Brian Spears

Poet, Editor, Teacher, Blogger.


Wonder if installing the WordPress app on my phone will make me more likely to post? I have my doubts, but it would be difficult for me to post less often than I do now. Though if I can post pics from my phone… Hmmm.

March 31, 2010 Posted by | updates | Leave a comment

Poetic Lives Online

The poet Ai Ogawa died last week, and her official obituary is available here. Oliver de la Paz, who knew her briefly while he was in graduate school, had a story to share as well.

Janisse Ray on Wendell Berry.

The Poetry Foundation has just posted part 2 of The Muslim-American Poet as Self and Other.

Michelle Kerns drops 20 annoying book review phrases. Might have to bookmark that one.

Matt Cozart wants to know where you sit when reading an e-book, assuming it’s not on an e-reader. He doesn’t like those either, but that’s a different issue.

My Twitter recommendation for this week is Jim Carmin. Nearly every day I read a story he’s tweeted, and that’s about the highest compliment I can give someone in the world of social media.

March 27, 2010 Posted by | Poetic Lives Online | | Leave a comment

Poetic Lives Online

You’ve probably heard of erasure as a poetic mode–how about redaction?

Arthur Lubow looks at Adam Zagajewski, calls him “the last of his kind.”

Lily Hoang at HTMLGIANT wonders about the discussion surrounding Tao Lin: “I do, however, care about the evident boredom people display in their comments about him. Why do you care? Furthermore, why the fuck do I care that you care? Aren’t there fundamentally more interesting and worthwhile things to discuss?”

Via Barbara Jane Reyes, this post from Niki Escobar talks about misogyny in the open-mic scene as well as online.

Reb Livingston calls out a magazine for selling review copies, and good on her for doing it. That’s some bullshit.

Twitter recommendation for this week is Matt Cozart. He’s funny and active and communicative.

Brian Spears

March 20, 2010 Posted by | Poetic Lives Online | , | Leave a comment

Reading Ulysses on my phone

A year and a half ago, I openly mocked the notion of reading Ulysses on a tiny screen. At the time, I had an iTouch instead of an iPhone, but I was still convinced that it was, as the title of that post says, the worst app ever.

And now, I’m reading Ulysses on my iPhone, though I’m using Stanza and a public domain version, so it was free. I am abashed.

But I’m also thinking that this might be the way I finally finish the novel. I’ve never managed before (and I’m not ashamed to admit that), and I sometimes wonder if that’s because when I get to the thicker parts, I look at the book, realize just how much more I have to get through, and put the book back on the shelf to regather dust. Now the only way I have to keep track is to tap the middle of the screen and see where I am in terms of pages–or to look at the little scroll bar at the bottom–but the number of pages in the former is so large (because the pages are so small) that it’s hard to process just how much farther I really have to go, and the scroll bar at the bottom is so blunt an instrument I mostly ignore it.

I think it’s the uncertainty of just how much farther I have to go that’s keeping the pressure off. Now, I’ll pick up my phone late in the evening, crank up the app, read through 100 or so “pages,” and head off to sleep. And eventually, I think, I’ll finish it.

Other reading I’ve been doing of late: my friend Becka McKay lent me a copy of Inferno done by 20 different translators that I’m also slowly working my way through. I’ve read Dante a number of times–did a class with John DuVal at Arkansas where we read multiple translations of each section–but it’s been a few years since I sat down and really savored it. I’m going at a slow pace–a couple of cantos every couple of nights–and the different voices are really interesting. I’ll do a post on the differences when I finish it.

I’m working on a review of Stacey Lynn Brown’s Cradle Song for The Rumpus, and I just received a copy of the complete correspondence between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell, which I’m looking forward to dipping into. I finished Robert Creeley’s Pieces and realized I’ll have to read it several more times before I really get what he’s doing, and that I may never get it. I’ve also received (as review copies) new collections from Derek Wolcott and Carl Phillips, as well as a copy of some translations from the Chinese. All await, along with those I mentioned in my last post along these lines. Hmmm.

March 20, 2010 Posted by | poetry, smartphones, The Rumpus, tracking my reading | Leave a comment

Does this mean I have taste?

The Lambda Literary Awards have announced the finalists for their 22nd annual awards, and I’m really glad to see a couple of names in particular on the lists for Lesbian Poetry and Gay Poetry, because I reviewed both books for The Rumpus. Here’s my review of Samiya Bashir’s Gospel, and of Randall Mann’s Breakfast with Thom Gunn. I’d like to take credit for the Rumpus Review of Tom Healy’s What the Right Hand Knows, but that one fell in my lap.

March 16, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 1 Comment

National Poetry Month’s Coming

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been putting together the National Poetry Month project for The Rumpus, where I’m the poetry editor. It’s a fair amount of work, wrangling 30 poems from 30 different people in various stages of their careers, balancing styles and genders and ethnicities and ages among other things. And I’m not done yet–I have agreements from 28 poets so far, but only 12 have sent me poems.

I’m very pleased with the selection I’ve received, and a little nervous–I solicited poems from people outside my personal aesthetic, and as a result, I’m not always sure if what I selected from their submissions is really “good” in the minds of those who share the aesthetic those poets represent. I know what I like and why I like it, but I didn’t want this project to become “poems Brian likes by poets Brian likes.” That’s boring.

And the project might wind up boring anyway, at least in the eyes of some readers. I can handle that. I expect it, frankly–there are hardcore personalities out there who dismiss anything that doesn’t fit their view of what poetry should be, and my choices won’t always satisfy them (and might never satisfy them).

But I don’t think it will be boring, at least not if everyone comes through with the poems they’ve promised. There will be a wide range of voices, fairly represented and promoted to the greatest extent I can manage. I even have the promise of a translation or two, which is something I’ve been trying to expand The Rumpus’s coverage of, especially in poetry.

All right–time to get my paying work done so I can go back to doing the fun work.

March 15, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Poetic Lives Online

Congratulations to Rae Armantrout for winning the National Book Critics Circle Award for her collection Versed.

This post by Al Filreis made me send him a Facebook friend request, just so I can find out how the conversation ended. (If you friend request me, I’ll probably say yes–I’m a bit of a whore.)

Jessica Smith has more on her series about women in poetry and poetry-blogging.

The Washington Post covers split This Rock.

Google has reached a deal with Italy to scan books. Older books, mind you, out of copyright, but still, it’s a start.

I really enjoyed this poetry lecture featuring five Muslim American poets: Raza Ali Hasan, Ibtisam Barakat, Fady Joudah, Kazim Ali, and Khaled Mattawa. It’s 45 minutes long and that’s only part one, but it’s worth the time.

This week’s Twitter recommendation is Katrina Vandenberg. She’s one of the poets we’ll be featuring during our National Poetry Month poem-a-day project. More on that soon.

March 14, 2010 Posted by | Poetic Lives Online | Leave a comment