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Jennifer Bartlett
's Autobiography/Anti-Autobiography

What is ‘my lot’ ? What’s in ‘a lot’ ? Thrash round & Curse my Maker—why not ? Or lay the whole circumstance out, exactly as it has been experienced, & may need to be said to be . . . because the words are ‘different’ but the Same as all that, & the humans are here (only (?)) to Tell the Life Story (so that ‘That’ may come into existence & dwell ‘in the flesh’, at least temporarily (!)) . . . because God is Jealous of all the Fun we’re having down here below, & has elected to ‘join the fray’, the holy maiden Jennifer Bartlett was born !

Jennifer Bartlett ‘makes the case’/ testifies to all the actual crap that being born with cerebral palsy entitles her to experience, and what life has been like/is like in contemporary America for her—given her lot—and then, in the second part of the book (‘despite the facts’) turns round and Celebrates Her Existence anyway: “AWAY WITH ALL THAT !” she cries, petulantly and determinatively (waves her arm), and devotes the ‘other half of the book’ to her ordinary interested investigations/explorations of what is going on & necessary in her daily life in Brooklyn/New York, as if she were a real/actual/‘extraordinary’sentient being (like everybody in a body) determined to ‘understand’ and attempt to ‘know the whole of it’/what each can know from the ‘absolute perspective’ of each one’s own organism:

Into the Tumult ! !

Into which each has been ‘thrown’—but then, how/what to say to/of it (including love poems, if it comes to that, for some other mortal/human) . . . is articulated here admirably, beginning to end !

a movement spastic
and unwieldy

is its own lyric

Well, for god’s sake, of course it is ! Because of her . . . ! (She dood it, &/or She’s done it ! !) Which these poems demonstrate and prove.

Robert Grenier
June 23, 2014

Jane Joritz-Nakagawa's Distant Landscapes

From notational forward, Jane Joritz-Nakagawa’s poetry has moved to a place in which the territory between poem and book have blurred, even as the writing and Joritz-Nakagawa’s perceptions have sharpened. Distant Landscapes demonstrates the deep and entirely pleasurable presences that become possible in this middle terrain. At core, Joritz-Nakagawa is more a descriptive poet, but without the austerity that so often accompanies that aesthetic, than a metaphoric one. My favorite moments – there are many – come when she builds a rapid fire linkage of seeming opposites into larger structures that feel deeply inevitable, like life itself. This is an excellent text to share with a lover in bed, or take with you for a walk in the forest.

Ron Silliman

Distant Landscapes is a work of surprising feeling notated in rhythmic percepts. In these landscapes, the body changes, shrinks, explodes, returns. Joritz-Nakagawa’s recent book crystallizes her paratactic, phenomenological method into reverberative textual loci of experience that I find immersive and thrilling. “bumper crop / happen stance” – it’s expressions like these that mark Joritz-Nakagawa as a radical pointillist in poetry, but so often replacing the visual with an eternal collision of being with time, the text pixel merging in mutual transformation with phenomena, regarded in a zig-zagging, but intimate, poetic style.

Corey Wakeling

Woman, forest, mountains, tree, rabbit, owl. Woman “marries the tree but [has] sex with the river.” The elements of her isolation redound and repeat, suggesting narratives and then taking them away. Both tree and woman write verse. But even in this wood, “civilized” world intrudes: “another beheading / another beheading,” and the poet cannot separate forest from city streets. “Isolating oneself in the mountains as I sometimes do is political (maybe a lot of “emptying out” occurs there for me!) as is returning to the city (it’s not a flight from people exactly that brings me to the mountains but a flight from the commodification of cities I suppose though I need space to think) for me.” There is nowhere to rest on this pendulum, one Joritz-Nakagawa describes so well. So hang on to a near branch and read!

Susan M. Schultz

In Flux, Jane Joritz-Nakagawa plunges straight in to a dense monologue prompted by the absence of various postcards that are lost, never written, never sent, forgotten, refused by a post office because of profanity, illegibly addressed and even a postcard swept away in a typhoon. The variety of form that follows the prose opening is breathtaking . . . its huge flood of imagery, ingenious observation, thought and feeling . . . is also always mindful. In Flux there is no separation between mind/poem/world or society/body/biota --the poems’ flow is inclusive throughout . . . .

There is a kind of purge that occurs towards the end of the book in a series of accounts of sexual encounters, some of which are extreme, violent, nightmarish and ugly – the destructive things that women experience. The dystopia of the poem reaches an apogee . . . [and] culminates in a slower, sad and beautiful set of tercets that seem to gather the debris after the storm . . . a little later this extraordinary book ends – once a lake a simple knot for a fluttering day is creased [in wildblacklake] Jane Joritz-Nakagawa's precise imagery and knowing understatement provides an antidote to the defective. Jane leaves interpretation open to the reader. I never know whether this lake – “weird black lake / territorial mimesis / exterior milieu / dialectic protection” – is actual or metaphoric but it doesn’t matter. The poem can be imagined as set literally lakeside, perhaps at a forested retreat and, although cognizant of crisis, it connects the reader to a protective space or anodyne state of being. She makes meaning via graceful minimalism in the face of a decayed world altered by human activity – “elegant bird / under automobile tires / replying eagerly / a sun sinks”. But there is no natural solution here – “smoothing of space / millions of morals / womb for words / see enclosed brochure”.

Review by Pam Brown, in Plumwood Mountain

Eileen R. Tabios
' The Awakening

The Awakening, with its titular gesture boldly troping on Kate Chopin, features Eileen Tabios' "Seance with William Carlos Willlams," one of the most powerfully feminist poems of her career.             – Thomas Fink

From Tom Beckett's review in L'amour Fou:

Earlier today I read Eileen Tabios' latest book The Awakening in 4 gulps. 4 gulps with breaks in between for thoughtful chewing and a little mental flossing. . . . As you may have guessed, The Awakening is comprised of 4 parts: 3 long poems and a brief fragment on Ms Tabios' poetics. . . . Each piece of the book is substantial and deserving of sustained attention but I want to focus here on the lead-off piece, a twenty page poem called "The Erotic Life of Art: A Séance With William Carlos Williams.” . . . “The Erotic Life of Art” is a marvelous meditation on art, artists and sex. Its cast of characters is large and its range of reference is wide. Van Gogh, Gauguin, Michelangelo, Pope Julius II, Da Vinci, Cellini, Dr. Williams, Titian, Jose Garcia Villa, Rembrandt, Li-Young Lee, Goya, Rodin, Delacroix, Jackson Pollock, Rimbaud, Wayne Thiebaud, Renoir, Seurat, Madeleine Knobloch (Seurat’s mistress who was anonymous until after his death), Tabios’ husband, Degas, Ezra Pound, Gainsborough, John Ruskin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, Modigliani, Eluard, Duchamp, the Baroness, Dali, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and others constellate in its pages. . . . “The Erotic Life of Art” is a long associative poem of quick shifts, but there is nothing gratuitous about it. It’s incisive, sometimes humorous, and it bristles with energy and intelligence. . . . “The Erotic Life of Art” is an extraordinary vortex of concerns, an impeccable “Pow-em.” I would encourage you to enter it and linger as long as you can.

                                                            Read the full review here: L'amour Fou.

Excerpt from Grady Harp's review "Eileen R. Tabios and the creation of communication" in Goodreads:

Anyone familiar with the rather enormous output of poetry and experimentation written communication and style will have an idea of what to expect in this newest publication THE AWAKENING. But then again, not necessarily, because every time Tabios sets her mind to a new project, something unique happens. This collection of works is a collection the three long poems very long poems yet their length does not seem in the least a testing format. The poetry here is almost stream of consciousness in style, so idly rambling are her thoughts yet at the same time so tightly cohesive that when you reach the end of one of these pomes the feeling of settling recognition of a thought occurs.

                                                             Read the full review here: "The Awakening by Eileen Tabios."

Excerpt from Joey Madia's review at Literary Aficionado:

In The Awakening, we get a little bit of lots of things, so if you’ve yet to read Eileen’s work, this is an excellent place to start. In less than 60 pages, she gives us a long poem on the sexual (mis)adventures of some of history’s best-known painters, as framed through the medical work of the poet and MD William Carlos Williams. We then move on to an offering of emails sent and received on September 11, 2001, that dark and obliterating day, interwoven with lyrics from “Moon Over Paris.” “The Awakening of A” is a hay(na)ku about colonialism throughout the world – a theme that Tabios has been de- and reconstructing throughout her many works. These three pieces, lest we think them intended to be seen as truly separate, are presented as a Triptych. Last is an excerpt from a Presentation she gave on the Filipino diaspora at a poetics conference in San Francisco just a few months ago. Each piece is so unique, and yet the overarching themes of the importance of poetry and the active role of the reader weave each of the four together.

                                                             Read the full review here:Of Painters and Planes and Poems.”

From Edric Mesmer's review in Yellow Field, #7:

Four meditations: spoofing on and getting off the modernist obsession with erotic contagion; dispatches from 9/11 for the poem that refuses to be written; the kaleidoscopic universality of pain as it dejectedly finds representation; a consideration of artwork by Filipino-American artist jenifer k. wofford. All these seeding our inheritances. The syphilitic metonym for a sexually-driven modernism is mirthful in its moves between hard-line phallocentrism and a lyrically-loaded vocab: “When I wish to soar from / the surface of words, I do not think of ‘Ezra Pound,’ // ‘penis,’ or ‘anus.’ I think of azure, kimono, aprocito, / adobe, Angkor Wat, magenta, anvil, silver moth …” From here there is a concentrated shift from the literarily investigative to the poetry of witness. Emails from September 2001 (incidentally, the author’s birthday) cohere in an antipoetic missive of community, synthesizing pathos. Ultimately, the collection must look at that which does not easily bear witness, as the many atrocities of modern poverty configure a media that cannot be or will not be televised. The poem becomes that televisionary channel-surfing: “… American press don’t buy these kinds of pictures. / Other countries do.’)” bleeds stringently back into triadic line. “Who determines what / leaves us / speechless? // Who—there is / a Who!— / determines // what’s allowed?”


John Roche's Road Ghosts

An unexpected treasure, Road Ghosts, is an on-the-ground poetic document of radicalized students coming of age in the late '60s & early '70s. Its clarity of external & internal detail is often startling. Its detached camera eye lucidly documents the process of portent, pretense & Utopian fervor associated with that brief opening in U.S. dissident cultures & the generational clashes inspired by idealism, psychedelics, & quest fever. It's a profound personal essay on being & becoming.              David Meltzer

John Roche's Road Ghosts . . . well, I've never in my life been so vividly time-travelled through the rough and ready scenes of recent U.S. history. Evocation like no one else has ever done, you're there, Philadelphia, Albuquerque, Berkeley New York . . . all centered around the agonies of contemporary U.S. cultural – personal – survival: "It’s a week since the Wall came tumbling down / a week since Chicago became the First City / a week since Harlem became Camelot / a week since Kenya became our 51st state / a week since Hawaii became the Real America / a week since we’re not in Kansas anymore / But we’re still waiting for Joe the Poet / waiting for his secret sign and saving word." ("Joe the Poet"). What we have here is a re-creation of real America in real time, no messing around with style-games like most contemporary poets, but right between the eyes, almost like an overview film of the last 50-60 years of U.S. agony-culture-history.    – Hugh Fox

After reading John Roche’s Road Ghosts I entertained some wistful thoughts that contemporary younger people might use this book of poetic beatitude as an “owner’s manual.” These poems are not merely physical road trips taken by the poet past, but also the profound spirit journey accompanying his being “on the road.” Roche’s poetry embodies the mythic dimensions of America, a surreal country of violent confusions yet also sublime courage and vision especially alchemized in 1960s and 1970s crucible. Roche’s voice is one of true decency, dream, kindness and humor, and it was sheer Owsley Sunshine hanging out with this bard’s road ghosts. Beautiful is his poetry’s sheen and in these hard times I recommend hitching a ride with its light.               – Susan Deer Cloud

From G. E. Schwartz's "A point of view where there are no voiceless people," in Jacket:

John Roche speaks to the ghosts of the road he traveled as a teenage runaway in the early seventies. He rescues their stories, recounts their lives. And, for his unwavering stance as a critic of social and economic injustice, this American poet hitchhiked, tasted Southern “hospitality,” was jailed, held the magic wand, read Yeats by firelight, revisited Route 66, sang the song of the wandering Owlsley, departed El Dorado, and passed over the Rainbow Bridge with psychotropic colors.

In his new book of poems, Road Ghosts, the concerns of those times are on full display: the way the powerful trample the powerless, multinational corporations upending the less privileged, and political thugs erasing history and pesky citizens. Roche, at times, can be described as a magical radical — one half reason, one half passion, and a third half mystery. Blending memoir with political analysis, taletelling with cultural critique, he writes all these things and more, making that part of OUR history all the more writ large.

                                                  Read the full review here:

I have also been meaning to write you about Road Ghosts. I think what I found most engaging, aside from your indelible language, is how it expressed and compressed the rawness of that time through a very personal lens – the confusion and desperate idealism. Searching for the right while trying to oppose what was wrong – it was all mixed together in dust and sunlight, just like that. The description of looting the rifle and the guy who took it from your hands and threw it in the river during the riot is deft and very moving (for me the pivot of the book), as are so many other parts. The song lyrics that surface like a background radio throughout really keyed me in . . . .

It is a wonderful piece of work, John – William Cochran

I received the copy of Road Ghosts. Even though I read it in manuscript, somehow it seems more impressive as a bound and printed collection, with the neat cover. Publication produces some kind of transformation, more than a material one. Michael Kearns has a good book, Writing for the Street, Writing in the Garret: Melville, Dickinson, and Private Publication, and he argues that Melville and Dickinson rejected such a transformation—in a sense rejecting the marketplace to produce a kind of symbolic capital (he grounds his argument in Pierre Bourdieu). I think he’s right about the 19th century, but poetry in the 21st belongs in communities, a kind of anti-capital space (thankfully). The publication of Road Ghosts enriches the community, of poetry as a counter-memory. In a sense, what you (the hero of the journey) is looking for in the collection, both physically and figuratively, is realized in the publication of the book. And, I appreciate the acknowledgments you gave me. – Randy Prus

I sat down and read Road Ghosts cover this morning and am tremendously impressed with it – you should surely be extremely proud of having put it all together. The first half was very nostalgic, but also incredibly frightening of how fragile we all were "back then" without realizing it. Your penultimate poem with "(skip the hard drugs)" says it all. I have recommended the book to friends old and young across the country. I hope they take me up on buying it!

Thanks for writing it – it truly must have been difficult! I am glad you have been on Mt. Rainier on a clear
day and also at Mt. St. Helens. Rainier is my mountain – my Carlos Castaneda power spot, although I
don't mind sharing it with the National Park Service and tourists. Any summer I don't get back to it leaves
me unfulfilled.     – Stanley McKenzie, former Provost of Rochester Institute of Technology and Professor Emeritus

Hi John,

I am a friend of Margaret Randall's and edit a poetry series on an Albuquerque website called
Duke City Fix
. The Sunday Poem
features local poets or poems about Albuquerque. Margaret
dropped off a copy of your Road Ghosts and I would love to feature a poem or two from the
Albuquerque Burning segment.     – Jon Knudsen, The Ditch Rider

JOHN YOUR BOOK IS SO AWESOME. It's just the coolest freakin road book ever, it's like a memoir in poems of a particular time and place and the poems read beautifully outloud.

Miss you, Keep rolling out the truths my grand bard of the glorious road.     – Sean Thomas Doughtery

Just finished your book, as the psychadelic radio show was starting on RUR, started reading during the blues show and read right on thru the grateful dead hour, drinking Harpoon celtic ale (switched to Ginger tea around page 59) couldn't put it down. Damn best poetry collection I have read in years. Brought back those days, though they ain't really gone as long as some of us are still writing poems like the ones you wrote! My hat's off to you, what else can I say, but Keep on truckin'.   – Mike Ketchek

And here's for the poet
who really thinks liberation means he can go
anywhere without clothes, radiant in the checkout aisle.      
                               – Richard Lopez, from Really Bad Movies

From Alan Casline of Rootdrinker magazine:

Road Ghosts arrived from Tills yesterday. My head is still spinning as I read it cover to cover last night. I had not seen before how the earlier trips led into the ones Rootdrinker had a hand in publishing. To me you come across as a spiritual seeker meeting devil & angel face of yourself in humanity writ small and large. I existed on a similar level sleeping bag above a ditch, cop hassles and arrest for hitch-hiking, rides you prayed you'd escape from although an era not imprinted with evil heroes like today's pop culture/tv every night so the fear level seemed manageable. I find the idea that the poetry which seemed like a form of record keeping became the purpose and the life factor that it is. The mature poems leave room for the fox and gentle relationships.

Later, Bird cooking up something

Stephen Ellis's O P U L E N C E

Like Olson on steroids! In this “pre-toxic frenzy of Dionysian inhalation,” Ellis breaks out of the chains of limiting categories, where all knowledge and experience is free to roam where it will – “knowledge thus a scattering of language.” Ellis’ poetry leaves postmodern surface way behind, bringing us a poetry of unlimited height and depth; unlimited dimensionality.         – Eric Selland

Tempered, perhaps, but unrestrained, with all that reading on his tongue, and the patience that comes from learning that defeat is durable, Ellis' poems treat of evidence that victory opens only when declared. These sonnets - clear about their debt to Jack Clarke - still certify the divergent passions of master and student. Clarke’s concerns are epic, while Ellis is all about eros, the love set to its sense, the hours of touch and solitude, the clarity of specific spaces his constant theme. To be clear in these variations yet constant to the gliding phantom of their underlying base, remarks of a deft hand, given that the periodic unit here is line over grammar. While he treats of simple thought and homeliness, he is equally didactic, discursive, encyclopedic, and one honey-tongued mother fucker. We are
lucky to have him.   – Brian Richards, Bloody Twin Press

From John Clarke’s majestically feathered seminal plenitude in mythopoesis, Stephen Ellis has mastered how to make the heavenly headdress for the gut-driven divining rod which points with Opulence¬ toward the starry brilliance of a soul ever-ready to hang the next poem with Jackal and Jill in the achy breaky Hall of the Double Truth.      – Kenneth Warren, House Organ

From Allen Bramhall's "O P U L E N C E by Stephen Ellis," in Galatea Resurrects, #15:

I see the influence of Charles Olson in Stephen's work. I am sure Stephen will accept the fact of that influence, tho he might cite other writers as well. I myself am much taken by Olson, and am heartened to see some use made of the crazy man from Gloucester's ideas. Can we say that Olson had a paleolithic politics? I mean the polis he wrote of derived from a history of darkness from which our genetics sprung. Stephen writes within that political unity. It is a writing of febrile impact, however coolly he states the positions. . . . With Stephen's work, thought persistently discharges provocation, language angles, and something new finds a way out. Creative problem solving! This is energy transfer, and a good thing. Clampitt seems to be stuck in mere simulation. That is called stones in the passway. . . . The lesson I got from Olson, most of all, concerns the matter of poetry. That poetry arises out of science, and history, and politics: the human condition. It is not a rarefied adjunct to better ways of spending your time but a philosophic possibility and implement. Stephen, I think, in his registered political complex, would agree. At any rate, a ferocious political calculation propels his writing. . . . I will serve a nod towards Steve Tills, whose Theenk Books produced this book. He's on his toes. I recommend this book as a positive program. It kicks out the jams. Those jams need kicking out.

Read the full review here: Galatea Resurrects.

Steven Farmer's

Is the word “glow” now permanently ominous? What is the future of aesthetic enchantment in the society of the spectacle? In a book where poems become exploding dandelion heads of the spreadsheet and situation room, Steve Farmer radically estranges us from our present as if it were the future’s past. Glowball est a praeclarus quod perago libri.     – Sianne Ngai

Hey there “data clump!” Yeah, you with that “digital plant” on your desk, get down from your “general behavior (box)”, “lifelong debt” is “bio triggering”! Comparison shopping operates at the neuronal level; synaptic plasticity in language spores “eternally logged in.” Back away from your “colluder tool”! Corporeal logos or corporate logo, we know ourselves in “metered waves,” “bank cabbage,” computational biology. Not to get poetic but the “CSI beach” pounds just beyond this “military hedge”; Target is retail experience and war, “deployment occurs at scented intervals”. In Glowball, Steve Farmer infiltrates the “technical staff of Accepted Sanctuaries of Respite & Commonality” and is deftly “handling drafts of the design.” He reminds us that login itself is a “content affirmation exercise,” that we are “liquid data” experiencing “ijoy” “in beta”. “You have (taken) my dream face.” Save your “fictive depth” for someone who hasn’t read this book. Then grab your “inner media” (and all of Farmer’s books) and head for the hills.      – Yedda Morrison

Farmer is one of those writers who just don't get published enough, for often when I look at current events I long to find out what Steve Farmer's take on it will be, and then ten years later, in a book like glowball, it's still the news that makes news. He is always inventive, and his long poems have a shapely quality to them denied to some of his peers. Even in a traditional attraction such as the metaphor, his are exceedingly gorgeous: I like the "greater Los Angeles area" as a "manuscript in a parking lot." You can tell he takes the long view: the cover is a Robert Fisk photo of US bomb activity in Iraq, and makes it seem like the "return to immensity" nasty old George Bataille was cheerleading for in his cold-war take on de Sade. Well, a sort of jewel box awaits you, courtesy of Palmyra, New York, and its mighty little theenk Books, and when you read glowball, that it came from Palmyra will seem so apropos.     – Kevin Killian, in Third Factory

From T. C. Marshall's double-cool review "SOME MATH by BILL LUOMA and GLOWBALL by STEVEN FARMER" in Galatea Resurrects, #18:

                  Glowball by Steven Farmer
                  (theenk, Palmyra, New York, 2010)


                  Some Math by Bill Luoma
                  (Kenning Editions, 2011)

Both of these books had me thinking of the wit and wisdom of my 4-yr-old grandson Brendan. That’s a compliment from Grampa Tom, a high one with happy laughter sprinkled all over it. B-Boy likes to shift contexts by adding words to word strings and sometimes non-words too. He says, “Cookie batter” for instance. I say “Cookie batter Orestes ‘Minnie’ Minoso,” and he says “Cookie batter Minnie Mouse Minoso flopgully”; so I add “in today’s trading,” and we collapse together in laughter because even he has heard that phrase from the TV. It’s a way of getting to know each other and sharing a little joke on the world.

Steve Farmer and Bill Luoma have known each other since at least those days at UCSD when Ron Silliman came to town and shifted quite a few perspectives. Steve Farmer was the first poet I ever heard to claim “post language” status. Luoma was off and running already in that direction. These two most recent books of theirs show many directions post-Language concerns can take or make to share a little serious joking.

                                                                               Read the full review here: Galatea Resurrects.

From Mark Wallace's review at Thinking Again:

Hardcore afficionados of poetry that stretches the materiality of language in surprising ways will love Steven Farmer’s glowball, and everybody else should read it too for the challenges it offers to overly conventional uses of language and for its insights into contemporary globalist capitalism. glowball features five poetic sequences, each quite different, but all of which interrogate how conditions of language can both reveal sociopolitical conditions and enmesh people in them...

                                                                                Read the full review here: Thinking Again.

Steve Tills's Rugh Stuff

The orchestration of Rugh Stuff amazes me: in terms of the music of highly allusive, multiple voicings, as well as in conceptualization, it is an extended poem of meta engagement. Ostensibly what could appear a trivial framework - the game of golf - instead becomes a viable poetic platform, morphing continually, becoming a guide to daily life, a cause for inner dialectic, a comic song, a sea change, a ruse, a critical perspective, all in one. Rugh Stuff picks up where the classic, hilarious comedy of love and golf, There’s Something about Mary, leaves off, in that the poetry everywhere rings clear, is poised with a vulnerability just shy of self-knowing, and in so doing, offers the extra dry in humor and martinis - yet is always full of soberingly tender force. One master achievement here is that the dialogic streams of intertwining multiple voices sustain a balanced sense of continued interplay, and at such length. Anyone who’s attempted to create such a project knows how difficult it is to sustain the interplay at length. In that, Steve Tills’s Rugh Stuff becomes a maximally sustained repartee between people and language - all of it talking back continually to the sand traps of mere self interest and over-indulgent western ways. What I have to say next makes of tribute a contention but this must be recognized: this book ranges widely in the western literary tradition - reading it I was reminded over and over of nothing less than the best of prickly Shakespearean comedy, as full of double entendre about the sexual frisson of life and language, as any Much Ado, or happily sassy, untamed Shrew. Rugh Stuff is just that entertainingly and artfully done.      
                                                                                                                  – Chris Murray, University of Texas at Arlington

Working his way through the rough stuff of word/sound magic – front nine, back nine, nineteenth
hole and dance floor – Tills has talleyed “almost all sublime numbers” in this book of life on the
greens, the poem that Ben, Arnold, Jack, and Tiger never knew they’d been missing – “Ah, just tap on it, Mate.”      – Stephen Ratcliffe

An excerpt from G. E. Schwartz's review "Golf Poetry," in Jacket #37:

Tills’ poetry is pastoral, but cup-up, darting from moment to moment (l e i s u r e l y) in a way that might seem at first to preclude the transcendental, coherence and raucous, a laid back mix of idioms as pungent as anything coming from the void. Using a battery of devices, he makes the familiar in golf poetry. To the ear attuned to traditional forms (of poetry, golf) this is poetry of nose-thumbing chaos. But get used to it and it opens up like all the greens before you. This is a new kind of composition, and it not only demands a new kind of reading but also implies a new set of aesthetic, theoretical, philosophical and even political attitudes. . . . The success of Rugh Stuff is an estrangening of our common situations. By employing this and deliberately behaving different than expected – decontextualizing – this book makes visible a locally produced, but hidden paraphrase of everyday. This set of poems transforms how we know and experience our way in the world well beyond the greens and sand-traps of the course.             

Read the full review here: Jacket Magazine.

An excerpt from Sara Sarai's "Beckett on a Golf Course," in My 3,000 Loving Arms:

Steve Tills is done with the tedious. Rugh Stuff is not his first book of poetry – there are two preceding this – but it is, as he writes in his bio note, his "first book of poetry written in a foreign language." As Tills knows, the language-of-the-everyday can be a tedious (his word) English, and Rugh Stuff is anything but tedious. . . . This poetry collection is original, demanding and playful. Title and references are to golf, a sport about which I know nothing more than Scotland, Arnold Palmer, Tiger Woods; and to watch it on television is anesthetic and sleep inducing. But in combining two lifelong loves – golf and poetry – Tills lets go of his "own most tedious poming [sic] over the years"and allows us to witness his breaking through the [tedium of] self to the place where something else new and alive happens.     
                                                           Read the full review here: My 3,000 Loving Arms.

From Jim McCrary's "Rugh Stuff by Steve Tills," in Galatea Resurrects, #13:

Tills is one of the funniest poets alive today….and there are a lot of funny poets around….that is a good thing. To write the perfect mix of golf, poetry, textual swing and not once give up and walk away is a great accomplishment.                   

                                                                                     Read the full review here: Galatea Resurrects.

From Jee Leong Koh's review in Goodreads:

This is not so much a review as a response, since I am not a golf player and do not understand the sport argot that constitutes the material, metaphor and metaphysics of this ambitious book of poems. Reading this stream of mostly short, untitled poems, I am the small animal that leaps from floating log to floating log, finding a slippery hold on some comprehensible utterance before the water's momentum carries me forward again. The run is not only desperate, it is also thrilling. For despite the poem's obscurities to this reader the complex orchestration of voices, syntax, and lineation is extremely compelling, and I read the book from beginning to end with a rush of excitement. . . . If these poems adhere to William Carlos Williams' preference for an American idiom, they also draw strength from e. e. cumming's playfulness with typography, radical linebreaks, punctuation, and the use of one part of speech for another. I hear in the repeated appearances of a character called "Stetson" an allusion to T. S. Eliot. Seen from this angle, the Waste Land is transformed into a golf course, a bathetic change, perhaps, but one determined to show that the same angst exists in the relatively rarefied air of the golf club. Instead of seeking an ascetic discipline, as in the end of "The Waste Land," Steve Tills tries for the perfection of a swing, while knowing that perfection is not possible, not even desirable, perhaps.               

                                                                                    Read the full review here: Song of a Reformed Headhunter.

Steve Tills' Behave (Richard Denner's dPress Books, Sebastopol, 2004)

To someone like myself, who seriously believes that poetry should be funny even when it’s being serious, who believes that words should be trifled with, truffled with, trod upon, sat upon, shat upon, played with, plaid with, parlayed into other words, speyed, splayed, relayed, decayed, flayed within a micrometer of their possible meanings & then given mouth-to-mouth so that the whole process, the hole progress, the holy protest can start all over again, this book is a joy. I’m reminded of a jazz musician, has to be a sax player, someone of the caliber of Bird or Coltrane, who starts a solo with an exquisite phrase, returns to it, reworks it in a series of variations that build upon themselves until a point is reached which it seems can not be gone beyond, that it can’t get any better. & then goes & tops the whole thing. & then moves on to the next song, where it happens all over again.         – Mark Young

This book is so full of the pleasure of wit that we’ll have to call the USDA wit-regulators to come in and stamp it with indelible purple logos. Behave is entirely Foucault and language, combining problematics of meta-discipline with all the possible linguistic modes of getting to the sheer logos of wit: concision, metonymy, music, punning, and far more. It’s like Lorca on speed and enthymeme, or Aristotle on pheromones, or Spicer on B-12 elixir, an olive, an onion, and a wedge of lime. Smack your lips and brain, folks, and keep on reading these rants, I say.  – Chris Murray

Steve Tills has an open heart, a good ear, and writes killer serial poems. Rage, passion, humor, intelligence of the razorish kind, combine and coalesce in these numbered “Rants” which come to constitute a roiling meditative sea within which any utterance, any blood red thread of discourse, may possibly swim. This book belongs on the same shelf as Ed Dorn’s Abhorrences or Jim McCrary’s The Book Of Arrogance – it’s that edgy. But – at the same time – it is more discursive and more emotional, more driven. Here is a man who was born to write – and, ok, to play golf – who is flooding all available space with the formidable searchlights of his intellect. – Tom Beckett

From Eileen Tabios' review of Behave in Galatea Resurrects, #15:

. . . – might tempt one into solipsistic play, these poems don't just deconstruct words, flinging letters about. These poems have something to say that can be summed up as


And as one looks around at the world, one can't help but empathize. But Tills' genius here is that he may rant, but he doesn't just rant. He still looks out for reasons to attach to each other despite the "hierarch[ies] / we constructed / ourselves" that makes us all "slaves." With his failure to wallow in the despair that generated his rants, Tills' poems thus come to deserve attention. . . .

                                                                 Read full review here: Galatea Resurrects.

Crag Hill, author of this decade's majestic 7x7, liked it, among others, back in 2004:

Poetry books I've started:
Sleeping with the Dictionary, Harryette Mullen
Up to Speed, Rae Armantrout
Macular Hole, Catherine Wagner
The Little Door Slides Back, Jeff Clark
Behave, Steve Tills. I haven't been able to get past Rants 67 & 69 yet. I read the fuckers over and over -- aloud, always aloud. And LOUD. They make me laugh, cry, seethe... They make me want to read, as per Richard Lopez, more Catulus. I sense that these rants are something you got fully into -- emotion, unabashed intellect, subconscious, Tills' jazzy/punk ear, Tills' ribald humor...

What have you read this summer? What are you reading now?        Crag Hill, in Scorecard

Steve Tills' collection Behave, Rant 66, is a source of great pleasure. the book has been by my side for a couple of days. Tills
has also been posting some serious, brilliant stuff at Black Spring as well, such as his thoughts on O'Hara. Wonder how he digs
Schuyler as well.  – Richard Lopez, Really Bad Movies

Behave, Rant 66, was Originally Published Here by Richard Denner's dPress: dPress


Black Spring Lawrence Issue

From Ron Silliman's Review of Black Spring, the Lawrence Issue:

If the editor’s first function is to offer context, then Black Spring’s Winter 2005 “Lawrence Issue,” jointly edited it would seem by Steve Tills & Jim McCrary, demonstrates exactly how much context can contribute. Indeed, Black Spring is almost a test case, given just how quirky its production is. The publication has no masthead, nor issue & volume number, so I’m drawing the conclusion that Tills is the co-editor and publisher here primarily on the facts (a) that Tills has a weblog by the same name (which he “shares” with Menno ter Braak, a Dutch essayist & fiction writer who committed suicide in 1940), (b) he’s in the issue, (c) the publisher is listed as theenk Books, the first word always lower case, a neologism that shows up in the URL to the weblog, and finally (d) the press lists an upstate New York address, which is where Tills lives. McCrary at least is mentioned as co-editor in the contributors’ notes.

But if the journal’s editorial structure has to be fathomed out, its editorial focus is crystal clear – virtually the entire issue is devoted to the poetry scene of Lawrence, Kansas, the college town 40 miles west of Kansas City. As the Lucifer Poetics group in North Carolina seems to be experiencing right now, it is perfectly possible to sustain a vibrant poetry community at a considerable distance from a major urban center. The scene in Lawrence demonstrates that such a community can thrive for decades, and can do so without the conscious support of major institutions (such as the University of Kansas). Just three of the issue’s 16 contributors teach at UK, and only Kenneth Irby – begrudgingly given tenure after decades of adjuncting – does this in the English Department. The others are in the Spanish & Math programs. At the other end of the scale is Hawkman, who is described in the contributors’ notes as living “’off the grid,’ in and around Lawrence.” In fact, several of the issue’s contributors don’t live in Lawrence at all, but in Austin (Dale Smith), Bolinas (Robert Grenier), Milwaukee (David Baptiste-Chirot), Morrisville, VT, (Stephen Ellis), Portland, OR, (Maryrose Larkin) & Albany, NY (Susan Smith Nash) & have been drawn in here to write about Lawrence & its poets.

A sociologist would probably identify this scene as revolving around three poets in particular – Ken Irby, Jim McCrary & John Moritz – who share close ties with the post-avant tradition in general & the projectivist side of the New American Poetry in particular. But it also revolved, for awhile at least, around Tansy Bookstore – the Olson allusion is no accident – originally run by Moritz & later by visual artist Lee Chapman & others. It’s worth noting here that Kansas has always had strong ties to the avant & post-avant worlds – Langston Hughes was a boy here & William Burroughs spent his final years tending his garden in Lawrence . . . & targeting boards with shotguns as an art practice.

                                                                    Read the full review here: Silliman's Blog

From Mindie Paget's review, "Fertile spring," in Lawrence Journal-World:

"There are some poets, and I would say that Judy is one of them, who are more about the medium of poetry than about telling some kind of story or making some kind of point. And yet she's very engaging."

Judy Roitman is among the poets in Black Spring, a New York-based journal that has published a Lawrence edition. [Lee] Chapman knows the Black Spring poets as well as anybody; she's published their work for years. The visual artist started First Intensity Press in 1993 and prints a nationally circulated journal of the same name, as well as collections of short poetry and fiction by local and national authors.

The John Moritz poems in Black Spring first appeared in "Cartography," a First Intensity publication. The poems are accompanied by drawings Lee created in response to the words.

All the poets in Black Spring have been publishing work in Lawrence and beyond for decades. Perhaps the most well-known and widely respected, though, is Ken Irby, who teaches English at KU.

"His command of language and his use of words in creative and innovative ways is just really awesome, overwhelming," Chapman says. "It's marvelous, difficult writing, and yet it's OK if you don't totally understand what he's getting at every time because the language is so involving and engaging that it doesn't matter. . . . "He's going to take you somewhere, and it's probably going to be somewhere you've never gone before."

Poet Jim McCrary and Artist Lee Chapman, circa 1970, stand at the doorway of the Tansy Bookstore, 12th and Oread. The bookstore was a familiar hangout for poets and artists in those years. Both are featured in the Lawrence issue of Black Spring, a New York-based journal of poetry and essays.








                                                              Read the full review here:

From Michael Rothenberg's Big Bridge, #11:

The irregularly-published Black Spring is here to chronicle the contemporary American poetry tradition. It arrives in slim, small, perfectbound editions, and seeks to explore the diversity of the American poetry scenes, while recognizing that said scenes are living, breathing, and chaotically dynamic entities. . . . Every second issue is location-based, exploring the literary tradition and current literary scene of a specific place. The current issue, issue #2, focuses on Lawrence, Kansas, and brings us essays, poetics, poetry, and visual art to give a sense of that unusual artists' town to those of us too cheap to buy a bus ticket to one of the most centrally-located cities in America. At $7, Black Spring is your first step in discovering what's really happening, man. – Jonathan Penton

Black Spring
Issue 1  


Available Later This Year, 2013:

Black Spring Sonoma Issue                          

Black Spring Prose Poetry / Hybrid Issue                          

theenk Books       ©