Chiasson Notebook: June – August 2014

In Essays on September 23, 2014 at 10:01 am


On the Poetry of Dan Chiasson

by Anthony Madrid

Many contemporary US poets want their stuff to do for them what Virginia Woolf said a nineteenth-century wife was supposed to do for her husband: reflect back his figure at twice its natural size. These poets seldom traffic in sadness or pity or weakness. They want to feel powerful.

There’s a bit in Nabokov’s Speak, Memory. He’s talking about a girl he had his eye on when he was eleven.

One afternoon I saw her standing in the lobby of the rink, and the most dashing of the instructors, a sleek ruffian of the Calhoun type, was holding her by the wrist and interrogating her with a crooked grin, and she was looking away and childishly turning her wrist this way and that in his grasp, and the following night he was shot, lassoed, buried alive, shot again, throttled, bitingly insulted, coolly aimed at, spared, and left to drag a life of shame.

Many, many poets are little-boy Nabokov. They want revenge. They want to feel powerful.

Ordinary People and Ordinary Stories

In Interviews on September 23, 2014 at 10:00 am


An interview with Andrew Worthington

by Ben Nadler

The first thing I read by Andrew Worthington was a story called the defecation, which was published on Metazen in 2011. While the piece had a lot of the common trappings of Alt Lit/ Internet Literature—short, observational, present-tense sentences; single-sentence paragraphs; a fascination with computer screens—it went further. The defecation captured the narrator’s deep aloneness in a way that left me feeling personally exposed. It was strange that such seemingly emotionless prose could evoke such strong emotion. I decided to keep an eye on this kid.

Three years later, Andrew has just published his first novel, Walls, with Civil Coping Mechanisms. The book—which is essentially a set of linked stories, in the tradition of Winesburg, Ohio and Jesus’ Son—depicts an Ohioan named Tom Maddox in seven non-chronological periods of his life, ranging from junior high school to early adulthood. Tom’s experience in the world is summed up in one scene at a bar, where he can’t make himself care about the fact that another man is hitting on his girlfriend: “I would have felt jealous if not for my exhaustion—with her, with the show, with the drugs, with the city, with the era.”

This Is A Love Poem

In Poetry on September 23, 2014 at 9:59 am


by Leah Umansky


I will herald my ghosts



I will braid our pasts

I will unlid secrets

I will forest bruises

I will strange love

I will cabinet the lies

I will haunch the hurt

I will expunge order

I will temper the liked

I will pale the bad

I will away the soiled

I will hush the undone

I will stab the fault

I will dream the lie

I will sweet the love

I will still the brood

I will play the stars

I will pronounce the naked

I will index chance

I will darling the crookt

I will soldier the dreams

I will pageant the breaks

I will cycle the jitters

I will sing the caring

I will belly the upset

I will feast comfort

I will turn the certain

I will empty the dark

I will flame the barbarous

I will shun the ills

I will repine the not



I will listen.



Sound is at the bottom of everything.



I will draw out the word from our throats


Leah Umansky is the author of the Mad-Men inspired chapbook, Don Dreams and I Dream and a full length collection, Domestic Uncertainties. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in POETRY, The Brooklyn Rail & Coconut Poetry. She also hosts and curates the COUPLET Reading Series in NYC.

Art: Blueskin, the Pirate by Howard Pile


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