Shanna Compton


Some things, appearing

  • An excerpt from "The Seam" in the new RUIN issue of Women's Studies Quarterly 
  • "Sometime I'll perfect my adoration" today in the Advent Calendar at Delirious Hem (audio)
  • Another excerpt from "The Seam" in the current issue of Eoagh

I think that's it for now. Another excerpt from "The Seam" will be in the next issue of ElevenEleven, in January, and some of the other poems from the book will be in the next Court Green.

[Update] Whoops, I forgot one:

  • On this page and also in iTunes, you can listen to a recording of the reading I did on November 9 at the Emory University Barnes & Noble. (Also there are lots of other recordings available there, including my Bloof buddies Peter Davis & Sandra Simonds, and Maureen Thorson & Patricia Lockwood, who also read with us that evening.)


Bloof Tour begins this weekend!

**Even if you're not in one of these towns, you might support our tour by buying a Bloof book or sending a gas-money-diner-grub PayPal donation to sales[at]bloofbooks[dot]com. Everyone who helps out this way will receive a surprise package from the road.**

***UPDATE: A couple of folks asked about pre-ordering the forthcoming books. Yes, you can do that! PayPal $16 (each, we'll throw in free shipping) and include your mailing address and title in the "special instructions" box. JOAN by Anne Boyer and The Blank Verge by me will be available in Spring 2012. Thanks for this great idea!***

Friday, November 4 in Brooklyn at 7:00 PM

ANNE BOYER, David Blair & Ryan Eckes
Hosted by Dorothea Lasky
The Multifarious Array
Pete's Candy Store
709 Lorimer Stree
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
FB event page

Saturday, November 5 in Philadelphia at 7:00 PM

Hosted by Debrah Morkun & Kim Gek Lin Short
The General Idea Series
1214 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA
FB event page

Monday, November 7 in Indian Springs, AL (near Birmingham) at 7:30 PM

Hosted by Jessica Smith
Indian Springs School Library
190 Woodward Drive
Indian Springs, AL

Tuesday, November 8 in Tuscaloosa, AL at 7:00 PM

Hosted by Daniela Olszewska
Green Bar
2209 4th Street
Tuscaloosa, AL

Wednesday, November 9 in Tallahassee, FL at 8:00 PM

Hosted by Grey Book Press & the Nighthawk Review
Fermentation Lounge
113 All Saints Street
Tallahassee, FL
FB event page

Thursday, November 10 in Atlanta, GA at 8:00 PM
Hosted by Bruce Covey
Emory Barnes & Noble
1390 Oxford Road on the Emory Campus
Atlanta, GA
FB event page

Friday, November 11 in Water Valley, MS (near Oxford) at 7:00 PM
Hosted by Tim Earley
Bozarts Gallery
403 North Main Street
Water Valley, MS
FB event page

Saturday, November 12 in Fayetteville, AR at 7:30 PM
Hosted by Matthew Henriksen, Kaveh Bassiri & Roger Barrett
Improved Lighting Series
Nightbird Books
205 Dickson Street
Fayetteville, AR
FB event page

Sunday, November 13 in Kansas City, MO at 4:00 PM
Hosted by Jordan Stempleman
A Common Sense Reading Series
Cara & Cabezas Contemporary
1714 Holmes Street
Kansas City, MO
FB event page



Upcoming, outgoing

First on Thursday, in Our Nation's Capital, there is this:

Then in two weeks or so, in NYC, there is this:

For a finale, I will be driving a rental car of poets in shifting configurations through the south, beginning November 7 (slightly different order now than shown, but still in that distinctive b-for-bloof shape):

Details here.

If you're out there somewhere, please come say hi. This is my favorite part.


Declaration of the Occupation of New York City


As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.
As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.
They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage. 
They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses. 
They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation. 
They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization. [Also protest this by choosing a natural whole foods diet, denying your $ to makers of processed foods.]
They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices. [Also protest this by going vegan, denying your $ to animal agriculture's factory farms, slaughterhouses, and packing facilities--which also notoriously abuse their workers.]
They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions. 
They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right. 
They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay. 
They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility. 
They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance. 
They have sold our privacy as a commodity. 
They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.  
They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit. 
They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce. 
They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them. 
They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil. 
They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit. [Also protest this by choosing a natural whole foods diet, which will likely reduce dependence on the products of the Insurance industry and Big Pharma.]
They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit. 
They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media. 
They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt. 
They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad. They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas. 
They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts. *
To the people of the world,
We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.
Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.
To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.
Join us and make your voices heard!
*These grievances are not all-inclusive.


Bloof Books tour in November

Lincoln, NE
Washington, DC
New York, NY
Brooklyn, NY
Philadelphia, PA
Birmingham, AL
Tuscaloosa, AL
Tallahassee, FL
Atlanta, GA
Oxford, MS
Fayetteville, AR
Kansas City, KS/MO


Featured as today's poem by the Academy of American Poets

Here is a new poem from my forthcoming book, The Blank Verge  [update July 2012: Brink]

You can also view the poem today on the Academy of American Poets home page, and via their subscriber email list.

If you have an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, download the FREE PoemFlow app, which features a new poem each day.

(Thanks to the AAP and Hanna Andrews, Poem-a-Day editor!)


A reply from BlazeVOX supporters and detractors alike is now up on their blog. So please read that.

Yeah, this is exactly the kind of discussion/response we need to have, any of us who care, all of us who do these crazy-ass things.

Oh vanity!

A bunch of people (including me) have written all kinds of things about the economics of poetry publishing, various solutions to its challenges, and the frustrations we feel about some silly yet pervasive attitudes re: legitimacy and brand names. Good, we can skip all that this time.

Please, everyone, stop saying "vanity press." It's a stupid term--pejorative, emotionally charged, insulting. It's a slur. (And if I may repeat myself, no author seeking publication is exempt from ego-involvement. Call that vanity if you like, but apply it everywhere.)

A neutral and more accurate term than "vanity press" would be "subsidy press."

But BlazeVOX is neither.

A subsidy press sells books to the author--vs. to an audience. The author is the customer, not a readership. The author pays for the entire cost of producing the books. The company offers little to no marketing or distribution support, or offers those things for fees. The most important distinction between a "traditional" press and a "subsidy" press, however, is editorial. Subsidy presses will accept any* manuscript for publication, so long as the author pays the fees. They may offer some editorial work in the form of copyediting and proofreading, but they do not collaborate with the author in the final shaping of the work in the way a traditional press does. Subsidy publication is a bought service, and the author is not paid any royalties for sales (since they are almost exclusively to her- or himself). An old-school subsidy press looks like Vantage (where a million years ago I interviewed for a copyeditor position, answering a mysterious ad in the back of Publishers Weekly that gave no clues about the identity of the company).

If we're going to discuss methods of publishing (hooray!) we should call each method what it is: self-publishing, subsidy publishing, cooperative publishing, collective publishing and/or any of the other methods of publishing that involve individuals and small groups rather than Official Institutions or Corporations. Let's be respectful, specific, and accurate with our terminology.

That said...

I don't know enough about BlazeVOX's publishing practices to offer a detailed assessment of how that press is run. I like a lot of their books though, and I plan to keep buying the ones I like. And I'm sure Geoffrey Gatza (whom I've met once but do not really know) and I would not agree on all things Poetry Publishing. But I can offer this general opinion: Unless Geoffrey Gatza is offering a financially contingent acceptance to EVERY manuscript that is submitted to the press, BlazeVOX is not a "vanity publisher." Because he is exercising editorial judgment in selecting manuscripts for publication. He is (as reported by BlazeVOX authors) working in a collaborative fashion with each author to edit and prepare each book, actively involved in helping it achieve its final shape. He is (as Google will confirm) supporting the books via promotional activities, such as review solicitation and other media-related publicity, and via distribution activities, including direct to-the-public sales via the press website, buying into the SPD distribution network, the distribution network, etc. Unless the author is paying the full cost of all of these preparation, printing and distribution activities for her or his book (and the author can't possibly be, for $200! $250!), BlazeVox is not a "subsidy publisher."

BlazeVOX, from here, appears to be working its little tail off. Their website says they also pay 10% royalties on net receipts to the author(s).

Apparently, BlazeVox has been using a financial model for some time that can fairly be described (from what I understand about its parameters) as COOPERATIVE. These models have a long-standing literary tradition. Ask Walt Whitman.

BlazeVox apparently began experimenting with this new model about two years ago. The press has also been transparent about the arrangement (in published interviews and acceptance letters/contracts), though the information does not appear in its submission guidelines. I'd suggest that the omission in the guidelines was a definite mistake, but certainly not one that makes the model automatically "unethical."

I understand it was perhaps a shock to some submitters to receive a "conditional acceptance," especially one that makes mention of money paid by an author vs. the other way around. But I think that's a function of which authors we are talking about, perhaps.

Writers who have already published with BlazeVOX would already be familiar with the practices, or be in a really terrific position to ask about them. If they have questions (or objections) about how the press is run, they are obligated to discuss them with the press, at minimum, before making a public accusation of any kind. (And here I'd say another mistake was possibly made, if the authors already published by the press were not informed of new practices that would be potentially controversial.)

The standard advice is that a writer should be familiar with a press before submitting a manuscript. Extend that advice to the particulars of how the press is run. If you are unaware of how a press operates, how can you know what kind of support to expect if your book is published by them? How can you know the press is the right press for your book? Publishers may not want to divulge detailed financial information (of course), but they should be willing to discuss (or point to an FAQ or set of guidelines that outline) the general gist.


* I'm sure there are exceptions to this blanket statement; for instance, I imagine even the most free-for-all subsidy press has Terms of Service that prohibit the publication of illegal, indecent, or objectionable material (however their lawyers define that, standard disclaimer language blah blah blah).


New three up now

Hello. Long time no blog. Here are some reasons I have not been around much:

Poems at The Awl

Excerpt from the long poem ("The Seam") at Ducts

Those are from the book I am almost finished with.

Other poems are coming soon too. I will be back to let you know.

And...I'm gonna write about some other people's poems too. Working on it. It's hard to do as much as I want to do, as ever.

This is easy though: Have some watermelon. This morning mine was so delicious.


Hire me to design stuff

I'm open for design projects and can do pretty much anything you need: book covers, book interiors, catalogs, posters, flyers, brochures, web banners, (simple) websites or customized blog templates, etc.

I'm used to working with small presses so I understand financial limitations. I can't work for free, but we can probably work something out that will fit your budget.

Here are some samples:



BOOK INTERIORS (links are to PDFs, some are large)

Sample from GAMERS

Sample from Saints of Hysteria: A Half Century of Collaborative American Poetry (also did the cover)

Sample from LIT


This one (you are here)

And this one (includes an animated gif splash page)


I can also take custom photography for design projects (and have done that for this book cover, this book cover, and this book cover, among others).


Isn't this quaint?

On Saturday, a reading

Maureen Thorson & Juliana Spahr
Bowery Poetry Club, Saturday May 7 at 4PM
Segue Series, curated by Chris Alexander & Kristen Gallagher

It was windy I walked from the station some 3 or 4 miles, window shopping people shopping feeling the wind. Eventually I became dazzled by the new statue of Andy Warhol violently lit and being perpetually videoed by a mob. The sidewalks had gum on them again. I noticed many women with fresh pedicures. Nobody had anything at all for sale except that everyone did. I did not buy any handspun yarn or goat cheese or even things I might usually buy like vegetables or plants or mint tea. I almost bought a tee shirt with a kind of monster drawing on it. I made the decision not to give in to the urge to buy since that would have been to default. To default on a Saturday in a market. Let's hear some poetry instead. I went to the poetry reading and I was on time which means I was early. I sat at the bar because that's where people sit and I was waiting for mine. Other people came including some friends of mine and some people I know but who might not know me and some people who know me but I might not know. Poets are so awkward but they are also pretty cute a lot of the time. Some of them brought their children who are also cute. Maureen Thorson arrived in a cream linen dress with green trim and pocket linings and allover floral sprigs in purple and an ivory crocheted cardigan. I think she had on sandals but now I can't remember. Juliana Spahr stood up from her chair and went to the end of the bar so I realized she had already been there and would not be arriving, in layers of black and a clip in her hair. More things happened with people moving around and things being said. Hi Nada. Hi Drew. Hi Jeff. Hi Anselm. Hi Jen. People chose chairs. We began. Chris Alexander got up in some blue plaid and I think his jeans were cuffed but I don't remember now, and he had a hat of some kind but not a derby hat or a hat because it was Derby day. He introduced Maureen telling the story of how she came upon the typo "applies to oranges" in a legal brief and thought What does apply to oranges? He made a remark that he illustrated by holding up the book about Ugly Duckling's printerly attentions. The book is indeed beautifully made (in both ways). He probably said some other things. Maureen was nervous between us but not too bad. So then she climbed onto the stage and said how it'd been a long time since she'd been at The Bowery Poetry Club maybe the last time was during the Poetry Quiz Show or Karaoke + Poetry = Fun both of which would be like ten years ago or something. She said she performed "Ghostbusters" but this time would be reading from her new book Applies to Oranges plus a few other things. Here are some of the lines she read I think but I don't really remember now. (I often take notes in the back of the books that I bring with me to readings but I couldn't bring myself to write in this one because of the trio of oranges on the back leaf and the letterpress cover I didn't want to bend very much.) [:]
Loosed to their own devices, islanders
seek smaller islands, by which to examine
their predicament in miniature. The English
go to Mallorca, many others to Manhattan,
some here. Where the wine is cheaply better,
cheaply cheap. Where the radio plays
different stations, and you have no radio.
Where kitchens sour with different meats,
the trees turn orange with birds, and where
stalkers walk through uncanny valleys,
peeping over windowsills at river's edge,
their minds in hi-res and compulsive:
a backwards, inexorable flow.
Bats in the tamarind make a ruckus.
Black gum wings stretch to a bubble,
and the leathery leaves twitch
and squawk. Hidden in the branches,
an emerald boa awaits the long squeeze.
If this were a movie, I'd jump
from the sad bat's airless struggle,
cut to a city, a couple in bed,
the sun made your ship's prison.
But there's no escaping this close-up
on the serpent's orange eyes,
narrowed by proximity and hunger,
tight slivers of your reproach
for what I said or failed to say.
That was much better than buying anything. She also read some poems from her chapbook Twenty Questions for the Drunken Sailor [free PDF] and some newer ones based on antique books she buys for a dollar mostly from the 1920s and 30s and some things called things like "The Relationship." I wish I had taken notes or could take a peek at Charles Bernstein's who was sitting in front of me. We broke. People went to the bar and moved around or peed in the appropriate places downstairs and said things like "Oh hi Charles Bernstein" and "hey how are you, thank you for bringing my scarf, I love your dress." The dress belonged to Nada Gordon and was white or cream it was dark in there in an eyelet and had a pretty neckline and sharply defined waist and hit her just in the right place at the bottom of the somewhat full skirt and also her deep purple lace bra peeped out just a bit in one corner of the neckline in what can only be called a charming fashion. Kristen Gallagher asked us to take our seats. She introduced Juliana Sparh with some discussion of her writing methods and a description of what Kristen believes Juliana is doing (some of the time, maybe not all the time she said) and further explained that Juliana had been doing some collaborative work lately especially with David Buuck and that we would be hearing some of this now. Juliana Spahr climbed onto the stage and indeed said we would be hearing some of this collaboration. I have forgotten the title though or more likely I didn't really understand the title because my hearing is so bad, no I don't have any hearing aids yet and I can't give any more good excuses except that they are very expensive and I decided to buy a new computer instead so I could update the press to InDesign and quit using Quark for our layouts and some other reasons it was very old OK? So she was a little nervous she said because the writing was new so new she was still writing on the plane on the way to New York and that normally she would not be etc. She also talked about how the collaboration was going and made some jokes about the process being "mostly not collaborating." Then she began reading and she did a long excerpt maybe twenty-five or thirty minutes. I did take some notes in the back of her book This Connection of Everyone with Lungs which I meant to ask her to sign but didn't because well later I just talked to people I knew instead and didn't really muster the energy to go over to ask. So bearing in mind that this is a new piece I've not read before don't have a printed version of and my hearing being extremely shitty though tempered by my excellent lip-reading skills here is some of what she said:
It was too bad the couples therapy was not possible because their collaboration was like a relationship that had gone on too long

[There was a passage about seeing a fortune-teller and then] We did not pay the extra $20 to remove the curse of the impasse

[...]that First-World parenting had forced on them--the whipping with the forsythia switch

[a repeton] the faint smells of [unheard] and wet sidewalks and metallic gasoline smell

We will read your poems that pun on the word capitalism and enjoy them [also a repeton]

[...]saying to each other Damn! Let's hook up and overthrow the government

And there was something about animals or meat somewhere that I didn't "like" not that it matters but also a point where a jackrabbit enters in and Nada tapped me and we laughed (because I read some mutant jackrabbit poems at Segue in March when she was hosting). There was a lot more to this piece obviously that I am not really in any position several days later to report I suppose except to talk generally about how it moved, mostly forward, with some looping back on itself with the repeated lines, and in a kind of rippling expansion/collapse between more intimate situations (like lines on the collaboration process or themselves) and more expansive focus like war and gasoline and overthrowing the government. She performed this all in a breath it seemed like though that's not possible. A few times I could tell which were not her sections because of the look on her face or a slight hesitancy in her voice like reading someone else's handwriting. Afterwards Dglss told me about a film and a book he is making with Anna & Matvei and there was more milling about and talking of course and some light drinking and then everyone went to stand on the sidewalk for a while. We went next door to Slainte and accidentally watched the Derby (I know it's not vegan and I hated the bald spots and the ambulance horse trailer but couldn't help being impressed by the horses and thought "Animal Kingdom" was a good name, anyway) while drinking pear cider, me and Maureen and her husband Jeff and Jeff's father and Jen. And then Jen and I walked back to the station and the wind was still out there and also two women wearing false mustaches who let Jen take their photo with "very serious" looks on their faces, which honestly took a few tries. At some point I think the audio will all be on PennSound.

Here's a video of one of Maureen's:


Building a new blogroll

People still blog, right? Since Poetry Blogging Is Dead I guess that makes us zombies, but zombies are all right.

If you think I won't have yours for some reason, feel free to comment below. The one I was running on my old site was really outdated. Life offers so many opportunities to improve.

Also, I decided not to move all the images from the blog archives to my new hosting server, so in older posts graphics or photos may not work.

And I'm torn as to whether I need to reintegrate the archives here or just leave them in that sidebar-linked blogspot. I guess the drawback is that search engines will still point here. But maybe that's OK.


Service interruption

Hopefully this will be seamless, but this is the weekend I am changing servers and having the domain (and blogs) pointed to the new servers.

So if you drop by and find me missing, it's temporary.

Also, the old email addresses (earthlink) will no longer work after May 1. Reach me here or on FB.




 Just trying not to sound too much like Rush lyrics.

Pardon the mess

Hi. Is this thing on?

I'm temporarily parking all posts over here, while I redesign my site. This may take a while, and things may look a little weird during this reconstruction, and functions like commenting may go wonky at times.

New content (if any) will appear here only.

I am still posting daily poems for NaPoWriMo at the Bloof blog. (And those will disappear come May, for a session with the revising machine.)