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Tulips Sans Chimneys

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Mr. Potter’s given us a bold adventurous book with plenty of sharp turns at high speed, with some gestures toward Neruda and Merwin but also “Sk8,” a gr8 skateboarding poem, and sonnets, and brave ventures into rhymed verse, poems for friends and relatives, “Stopping by Blogs on a Frosty Evening,” and poems of passionate love with angels looking down from above. Plus tulips and Elsie. —Garrison Keillor

I have enjoyed the company of Jonathan Potter’s poetry for years and rejoice at the arrival of this new collection with its unabashed delight, authentic intimacy, and emotionally convincing, often playful music. Potter is at turns a graceful, organic monologist and a wry, deft formalist. These are poems of generous mythmaking, self-deprecating humor, passion, and the glories of fatherhood. They inhabit a Seattle of historical icons and the poet’s own skateboarding youth, a London of “tidy grime” and love, and the derelict and divine streets and poetry community and waterfall of Spokane, this poet’s answer to Williams’ Paterson. By the time Potter wishes he could “become myself with vengeance / and take you with me,” he has done both. —Jonathan Johnson

In an era of poetry that plumbs humanity’s darker depths, it is a pleasant respite to read Jonathan Potter’s Tulips for Elsie, a collection that wears its pathos and its prosody lightly as it confronts life’s familiar concerns—love, sex, family life, and his beloved native place (Spokane, Washington)— with full-bodied affection and gentle irony. Many poems here are sonnets—not just Petrarchan or Shakespearean but also Onegin stanzas!—yet Potter makes rhyming in these conversationally-toned fourteeners look effortless. Particularly engaging are the portrait sonnets featuring poets and writers associated with Spokane (Alexie, Howell, Walter among them), the longer poems about the poet’s lively and accomplished daughters, and the poetic palimpsests replying to or parodying well-known classics. By the time we finish reading, we may feel ourselves, with the poet, to have “co-authored  . . . a beautiful book of longing.” —Carolyne Wright

Pictures of [Korrektiv] Poets

Check.

It.

Out.

Happy Boxing Day

Haiku Prediction

Pussy-grabbing Trump
Will be grabbing his own ass
When they lock him up

Love Among the Bins*

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Think, in this battered Caravanserai
Whose Portals are alternate Night and Day,
     How Sultan after Sultan with his Pomp
Abode his destined Hour, and went his way.
         -Fitzgerald

It was only a minute between bins (searching
     For the will I am to be the will that is Shakespeare),
Amid the critically grey patches of C.P. Snow
     And/or the redundantly anthological: Ancient American
British Byzantine Greek Modern Oriental Women World . . .

I was singing down bargain barrows and stalls,
     Intoning e.e. cummings, refraining A.A. Milne,
Reading stormy pages from Lear to hear the fear
     Of the real in his nonsense and the queer nonsense
Of the real in fools, kings, verses, hearses, pussies and owls…

But as if out of those untitled leaves of time,
     You came to sift the bins with crisp feminine whispers
That feather-fingered in litany down my spine,
     Searching for Early This, Late That, or Posthumous The Other
And the forgotten period allusions of Last Name Only:

“He is the most important of the Fitzgeralds,
     After all,” you declaimed ambiguously to Children.
Then, after hovering like a muse in Religion,
     You genuflected briefly at Travel. “He may have written
Something about Algiers and Alexandria, at that time, as well.”

You can what you’re able to do, O Lex
     Legendi! In pencil skirt and penciled eyes,
You index finger put to crimson lips collects
     By their purse the pebbled pearls of Demosthenes,
While other letters scatter, inspirited by your catalog

Of silence. Thus, overdue, my love was indexed:
     Like the frank contents in an earnest table;
The sincerely erotic in the merely episodic;
     The Dick Diver in my translation, the Calypso in yours;
Never again to leave this lovely, enchanted, bookmarked aisle.

*I tried to post this on Rufus McCain’s Facebook Page in honor of his being put in charge of the prison library and license plate pressings. Naturally, I made a hash of it – so hopefully he’ll see this and post it himself on his page…

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Best Interview You’ll Read All Day

Maybe all week, all year … maybe your whole life.

In keeping to the old prisoner/work relief thread running through this blog, I refer you to theThe Marshall Project’s interview with Anthony Ray Hinton, convicted of murdering two fast food managers in Birmingham in 1985. 29 years old at the time, Hinton was sent to death row. He was released last week after spending 30 years there, much of it in solitary confinement.

In solitary confinement, a lot of people break up. They lose their mind, they give up, they commit suicide. Tell me about your experience. How you were able to hold onto yourself?

I come from a Christian background. My mom was strict. She always would instill in us that we don’t need anybody to actually play with. Get outside and play by yourself. She taught me to lean on Jesus and no one else. And when I got to death row, believe it or not, I witnessed people hanging. I seen people cut their wrist. I seen blood leaking from under the cell. I seen men who hung themselves. And so I became a person that got wrapped up in my sense of humor, and I tried to make everybody that I came in contact with — from prison guard to the wardens to the inmates — I tried to make everybody laugh. I would see a guard come by and I would say, “Hey officer.” He’d say, “Yeah Anthony, what can I do for you?” I’d say, “I need to run to the house for about an hour, and I’m gonna need to use your car. I’ll bring it right back, but I need to go.” And they would laugh.

You have to understand something: These crooked D.A.s and police officers and racist people had lied on me and convicted me of a horrible crime for something I didn’t do. They stole my 30s, they stole my 40s, they stole my 50s. I could not afford to give them my soul. I couldn’t give them me. I had to hold onto that, and the only thing that kept me from losing my mind was my sense of humor. There’s no man who’s able to go in a cell by yourself, and you’re there for 23, sometimes 24 hours a day, and you don’t come out. There’s not a human being that can withstand that pressure unless there’s something greater inside of him. And the spirit was in me where I didn’t have to worry about killing myself.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that Satan didn’t come up on me and tell me, Well you ain’t never gonna get out of here. When I saw people going to be executed, every man in there would tell you he questions himself — is that ever going to happen to me? And when that little voice comes and says, Well they’re going to get you the next time, I would immediately tell him to get thee behind me, and I would turn on that switch of laughter. And I didn’t ever turn it off. To this day, even though I’m free, I still haven’t turned that sense of humor off. If you could have seen me in those 30 years, you would have said this guy can’t be human. This guy is crazy. This guy laughs and plays like he ain’t on death row. I didn’t accept the death penalty. You can’t make me take the death penalty. You can give it to me, but you can’t make me take it in my heart.

There’s a whole lot more—about the day his mom died, about what it was like to use a fork for the first time in three decades, and the importance of Mark 11:24. Which you don’t have to be in prison to appreciate. It’s there for everybody, and it’s there for you, too.

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From the Korrektiv HR Dept.

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Wisconglish for “Mass Transit System Career Opportunities – Now Hiring!”

Jobe?

Webb?

Lucrative Perks…the parking lot in which the vehicle is located belongs to a newly opened microbrewery…Sunshine more than three days a year (even when it’s 40 degrees below zero!)… and, as always, unique camping experiences.

Anecdote of the Dunk

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We Continue to Monitor the Situation

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Happy New Year, y’all.

Cops: Husband uses Taser on wife after she loses Bears-Packers bet – Chicago Tribune

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-11-06/news/chi-cops-tinley-park-man-used-stun-gun-on-wife-after-bears-win-20131105_1_taser-electronic-weapon-police-officer

Korrektiv New Orleans Confidential

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Prisoner Work Release

https://korrektivpress.com/2013/09/25267/

Percy and Passover

Over at Townhall.com, Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Greenberg cites The Moviegoer: Binx’s search as exodus.

Amen.

Life slips by.

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Somewhere between that Grape Nehi and that glass of Jack Daniels, Walker Percy managed to write five novels, several volumes of nonfiction, and a mess of other stuff. You all should be able to manage a paper proposal in the next week. Rally, Korrektiv, rally!

Plus ca change

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Well, it’s nice to know that people threatening violence against critics of their favorite band in the YouTube comment sections is not without its precedents. This is from The Voice, a collection of pieces about Frank Sinatra that originally appeared in The New Yorker during the mid forties:

Sinatra has undoubtedly made his fans tolerance-conscious and persuaded them to champion the rights of minority groups, but on the whole they have not learned to be tolerant of critics of Sinatra. When Ben Gross, the radio editor of the Daily News, remarked that he did not consider Sinatra the greatest singer in the world, one Sinatra fan wrote him that she :would love to take you to Africa, tie you to the ground, pour honey on you, and let he ants come and bite you to pieces,” and another that “you should burn in oil, pegs should be driven into your body, and you should be hung by your thumbs.”

So that’s what happened to Rufus.

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[Image found on Terry Richardson’s frequently NSFW tumblr. Research!]

The Institute of Living

From the New York Times comes this story about Marsha M. Linehan, a psychologist at the University of Washington here in Seattle. It reads like a real-life inversion of Chekov’s terrifying story, Ward No. 6. It also has implications that readers of a certain novel published by Korrektiv Press might find interesting.

It was 1967, several years after she left the institute as a desperate 20-year-old whom doctors gave little chance of surviving outside the hospital. Survive she did, barely: there was at least one suicide attempt in Tulsa, when she first arrived home; and another episode after she moved to a Y.M.C.A. in Chicago to start over.

She was hospitalized again and emerged confused, lonely and more committed than ever to her Catholic faith. She moved into another Y, found a job as a clerk in an insurance company, started taking night classes at Loyola University — and prayed, often, at a chapel in the Cenacle Retreat Center.

Moved into the Y, found her faith: no Will Barrett she. Read the whole thing.

A Little Something for Korrektiv’s “Lives of Famous Catholics” Series

This week, the New Yorker gets around to gushing over the Wachowski siblings’ cinema adaptation of Cloud Atlas.  Would you believe it features Hugo “Agent Smith/Elrond” Weaving as a genderbending Nasty Nurse?  Not that you’ll read that here. What you will read here is some account of Lana (nee Larry) Wachowski’s transgenderism.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Lana’s gender consciousness started to emerge at around the same time. In third grade, Larry transferred to a Catholic school, where boys and girls wore different uniforms and stood in separate lines before class. “I have a formative memory of walking through the girls’ line and hesitating, knowing that my clothes didn’t match,” Lana told me. “But as I continued on I felt I did not belong in the other line, so I just stopped in between them. I stood for a long moment with everyone staring at me, including the nun. She told me to get in line. I was stuck—I couldn’t move. I think some unconscious part of me figured I was exactly where I belonged: betwixt.” Larry was often bullied for his betwixtness. “As a result, I hid and found tremendous solace in books, vastly preferring imagined worlds to this world,” Lana said.

The betwixtness apparently came to a head during the filming of the Matrix sequels.

Sensing that something was wrong, Lynne Wachowski flew to Australia the following day. The morning after her arrival, Larry told her, “I’m transgender. I’m a girl.” Lynne didn’t know what he meant. “I was there when you were born,” she said. “There’s a part of me that is a girl,” Larry insisted. “I’m still working at that.” Lynne had been distraught on the plane, worried that she might lose her son. “Instead, I’ve just found out there is more of you,” she said. Ron, who soon flew in, too, offered his unconditional support, as did Larry’s sisters and Andy, who had suspected for a while.

Eventually, the press retreated. Lana completed her divorce and met and fell in love with the woman who became her second wife, in 2009. “I chose to change my exteriority to bring it closer into alignment with my interiority,” she told me. “My biggest fears were all about losing my family. Once they accepted me, everything else has been a piece of cake. I know that many people are dying to know if I have a surgically constructed vagina or not, but I prefer to keep this information between my wife and me.”

Okay then!  But there are a couple of things that nag at me about this very friendly profile.  They don’t mention the whole S&M thing, and they don’t mention the hot mess that was Speed Racer.  If you’re going to do a piece that explores the subject’s sexuality and also discusses past work, you can’t just leave whole sections out.  It’s not like there are dozens of Wachowski movies, and it’s not like S&M isn’t a key part of Lana’s romantic history.

(I link to the HuffPo piece because the original Rolling Stone article is subscriber-only.  Love the author’s indignance: “You could also read this article and wonder at the point of it. Why are we interested in Larry Wachowski’s sexual proclivities anyway?” Well, maybe because he/she is throwing them up on the screen, and making questions of perceived vs. actual reality central to his/her films?)