Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Call for Submissions: Pig in a Poke

Pig in a Poke

The following heralds the return of a small press original: Pig in a Poke, from Harry Calhoun and Trina Allen. This for the foreseeable future will be a monthly electronic magazine featuring poetry, fiction and literary essays. Here is their announcement, followed by a link to more detailed submission guidelines.


Announcing Pig in a Poke — a magazine of quality poetry and fiction.

New and resurrected! Brought to you by Harry Calhoun, the publisher of the ‘80s underground magazine Pig in a Poke, and frequently published fiction writer Trina Allen.

“The Pig” featured work by Charles Bukowski, Jim Daniels, Louis McKee, lyn lifshin, Judson Crews and many more. This new literary journal in electronic format is looking for writers with passion — poets, storytellers, essayists and others. Harry will pick the poems and literary essays, while Trina will select the fiction.

This is not a magazine for the fainthearted, as we plan to be very picky. But we hope that means the finest in poetry and fiction for our readers.


All my best,


Detailed submission guidelines:


in winter wind
the pig giggles
in his sleep
translated by David G. Lanoue


Sunday, March 28, 2010

April ...

April is turning out to be one of the busiest months of the year. I find, due to a variety of circumstances, that I've fallen behind in a number of areas and need to play catchup.

I've a review due at Modern Haiku I need to polish off. Later this month, in close proximity of each other I will be leading a discussion on Elizabeth Bishop for the 3 Poems By ... discussion group, helping to judge a county-wide teen poetry contest in conjunction with a One Book, One Community book initiative, conducting another introduction to poetry session for Oasis lifelong learners, and doing a followup reading of my own work for the New Yinzer at Modern Formations. In addition, I've fallen woefully behind with the print magazine, Lilliput Review, and have a new chapbook in the "Modest Proposal" series which needs to go to press.

The "bad" news is that, for the month of April, I need to gear down a bit with the blog to catch up with all these things. The good news is, as hinted at before, I have a plan.

Besides cutting back on the blog for a bit, I've decided to put out a double run of Lilliputs, 4 issues instead of the customary 2, to be mailed together. I know this seems like more work but, trust me, in the long run, this will help me get the ship righted in very solid fashion. Though, of course, in the short run it will take a little longer to get all those issues together, printed, cut, collated, stapled, and shipped.

So posting will be intermittent. I'm thinking of April at Issa's Untidy Hut as being scattershot - a sort guerrilla blogging approach, if posting at all. I will forgo the daily Twitter Lilliput poems for the foreseeable future. Issa's Sunday Service, too, will be on hiatus for a bit.

I'll be putting my nose to the grindstone for the next couple of weeks. Wish me luck!

the silver dew
becoming round, this too
takes work!
translated by David G. Lanoue


Friday, March 26, 2010

Jim Carroll by Tom Clark

Photograph by Mary K. Greer

One of the finest artist produced blogs on the net is by the great poet, Tom Clark. Beyond the Pale serves as a model for poets and writers wishing to produce content and extend the dialogue of author/reader beyond the printed page into the much vaunted digital world. The net is not a source of promotion for Clark, as the book before it was not the point of writing; it is the connection of one mind to another or, in the case of writers, many others. I, as a reader, like to think of the experience as one on one, poet and reader, one at a time.

The line may be long, but the poet will get to you eventually.

Back on September 11th 2009, when the poetic/writing community lost Jim Carroll, it hit a particular segment very hard. Disbelief, as it always is with untimely death, was the predominant reaction. One looks around, shakes one's head, tries to get mind around the idea of death. Grief prompts something like an irrational, inconsolable searching. We've all been there, with those closest to us to those we "know," share a deep kinship with, through their work.

It is significant that we characterize this type of kinship with the feeling of having been "touched"; I was deeply touched by the work of Jim Carroll. And for others, like myself, who went looking for an "explanation," or that other type of kinship, shared mourning, we found something profoundly moving.

We found Tom Clark on Jim Carroll.

Back in September, on the 14th, a mere 3 days after Jim's passing, Tom Clark posted his memories of Jim. Somehow, his glimpses into the life of Carroll were just what folks needed to hear. The few scenes were significant, sketched as they were by his friend Clark, a powerful memoirist. Those glimpses, with a touch of poetry by both poets, began a healing process for a community of readers who had always felt that Jim was close to them in spirit.

I'm happy to say, though blogs come and go as quickly as the seasons, Bob Arnold of Longhouse Publications has published Tom's post in a little 23 page booklet that, with the exception of a one photo and minus one or two that were on the blog, essentially replicates that post in its entirety.

The handful of tales Clark recounts of Carroll signify. Jim's deep bond with his dog during his protracted period of kicking dope, his reluctance at pickup games of basketball, his reaching out to a woman reading her poetry at a rehab session, all of these moments, though seemingly small details in a much larger life, feel like a full portrait of a poet that many a whole biography might fail to capture. Clark's account of his own distaste for poetry readings quickly dissipates watching Jim reading to a room of 10 fellow recovering substance abusers:

It was totally mesmerizing; I felt privileged, uplifted, and scared. While reading Jim seemed to leave himself and become the conductor of energies from another place. I understood then I was in the presence of a master, his powers palpable yet perhaps beyond the understanding of anyone present.

Jim Carroll fans will always have Living at the Movies, The Book of Nods, The Basketball Diaries, Fear of Dreaming, Void of Course and Forced Entries, as well as his great rock recordings. And now we have this little set of scenes in which Jim comes to life once again in a way that only a friend and master stylist can make happen. Though it might be both premature and presumptuous to think the inevitable full length biography might not capture Jim as well as this short little memoir, it can surely be said that no one will capture the tone and feel of Tom Clark's thoughts on the great Jim Carroll. If you think this is just the publication for you, jump at it since this little booklet is a limited run (see Tom's note about run in comments below) . I know it will always sit right next to Jim's work on the shelf with all of his writings I have on hand.

There is a photo, by Beatrice Murch, that concludes the book and wasn't on Tom's original post [CORRECTION: This photo did appear in Tom's original post. See his comment, below.] It is a photo of a path out in Bolinas just like the ones Clark describes Jim as often traversing with his dog, Jo'mama, all the while wrestling with loneliness and his various demons. Perhaps it is one of the very paths he walked.

A path that is now empty.

The Birth and Death of the Sun

Now the trees tempt
the young girl below them

each moves off the other's wind
endlessly, as stars from the earth,
stars from the stars.
Jim Carroll

Thanks to Bob Arnold for making this available.

And thanks to Tom Clark, for everything.


This week's featured poem comes from Lilliput Review #100, a broadside by Cid Corman entitled "You Don't Say."

Here is a
long way off
and as far
as you'll've
ever got.
Cid Corman

at my feet
when did you get here?

translated by David G. Lanoue



PS Books mentioned in this post. Support Independent booksellers.

Living at the Movies
The Book of Nods
The Basketball Diaries
Fear of Dreaming
Void of Course
Forced Entries

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Xanadu: Issa's Sunday Service, #47

Click to enlarge

I have to admit never having been a fan of the band Rush. There was just a certain something that didn't quite click for me. However, when I began to collect songs over a year ago for the feature that became the weekly Issa's Sunday Service, they were one of the first bands that jumped out. Not with just one song, but with many, many songs.

The storied history of Samuel Taylor's Coleridge's Kubla Khan is the stuff of lyrical legend. This week's selection quotes liberally from its source material:


"To seek the sacred river Alph
To walk the caves of ice
To break my fast on honey dew
And drink the milk of Paradise...."

I had heard the whispered tales
Of immortality
The deepest mystery
From an ancient book. I took a clue
I scaled the frozen mountain tops
Of eastern lands unknown
Time and Man alone
Searching for the lost ---- Xanadu

Xanadu ---- To stand within The Pleasure Dome
Decreed by Kubla Khan
To taste anew the fruits of life
The last immortal man
To find the sacred river Alph
To walk the caves of ice
Oh, I will dine on honey dew
And drink the milk of Paradise

A thousand years have come and gone
But time has passed me by
Stars stopped in the sky
Frozen in an everlasting view
Waiting for the world to end
Weary of the night
Praying for the light
Prison of the lost ---- Xanadu

Xanadu ---- Held within The Pleasure Dome
Decreed by Kubla Khan
To taste my bitter triumph
As a mad immortal man
Nevermore shall I return
Escape these caves of ice
For I have dined on honey dew
And drunk the milk of Paradise

And, least one become confused, the original follows in all its "incomplete" glory. First, here is a prefatory note by the poet as to that storied history:

"The following fragment is here published at the request of a poet of great and deserved celebrity, and, as far as the Author's own opinions are concerned, rather as a psychological curiosity, than on the grounds of any supposed poetic merits. In the summer of the year 1797, the Author, then in ill health, had retired to a lonely farm-house between Porlock and Linton, on the Exmoor confines of Somerset and Devonshire. In consequence of a slight indisposition, an anodyne had been prescribed, from the effects of which he fell asleep in his chair at the moment that he was reading the following sentence, or words of the same substance, in 'Purchas's Pilgrimage':

Here the Khan Kubla commanded a palace to be built, and a stately garden thereunto. And thus ten miles of fertile ground were inclosed with a wall.

The Author continued for about three hours in a profound sleep, at least of the external senses, during which time he has the most vivid confidence, that he could not have composed less than from two to three hundred lines; if that indeed can be called composition in which all the images rose up before him as things with a parallel production of the correspondent expressions, without any sensation or consciousness of effort. On awakening he appeared to himself to have a distinct recollection of the whole, and taking his pen, ink, and paper, instantly and eagerly wrote down the lines that are here preserved." "A person on business from Porlock" interrupted him and he was never able to recapture more than "some eight or ten scattered lines and images."

Kubla Khan; or A Vision in a Dream: a Fragment
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail:
And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!

A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight 'twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Listening to Rush's "Xanadu," the synth recalls all the excess of a decade that helped redefine the word. Does it work for a poem which, in its own way, is garishly over the top? I'll leave it to you to decide.

I'm still stuck on that synth - seems there is a what part of get over it I really don't I understand.


This week's featured poem comes from Lilliput Review #72, August 1992 (6 more poems, plus the cover from this issue, may be found in this previous post).

mocking myself
i see
both faces
Daniel DiGriz

the first cherry blossoms
soon scatter and stick...
people's faces
translated by David G. Lanoue

Which, of course, brings to mind Mr. Pound and his reverence for ancestors:

In a Station of the Metro
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
Ezra Pound

But how can Issa not have the last word:

not giving a damn
that plum blossoms fall...
his stern face
translated by David G. Lanoue


PS A complete list of all 47 songs is available on the stand alone LitRock website, along with a jukebox to listen to songs separately or altogether. Of course, the Jukebox is also available on the sidebar of this page.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sun, Here It Comes: 7 Songs for Spring

Click to play all 7

Walking on Sunshine - Katrina & the Waves
Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying - Gerry & the Pacemakers
Sunshine of Your Love - Cream
Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone - Bill Withers
Sunny Afternoon - The Kinks
Paper Sun - Traffic
Here Comes the Sun - The Beatles

aware of the sun
setting, the butterfly
flits away
translated by David G. Lanoue


Friday, March 19, 2010

t. kilgore splake: The Poet Tree

t. kilgore splake is a one of a kind, post-Beat, small press poet, with a romantic streak bigger than his beloved UP of Michigan and a body of work unrivaled by most of his contemporaries. You can set your clock by the deliberate, measured pacing of his free verse machinations and if you don't love the soul of this man, well, have I ever got some overpriced, upscale, academic poetry I'd like to pawn off on your dismally pretentious ass.

splake's poems are like missives, journal entries from a fading, too-soon-to-be-gone world. What he loves, what he wrestles with, who he is, is all there, right in the poems. As someone who came late to the "profession" (the first two definitions of that word say it all: "1 : the act of taking the vows of a religious community 2 : an act of openly declaring or publicly claiming a belief, faith, or opinion" i.), one of his major themes is his ongoing battle with "dame muse" or "damn dame muse." The declarative nature and gender of this theme are telling. His heroes are championed throughout his work: Richard Brautigan, Hemingway, Harrison, the Beats, Vonnegut, Bukowski ... the list is long and his admiration unflagging. Even his name - kilgore from Vonnegut, splake, as in a type "trout," a simultaneous tribute to Mr. V's great character and the trout swimming upriver from the Brautigan mythos, and the t., well, I'm not telling about that - is collage as homage. He is a great lover of the outdoors, a fisherman, an inveterate hiker of the nearby Cliffs, an excellent photographer, and a man of decided opinions.

Oh, and did I mention: he is a wonderful poet.

There have been many fine collections of his work throughout the years, including poetry, prose, and photography. He has been championed by many such as Jim Chandler of Thunder Sandwich, whose interview with the poet is a great place to start for the uninitiated. Though his work may not appeal to all and, if we are honest, whose would, those who are attracted to it grab tight and hold on.

It is with great pleasure that I received in the mail recently a beautiful little chapbook, published by Henry Denander's Kamini Press of Stockholm, entitled The Poet Tree and Other Poems. Though splake writes well in longer forms of 1, 2, and more pages, this tiny little volume concentrates on one of his greatest assets: the short poem, 15 or so lines or less. Here is the opening salvo:

red thimbleberries
like Jesus' blood
chartres stained glass

In 3 short lines is captured quite a bit of what splake is about: the beauty, and his fascination with, nature, a drop or two of sacrilege, and an all pervasive appreciation of art.

No mean feat, as it took Proust 7 lengthy volumes and over 1.5 million words to capture what Splake sketches in a telling 9 words.

He can capture himself, too, with a stark honesty, in this poem putting the photographer's precise eye to fine effect:

coming into spring

young pretty girl
espresso and laptop
conglomerate café morning
window table voyeur
while bears still sleeping
somewhere under snow

Here the element of nature is transmuted into an almost haiku like epiphany. Like his old friend and fellow poet, Albert Huffstickler, splake has a thing about coffee shops, often chronicling them in his verse. Spring, by the way, is a big, if brief, thing in its coming to the UP.

There are ups and downs in his work, emotional swings of elation and depression, characteristic of many an artist. One of the ways the poet has chosen to deal is to go head on and wrestle the angel:

cojones time

"sunlight here i am"

muse long gone
blank page contests
past distant memories
destiny in hand
hot chivas rush
bardic blood boiling
brain skull cavity
distant grey fog
dull hum-hum-humming
.357 ticket to ride
spared nursing home
score tied
overtime eternity

Like Ginsberg & other Beats before and after him, splake chooses to shed all articles in a rush to catch the rhythm of meaning, the click-clack sound of spirit riding, riding, straight into the midnight heart of It All. Yes, there is darkness and there is much light, there is the ultimate beauty of life and what is.

Norbert Blei, at poetry dispatch and other notes from the underground, did an excellent recent post on splake, replete with poem and an essay by the poet on what exactly "the poet tree" is. To tempt you over to this essay, here is a picture I lifted from there:

You can get a nice signed edition of this beautiful little chapbook with over 30 of splake's finest poems for a mere $9 from Henry Denander at Kamini Press. I highly recommend it.

Of course, I'm biased. The poet and I have corresponded for nearly 20 years, him sending me envelopes full of xeroxed articles of books of interests and poems, his and others, I sending back and commiserating over the collective doom of his much-loved Cubbies and my much maligned Buccos. Yes, baseball is another shared romance of a bygone era, two old fools on a virtual park bench lamenting the way it was.

And my bias goes beyond this epistolary friendship of the non-electronic variety. My friend has honored what I do, if only by association: imagine my true and happy surprise to read this, the title poem of his collection, for the first time in this chap:

poet tree
denander drawings
lilliput poems
tibetan prayer flag colors
suffering autumn storms
vanishing in winter blizzards
buried until spring
to be born again

Of course, it is possible that lilliput is just a modifier here, signaling the diminutive nature of the poems on the tree and in this collection and has nothing to do with Lilliput the magazine (4 splake poems from previous posts) at all. But I'd like to think differently, especially since it was italicized (of course, there is that other Lilliput) and knowing how splake love's to refer to the things he enjoys.

Yes, I believe I'll think otherwise, mistaken or not.


This week's featured broadside is the beautiful Selected Wu Songs by Linda Joan Zeiser, published as Lilliput Review #108. Here's a delightful taste of that beauty as spring rapidly approaches:

The tulip path is covered now
with reds and pinks and whites and blues.
2,000 petals hold my heart
in a perfumed ritual that has no end.
Linda Joan Zeiser

And, for context, one more:

How many stars have fled the night,
how many seas have parted?
Within the soft contours of her,
no other questions matter!
Linda Joan Zeiser

And with many lifetimes collective wisdom, Master Issa:

once again
I've managed not to die...
blossoming spring
translated by David G. Lanoue


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Todd Moore (1937-2010): One of the Best of the Small Press

Todd Moore: R.I.P

I've just received news over on Facebook that Todd Moore has died. We seem to be losing some of the best of the small press this year. Since I can't find anything up (update: info coming in as I type, see below) about it on the web except at his Facebook page, I'm going to put up these links in tribute.

An interview with Todd Moore

Bill Nevins talks with Todd Moore

Death Notice just found

poem for vinny golia (poem)

a big pile (poem)

From Outlaw Poetry:
Todd Moore and Lummox Press
Wolfgang Carstens on Todd's passing and new book, Dead Reckoning
And Carstens' poem for Moore

John Macker on Todd

From Duke City Fix

Another Interview with Moore

todd moore: ‘blind whiskey and the straight razor blues’ (review with poems)

the master being dead
just ordinary...
cherry blossoms
translated by David G. Lanoue


Bullet the Blue Sky: Issa's Sunday Service, #46

I noticed earlier this week that Saturday was Adam Clayton's birthday, Adam of U2 fame that is, and I thought, well, I'll check the list of potential LitRock songs and grab one of it in his honor.

Imagine my surprise when I found I had nothing.

So, I dug in and took a poke around and I was surprised again when I found a whole site devoted to just the topic: U2Literary. Don't know if it is still an active site but the archive is up and its got quite an impressive list of allusions. Not all fit the criteria for Issa's Sunday Service - a song must contain a direct allusion, either in the lyrics or title etc., to something literary - and so many are Biblical in nature, but no matter. I've got some future numbers to share from the best band from the 80's.

Today's selection is one of their best: "Bullet the Blue Sky."

In the locust wind
Comes a rattle and hum.
Jacob wrestled the angel
And the angel was overcome.

For those who've never had the opportunity to see U2 live, here is an extraordinary performance of "Bullet the Blue Sky," from Paris, 1987.

Last week, I mentioned that anyone with suggestions for future "Issa's Sunday Service" posts that were accepted would receive the current two issues of Lilliput Review free. Two folks took me up on it and they already have received their issues. The offer stands, so if you have any suggestions for LitRock songs (songs with direct reference to something literary: an author, title, quote, genre etc.) send 'em along and I'll send you some poetry that rocks.


This week's poem comes from Lilliput Review, #71, from August 1995. 5 poems, plus the cover, from #71 were featured in this previous post.

salt in good
black earth of
carthage sherman
to the sea ghost
towns of chernobyl
fiddleheads unrolling
under pineshade turned
to find my footsteps
-----------------------------------------------John Perlman

And last word to the guy who sweeps up around here, Master Issa:

a mountain where
no foot has stepped...
cherry blossoms
translated by David G. Lanoue


PS A complete list of all 45 songs is available on the stand alone LitRock website, along with a jukebox to listen to songs separately or altogether. Of course, the Jukebox is also available on the sidebar of this page.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Cavafy and _________: A ______ and a Poem, #2

C. P. Cavafy by Yiannis Kephallenos

Occasionally, I come across a poem that I'd like to pass along, with an attendant song, in no particular context beyond the fact that it is a very good short poem (and a good song). Last month, it was a Tom Waits song and a Jack Gilbert poem.
Recently, I ran across this beautiful little poem by Constantine Cavafy about love, sex, and age, and thought I'd highlight it here. When I started thinking about songs, Morrison's "Brown-Eyed Girl" immediately came to mind. Morrison spends a lot of time "going back," and has referenced this song, and, I believe, the particular love it chronicles, more times than I can count over the years. Ironically, this piece of universally loved nostalgia was written by Van at a very young age, which is a good argument for reincarnation or simply indicative of the fact that Van just never got out enough.

Body, Remember

Body, remember not only how much you were loved,
not only the beds on which you lay,
but also those desires for you that glowed plainly in the eyes,
and trembled in the voice-
and some chance obstacle made futile.
Now that all of them belong to the past,
it almost seems as if you had yielded to those desires-
how they glowed,
remember in the eyes gazing at you;
how they trembled in the voice, for you, remember, body.

Constantine Cavafy
translated by Rae Dalven



plum blossom scent--
a hazy memory
of my nanny's house
translated by David G. Lanoue


PS. A note for those who are on Facebook: there is a move afoot to rename a San Francisco street after current city Poet Laureate and all around great poet, memorist, and person, Diane DiPrima. For those of you so inclined, check it out here.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Georg Trakl: New Translations by Daniele Pantano

Georg Trakl

Towards the end of last year, I did a couple of posts on Georg Trakl. At that time Daniele Pantano, a poet whose work has appeared in Lilliput, got in touch to let me know he was working on a volume of Trakl translations of his own.

Forthcoming in 2013 is The Collected Works of Georg Trakl, translated by Daniele Pantano and published by Black Lawrence Press. The book will include all of his poems, plays, fragments, drafts and letters and will be well over 1,000 pages. The timing of publication will dovetail with the centenary of Trak's death (November 3, 1914). Daniele has been generous enough to share a number of poems from the forthcoming manuscript and, in turn, I've selected a few to share with readers of The Hut.

Trakl is a master at building his poems on finely wrought imagery, so finely that meaning is evoked rather than plainly stated:

My Heart At Evening
At nightfall you hear the bats shriek.
Two black horses leap across the meadow.
The red maple rustles.
The small inn along the way appears to the traveler.
Delicious the young wine and nuts.
Delicious: to stagger drunk in the darkening forest.
Cruel bells ring through black branches.
Dew drips on the face.

Frequently, there is an ominous, portentous quality in Trakl's poems. Along with this almost macabre feeling, the imagery can be close to cinematic in its execution:

In the evening, when the bells ring peace,
I follow the miraculous flights of birds
That in long flocks, like lines of pious pilgrims,
Vanish in clear autumnal skies.

Strolling through the dusky garden
I dream after their brighter fates
And barely feel the hour hands move.
Thus above clouds I follow their journeys.

Then a whiff of decay makes me tremble.
The blackbird laments in the leafless branches.
The red wines sways on rusty trellises,

While like the pale children's death-dance
Around dark rims of weathered fountains,
Blue asters bow and shiver in the wind.

Here the birds bring a lighter note, flying off to more hopeful fates, by implication leaving a darker, foreboding landscape. This fate enters with the smell of decay. The blackbirds left behind are lamenting, while blue asters are reminiscent of some horrific death-dance of children. Though what that fate might be is left unstated by the narrator, its implication is every bit as fearful as an awful noise in the next room, the rattling of a locked doorknob about to give way.

Landscape 2nd Version
September evening; the shepherds' dark calls echo
Through the twilight village; fire sparks in the forge.
Violently a black horse rears up; the maid's hyacinthine locks
Strain at the heat of its purple nostrils.
Softly the doe's scream freezes at the forest's edge
And the yellow flowers of autumn
Bend mutely over the pond's blue face.
A tree burned down in red flames; bats flutter up with dark faces.

Pantano has done a nice job translating a very difficult poet in the selection that I read. The difficulty in translating Trakl comes from his very simplicity; there is so much implied in his core set of images, resonating in archetypal ways, that this is no doubt a formidable challenge for any translator. I'll be looking forward to reading the full volume when it appears.

There is no announcement yet on the Black Lawrence Press site of a specific date in 2013 for publication. Thanks once again to Daniele Pantano for sharing his translations and allowing another view of the excellent work of Georg Trakl. I'll keep you posted on any forthcoming news about this collection when I get it.

Meanwhile, if you'd like to see more before 2013, Erbacce Press, Liverpool, has published a chapbook of Pantano's Trakl translations entitiled In an Abandoned Room: Selected Poems by Georg Trakl. He tells me it is selling well at (heads up: a blaring version of "Paperback Writer" will greet you when you click):



This week's featured broadside is Lilliput #114, entitled Slides, by long time small press icon, Hugh Fox. Fox was right there at the beginning of the small press movement that grew out of the Beat writers and the mimeo revolution. He is something on an institution in himself. It has been a privilege to publish his work in Lillie occasionally over the years. Slides is what the name implies, a series of images, in this case 12, that flash quietly before us in the dark, some of which remain long after the lights are turned back on and the drinks are refreshed. I particularly like this one, which closes out the set and quite simply captures a moment in time.

Reaching down into the grass
boiling with crickets, lifting a moth
off the wall as carefully as I can and
letting it out into the night, only it falls
on to the front porch instead of
flying away.
Hugh Fox


Least we forget, today is the birthday of Jack Kerouac, whose work has given great pleasure to unsung millions. As I'm wont to do, when I think of Jack I like to walk across the room and open up his Book of Haikus randomly to see what he is about these days:

Ah, the birds
--at dawn
my mother and father
Jack Kerouac

If ever there was a poem in the spirit of Issa, this it. Truly lovely and all-embracing in its compassion and implied detail.


And the final song goes to Master Issa:

when will it become
a cricket's nest?
my white hair
translated by David G. Lanoue


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Conquistador: Issa's Sunday Service, #45

Those of you who have been following these posts for awhile know I have many little vices (and many more that I'm not telling). Some of those include pop bands of perhaps questionable value. One band, making there second appearance on the Sunday Service, is Procol Harum and, I'm happy to say, I'm not hanging my head here. I've blogged about them more than a few times; once an entire post was picked up and reprinted on the biggest PH site on the net, Beyond the Pale. As far back as the previous Lilliput blog, Beneath Cherry Blossoms, I printed the lyrics to their song "Conquistador," in tandem with Shelley's Ozymandis, which I always felt was the song's inspiration.

All of which brings us to today's feature: that's right, it's "Conquistador," today being the birthday of the band's outstanding organ player, Matthew Fisher, who no doubt will be best remembered for his beautiful contribution to their signature song, "A Whiter Shade of Pale" (and the nasty lawsuit that was recently settled in his favor over said organ part).
So as not to end on a sour note, here's E-Verse Radio's discussion of Shelley's "Ozymandis," turning lemonade back into lemons.
Um, wait, on second thought, ending with lemons would make it a sour note. Let me, therefore, simply say, hey, E-Verse guys, I liked the pictures.

This week's poem comes from issue #69, eight poems from which were featured in a previous post. This poem, which opened the issue, was not. Here it is. I've often pondered, and practiced, using it in past readings, and may in fact work up the courage for next month's New Yinzer reading. It is a challenge to read on the page, never mind out loud; however, if done correctly, it is worth the effort.

What Was Is
All that was is now is
all that is was was
----and is again
what was is what is was --
was is is, is is was;
so what was is what is is
and is is what was was,
----is what was
will become.

Cy Keith Jones

And Issa, on the same subject:

at my hut
what will come of it?
spring's first dawn

translated by David G. Lanoue

PS A complete list of all 45 songs is available on the stand alone LitRock website, along with a jukebox to listen to songs separately or altogether. Of course, the Jukebox is also available on the sidebar of this page.
Suggestions for future feature songs will be rewarded with riches beyond your wildest dreams, if your dreams are modest and your idea of a good time, well, wistful.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Call for Submissions: Lost Hills Books

Back in January of '09, I did a review of a wonderful James Wright tribute collection published by Lost Hills Books, entitled From The Other World. I was contacted last week by Stephani Schaefer from Lost Hills about a Call for Submissions they were putting out. Turns out they hadn't even seen the review (and liked it when they did) but, since I know Stephani as a Lilliput subscriber, she made the connection. I promised I would pass this call on to folks who read the blog. Guidelines follow, with the 6 photos following them (you'll get it once you read the guidelines).

Following the photos are three poems to round out a healthy, nutritious post.



Lost Hills Books is seeking work written in response
to the six photos attached below. We are looking for
variety: free verse, forms, prose poems, and mini-
stories. You may write to a blend of more than one
image, or respond to photos separately, and you may
send more than one piece to one photo. If the work
opens out to something beyond the photo in front of
you it's more likely to be accepted.


Create a new email and address it to

steph AT chiconet dot com (spelled out to avoid bots)

Put your title(s) in the subject line.

Include a brief bio if you like, or wait to send it
and your mailing address after work is accepted.

Tell us the photo (or photos if it's a blend) that
prompted the work.

We can use poems up to two pages and stories up
to four. Put the title and your name on each page.

You may submit up to 6 pieces, one at a time as
you finish them, or several with one email.

If you prefer to send one at a time, you can attach
it as a word document or paste it into the body of
the email.

When sending several with one email, please attach
each as a separate word document named with the
work's title.

Snail mail is acceptable if it's your only option. Email
me and we'll discuss how to handle it.


DEADLINE for submissions is June 1st. Final
responses will be sent out no later than September 1st.

Contributors will receive one free copy and a 50%
discount on extra copies.

Stephani Schaefer, Lost Hills Books


Roadside Marker

Fog and Woodsmoke

Pavement Ends

Blackbirds at Dusk


Flooded Road


I ran across this Lorine Niedecker poem the other day, it'd been years since I last read it. It certainly could serve as a motto around these parts, so I thought I'd share it:

Poet's Work

---advised me:
-----Learn a trade

I learned
---to sit at desk
-----and condense

No layoffs
---from this
Lorine Niedecker

And this little beauty by Richard Wright:

--------I am paying rent
For the lice in my cold room
--------And the moonlight too.
Richard Wright

And, at least for tonight, a companion for Mr. Wright:

by the next room's lamplight
eating my rice...
a cold night
translated David G. Lanoue


Friday, March 5, 2010

Roberta Beary: nothing left to say

Roberta Beary is one of the finest modern haiku poets I know. She was the winner of the 1st Annual Bashō Challenge here at Lilliput, which is probably the most modest of her many honors. With her 2009 chapbook, nothing left to say, pictured above, she joins an esteemed lineup in the King's Road Press low frills "Hexagram Series." Each of the volumes in the series is 16 pages long; nothing left to say contains 35 of Beary's haiku.

The hexagram from the I Ching on the cover is #63, "Completion." As annotated here, it is described thus:

The transition from confusion to order is completed, and everything is in its proper place. After a long and difficult period, it is finally time to rest and remain quiet.

The poems, themselves, are of a characteristic high quality. The opening haiku, from which the title derives, is a fine example modern English language haiku:

nothing left to say
an empty nest
fills with snow

This poem breaks in an one of traditional ways for modern English language haiku; the first line posits "the conclusion," with a 2 line image that follows that either describes or evokes the thought. Flip the poem around, though, for another traditional approach; with the 2 line image first and the 1st line as the conclusion the poem doesn't work nearly as well. Even with the present tense, making the 1st line the last gives it a finished feel that diminishes the power and nature of the experience. What is happening is ongoing, it is now; the reversal would undermine the continuous moment.

Next, an 8 word little poem, with considerable emotional power:

my daughter's voice cracks
across two continents

With one word ("breakup"), the poet has encapsulated the whole situation. With its description in the 2nd and 3rd lines , the breakup is shown to have a power which geographically spans a tremendous distance, a distance which no doubt is exacerbated over the phone. Further, the use of the verb "cracks" lends the poem a tone of an almost seismic nature. The effect conjured is figuratively earth shattering, at once telling a narrative and presenting it with perfect metaphoric resonance, incredibly, without the metaphor.

in and out
of the lovers' quarrel

I love this little poem and it probably is purely a matter of personal taste; this is what I think of as a "big picture" haiku. Placing the lovers in the midst of nature, the artist may simply put down her brush and walk away. She's done her job to perfection. There may be other movement implicit in the poem: the weaving in and out of the lovers' words, the possible physical movement of the lovers themselves as they speak. In this case, however, the unstated is just that, for a reason; the most important movement here is that of the fireflies, the how and why of them moving. All else is unimportant.

Why is the fireflies' movement so important? Is there something in it to be learned of the how and why of our movement? Does that movement mirror the lovers themselves?

Obviously, I think all of these evoked questions give the poem its intended resonance. Whether you agree that all that is important here are the fireflies really is a matter of opinion. But this little poem, which appears in 1st Annual Bashō Haiku Challenge Chapbook, is one of the highlights of a fine collection of haiku by Roberta Beary.


Erie poet Lonnie Sherman is one of a kind. In the early years of Lilliput, I published two chapbooks of his work, a couple of broadsides and numerous shorter poems. It was my great privilege to publish that work. Lonnie is one of the genuine post-Beat voices; not one false note about him. He works in longer forms, so he is not a natural for Lilliput. His work, however, is a natural for my heart. This week's featured broadside poem is from issue #114, which saw the light of day back in November 2000. It is one of 3 poems in that issue. Lonnie's work is done in all caps so I thought, rather than reproduce it here, I'd scan in the pages so you might get a feel for the look, a mental tactility, if you will.

As a bonus, the page also contains a drawing by a world renowned artist, making for what I hoped was a fine complementary presentation. If anyone can guess who the artist is, I'll give them a free 6 issue subscription to Lilliput (or a 6 issue extension to a current subscription) or copies of Lonnie's two chapbooks and 3 broadsides.

Click to enlarge

And a final note from Master Issa:

if my father were here--
dawn colors
over green fields

translated by David G. Lanoue