Archive for John Thomas Menesini

12/17 Viva Arletty! & Arkansas Ghoulash launch @ White Whale + Bah Humbug 4 @ Brillobox

Posted in Events, Interviews, New Releases with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 7, 2017 by 6GPress

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 17…

Two new books & two readings! The Ghost of Literature Present will pay a terrifying visit today!

6PM at White Whale in Bloomfield, welcome two writers from Arkansas to Pittsburgh (& welcome their books to your noodle by buying & reading them, too). Free readings & refreshments, possibly including actual goulash.

Scotty Lewis, a 2015 graduate of the Arkansas Writers MFA Program, is debuting his first book of poetry, Arkansas Ghoulash.

Here’s an interview w/ Scotty talking about the book, & here’s another one.

Mark Spitzer, novelist, poet, essayist and literary translator, grew up in Minneapolis where he earned his Bachelor’s degree at the University of Minnesota in 1990. He then moved to the Rockies, where he earned his Master’s in Creative Writing from the University of Colorado. After living on the road for some time, he found himself in Paris, as Writer in Residence for three years at the bohemian bookstore Shakespeare and Company, where he translated French criminals and misanthropes. In 1997 he moved to Louisiana, became Assistant Editor of the legendary lit journal Exquisite Corpse, and earned an MFA from Louisiana State University. He taught creative writing and lit for five years at Truman State University and is now an associate professor of creative writing at the University of Central Arkansas.

Alan Olifson is an award-winning humor columnist, public radio commentator, comedian and regular host of Pittsburgh’s monthly Moth StorySLAMs. He created the acclaimed storytelling series WordPlay in his hometown of Los Angeles which he now produces in Pittsburgh along with Bricolage Production Company as part of their regular season. He’s hosted storytelling events for conferences, schools and, believe it or not, bridal showers. His book, Manchild: My Life Without Adult Supervision, is now out on Six Gallery Press. Alan relocated to Pittsburgh with his wife and two children years ago but never tires of hearing people complain about “traffic.”

Angele Ellis is the author of Arab on Radar (Six Gallery), Spared (A Main Street Rag Editors’ Choice Chapbook), Under the Kaufmann’s Clock: Fiction, Poems, and Photographs of Pittsburgh with photos by Rebecca Clever (Six Gallery), and co-author of the diversity workbook Dealing With Differences (Corwin). A 2008 recipient of an Individual Creative Artist fellowship in poetry from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, she was a prizewinner in the 2007 RAWI Competition for Creative Prose and first runner-up in the 2012 Grey Sparrow Flash Fiction Contest. Angele’s reviews, poetry, and fiction have appeared in nearly sixty publications and fourteen anthologies. She is a contributing editor to Al Jadid Magazine.

John Thomas Menesini is the author of The Last Great Glass Meat Million (Six Gallery Press, 2003), e pit ap h (Convergence, 2007), endo: Poems & Sketches 2007 – 2011 (Six Gallery Press, 2011), and Gloom Hearts & Opioids (Six Gallery Press, 2015). His poems have appeared in numerous publications in Ireland, Scotland, England, and the US, thus garnering dozens of fans across the globe.

Rick Claypool grew up in a small town in western Pennsylvania called Leechburg, but he currently lives in Pittsburgh. By day he works for Public Citizen, a nonprofit organization that fights corporate power. Leech Girl Lives (Spaceboy Books, 2017) is his first novel.

At 8PM, head over to Brillobox for Bah Humbug 4: Writers (Still) Wrestle the Holiday Spirit…

Tastier than a fruitcake, easier to assemble than a Fisher Price playhouse, for the FOURTH year in a row, we are bringing some of Pittsburgh’s finest writers together to entertain you with tales of their holiday work experiences.

$5 suggested donation, proceeds benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

The readers will channel their inner-Sedaris, and offer up tales from their time as food service employees, retail workers, and other assorted time-card punchers during the bleak months of November and December. They will attempt to locate their hoilday spirit. Or THE holiday spirits (aka, Jim, Jack and maybe even Johnny).

Just like signing the group birthday card or buying overpriced crap from your co-worker’s kid’s school fundraiser, UGLY HOLIDAY SWEATERS STRONGLY ENCOURAGED.

Hosted by Jason Baldinger (who was once run over by a Black Friday crowd on a rampage for office supplies), and Stephanie Brea (who probably stole that art book she gave you for Christmas in 2001).

The Lineup:

Becky Corrigan
Angele Ellis
Rich Gegick
Lori Jakiela
Andrea Laurion
Deesha Philyaw
Meghan Tutolo
Matt Ussia
Bob Walicki

When The Wizard of Oz Breaks Out into a Gun Battle: An Interview with Scotty Lewis, Author of Arkansas Ghoulash

Posted in Events, Interviews, New Releases with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2017 by 6GPress

Mark Spitzer says,

Hey, my grad students in poetry just did a kick-ass interview with Scotty on his book.

& here it is. Mark & Scotty will read from their new books Sunday, December 17th at White Whale Bookstore in Bloomfield, along with locals Alan Olifson, Angele Ellis, John Menesini, & Rick Claypool.

When The Wizard of Oz Breaks Out into a Gun Battle:

An Interview with Scotty Lewis, Author of Arkansas Ghoulash

By Drew Cook, Énbarr Coleman, Callie Smith, Briget Laskowski, JJ McNiece, and Mikayla Davis

 

Scotty Lewis, a lecturer in Writing at the University of Central Arkansas, was recently featured at the Faulkner County Library in Conway for a “Debut-Break-Out-Book-Readin-Book-Signin Bonanza.” Hot off the press from Six Gallery Press in Pittsburgh, Arkansas Ghoulash is his first book, and it wasn’t an easy story to tell. On one hand, the narrative revolves around a tragic act of domestic violence; but on the other, it is a daring and complex epic poem in the postmodern tradition that relies on lyrical flashes from a highly unnatural “natural state.” After a dramatic reading that blew his audience away, Lewis responded to questions—an opportunity that graduate students in Creative Writing from the Arkansas Writers MFA Workshop conveniently exploited:

Drew Cook: One of things you do in Arkansas Ghoulash is you take established forms and then you kind of collage them together so they’re not visually recognizable and all that’s left is the music. It’s really a high Modernist approach. I’m interested in how you arrived at that strategy, and if there were any difficulties and advantages in doing so.

Scotty Lewis: There are a lot of things that make poetry good or bad but one of the key things is music. Do I like improvisation? Of course. We like jazz but we also like form. The best improvisation realizes that there’s form, and it breaks it. The best improvisation realizes form. In a way this caused major difficulties because I might have preferred a straight narrative, but I don’t know if it would have worked that way. Emotionally, it was hard for me to do even as abstract as it is. If I turned this into a very straightforward story, I don’t know that I could have done it. Playing with the music of it, playing with the feeling of it, being able to be lyrical in different ways… it helped me capture the feel of it.

Énbarr Coleman: What stuck out most to me was the mention of the Berlin Wall because I noticed that you had a lot of these violent images, a lot of nature, and also soft and gentle stuff. Then suddenly you’ve got the Berlin Wall and things of that nature thrown in. In my opinion, it went from this very local poem to much grander, much more international. I was curious to hear your thoughts on that.

Lewis: There were several markers. The Berlin Wall is in there. Tiananmen Square is in there. There are a few big events of the time that were in there. If you go through the book, there are about seven or eight of those in there. Part of those are to mark time. This is the era that we’re talking about. This is the time we’re talking about. This poem jumps around a lot. Even tonight—and I didn’t want to stop and indicate necessarily because it would have broken up the rhythm of it—but there are places in the part I read tonight that weren’t necessarily sticking to one timeline. Those markers were put in there to anchor the reader in a certain time. They were also in there not only to give a sense of the violence that was taking place and erupting in my household, but also that was erupting around the world. The two things may not be related really, but they seem related. I mean, I grew up in the 1980s, so I certainly didn’t grow up with a cell phone, but I did grow up with a television. I did grow up with a Commodore 64. I grew up with enough technology to always be in touch with what was going on in the world. So I don’t think there is such a thing as living a completely local life anymore.

Callie Smith: The epic form of Arkansas Ghoulash is unusual in contemporary poetry—you don’t see that much. How did you decide on writing in this epic form? What were the challenges and what did it buy you?

Lewis: That’s such an interesting question. While it is the length of an epic, I think I really fell short on a lot of the other elements, but I did sort of want to include some aspects of the epic while writing it. I do think, in a sense, there is a journey to the underworld and an attempt, at least, to come back. So what inspired me to do that? I don’t know, but my favorite epic poem is The Odyssey, which I refer to in the poem. And I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do it in short form. I didn’t want to do it as necessarily sixty poems about the same event. I thought it needed space to grow . . . But I was also keeping a lot of different forms in mind. Within the text, there are places where sonnets, blank verse, where American haiku is hidden—where a lot of smaller forms are actually talking back and forth to each other.

JJ McNiece: I felt a hyperpolarization with your imagery as you read. On one end: brutal, severe violence. On the other: soft, sweet calm. It seemed that the beginning displayed more of the brutal imagery, while the images during the violent event itself were often softer, though interspersed with the brutal. At the end, I felt the imagery gravitated almost exclusively toward that sweet, softer side. I’m curious what your conscious decisions are with imagery and language as you’re going through this? What are you trying to accomplish?

Lewis: I was trying to accomplish a balance. If this is going to be genuine, I don’t think I can gloss over the violence. This was a very violent incident. So, even the things surrounding it, even the consciousness of the narrator while he looks into other things—simple things—notices violence more, even in the landscape. I hope, too, that there are softer parts. I don’t know that I made a conscious decision to polarize those things, but both exist. Do I decide to make softer images? I do, but I don’t know that I think about it that much. I try to make a pretty image now and then. I like to make images. I think it’s a stronger suit of my poetry.

Briget Laskowski: My question deals with images, particularly the images you have on page 63 and 64 where you use the Tin Man image. In fact you even take his words, “Just because I’m presumin’ / That I could be a human / If I only had a heart,” and then on page 64 you have Mickey Mouse, Goofy, and Donald Duck. What were you attempting to communicate using these images?

Lewis: Those were domestic images. I wanted to make sure people understood what those images were about. It was very close, very in the home. It was The Wizard of Oz breaking out into a gunfight. It was Loony Tunes in a certain sense. I was fifteen years old. I was really just crawling into adolescence . . . I felt like a child. So I wanted to make sure that things we associated with children like Mickey Mouse and The Wizard of Oz were there. Another reason for The Wizard of Oz specifically, was the year this happened my brother was extremely talented, very handsome, and he was beginning his acting career, and his acting career launched off partially from his acting in plays at our school. Probably his biggest role was as the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz. Actually, in the yearbook for the next year there was a full page spread of my brother as the Tin Man.

Mikayla Davis: Many of your poems use natural imagery juxtaposed with very human, sometimes even mechanical imagery, so I was wondering what purpose you see that relationship playing in your poems? And what is humanity’s position in relationship with nature, for you?

Lewis: I think we’re way past being romantics about it. I think that would be disingenuous. I think that would be a lie. I love nature. I love going out. I love to fish, I love to hike. Those of you who know me know I love to be outside, but I always see it diminishing. I don’t really see our efforts to fight it as being very good or even very genuine. I mean, we’re part of nature, right? And so anything we see, if there are mechanical images mixed in with the natural—what we make is as much a part of nature as an ant making an anthill or beaver making a beaver dam. It might be more complicated in the way we do it, but we’re part of nature. We’re just one of those things in nature that really knows how to screw things up. We’re like termites. We’re going to keep eating at the tree until we kill it.

7/28 A Hellbender Reading w/ Mark Spitzer, Lea Graham, & Co. @ EEBX

Posted in Events, Video with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 16, 2016 by 6GPress

THURSDAY, JULY 28th…

Mark Spitzer has a new book out from Anaphora Literary Press about the wonderful hellbender, North America’s largest salamander!

Hear Mark read from his epic poem along with poet Lea Graham & local Six Gallery stalwarts Che Elias, Karen Lillis, John Thomas Menesini, & Don Wentworth… or risk the wrath of the hellbender!

Hellbender reading

UPDATE:

As animal names go, “hellbender” is a pretty good one. So if Mark Spitzer’s book-length poem about North America’s largest salamander (which can grow to more than 2 feet long) is titled Glurk! (Anaphora Literary Press) instead, it’s for reasons you’ll have to learn for yourself when the Arkansas-based author reads at East End Book Exchange. Tonight’s reading, backed by music made on the custom-made stringed instrument called The Electric Hellbender, also includes words from New York-based poet Lea Graham and local luminaries Che Elias, Karen Lillis, John Thomas Menesini and Don Wentworth. Bill O’Driscoll 7 p.m. 4754 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield. Free. 412-224-2847

Pittsburgh City Paper

5/26 To My Divine Spark/Gloom Hearts & Opioids launch @ Classic Lines

Posted in Events, New Releases with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2016 by 6GPress

TOMORROW…

To My Divine Launch

5/12 Gloom Hearts & Opioids launch @ East End Book Exchange

Posted in Events, New Releases with tags , , , , , , , on May 8, 2016 by 6GPress

THIS THURSDAY…

Join herbivorous scribbler John Thomas Menesini & friends Megan Bell, Meghan Tutolo, & Angele Ellis at EEBX for one of the last events under the Lesley Rains admin. Pocket-sized for your convenience & pleasure, Gloom Hearts & Opioids is a collection of frivolous goth excess w/ a little bit not like that at all. Here’s a taste, from “Sexting w/ Yr Mom”:

everything comes to an end
our sun is no exception
sure, our sun has millions of good years
left but its eventual doom is certain

i imagine me & yr mom in space
(what’s it like to come in space?)
i imagine space is too cold for yr mom
but i bet she’d remember to bring a sweater

Happy Mom’s Day & enjoy the spring weather!

4/17 An Evening of Rock Solid Poetry @ Jozart Center for the Arts

Posted in Events with tags , , , , on April 17, 2015 by 6GPress

TONIGHT…

“Four Poets, One Cup” or “How to Keep Poetry Relevant in the Modern Age”

Four distinct, diverse and dynamic authors [Jason Baldinger, Margaret Bashaar, Michael Begnal, & John Thomas Menesini] come together for one night of literary neck-punches and anarchistic chicanery. Their intent is to prove that poetry is neither an exclusive pretentious hipster clubhouse nor a dry inaccessible academic snoozefest. Join them at Jozart Center for the Arts, 333 2nd Street, California on Friday, April 17 from 7-10 p.m. Admission is free. The authors will have merchandise to sell. Books will be available. Carousing is expected.

http://pabridges.com/arts/an-evening-of-rock-solid-poetry/

4/16 John Menesini & Aubrey Hirsch @ Barnes & Noble Cafe

Posted in Events with tags , , , on April 16, 2015 by 6GPress

TONIGHT at 7PM…

Aubrey Hirsch & John Thomas Menesini share their words at the Barnes & Noble by Duquesne.

http://www.duq.edu/academics/schools/liberal-arts/academic-departments-of-liberal-arts/english/news-and-events

4/15 Sausage Party @ Cyberpunk Apocalypse

Posted in Events with tags , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2015 by 6GPress

THIS WEDNESDAY…

sausage party small

1/31 Galway Kinnell Memorial Reading @ EEBX & Free Monster Poems @ Most Wanted Fine Art

Posted in Events with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2015 by 6GPress

TONIGHT at East End Book Exchange…

Widely admired for poems of depth, tenderness and beauty, Kinnell published 10 collections, including The Book of Nightmares (1971), a book-length lyric that reflects his work in the Civil Rights Movement and activism against the Vietnam War. Among many honors, he received the 1982 Pulitzer Prize in poetry, the National Book Award and was a MacArthur “genius” Fellow.

Date: Saturday, January 31st at 7:00 PM
Location: East End Book Exchange
The following Pittsburgh poets will read from Kinnell’s work:Jan Beatty
Jimmy Cvetic
Angele Ellis
Lynn Emanuel
Terrance Hayes
Sam Hazo
Joy Katz
Ed Ochester 
Mike Schneider
Marianne Trale
Michael Wurster
Open mic/open discussion to follow readers

Music: Scots-Irish solo fiddle by Jan Hamilton of Devilish Merry

Here’s an article about the event by Rege Behe.
ALSO TONIGHT at 7, at Most Wanted Fine Art…
HEADLINING MONSTERS
Juliet Cook
John Thomas Menesini
The Devilz in the Detailz
Requiem
Cherri Baum
Shawn Maddey
Penny Delapoison
…and Margaret [Bashar] and [Rachael] Deacon will also monster, because really.
Jason Baldinger will also be reading at this monster party.
Both events are FREE like Freedonia.

1/30 Pure Poetry Destruction at Cyberpunk Apocalypse

Posted in Events with tags , , , , , , on January 16, 2015 by 6GPress

FRIDAY, JANUARY 30…

The Haven‘s reading series continues with Six Gallery all-stars Jason Baldinger, John Thomas Menesini, & Don Wentworth, & prose powerhouse Olivia Rose Mancing.

1-30-15 Cyberpunk flyer

The near-future fate of Cyberpunk is currently uncertain, so hit these monthly readings up while you can!

The Old Year & the New

Posted in New Releases with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2014 by 6GPress

So, 2014 was a year. A good one in that The Lower Forty-Eight by Jason Baldinger, Yield to the Willow by Don Wentworth, Imagination Motel by Chuck Kinder, &, most recently, the blue 2nd edition of A Film About Billy by Daniel McCloskey saw the light of print; & a devastating one in that we lost a luminary, Victor Navarro, on June 30.

On the slate for 2015 is a follow-up to Victor’s collection Short Works, which he asked demanded be released immediately the day before his death, but which will actually be released on June 30 of next year. Juggling as fast as I can here, Vic!

Gloom Hearts & Opioids, a new collection of poems by John Thomas Menesini, who will also be in town at the end of January to perform at at least two readings.

Hungry by Daniel Parme, a self-published novel which has recently been worked over by two editors & given a polish by the author.

The Apartment Building by Joe Musso, a bizarre novel about the inhabitants of, yes, an apartment building.

An untitled collection of poems by Stephanie Brea, whenever she’s done fiddling with it.

Aaand, in all likelihood, several other books from the back burner. Stay tuned & happy New Year!