April 28, 2007

Christopher Janke (I'm not sure if his name is pronounced with the hard 'j' of 'jump'; the soft 'j' of 'jejune'; or if it's a 'y'; or none of these. Furthermore, I know not if it's the long 'a', in 'thank' or is it the short 'a' in 'pasta' or the inbetween 'a' of 'apple'? For that matter, Ada has a similar ambiguity of sound. Anyway, this is written and so there need be no shame of mispeakery. I'm fairly certain I know how to say Christopher at least.) will be reading from his newly minted book Structure of the Embryonic Rat Brain. His poems, like my asides, run long and so I can't quote one whole. Here's a segment from number three: For the phrenologist on the top of the world scouring the surface for pure water for his throat, for a way to carve, a way to go, shall you write a constitution or take delight in a banker or carry one above your head, is your stunting from your own hand, should you build the Hoover Dam, become strong and phlegmatic, make a bolo out of your own choosing or craft a teleological talisman to hang around your neck. The crux of a mammal, the ankle of a moment, the echo of a ping and its harmonies imagined by wolves and prisoners in black skull caps, and the sound of men burying children on a hill. Janke's book won the Fence Modern Poets Series. In its bottom right-hand corner is a flip-book of a dancing rat.

April 27, 2007

This Sunday, as I think I've already mentioned, Ada Books will have some out-of-town talent for you to ogle and eavesdrop on. One of these is a poet named Michael Robins who's written a book called The Next Settlement, published by University of North Texas Press. On its cover is a waterfowl (duck or goose) looking surprised (or annoyed or meloncholy) to find two arrows in its back. Inside its covers lie fifty or so poems. Here's one I liked. It's called On the Hour Beneath the Music: Every town should house a museum of torture, the obvious guillotine, a pyramid to straddle with rope, weights to tie & drape the ankles. The horse, which drags the body through the streets, is a mirror whose timely distance resembles less a broken body, less the punishment for crime than the carousel that turns with the century. The facade adorned as a carpet ride, dwarves & maiden tales, smoke over a gingerbread home. In every town the pigeons startle, turn, resettle atop a pedestal of the saint known for kindness. Once, men were caged & hung above the square. I couldn't get my keyboard to disgorge the cedilla for the 'c' in 'facade' and the ampersands are courtesy of the author.

April 23, 2007

I don't feel well today, some kind of imp's virus has been nibbling at the edges of my mind, making writing and even reading a sleepy chore. But I wouldn't want to miss mentioning that it's the one hundred and eighth birthday of Vladimir Nabokov. And though the man is dead, the man's novels are as alive as they were when he first published them. When I grow strong enough I will get back to the old British edition of Nabokov's Nikolai Gogal that my dear wife gave me for our anniversary. And later, I plan to write a little, tuneless paean in VN's honor.

April 20, 2007

Tonight, as I've said before, Ada Books will be featuring the art of Melissa Mendes. What I haven't told you (because I only just now found out) is that around the corner, at White Electric, will be another edition of Black Acoustic, the impertinent and intermittent show of bands who are stripped down to their bones, using only their loose-fitting and shredded-at-the-edges souls to serve as figurative fig leafs. Or so I've been told. I haven't seen this happen. Still, I think their names should be enough to recommend them: Death Vessel, Anni Rossi, Ora Cogan and Quaky Gum. They begin early, at seven-thirty in fact. I encourage you, stranger, to come by Ada Books this evening, soak your eyes with art and then walk over to White Electric, pay your five dollars and sop up the sounds of Black Acoustic. Or vice versa.

April 19, 2007

In ten days time, three poets from elsewhere will read some of thier work elsehere, at Ada Books. One of these will be Elizabeth Hughey, winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize in 2006. Her book, Sunday Houses the Sunday House is even now on my desk, awaiting your curious eye and ear. Here is a poem from it I especially like. It's called SQUARES AND PROMANADES and I quote it whole: Walking home from the supermarket, I encounter five picnicking youths who appear to have consumed several bottles of wine. The heavy-lidded young lady casts a look at one of the young men. She has more to offer than oranges. Further on, two women on the sidewalk make plans while a boy cries at their feet. I suggest they stop this. Stopping the noise, though, will not stop the sadness. Looking closely, I can still see the outiline of a fuck you from this morning. It smells of aftershave and sounds like a man walking two dogs. By sunset, his cigar will be gone, but the smoke will stain his teeth for good.

April 18, 2007

This Friday evening, from seven till nine, Ada Books offers you, stranger, a glimpse into the eye and the hand and the mind of Melissa Mendes, illustrator extraordinaire. She'll be showing her drawings, many of which depict Ernest Shackleton and crew on their voyage to the southern end of the world and their near plunge into Pym's maelstrom. Won't you join us for drinks and art and (mostly) polite conversation?

April 14, 2007

Tomorrow is my first wedding anniversary and I'm going to take the day off. My wife and I plan a romantic afternoon just painting the innards of our new house. I'll see you, figuratively speaking, on Monday.

April 13, 2007

Not only do I love the poetry of poetry nights at Ada Books; not only do I love the good cheer, the wine, the snacks, the fellowship -- I love that it forces me to break out the broom and sweep dust and hair and feathers onto the sidewalk, where dust and hair and feathers (pesky pigeons) belong. My floors never look cleaner than the day after the publicly complex reading series stops in for its biweekly visit. And so I'd like to thank Michael Tod Edgerton and Peter Covino for reading their work to our small but stalwart crowd. And I'll also thank Kate Shapira for getting them in here, putting together another great show and inadvertantly making my floors shine.

April 11, 2007

I hate to tell you this - stranger, customer, friend - but Ada Books will be sleeping in tomorrow, with the door shut and locked. But don't think me idle. Shadows may darken the shop windows but I will be a fluttering spark, a blur among books, two hours away (by car), collecting Connecticut's finest for Ada's shelves. This means that come Saturday, I'll have lots of new things for you - stranger, customer, friend - to look at, to thumb through, perhaps even to buy.

April 10, 2007

For those of you who like your stories told in hieroglyphics, Ada Books presents some new and notworthy arrivals: Amphigorey, by Edward Gorey; Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True Stories, edited by Ivan Brunetti; Blankets, by Craig Thompson; Clumsy, by Jefferey Brown; Cruddy, Lynda Barry; Curses, by Kevin Huizenga; Embroideries, by Marjane Satrapi; In Me Own Words: The Autobiography of Bigfoot, Graham Roumieu; My Most Secret Desire, by Julie Doucet; 32 Stories, by Adrian Tomine; and 99 Ways to Tell a Story, by Matt Madden. I've also been lucky enough to add a few second-hand specimens into the mix. There is, in fact, a whole new shelf of graphic novels for you to root through.

April 4, 2007

It's the gloomy season in Providence; days of graphite skies and weeping ceilings. A good climate for brooding or even, for those so inclinded, reading. And yet business is languid at old Ada Books. Business is lazy and won't bend a mean finger to turn a page or to unfold a dollar bill. I don't understand it. But then, I don't understand almost everything. For example, why does this grey atmosphere repel friends, acquaintances and good customers while seeming to encourage visits from the thrifty and the weird? I'd rather be alone than discuss mafia history or the mysteries of Lovecraft's gravestone with the thrifty and the weird. In fact, I'm not sure they aren't but figments -- annoying, cheap figments. But then there are the wet footprints on the floor. And a strange stink. I may be broodsome, but I don't stink. Or if I do, I don't think I'd suddenly find it strange. It's the gloomy season in Providence.