Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Michael Schumacher. He is the editor of The Fall of America Journals, 1965-1971, by the late Allen Ginsberg, available now from the University of Minnesota Press.

 

Schumacher is also the author of the acclaimed Ginsberg biography Dharma Lion (Minnesota, 2016). Along with Ginsberg’s Iron Curtain Journals and South American Journals and Conversations with Allen Ginsberg (all from Minnesota), he has edited Family Business, selected correspondence between Allen and Louis Ginsberg, and The Essential Ginsberg, a reader of Ginsberg’s best work. He lives in Wisconsin.

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On December 6, 2020, Megan Boyle, Juliet Escoria, and Joseph Grantham liveblogged in solidarity. This took place exactly 212 days after the last time they liveblogged in solidarity. Here are their days:

 

JULIET ESCORIA

DEC. 6, 2020

 

~9:30 am: had a thought/dream about a terrarium/geode that was the size of a large marble but when you opened it up, it was much bigger. In the thought/dream, that was how things worked: things are bigger on the inside. I guess that’s not a lie since my intestines are like 600 miles long but I am only 5’4.75”. (when I googled, the answer to how long intestines are was inconsistent but it was about 15’, less than I thought, disappointing)

 

Phone was “popping off” with joey and megan texting about the liveblarg. Went to pee, put my sleep mask on so I could go back to zzzzzzzzland.

 

~11:30am: woke up for real. Responded to texts, stared at phone. Felt excited to get up and do liveblarg, which is good because yesterday I felt very very bad and not excited about much of anything. Went upstairs, made coffee, took dog out to pee, got work area ready downstairs, etc. It is pretty today, sunny and a little cold. Also ate a large brownie from brownie batch I had made yesterday. It is currently 12:10pm. I have my SAD lamp on. Both Scott and I are now SAD lamp users. SAD lamps rule. Going to work on this story that I absolutely and completely hated yesterday. Hopefully I do not have hate for it today. 

Steel and Glass

By Chris Oxley

Essay

 

In 1777, George Washington found a site in Springfield, Mass. to store weapons inaccessible from the British Royal Navy. Aside from housing cannon and muskets, what became the Springfield Armory also manufactured cartridges and gun carriages for the American Revolution.

 

Nearly a couple of decades later, the armory produced the Model 1795 Musket, the first such firearm to be made in the United States. It was designed by Eli Whitney. At the turn of the century, the musket was also produced at the armory in Harpers Ferry, Va, (now West Va.), the second federal armory commissioned by the U.S. government, as well as the site of John Brown’s famous raid in 1859.

 

In 1835, Samuel Colt was awarded a British patent, and two U.S patents in 1836, for his revolver design. He promptly started a company in Paterson, N.J., but after production problems, closed in 1842. Undeterred, he soon collaborated with the family of Eli Whitney at their armory in Whitneyville, Conn. His newly revised revolver design was available just in time for the Mexican-American War and, in 1855, he started Colt’s Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company in Hartford, Conn. A year later, the Smith & Wesson Revolver Company was founded in Springfield, Mass., a few miles from the Springfield Armory.

 

The region saw several other gun manufacturers emerge over the years: Remington (Ilion, N.Y.), Winchester (1866, Springfield, Mass.), Savage Arms (1894, Utica, N.Y.), High Standard (1926, Hamden, Conn.), Sturm Ruger (1949, Southport, Conn.), Sig Sauer (1985, Newington, N.H.). Meanwhile, for nearly two hundred years, the Springfield Armory continued to serve as the U.S. Army’s prominent design and production workshop for small arms.

 

With the British invasion thwarted, a New England industrial economy boomed and “Gun Valley” was born.

 

“Happiness is a warm gun.”

 

I’ve never, and will never, fit the skin of my father’s name. People call him Steve, and when people call me Steve, I tell them I prefer Steven. Steves are the all-American in their varsity jackets and high school sweethearts and salaries, while Stevens are just Stevens. The day I was born, A Bronx Tale, a film so important to my father he watches it weekly, was commercially released, so he saw it the first time while I was a pudgy pink infant spitting up breast milk, with no clue as to how it’d define his relationship with me. The day I was born was also my parents’ third anniversary and a weird one in terms of when I’d start kindergarten— my parents were conflicted but decided I would be a year younger than my classmates, which hardly mattered because things consistently came easy: I aced quizzes and tests without studying, finished cross-country meets as a high school freshman short seconds after our captain, read every book I could. But while I exhibited ability and potential, clinical depression and anxiety bubbled under the surface. I ran cross-country for the endorphins and friends, so it hardly mattered when other runners outpaced me; I discovered authors like Palahniuk, Robbins, Hesse, Kundera, so it hardly mattered what was on the curriculum; I didn’t live up to my previous report cards, which hardly mattered because I was filling journals. My parents swore I was on drugs because they couldn’t think of anything else– but I’d known early on bad things happened in my brain and I refused to take or drink or smoke anything that might make things worse. They were so ashamed their first was a black sheep, they’d tell white lies to protect me.

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Travis Hoewischer. He is the author of the Two Dollar Radio Guide to Naming Your Baby, available now from Two Dollar Radio.

Hoewischer has spent twenty years as a journalist, standup comedian, and non-profit leader. This is his first book. He was almost called Andrew.

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Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Darien Gee. She has two books out this year. The first is called Other Small Histories, a poetry collection available from Poetry Society of America. And the second is a collection of micro-essays called Allegiance, available from Legacy Isle Publishing.

 

Gee is the author of five novels published by Penguin Random House that have been translated into eleven languages. She won the 2019 Poetry Society of America’s Chapbook Fellowship award for Other Small Histories. She lives with her family on the Big Island of Hawai‘i.

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Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Kasey Thornton. Her debut novel-in-stories, Lord the One You Love is Sick, is available now from Ig Publishing. It is the official November pick of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club.

 

Thornton attended both the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and North Carolina State University for her MFA in Fiction. She lives with fellow author Kevin Kauffmann in Durham County, North Carolina, where members of her family have resided for over two hundred years. Her creative work has been featured in the Masters Review, TJ Eckleberg Review, tinyjournal, Colonnades Literary & Art Journal, and Apeiron Review.

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Because poets tend to live as outsiders, poetry communities can be a vital part of our lives and an essential part of American poetics. My questions relate to poetry communities I have known.

How did you get introduced to the world of poetry?

When I was young, a friend introduced me to the poets that gathered around St. Mark’s Church in New York City during the 60’s and 70’s – Anne Waldman, Ted Berrigan, Ed Sanders, etc. Nothing in my sheltered life prepared me for the life of the poets on the Lower East Side. America loves its outlaws and the poets of the Lower East Side were poetry outlaws. They did not have regular jobs. They chose not to be plugged into the mainstream American life. They were not university professors or even teachers. They lived in 4th or 5th floor walkup apartments with bathtubs in the kitchen. They had almost no furniture, slept on mattresses on the floor. They lived outside of any American life that I knew anything about. When I read poems and books with such titles as “Bean Spasms”, “Things to do in Providence,” or “Great Balls of Fire.” I thought What is this and who would name a magazine “Fuck You, A Magazine of the Arts”? What are they doing?

Poet’s Work

By Phoebe MacAdams

Poem

For Lewis MacAdams

This morning the birds
ate most of the black sunflower seeds.
I fill up the feeder,
watch squirrels on the grass
look at asparagus fern in the garden
and read old poems.
I move from room to room,
think about my mother, my sister.
I sit quietly for a long time
then mail letters and observe the hummingbird.

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Andrew Weatherhead. His latest book, $50,000, is available from Publishing Genius.

 

Weatherhead is a writer and artist from Chicago, Illinois. His other books include the poetry collections TODD and Cats and Dogs — and a chapbook, The Kids I Teach, with Mallory Whitten. He currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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About Ocean

By Eleanore Lee

Poem

For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body…
—I Corinthians 12:13

I’ll try to explain.
First you immerse.
Okay, go ahead.
There’s water all around.
You’re suddenly submerged
In meaning.
Next, let go. Start slow.
Float.
Simply stretch straight out, face down.
Flippers if you have them help.
Occasional gentle foot movements
And you shoot forward.
You can peer up, lift your mask and see
The green rim of distant coast.
(But we’re not doing that now.)

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Sebastian Castillo. His new book, Not I, is available from Word West Press.

 

Castillo is the author of 49 Venezuelan Novels (Bottlecap Press). You can find his writing in Hobart, Peach Mag, X-R-A-Y, and elsewhere. He lives in New York, where he teaches writing.

Paragraph

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The opening sentence I first wanted to run with was: “I may have inadvertently endorsed an actual cult.” Then, I thought: “I would like to take this opportunity to close the curtain,” would be more fitting. Although both true, I don’t wish to bring further attention to my potential cult endorsement, and I forfeited my right to privacy when I decided to write this book. But more importantly, neither sentence does the work of kicking off a month in which—for the second time in my life—I thought, “God is happening.” Disclaimer: I don’t believe in God, neither do I disbelieve in God—it’s not a question I’ve ever found vital enough to answer. The thought popped up only because there aren’t words to describe what occurred to me at night, October 7th. Things got set in motion, a smidge more than a week before, when I woke to a text from Pola: Hi Steven, happy birthday! Hope it’s a really nice day for ya. It was the first time, I think, she’d initiated contact since February, aside from the time I sobbed so hard I puked blueberries and unfollowed and removed her as a follower on Instagram because a photo she posted of herself and Bella forced me into the moment I felt closest to her—we’re on our stomachs, trying to lure the skittish and wide-eyed cat from beneath a bed, when Pola says, “It’s okay Bella, we’re your parents now.” Days after the birthday text, I pinned down why it disquieted me. Blind to everything but the short story I was working on, Sarah J. texted she was close by and wanted to do schoolwork on my couch while I wrote at my desk, something we’ve been doing weekly, and I said sure, just gotta shower first. A drop of lavender Dr. Bronner’s cupped in my palm, collecting water to dilute it, and no longer thinking of the divorced dad narrator and his weekend with Audrey, his daughter—something gave: the whole of the relationship, the breakup, the bereavement, caved in on itself and buried me in its rubble. I didn’t cry until I dried and sat naked in my desk chair, but it wouldn’t stop once it started, regardless of the Klonopins and the mindfulness exercises—I texted Sarah J. over-apologetically asking to postpone.

This piece was originally published on December 5, 2018. It is now accompanied by a dramatic reading performed by the author.

◊ ◊ ◊

My notes for a potential story about Brad’s face on the evening of November 8, 2016

Start with some general thoughts about Brad, maybe just the grass in Brad’s backyard and his cool studio/garage area. Focus on the small stuff that I like about Brad. How nice it was for him to invite us over for the election suicide party. How the night is blurry, and how I don’t really remember my children being there, but instinctively feel that my children were there to witness to Brad’s face. Relate that there, at Brad’s house, Brad’s face happened. Share that to this day Brad’s face on the evening of November 8, 2016 haunts me as a vacant, soul-baring portrait of American loss. Write something clever, call it “a piercing reflection of a deeply fucked moment.” Talk about the not-Brad things of the evening? Maybe throw in the junk food we stress ate in the car on the way to Brad’s, or how beautiful Jenny was in white. Potentially allude to the future we’re living and the one that might occur. Transition through the hope then, the fear then, and end with the reality now. It’s hard to talk in a controlled manner about a hell we’re all in, but like try to do that for a few sentences. For sure talk about Brad’s face once more, right here at the end.

Okay, poet, what’s your favorite word in English. And why.

Cusp.
It’s a meeting place. It’s undefined, flexible, mysterious.
I like the variety of sounds. The hard kah. How the sexy  s  kisses the  p.