Archive for the ‘Literature’ Category

Never a More Generous Man
April 3, 2008


Never a more generous man have I met than poet and friend, Matthew Rotando. I take great pleasure in singing the praises of his first book of poems, THE COMEBACK’S EXOSKELETON. I wish you could all know him too, as you will find that once you fall in love with this collection, you will long to meet the person who has such zest for life as well as an eye not afraid to behold our evils. It’s really a lovely collection — and I’m not just saying that because I’ve been waiting for years for it to appear. You should throw caution to the wind and take up this EXOSKELETON! Discover how well dresses up your own worldview!

What others are saying:

Incorporating the density of Spanish surrealism and a sprawling Whitmanesque line, this amazing first book finds Rotando engaged in a poetic biathlon which draws equally from maximal and minimal traditions. There are tight, economical poems, free verse forms derived from the sonnet, poems leaping about the page, but my favorites are the wonderful prose poems tumbling over and under themselves toward gnomish statements that feel both didactic and self-parodying. –Tim Peterson, from the Foreword

The rich, exultant writing in Matthew Rotando’s first collection is both comic and cosmic. Lyrics steeped in the Latin American literary tradition disclose what might be called the surreality of reality in contemporary American culture, while cadences of Stein and Barthelme make the prose poems in The Comeback’s Exoskeleton ring with laughter of great philosophical depth. This is a writer unafraid to love and to err, and to do so with irrepressible grace and humour. To read such unapologetically joyous work is a tonic for melancholy and a prescription for wonder. –Srikanth Reddy, Facts for Visitors

And a few short poems from the collection, though there are many longer ones to gleefully sink into:



Son, watch the way the eaves bend when you breathe.

They move the way a star would

If you could corral water into spheres.


Shadows play in the paint under the floor:

Tentacular spirits!

They will hold your cages and laboratory equipment.


Your time as a human is near at hand;

I am repealing all the old regulations

Regarding prostrations and guttural pronouncements.


There will be things called Souvenir Shops;

Bring back an “I ♥ Mt. Rushmore” keychain for your mother.






I snave this heaking suspicion

That the poung yoet, Tom Devaney,

Is really the mold oviestar, Lon Chaney.

If lou yisten to the way they laugh,

Or notice their hartling, storror movie eyes,

You’ll sefinitely dee

That they’re both obvious dasters of misguise.





I like trouble. I like to shoot watermelon seeds at passing barges. I wanna

put Elmer’s Glue in your hair and make it stick straight up. I wanna go

down to the docks and kick some ass! Your shoes small like skunk. And

so do mine. If we were lizards, I bet we would both be geckoes with

sticky round fingers. A friend is someone who decides to find you out.

Let’s have a broken bottle party! A Chinese dude, Shih-Wu, said, “Pine

trees and strange rocks remain unknown to those who look for mind

with mind.” So let’s not bother. Let’s just walk arm in arm through a

crumbling metropolis, clacking castanets.





In the mood for one more? Try this one, complete with a nearly naked pic!



Not Thinking Alike
March 29, 2008


“It is not best that we all should think alike, it is differences of opinion that make horse races.”

–Mark Twain


A few new poems written by my non-pseudonym in Jacket Magazine:

* The Arm of Eden
* Where Bullfinches Go to Defy
* Two if by Land, I Do
* A Martyrdom Should Behave Us All

This is an early appearance as Jacket #35 is still under construction though you’ll find a little action there already.

Please enjoy!


4 Responses to “Not Thinking Alike”

  1. Jim K. Says:
    January 31st, 2008 at 5:55 pm eLooks like Mark Twain has anxiety…
    …but wait, that’s correct.
    Love those, esp. the last two.
    The face is bold, looking in and out. -)
  2. Amy King Says:
    February 3rd, 2008 at 4:05 am eYay! I’m glad you liked them, Jim! It’s funny – Ana also said she liked the last two best too.
  3. ashok Says:
    February 4th, 2008 at 8:12 am eAll your poems are amazing, but “Two if by Land, I Do” has me reading and rereading and wondering. It’s probably no stretch to say it is an important poem, where you’ve gotten at the cosmic through the personal, all by one little twist – changing “do you want” to “do you believe.”It is really astounding to me how nuanced your political views are, how they comprehend so many issues most of us would abstract from the realm of politics.I sound nuts, don’t I.
  4. Jim K. Says:
    February 4th, 2008 at 9:08 pm eheh…not at all, Ashok. There are political, personal, and
    philosophical nuances swimming in that ocean. Your
    language and cultural tuning is astute.

March 29, 2008


Yes, that’s John Travolta and Kirk Douglas lip wrestling, but this post is about much more than curing the daily — Jim K wrote a quick review of my recent Dusie chap, Kiss Me With the Mouth of Your Country (send your address to amyhappens @ gmail dot com for a copy). And thank you, Jim!

For more sexiness, click here now!


4 Responses to “Quickie”

  1. Jim K. Says:
    December 11th, 2007 at 6:08 pm eHeh…I dunno; I saw Travolta’s mouth drool a lot
    in “Battlefield Earth”.
  2. Amy King Says:
    December 19th, 2007 at 9:00 pm eHeh heh!
  3. Sara Says:
    January 2nd, 2008 at 9:29 pm eHi Amy, did I tell you yet that your new chapbook’s title is I think about the best I’ve ever heard? ‘Cannot wait to read it.

    It appears that John Travolta’s taste in men is even worse than his taste in scripts post-Pulp Fiction — this post reminded me of something I saw on 60 Minutes a few years ago: Apparently, Kirk Douglas had been on the show, and a few weeks later I was watching another episode in which they reviewed some of their mail. A few women wrote a letter together, saying, “If Kirk Douglas thinks women should be more like dogs, we think he should be more like a tree.”

  4. Amy King Says:
    January 4th, 2008 at 10:33 pm eI’m so glad you’re into the new chap, Sara! And yes, I think you summed Travolta and Douglas up… don’t get me started on his son, Charlie Sheen. Ugh.

    Happy happy to you and yours, Ms. S!

The Ballad of the Sad Cafe
March 26, 2008


First of all, love is a joint experience between two persons—but the fact that it is a joint experience does not mean that it is a similar experience to the two people involved. There are the lover and the beloved, but these two come from different countries. Often the beloved is only a stimulus for all the stored-up love which has lain quiet within the lover for a long time hitherto. And somehow every lover knows this. He feels in his soul that his love is a solitary thing. He comes to know a new, strange loneliness and it is this knowledge which makes him suffer. So there is only one thing for the lover to do. He must house his love within himself as best he can; he must create for himself a whole new inward world—a world intense and strange, complete in himself. Let it be added here that this lover about whom we speak need not necessarily be a young man saving for a wedding ring—this lover can be a man, woman, child, or indeed any human creature on this earth.

Now, the beloved can also be of any description. The most outlandish people can be a stimulus for love. A man may be a doddering great-grandfather and still love only a strange girl he saw in the streets of Cheehaw one afternoon two decades past. The preacher may love a fallen woman. The beloved may be treacherous, greasy-headed, and given to evil habits. Yes, and the lover may see this as clearly as anyone else—but that does not affect the evolution of his love one whit. A most mediocre person can be the object of love which is wild, extravagant, and beautiful as the poison lilies of the swamp. A good man may be the stimulus for a love both violent and debased, or a jabbering madman may bring about in the soul of someone a tender and simple idyll. Therefore, the value and quality of any love is determined solely by the lover himself.

–excerpt from THE BALLAD OF THE SAD CAFE by Carson McCullers

7 Responses to “The Ballad of the Sad Cafe”

  1. ashok Says:
    March 14th, 2007 at 7:19 pm eHmm. The excerpt is beautiful, but I think love isn’t quite as relativist or subjective. It may start anywhere, but we can judge how it evolves as good/bad, no? (Perhaps in some cases it might not be said to evolve.)

    I don’t want to posit anything just yet, just want to ask questions and hover over the topic and see if I understand everything going on. I do think I’m going to go over Auden’s “Are You There?” again, though.

  2. Jim K. Says:
    March 15th, 2007 at 12:05 am eI think this is the love that wants, the crush usually. And as such,
    it can’t help but be completely subjective. One is simply taken
    over by it. A ‘lover’s’ love is a one form. There are others,
    but that rather brilliant passage makes it pretty clear to me.

    This is one source of the blues, the craving that doesn’t fit
    your life but happens, as when BB King sings:
    “…I been down-hearted baby, ever since the day we met..”.

    Consider Eddie Albert’s tune that Ray Charles made famous:

    You give your hand to me
    And then you say, “Hello.”
    And I can hardly speak,
    My heart is beating so.
    And anyone can tell
    You think you know me well.
    Well, you don’t know me.
    (no you don’t know me)

    No you don’t know the one
    Who dreams of you at night;
    And longs to kiss your lips
    And longs to hold you tight
    Oh I’m just a friend.
    That’s all I’ve ever been.
    Cause you don’t know me.
    (no you don’t know me)

    For I never knew the art of making love,
    Though my heart aches with love for you.
    Afraid and shy, I let my chance go by.
    A chance that you might love me too.
    (love me too)

    That’s the kind of love at the Sad Cafe,
    the kind Carson was talking about.

  3. ashok Says:
    March 15th, 2007 at 8:13 pm eI’m not sure – even as I preach political moderation, and the use of reason as a restraint – that I can conceive of a love that doesn’t want. Even the thirst for knowledge directed towards the highest things I could say is a “lust” for knowledge (cf. Plato, Symposium).

    Thanks for helping me think through this, though. I like struggling with words, but sometimes things hit too close to home.

  4. Jim K. Says:
    March 15th, 2007 at 10:48 pm eThere are different strains that can blend, to be sure.
    Those advanced matching services talk about two basic
    forms of attraction,
    physical attraction, and ‘coupling’. Physical being …well, wanting to
    do physical things, and coupling being wanting to be with someone
    for all time, that pair-bonding thing. They happen together sometimes,
    but the coupling can be the subject of ‘crushes’, and focuses on a
    way someone changes their face or says words or moves. We feel we
    know someone, have a soul-mate. McCullers’ crystal insight is
    to point directly at the sad assymetry of it, usually.

    Those types are, of course, seperate from what type of person the
    attraction is fixed on. Many times, that is simply the same pallet
    on a different canvas. Mysteries that could call more for wonder than fear.

  5. John Baker Says:
    March 20th, 2007 at 2:38 pm eThanks for this. I read the book a long time ago, so long that I didn’t even recognize the style. But, with the excerpt you gave us, I remembered why it is that I think of the book often, year after year. Since that first reading it has always been near.
  6. sandra simonds Says:
    March 20th, 2007 at 5:20 pm efantastic. really made my day to read this.


  7. Patricia Says:
    March 24th, 2007 at 3:34 pm eI watched the video of Ballad of the Sad Cafe three times. The first time
    I laughed at the seemingly ignorant and dirt poor little boring town and its simple townsfolk. But as I watched the mood set in of the drama in human interactions which happens anywhere on the planet. I began to place myself into the conflicts of the main characters.

    The third time I saw the video my sentiment about it became much more pensive and felt especially regretful for Amelia as she was humiliated by fighting with a man in front the entire town. If she had any bit of femininity and womanhood for anyone, she lost it forever in that incident.

    Amelia wound up sorry and pitiful at the end of the story; and it brings to view how life is mundane – but when love or desire enter into it,
    life can become traumatic and enduring in sadness.

March 24, 2008


“The female is as it were a deformed male.” –Aristotle

“Distinguished women . . . are as exceptional as any monstrosity . . . for example a gorilla with two heads.” –Le Bon (1879)

“It was certainly an odd monster that one made up by reading the historians first and the poets afterwards–[woman as] a worm winged like an eagle; the spirit of life and beauty in a kitchen chopping up suet.” –Virginia Woolf (1929)

“Wouldn’t the worst be, isn’t the worst, in truth, that women aren’t castrated, that they have only to stop listening to the Sirens (for the Sirens were men) for history to change its meaning? You only have to look at the Medusa straight on to see her. And she’s not deadly. She’s beautiful and she’s laughing.” –Hélène Cixous (1976)

“Being called a poetess brings out the terroristress in me.” — Audre Lorde

“Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine.” — Patti Smith

Leoff: You have referred to the heaviness of transparency in the United States.

Annette Messager: As I have said, everything must be exposed, everything must be said. This is not the case in France, although it is becoming more that way. In France artists still have a private life. In the States I feel a distinct form of exhibitionism …

Leoff: You are often referred to as the hysteric, the femme fatale, the witch or sorceress, the “cruel Annette” who is shameless and goes beyond the limits of decency …

Messager: I remember the reaction I got when I said “Je pense donc je suce” (I think therefore I give head). People said, “Annette Messager has gone mad.” It is outrageous that the very same people who criticized this wordplay are those who turn on the television and are not shocked by the amount of violence there is in the world or the fact that teenagers are spray-painting “Fuck my mother” all over the place.

I think it is very different to exist as a woman artist than as a male artist in France. Things are automatically stuck, grafted onto the woman because it is still not completely accepted to be a woman artist. We are always looking at her life, linking her work to her life. In late-nineteenth-century medical photography there was an expression, “women-clichés,” referring to hysterics whose skin was so sensitive that it was possible to inscribe words or drawings on it. Often the nurses would brand the patient’s back with the name of the doctor. These women found themselves doubly marked: by the illness and by the institution.

A woman artist’s work is looked at through her cultural position and everything becomes mixed up. This is why I am particularly touched by Eva Hesse’s biography. I identify with her completely. She is the best example of this link between Minimalism and Surrealism. She exposes her intimate life, her difficulty with living and her work and her body. All this is interwoven, formally and personally.

Messager: I was not used to having my studio separate from my living quarters. As a result I retained nothing from that experience except the visual effects of the city itself. I find the light in New York very beautiful. New York is a nightmare and a paradise, the absolute image of what a city should be, magical. Everything is broken and modern at the same time, as if it were two cities in one.

Regarding what impedes my art work, I feel that because there are more and more wars, diseases, broken homes, that everything in the world today is totally pathetic and vulnerable, I am no longer able to make a series of works. I have always worked in bits and pieces, ripping, cutting, and pasting, but today I can no longer consider working in series and this is a dramatic change for me.

Vulnerability is so much greater in the world than in any art work that it is impossible today to create anything that is more obscene than reality. Bosnia, Algeria … Algeria is our culture, there is not the same Islamic presence in the States as in Europe. It is the new ideology.

Leoff: Violence?

Messager: Violence is more direct in the US, linked to madness or acting out. Here there is another form of violence, more covert, linked to religion.

Leoff: Love?

Messager: It is still one of the most essential things in life. It can be found in making little dresses for stuffed birds, or in a garden of tenderness like I have done (”Le jardin du tendre,” 1988), mixing writing, photography and real spaces. There are all kinds of acts of love.

–from an interview with Annette Messager, Journal of Contemporary Art, Inc. (1995)


More on Messager’s “making up stories” found here. The photographed piece above is by Messager.


“Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one.” — Stella Adler

“If I could tell you what it meant, there would be no point in dancing it.” — Isadora Duncan