Orange Is The New Black
Just boogied through Season 3 of OITNB with Diana and felt all the emotions. Entertaining, sure, but always impressed by this show's ability to present issues of race and gender, power and privilege, and grind it through to a true emotive end. Also, I was just poking around the Wikipedia page for the show and discovered the director and writer for each episode rotates, based on the character-in-focus of the episode. Totally into that, this attention to the pieces, the right pieces at the right time.
Oh you know my little hick Hoosier heart was just a-beating in waiting for this book, and no doubt there is a bigger post / essay / blabber of joy coming. But right now I must at least say this is easily the most exciting (for me) thing I read this summer--a validation of my hickish tendencies, a renewal of my rural spirit, and a (re)discovery of some of the best voices in contemporary poetry. Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge! D.A. Powell! Juan Felipe Herrera! Julianna Spahr! Tim Earley! Biggest disappointment is that editors Abraham Smith and Shelly Taylor, undoubtedly two of the best hick poets writing these days, didn't include themselves in the stack (though, yup, I understand why). I know what I'm buying my dad for Christmas!
The Trophy Hunters by Casey Polacheck
Casey Polacheck is a nice fella I've known around this town for awhile now, but this was the first time I've got to stumble alongside his art. From a hunting culture (there's a photo somewhere of young'un T-GOB headlocking a bloody and dead deer), my funny bone got blown away by these sketched portraits of trophy hunters with the species swapped out for things much less grand and intensely conquered--a hummingbird, for instance. Up until the second week of August, I definitely recommend folks in Austin check this show out.
Jennifer Whalen as co-host for Everything is Bigger
Speaking of really nice Austin folks, Jenn Whalen is one of the kindest, dearest pals I've made here. And with the summer heat barreling down on me, I've been making some changes (elastic shorts! more Gatorade! new place to live come Saturday!) and the best one has been adding Jenn as co-host of that now year-and-a-half old series of mine Everything is Bigger. Already she's added some awesome ideas about making the series BIGGER and BETTER. The first shindig on the 28th totally shredded--one of the best ones yet, no doubt. Here's to many more!
Fun Fact: from 13 to 22, I lived the straight-edge-inspired drug-free, positive lifestyle. And yup, I no longer subscribe to all of those values, but passion, community, and positive spirit are large flames in my fire. So, it was a big boost to my 'tude getting to see Shai Hulud, one of the first and most influential hardcore bands to me, for the first time here in Austin. Big thanks to cool Kevin for coming with this old hick among the hXc / sXe kids.
My good pal and beloved classmate Kate Kelly and I were clamoring this summer for some non-academic poetry chill time, so we whipped up this simply-named poetry club. Poet pals in Austin unite weekly for chatter about poems they're digging, poems they're unearthing, and poems they've got grinding the gut. A writer's community back at Ball State is what lit this fire, so it's nice to have a little group like this here to keep me burning.
A little biased, yup, because my dear galpal Diana Lynn Small took the directing reigns of this show, but that aside, I'm willing to holler off a porch for this new play. Liz Doss is a playwright with the most poetic of fingertips. Lisa Laratta has created one of the most beautiful sets I've ever seen at a local theater. Katie Bender and Jesse Bertron deliver their lead roles with the perfect mix of charm, flailing emotion, and just a touch of creepiness. And yup yup, Diana has brought her wacky grit to the directing side of the shindig. Plays for two more weekends (I'm returning for closing night!) and I urge Austin pals to get on out there.
I watch maybe six movies a year and I listen to music almost constantly throughout my days, so always big joy to sit in front of the screen and have some good tunes boogie me through the action. Lawless came to me as a pretty intense flick, a tenacious battle between then-and-now, country-and-city, money-and-tradition. I'm a sucker for that, but I'm also a sucker for Ralph Stanley and gritty music. The old fella / bluegrass legend doing Captain Beefheart and Velvet Underground covers, that's the big treat for me, but also some stellar tracks by Willie Nelson and the Nick Cave/Warren Ellis duo called here The Bootleggers. Recommended for a drive through the country or maybe some whiskey on the porch with pals.
I'm ready to declare it--Sixth Finch is my favorite online poetry journal. We know they've got that sleek look down, but also, Rob MacDonald, Dara Cerv, and crew have this raucous mix of poetry and art down, too. This new summer issue is one of my favorites so far. Matthew Rohrer with a gruesomely tender poem about Amar'e Stoudemire. Three of my favorite Caroline Crew poems ever (and I love a lot of CC poems!). A duo of Emily Bludworth de Barrios poems that have as much truth as any non-fiction piece I've ever read (indeed, "it is turbulent to be a person"). Oh and that art--often when I close my eyes, I see Daehyun Kim's piece "Bright Darkness" shining back at me.
Stay Illusion by Lucie Brock-Broido
A pleasure this past semester to have Lucie Brock-Broido visit us here at the Michener Center for one enchanting reading and a great lecture on the recovered work of Thomas James (not to mention my honor of picking her up from the airport / the ensuing hilarity of a trip to Whole Foods, haha, a story best poured over a beer). But embarrassingly, I had never sat down with a full collection of Lucie's. Until now, when I pulled down that Stay Illusion and shuffled onto the porch, spitting these magical poems into the grass. I'm blown away by the world-building, the tight sentences / stretching lines, and the rare tune (part lamb bleat / part bird song) of these poems. No doubt, I'll never look at the line the same again.