Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Vida and Bill Killen: Wednesday Haiku, Week 46

gardenia's aroma
I breathe in pieces
of its memory

in morning light
the web glistens with dew
one entangled gnat

             Bill Killen

Photo by Mary K. Baird

on the moonlit spider web
an evening
translated by David G. Lanoue


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Go to the LitRock web site for a list of all 127 songs

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Louis McKee, 1951-2011: "Last Call"

I met the poet Louis McKee at the Greyhound Bus Station in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, back in July 1987, a full four years before I moved here.  The occasion was a weekend reading at Hemingway's Bar, a meeting of small press folk from the Northeast, and at least in part a launching for Lou's chapbook No Matter, published by Harry Calhoun's "Pig in a Poke Press."  Many of the clan were gathered; besides Lou, Harry, and myself, there was Lou's traveling buddy, Al Masarik, Lonnie Sherman and Ron Androla from Erie, Cheryl Townsend from Ohio, Pat and Andrea McKinnon from Michigan, John Elsberg, Rich Peabody, and Ken "Zen" Sutherland from the greater DC area and Pittsburgh's own Bart Solarzyck.

It was a bit of a wild, slightly insane weekend.  There were many fine poets, Lou being one of the finest of all.  Lou was a lyric poet, a romantic, really, a poet of memory and incident, a poet who took narrative verse to the heights that it deserves: revelation.  He wrestled with the past, he wrestled with demons, but it was always a clean fight and, at least on paper, he always won.  Which was, by way of saying, he admitted he'd lost, came to terms with it, and elevated pain and loss to a thing of great beauty.

He was a big man with a big vision.

Over the years, I published quite a few of his poems, considering that Lou was usually just getting started, hitting his stride, when he got to line 10, which is the cutoff point for Lillie.  We reconnected this year, and I received a couple of emails from him that I cherish for their generosity and glorious memories.

There is a broadside issue #21 of Lilliput Review entitled "Angelus" and it is a suite of short poems by Louis McKee. Anyone who would like a copy, just send me a SASE to the Lilliput address (282 Main Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15201) and I'll send it along free of charge.

I have a number of books and broadsides of Lou's, including No Matter, Schulylkill County, Marginalia: Poems from the Old Irish, River Architecture, Oranges, and Jamming.  In a recent email, Lou told me that, unbeknownst to him, a friend had submitted No Matter to a chapbook reprint contest and, as a result, it was reprinted by Seven Kitchens Press.  I've just now discovered that Lou died the day it came out.  It appears to be his one of a few of his books currently available and is $7.00 (with $1.50 shipping).  It may be purchased at the link in this paragraph.  I highly recommend it.

Here are handful of  poems from Lou.

When you lie back, your head
tilted like that, your hair
hanging loose, away from your neck,
shaking it out over the grass,
yes, like that,

all of those who have ever loved you
stir, their thoughts cloud
for that moment.  The air shivers
with a soft chill like music.
You sing softly under your breath.

     In a Yellow State
When I was a boy
I had a puzzle, a map
of the states, forty-eight
plastic pieces that fit
together into a frame,
each piece a different color.
Arizona was yellow.
I remember that tonight
as I address a letter
I hope will find you there
and settle some of the problems
we couldn't work out
face to face in Pennsylvania,
which, by the way, was blue.

     The Past
What I leave
behind is little
more than the blues
of never-changing
skies, a river moving
so fast or so slow
it seems to be still,
the water tank
shedding its paint
and the town's name
chipped away and backward
in the rearview mirror.

 from Lilliput Review, #98

is the haunting
voice of father,

what he didn't say,
how I keep hearing it.


     Last Call

      -- for Etheridge Knight
We can never be sure
what might be
on the other side of the door.
So many hours, so many beers,
anything might have happened.
But together we can swell
to the size of ten men, brave men,
and face the cold darkness,
walk into it perfectly
drunk, our heads high, trying
to recall the rhyme
that ended a sonnet or the beginning
of a song not on the jukebox anymore
but standing tall, straight,
arm on arm, and still
among the living, my friend
Louis McKee

Finally here's an interview with Lou.  In addition, the links to Lou's name in the opening paragraph will give you an overview of Lou and his work with Painted Bride Quarterly and Mad Poets.

Cheers, old friend.  You remain now permanently in your most cherished place of all:  memory.

bonfires for the dead
sputter and die...
a flood of memories
translated by David G. Lanoue



Send a single haiku for the Wednesday Haiku feature. Here's how.

Go to the LitRock web site for a list of all 127 songs

Merrill Gonzales at the Mann Library

One of the great lyrical pleasures of the Internet is the unique Mann Library Daily Haiku site.  Generally the site features the work of one particular haiku poet for an entire month, giving the reader an opportunity to settle in and get familiar with that poet's work. It is a great site to either visit daily or go to and, using the back button, take a good long dip into some high quality haiku.  Here's a description from the site's "About" page:

For over ten years, Tom Clausen posted a daily haiku in the elevator of the old Mann building. He continues to post them online from the Mann Library home page. The poets featured are by invitation only and the poems are almost entirely previously published original works of an extended haiku community that includes many of his friends. This site is an effort to share these works with those of you visiting us on our Web site.  Haiku and related brief poetic forms are often very accessible, portable in mind and spirit and at best a knowing touch of what is poetically intuitive in our lives. We hope that you enjoy these expressions as much as we do.
Note by Tom Clausen about haiku: “Haiku has consistently appealed to me as a means of centering, focusing, sharing, and responding to a life and world bent on excess. As the layers of my own life have accumulated, I’ve often felt overwhelmed by both personal changes and the mass of news, information, and survival requirements that come with being human today. Haiku are for me a way of honoring and celebrating simple yet profound relationships that awaken in us, with a gentle and silent inner touch, a spiritual relevance that adds meaning to our lives.”

I thought I'd note this site right now as, for the month of November, Lilliput friend Merrill Gonzales, a fine haiku poet, is being featured.  Here are 3 poems from Merrill to tempt you over to the site to see her fine work and get familiar with a great haiku resource:

stone wall-
between two rocks
a bleeding heart

throbbing cicadas
the same rhythm
as my pulse

first heartbreak
picking pine needles
from woolen gloves

          Merrill Gonzalez


evening cicada--
a last loud song
to autumn

translated by David G. Lanoue


Send a single haiku for the Wednesday Haiku feature. Here's how.

Go to the LitRock web site for a list of all 127 songs

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

aditya bahl and Köy Deli: Wednesday Haiku, Week 45

 Photo by Secretlondon

Wednesday Haiku, Week #45

One bead
missing in the rosary-

full moon

               aditya bahl

Photo by Capture Queen

Ramadan drummers
rattling keys
Köy Deli

Photo by Keith

dance, my little
sparrows at the gate
translated by David G. Lanoue


Send a single haiku for the Wednesday Haiku feature. Here's how.

Go to the LitRock web site for a list of all 127 songs

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Buddha of Suburbia: Issa's Sunday Service #127


The Buddha from Suburbia, the eponymous song from one of David Bowie's most overlooked albums, is named after the 1990 novel by Hanif Kureishi, hence it's literary lineage.  This song is the only one from the soundtrack for the four-part BBC series that Bowie was commissioned to produce and, though classified as a soundtrack, really isn't at all.  There are two very interesting, Eno-like instrumentals on the album, plus a second take of the title track with Lenny Kravitz wailing away on guitar.

Kureishi's first big project (aside from his early stint as a pornography writer) was the screenplay for the great 1985 film, My Beautiful Launderette, a long-time personal favorite of mine.  If you haven't seen it (or perhaps even if you have) here's a 10 minute clip that gives a good feel for the film:

If its one you missed, check it out - among other things, it has a great early performance by Daniel Day-Lewis.

And, finally, here is the official video for the BBC series:


In case you missed it this week, here is a fine poem by angie werren from tinywords, an exemplary online/print mag which has accepted a new poem of my own for publication in a forthcoming collection:

he thinks again of turning leaves her hands
-angie werren

from tinywords

Let's finish up with two songs that popped up on the ipod on my walk to work on Friday.  First George cutting through all the bullshit, Beatle and otherwise:

Next, the rock song with the hottest guitar riff ever (got a hotter one?  I'm listening ...):

My Old School by Steely Dan on Grooveshark

And rounding it all off with two poems from the magnificent collection of the work of Buddhist Nun Rengetsu, Lotus Moon, to be added to the one I posted previously (you can buy it at an independent seller here:

When a Thief Came
If the mountain bandit
Came to my place
To steal away
Golden oak leaves
He struck it rich!

The Thief
Nor a trace
Of a thief
But he left behind
The peaceful stillness
of the Okazaki Hills.

the mountain moon
gives the blossom thief
translated by David G. Lanoue

In case you noticed, yes this is lengthier than it should be for someone on partial hiatus, but I did warn you that staying away from music was never going to completely happen.

And yes, it also means that progress continues on the anthology.  Solid progress.


Send a single haiku for the Wednesday Haiku feature. Here's how.

Go to the LitRock web site for a list of all 127 songs

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Graham Nunn & Bruce Hodder: Wednesday Haiku, Week 44

 Photo by Kenneth Allen

Wednesday Haiku, Week 44


broken string
we pay the busker
for silence
Graham Nunn

Nearly eighteen stone:
afraid to take the spider
from the bath this morning.
Bruce Hodder

Photo by Kevin Rosseel

begging actors at the gate--
pigeons and sparrows
in a row
    translated by David G. Lanoue


Send a single haiku for the Wednesday Haiku feature. Here's how.

Go to the LitRock web site for a list of all 126 songs

Sunday, November 13, 2011

BBC 2 Interview with Allen Ginsberg from The Allen Ginsberg Project

A full-length interview, posted yesterday on The Allen Ginsberg Project, well worth your time.

Thank you once more, Allen, for everything.

Dipping the big toe back in here as surprising progress was made on the Lilliput anthology this week - found the old file I was working on many months ago, as well as new work done.


PS  Happy Birthday, Neil Young, yesterday ... "It's a cold bowl of chili / when love lets you down ..."

Saddle Up The Old Palomino (Remastered Album Version) by Neil Young on Grooveshark

Send a single haiku for the Wednesday Haiku feature. Here's how.

Go to the LitRock web site for a list of all 126 songs

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Kell Robertson: In Memory

The Thing About Kell

  Kell Robertson 
  had no
  cell phone 
  no credit card
  no computer 
  no bank account.
  Just a
  typewriter a
  saddle a
  pistol &
  a guitar.

  Ten million
  more like 
  him &
  Moloch would
  be dropped
  to its
                                                John Bennett

Above is a tribute to small press poet and musician Kell Robertson, who died this week, by another small press legend, John Bennett.   John tells me the poem will be cross posted by Monsieur K over at Outlaw Poetry Network.  Way back in issue #27 of Lilliput Review (November 1991), the following was published.

Coyote Dances
  around the edges
  Coyote yips
  and howls
  at the sky

  Coyote steals
  whatever he can
  and laughs sometimes
  when serious folk
  come around to tell him
  what is good for them
  is good for him too
Kell Robertson

Rest in peace, Kell ...


Send a single haiku for the Wednesday Haiku feature. Here's how.

Go to the LitRock web site for a list of all 126 songs

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Michael Newell & Constance Campbell: Wednesday Haiku, Week 43

Photo by Scott M. Liddell

Most eloquent
when simplest
the grammar of touch.

     Michael L. Newell

to be like the dragonfly:
busy and strong
  Constance Campbell

the distant mountain
reflected in his eyes...

    translated by David G. Lanoue


Send a single haiku for the Wednesday Haiku feature. Here's how.

Go to the LitRock web site for a list of all 126 songs

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Gearing Down, Of Sorts

Editor At Work 

It's time.

I noticed a couple of things. I'm posting at least 4 times a week: the Monday Twitter poem, the Wednesday Haiku feature, the Friday regular post (reviews, rants, featured poems), and Issa's Sunday Service.  Most of this writing is done between 5 and 7am in the morning and on my lunch hours and breaks at work.

Six Gallery Press, which published my collection Past All Traps earlier this year, has been waiting for nearly two years for the 20th Anniversary Anthology of Lilliput Review I promised them.  I've started and stopped the project at least three times.  Not that I intentionally stopped it, no.  I just started doing something else.  And never got back.

They've been very patient.

It's time to show my appreciation of that patience and to seriously turn my attention to that project.

But how?

In addition to the tasks I've outlined above, I work full-time.  I run a small press poetry magazine, Lilliput Review, with the ongoing Modest Proposal Chapbook series (23 chapbooks in 23 years, the newest of which, by Ed Baker, may be found here). I'm a poet who pays very little attention to the scraps of paper on which explorations are sketched.  I have a very, very patient, understanding, loving partner.  You can see where I'm going with this.

In order to address the goal of putting together a manuscript for Six Gallery, something has got to give.

I've decided I need to gear down the posting for awhile.  I will post at least once a week on the Wednesday Haiku feature.  For now, I am going to table the Monday, Friday, and Sunday postings. 

So down from 4 times a week to once a week for the foreseeable future.  I reserve the right to chime in with the occasional Issa's Sunday Service (music is what keeps me sane and I have a spreadsheet of over 500 songs with litrock references) and I just know that the occasional review and rant will spill out on the random Friday.

With emphasis on the occasional and the random. 

So, there you have it.  Not completely gone, just gearing down for now.  What kind of time frame (?!?) am I talking about?  I don't have any idea, could be long, could be short.  I am, and always have been, very excited about the Lilliput 20th anniversary project, so it will be interesting to see how all that comes together.  I'll keep you up-to-date as progress warrants.

For now, cheers.

on the busy gate, too
translated by David G. Lanoue


Send a single haiku for the Wednesday Haiku feature. Here's how.

Go to the LitRock web site for a list of all 126 songs


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Shangri-La: Issa's Untidy Hut, #126

Friday night, one of the greatest singer/songwriter's of the rock and roll era was in Pittsburgh, PA and, yes, Bruce Springsteen was here, but no, that's not who I'm talking about.

I'm talking about Ray Davies, one of the greatest, indeed, and Friday night he proved it.   With a set list full of songs (yes, lots of Kinks era stuff) that an aspiring rock band would give their right arm to have just one of, in no particular order, here is what I pieced together from the set

I Need You
Autumn Almanac
Dead End Street
Sunny Afternoon
Till the End of the Day
Too Much on My Mind
Waterloo Sunset
Nothing in the World Can Stop Me
                               Worrying About Her
20th Century Man
All Day 
Full Moon
Harry Rag
I Really Got You
David Watts
Dedicated Follower of Fashion
Celluloid Heroes

All that and I know that I've forgotten quite a few.  His accompanist on guitar during the acoustic set was Bill Shanley, who was amazing, and the backing band, which opened with a 12 song set of their own and with whom people didn't get restless for a minute, was The 88, an LA band that has a new wave, Elvis Costello-meets-The Shins quality and musical chops second to none (with more than a touch of Kinks like harmonics).  Here is a taste that may give you a good idea why Davies has them backing him:

And here is the whole shebang, Davies and The 88s together on a recent morning show doing "Lola":

Davies was charming, relaxed, and a real jewel of a performer.  Rabid Kinks fans knew all the words.  I heard two songs I'd never heard before and even they knocked me out. As a poet, his acapella version of "Harry Rag" was enough for me - I was very happy, indeed.

And, oh, yeah, today's LitRock song is an old Kinks tune, deep from their catalog, said to be composed for a TV series in the UK that never came to be.  Shangri-La, a fictional place that has made a previous appearance on Issa's Sunday Service.


This week's poem from the archive comes from issue #62 is by small press legend, and former professional wrestler, the one and only C Ra McGuirt.

watching the detectives

everyone buys

only fear
is free.
C Ra McGuirt

through the great red gate
no fear...
translated by David G. Lanoue


Send a single haiku for the Wednesday Haiku feature. Here's how.

Go to the LitRock web site for a list of all 126 songs

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Ed Baker - She Intrudes: Modest Proposal Chapbook, #23

original color artwork

She Intrudes


Ed Baker
Modest Proposal Chapbook, #23

Chapbook front cover

Chapbook back cover

Page 1 of 20

Click images to enlarge

I'm proud to announce a new chapbook, She Intrudes by Ed Baker, number 23 in the Modest Proposal Chapbook series from Lilliput Review. The cost is the always modest $3.00, postpaid ($5.00 overseas).  You will find a Paypal button at the top right of this page or can pay the more traditional way via the mail (check, money order etc. made out to "Don Wentworth," Lilliput Review, 282 Main Street, Pittsburgh, PA  15201).

She Intrudes is a bit of a departure from recent chapbooks in the Modest Proposal series; it is in essence one long 20 page poem, a lyrical epistostlary examination of love, inspiration, and desire, while in recent years the MP series has concentrated on shorter forms such as haiku and tanka.  Those of you who know Ed's poetry (and artwork), from the pages of Lilliput or as posted here occasionally on Issa's Untidy Hut, know him as a master of the short poem, work he likes to characterize as "shorties," eschewing the highly politicized and nominally meaningless battles over an acceptable definition of haiku in English.

However, Ed is also known for his ground breaking, innovative works in longer forms, of which She Intrudes is a classic example.   To put Ed's work into a larger context, please see Joe Hutchison's outstanding review of Ed's 515 page epic Stone Girl E-Pic.  He touches on many essential themes in Ed's poetry, such as the devotion to the Goddess/Muse, echoes of which may be found in She Intrudes.  In addition, Hutchison detects stylistic elements which recall E. E. Cummings and James Joyce, and cultural influences that predominate from both East and West.  In an essay on Stone Girl, Conrad DiDiodato enhances and furthers the larger context of Ed's work, teasing out the minimalist, haiku-like, Buddhist connections in both the short and longer forms, connecting him to previous and current contemporaries such as Cid Corman, Carl Rakoski, John Martone, and John Perlman.  If this whets your taste, you'll find Stone Girl E-Pic is still available from the publisher or amazon.

I highly recommend it.

She Intrudes is a more modest affair, perhaps an ideal entry point for Ed Baker's longer poetry.  Working with him on the manuscript has been a real joy as an editor.  The layout and typography, as you may get a hint of in the excerpt above, were a real challenge and Ed's approach, which may best be described as a constant state of revision or, more fairly, a constant state of composition, added layer upon layer to that challenge, which was at once exhilarating and exhausting.  My editorial eye, refined by a more modestly lyrical one, was constantly thrilled by the chase and, ultimately, I feel proud indeed to be able to publish this fine work.

She Intrudes is standard digest size, 5 ½ x 8 ½", laid out sideways to accommodate the long lines, 20 pages in length, and bound in a beige stock cover.

And did I mention the modest cost of $3.00, postpaid?  Yes, of course I did.

O goddess Ichihime
a meadow butterfly
translated by David G. Lanoue


Send a single haiku for the Wednesday Haiku feature. Here's how.

Go to the LitRock web site for a list of all 125 songs

Friday, November 4, 2011

Scott Watson: Three Poems

Photo by the Denver Post

Scott Watson in Sendai, Japan, sends along regular missives, updates and poems.  Some highlight grim news; others, such as one I received last week, contain some of his fine work which often challenges us all to look deep and hard within ourselves.  I was delighted when he granted me permission to share these with you.

Three poems from Scott Watson

securing a world against itself

police use clubs, flash bombs, hoses,

tear gas, guns. a world’s secret needs

securing, a world as it is, a world

that this way keeps itself.

neither violence nor nonviolence

change a world much. a world free

of itself is a free world.


i’m preoccupied by

the way things are

before there was a me.

the world and not the

world. it does as i do,

lives as i live, dies.


we are arrested, imprisoned by a world, in a

world, from birth. some of us try to escape. some

demand reforms. some support harsh crackdowns

and death. i’m given a pen to celebrate life.

i’m armed against life with a pen.
                                               - Scott Watson


This week's featured poem comes from the Lilliput archive, issue #103.  Kitty Marie Sciotto's fine poem reminded me of another by Bashō, which I've included here, along with a 3rd by Issa to wrap things up or, more precisely, unwrap them.  Enjoy.

pushing back damp hair
in mid-step
Kitty Marie Sciotto

Wrapping dumplings in 
bamboo leaves, with one finger 
she tidies her hair  

rice dumpling in bamboo grass--
skillfully the cat
unwraps it
translated by David G. Lanoue


Send a single haiku for the Wednesday Haiku feature. Here's how.

Go to the LitRock web site for a list of all 125 songs

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Judy Robinson & Terri French: Wednesday Haiku, Week 42

Photo by Helmut Newton

Wednesday Haiku, Week 42

the moon
a severed head
Judy Robinson

Wedding Photo found in rubble - Shuji Kajiyama  /  AP 

after the quake
cherry blossoms shingle
the peace pagoda
Terri French

Photo by Jason Hsu

peace to the world
from time immemorial...
cherry blossoms
translated by David G. Lanoue


Send a single haiku for the Wednesday Haiku feature. Here's how.

Go to the LitRock web site for a list of all 125 songs