Les Figues Press Read-a-thon Ends Today

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So here is my actual tally for books read:

From the Trench Art: Casements Series / Nuala Archer, Sissy Boyd, Vincent Dachy, Christine Wertheim

From the Trench Art: Maneuvers Series / Harald Abramowitz, Lily Hoang, Paul Hoover, and Mathew Timmons

From the Trench Art: Parapet Series / Stan Apps, Alta Ifland, and Stephanie Taylor

From the Trench Art: Recon Series / Jennifer Calkins, Pam Ore, and Vanessa Place

(I don’t know how or why I lost my copy of Teresa Carmody’s book from this series, but I know I’m mad about it.)

From the Trench Art: Tracer Series / Sophie Robins, Amina Cain, and Kim Rosenfield

That brings my total to 17 books. Not quite the 20 I was aiming for, but the day isn’t over yet is it?

Please give me a bust to finish three books today by giving to the Les Figues Press Fundraiser. Here is my page:

The Final PUSH! Les Figues Press Read-a-thon

All donations will help Les Figues Press make more books. As a nonprofit literary press, Les Figues is dedicated to publishing innovative books of poetry, prose, and translation, focusing especially on works that are too outside genre or marketing conventions to find a home elsewhere. Like this and this, or this and that and this one too.

My Les Figues Press Fund Page  :

If I make my goal ($100) I’ll get three beautiful books; I’ll share them with you. I’ll call you at night and read to you before you go to sleep. (If you think that’s creepy, I won’t do it–I’ll just say thank you.)

Okay. Okay. I’m behind. It happens. I said I would read 20 books but this and this and this and this and this kept happening. BUT HERE IT IS…

the final week of the Les Figues Press summer Read-a-thon fundraiser!

I really do love the books Les Figues make. I want them to make more. I also like keeping promises, SO this summer’s read-a-thon has just turned into a marathon (well a walk-read-a-thon). Last night with my trusty second-hand treadmill (I call her Sally) I walked 6 miles and read 3 Les Figues Press titles.

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Alta Ifland’s book is stunning. Broke my heart at times, delighted me countless times. This book has such a familiar yet surprising language.

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Chop Shop by Stephanie Taylor is cool. She makes a word game out of “Riding In My Car” by Woody Guthrie that explodes into a visual, audio, conceptual masterpiece that centers around car theft. (Yes this was a faster tempo read on the treadmill than the first; Les Figues publishes all kinds of silent music. And YES! that is a book centerfold–so sexy!

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Stan Apps / God’s Livestock Policy is official on my top 10 list of awesome reads. I will say more bout this later, bur for now I have to start reading again.
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Tonight’s Read-Walk-a-Thon will include the following titles:

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Boston, New York, and the Dress of Useless Treasures

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Monday night I leave for Boston. From Boston to New York. Than back to the beloved desert.

Touring with poetry is as awkward as it sounds. There is a lot of trading planes for trains, trains for buses, even the occasional hitchhiking (Yes, people still hitchhike, though I try to avoid this option.) I’ve gathered many stories along the way, some so true no one would believe them. I try to document some of these experiences so I might re-believe them when they popup as memories; I have countless photographs, sound recordings, and notebooks. I feel such analogy (for example blogging, Facebook, twitter, Instagram, and the list continues) is popular because we are all trying to figure out “if THAT really did just happen.” Social Media is Descartes monologuing on “The Passions of the Soul” only done collectively in the form of selfies.

Poetry is a little different from philosophy or analogues; I’m learning it is something beyond definition. It records everything except the actual event in order to kept the event ever present. There is no need to prove something “just happened” because with poetry the moment is perpetually happening. Poetry undefines; it follows possibility and I follow after poetry.

“Interesting” places I have slept because of poetry include: numerous floors, numerous couches (couches are great), sometimes there is a guest room (thank you Portland), construction sites, a ditch (long story), graveyards (spooky), a window ledge (Seattle), a park bench (San Francisco), on top of a pic-nick table (Paddington Station). There are locations without a place to stop. I keep safe by moving. I walk all night in such places. I have landed in locations that have felt like palaces and I’ve spent the night in a door-frame. I’ve been given generous honorariums and I’ve had people hand me a dollar thinking it might help me on the streets.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like this. In fact, I love this. I’ve learned so much about people and places by searching, sharing, and risking. I’ve seen how others live–what / who they love and how they love it. Unfortunately, I’m unsure if this travel-voyeurism has helped me understand what / who to love or how to love any better; with poetry there isn’t much knowing, there is just being.

This week I will be in Boston. I will be in New York. I hope to be with you.

I made a dress just for this trip. There is (maybe too much) information about the dress in the videos below. The poetry film is by my friend Karyn Ben Singer; it is set in one of my most beloved locations in the desert, Antiques at the Barn. The interview is by my friend Edwin Vasquez. I hope to bring a little of the West to the East. Maybe bring some the East back to the West.

To sum it up, I wanted to make you something beautiful, it might be just a bunch of junk but with poetry and you it might just be beautiful.

What is The Dress of Useless Treasures: An Interview with Edwin

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Friday, July 10
Nicelle Davis reading from In the Circus of You in the BASH reading series at Brookline Booksmith at 7:00 pm. With Carina Finn and Gabrielle Klein. Free and open to the public.

Brookline Booksmith
279 Harvard Street
Brookline, Massachusetts

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Saturday, July 11
Nicelle Davis reading from and Cheryl Gross projecting short films and images from In the Circus of You at Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Book Shop at 7:00 pm. Free and open to the public.

Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Book Shop
126 A Front Street
Brooklyn, New York

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Sunday, July 12
Nicelle Davis reading from In the Circus of You in the New York Quarterly Reading Series at 6:00 pm at the Bowery Poetry Club. Free and open to thepublic.

The Bowery Poetry Club
308 Bowery
New York, New York

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Les Figues Press Summer Read-a-thon

Hello Friends,

Les Figues is an important press; their books are innovative and edgy.
I am hopeful that you will help me support this press during their summer Read-a-thon.

This summer I plan on reading 20 Les Figues titles and writing brief response to each, in hopes of sparking a conversation about these works while raising money towards future Les Figues titles. I’m asking for sponsorship in this Read-a-thon; please consider donating $5 dollars toward each book read.

Book love to you,
Nicelle Davis

Day 2 of 30 for The Les Figues Press Read-a-thon

NOT BLESSED by Harold Abramowitz

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Do you have a story? You know, The Story—that story that is dusted off for every grant application, personal statement, awkward dinner, cocktail party, newly developing friendship—that story. You’ve told The Story so many times you can feel it shifting on you. Eventually it isn’t even your story anymore, even though it has been drafted and redrafted to define who you are; it’s just a story. You can change it to be funny, tragic, flippant, didactic, meaningful, meaningless. You can feel when your heart is not in it and it flops. You can feel when the story is swelling and growing to be larger than the actual event.

This is the problem with storytelling. The more telling, the more difficult it is to know if the story is true.

NOT BLESSED, by Harold Abramowitz, is a novella in which there is a boy, a grandmother, a hunter, a war, a police officer, a mystery. There might be rain. There might be a radio speaker. There might be a car. There might be a ghost. There might be a doppelganger, or a missed friendship. I say might because these facts change as this same story is told 28 times.

It works! This is really all I can say about this book. It works and works well. I was on edge, turning pages as fast as I could, counting the repetitions, marking the slight changes, and delighting at what felt like small reveals to a larger story. This book works the way intimacy works, that is how intimacy fails; I thought I could figure this character out—thought I could know another person—not by what the character was saying, but by filling in what they weren’t saying.

This is the problem with listening. The more listening, the more difficult it is to know if the story has been heard as it was intended.

This novella is a problem, and like any delightful problem, it isn’t designed to be solved. This work is uniquely human—it feels alive. It morphs a single page story into 81 pages that seem to expand and contract the way most human interactions do.

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Day 1 of 30 for The Les Figues Press Read-a-thon

SONNET 56 by Paul Hoover

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Today I had 30 minutes because my son had swimming lessons. “Had” is an interesting word—it seems having time these days is about the same as stealing it from the day-to-day. Stealing is what I love most about poetry. Poetry gives us space to think, to be, to choose—poetry allows us to steal our lives back from the daily grind. One poem, one good poem, has infinite possibilities; in this way, poetry is the closest thing I know to freewill. While I may not like the state of the world, there are always other worlds ready to manifest. Poetry is proof of this.

Paul Hoover’s SONNET 56 spins one poem, Shakespeare’s Sonnet 56 into a Haiku, Jingle, Villanelle, Epic (really liked the Epic), Erasure, Ballad, even an Answering Machine fight and a Chat Group discussion. And there are more variations; Hoover has Sonnet 56 bend and shift to 56 incarnations. It’s lovely—it is hopeful and liberating the ways great Jazz or dance can be. Sure, it’s the same idea again and again; however, Hoover is able to deliver somethings entirely original again and again; Hoover proves one idea has endless perspectives—love has endless possibilities. Anything can, could, and will happen.

The variations in this collection range so vastly in tone and form that my stolen 30 minutes felt like a secret lifetime. In this lifetime I was able to question love: how to love, how to be loved, and the relationship between time and love. These poems go from comical to tragic; they skip with satirical-zeal across the shallows of love and submerge its depths even at the risk of drowning. It’s an amazing book.

It was 105 degrees today, so the YMCA pool had more people than water in it. The indoor pool-house was an echo chamber of laughter and splashing, oddly a perfect location for the reoccurrence of  the lines, “Return of love, more blest may be the view; / Else call it winter, which being full of care / Makes summer’s welcome thrice more wish’d, more rare.” Between pages, I glimpsed my son’s bright smile bobbing across the waterline. His swim instructor, a kind and beautiful person, would obviously be his first summertime crush. I owe Les Figues Press a great debt; they gave me this moment—this summer—which due to poetry, seems endless.

SONNET 56 (by Shakespeare)

Sweet love, renew thy force; be it not said
Thy edge should blunter be than appetite,
Which but to-day by feeding is allay’d,
To-morrow sharpen’d in his former might:
So, love, be thou; although to-day thou fill
Thy hungry eyes even till they wink with fullness,
To-morrow see again, and do not kill
The spirit of love with a perpetual dullness.
Let this sad interim like the ocean be
Which parts the shore, where two contracted new
Come daily to the banks, that, when they see
Return of love, more blest may be the view;
Else call it winter, which being full of care
Makes summer’s welcome thrice more wish’d, more rare.

Sonnet Variations by Paul Hoover: 

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