Seen and Heard

French News
I'm not sure if March is going out like a lamb or not, but I do know that there are plenty of literary awards still being doled out and new poet laureates on the horizon, and that literature is becoming more mobile every day. Come, take a stroll with me through the literary headlines that have crossed my desk this week.

-- Continuing the growing trend of literary musicals is James Joyce: the Musical. Ok, it's actually called "Himself and Nora" and focuses on telling the story of the Irish-born author and his lifelong companion Nora Barnacle. Granted, the story of their lives and relationship is probably a fascinating one, but I can't help but wonder: Does James Joyce use jazz hands?

-- As least it's not a musical... I recently read that Augusten Burroughs' novel, Running with Scissors, is being made into a major motion picture. Yes, a movie. That apparently doesn't star Tom Hanks. But does include Gwyneth Paltrow and Annette Bening in its cast. I'm curious to hear from those who've read this book on the casting choices so far and if you're planning to catch this movie when it finally hits theaters in 2006.

-- By now, you've probably read that the Paris Review has a new editor. Heading up the venerable literary quarterly is Philip Gourevitch, who has written for The New Yorker and is known for his writings on Rwanda, Cambodia and other struggling areas. All reports seem to indicate that Gourevitch's goal is to maintain the Review's current direction, in that he doesn't intend to shake things up too much. It is interesting to note that he is quoted as saying, "But we'll throw some good parties, certainly." And really, that's what literature is all about, I think -- the kick-ass parties.

-- There's not much more to add to this headline, but I found this interesting: China bans novel that satirizes Mao. I think it's still shocking to hear a book has been banned anywhere in the world, although this one may seem a bit more obvious. I'm still searching for some online text of this novel in English, but the Chinese version is here. Note to self: don't pitch your Mao sitcom idea to the folks in Bejing.

-- It's raining ... poet laureates! After a much publicized search for nominations, California has finally narrowed it down to three finalists. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like Gary Coleman made the list. Oregon and Montana are seeking to fill the roles for a state bard as well. US Poet Laureate Ted Kooser opened the session of the Oregon legistlature with a poem. In contrast, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (who I reported re-opened Kerouac's favorite saloon in my last column) presented the bill to create the position of state poet laureate by performing a poem of his own. You just gotta love Montana.

-- It was on this day in 1844 that Paul Verlaine was born in the town of Metz on the Eastern border of France. In addition to being a celebrated poet and literary legend in his own right, you can also find Paul popping up on many LitKicks pages, serving as a kind of mascot and patron saint. I should also add that you can find images of Paul Verlaine gracing many items of LitKicks apparel, including the robustly awesome "got absinthe?" shirts. I wore mine over the weekend and was met with curious stares, looks of shocked horror, squinting and cautious clearing of the path ahead. I mean more than usual.

-- What's next? A Tolstoy ringtone? Many Japanese cell phone users are turning to cell-phone literature to catch up on the classics -- or to download material that may be too embarrassing to ask for in the library. I have a hard time just checking email on my phone, so I can't imagine reading a novel that way. Are any of you are using a service like this -- I'd love to hear what you think of it.

-- Deep down, they're all winners. Beat fans will be happy to know that Gary Snyder and Lawrence Ferlinghetti are just two of the nominees for the 2004 Northern California Book Awards, competing in the poetry category. Also of note is the nonfiction nominee, American Scream: Allen Ginsberg's 'Howl' and the Making of the Beat Generation by Jonah Raskin. In other awards news, the National Book Critics Circle prizes were announced a few weeks ago with Adrienne Rich winning the poetry prize for The School Among the Ruins: Poems 2000-2004. Dylan fans were disappointed to learn that his Chronicles didn't have what it took to beat out the biography winner, De Kooning: An American Master.

-- And finally, I'm proud to announce that LitKicks will be making an appearance during the 2005 Bethesda Literary Festival. The festival runs April 22-24 and takes place in various venues in Bethesda, MD. The LitKicks Action Poets will be instigating a poetry reading on Sunday, April 24 from 3-5pm ET. The reading is hosted by Gallery Neptune and will be followed by an art exhibit titled "The 21st Century Bookmark". Both events are free and we're looking for one or two more poets to help us out. If you're interested or would like more information, please contatct me at firecracker@lit-fuse.net . This is our second appearance at the LitFest, and we thorougly recommend the experience.

That's all I have for this week -- what's the buzz in your neighborhood? What new releases, literary news and author gossip are you hearing -- or even better, what news are you creating yourself?
24 Responses to "Seen and Heard"

by Billectric on

Stetson Kennedy NewsI would like to remind everyone that author Stetson Kennedy is being inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame on April 6, 2005. Other writers to share this honor are Tennessee Williams, Zora Neale, and Ernest Hemingway. Ray Charles was recently inducted.In the 1940's, Mr. Kennedy risked his life to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups in order to "bust them up" as he puts it. I'm currently reading Kennedy's book After Appomattox: How the South Won the War. So far, this is my favorite book by Stetson, next to The Klan Unmasked. He has other books that have touched upon these same subjects, but After Appomattox has the depth, substance, and research that makes it a fine history book. I'll never think about President Andrew Johnson the same after this. It would be great if someone connected with the History Channel would consider bringing this book to the screen.FC, my only question: Would it be appropriate to wear one of those robustly awesome Verlaine "got absinthe?" shirts to this gala affair?

by WIREMAN on

Robert CreeleyI'm getting a message from another board the he died in Texas this morning. He's one of my favorites, the master of the short poem.

by firecracker on

Hi Mark --Yeah, we just heard that and saw the confirmation as well. Sad news, for sure. He was a true friend of LitKicks and we'll be putting up a tribute area for more reflection very soon. Thanks.

by firecracker on

Hey Bill --That sounds good about Stetson -- it must be cool to be in such close contact with someone like that. I hope you'll let us know how it all goes. As far as the t-shirt, I think it would be not only appropriate, but very appreciated.

by Knip on

Thomas WolfeFinished his Look Homeward, Angel. Wolfe has been mentioned as Kerouac's primary influence, although I'm led to believe this is seen mainly in The Town and the City, and not so much in his later novels, which makes me want to read TTATC next, if I can ever find a copy.I intend to produce a critique of the novel in the context of how he might have affected JK, and how one can learn more about a favourite author, poet, songwriter, etc. by reading or listening to their influences, rather than they themselves, but I keep finding other things to do before i get started. I hope I don't forget what I wanted to say before I say it.

by WIREMAN on

total poetHe's a favorite of mine too Caryn, I have a small collection of his works that I trasure, especially his collaborations with artist, spent a couple hours listening to him being interviewed by NPR not long back.....man was a total poetcoulda met him at Georgetown U. in '96 but car broke down, he could say more with less, more than any poet.

by Billectric on

Sounds good, Knip. I appreciate the insights you emailed to me. Better start taking notes...

by Billectric on

Sad news. So sorry to hear about it. May his family and friends have peace of mind and strength.

by singlemalt on

Dave's World -- Excellent!!So here's the new release I picked up and can't wait to read -- Serpent Girl by Matthew Carnahan. It looks muy cool.I'm 50 (or as the kids like to say "fiddy") pages into Breakfast of Champions by Vonnegut. Kurt is the shit, no doubt.And, on a personal note (or should I say "a more personal note"), I'm halfway through a writing workshop wich is very cool. It's almost all women (which is not bad) but they all are into memoirs. And the stuff I write is not even close to a memoir. So it's always a trip when I read my stuff to them.Later homies. (Does anyone say that anymore? Or should I have said "later homes?")

by firecracker on

Hey Dave -Are you taking this workshop at a local school/library or what? And how do you find the experience of reading your work to others? I think homes, holmes or homies are all perfectly acceptable. Though ... I prefer "homeslice".

by singlemalt on

The workshop is run by a woman in Chicago who is an author and a playwright. She had a play that was produced across the country. I suppose I should know what it is, but I don't. She is a prof at Columbia College in Chicago and has some role with Second City -- instructor or something. Cool lady.I think the people in the workshop look at me like "Uh oh. Our serene little world has been invaded by some kind of rabid varmint."I like reading my stuff. If you have the balls to read what you wrote, then you take extra effort to make sure it's good.Later HOMES. Wait a minute. Those are the great lakes. Oh snap.

by firecracker on

Sounds like a cool thing to get involved with -- how would you compare your writing with the rest of them? Don't worry, we won't tell them. And -- do you ever sit there and wonder if any of them are murderers on the lam?

by singlemalt on

I think a few of the writers are very talented. When some of them write short stories as opposed to memoirs, some are very good. But I think people write memoirs for reasons other than the enjoyment of others. I think they find this therapeutic, and that's fine. It's just that it's not very engaging for an outsider, i.e. the reader.And just because this takes place in Chicago doesn't mean that one of us is a "murderer on the lam." Because if you're not convicted, you're not technically a murderer. At least, that's what we Chicagoans tell ourselves.

by jamelah on

I tried to climb the UNOkay, not really. But I thought about it, because, as we now know, the UN is the literary Everest.In other news......I bought Beck's new album, Guero yesterday. It's not literature or anything, but in my own personal empire, it's news....Gwyneth Paltrow is the new Tom Hanks....I don't know about James Joyce, but personally, I am all about jazz hands....I decided yesterday that I was going to make a new chapbook. Not because I've written all this new material that needs to be collected in book form, or anything, but because I was messing around in Photoshop and created a graphic that would make a really cool book cover. This is a good enough reason for me....Two hours after deciding that I was going to make a new chapbook, I changed my mind about making a new chapbook, because it would involve all this writing, and I'm lazy....or maybe Tom Hanks is the new Gwyneth Paltrow. I always get that confused. In either case, it's just been confirmed that making a movie version of Running with Scissors is the new black.

by judih. on

yesterday i found the title for my new chapbook.you've got the cover.do i hear anyone with some writing who's looking to collaborate?we could be seen and heard this time next month.

by Billectric on

Jam & Jude, perhaps I can be of service. I don't actually have a book text to add to your title & cover, but I do have a preface, an introduction, and a foreword. With a little tweaking and re-arranging, I believe the foreword could also make a nice epilogue. I'm also proficient in blurbs, dedications, and copying what other people have said about a work. Of course, I will limit the latter to what other people have said about the cover and the title. Unless someone says something in anticipation regarding the future text. In fact, I may be on to something here. How does this sound:Noted author and critique Vim Keageleen says, "The text of the book which Jamelah, Judih, and Billectric are putting together promises to be a hell of a thing."Now, I've got a question. What's the deal with blogs?

by jamelah on

Well, this is shaping up quite nicely. Now I guess,as judih said, all we need is someone to do the actual writing part.And Bill, the deal with blogs is that they're EVERYWHERE and I think the gnomes are behind it.

by Billectric on

Hey, Malt, I read about Serpent Girl and it does sound fun! "The Freaks were the nastiest, most tweaked-out group of misfits Bailey had ever come across." Oh, yeah.

by Billectric on

Freakin' gnomes...the blood runs like ice in my veins...:::WhaT wAs ThAT?:::

by judih. on

blogs are everywhere, it's true, but there's a quaint system of 'aquaduct' blog-tripping, where underground communities meet with codes and signals.about the book - I think content is overrated. I mean, really, what's the point? It's all been done, cut-up, turned inside out and translated into every language known to man or ALiEn.So, I suggest we leap forward with the skeleton and call it 'the new minimalist style'. Bill, surely you could find a few well-versed authorities for some quotes on the bookstore promos.

by Knip on

I know this website where there is tons of content stored in archives. You folks could easily steal a bunch of it.

by Arcadia on

MaoWell, I can

by Steve Plonk on

Conference on Southern LiteratureThis week, March 31-April 2, 2005(including today) the occasional "Conference on Southern Literature" met here in the Chattanooga, Tennessee, area. It is sponsored by the Arts and Education Council. There were discussions, readings, lectures, and book signings. Participating writers included: Lee Smith, Dorothy Allison, Richard Bausch, Suzette Francis, Ernest Gaines, Kaye Gibbons, Edward P. Jones, Robert Morgan, Sena Jeter Naslund,Reynolds Price, Daniel Wallace and more folks... I wish there was a workshop with it, however, and I thought the admission was a bit pricey... However, the last time I went was in 1983. You can't get eighties prices in the "otts" (00's) Well, maybe next time... It seemed interesting by all accounts.Lee Smith and Ernest Gaines are always fascinating...See list...At any rate, I usually go to the Meacham Writing Workshop at UT-Chattanooga, but I was busy and couldn't go this year. It was held in March, about two weeks ago. Marvin Bell was back in Chattanooga--among others too numerous to mention...such as Earl S. Braggs, who wrote WALKING BACK FROM WOODSTOCK and other stuff. Richard Jackson, PhD,was emcee, as usual, I believe...Jackson is the editor of POETRY MISCELLANY and author of many books of poetry. Richard is a professor at UT-Chattanooga and along with Earl Braggs, teach a mean course of English Lit at the local university here. Jackson also has made a name for himself in the country of Slovenia for his humanitarian work. Earl Braggs, I believe, was the guy who nominated me for membership to the Academy of American Poets a few years back.(Of course, I was nominated under my real name.) I was really grateful to him. I have met many new contacts through Earl. All, for now.

by Billectric on

Spoken Word In Jacksonville !Boomtown Theatre & Caf