Thursday, May 09, 2013






@ The Pinhook

117 W Main St, Durham, NC
Poetry, Film & Performances by:

MC: Magdalena Zurawski
House Band: The F*ck Yeahs



Friday, June 29, 2012

Kristen Stone
Feng Sun Chen
718 Iredell Street Durham, NC 27705
7pm, Friday, July 6th, 2012
Free & BYOB

Kristen Stone has an MFA in poetry from Goddard College. Her work has appeared in in Glitter Tongue, Women's Studies Quarterly, 3:AM, and elsewhere. She is a poetry editor for Limn Literary & Arts Journal and runs Unthinkable Creatures, a chapbook press, out of her home. Kristen lives in Gainesville, Florida where she works as a youth advocate. Domestication Handbook is her first book.

Feng Sun Chen's first book is Butcher's Tree, published by Black Ocean. She is also the author of the chapbooks Ugly Fish (radioactive moat), and blud (spork press). Recent poems appear on her blog, in Conduit, Kill Author, Claudius App, Radioactive Moat and other places. She sometimes blogs about potatoes and art at

Friday, April 27, 2012

Buy the Bruise for $12.50 -- Shipping Incl.

I have rescued a bunch of my novels from the publisher and am selling at cost + shipping. Help me get them out of the house. If you see me in person, they are only $10.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Accidentally Victor

I accidentally removed Victor's comment to this post because I was trying to remove my own comment that had spelling errors. But he said that he didn't actually write the article on the Mummers. Cool. I'm sorry I said that he did. And that he wasn't the one who got Conrad kicked out of the Philadelphia Magazine offices. Fine. I am wrong.

But you bait all of this, Victor. And I still think it's weird that you would come at me on a discussion board. And I don't think my analysis of what you actually wrote is wrong. The OED is right. And I had no intention of ever carrying my annoyance about your blog post out in public space. You wanted to correct me in what I think is a non-public, anonymous forum. Dude, it's just weird. You wrote an article obviously meant to piss people off and then you want to hold me to the journalistic standards that you didn't uphold yourself. You had facts plenty wrong, which you have since fixed. But then you post something this morning that throws gas on the fire, so we are all distracted from what you ACTUALLY wrote. Then you go around trying to save your good name again. You like the fight more so than anyone else in all this, I think. But you can't erase what you actually do write in public by posting someone's FB comments to a magazine's blog. FB isn't exactly a magazine open to the public. Your writing on the blog is. And collectively your magazine seems to have some class issues going on according to my reading of it. And you don't want to address those at all. Fine. I don't care. I just wanted to say what I saw and I did. God Bless you. I wish you love and happiness. I will never ever comment on anything you write. But know that if you write something in public, you will be scrutinized.

And professionally speaking, is it Kosher for a journalist to publish someone's FB comments on a blog? This is a strange new world where the boundaries are no longer clear. It seems wrong. It just seems wrong that I think I am talking to my friends and the journalist who wrote the article I am critiquing is watching me. It's like someone peering in over the breakfast table.

Victor Fiorillo

So yesterday I went on a Springsteen fan site discussion board, and posted a comment to probably a handful of crazy Bruce Springsteen fans like myself because I was angry about some things said by Victor Fiorillo in an article called "Why I Hate Bruce Springsteen" Now, I wasn't mad about the things he said about Bruce Springsteen. There are plenty of people who hate Bruce. My dad makes fun of him all day long. Whatever. My dad appears to suffer from Reason #5, Victor (I know YOU'RE watching). And I too think the song Philadelphia is pretty weak compared to many other Bruce tunes.

I was upset about this: "As far back as the 1970s, Bruce Springsteen was sporting an earring, making millions of working-class grunts think they had the right to do the same. Men with earrings would become an unfortunate trend that lasted far too long, and one that has seen an unfortunate but slight resurgence in recent years. When in doubt, fellas, skip the stud. And men who wear gauges, I’m not talking to you. You go right ahead with your bad selves. Same goes for anyone who wears a diamond-crusted grill. Everyone else, don’t do it."

That paragraph is so loaded, and forgive me for reading it so closely, but I'm a writer and hold other writers responsible for every key stroke, especially if they publish as professionals. This paragraph in my opinion thinly veils a desire to utter "white trash" but knows it can't. And perhaps I would be over reading this, if I saw it as a stand alone piece. But there's back story to this. Recently Victor wrote on page 72 of the December 2011 issue of Philadelphia Magazine a list of “THINGS WE NEED TO GET RID OF” and The Mummers were on that list. That's like saying Mardi Gras should be gotten rid of in certain southern cities. The Mummers parade is a New Years Day celebration run by clubs of working class men that prepare all year. To say that Philly should get rid of the Mummers is to say let's forget that this place is populated by "working class grunts." So I was destined to over read this paragraph, because the original Mummers situation infuriated my FB husband and many other artists and political activists I know in Philadelphia. Conrad in his anger at this Mummer's comment went down to the magazine's office. Victor hid and refused to speak to Conrad and then had him escorted out of the offices. The police that got Conrad became extremely sympathetic to him when they heard why he was in there because, well, they're Mummers. They even said they would take Conrad down to some of the Mummers club houses, so he could let them know what the magazine had to say, but that police rules wouldn't allow it. The Mummers are important to a working class identity in Philadelphia.

So when I saw this paragraph in light of the Mummers situation, I got all English teacher on it. First, if you go to the Oxford English Dictionary, which traces the history of the word grunt, you find the following definitions among others:

1. The characteristic low gruff sound made by a hog; a similar sound uttered by other animals.

a. A similar sound, uttered by a human being; sometimes expressive of approbation, or the opposite. †In early use, a groan.
b. U.S. slang. An infantry soldier.

Originally, a junior assistant to a worker on electricity or telephone lines (= ground-hog n. 3); hence, any unskilled or low-ranking assistant; a general dogsbody; (somewhat derogatory) a labourer or proletarian, a nobody; spec. in N. Amer. Mil. slang, an infantryman, common soldier. colloq. (orig. and chiefly U.S.).

4. attrib. in sense 2b (freq. as grunt work), usu. designating a low-ranking but necessary occupation or task considered dull, menial, or undemanding. colloq.

So, you see, grunt carries a kind of history that equates certain people to hogs and this equation has much to do with class and the idea that if you belong to the working class you are a "nobody," i.e. you don't have the right to exist in a social sphere. Interesting too that Victor sees the working class as needing to be given "the right" from Bruce Springsteen, as if the working class didn't have any freedom or thinking power of its own. And Victor is here to police that right. Thank God because without Victor, who knows what the working class might don to a Bruce Springsteen show.

Interesting too is Victor's exceptions for "grills" and "gauges." Now all of this with the jewelry is what they call metonymy in English class, where a part is used poetically to represent the whole. Earring stud = white working class male. Grill = African-American male or female. Gauge = white hipsters (the supposed 'creative class'.) Victor doesn't want to piss off anyone black because then he has to deal with race and that's too much trouble. And he doesn't want to offend any hipsters, you know, because Victor is hip. And they are future subscribers to Philadelphia Magazine.

So I vented about this on an obscure fan site in a more heated way than here. I mean, my comments weren't exactly public. And after I vented on the fan site, I saw that the other fans didn't take all this so seriously and I realized I was reading it against the Mummers situation. So some dude used the wrong word on his blog. Cool. I'm with you. But given the Mummers comments, it seemed that this class stuff might be less of an accident. But I decided to cool my jets. Victor has class issues, but I've got better things to do with my day.

So then I go to class and come back and there are emails saying there are more comments on the fan site discussion board. VICTOR HAD FOUND ME!

My original post was this:

Philadelphia Magazine Hates Bruce Springsteen!?

Postby LostButNotForgotten on Mar 28, 2012 9:54 am

This elitist from Philly Mag has already said that the Mummers should leave Philly and now writes an article on how awful Springsteen is. He simply hates the white working class. Funny, because he was at the Zoe Strauss opening at the PMA and likes to kiss her ass in the magazine. Yet, Zoe is all working class Philly. Gave a talk on Springsteen at the museum. And loves the Mummers. If you have the time and energy, send him hate mail. He is part of that class of people that comes to Philly and continually complains it's not NY. I mean, if you write for Philadelphia Magazine, shouldn't you be informed on the city's deep history with Bruce? [-X This guy makes me crazy. ... ringsteen/ :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil:

Then I wrote this in response to a fan's comment:

Re: Philadelphia Magazine Hates

THE FAN: usbomb99 wrote:I actually found that kind of funny.

Yes, you are having the more sane reaction. I had to go back and fix typos because I was livid, when I wrote the post above. It's just that some friends of mine have had previous snotty encounters with him. And now he touched my territory. I am cooling my jets, though... #-o


Re: Philadelphia Magazine Hates Bruce Springsteen!?

Postby suggarillo on Mar 28, 2012 10:25 am

Um, first of all, I never said that the Mummers should leave Philly. Secondly, I don't hate the white working class, of which I am decidedly a part. (Family of four, one income, you get the idea... no 1% going on here.) Thirdly, I was not at the Zoe Strauss PMA opening. Fourthly, Zoe Strauss is actually mad at me because of an article I wrote about a New Orleans photographer who said she plagiarized his work (clearly untrue). Fifthly, I never complain that Philly is not new york. I am a huge Philly booster. I just hate Bruce Springsteen.

If you hate Bruce so much why are you on the fan board? You should write about things you love. It would make your life easier. :D

But Victor also sends me a PRIVATE MESSAGE. I mean, can he Bully me a little more?

Fact-check much?

Sent at: Mar 28, 2012 10:33 am
From: suggarillo
To: LostButNotForgotten

You need to fact-check your comment. I did it for you, if they ever approve my comment. You got, oh, at least 3 obvious things factually wrong. And who are these "friends" of yours?

To Which I Responded Privately, not realizing it was VICTOR yet:

Re: Fact-check much?

Sent at: Mar 28, 2012 1:25 pm
From: LostButNotForgotten
To: suggarillo

What's not factual? My friends are the poets CA Conrad and Frank Sherlock and Zoe Strauss. Google them. And why does this need to be private messaged? Put it in the thread.

Then on the Board itself I wrote:

Re: Philadelphia Magazine Hates Bruce Springsteen!?

Postby LostButNotForgotten on Mar 28, 2012 1:40 pm

And if you are going to PM me to ask me to fact check things for a posting on an obscure website discussion board, you should fact check your blog posts done as part of your job in journalism. Patti Scalfia for instance became Bruce's wife because they fell in love after she became a member of the band. And Jake Clemens is in the band because Bruce and he spent a week watching Clarence die. Bands are usually groups of friends. The E Street Band is not the equivalent of a government post. And how is Bruce responsible for the beaches and governor of NJ? That's like saying he's responsible for the poverty in America.

I mean, if you can have your aesthetic opinions, then I can have mine. My ideas about you and your writing are as relevant as your thoughts on Bruce Springsteen.

And then Victor disappeared. And I thought how weird all of this was and wrote this on FB:
Am thinking how weird it is that the journalist Victor Fiorillo wrote an article today called "Why I Hate Bruce Springsteen" and then went on an obscure fan discussion board and found my angry post against the article's offensive comments regarding class and then publicly and privately wrote to attack me. Huh?
And then Victor wrote this this morning. Now notice he takes on my much more theatrical FB husband, but doesn't address his weird response of hunting me down on a fan discussion board. Oh and it seems that he already blocked me from making comments on his blog.

Now Victor, if you are going to write shock jock pieces, at least have the ovaries to get into a real discussion with me or not care what people write on the web. You clearly want to portray yourself as the sane one, but HUNT READERS DOWN WHO DON'T AGREE WITH YOU. You are a coward and are covering up your own strange behavior by focusing on Conrad's anger. You obviously can't take what you dish out. You are a bully in khakis.

Oh and I hear Bruce was awesome last night. That is all.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Zoe Strauss Ten Years

Some Notes on Zoe Strauss’

Use of the Word ‘Epic’ to Describe her Work

“I-95 was an epic narrative about the beauty and struggle of everyday life…”

-- “30 to 40,” Zoe Strauss in Zoe Strauss 10 Years


On Sunday, January 15, 2012 I went to a “Special Exhibition Lecture” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a panel discussion to celebrate the opening of Zoe Strauss 10 Years. Zoe talked about her work with photographers Sally Stein and Allen Sekula, and Peter Barberie, curator of photographs at the museum. On the panel, talk turned to Zoe’s use of the term “epic” to describe the narrative in her work. Georg Lukacs’ definition of the form from his 1916 Theory of the Novel didn’t come up in the discussion, but since his characterization of the epic is the one most familiar to me, I found myself jotting down ideas about Zoe and Lukacs in my notebook. Strangely, Lukacs helped me articulate a lot of what I see and feel in Zoe’s work, so I wanted to risk sounding like a grad student (which I am sometimes), and try to write a few words about his definition of epic and Zoe’s images.

First, strictly speaking, Lukacs would say that it is impossible for Zoe’s work to be an epic because narrative forms for him are reflections of their “historico-philosophical situation.” Simply put, the world that produced that form doesn’t exist anymore therefore the form can’t exist anymore. We live in a different historical moment structured by a different set of philosophies. For Lukacs, the world situation of the epic is one in which a cosmic totality is self-evident to the individuals inhabiting it. It’s a world imbued with immanent meaning so that each person understands her place and purpose within a cosmic and social order. Odysseus, for instance, never doubts his position or mission. He simply acts and the gods interact with him. The world is ordered and unified and each participant within that world understands this order and unity. And perhaps, most importantly, the epic hero’s actions are not private or individual. They are “significant to a great organic life complex—a nation or a family.” Or, as The Stylistics say: “You are everything/and everything is you.” (See Zoe's catalog essay) Because the epic form creates such a world, Lukacs assumes that it emerged from a similar material reality.

It’s not important here if Lukacs was right about the real world that made the epic. What’s interesting is his need to project this particular ideal onto an ancient past because of a sense of loss he feels in his own time. I mean, he is supposed to be writing a theory of narrative literature, but his sentences read like the tragic notes of someone mourning the state of civilization: “The novel is the epic of a world that has been abandoned by God. The novel hero’s psychology is demonic; the objectivity of the novel is the mature man’s knowledge that meaning can never quite penetrate reality, but that, without meaning, reality would disintegrate into the nothingness of inessentiality.” (88) That’s not exactly the dry prose of an academic. Lukacs’ melancholy permeates his description of the novel’s world because he is describing his world (and the early version of ours)—an alienated world in which the purpose of any individual human life is unclear. The reason he gives for this social reality is “the incommensurability of soul and work.” (97) Or, modern capitalism. In the epic world the hero knew: “You are everything/and everything is you.” The novel’s hero wonders, “Who am I and why am I here?” because his labor no longer clearly defines his purpose within a community. What Lukacs argues by making alienated labor the defining factor of modernity’s social and literary forms is that this world is structured by a depleted definition of what it means to be a human being. It reduces the citizen to Homo Economicus. The novel, then, narrates an individual’s attempt to define herself as something more, to find meaning in a society that only offers her an impoverished definition of what it means to be human.

What does this have to do with Zoe’s photos? Everything, I think. If we take Zoe’s use of the word epic seriously, which I very much do, we could say that her portraits are trying to put people who have been reduced to inhabiting novelistic forms into an enriching epic structure. Her portraits and non-portraits alike give the sense of a polis whose forms do not hold. Walls crack and leak just as people are cut and scarred and all these ruptures echo against one another. A mattress is stained it seems by a bodily life the world never had any room for. The terrain she covers is rough—everyone and everything seems at least slightly battered and bruised. But Zoe’s witnessing of these people and places I would say is utopian in its desires—an inversion of Lukacs logic. If Lukacs’ argument is based on the assumption that material life defines aesthetic form, Zoe’s work suggests that aesthetic form can push back and begin to redefine social reality. Her camera gives her subjects the opportunity to be included in a public life that doesn’t exactly exist within our culture. The portraits become themselves a kind of social space that graciously acknowledge her subjects’ existence and significance and relationships to the world around them.

This happens in the portraits because they are palpably a collaboration. You know by looking at the images that Zoe isn’t defining the characters in them but allowing people to present themselves to her. After looking at her photos and hearing her talk about her process, I had the very real sense that these people had long awaited her arrival and had long thought about how they would like to be seen in this world, if anyone ever cared to look. A sense of intimacy defines the images and so it was natural that at her talk we as an audience were curious about her process, about her relationships to the people in the pictures. I was thankful when someone finally asked her about it. She said that she only knew each of the individuals long enough to take the photos. Her interactions with them included nothing more than her self-introduction as a photographer and the time it took to take the shots. I was baffled with this response because of an image I had seen in the show earlier that afternoon—a man posing nude on a hotel bed somewhere in Las Vegas. When I saw it, I immediately wondered how Zoe got into that room. That photo made it so I didn’t completely buy her answer about not knowing her subjects. So I pressed her with a follow-up question about the nude, prefacing that her answer to the original question made sense for street photos, but so many of the portraits entered into extremely private spaces.

She answered by telling the story of that man's photo. Zoe had seen the guy standing outside a hotel room with no shirt on and she had asked to take his picture. He agreed and immediately suggested a nude. The two entered his hotel room and Zoe noted that within 10 minutes the shoot was over. What’s amazing to me about this story is the man’s quick response. He obviously knew long before Zoe Strauss saw him exactly how he would like to be perceived in the world. To go back to Lukacs, it’s like in the non-epic world of late-capitalism we are all standing around waiting to be called into some meaningful action. Our needs are the same as Odysseus' but—at least in the case of the Las Vegas man’s self-understanding—no nymphs are waiting to rub us down with olive oil. The forms of social life we have made possible take no heed of those parts of our humanness. Zoe’s photos witness this perpetual waiting as a significant part of what it means to be fully human in this world, a kind of heroic resilience made meaningful through the act of presentation. The photos alongside one another become a communal order to which we all belong.