Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Warsaw Bikini reviewed in Puerto del Sol

Reviewed by Rachel Fleming in the new issue of Puerto del Sol:
Simonds’s Warsaw Bikini reads like a journey into the “the artificial field of feel/ where every cell is a different explanation,/ each nook an anxiety to quell.” In Simonds’s newest collection, she combines sardonic desperation with an attention to movement and rhythm that is reminiscent of Plath’s later work. In Warsaw, Simonds creates an anxious relationship with her reader that blends the curious fallibility of the body with a violent, if not traumatic, passage through a culture that asks her reader to remain impenetrable. Simonds perpetuates a sometimes warm, sometimes distant approach to the female voice that questions the limits of desire without falling into the trap of becoming just another damsel in distress. In this manner, Simonds allows her speaker to move seamlessly between being a “boo-hoo Jew,” remembering the “the noose [she] once was,” and a poet “writing [her] bike in circles around this poem to prove that [she] persist[s].”

     As a “don’t come here to relax” kind of city, Sandra Simond’s title Warsaw Bikini is as alluring as it is fitting. Simonds compels you to swim, snag, and twist through poems that marry dense lines with fragments that feel more like snapshots than anything else. At times the lines themselves are virtually stripped down, forcing the reader to believe in a world that always tells the truth. A candor based on a language that can “piss lemonade everyday/ so that the sky will sing.” Simonds consistently fractures the division of the beautiful and the profane, demonstrating that the poetic space should be a conflation of opposites, a textual breed of “minotaurs” and “hermaphrodites.” As Simonds states on her blog “Sandra Simonds Swims and Swims,” in poetry there “is a certain value in clarity or in making some point even if it is immediately negated. And who honestly believes that water is tasteless? I’ve always been able to taste minerals.” Simonds’s preoccupation with a kind of textual fidelity is what makes the shift from dense, prose-like poems to sparse, image-based poems even more intriguing. As a poetic “architect,” Simonds must “build her love from scratch” in order to fully dismantle preconceptions about what “grounded” or “realistic” poetry is supposed to read like. In short, Warsaw Bikini disturbsits reader so seductively that it is impossible resist.

This issue of Puerto del Sol also features new work by Monica de la Torre, Jenny Boully, Susan Briante, Joanna Scott, Blake Butler, and many others. It's enough to make ya wanna subscribe (so we just did)!

Also, the first few tweakjobs inspired by Warsaw Bikini have come in. More on this as the week slides by--but see below if you missed the announcement.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Tweakjob: Win a copy of Sandra Simonds' Warsaw Bikini

How to enter:

1. Write a poem (or very short prose piece) based on a line, title, image, or whole poem by Sandra Simonds. (See list of suggestions below.) You may tweak the original in any way you like. You may illustrate it or respond to it visually or in music, if you are so inclined.

2. Post your piece to your blog, website, or Facebook wall. (If you do not have a blog, website, or Facebook account, feel free to post it at the Bloof Books Facebook group.)

3. In your post, mention Warsaw Bikini and the title of the poem of Sandra's your piece tweaks, and include a link back to this post.

4. IMPORTANT: Send an email to tweakjob[at]bloofbooks[dot]com letting us know you've entered, and including a link to your post.

5. Emails will be assigned numbers in the order they are received. A random number generator will be used to choose winner(s). One book will be awarded per 15 entries, up to a maximum of 5 winners. (So, if we get 36 entries, 2 winners will be chosen; 45 entries equals 3 winners; if we get more than 90 entries, we will be happy but we will still only award a maximum of 5 books.)

6. ALSO, our favorite pieces will be collected at Tweakjob.

7. Tweaking begins Friday, July 24 and ends Monday, August 3.

NOTE: ONE entry per person/email address. There no restrictions to US-only entries, or any silly business like that. We will ship winning books anywhere. No purchase is required to enter.


You may use any poem or piece of writing by Sandra Simonds, either from Warsaw Bikini, one of her chapbooks, or in a print/online magazine. Here are several possibilities that are freely available online:

A Poem for David Schubert at Verse Daily
Three poems in La Petite Zine
Bildungsroman Americana in Typo
Four poems in Coconut

Also see the list under "MY WORK" in the sidebar of Sandra's blog for more.

Happy tweaking!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

K. Silem Mohammad on Jennifer L. Knox

You know that thing? That thing that’s wrong with most contemporary poetry? That thing that just never goes away, no matter how much Axe Body Spray you put on it, or how much duende you have specially imported from Duendia or wherever to stuff in its gills? Jennifer L. Knox doesn’t even bother trying to get rid of it. No ma’am, no sir. She just stands it up on its revolting quasi-biological stump in the middle of the poem and hangs popcorn decorations from it. It’s like she’s proud of her leprosy or something (there’s that L-word!). Well, damn it, good for her. Because this is leprosy like Grandma used to make it, steaming hot and fresh from the reactor.

Read the rest, plus 5 poems from Jen's forthcoming Bloof book The Mystery of the Hidden Driveway (and a bonus nonbook track) in the new issue of Octopus.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

What's next: Bloof Books 2009-2010

We've been sitting on this happy news far too long. Finally, we can share:

JOAN by Anne Boyer (Fall, 2009)

Anne Boyer is the author of The Romance of Happy Workers (Coffee House, 2008), Art is War (Mitzvah, 2008), Selected Dreams with a note on phrenology (Dusie, 2007), Anne Boyer's Good Apocalypse(Effing, 2006) and Odalisqued blog. Other projects include Abraham Lincoln Poetry Magazine and An Actual Kansas Reading Series.

This story recounts how and why my body should often have turned to dust, for beginning when I was six months old, I dropped from the sky. My mother was very busy working in the field, so I came out of her abdomen. The newspapers named me Joan. The doctors said I wouldn’t live past three.

I wheezed and coughed in my sleep, and my parents took me to my pediatrician for advice. He thought it would be good to remove my pins and screws. The doctors operated on my clitoris and realigned my urethra so I could wee from the same place other girls do. On holiday in Portugal when I was six months old one of the locals told Mom what a handsome boy I was. The starter studs went in the day that we arrived.

Coming out right in the end, I nearly died. All wrong, for an infant to be so caught up in the last things. Naturally, the hospital was called Providence; then I was brought to England, and a painter did a delightful picture of the mermaids carrying me.

The doctors said I would always have a feeling the comics will think it is funny to bring me out in a high chair in a schoolroom sketch. As they told me this story later, my mother started to suspect all was not well with me. My body was always hot and dry. My mother went to many rehearsals and watched the orchestra rehearsing. The townspeople considered this to be the embodiment of backwardness and superstition, so my mother gave the rest of her possessions to my uncle, packed up me with her baffled desires and set off.

My father was confused in the beginning. He was a socialist but a strict, Victorian man whom I never knew. He did not know what to do with an albino, but afterwards, he became my friend. In a letter addressed to me when I was still a baby he wrote, “There were no Northern Lights last night but there was a big moon and a sky full of stars asserting full human dignity heroically demonstrated in the face of this grievous blow.”

I remember back then my favorite way to sleep was curled up in the island of Kauai. According to family lore the first time happened when I was still a baby and rolled over in my crib. Then one other time I remember was when I was coming to a clearing where a creature had disappeared.

Even when I was still a baby I had a boyfriend that cheated on me three times. Although it was crap, it didn’t mean that much to me. I bet I still could’ve rolled down that hill. If I had got momentum, there’s no way a stake could’ve held me in place. I still remember everything that happened during the next twelve months. The memories are like movies and snapshots that I can unfold. I could sense that loss, and I sobbed.

Poetry! Poetry! Poetry! by Peter Davis (Spring 2010)

Peter Davis is the author of Hitler's Mustache (Barnwood, 2006), editor of Poet's Bookshelf and Poet's Bookshelf II (Barnwood, 2005 and 2007), and the writer/cartoonist ofthis blog. He teaches at Ball State University in Muncie, IN.

I mostly feel inferior. Many of you are smart and good looking and, more importantly, obviously very “cool.” Some of you have won something prestigious or went to some super great school or something. I like to think that I am very “cool” but I question myself sometimes when I am around you. Other times, I feel that you are pretentious or too serious or too something or too stupid. Sometimes I feel superior to you. Sometimes I don’t enjoy being with you because all of us can be so self-conscious. This makes for some awkward stuff sometimes. Thank goodness we all drink so much!


Once there was this poem that began with a long title and a rather obvious beginning sentence. It was a good poem, a kind poem, a poem that always thought of others. At one moment, there was a knock on the door of the poem. When the poem answered the door it found an animal that was exceedingly common in nearly every area of the world, except in the area that the poem lived. The poem, surprised by the sight of this animal, dropped the glass it was holding, severing its toes. The animal leapt on the bleeding stumps, sucking the blood of the poem, getting fatter and fatter. When the poem ended, things were different somehow. The poem had a rainbow over it and was holding a bunny and watching a baby smile for the first time.


I look at myself in the mirror all the time, as you might, and I just think, what the fuck?

The Mystery of the Hidden Driveway by Jennifer L. Knox (Fall 2010)

Jennifer L. Knox was born in Lancaster, California—once crystal meth capitol of the nation, and home to Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart and the Space Shuttle. She received her BA from the University of Iowa, and her MFA in poetry writing from New York University. She has taught poetry writing at Hunter College and New York University. Her books Drunk by Noon and A Gringo Like Me are both available from the Möthershipp that is Bloof Books. Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry 1997, 2003 and 2006, Best American Erotic Poems, Great American Prose Poems: From Poet to Present, and Free Radicals: American Poets Before Their First Books.
Burt Reynolds FAQ

Burt Reynolds is the son of six grizzly bear brothers and the Holy Goddess of Cherry Trees. He was born from his mother's nose, which ensures lifelong charisma. Before he could walk, alligators would gather to watch him wrestle other babies. He excelled at all sport--especially football, baseball, gymnastics, rugby, tennis, archery, swimming, sailing and horseback riding. At school, he was not the brightest student in the class, but he was the luckiest: Whenever the teacher called upon him, he would guess the answer correctly. When he was seven, he grew his first mustache, which wealthy older women fought for the privilege of combing through with gold paint. He was made a general in the President's Army, but on the eve he was to leave for battle, robbers clobbered his knees with a tar-covered club. Burt was crushed because his knees were crushed, but he never cried. The president's queen said, "Stay here and read me stories," because he was also the most talented storyteller in the land. He rose to great power, which made the priests and princes jealous. After the night a murderer poured mercury into his ear as he lay sleeping, he became The Lion Who Did Not Want to Be Loved. But the people would not let him not be loved. Neither would Burt be pinned. The match is still going--no one knows who will win. At night Burt returns to his home on the edge of a fire pit with a lush green yard full of tigers waiting for him to read a story, like the old days. Burt does not believe he'll have no need for toupees in heaven. In summer, his mustache still grows unruly with lily of the valley.

Old Friends

I'm in a coffee shop, remembering a woman I knew
years ago who had drowned eight kittens in a sack.
I listened to her tell the whole story many times, even
begged her to repeat it when we were wasted, and laughed
at the part where the flung sack hit the concrete instead
of the water. I'm thinking how different things are now,
especially me, how my heart can barely stomach the story,
which means I've become a better person, certainly better
than the woman I knew, who I could never be friends with
again--she probably hasn't changed at all. Now that I'm
a better person, I probably shouldn't forgive her, or
should I? I wonder, and as I'm wondering this, the bodies
of all the people I'd drowned years ago begin falling from
the sky, heavy like giant wet slugs from a crane. I go out
to watch them. God, lots of them. To each, I wave
as it flies past, mouth "I miss you," wait for a "Me too:
from the back of its smooshed, hairless head.

The Earth Is Flat and So's My Ass

These days, not so much regret.
Brute will's broke as a petting zoo pony.
Funny how it kept us entranced by difficult piffle
that passed as the whole enchilada: bruises always
fresh as hothouse violets then--they dared not darken
to the ochre that signaled surrender and whatever
came next. We called it not "Death"--more like "Man
Gnaws Off Limb in Imaginary Tractor Accident."
[Gavel pounds] But gentlemen, we believe something
has [big time] shifted--that you won't catch us again
marching stiff and shatterable as stale candy canes
into a taco stand to demand our just potato kugel.
We accept all [lllllll] the limitations. We understand
[deep sigh] the work will be arudous--the toads to be
swallowed, numerous--and [hoo!] it's gonna get ugly [er].

Hot list, no? We think so.