Attention Span 2011 | John Sakkis
Bernadette Mayer | Midwinter Day | New Directions | 1999
If the legend is true, it’s a crime this book doesn’t have its own Wikipedia page. Written in 1 Epic day. Seriously? It took me two days to read the book, not quite on par with Mayer, but who is ever on par with Mayer? I feel like Eric Drooker’s talents would have been better spent illustrating Midwinter Day.
Gilbert Hernandez | Luba | Fantagraphics | 2009
It’s hard for me to read Los Bros Hernandez in the key of anything other than elegy, especially with middle brother Gilbert. The kind of elegy that is less about the passing of persons than the passing of time. Luba has aged since Palomar and we’ve aged with her. Telenovela as descriptor is sort of a lazy cliché. I’ve never cared more about a comic book character or the world they inhabit. The only thing missing are rockets.
Jim Goad | Shit Magnet: One Man’s Miraculous Ability To Absorb The World’s Guilt | Feral House | 2002
Controversial polemical writer Jim Goad gets very polemical in this aptly titled autobiography. Extremely raw, pissed off, beautifully disturbing soap boxing prose from PC public enemy #1. Jim Goad is a bit of a martyr/ cult figure who uses facts and stats to back his controversial castigations. I’m a JG fan, it’s not a popular stance but so what? Get lost.
Julien Poirier | El Golpe Chileno | Ugly Duckling | 2010
“I told Micah last night that my new book would be a haunted house.” Berkeley-based poet Julian Poirier’s El Golpe Chileño is filled with the ghosts of past and present. Essentially a bildungsroman, it tracks Poirier’s protagonist’s growth from youthful journeyman into adulthood though a kind of mixed-genre Theatre of the Absurd. Vaudeville, comics, memoir, film pitch, epistolary, failed novel, poetry, the carnival, and travelogue are all wielded brilliantly in the hands of Poirier, making for a phantasmagoric reading experience where the whole emerges defiantly greater than the sum of its parts. Poirier writes, “I turned my whole brain into a city and wrote down everything I saw happening there.” And indeed it certainly feels that way—the book is ripe with the names of places, of friends living and dead; with lists of dates and years; and with drawings and photographs, making up what Poirier somewhat obliquely labels “The Stolen Universe.” El Golpe Chileño is truly a success of form and content, of the high and low, of pop and elegy.
Ted Berrigan | The Collected Poems Of Ted Berrigan | California | 2007
Iconic LA radio DJ Rodney Bingenheimer over uses the term God-Head to the point of parody. I have never colloquially used the term God-Head. Ted Berrigan is a God-Head. Call me corny but jeez-Louise TB is the real deal Yahweh-Dome. He makes “saturation job” as sexy a thing as it sounds, which is exactly what the Collected Poems begs of you. Hands down this is my “if you were stranded on an island and you could only have one book….”
Matthew Stokoe | Cows | Akashic | 2011
I very seriously almost puked 3 times while reading this masterpiece of gore and perversity. You know how the “dinner table scene” in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre makes you want to take a cold shower with your eyes closed while reciting the Lord’s Prayer? Well, there are multiple dinner table scenes in Cows that would give Leatherface that need-to-scrub-my-body-with-a-Brillo-Pad kind of feeling. “Hagbeast.”
Cedar Sigo | Stranger In Town | City Lights | 2010
I went to the book release party at City Lights with Lindsey Boldt and Steve Orth. Cedar read with Andrew Joron. A totally packed house with a full staircase bleed over to boot. Afterwards everyone went to Specs across the street for drinks. Sitting at the round table next to us, and totally unrelated to our after party were Jack Hirschman, Sarah Menefee and I think Neeli Cherkovoski. North Beach really felt like “North Beach” that night.
Ronaldo Wilson | Poems Of The Black Object | Futurepoem | 2009
I read this book in Miami. I was in Miami in November and I was sweating. I have a photo buried somewhere on Flickr with POTBO firmly clenched between my teeth. It’s the kind of book that induces some serious Bruxism. The kind of teeth gnashing you do at 3AM in a warehouse in Oakland with your best friends, not the kind that takes you to the dentist. Plus, break dancing poems!
Scott Walker | In 5 Easy Pieces | Ume Imports | 2006
I was talking with KUSF (in Exile) DJ Zoe Brezsny today about how you either love SW or hate him. About how I could completely understand/hear how some people hate him, and how you maybe just had to be vibing a certain kind of vibration to really dig him, and how the both of us were absolutely vibrational for Mr. Walker. I think if I knew about Scott Walker as a teenager I might have skipped the whole Jim Morrison “American Poet” thing. I recently ordered a Scott Walker t-shirt online and I’m not embarrassed by it. I’m a fan boy all over again. SW freaks me out with his brilliance, and then keeps freaking me out again and again. Have you ever heard “Lullaby By by by”? If there was ever a song for headphones this is it, an absolutely haunted masterpiece.
David Levi Strauss and Benjamin Hollander, eds. | Acts #5 | 1986
Because of this interview called “Dear Lexicon” with Michael Palmer by Benjamin Hollander and David Levi Strauss. I need to get a hold of MP/BH/DLS to see if I can republish as an issue of BOTH BOTH. An incredibly discursive conversation around the Analytic Lyric, this has been a primary source text for my poetics over the last 10 years. If you’d like a photocopied version please email me at email@example.com and I’d be more than stoked to send along.
Patrick James Dunagan | There Are People Who Think That Painters Shouldn’t Talk: A Gustonbook | Post-Apollo | 2011
Me and Micah and Logan Koreber and Patrick Dunagan were planning on making a skateboard movie called Pushing Mongo. It will be a day-in-the-life of movie. We’ll skate from the Safeway curb, to SOMA down Market on the clickity-bricks, down to the EMB, up and along the Piers all the way to AT&T Park back up to the Mission for burritos then off the skateboards hiking up the hill to grab a beer in Bernal Heights at Wild Side West. Then bombing back down the hill heading towards 16th, almost getting hit by a USPS carrier van, Logan and I will get separated from Micah and Dunagan, but we’ll all end up somehow at Kilowatt for more beers, bros and brouhaha. It’s going to be an epic movie with a happy ending.”
John Sakkis is the author of Rude Girl. His translation of Demosthenes Agrafiotis’s Maribor won the 2011 Northern California Book Award (NCBA) for poetry in Translation. Under the moniker BOTH BOTH he has curated various projects including: blog, reading series, music collaboration and since 2005 a magazine. He lives in the Oakland, CA.