee was a finalist in the 2011 Ahsahta Chapbook Contest. Her short film, The Inventor’s Last Breath, based on her full-length manuscript about Thomas Edison, was screened at the 2011 Cinepoetry Festival at the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur. (More information
on this project is at http://jhopestein.wordpress.com/) J. Hope Stein is also the author of poetry/humor site eecattings.com, editor of poetrycrush.com, and a member of Calypso Editions artist co-op. Her work can be seen in various journals and anthologies,including Poetry International, The Boog Reader: Boog City Anthology of New York Poetry, Web Del Sol and Ping Pong. She is a member of the faculty at the Chicago School of Poetics.

Sara Goodman: Sara Goodman graduated from Purchase College in 2005 with a B.A. in Creative Writing with her concentration on poetry. Her poetry has been published in several journals and has been defined as a melding of the romantic with science fiction. She currently teaches workshops in New York for adults and children on poetry and art.

Whitney Porter: Whitney Porter is originally from Houston Texas; however for the last 17 years she has resided in Brooklyn. She has done undergraduate work at the University of Houston and Brooklyn College and finally after many years of slogging from one university to the next has just this last year received her Bachelors Degree in Journalism. She is now currently studying with Phillip Schultz at the Writers Studio, in Manhattan. She has publications in Battered Suitcase a quarterly webzine from Vagabondage Press, Ping Pong Literary Magazine, and Craniotomic, a webzine out of Chicago.

Phylis Wat: Phyllis Wat is the author of three poetry books, "Shadow Blue" (Hot Water, 1988), "The Fish Soup Bowl Expedition" (Ten Pell Books, 2000), and "The Influence of Paintings Hung in Bedrooms" United Artists, 2007), with a fourth on the way. She is a poetry co-editor of the online magazine "Press 1," and publisher of Straw Gate Books (distributed by spdbooks.org).

Maria Teutsch: Maria Garcia Teutsch is a Santa Cruz poet. She has recently been published and has forthcoming publications in anthologies Conversations at the Wartime Cafe, and Eighteens, and Two Review. She has been editor of the Homestead Review for the past eleven years. She also serves as president of the board of the Henry Miller Library where she is editor-in-chief of Ping-Pong journal of art and international literature. mariateutsch.blogspot.com

Christine Hamm: Christine Hamm is getting her PhD in English Literature, and teaches at CUNY. Nominated four times for a Pushcart, her poetry has been in Rhino, Stone Canoe, Pebble Lake Review, Women's Studies Quarterly, Blue Earth Review, Rattle, and many others. She has published three books of poetry, and the most recent, Echo Park, was just released from Blazevox. Christine is the east coast poetry editor for Ping*Pong, a literary journal published by the Henry Miller Library of Big Sur, CA.

(The Dancer) Leta LeNoir: Hailing from the great state of Michigan Leta LeNoir has been dancing on stage since she was five years old. She has been performing Burlesque and gogo in New York City for over three years. Miss LeNoir studied the great art of the strip tease at the New York School of Burlesque and can be seen showing off this exquisite talent at venues all over the city.

(The Music) Dan's Guerra's Band: Brando from California. We are gonna melt faces!

(The Funny) Kathy Smith: Kathy Smith has been doing stand up comedy for a little over 10 years. She’s performed regularly at Caroline’s on Broadway and Don’t Tell Mama’s. She’s currently a regular at the Laugh Lounge and has been a MC at office gatherings on request. Kathy’s comedy is good clean fun, sexy and relatable across generations.

Me and Christine Hamm

Monday, October 17, 2011

Beat Museum Loves Henry Miller!!! Ping-Pong journal Party!!!


The Henry Miller Library in Big Sur, California is pleased to announce the annual publication of Ping•Pong, a journal of the arts.  The editors continue to serve up the best artists from the global art and literary scene by publishing a vibrant group of poets, writers, artists, and photographers. This issue continues Ping•Pong’s commitment to a cultural dialogue between contemporary artists and the aesthetics set forth by Henry Miller and Anaïs Nin.

Miller was and is as much an international literary figure as he was/is an American one; therefore, Ping•Pong reaches beyond our shores in order to bring unknown, or lesser known, writers from around the world into more prominence in English.

The 2011 issue of Ping•Pong features an interview with Ruth Stone, and international collections from French-Canadian poet Guy Jean as well as translations from Japanese. Ping•Pong offers the finest in American writers including Brian Henry, Eleni Sikelianos, Katie Farris, Bruce Covey, and Sesshu Foster, among many other luminaries.

Ping•Pong’s award winning writers and artists have been featured in Rolling Stone, The Wall Street Journal, Harper’s, Time, The New Yorker, and Newsweek and have exhibited at the J. Paul Getty Museum, The National Gallery of Art, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

The Ping•Pong West Coast Launch Party will take place at the Beat Museum on Saturday, October 22nd and will feature the notable MC Magnus Toren, with readings by Jesse Nathan, Dana Teen Lomax, Christine Hamm, Daphne Gottlieb and Sean Labrador Y Manzano, with a screening of Maria Garcia Teutsch's Cinepoem: Chronicles on Violence, based on poems published in the anthology: Conversations at the Wartime Cafe. Readings will begin at 7:30 pm. The event is free and open to the public.

Ping•Pong’s release party is in conjunction with Conversations at the Wartime Cafe anthology.

Come by and have a glass of wine with us and marvel at the wonder of the  Beat Museum,
and swing your hips to the music of DJ Dan Guerra.


Book information:

A Literary Journal of the Henry Miller Library
ISSN #1083-0944
Paperback, 220 pages, $12.00


Contact Information:

Maria Garcia Teutsch, Editor-in-Chief

Highway One, Big Sur, CA 93920

Christine Hamm, Poetry Editor

Reader Bios:

Dana Teen Lomax is the author of Curren¢y (Palm Press), Room (a+bend press), and the co-editor of Letters to Poets: Conversations about Poetics, Politics, and Community (Saturnalia Books, 2008).  Her documentary poetics manuscript Disclosure is forthcoming from Black Radish Books in 2011.  Her work has most recently appeared in UbuWeb, Jacket, Poets & Writers, The Bay Poetics Anthology and will be included in Against Expression (Northwestern University Press, 2010).  She is working on a book of poems entitled Shhh! Lullabies for a Tired Nation, editing a Small Press Traffic-related project, Kindergarde: Avant-Garde Poems, Plays, & Stories for Children, and teaching writing at San Francisco State University and Marin Juvenile Hall.

Jesse Nathan’s poems have appeared in the Nation, Agriculture Reader, Hot Metal Bridge, and a number of other places. He is co-editor, with Dominic Luxford, of the McSweeney’s Poetry Series, and managing editor of the Best American Nonrequired Reading. He’s also poetry editor at California Northern. He was born in Berkeley, grew up in Kansas, and lives now in San Francisco.

San Francisco-based Performance Poet Daphne Gottlieb stitches together the ivory tower and the gutter just using her tongue. She is the author and editor of nine books, most recently the poetry book 15 Ways to Stay Alive as well as co-editor (with Lisa Kester) of Dear Dawn: Aileen Wuornos in her Own Words.? She is the editor of Fucking Daphne: Mostly True Stories and Fictions and Homewrecker: An Adultery Reader, as well as the author of the poetry books Kissing Dead Girls, Final Girl, Why Things Burn and Pelt, and as the graphic novel Jokes and the Unconscious with artist Diane DiMassa.

Sean Labrador y Manzano has an MFA in Poetry from Mills College (2007). His column "Conversations at a Wartime Cafe" appears at http://www.mcsweeneys.net/links/wartime/.  He is the poetry editor of Tea Party Magazine and the San Francisco literature editor for L.A.-based Forth Magazine. He is published in Beeswax, Leonard Cohen: You're Our Man, Chain, Bay Poetics, The Best American Poetry 2004, and elsewhere.
Dana Teen is the author of Curren¢y (Palm Press, 2006) and Room (a+bend, 1998), a chapbook which was awarded the San Francisco Foundation’s Joseph Henry Jackson Award. She is a is a fourth generation Californian who teaches poetry and writing at several institutions. Her writing has been supported by the California Arts Council, the Peninsula Community Foundation, the Academy of American Poets, the Marin Arts Council, and others. Currently she is making Q, a series of "home movies" about raising her daughter on the grounds of a prison. She lives with her family in northern California.

Christine Hamm, serves as Ping-Pong poetry editor. She is a PhD candidate in English Literature. She won the MiPoesias First Annual Chapbook Competition with her manuscript, Children Having Trouble with Meat.  She teaches English at CUNY, and has performed all over the country. She has three books, The Transparent Dinner, Saints & Cannibals, and her recent book is now out: Echo Park.  Christine was a runner-up to the Poet Laureate of Queens. 

Maria Garcia Teutsch is Editor-in-Chief of Ping-Pong magazine. She also serves as president of the board of directors of the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur, Ca. She is widely published, and has four poetry chapbooks, Surrender Dorothy, Fractured Fortunes and there are no cars on this highway, and Chronicles on Violence. She is an MFA candidate at New England College.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”- Anaïs Nin.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ping-Pong Release Party--West/East

Henry Miller Slept Here
West/East Release Parties

Two fabuloso parties will take place to honor the yearly publication of Ping-Pong journal of art and literature by the Henry Miller Memorial Library in Big Sur, California.

This year's West Coast party will take place at the uber-cool Beat Museum in San Francisco, California
The East Coast event will be at the One and One on the lower east side in NYC.

The West Coast Release Party for Ping-Pong will feature readers Jesse Nathan, Dana Teen Lomax read, as well as our East Coast Editor, Christine Hamm, with a Cinepoem by Maria Garcia Teutsch.

Sean Labrador Y Manzano, editor of the anthology, Conversations at the Wartime Cafe, will read as will Daphne Gottlieb.

Booze,(wine), snacks and music will be provided.
Magnus Toren, Executive director of the Henry Miller library, and all around dilettante will be our MC.
Promises to be a good time! Starts: 7:30 pm, October 22, 2011

The East Coast Release party will feature a comedian, a burlesque dancer and 8 poets at the One & One Bar (1st Ave & 1st St. on the LES), Sat., Nov. 5, 7PM. Featuring BRANDO! the funky No Cal band, Leta LeNoir, the fancy dancer, and Kathy Smith, the family-friendly comedian. With readings by Ping Pong contributors Cynthia Cruz, J. Hope Stein, Phyllis Wat, Sara Goodman, Joanna Fuhrman, Whitney Porter, Thaddeus Rutkowski,and Mark Lamoureux, as well as editors Maria Garcia Teutsch and Christine Hamm. Performances begin at 7:00. The event is free and open to the public. Pushing the envelope till it bleeds!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Trinity River Poem

Trinity River

All its weight channels between
slender shoots of rock.  Fast molasses.
Each drop careens toward the sea
past my fly-fishing husband
hand lining a spent trout into his net.
He’s a shallow pool I cannot float upon. 
Our currents in opposite light:
his in speckled shade, mine in full sun.

Our son sifts gold dust through his shirt as he swims, 
then flops goose-pimpled on a white boulder.
A glint that binds, gold in black water,
the brilliance that blinds makes me see--
we’ve been mining this river for years,
but there’s nothing left that sparkles, only sparks.

Originally published as  "El Rio" in  Two Review

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Poetry Night with Philip Glass

On August 31st we had a wonderful evening of poetry and theatre with Philip Glass on piano and the Youth Orchestra of America string quartet. It was amazing. This evening was a part of the Days and Nights Festival which runs from August 19th to September 4th. 

photo credit:  John Sorenson
graphic design: Jenny Donegan

Sunday, August 28, 2011

KUSP Poetry Show Tonight!!

Francesco Levato, Maria Teutsch, Philip Glass

Listen to us tonight on The Poetry Show on KUSP talking about our performance at Philip Glass' Days and Nights Festival, show begins at 8:00 pm, Wednesday, August 31st at the Henry Miller Memorial Library.

Featured: Francesco Levato
Eleni Sikelianos
Jerry Quickly
and me (a-hem)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Monday, July 11, 2011

Blondie y Los Tres Osos

Blondie y Los Tres Osos
Rubia awoke curled between two Hefty sacks smelling of bread and day old fish.  She punched into one and found a roll she could eat, and a plastic knife that seemed clean enough.
She’d never been in this barrio before but knew that left of the mural of Xochiquetzal, she’d find the apartment with the blue door and a place to sleep.
She touched the letter folded inside her bra, and tried not to think of the desert, the truck driver who picked her up, or the payment she’d made for the ride.
Soon she arrived at the blue door and knocked, but no one answered. She saw three windows. The first was too high, the second too narrow, but the third one seemed like she could fit her way inside. She took out her plastic knife and pried off the screen and slipped inside. The house felt as though a mad mariachi band had just finished playing. 
A piñata in the shape of a bear lay on its side, a hole in the belly revealing atomic fire balls, tootsie rolls and bubble gum whistles. The table spread out before in a feast: enchiladas, chicken in mole sauce, and chile verde. Her mouth watered. She stuck her finger into the chile verde.
            “Fuck that’s hot.” Her taste buds felt as though they’d been gone over with a very sharp razor.
Then she took the cake knife and carved out a hunk of enchilada.
            “¡Ay de mí! She yelled, tears streaming down her face.
Then Rubia grabbed dipped a wooden spoon it into the velvety mole sauce. The chocolate coated her seared tongue and she gorged herself, then began to look around for somewhere to sleep.
The couch’s springs poked into her like a cattle prod. She went into the bedroom and leaped onto a double bed, but it reminded her too much of sleeping on a slab of rock. She rolled off and saw a small bed. She slipped under the crocheted blanket and fell asleep.
            The Osezno’s, Pablo, Luz and Junior, arrived home and noticed something was wrong. Pablo signaled to his wife and child to go into the kitchen area and pulled a gun out of the back of his jeans. He padded silently across the room and pointed at the table. Enchilada and verde sauce speckled the table, and what was worse the mole was almost gone. Suddenly he heard snoring in the bedroom and walked inside.
            “Who the fuck are you bitch, coming in our house eating our food?” he boomed.
Rubia opened her eyes to the barrel of a homemade zip gun. Just then Luz and Junior poked their heads around the corner.
            “Who’s this blonde puta Pablo?” she screamed.
            “Fuck, I don’t know, some stupid bitch in Junior’s bed. I’ve never seen her before, back off woman.”
Just then Junior pointed a finger and said, ”Look.” They all followed his finger to where Rubia’s blanket had dropped away. A necklace of bruises trailed down to arms riddled with what appeared to be cigarette burns.
She looked into Luz’s eyes and said, “Luzita, don’t you recognize me?”
And just then Luz did, it was her cousin Ruby from Juarez. She sat down next to her on Junior’s bed and started crying. And that’s when Rubia told them her story. By the time she finished, Pablo had called some of his Quarteño friends and said he’d be back that evening to celebrate Junior’s birthday.
That night, when it came time to hit the piñata, Ruby beat it with a baseball bat so hard its head split open on the sidewalk and the candy spewed everywhere. That’s when Pablo returned with his friends, ready to enjoy the feast.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Amy Killed a Goat

Amy Killed a Goat

She slit its throat.
Her hands ribboned
in red streamers.

Drains the goat upside down,
and doesn’t let them use
the testicles to make a purse.

Amy slit a goat’s throat.

Carried peanuts on her head
dug an aqueduct, rested under a baobab tree.
They celebrated with drums--
orange flames ate the black cookie of night.

The goatskin drums were
not from Amy’s goat.
She slit the throat quick,
slicked in blood.


She did it.
Then she flew away.
Her friend gave her
a purse for farewell
pink and soft--
full of petals.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Day of Poetry! A Night of Films! A day and night of poetic films!

Yesterday's poetry events reminded me of why I love this genre, why I love to teach, why I love to be involved with the Henry Miller Memorial Library, both as a board member and as editor of Ping-Pong magazine of art and literature.

The day started off with Christine Hamm, Francesco Levato and Jenn Hope Stein doing a poetry workhshop for my students. Christine introduced them to fragmentation, and many wonderful poems emerged from this exercise wherein they take five poems, exchange them with a partner, that partner picks out 3 lines from each poem, and then they create a poem out of the fragments. A rebirth of wonder for sure.

Next Francesco talked about Cinepoetry and then showed them this most amazing form through two short films, one made by yours truly (you can watch it below if you click the "Chronicles on Violence" link under the Verrückter Schwanz Cinépoetry schedule. We also watched J. Hope Stein's wonderful film based on her manuscript collection, The Inventor's Last Breath, that includes archival footage of the first moving pictures ever made.

Then we moved on to the Poetic Voices Poetry Festival, now in it's 11th year. This festival awards prize money to student poets. The Faith Webster Fraser award doles out 500.00 to two students, not bad. This year's recipients were Karina Hernandez and Alisa Rodriguez. Circo Award winners included Sergio Perez, Galdino Guijosa and Andrei Juezan. The student readings were followed by readings from Francesco Levato, J. Hope Stein and Christine Hamm.

Then we were off to Big Sur and an early dinner at Nepenthe. Big Sur is like this gift you give to everyone who's never been there before. No one can be unimpressed by the power of this beauty.
We went to the Henry Miller Memorial Library where we grooved to the band, Songs that Hotbox Harry Taught Us, munched on sushi, drank wine, and then watched the Cinépoetic masterpieces.

All in all and spectacular way to spend a day.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Verrückter Schwanz Cinepoetry Festival Schedule

Verrückter Schwanz (Crazy Cock) Cinepoetry Festival Schedule: Henry Miller Memorial Library

First Hour 

Variations on Want: Sequence II,  by Francesco Levato 
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished, by Antonello Faretta, poem by John Giorno 
Mirror, by Kylie Hibbert, poem by Sylvia Plath 
Love Song for Cells, by Jillian Brall 
Sucks Her with Fiddle, by Jillian Mukavetz 
Two films from The Pond, by Zachary Schomburg 
The Inventor’s Last Breath, by J. Hope Stein 
The Three Organizations of L.R. Levato, by Chris Hefner 
Die Pretty, by LaDonna Witmer 
Who Says Words with my Mouth, by D J Kadagian, poem by Rumi 
Chronicles on Violence, by Maria Garcia Teutsch 
Passage, by Kurt Heintz, poem by Quraysh Ali Lansana 
Tyger, by Guilherme Marcondes, based on The Tyger by William Blake 

Short Intermission/Poetry Reading by Christine Hamm

Second Hour

Entanglement,  by Ed Bowes, poem by Anne Waldman 


Verrückter Schwanz Cinepoetry Festival at the Henry Miller Memorial Library

The Henry Miller Library in Big Sur, California is pleased announce the

Verrückter Schwanz  Cinepoetry Festival, on May 12th at 7:30 pm, it will be an evening where audience members will meet visual artists at the intersection between cinema and poetry. Cinepoetry is a relatively new genre of visual poetry where the audience is taken on a journey through words and images shot on film. 

This event is brought to you by Ping-Pong, the magazine of art and literature published by the Henry Miller Memorial Library. The evening’s films will begin at dark and will be preceded by live music provided by Songs that Hotbox Harry Taught Us.

The film festival will feature works by Anne Waldman, Jenn Hope Stein, Francesco Levato and many others. The focus of cinepoetry is as a genre of visual poetry made into a short film and shown on a screen focusing its images and sounds around the poem. This event is curated by Francesco Levato and directed by Maria Garcia Teutsch.

The Verrückter Schwanz festival will take place at the Henry Miller Memorial Library in Big Sur, California on Thursday, May 12th, and will feature many films from around the world.   The festival begins at 7:30 pm. The event is free and open to the public. Food and wine will be served.

The evening of short films also serves as a kick-off of sorts for the soon to start 6th Annual Big Sur International Short Film Screening Series. The final selection of films for 2011 will be posted on www.bigsurfilm.org on May 20. The first screening in our twelve week series is Thursday, June 9th.

Magnus Toren 667-2574 (Henry Miller Library)
Highway One, Big Sur, CA 93920

Poet, translator, and filmmaker Francesco Levato is the author of three books of poetry: Elegy for Dead LanguagesWar Rug, a book length documentary poem; and Marginal State. He has translated into English the books of Italian poets Tiziano Fratus, Creaturing, and Fabiano Alborghetti, The Opposite Shore. His work has been published internationally in journals and anthologies, both in print and online, including Drunken BoatThe Progressive,Versal, and many others. His cinépoetry has been exhibited in galleries and featured at film festivals in Berlin, Chicago, New York, and elsewhere.

Christine Hamm is a PhD candidate in English Literature at Drew University, where she was awarded a Caspersen Scholarship for Academic Promise. In 2007, she was a runner up to Queens' Poet Laureate. Her poetry has been published in The Adirondack Review, Pebble Lake Review, Horseless Press, Lodestar Quarterly, Blue Fifth Review, Poetry Midwest, MiPoesias, Rattle, Snow Monkey and Exquisite Corpse, among others. She has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize, and once for "The Best of the Web". Her work has been anthologized in Homewrecker: An Adultery Reader and The Murdering of Our Years: Artists and Activists on Making Ends Meet, both by Soft Skull Press. Her first book of poems, The Transparent Dinner, was published by Mayapple Press in October '06, and her second book, Saints & Cannibals was published by Plain View Press in Spring '10.

Maria Garcia Teutsch is Editor-in-chief of Ping-Pong magazine. She also serves as president of the board of directors of the Henry Miller library in Big Sur, Ca. She is widely published, most recently her poems have been anthologized by Knives, Forks and Spoons Press’ Eighteens, with forthcoming publications by McSweeney’s Conversations at the Wartime Café, and the Sylvia Plath anthology, Fat Gold Watch. She is the author of three chapbooks: Chronicles on Violence being the latest. mariateutsch.blogspot.com

Think Big Sur needs more sushi, art, and poetry? Then there won't be much in this blog that you'll disagree with

Think Big Sur needs more sushi, art, and poetry? Then there won't be much in this blog that you'll disagree with

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Review of Tomaž Šalamun's Woods and Chalices by Maria Garcia Teutsch

The Republic of Tomaž

            Reading Woods and Chalices is akin to entering another world of phantasmagorical renderings of reality, or non-reality. There is a rejection of syntactical cohesiveness that is clearly intentional. In this regard he reminds me of bell hooks who disregards rules governing language as a rebellion against the “slavemaster’s tongue.”  Šalamun takes his syntactical rebellion a couple of steps further. His poems are like a vast canvas by Pollock or Kandinsky, who create first and then worry about meaning, or, more to the point, allow their audiences to shape their own meaning without imposition beyond the artist’s impulse to create.
            Translating such an amphigouric artist from his native Slovenian into English seems a daunting task at best. Pierre Joris translated Paul Celan’s later work and produced an English version of Threadsuns in all of its disjointed beauty. What is remarkable in the translation of Woods and Chalices is the integrity of the word play and the wonderful sounds and at times anagrammatic expressions.  The translator, Brian Henry said of translating Woods and Chalices “Another difficulty, perhaps just a personal one for me, was that Salamun views the beginnings of lines as more important than the endings (thus the prevalence of traditionally weak line breaks throughout the book), whereas in English-language poetry, line endings tend to be more important. So I had to constantly battle my own poetic instincts with line breaks” (Letter to the author).
            The first few poems immediately engage the reader’s ear. In “The Clouds of Tiepolo” the alliterative lines and partial consonance of the first stanza bring you to the land of Šalamun, “The flock fell behind a hill. God/tottered. I chased a stall. Faded . . . (4)  His skill with language is apparent; no small feat for a translation piece where the cleverness of the poet as wordsmith is often lost. The same is true in “The Edge from Where we Measure’ with the assonance and partial rhyme of “wheat /cleaved” (5); and in “Ferryman” “toil and loiter” and the partial consonance in “then within vineyards” that ends the piece.  When I read translations like this I always wonder if the translator changed the original words to make them more poetic. 
            What is also true is that the rhetoric of the republic of Šalamun, unlike the harmony found in Walt Whitman’s poetry, is an element of disharmony. There appears to be a conscious effort to play a discordant chord on the cello of history; how else to prod people out of their collective stupor? For its conventional object, the Šalamunian subject substitutes a new object such as in “Fiery Chariot:”
            The bull’s berry walks on wires.
            The windowpanes are wounds.
            They hiss when the jet streams from the silver
            Kettle and a giant flings a discus.
            It turns its head. The helmet touches the tip.  (51)
Šalamun takes the “I” out of the equation, and by so doing allows his reader into his world of unconventionality. It is the everyday experience he turns upside down, sideways or looks at through a lens made of Jello. His poetics is an anti-poetics. Like the great Byronic hero, his speaker is a mischievous satyr playing with all preconceived notions of reality, whether sacred or profane.  His poetry reminds me of a Dionysian orgy where one gorges on different visions of a world at once familiar and frightening.
            The reading of Woods and Chalices has given me a freedom in my writing to stay true to my own sometimes warped and wobbling rendering of reality. It also gives me hope as a future translator of texts that I will be able to craft, in conjunction with the poet, an English version that retains the poem’s intent while also dazzling the reader with the beauty of the text.
photo credit: Jon Howell

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Novica Tadic's Dark World

Sticks for the Roasting
Novica Tadic’s collection, Dark Things is an ode to Memento Mori. His collection reads like an old German woodcutting from the 15th century come to life in words. But Tadic doesn’t just remind us of the death that awaits us all, he presents a world of utter hopelessness where to survive is to somehow be complicit in the miserable world of his wandering speaker.
Perhaps my favorite poem and the one mentioned by Charles Simic in the introduction, “Armful of Twigs, Dream,” exemplifies this idea of complicity.  The speaker carries an armful of twigs to a communal roasting of someone he can’t see, and “doesn’t know who is being/burnt alive or why” (5-6). This kind of involvement is evident in my poem, “I am Birdshit and Bits of Twine.” It is in one sense becoming the thing it detests while critiquing it. The speaker is BP, the speaker is the bird ingesting the oil. But what Tadic is able to do with this collection is much more refined. It is the difference between a pelican’s gawky plunge into the ocean to catch its prey, and the osprey who glides down feet first, snatches its prey and flies away all in one great swoop: Tadic naturally being the latter of the two.
Tadic’s speaker is tormented by the “Midnight Lady” who sits on his bed “as if it were her work table” (21). The poem offers the picture of a someone almost paralyzed by fear, reading the piece, one can almost taste the metal of fear in one’s mouth. It is true that the  end of Tadic’s poems may offer a kind of “silence” as Timothy Henry points out in Verse, but for this reader, at least, the silence is almost always pregnant with the possibility of violence. It will not be quiet for long. At the end of “Midnight Lady,” is the beginning of the horror.
This silence/violence dichotomy informs my poem, “Night Noise and Rabbit Twitch,” which was inspired by my reading of Dark Things. I am working on this idea of writing a collection on gender-based violence. “Night Noise” chronicles the terror of the victim who knows what’s coming and the inability to do anything about it save wait. There is no “gun to start a fire” nothing to defend against the predator at her door. She can struggle and fight, and will—but ultimately, I think the poem shows she will lose this battle. The speaker is left to the mercy of her tormentor, or as Tadic writes in “About the Knife,” “mercy walked away from me/now, quickly, you do the same” (10-11). There is no god of redemption, what is crucified in the poem “Soldiers Song” is “nothingness” (13).
Tadic’s speaker may identify himself as “god’s messenger” but after reading the collection one must ask, god of what? What this reader came away with is that there is true evil in the world. In “You are Mighty” a title reminiscent of something one might find in an Evangelical hymnal, the thing that had no motherly birth is also the thing that would rip out human flesh “with pliers” (10).
There is much beauty in Tadic’s poetry too, if one takes Keat’s notion of beauty into account. It is a world devoid of hope, a kind of existentialist dream filled with “bottom creatures and venomous stars” (“Hatred” 10).  I return to my 15th century woodcuttings and engravings. They are beautiful--even in the terror they evoke, and there’s no question these are responses to a Christian god of love. What the 15th century Europeans knew and what we sometimes forget in our shiny world of material things, is that the world is full of pain.  Tadic’s collection seems to posit that there just might be something out there keeping a record of whate we do and we will be punished—here or hereafter. The only hope present here is that of the existentialist—that there is nothing after, but I am not convinced this is Tadic’s message. Pain and suffering seems to be the norm here, not the exception. The final poem offers us “the Lord’s breath,” but this is not a rope from which we can climb aboard a boat safely, it just may very be the rope the lord of dark things will tie into a noose.
photo credit: Stewart Ferebee

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ways to Divert Rainwater

Ways to Divert Rainwater
First shellac your hat. 
Affix it with tubes attached
to your belt.  Take tea,
empty remaining tubes
and go walk in the rain.

Feel the mud suck at your
shoes.  Gravity slurps 
laces off,  tongues
flap out in cotton fields
riven by the rain.  

Build scaffolds for your shoes. 
Go inside, take tea, 
empty remaining tubes
and go walk in the rain.

Build your roof in the shape
of a funnel. Take a bath, bring in your 
purple octopus with the suction
cups.  Affix it to the side of the tub.
Perhaps some pink bubbles.

After you dry yourself,
wait for the sun’s
diagonal slant.  Consider 
thirty-eight proposals for steep slopes.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Ocean Dream #48

Ocean Dream #48

He came from the sea. His voice water, splash, spray, and crash, crash.
A lull sometimes when I’d swim on my back, legs out, arms out, starfish to his sparkle. I’d float in perfect balance when still, and then I’d dive into his lexicon. Small fish in jewel colors with intelligent eyes looked back at me, questioning. I was scared of a clown fish, swam away from it. It did not chase me as I thought.

            And then he’d speak from a mount of rocks, sea-glass words in blue, brown beer bottle glass, sometimes a broken shard from a perfume bottle that smelled of oyster shells. I’d often cut my feet on his words and get pinned in by the tide, wait on a rockery, watch condors fly with their absurd wings, wait for the ebb to dash back over to the sound’s mud. My footprints embroidered glyphs on rocks.

            He would leave me then with a few foamy words, green at the tips. I’d kayak over the wakes of this language. Sometimes I’d make it all the way in, but mostly I’d capsize, swallow salt water, cough up froth and spit and pant on the shore like some gill-less angel fish, mouth open sucking air. Then I’d wait for the storm he’d become, rainy words drizzled me and I sat in silence and listened. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Chronicles on Violence: The Congo Sequence

Eve Ensler and River
Dr. Denis Mukwege and River

Brandi Walker, me and my son
Chronicles on Violence: The Congo Poems with a forward by the author:

The following series of poems is for publication in an anthology of 18 word poems. Each of the eighteen poets is submitting 18 poems. My poems are a sequence based on gender-based violence--a cheerful topic I know, but one which needs much, much more discussion. I have previously published the first 10 or so pieces. Here is a sample from the section on the Democratic Republic of the Congo. One of my dearest friends, Brandi Walker (in above photo) works in the Congo against gender-based violence and volunteered at Panzi Hospital for 2 years. Two years ago I was fortunate enough to meet Dr. Denis Mukwege of Panzi hospital when he was out with Eve Ensler. This picture is of him and my son, and Eve with my son. He should win the Nobel Peace Prize for his work. Mark Cobley of Red Ceilings Press in the UK was kind enough to ask me to submit, check him out: The Red Ceilings. The anthology will be published by Knives, Forks and Spoons Press. For more information about the Congo please go to: Friends of the Congo

Chronicles on Violence: A Poem Sequence (con't)

Democratic Republic of the Congo I

So many shadows
the moon sharpens
into light.

Your body hard-packed
mud, against their
thrust and heave.

Democratic Republic of the Congo II

“They killed my brother
because he would not
have sex with me.”

No answer
in Swahili
or French.

Democratic Republic of the Congo III

Firewood bends her
to the child
of the soldier
who killed
her brother.

Here’s an X for him.


She paints
hours into
finch’s wings--
watches them float
in linseed oil.

her bed

on the

Monday, January 24, 2011

Poetry and English 1B 2011 Syllabus

Poetry Students click here for your syllabus, if you are in my English 1B class you must scroll down to the bottom of the page to find your syllabus, after the list of poetic terms and the picture of the sailboats on the bay.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

January in California

January in California

January’s daffodils are absurd.
The trees already bud with fall’s dead leaves
still clinging. The giant sycamore dwarfs
all the sweet gums in the neighborhood,
and these, our neighbors, never rake their yard,
a rebellion of sorts, brownie piles heave,
ruffle. Grasses choke asters under eaves,
oranges are suffocated by blue mold.
He and I pull, chop off, prune and collect:
Dandelions, crabgrass, henbit, hawkweed.
We will the dogwood to bloom and expect
The lemon to offer its first fruit.  Hands bleed--
blisters from the butterfly bush unchecked
by frostless winter, and spring at full speed.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Mother and Son at Creek with Small Dog

Mother and Son at Creek with Small Dog
Red-haired boy in pith helmet: “Shard of pottery forgotten by time. Draw me mom, draw a drawing of me.” Mother perched at edge of creek looks up from her reading.
            “Lookit this rock mom,” Walking through creek, stamps his feet on a sandbar, now wading over rocks into the sparkle and splash.
            “Lookit mom, something man made, whaddya suppose it is?” Ducks under a fallen tree, roots exposed like spokes.
            “Lookit this rock,” Throws it. Heavy splash, ripples percolate. Skips stone, 2 skips.
            “See, isn’t this such a good idea mom? Lookit this skipping stone, it’s practically perfect in every way.” Skips 3 times, then bends to creek, comes up.
            “Lookit this rock mom.”
Mother looks up says:
            “It’s leopard skinned.”
            “Way to be a poet. Hey! Got my first decent skip. Dog truffle hunts under Mother’s chair, nose sandy, snorts, digs. Splash, clack of two rocks, boy examining intently.
            “It’s really light too . . . lookit this one.” Creek eddies to the left, ferns sprout from the embankment.
            “Oh my god, lookit this mom, it’s quartz, it’s pink, are you writing this down? It’s pink. You’re such a writer.” Pause, boy ankle deep, contemplating rocks. Looks up.
I’m glad a lot of people don’t come to this creek, there’d be less treasures.”