Posts Tagged ‘The Rumpus’


Don’t Ask Me to Explain This

April 23, 2015

Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 22 April 2015.Here is a writer’s conundrum: Can you overdo the setup?

The answer, of course, is nearly always a resounding yes, but still, what if it’s not a magical alternate universe, but instead merely a joke? Is it sort of a quasi-neo-post-postpomo-inverse-mod irony by which one buries the punch line as a mere accessory, an asterisk, because the setup is the joke?

I only ask because, well, if the setup is, “I mean, if you karate chop a baby”, where do you go from there?

But I digress.

Well, sort of.

Not really.

Okay, how about this?

Here’s a writer’s conundrum … oh, wait. At any rate, it can’t hurt to check in with David Biespiel sometime that isn’t ten days too late for a bad joke, but that’s just me, and, well, my judgment is such that would bring you the bad joke ten days late. Never mind.

The following essays were delivered on Thursday, April 9, 2015 at the AWP conference in Minneapolis by David Biespiel, Rigoberto Gonzalez, Lia Purpura, and Wendy Willis. The panelists sought to answer the question about the complementary and competing pressures on writers who struggle to maintain fealty to both individual sensibilities and the demands of global citizenship.

And while Biespiel sets the tone with thoughts of a stroke, Icelandic phrases, and life as a dream before crashing in with a reflection on That Terrible Day in 2001, well, it isn’t all terrorism and the security state. Queerness, metacommentary, and ubiquity all make appearances, as does Wendy Willis’ consideration of eating fewer Pringles as a demonstration unto the greater good.

No, really, with a slate like that, how can you go wrong?

Oh, right, and one other thing. I don’t want to hear a word about the missing apostrophe in Huber’s title. Open your minds, people, and imagine a world in which that string of words makes sense without the apostrophe.




Huber, Adam. “Thems Frighten Words”. Bug Martini. 22 April 2015.

Biespiel, David, et al. “Fate of the Writer: Shuttling Between Solitude and Engagement.” The Rumpus. 21 April 2015.


Just Because

April 10, 2015

Detail of frame from Durarara!! episode 2, 'Highly Unpredictable'.

There is this:

Today I am happy to report to you that the big-wheeling cocktail-party poetry boys have gotten the word that their free verse boat rides are over, that the poet-farmer in the field, the poet-worker in the factory, the poet-businessman in his office, the poet-housewife in her home, have decided that poetry can be better written to help our children’s education and our older citizens if no poems are written at all. And they have put a man in charge of conceptual poetry to lead conceptualism to see that it is done. It shall be done. Let me say one more time, no more poems shall be written from scratch from this day forward. Only conceptual poems will be copied, cut, and pasted. That is my pledge to you because today I have stood and taken a conceptual oath to my conceptual people. It is very appropriate then that from this cradle of the Internet, this very heart of the great Anglo-Saxon conceptual cyber land of ours, we sound the drum for concepts and not poems as have our generations of forebears before us done, time and time again throughout history.

Let us rise to the call of the conceptual-loving blood that is in us and send our answer to the lines and stanza tyrannies that clank its chains upon the conceptualist. In the name of the greatest conceptualists that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line (well, not a line like a line but, you know, a line) in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny—and therefore I say conceptualism today, conceptualism tomorrow, conceptualism forever. That from this day, from this hour, from this minute, we give the conceptualist poet’s word of honor that we will tolerate the nonconceptualist’s boot in our face no longer and let those certain judges put that in their romantic and modernist pipes of power and smoke it for what it is worth.


It’s a bit late, so I would be remiss if I failed to note that the url for this essay includes the phrase, “/look-at-the-date-first/”. Right. About ten days late, you know? But, still, ’tis fun. I mean, pause for a moment and reflect on what circumstances make satire like this even possible. Sometimes we might take comfort from first-world problems. You know, like that horrible time we all had to change the power adapters for our iPhones. Or a professional sports labor action. Or, you know, elaborately overwritten jokes about conceptual poetry.



Image note: “Because the world isn’t as terrible as you think”―Celty reminds Rio of something very important. Detail of frame from Durarara!! epsiode 2, “Highly Unpredictable”.

Biespiel, David. “A Defense of Conceptual Poetry”. The Rumpus. 1 April 2015.


The one and only, lovely beyond compare, inimitable Andrea Portes, at The Rumpus

July 1, 2012

Chloe Grace Moretz in HickDon’t miss Jennifer Sky’s interview with the one and only Andrea Portes regarding the film adaptation of Hick, which opened last year at the Toronto International Film Festival.




July 29, 2011

Sometimes you might pause to wonder, “Should I really inflict this on people?” And sometimes the answer is a no-brainer: “Well, duh. Of course I should!”

WilfredFor those unfamiliar with Wilfred, a television series running on FX network:

On Wilfred, FX’s Elijah Wood comedy adapted from the Australian original, the titular character is a dog — to everyone except Ryan (Wood), the near-suicidal neighbor who agrees to dog-sit him. To Ryan, Wilfred appears as a walking, shit-talking, hung-over man in a rumpled dog suit. Wilfred exhibits both human and animal behaviors: He watches a Matt Damon movie, then indulges in the urge to dig holes and pee freely around the yard. He gives Ryan some legit life advice (between beers and bong hits), and he also humps stuffed animals. This all raises a number of questions, obviously: How crazy is Ryan? If Wilfred is a dog, who’s smoking the other half of those joints? And if he isn’t a dog, then is Wilfred a furry, a person who puts on a costume, attends conventions, and perhaps gets down in a fur suit?

Yeah, some things we just don’t need to know. And then one day they work their way into general view, and, well, right.

Those who are familiar with the diversity of pornography, or the odd quirks of Generations X and Y, have probably heard of the furry behavioral phenomenon. To me, well … never mind what I think; I’ll plead the Fifth. No, wait. Strike that. I’ll plead the Thumper Rule.

At any rate, New York Magazine yesterday posted its interview with Kilcodo, a practicing furry.

I know, I know.

Read the rest of this entry ?


Is there such thing as a happy birthday for Holden Caulfield?

July 18, 2011

Michael Moats takes a few minutes to look back at sixty years of J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, which reached its sixtieth birthday this weekend.



I won’t bother explaining the song stuck in my head right now

November 16, 2010

I’ve had this sitting around on my desktop for several days now. You know how it goes: It only takes about five minutes to get a basic blog post up, so what’s the big deal?

The answers, of course, are myriad, but those aren’t actually important now.

Never mind. Just read Steve Almond’s “Everything Was Beautiful And Nothing Hurt”, which Stephen Elliott describes as a “gorgeous homage”.

And while I’m at it, I’ll just try to pick a fight. You people who say, “a historian”, or “a historical fact”? Go for it. Say “a homage”. Make it work. Change the world. I dare you.

(See, those five minutes or so can be dangerous if you let them be.)



Did you know it’s National Poetry Month?

April 22, 2010

I would be remiss if I somehow passed the whole month of April without noting that it is National Poetry Month. Or maybe I should clear my throat and look around deliberately, muttering, “Where’s Decker?”

Blue Dragonfly, by Miroslaw SwietekOver at The Rumpus, they are celebrating with original poetry every day.

Today’s contribution is “Guaranteed to Work Throughout Its Useful Life“, what could justly be called innovative free verse, by Steven D. Schroeder. In truth, and it’s probably just me, none of them are rattling my bellhammer, so to speak. I mean, it’s ten-thirty in the morning, I’m sober as a rock in the parking lot, and (fill in the excuse here).

You know, just one of those days.

So … try “English Sonnet, by Dan Albergotti, if for no other reason than to learn why “ghoti” is pronounced “fish“.

If anyone would like to contribute some of their own poetry, post in the comments. Far be it from me to stop you. Indeed, we welcome your efforts, and much appreciate your words.


Photo by Miroslaw Swietek, via The Daily Mail.

(I would also be remiss if I did not remind our poets that the 8th Annual Los Angeles gathering of the Southern California Writers’ Conference is coming to Newport Beach in September. Nor would I be faithful to duty if I didn’t keep pointing out that you can save $75—that’s a 19.8% discount, folks—if you sign up before June 1. Rally up, poets! Decker would be sad if we didn’t hear from you. And you don’t want that, do you? Do you?)


Inspiration/Digression: Artistic considerations

March 29, 2010

Chinua Achebe (photo by Michael Prince)And how about some interesting (or not) artistic distractions?

And now, a young guitarist makes musician Tanita Tikaram jealous:



(Insert Title Here)

November 11, 2009

Fun stuff from around:

  • Short fiction online: Rebecca Lee’s “Bobcat.
  • Book reviews: Ted Wilson on The Bible.
  • Emanuel Faye drags Martin Heidegger back into the news.
  • Lemony Snicket finds a new home.
  • Breakfast serial: Del Rey will publish King/Straub novel The Talisman as a serial comic book.
  • Book review: Speaking of Stephen King, Paul Constant has a few things to say about the newly released behemoth, The Dome.
  • And speaking of Paul Constant … actually, no. You know what? I’m out.

And now, for absolutely no reason at all:

Short story cartoon

(I have no proper attribution for the above frame. If I discover the artist’s name, I’ll definitely include it here.)



What was the last book you loved?

November 11, 2009

Here’s an interesting notion: A book review contest.

Well, it’s not much of a contest, but:

We’d like to know the last book you loved. Send us a writeup of the last book you truly loved, along with a short bio. We’ll publish our favorites in The Rumpus blog. No length requirements.

And no deadline, either. At least, none that I can see in the appeal to readers from Stephen Elliott.

Contact information available through that last link. Dust off your favorites. I have no guesses on the deadline; Elliott ran one of these last month, too.

Maybe in the long run we can organize some SCWC reviews penned by any of our unconventional conventionists. No promises yet; I’ll have to figure out how to work that. In the meantime, if your review of the last book you loved makes The Rumpus, let us know.