Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Micah Ballard

Hey Johnny and Steve,
Wondrous to hear from you John, and thanks for the lovely poemage left on my voicemail o'er the holidays. I feel like Donald Allen, collecting all of your poems left over the phone (I've saved them all). We could prolly do a 20-30 minute cassette tape of you reading your new poems to me. Dig it. Love it. Here’s a lil' rambling of thy five favorite books read in 2011. Hell, there was so many, but here's off the top of my widow's peak this morn' as I just stepped into the dungeon (office) and gearing up for work-lurk.
1. Dylan by Dylan Rieder. I know it's the year previous, but this video part still rings true for a number of reasons. For starters, let's face it, a video part from a skateboarder is either a chapbook or a full-length collection of poems. It takes a few years (mostly) to get one's greatest hits recorded, poem by poem or clip by clip, into an ongoing stack of paper, or in this case, video footage. Then one has to sift thru all the hits and misses, and edit the thing into a suitcase of verse or tricks (they're one in the same right?) that feels right in the hands, the heart, the eye, and ear. Basically, into something that hits all the cylinders, sensations, etc. Dylan Rieder's video part is his book and it does just that. He's got RANGE. Tricks from the past get reinvented (he Makes it New, Pound would be proud), hell, he impossibles over that bench in NY then follows with a tre-flip worthy of Kalis' steeze, then there's multiple lines coupled with all the "hammers" (gaps, rails), with tech-ledge lines to boot, and even huge wall rides in seemingly unknown ditches. His trick selection is top notch, street meets vert and vert meets street- 70's meets 80's meets 90's meets 2000 meets NOW. There's no over the top handrail or ledge dancing, no run-of-the-mill cardboard cutout trendy trick selection with dress code to match. He's his own creative individual, on his own terms, on and off the board. Imagine that! He's got style for miles, and skates to Cass McCombs, followed by "Better Days" by Graham Nash. A great short film to watch and write to, or not watch and write, but have in the background while you're reading. Too bad he’s extremely good looking and into fashion in an industry that frowns upon such. Being called Skate Moss isn't that bad, right?
2. Hanging Quotes: Talking Book Arts, Typography, & Poetry edited by Alastair Johnston. This BEAST. Not so much in page count (I love it when I accidentally crack the spines off books that are too big and intimidatingly unreadable for us OCD sorts, who like small occasions with vast proportions, and so forth) but in everything you want to know about your favorite printers and poets and the gossip that you thot you knew but didn't. In the legendary New American Poetry anthology one of Edward Marshall's poems is really a Robin Blaser poem! I was particular drawn to Dave Haselwood’s (Auerhahn Press) interview. He’s my all-time favorite printer (John Wieners’ The Hotel Wentley Poems, Philip Lamantia’s Ekstasis and Narcotica, Lew Welch’s Wobbly Rock, Philip Whalen’s Self-Portrait, from Another Direction, and so forth) whom I’ve had the pleasure to hang with a couple of times at Joanne Kyger and Donald Guravich’s home. The last time I was with him (some five years back), everyone else had walked to Radio Beach, so we sat under a tree and chatted for two hours strait. Half way through our talk that magical brownie I had eaten hit me full force and right then he started quoting Lamantia poems. His eyes were so alchemical looking, like crystal balls, full of the poem, and it felt like they were shooting light strait thru me. He then told a wonderful story about inheriting Lamantia’s owl that he absolutely fell in love with. Later on in the day Joanne caught me trying on Philip Whalen’s ring, but that’s another story. At any rate, I got this book for Christmas from Sunnylyn and Lorca. Amazing interviews with Bob Creeley, David Meltzer, Graham Mackintosh, Holbrook Teter, Walter Hamady, Noel Young, and a host of others. A serious must read to dive deeper into the lineage of printer/poet collaborations.
3. A Fast Life: The Collected Poems of Tim Dlugos, edited by David Trinidad. FINALLY. Thank you David Trinidad, now I don’t have to keep making pirate editions of Tim’s books to give to friends. However, after the last one I did of Entre Nous (Little Caesar Press) I vowed to stop. It turned out so good that I felt guilty for doing it, but still had to pass it along. It’s a lovely collection of verse, with a very comprehensive Notes section in the back, a useful Chronology in the front, and a thorough and very moving introduction. Even tho the book’s over 500 pages of poems, it’s still very inviting, like you could read the whole thing in one sitting, as opposed to putting on a football helmet when sitting down with the Maximus Poems. What really nailed me about this book was the occasion that happened when reading his long, heart-breaking poem, G-9. Well, I wasn’t reading it but Sunnylyn had just finished reading it when we had quite a tremor from an earthquake, which literally and figuratively shook her up even more! I didn’t feel the thing as I had taken the elevator (for some odd reason, change of scenery at work perhaps?) down to the basement to go to the restroom. So, when the quake happened, there I was, lurking in the basement restroom. The next week I decided to go to the basement to read on my lunch break and when I passed by the restroom, the room number was G-9. Total body chills. Thanks Tim, I love when the poem scares and finds you, not you it. Isn’t it supposed to be that way?
4. Excess Space by Christina Fisher. Anything that Christina writes is going to be extraordinary. Trying to get writing from her on the other hand is nearly impossible. For twelve years I’ve been courting her to let me see what’s she writing, and I’ve learned to respect and expect to wait. That’s probably why I love this new book so much. It’s the perfect suite of poems and I’m glad that we go to publish it as a Lew Gallery edition. & speaking of, others that we printed right after were Carrie Hunter’s Angel, Unincorporated, Alli Warren’s Grindin, and Ava Koobar’s Sinusoidal Forms, translated from Farsi with Patrick James Dunagan, Will Skinker’s Feed My Lambs,  and Matt Gonzalez’s The Violet Suitcase. They’re all amazing books of sequential poems. And there’s nothing better than typing someone else’s poems on ye ole Remington (which I now refer to as the ghetto letterpress). You become part of the poems and just for a moment you feel like you actually wrote them (then they write you). And there’s not a higher magical experience then typing a whole little book in one sitting with no typos. Light just coming out of the fingertips.
5. The H.D. Book by Robert Duncan. I can’t believe that it’s finally in the world, in one bound book. It’s pretty much THE Holy Grail. For years, I’ve had David Meltzer’s leather, hardbound copy (with a collage of a bear grabbing at some tree branches on the cover). It’s all of the pieces of the H.D. Book that had been published in various journals and zines over the years, photocopied into one book. Something grand, seeing the H.D. Book pieced together that way, like Leaves of Grass, all these parts that make a whole. At any rate, I don’t think there’s another book written by a poet about another poet that will ever compare. Duncan had an IV directly into the muse’s arm. & as he said via Blake, “the authors are in eternity.” I want to be in eternity with Duncan and there’s not a week that goes by that I’m not with his books. He’s the Lantern Along the Wall as John Wieners might say.

Hope this finds you both well and hope to hang soon.

Much love,


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