Thursday, August 21, 2014

MY WRITING PROCESS BLOG TOUR


Here are my answers to the MY WRITING PROCESS BLOG TOUR virus going around. Thanks to my friend, Beth Gilstrap, for asking me to do this. You can read what she wrote about her process and follow her work (which I recommend) here:


And please check out the bios and site addresses for the three maniacs I've asked to continue the BLOG TOUR next week: Katie Byrum, Bradley Harrison, and Emily Weinstein. 



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1) What are you working on?

I’m actually at sort of a weird writing crossroads at the moment. I just finished two manuscripts of poems, which have occupied my time for the last three and a half years. There’s still tweaking to do on both of them, but in June I sent them off to a couple of trusted editors, and it’ll be a little while before I hear back. It’s time to move on, but the question is: Move on to what?

I’m writing poems everyday, of course, and I’m grateful to be out of manuscript mode and back into thinking of each poem as its own untethered-to-a-larger-whole, individual event. At the same time, I’m also trying to teach myself how to write again—by which I mean I’m trying to find a poem that I haven’t written before, or at least one which pushes in new directions things I’ve done in the past. Even as I’m writing this, it all sounds very abstract, and it is. I’m searching for something, I don’t what. The poems come out of sitting down and saying weird shit, reading, listening to music, describing the things on my desk or that are in my yard, the sad sick world (ever-seemingly) at war…

This summer I’ve gone back to Robert Bly, W.S Merwin, and James Wright as a way of trying to (re)understand/(re)acquaint myself with what a poetic image is—the way words can create resonate, radiant pictures in one’s mind—a set of linguistic relationships that point to so much more than language—nouns in relation to each other in time and space—a live microphone in a block of concrete, starlight fixed on a drowning worm, orange juice werewolf, five red apples in a green mailbox, and the mailman smiling at a cloud when he takes them, imagining his life as a thief in his dreams—endless endless endless. But I’m not sure that any of those are actually images. I like not knowing. Sort of. But it’s been interesting thinking about the fact that so many of my poems have been so much on speed in the last ten years that I’m not sure they really contained a lot of imagery—flashes of things, juxtapositions, associations and disjunctions, but images? What is a blur an image of? Is an indistinct image nevertheless an image? What’s the difference between a blurry image an urgent dis-clarity that “depicts” nothing? This is some of what I’ve been thinking about while trying to focus my attention on a rectangle of tinfoil blowing across my yard, a shiny kinetic reflector.
I’ve also been reading tons of fiction: Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut, Jim Carroll’s The Petting Zoo, Richard Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America (which somehow I’d never read before), Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves, Richard Powers’ Orfeo, Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy (the first two books—thrid one’s out in Sept. Can’t wait), and John Gardner’s Freddy’s Book.

Oh yeah, and Peter Gizzi’s In Defense of Nothing and Rachel Zucker’s The Pedestrians. Both dynamite.

Listening a lot to Sandinista by The Clash, Bob Mould’s new one, Beauty and Ruin, La Dispute’s Rooms of the House, and that new Xerxes track “Chestnut Street.”
Eventually it’ll all lead somewhere, or I’ll find myself in something else, or…   

2) How does your work differ from others of its genre?

Hopefully enough that it’s recognizable as mine and not so much that it isn’t recognizable as poetry.

Seriously though, I don’t think about this much. Scratch that. I don’t think about it ever. Poetry’s not a genre. It’s a way of paying attention in and to the world—a way of annotating, exploring, and otherwise exploding experience to make and remake the self and the world. Of course, everybody’s brain is different, so everyone’s attention is different. There are as many ways to make a poem as there are minds to make them. That’s overwhelming and marvelous. Maybe paradoxically, I spend a lot of time typing out other people’s poems as a way to get to my own. I find that I get to my best poems when I’m not thinking about “writing my poems” so I do what I can to stay distracted and open. This has nothing to do with genre, but look how far we’ve come.

3) Why do you write what you do?

Poetry is the way I make sense of the world, other people, and my own personal experience. It’s not in addition to my life; it’s an extension of my life, a written record—notes, footnotes, exegesis, splatter. It’s a way of figuring out what I think and how I think it—what’s what with regard to this particular existence. It’s not a way of explaining anything, nor of proving something definitively. On the contrary, it’s about making things more mysterious—to enliven and enlarge and unpack forever. “One always arrives at the universal via the personal” (Robert Motherwell). As I said in my answer to the second question, poetry (whatever else it may be) is a demonstration of a particular way of paying attention in/to the world. In my case, that happens to be pretty fragmented/obliterated most of the time, though increasingly I find myself making so much clear sense in my poems that it’s making me wonder if I’m even still writing poems… Certainly, the poems I’m writing now bear little resemblance to the ones I was writing twenty years ago, and I hope that’s true of the difference between the poems I’m writing now and the ones I’ll be writing twenty years in the future.

4) How does your writing process work?

My heart keeps beating, the blood keeps flowing. I take a lot of notes in my orange field notebook. I sit at the typewriter or the computer (I use both); I start typing. I describe what’s right in front of me, or something I dreamt, or I ask a question and answer it. Whose hippopotamus is that? Why is god’s fingernail green? Crust of bread? Squelch! I write down quotes from things that I’m reading. I wander off in the fog of words or try to sing a song to the deer in the yard. I go for a walk. Poetry is as much a part of my life as French toast or petting my dog or sitting with my daughter, watching her read a chilling book about Mt. Everest. It all ends up in the poems. Going running in the rain, drinking a Vicious IPA, “Serenading in the dark to no one…” (“Chestnut Street,” Xerxes). I should say, however, that it doesn’t always end up factually in the poems. Mostly, it ends up changed according to what the poem seems to want/to be. Put another way, I lie about everything to get beyond the facts to the Truth, to Beauty, to the Mess in all its glory. I steal from other sources to get to something authentic to find my own voice in somebody else’s mouth (which I think I stole from somewhere else). I wish to make the world a better/bigger place—what it could be, rather than what it is or might be.


The logistics of the process (which I’m sure is what this question’s really about) are various and change with the seasons, and won’t do anyone else any good, because everyone’s process is different. Sometimes I use the typewriter more, sometimes the computer, sometimes a pencil. Sometimes I write in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon or evening. The orange field notebook is a constant. You can get your own here, if you want: http://www.engineersupply.com/elan-economy-field-book-e64-8x4w.aspx.  Writing everyday—at least a little—is also constant. I would rather write a bad poem than no poem at all. I would rather forge ahead, or even come apart at the seams, than wait or think or, worst of all, be careful. My process is not careful. I fail a lot. I write bad poems a lot. Sometimes I surprise myself. I come face to face with the things that are on my mind that I had no idea were on my mind. Then I do best to confront them. Then I do my best to resist them.



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Next week on the MY WRITING PROCESS BLOG TOUR, I’ve tapped three of my favorite people, who also happen to be brilliant writers: Katie Byrum, Bradley Smith, and Emily Weinstein. See their bios below, along with the site addresses where they’ll be posting their answers next week.

KATIE BYRUM is from Kentucky but lives in Brooklyn, where she co-curates the Tri-Lengua Reading Series and the witchy reading series COVEN. Her first collection of poems, Burn It Down, is forthcoming from Forklift Books. Find more at hellohumanblog.tumblr.com.

BRADLEY HARRISON is a graduate of the Michener Center for Writers and a PhD student at the University of Missouri. His poems have appeared in New American WritingLos Angeles ReviewCutBankGulf CoastBest New Poets 2012 and elsewhere. His chapbook, Diorama of a People, Burning is available from Ricochet Editions (2012). Find him at: http://bradleyharrisonpoet.tumblr.com.

EMILY WEINSTEIN writes the web site superlefty.com, where she has published over 300 essays, rants, screeds, and trip reports. Her work has appeared in the Brooklyn Rail, Eleven Eleven, the Huffington Post, Identity Theory, Killing the Buddha, McSweeney's, Mr. Beller's Neighborhood, The Morning News, and Vol 1. Brooklyn. She is the author of the chapbooks Lake Celeste, or the Joy of Sex and If You Think You’re the Best, and the nonfiction editor of Forklift: Ohio: A Journal of Poetry, Cooking and Light Industrial Safety. She lives, writes, teaches, and climbs in northern California. Follow her on Twitter at @emilymweinstein 



Monday, August 04, 2014

INTERVIEW AT THE REVIEW REVIEW ON THE FUTURE OF POETRY

Here's a conversation I had with Rob MacDonald (editor of Sixth Finchand Gale Marie Thompson, (editor of Jellyfish Magazinefor The Review Review about the future of poetry. Lots of things get said here, but the good news (which isn't really news at all) is that clearly poetry keeps going--with or without our conversations "about" it. Gale and Rob are great in this. I get a little cranky at the end. Here's to writing more poems!

http://www.thereviewreview.net/publishing-tips/future-poetry-dialogue-between-rob-macdonald

Thursday, July 17, 2014

MATT HART ON TWITTER + 2 POEMS in SIXTH FINCH

Follow me on Twitter: @forkliftmatt666

https://twitter.com/forkliftmatt666


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Also, I have two new poems in the summer issue of Sixth Finch, which you can see here and here, or, even better, you can check out the entire issue here, including great new work by Lucy Biederman, Jeff Hipsher. Tony Mancus, Gregory Lawless, Mark McKee, and Elizabeth Scanlon, among others.

Thanks to Rob MacDonald and Roberto Montes for including me in the issue.

I hope you'll check it out.

Massive thanks,

Matt

Monday, July 07, 2014

BASH #22--THIS FRIDAY w/ Matt Hart, Stephen Burt and David Rivard

Friends,

I'm reading in Black Ocean's BASH reading series this Friday 7/11 at the Brookline Booksmith 279 Harvard Street, Brookline, MA 02446. 7PM.

I will read.

Stephen Burt will read!

David Rivard will read!

This is gonna be a terrific night.

If you're in the Boston area, please come check it out.

Here's a link to the Facebook invite: https://www.facebook.com/events/249240358604735/

and here's one to the bookstore site: http://www.brooklinebooksmith-shop.com/event/bash-reading-series-15

I hope to see some of you this weekend.

xo,

Matt

Sunday, January 26, 2014

RADIANT ACTION at SPOKE TOO SOON: A JOURNAL OF THE LONGER

Dear Friends,

Twenty sections of my long sequence Radiant Action have gone up at Spoke Too Soon: A Journal of the Longer, along with recordings of me reading each section and close readings of the selection by both Ben Kopel and Jennifer Moore. I hope you'll take a second to check take a look. And please get on board with Spoke Too Soon in general. It's a great new online presence that's providing a forum for work that would be difficult to publish elsewhere.

Massive thanks to both Ben and Jennifer for the generous close readings and to Editors Kelin Loe and  Leora Fridman for believing in this work.


Matt

Thursday, January 16, 2014

WORD OF MOUTH CINCINNATI READING TUES. JAN 21st @ MOTR



Hi Everyone,

I’m reading at MOTR Pub this coming Tuesday, Jan. 21 at 7PM. Please see the flyer above for details. BUT take note: There will be two open mics, so bring your poems. Bring your joy. I will be blasting some “Radiant Action.”
This series, WORD OF MOUTH Cincinnati, hosted by Jim Palmarini and Mark Flanigan, inspired by the late Aralee Strange, the former Cincinnati writer and artist who passed way in June, 2013. Strange ran readings, made films, wrote poems and produced plays and other performance work during her many years in Cincinnati, before moving to Athens, Georgia in 2007. In Athens, she co-founded Word of Mouth, a popular and successful spoken word series.

Word of Mouth Cincinnati is an intentional arc of both past and future utterance, inspired by our most revered voice, with a nod to her Athens, GA compatriots. Word of Mouth asks poets to Show Up, Mouth Off, and Pay Attention.

I hope to see you there.

Matt

Friday, September 27, 2013

MATT HART FALL 2013 READINGS

Dear Friends,

I have numerous readings coming up this fall. If you happen to be in any of these places, I hope you'll come out and say hello. Words will fly. You will be radiant. I will be a bicycle of leaves or a nervous aluminum rabbit or coleslaw or...

I hope to see you in one or more of these states. Please check back for updates, as I'll be adding more details and more readings to the list.

Thanks for all the support.

Matt


*****

9/27 Bloomington, IN
William S. Burroughs Festival Fundraiser w/ Chris Mattingly, Ross Gay, Tony Brewer, Morgan Adams, David Watters, The Bishop Bar, 123 S. Walnut St., Bloomington, IN 47404, 8PM; http://thebishopbar.com/events/william-burroughs-festival-fundraiser


9/28 Columbus, OH
With Poetry Reading Series w/ William Waltz and Melissa Barrett, Tree Bar 887 Chambers Rd., 43212 Columbus, OH, 7:00PM
https://www.facebook.com/pages/With-Poetry-Reading-Series/178883365624905?ref=br_tf


10/3 San Bernardino, CA
California State University, San Bernardino w/ Nate Pritts, in Pfau Library, Rm 4005, 6PM


10/4 San Diego, CA
Digital Gym/Media Arts Center w/Chad Sweeney and Nate Pritts, 2921 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92104, 6PM
https://www.facebook.com/events/214524428715635/


10/5 Long Beach, CA
Stranded Artist Series Reading w/Nate Pritts and Chad Sweeney, The Poetry Lab, 235 East Broadway, 8th Floor, Long Beach, CA 8PM


10/10 Rock Island, IL
Spectra Poetry Reading Series w/ Russell Dillon, Amanda Smeltz, and Aubrey Jane Ryan, Rozz-Tox, 2108 3rd Ave, Rock Island, IL 61201, 8PM


10/11 Madison, WI
MONSTERS OF POETRY Reading Series w/ Russell Dillon, Amanda Smeltz, and Dobby Gibson, Dragonfly Lounge, 401 East Washington Ave., Madison WI 53703, 7PM


10/17 Sausalito, CA
WHY THERE ARE WORDS Reading Series w/Sally Ball, Vikram Chandra, Russell Dillon, Rae Gouirand, Kate Milliken, Melissa Pritchard, and Jane Smiley, Studio 333, 333 Caledonia St., Sausalito, CA, 7PM
https://www.facebook.com/events/236590959823425/


10/18 Santa Cruz, CA
FELIX KULPA GALLERY w/ Russell Dillon, 107 Elm Street, Santa Cruz, CA, 7:30PM

10/19 San Francisco, CA
Russell Dillon Book Release Reading w/ Russell Dillon and Emily Meg Weinstein, Madrone Art Bar, 500 Divisadero St., San Francisco, CA 94117, 5PM https://www.facebook.com/events/188067511376563/


10/23 Greensboro, NC
University of North Carolina, GreensboroUNCG Faculty Center, 402 College Avenue, Greensboro, NC 27402, 9PM
https://www.facebook.com/events/332692973542136/permalink/337869366357830/


10/24 Greeneville, TN
Tusculum CollegeShulman Atrium, 60 Shiloh Rd., Greeneville, TN 37745, 7PM
https://www.facebook.com/events/668053229881319/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming