Attention Span 2012 | Michael Kelleher
Gregg Biglieri | Little Richard the Second | Ugly Duckling | 2011
Gregg and I used to take long walks on Sundays back in Buffalo, often with my dog Zelda tagging along. I’d meet him at his house on Ferry St. and we’d walk East over to Delaware Ave., where we’d turn left and walk all the way up to Forrest and sometimes as far as the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, then back down Elmwood. After we moved to Allentown last summer, we used to turn right at Delaware instead of left. We’d walk downtown as far as Edward or so then head northwest towards our house, where Gregg would leave me. We talked about movies and books and our families and friends and what we had thought about since we’d last seen each other. I miss those walks.
Benjamin Friedlander | One Hundred Etudes | Edge | 2012
Ben’s concise poems always have a bite, but to bite into them yields a rich reward. This latest effort is a collection of short poems crammed together to read like a 320-page, book-length poem. Somehow it works both as a serial poem and as a collection of discrete works. His unique combination of satirical wit, formal rigor, and everyday pathos is always a pleasure to read.
Kenneth Goldsmith | Uncreative Writing | Columbia | 2011
I have read most of these essays elsewhere, but buying the book helped me get over the $25 free shipping hump on Amazon. The other book I bought (on Gregg Biglieri’s recommendation, no less) is a collection of short stories by the Soviet writer, Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, called Memories of the Future, originally written in the 1920’s. Kenny’s book is sitting on my nightstand next to Sigizmund. I am a chapter into each.
Ernst Herbeck, trans. Gary Sullivan | Everyone Has a Mouth | Ugly Duckling | 2012
I was happy to see these poems make it into print. UDP has put them out in a beautiful, letter-pressed chapbook, which I picked up at their headquarters last month. Most of these were produced in collaboration with other translators, as well as a co-hort of friends, myself included, who would read Gary’s various attempts on his blog and comment on our preferences. I ate lunch with Gary the other day. We ate Ramen on 55th Street and visited a Japanese bookstore. I bought my daughter a Japanese children’s book about two cats, the moon, and a cloud.
Nancy Kuhl | Little Winter Theater | Ugly Duckling | 2011
I also purchased this at the UDP headquarters. Nancy gave a reading there with Gregg Biglieri back in June. Gregg stayed at our new pad in the Elm City. We all drove down to Brooklyn for the reading, which was recorded in the UDP studio before a respectably intimate audience, most of them twenty-somethings. I ran into Miriam from Buffalo. I also met Christina Davis from the Woodberry Poetry Room at Harvard. Nancy read poems based on the Narcissus and Echo myth, which were echoed in Gregg’s poems, which also mentioned Echo and Narcissus.
China Miéville | Embassytown| Ballantine | 2011
Gregg turned me onto this novelist also. I first read his “Bas-Lag” trilogy last year. Perdido Street Station is now one of my favorite sci-fi (or steampunk or whatever you want to call it) novels. Embassytown is steampunk for the language-obsessed. Great stuff.
Jonathan Skinner | Birds of Tifft | Blazevox | 2011
Jonathan gave me this book on one of his visits to Buffalo in the past year. He says I neglected to mention an interesting incident on my blog when I wrote about his previous book, Political Cactus Poems. Well, here it is. Jonathan, me, and Eleni Stecopoulos read in NYC in 1999 and produced an event book called, Three, which we gave out at the reading. We got it all done just before we left. Our plan was to drive to NYC from Buffalo in a truck JS had borrowed from a friend who lived in Brooklyn. We were supposed to leave around six in the evening, but Jonathan, whose relationship to clocks is, shall we say, tenuous, wasn’t ready until about 11, which meant we would be driving late into the night. We got on the highway and drove for about an hour. Just as we passed Rochester, we realized that Jonathan had left the chapbooks in his kitchen. We had to drive all the way back to get them. We drove all night and arrived in New York at about 8 in the morning, with just enough to time to nap before the reading in the afternoon. I think that’s how the story goes.
Suzanne Stein | Tout Va Bien | Displaced | 2012
I “bought” this “free” book from SPD just after it came out. I read it mostly on my lunch breaks at my new job. Its sense of occasion or the occasional was very pleasing to me. I became very aware of whereI was reading the book, that is, where I was sitting at the time I read it. I immediately began composing a blog post in my mind about this reading experience. Since this book will be appearing on the blog in the coming months, I won’t say too much about it, so as not to ruin the fun of writing about it then.
Dana Ward | This Can’t Be Life | Edge | 2012
This just arrived in the mail. I was surprised to discover that I was a character in not one, but two prose pieces in the book. I had read one of them, “Typing Wild Speech,” when it came out as a chapbook. It re-prints a whole poem of mine while also telling a story about my first meeting with Dana in Cincinnati in, I think, 2009 or 2010. The introductory piece recounts Dana’s visit to Buffalo a few months later, when I drove him around town along with Tisa Bryant. I feel like I am very symbolic to Dana.
Matvei Yankelevich | Alpha Donut | United Artists | 2012
I also acquired this at the Kuhl/Biglieri event at UDP. I started reading it right after I finished reading Suzanne’s book, and I read it straight through in two or three sittings and then read it again right after that. There’s something pleasing about his ability to casually blend mundane observations with a profound knowledge of translation, history, poetry, Russian culture, etc. You kind of drift along on his gentle humor while absorbing, almost unconsciously, all kinds of complex and exciting ideas. This one is also due up on the blog in the coming year, so I think I’ll stop right here.
Michael Kelleher is the author of Visible Instruments, forthcoming from Chax, as well as Human Scale and To Be Sung, both from Blazevox. His blog, Pearlblossom Highway, is home to the Aimless Reading Project, a four-year old daily tour through the memories contained in the books in his personal library.