Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

Best Second Book
March 30, 2008



(One time the singer Seal said something about how you have your whole life to write your first album, so people shouldn’t expect greatness out of a second attempt. These five say “go back in the water, Seal.”)

Goat Funeral, Christopher Bakken
Inflorescence, Sarah Hannah
I’m the Man Who Loves You, Amy King
Drunk by Noon, Jennifer L. Knox
a half-red sea, Evie Shockley



Best Book of New Poetry Published in 2007 ** Best First Book ** Best Second Book ** Best All-New Collection by a Canonical Figure ** Best Selected/Collected ** Best Poem in a New Collection ** Best Author Photo ** Best Book Title ** Best Book Cover ** Best Long Poem ** Best Book-Length Poem ** Best Opener ** Best Closer ** Best First Lines ** Best Closing Lines ** Technical Awards ** Best “Thirteenth Poem” ** Best Response to Coldfront **




Kiss Me With the Mouth of Your Country
March 29, 2008


I have just finished sending out my chapbook copies for the DUSIE Chapbook Kollectiv.

The title is this post’s title. I have a few copies left over, so if you’re interested in receiving one – freely and imminently – please drop your snail mail address to me at amyhappens @ gmail . com – I’ll post it to you before the holidays.

My DUSIE chapbook from last year can now be viewed online here, “The Good Campaign“. Read a review of it by Chris Rizzo here or read another review of it by Fionna Doney Simmonds here.

5 Responses to “Kiss Me With the Mouth of Your Country”

  1. Jim K. Says:
    December 9th, 2007 at 4:00 am eI got it. I read it.
    The sound and touch are great. It’s beautiful!

    A leedle revu, all true:

  2. Gina Says:
    December 19th, 2007 at 4:41 pm eOh hey, if you still have copies, hook a sister up! xoxo
  3. Amy King Says:
    December 19th, 2007 at 9:01 pm eI got you, lady!
  4. Indran Amirthanayagam Says:
    December 19th, 2007 at 10:59 pm eI would love to read the poems if still available. cheers. Indran
  5. Amy King Says:
    December 20th, 2007 at 3:37 pm eIf you send me your snail mail address, I’ll send you a copy!

Random Displays of Affection
March 26, 2008


I like Gerald L. Bruns already. First, he’s got the dog, who looks quite comfortable, which means his empathy bone is strong. His author photo isn’t some pompous monstrosity; he looks like a human who reads and might garden too. I bet he even has a bathroom in that house. Next, he’s currently at work on a book about the poets, Susan Howe and Lyn Hejinian – hurrah! Also, he wrote this interesting review that has tweaked my mind already this morning.

Finally, I picked up his latest book, ON THE ANARCHY OF POETRY AND PHILOSOPHY: A GUIDE FOR THE UNRULY, the other night. Even if I don’t agree with his points ultimately (don’t know yet!), I applaud the draw for those of us who fancy ourselves rule breakers, poets of another sort, etc.

Now I don’t wouldn’t call myself an attendant of modernism, or rather, a scholar of modern or postmodern action, but the back of the book certainly drew me in,

“… the difficulty of much modern and contemporary poem can be summarized in the idea that a poem is made of words, not of any of the things that we use words to produce: meanings, concepts, propositions, narratives, or expressions of feeling. Many modernist poets have argued that in poetry language is no longer a form of mediation but a reality to be explored and experienced in its own right. But what sort of experience, philosophically, might this be?

In this provocative study, Bruns answers that the culture of modernism is a kind of anarchist community, where the work of art is apt to be as much an event or experience–or, indeed, an alternative form of life–as a formal object. In modern writing, philosophy and poetry fold into one another. In this book, Bruns helps us to see how.”

Now my plan is, as I read from this new book, to provide snippets to whet your appetite, but before I provide today’s news brief, I just wanted to draw attention to the last detail that sealed the deal for the book’s purchase. My very smart friend, Isabella Winkler, has been revising her dissertation for a few years now. She lived here in Brooklyn for some of those years, working hard at perfecting the thing. Luckily (for me), my naivete played a role in this editing work — I became a sort of sounding board for her ideas because our interests overlap, though they’re not the same. Her book is related to gender and a few branches of theory that befuddle me. Over many wonderful sushi dinners and bites in the backyard at Relish, my job was to ask whatever questions led me wherever my interests dictated and hers was to answer, dumbing down as necessary (sometimes ad nauseum – sorry, Isa!).

One point of recurring interest was on Derrida’s concept of singularity. I won’t go into it here, but in my very cursory research away from Isabella, I have had trouble finding much on the concept at all, though apparently it’s integral to understanding much of the work he does (& has much bearing on the work of poetry). Anyway, jump ahead to me flipping through Bruns’ book the other night at St. Mark’s Books. I did a quick read-through of the chapter on “Poetic Communities” and never have I seen anyone, outside of Isabella, wield the word “singularity” as much as this author does. A superficial cause for purchase? Perhaps. But after reading the preface and noting the theorists and poets Bruns speaks on, I’m certain now that I’ve invested well. And I’m really looking forward to spring break next week digging deeply in.

Now, for you, an excerpt from the Preface,

“Modernity also gave us the concept of art as such–art that is not in the service of the court, or the school. But unlike other of modernity’s innovations, art proved to be an anomaly. The fact is that particular works of art appeared to lose definition when transported outside the context of these legitimating institutions. As Hegel and the German romantics saw, art cannot be brought under the rule of a universal. Its mode of existence is open-ended self-questioning and self-alteration. The history of art as something self-evident has come to an end. Arguably this condition of indeterminacy (or, better, complexity) is the beginning of modernism, the consequences of which (in terms of particular artworks) would only appear later in the nineteenth century, starting perhaps with Baudelaire, who gave us our first definition of modernism as that which is no longer concerned with the universal, the eternal, or transcendent beauty but rather with the local, the transient, the everyday.

What I try to do in this book is to give fairly detailed accounts of the writings of European thinkers that bear upon the problem of modernism, including (to start with) the problem of how to cope with a work of art in the absence of criteria handed down in tradition or developed by comprehensive aesthetic theories such as one finds in Kant’s Critique of Practical Reason. A recurring argument in the chapters of this book is that what counts as art or poetry is internal to the social spaces in which the art is created, which means that there are multiple and heterogeneous conceptions of art and poetry, a condition that gives rise to the phenomenon of conceptual art, which argues that in order to experience a thing as art, we need to have developed or have in hand a conceptual context–theories, arguments, appeals to or rejections of what is happening elsewhere–in which the thing before us ‘fits,’ that is, as the conceptual artists say, in which the work itself exhibits the theory that enables it ‘to come up for the count’ as art. My book is essentially a defense of nominalism in the sense that it proposes that criteria for determining whether a thing counts as a work of art are not universal but are local and contingent, social and historical, and therefore the source of often intense (and sometimes fruitful) disagreements among and within different communities of the artworld. Hence what I am proposing in this book is an anarchist aesthetics or poetics: anything goes, nothing is forbidden, since anything is possible within the historical limits of the particular situations in which modern and contemporary art and poetry have been created. It is as if freedom rather than truth, beauty, or goodness had become the end of art.”



Okay, one last thing. If you knew me in the nineties, you might remember that I was a photographer for awhile in Buffalo. I even hung some work in a few cafes. One of my first favorite photographers whose work I researched, explored, and emulated was Mr. Robert Frank’s. So I was pleasantly surprised today to find he did this collaboration with Patti Smith on her song, “Summer Cannibals.”

Even more, I was excited to find Robert Frank’s short film, “Pull My Daisy,” complete with narration by Jack Kerouac and acting by Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Pablo Frank, Larry Rivers, Peter Orlovsky, Alice Neel, and a few others I don’t recall.

May you enjoy this New York City and the explorations these poets and filmmaker provide!


I Agree In Security
March 26, 2008


Except when I don’t. During a discussion about Jackson MacLow on the Poetics listserv the other day, Nick Piombino posted the following, “I had the feeling he [MacLow] was talking about going to museums and art galleries or even movies and overhearing conversations where reactions often seem to neglect time for fully absorbing and encompassing an experience. This leads into my recent preoccupation with the positive side of ambivalence. The ability to tolerate ambivalence, or ambiguity, can create an opportunity to wonder, to wander, daydream, to think, to puzzle or figure things out. Full circle: isn’t this often what is wanted from artistic experience in the first place?”

This predilection for ambivalence and the ambiguous (what’s the word for more than two optional reads?) holds special significance for me. I feel like I’m regularly ambivalent, that it may be my most “stable” or steady underlying condition; in fact, I’m fairly sure I seek the condition out and inhabit it, in my head at least, intentionally. Of course, I’m speaking in the abstract; ask me if I want the war to end… there can be certainty too.

Anyway, surely I’m not alone. Security is so desperately and regularly fashioned in our culture; hell, it’s the false-bottom premise of the fast-fading American Dream! Maybe we should consider other options? Why not start identifying & acknowledging the ambivalences, embrace and inhabit them? But I rarely hear someone actually celebrate the condition of ambivalence aloud, except through poetry, and even there, it’s often resisted. The poetry that pulls me is the poetry of the former, not that I can’t appreciate the latter!

Coincidentally enough, last night I was looking through a few issues of Court Green that David Trinidad gave me at AWP recently. I came across this very lovely poem that isn’t “lovely” in the traditional sense, but certainly is for me because it plays with those ambivalences, adjusting, measuring, contradicting, searching, and ultimately, enjoying. Of course, those who know my work will appreciate that the subject matter(s) bowl right up my alley. May you find some new pleasure therein.


In a bathroom with little girls,

I sewed thick black ribbon into my skin,
a corset from the middle of my breasts down
to my belly button. Cuts like stitches.
When I pulled it–it burned it felt
like erotic pain–I couldn’t remove
the entire thing before I had to leave.
I put my dress back on and went to a town
municipal meeting about money.
When everyone began joking around,
I slipped out and went to another bathroom.
A homeless woman walked out whistling–
all gray hair and dirty gray sweatshirt–
saying she was happy and I thought
because she had access to a bathroom.
I had a “date” and had to hurry.
I didn’t want the bathroom after
the homeless woman because I was afraid
of catching disease. I tried to use the toilet,
but it was too high. I couldn’t reach it.
The homeless woman came back
and I let her in. I pulled my dress off
to get the rest of the ribbon out.
She looked at me with disgust. I said,
“Don’t judge me. I didn’t judge you.”
I left my shoes outside
of the bathroom while I changed
and they got stolen. The woman who ran
the building gave me two mismatched blue
shoes: one too big and one too small.
I put them on to meet my “date.”
He asked about the shoes and I lied,
afraid that he would think
I was poor. I pulled him
into vintage shops to look for my old shoes.
I never found them.

Carla Conforto


One Response to “I Agree In Security”

  1. Jim K. Says:
    March 22nd, 2007 at 5:23 am eA lot going on there, on top of a surface ambivalence, so it’s hard
    to connect it all. There is the familiar project-out vs act-in
    difference (a natural hypocrisy, confessed), some masochism in
    response (perhaps) dissociation/numbness,
    and the overall narrative seems
    to have the switchings of a dream. Sort of an internal discussion.
    There are ambiguously placed words in poems too, although they
    trigger things more randomly than the known feeling there.

    If someone wants a certain waking ambivalence, there could be a desire
    not to be trapped into commiting to a line of action, or some
    presumed tactical advantage, or even a desire to
    “surprise myself” in people who are actually capable of that
    (that’s not common), which could be a thrill thing, or a desire
    to make oneself more original through more rare combinations
    of actions. That last one is interesting from the POV of art
    or poetry, but from your poetry style I hunch that you just are
    randomized and capable of multiple outcomes naturally,
    and just playing out that. Most people are stuck in a ‘groove’,
    a mode that it’s hard to switch to others, like quantum states.
    Perhaps others have a lower jump theshold and can switch.
    At some point, one might become addicted to the fun of it.
    Non-shifting people may develop issues, since they aren’t
    sure who they are dealing with. But that’s if they do not know the
    core, the motivations that don’t change. Unless those change..
    (just a babble)

What the Exhaustion Does
March 22, 2008


It makes me post poems-not-my-own. I’m exhausted from teaching literature-on-repeat, among other things equally tiring. I’ll keep the remaining details off the radar for the moment (mostly so I don’t bore you).

Here’s a Robert Frank photo to tide you over (something of a lament just in time for the spring weather to leave us) until I can post something noteworthy, and an oft-recited poem from John Berryman’s Dream Songs. I used to do some photography, and Frank was one of my idols. I hope you enjoy the poem or the photo or the poem-photo or all of the above. Good night, yawn.

Dream Song 14

Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so.
After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns,
we ourselves flash and yearn,
and moreover my mother told me as a boy
(repeatingly) “Ever to confess you’re bored
means you have no

Inner Resources.” I conclude now I have no
inner resources, because I am heavy bored.
Peoples bore me,
literature bores me, especially great literature,
Henry bores me, with his plights & gripes
as bad as Achilles,

who loves people and valiant art, which bores me.
And the tranquil hills, & gin, look like a drag
and somehow a dog
has taken itself & its tail considerably away
into the mountains or sea or sky, leaving
behind: me, wag.

2 Responses to “What the Exhaustion Does”

  1. Lissa Says:
    November 20th, 2005 at 8:59 pm eI am exhausted, I am exhausted–
    Pillar of white in a blackout of knives.
    I am the magician’s girl who does not flinch.
    The villagers are untying their disguises, they are
    shaking hands.
    Whose is that long white box in the grove, what have
    they accomplished, why am I cold.

    “The Bee Meeting” — Plath

  2. jack brummet Says:
    November 23rd, 2005 at 7:45 am eAmy – I like your blog. I like your references. Keep it up! The Robert Frank photo was wonderful and anyone who prints a Dream Song gets a lot of love from me!

    Thank you!