Showing posts from 2011

Word Cloud

This is a word cloud for my in-progress MFA thesis.  Alyse Knorr gave me the idea.  Make your own!

Tea Videos and Fall For the Book update

There is a video.  A new one, even!

The Best Way to Drink Tea from Tommy Tavenner on Vimeo.

And just so all of the dedicated folks who check this blog semi-weekly know, I'm participating in a Fall For the Book reading this coming Sunday.  I am reading alongside other fine Mason MFA fellows this Sunday at 3:00pm in Fairfax's Old Town Hall.  More information here, where my name is misspelled.  Joy!

painting bananas because he is in a rut

Ladies and gentleman, the banana.  This is one of the bananas Matt Somma painted when he was in a rut.  This painting (and bits of the ensuing conversation) provided the spark for the poem "furniture," which is in the chapbook.

The painting was a gift from the generous, benevolent, and well-dressed Matt Somma himself.


Okay, so.

Steven Allenmay, publisher over at Plan B Press, has been telling people that The Best Way to Drink Tea is a playbill: an artifact that exists to indicate the procedure of something that is only reproducible (producible?) via live performance.  He's got a pretty good point there.
Here's the scenario: I had no notion of putting out a chapbook like this one before it was proposed to me.  I think there are pretty good poems in it and I stand by it as a discreet work, but the volume was not conceived at all until "The Best Way to Drink Tea" had been realized and performed.  I am referring, of course, to the performance piece of the same name.
The performance piece is the sum of its parts.  (Whether it is more than that in the synergistic sense is another debate.)  The first component is a series of prose poems I began roughly one year ago.  This is the piece that I took to my friend, Ben Nicholson, with whom I had collaborated on previous absurdities.  I sent him …


Has anyone seen the online bookstore over at ?  If you have, you'll notice that my book is now available for purchase.  Hooray!

The book release event went very well, and lots of wonderful people came out to The Soundry to support the event.  I'll have more to say about it in another blog post.

Political Poem, May 2, 2011

They are coming.  They are coming, and they will be submitted to all sorts of journals for the next few years.  I will read them in Phoebe submissions, and I will tell Phoebe staff that I do not think that they are very good.  (Mine's pretty good, though.)
Anyway, back to portfolio-making and paper-writing.

chalkboard poem

a chalkboard poem from The Soundry's chalkboard.  photo from Jeff Duka.

Progress = Fun? (guest appearance by Charles Olson)

In 1950, Charles Olson's “Projective Verse” bombastically declared that written verse must reclaim its association with orality. Printed verse was plainly un-spoken, and did not earnestly attempt to represent the speech which necessarily served as the impetus for the act of writing. Hundreds of years of critics enamored of the iambic pentameter line in English verse might have argued otherwise. Olson himself conceded that the line hadn't really lost its handle on “breath” until the late Elizabethans, to whom he held himself in opposition, but it was clear to him that in the present day (1950) left-justified verse in general was slave to the conventions of printed verse as they had existed since the advent of the technology that allowed for such a thing. Olson's verse also followed from a technological innovation: his preferred “Open Field” was the product of the typewriter, which was available roughly two decades before the birth of E. E. Cummings, who Olson credited as th…

March 14th: update

"Snell's Law" is out in Sugar Mule #37.  There are also two wonderful poems from my colleague Susan Whalen.  (direct link to the poem on my "poems" page.)

There's a book a-brewin', and it may drop in the next fiscal quarter.  (for those of you who are business-minded.)

...and there was much rejoicing.

I can list publications on my CV now!  Not very many, but still!  Hooray!

RE: AWP Conference 2011

When a poet has a microphone in front of his mouth, his objectives are always essentially the same (even if he is a female poet): he must wrestle the attention of the audience from whatever else its members have been paying attention to, deliver his poetry in a manner that will ensure the audience's continued attention, and leave the audience pleased that he has been speaking once his turn at the microphone is over.  A performer's labors are made all the more difficult in a room full of drunkards, particularly if those drunkards are diligent writers constantly honing their mastery of language by engaging in contests of wit with their diligent drunkard neighbors.  These challenges are presented to every poet, but the way that a poet addresses them is wholly a matter of preference.

To engage the audience, one may simply begin speaking.  If there is an introducer, the introducer's speech is cut off at the head by the chatter of a drunken audience.  If a poet has no introducer …


I've begun taking practical steps to developing a relevant "internet presence."  i.e.:  One that has no remnants of high school and/or college angst.