Category: Literary Arts


“City of Fish” Poetry Chapbook (2015) by Chris Way

April 22nd, 2017

 

 
 
Hi all, my poetry chapbook “City of Fish”, which I published as a limited run paperback edition in 2015, is now available for order online here for just $11 (inc. free shipping).

City of Fish is a collection of 19 poems by Manhattan-based poet and musician Chris Way, with colored pencil & ink illustrations (including cover and back cover) by Brooklyn-based artist and writer Jonah Shore. The poems, composed between 2011 and 2013, range in tone from the visceral and immediate to the confessional, dreamlike, meditative, playful, and suffocating.

Way’s verse is anchored in vivid imagery & painted with a clear emotional line; complementing the text is Shore’s illustrations, which speak to and draw from the poetry with their rawness, simplicity, and symbology. The book itself is handsome, with saddle-stitched binding, silk-finish paper & felt-finish covers.

Other details:

Publication Date: February 2015
(4.375 x 7.25, 39pp, paperback)
 
 
 
For more of my poetry, click here.

[posted by: C Way at 10:10 AM]

[file under: poetry]
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Abandoned Storage Unit: Whirling Around

April 9th, 2017

 
 
 
 
ALT 
 
      (Some serving plate I found online on Polish shopping site)

 
 
 
     Hello snailers & crowers. Time for another whirled-up blend of crap, such is thee fun of the Abandoned Storage Unit.

     It’s a beautiful Sunday and the sill-cactus flowers are beginning to push up their sweet buds of lemon & fuchsia. People are blowing themselves up in two beautiful Coptic churches in Egypt. I just cooked two beautiful sweet potatoes until the peels began to sweet sugar. The depraved Brian Williams is yoking badly-understood Leonard Cohen lyrics to the “beautiful” sight of Tomahawk missiles launched toward Syria. I just steamed two beautiful heads of broccoli until they turned that delicious rich green.
 
 
                                                                           [* * * *] 
 
 
        The Fat Old Couple Whirling Around
        BY ROBERT BLY 
 
 
 
 
 
 
     What a poem, written in 2005, by the great Robert Bly. It encompasses all of life, it is stuck in the mud around your feet and it is up on a mountaintop watching the world burn and cool, green and die, burn and cool, green and die. Become a soul and go. But before you do: whirl, dance, sigh, rise, reach.
 
 
                                                                           [* * * *] 
 
 
 
 
ALT 
 
      C.W.L.
       UNTITLED, 2017

 
 
 
 
     Here is something my daughter made to celebrate Spring. I love how she draws faces. Our red front door is festooned with her bright flowery paintings and drawings and it makes me happy whenever I see it.
 
 
                                                                           [* * * *] 
 
 
 
 

 
 
     Here’s “meditations after shock therapy” by worm girl; discovered this lil gemstone on SoundCloud. I like the eroded ghost-reverbed vocals, the synth pads, the recessed drum machine beat. And the lyrics are strong, & exactly what they should be given the song’s title. The piece feels rough-hewn and tossed-off, but the attention to detail, the melody, the understated vocal delivery and pacing are anything but. This is a combination that always works for me in art, that feeling of casual paired with the obvious fruits of discipline, talent and skill. 
 
                                                                           [* * * *] 
 
 
 
     “A great work of art is like a dream. For all its apparent obviousness it does not explain itself and is never unequivocal. A dream never says: ‘You ought,’ or ‘This is the truth.’ It presents an image in much the same way as nature allows a plant to grow, and we must draw our own conclusions.” This is from Jung in his Modern Man in Search of a Soul (1933).

     This is not universal and simply reflects the Jung’s personal tastes. Any work of art can be mute and ambiguous; an art object’s ambiguity is no assurance of its worth. And there are great works of art that are unequivocal — say, “Guernica”, or Dylan’s “Masters of War” (war on the mind today folks, for good reason). They are blunt in their message and motive and that informs their power. Humans just can’t refrain from trying to sum up a phenomenon as complex and variable as art (across all its manifestations and media) in a pithy saying. We’re just addicted to trying to shortcut around the universe and tie it up quickly in language. We’re just wired to do it. We all do it. Geniuses down to fools, we all want to sum up our lives in a tidy bow. Why? It makes us feel we’re in control, we’ve mastered a Thing with an aphorism. We’ve learned it, known it, owned it. Can stuff it in a drawer and mothball it away; no further discussion needed. Such silliness, such transparent folly. But so fucking irresistible.
 
 
                                                                           [* * * *] 
 
 
 
     (click to zoom)
ALT 
 
      Pablo Picasso
       Le Crapaud, 1949
       Lithograph on Arches wove paper, 19.5 x 25.75 in.

 
 
 
 
     Be sure to zoom in on this friend, so many diablos deliciosos in the details. The frog’s little circly warts, its wee grumpy eyes, the Cubistic intersects of the hind legs and face, the flowing linework tying together its body and limbs, the effect of decorative little Christmas lights along its body, the impression of smudge and mud combined with modest, reluctant ornament. 
 
                                                                           [* * * *] 
 
 
 
    I just finished Cordelia Fine’s excellent book Testosterone Rex: Myths of Sex, Science and Society (2017, Norton). Before reading this book, I would have considered myself something of an essentialist when it comes to the sexes. I believed in sex differences in the brain and in the body, changes both prenatal and post-birth. And I believed these differences were permanent and inherent to humans and were directly responsible for different behavior in men and women everywhere, past present future.
    After Testosterone Rex, I still believe physiological sex differences exist. The science is clear. But I believe now they are just the starting point, and not an excuse for the gender gap. They are merely one factor among many in explaining why men and women do what they do, believe what they do, and think how they do. As Fine demonstrates, physiological differences between the sexes may or may not become amplified or nullified or nudged into being altogether depending on a whole galaxy of factors, not least of which are cultural, environmental, parental, marketing (especially marketing!) and institutional forces.
    In other words, there’s room for adjustment. There’s nothing hardwired in mens’ brains forcing them to forever be universally aggressive risk-tasking non-parenting and promiscuous. There’s nothing hardwired in women’s brains forcing them to forever be universally passive, cautious, caretaking and monogamy-seeking. There is astonishing variability in the animal and insect kingdom, as Fine exhaustively details, in how males and females of species behave sexually, and this can exist with humans too (and in many cases, as the research shows, already does). We’ve just grown accustomed, over the millenia, to a certain way for men and women to be, and we like it that way — that is to say, those in control, older white men, have always liked it that way (whether they realize it or not).
    The research seems to support the theses of Fine and so many other writers: it doesn’t have to be the way it’s always been. Men and womens’ physiological differences, says the research Fine exhaustively brings to bear, do not strongly correlate with massive differences in behavior and attitudes both sexual and non-sexual. In citation after citation, Fine shows compelling research that suggests the gender gap exists for far more complex reasons than the presence or absence of testosterone. This passage of Fine’s is crucial in understanding this point: “It’s true that we don’t, as a rule, tend to think that the scientific facts of nature dictate how things should be. Just because a scientist says that something is “natural” — like male aggression or rape — obviously doesn’t mean we have to condone, support or prescribe it. But that doesn’t mean that science has nothing to contribute to societal debates or aspirations. Although scientific claims don’t tell us how our society ought to be, that being the job of our values, they can give us strong hints as to how to fulfill those values, and what kind of arrangements are feasible. [...] rejecting the [view that gender gap problems are solely due to evolved sex differences, such as testosterone in men] doesn’t require denial of evolution, difference, or biology.”
    I also really like this passage by Dalhousie University philosopher Letitia Meynell, which Fine quotes in her book: “Biologically speaking, our actions and dispositions are developed and could have bee otherwise, given the right mix of developmental inputs at various points in our lives. If one wants to change the distribution of a given trait in a population, the task is not to overcome nature but to rearrange the developmental system.”
     If we want to address gender inequality, we have to abandon essentialism insofar as we lean on it to explain and justify and excuse perceived differences in how men and women think and act in and out of the bedroom. We have to accept malleability in terms of how the sexes develop. We have to stop framing issues in terms of “boys will be boys and girls will be girls.” We have to realize as a species we’re in control, not the hormones, the gametes, the glands, the gonads. Culture, society, developmental input from parents, media, religion, schooling, marketing those are the forces that take those inherent and verifiable biological differences that do exist between the sexes, and truly activate them and transform them into vast gaps and gulfs. Gulfs that become, over generations, seemingly impossible to cross. Seemingly. 
 
                                                                           [* * * *] 
 
 

MORE INFO:

For more information about Cordelia Fine’s Testosterone Rex, please check out The Guardian’s great review.

For more Robert Bly stuff, please check out his entry at the Poetry Foundation.

For more worm girl stuff, please check out Her Soundcloud page.

For more Picasso, please check out the Musée National Picasso (Paris).

[posted by: C Way at 1:04 PM]

[file under: ABANDONED STORAGE UNITS ||| Music ||| paintings/drawings ||| poetry]
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Poetry Review: ‘the lanyribth of ouyr minds’ by rin noglow (2014)

April 24th, 2015

 
 
 
lanyribth
 
 
 
 
     

"construct your own happiness
construct your own misery

i'm going to come over and spew blind LED light in the
formation of an American flag out of my mouth
and fix everything"
–from "should i walk on the outskirts of love, with nine claws"


 
 
     The above is from “the lanyribth of ouyr minds” (46 pp.), a collection of poems by rin noglow. This is a sensuous, meditative, sometimes unsettling, oblique sheaf of verse that will be many things to you. Sometimes it will be your fog foyer with ghost furniture and unplaceable murmurs, at other times your black screen in a dark room scrolling with teal ASCII characters and pixelated runes. At times a slow breathing in of blossoms in a rainwet japanese garden. Read it slowly and do not come with logic-bot whirring and clicking. Come with a floor pillow and some figs.    (Read More . . .)

[posted by: C Way at 9:02 PM]

[file under: poetry]
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Art of the Day: Poem – Wallace Stevens’ “Fabliau Of Florida”

January 19th, 2015

 
 
 

FABLIAU OF FLORIDA
   Wallace Stevens

 
Barque of phosphor
On the palmy beach,
 
Move outward into heaven,
Into the alabasters
And night blues.
 
Foam and cloud are one.
Sultry moon-monsters
Are dissolving.
 
Fill your black hull
With white moonlight.
 
There will never be an end
To this droning of the surf.
 
 
 
 
 
      I’m surprised I’ve never posted any Stevens here. It’s taken me decades to be at ease with him. To not struggle with him. To just relax in language with him, enjoy his wit and play. When you do that, the rest of him blooms: his works’ spirituality, their unmistakable gnomic presence & impact… many poets are riddlers, but the riddling way Stevens blends slyness, humor, the archaic & the eternal in such a potent way is so attractive & valuable to me.
      I love this poem for too many reasons to list. Let’s start with this: Beaches at night are holy places for me, it’s where the material plane and the world-behind-the-world can merge. Beaches in general are portals. This poem captures some of that heady liminal energy, beautifully so, which taps me down to the roots.
      But there’s something else here that adds another richness to the work for me. The archaisms — “barque”, “phosphor”, “fabliau” — terms like these are always a little quaint and oddly transporting for me in Stevens — they root this ephemeral meditation in the material plane. That last term in particular: it’s important to note that a “fabliau” is, typically, a bawdy metrical tale, particular to early French poetry. I love this about Stevens, how he keeps you off-balance with some bit of semantic dissonance like this. Because “fabliau” undercuts what reads like a haunting, overt meditation on the eternal with a suggestion of something much more profane… night-beach sex maybe? Or just a sexualization of outjutting land meeting sea meeting foam meeting moonlight meeting night? Which itself isn’t so profane after all, but begins to sound instead like a kind of erotic mysticism, a paean to the principle of eros inherent in all creation. Which then leads to the questions: What’s profane, what’s mystical? What’s bawdy, what’s aether?
      Everything, everything, everything. Listen to the ocean’s roar, close your eyes, mix everything together and sing.
 
 

MORE INFO:

For more information about Stevens, please check out poetryfoundation.org’s bio of him.

[posted by: C Way at 11:03 PM]

[file under: ART OF THE DAY ||| Literary Arts ||| poetry]
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September 20th, 2014

 
 
 
Today I just want to post, sans commentary (for once), this visionary, beautiful poem sent to me by my friend over at mosssleeper.tumblr.com:
 
 


Salamander
by Octavio Paz

 

Salamander
(the fire wears
black armor)
a slow-burning stove
between the jaws
-marble or brick-
of the chimney it is
an ecstatic tortoise, a crouched
Japanese warrior:
whatever it is, martyrdom
is repose
impassive under torture

 
Salamander
ancient name of fire
and ancient
antidote to fire
flayed sole of the foot
on hot coals
amianthus amante amianthus

 
Salamander
in the abstract city between
dizzy geometries
-glass cement stone iron-
formidable chimeras appear
raised up by calculus
multiplies by profit
by the side of the anonymous wall
sudden poppy

 
Salamander
Yellow claw a scrawl
of red letters on a
wall of salt
Claw of sunlight
on a heap of bones

 
Salamander
fallen star
in the endlessness of bloodstained opal
ensepulchred
beneath eyelids of quartz
lost girl
in tunnels of onyx
in the circles of basalt
buried seed
grain of energy
in the marrow of granite

 
Salamander, you who lay dynamite in iron’s
black and blue breast
you explode like a sun
you open yourself like a wound
you speak
as a fountain speaks

 
Salamander
blade of wheat
daughter of fire
spirit of fire
condensation of blood
sublimation of blood
evaporation of blood

 
Salamander of air
the rock is flame
the flame is smoke
red vapor
straight-rising prayer
lofty word of praise
exclamation
crown
of fire on the head of the psalm
scarlet queen
(and girl with purple stockings
running disheveled through the woods)

 
Salamander, you are
silent, the
black consoler of sulfur tears
(One wet summer I heard
the vibration of your
cylindrical tail
between lose tiles of a
dead-calm moonlit patio)

 
Caucasian salamander
in the rock’s
cindery shoulder appears
and disappears
a brief black tongue
flecked with saffron

 
Black and brilliant creature
the moss
quivers
you devour
insects
diminutive herald of the rain-shower
familiar spirit of the lightning
(Internal fecundation
oviparious reproduction
the young live in the water
once adult they swim sluggishly)

 
Salamander
Hanging bridge between eras
bridge of cold blood
axis of movement
(The changes in the alpine species
the most slender of all
take place in the mother’s womb
Of all the tiny eggs no more than two mature
and until they hatch
the embryos are nourished on a broth
composed of the doughy mass of their aborted brother-eggs)

 
The Spanish Salamander
black and red mountaineer

 
The sun nailed to the sky’s center does not throb
does not breathe
life does not commence with out blood
without the embers of sacrifice
the wheel of days does not revolve
Xolotl refuses to consume himself
he hid himself in the corn but they found him
he hid himself in the maguey but they found him
he fell into the water and became the fish axolotl
the Double-Being
‘and then they killed him’
Movement began, the world was set in motion
the procession of dates and names
Xolotl the dog, guide to Hell
he who dug up the bones of the fathers
he who cooked the bones in a pot
he who lit the fire of the years
the maker of men
Xolotl the penitent
the burst eye that weeps for us
Xolotl
larva of the butterfly
double of the Star
sea-shell
other face of the Lord of Dawn
Xolotl the axolotl

 
Salamander
solar arrow
lamp of the moon
column of noonday
name of woman
scales of night
(The infinite weight of light
a half-drachm on your eyelashes)

 
Salamander
back flame
sunflower
you yourself in the sun
the moon
turning for ever around you
pomegranate that bursts itself open each night
fixed star on the brow of the sky
and beat of the sea and the stilled light
open mind above the
two-and-fro of the sea

 
The star-lizard, salamandria
saurian scarcely eight centimeters long
lives in crevices and is the color of dust

 
Salamander of earth and water
green stone in the mouth of the dead
stone of incarnation
stone of fire
sweat of the earth
salt flaming and scorching
salt of destruction and
mask of lime that consumes the face

 
Salamander of air and fire
wasp’s nest of suns
red word of beginning

 
The salamander
a lizard
her tongue ends in a dart
her tail ends in a dart
She is unhissable She is unsayable
she rests upon hot coals
queens it over firebrands
If she carves herself in the flame
she burns her monument
Fire is her passion, her patience

 
Salamander Salamater

(Translated by Denise Levertov)
 
 
 
 
 
 

MORE INFO:

For more information about Octavio Paz, please check out poetryfoundation.org’s bio of him.

For more about salamanders, I can’t seem to find anything as comprehensive as this wikipedia page.

[posted by: C Way at 12:18 PM]

[file under: ART OF THE DAY ||| Literary Arts ||| poetry]
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