Song & Glass Release Party - Saturday March 20, 7:00 PM

On Saturday March 20 at 7:00 PM, I hope you will come to celebrate the release of my book, Song & Glass at Brick Bat Books. I’ll be joined by Jason Ajemian & members of the High Life before they head out on tour in support of their new album, Let Me Get That Digital. Jason is primarily an improvisational musician based in NYC. He also happens to be an old friend of mine. He & the High Life will perform a short set early in the evening, then I will do a short reading from Song & Glass, and finally there will be another longer set of music from Jason and Co. It should be a great night!

Here are a few bits about Jason and the High Life:

Jason Ajemian has acquired a high profile in the improvised music scene over the years, performing with Rob Mazurek’s Mandarin Movie, Exploding Star Orchestra, and Chicago Underground Trio, Ken Vandermark’s Crisis Ensemble, and currently with Marc Ribot’s new group Sun Ship. Ajemian’s curiosity has ranged far and wide - he’s just as comfortable in the hushed, folksy setting of Born Heller, his duo with Josephine Foster, as he is in the majestic, breathing-based arrangements of his large ensemble Who Cares How Long You Sink.

“Jason Ajemian and the HighLife is a home where the concepts behind all of this wonderful music can comfortably reside. Formed at the Harold Arts Residency in rural Ohio, Jason Ajemian and the HighLife features a carefully structured approach to improvisation that nevertheless leads to music that sounds immediate and effortless. Ajemian’s poems serve as signposts; the scores, created in the architectural drafting program AutoCAD, guide the musicians through musical hallways to unexpected locales. His blueprints dictate the flow and direction of the set, opening the performers up to visual and descriptive influences, leading them through a unique musical landscape of American folk forms, Native American chants, Canadian sea shanties, jazz expressive motion and balladry. The end result is this album, fearless and thoughtful, with free improvisations that follow a unique dreamlike logic.” - Jacob Kart

with hidden noise reviews “Some People” and “Flight Patterns”

Scott Bryan Wilson, the editor of JR, which is the press that published my chapbook Flight Patterns, recently pointed out this review of JR’s first two books on with hidden noise, a blog. Thanks to the author of this review. Both Chris Diken and I truly appreciate the attention you gave our books.

Ryan Eckes Reviews Song & Glass

Ryan Eckes with mug & family

Ryan Eckes with mug & family

Ryan Eckes wrote a generous review of Song & Glass, my new book, over at the PhillySound Blog. Thanks, Ryan!

About this time last year, I posted some of Ryan’s Old News. Check those poems out here.

Together, Ryan & I run the Chapter & Verse Reading Series at Chapterhouse Cafe.

Song & Glass Released

Back in September, I received a phone call from Elisabeth Sheffield, fiction writer and managing editor of Subito Press, that my book, The Rhino of Our Dreams, as it was originally titled, was selected for publication. The call came at the end of a long day of teaching, so as I walked to the train listening to the message I was quite happy to hear the news. I’d only sent it their way a month or so previous. The reason for the quickness is that the book publication ties in with a course on publishing that the University of Colorado - Boulder offers in their MFA program. Because of this, selection and publication of the book must happen within the confines of the semester, give or take. It sounds like a course I wish I could’ve taken in graduate school, because one learns the basics of editing, typesetting, and design. Speaking of design, Emily Tipps, a former student at CU - Boulder and current student at the University of Alabama in Book Arts, designed the book. I think design may be the only part not done in-house, so to speak. Overall, my experience working with Subito was great.

Obviously, the book is no longer titled The Rhino of Our Dreams. After some discussion with Noah Eli Gordon, Elisabeth Sheffield, and friends here in Philly, I decided to change it to Song & Glass. Making the decision was tough, oddly enough. The book had been titled Rhino since late spring 2006. Often, if something is “set” that long for me, it tends to stick. In the end, Song embodies the book better than Rhino. If I’m allowed to have a favorite poem in the book, it this one published in Fascicle that invokes both Carolina (Caroline) Maugeri and James Schuyler. The former title also derives from this poem.

The fact that the book has been published should serve as a lesson for me. By the time I wrote the first poems in Song, I had already written a book, The Lacustrine Suite, which will be published later this spring by Pavement Saw Press, and I was more or less floundering without writing-discipline. The Lacustrine Suite was written over the period of seven or eight years, and takes more of a poem, poem, poem approach, which differs from Song because Song is serial. The two books are driven by different modes. Not that I think all books from one author should be one-master-mode. Rather, I never thought I would find other ways of writing. All that changed when Michael Gizzi suggested that I get a notebook and write for at least twenty minutes a day, no matter what, and don’t look at any of it until thirty days have passed. At month’s end, decide what I like. Build up material, Michael said. I took Michael’s advice, but skeptically. At the time, I couldn’t see how building material would produce anything. I thought I would blah, blah, blah. Granted, I knew that Schuyler, Clark Coolidge, Bernadette Mayer, Michael, and a host of others used an improvisatory approach. I just couldn’t get my head around the concept. Did I really write everyday for at least twenty minutes from September 1, 2005 - December 18, 2006? No, but I tried to. And I wrote a lot more that I thought I would. Building material. As I put it to Michael once, “I’m writing poems that I wouldn’t have otherwise written.”

At some point in March, perhaps the 19th, I will have a book release party with Jason Ajemian, a good, old friend and jazz musician who taught me the beauty of improvisation before I even knew how to do anything with it. If we can work out the date, Jason will play at the book release with a couple of horn players. Stay tuned.


JR's First Chapbooks: Some People and Flight Patterns

JR has just released its first two chapbooks. The first of which is Some People by Chris Diken. Some People, a work of fiction, takes place mostly in the men’s room of an art museum. It is a sort of handbook designed for those interested in understanding what it takes to go from onlooker to looked-upon. The second of which is a long poem of mine called Flight Patterns. As JR’s editor puts it, “These two chapbooks juxtapose one another by disagreeing in every aspect save for the remarkable quality of the writing, and as such, complement each other nicely.”

Please see JR’s modest blog for more.