Sunday, February 05, 2012

Vain Sabbath Poem

Friday, November 25, 2011


New from cant books

Bastards by B.J. Love

Hand-Bound. 27pp. $8.00 (includes shipping)

Email for details.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My Enchanted Life

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What a world, that I might see such images without the labor of search!

My Enchanted Life

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My Enchanted Life

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My Enchanted Life

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Final snow?

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Louvin Brothers Are For Real

Click on this to find yourself introduced to something else!

"You gotta see the album cover for this. It shows Charlie and Ira standing in front of a 12-foot-high plywood Lucifer that they set on fire--and almost ended up setting themselves on fire. Go and take a look." --Bob Dylan

"Ira built that set. The devil was twelve feet tall, built out of plywood. We went to this rock quarry and then took old tires and soaked them in kerosene, got them to burn good. It had just started to sprinkle rain when we got that picture taken. Those rocks, when they get hot, they blow up. They were throwing pieces of rock up into the air." --Charlie Louvin

Click on this here to read a good article on this topic.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Pleasures of Self-Publishing

Modern Medicine, a chapbook by Tiffany Bullen, which the author is happy to have recently received.

I haven't picked up a copy of the magazine in a while, but it used to be that Poets & Writers sold ad space to printers promoting "Self Publishing." These merchants boasted that you could join the ranks of Walt Whitman and James Joyce by shipping your manuscript off to be printed and bound by their company. Pay no mind to the fact that Walt Whitman actually published himself by printing himself, nor to the fact that a world of publishing (digital and otherwise) exists outside of the realm of the perfect- and cloth-bound professional methods, these companies seemed to say. What is somewhat more disturbing is that they suggested that by self-publishing, one might become "great."

I, Aaron McNally, am an unabashed proponent of self-publishing, and I enjoy looking at self-published titles almost any time the opportunity presents itself to me.

That said, I am pretty sober when it comes to understanding the problems involved in this. One should never self-publish in order to seek greatness. One should only self-publish in order to share with close friends.

Many of us have received self-published works from friends during our undergraduate degrees, or during our high school tenure. These documents are often received with mixed emotions. These can include a genuine excitement for the person "getting out there and doing something," mixed with "but isn't it a little bit egotistical to go about promoting oneself this way?" iced with "my god! I really don't have time to read this." My belief is that it is most advantageous to all involved to look at the nature of each of these emotions, and to allow the positive emotions to birth richer fruit.

Is there going to be ephemera? Yes, by god, there's going to be an ass-ton of ephemera. But there are also going to be moments where particular imaginations touch you. Sometimes these will be beginning imaginations, which yearn as yet to develop a style or technique. Sometimes the sentiments expressed in the work will be clichés. Sometimes you will skim entire pages only to find a perfect line, or single catching idea.

The poet Odysseus Elytis is cited as saying the following: “A poet [. . . ] needs three readers. And anyone who is any good has two friends. So you spend your life looking for the third reader.”

Ask yourself, is this person my friend? Then, ask yourself, don't I want to know my friend, and her work, a little more deeply?

I may say, with no reservation, that I personally wish that more of my poet friends would self-publish more frequently. What better editors than themselves to understand the finer aspects of their work? What purer and less-impeded process for them to become available to me?

[As appendix to this piece, I'd like to applaud Jim O'Loughlin and Jeremy Schraffenberger, both of my alma mater, for requiring self-published chapbooks as part of their creative writing curricula. Will certain of these students cling a little too long to the ego-boosting effects of seeing themselves in print? Absolutely. But they're gaining basic building-block skills that they will use for the entirety of their writerly lives, even if they never self-publish again. Thanks, guys.]

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Avant GaGa

"For us, art is not an end in itself ... but it is an opportunity for the true perception and criticism of the times we live in." [Hugo Ball on Dada]

I'm learning to rend my babble into speech a bit late on this entire GaGa phenomnomnomenon, which I am referring to as AvantRetro. Her style obviously owes some gratitude to the Warhouse 60s, but she keeps it pretty 80s in homage to Our Lady of Ciccone, to whom I'm sure she also winks toward. And by wink I mean "throws herself before upon the sacred earth in an impassioned act of devotion."

image courtesy

I guess that's why I call it AvantRetro, it brings elements of Dada and other varieties of the shift from Romanticism's envy of medievalism toward what we have today, yet it plants its consciousness in a mode that is very close to, but just before the present. It's not really retro--and it's certainly not vintage. It's like the memories you have from the party before you got drunk, that drunk time being the 90s. GaGa's hangover is our wake-up call.

I'm happy to attribute this, if anyone knows the original source.

It also seems to be a response to, and provocation of ideas concerning the female body as affected by the sex industry--particularly the pornography and "exotic dancing" industries--taking its cue from pre-60s burlesque in its embrace of "erotic" garb and, indeed, the female body itself, in a manner of subverting male, heterosexist subjugation of said physical temporalities. She does, indeed, dress often like a stripper. But she contorts the exposure into a challenge of what the (male) viewer expects to have the privilege to see.

One of the many things that interest me about her and her particular breed of brand is that, after having seen oh-so-many photographs of her, I don't know that I would necessarily recognize her if I saw only a photo of her unembellished face. That said, I can recognize her in costumed shots--despite the fact that her costumes are constantly changing. Her art is not an end, but a provocation. She reminds me of someone I think I may have spoken to before the ball dropped.

"That which I can gain from another is never instruction, but only provocation." --Ralph Waldo Emerson
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