Goosewind return to Shrimper with “Grateful 4 the Times We Share”

It is a real thrill to be issuing a brand new Goosewind release on Shrimper. It has been nearly thirty years since their last cassette release on the label but they have kept busy since then. On the new release Grateful 4 the Times We Share the band is back with an emotional and fitting return that features players that have been associated in the orbit of Rick Goosewind over that time span including Melody Kriesel, Maddelleine Grae, Ruben Seahag, Thomas Spectre, Garrett Dunn and Allen Callaci of Refrigerator dueting on a Blind Willie Johnson cover. The cassette spans the folk and psych roots, dark and light and otherworldliness that the band has inhabited over all those decades with odes to all that is gone and praise for the hard fought for that remains. Rick Goosewind orchestrates a tour of time as he hears it from the far back of his past to the present. The hand numbered limited edition first dub of 100 copies features full color cover art by Dennis Callaci. Grateful 4 the Times We Share is out on August 26th and will be available at your finer independent record stores, Revolver and Grapefruit.

Patrick Brayer on the Watt from Pedro show

I could talk music until the bloodshot in my eyes is nothing but shot out between Patrick Brayer and Mike Watt. What a pleasure to just be sitting all quiet listening to the two of them spiel and freewheel on Watt’s show. Patrick Brayer’s latest record came out at the begin of the year. Hear the two of them play tracks from the record and talk about roads connected. Check it out here.

Trailer premiere for Thomas R. Thomas’ “Missing Shaun” Bamboo Dart Press book

Thomas R. Thomas has a dozen books under his belt and also heads up the fantastic Arroyo Seco Press. His forthcoming book, Missing Shaun, is a meditation on the death of his son. Real time texts are followed by a series of poems and haikus reflecting on his loss. Thomas is unflinching but also quite aware of the reader as there are moments of light and relief in this incredible work of his. The book is out August tenth.

Ben Woods vinyl imminent

Ben Woods’ Dispeller CD and digital are available now. The limited edition marble vinyl had a slight delay but will be making itself present in the material world in three weeks time or thereabout. Raves are rolling in for his addictive sophomore effort, check out the Quietus review. Preorder for the LP continue at Ben’s bandcamp page and via Revolver and Grapefruit.

Ben Woods Dispeller CD/digital out today. LP due in the weeks ahead.

Ben Woods Dispeller is out today. The European pressed LP is a beauty, but delayed by a few weeks. Preorders continue on the vinyl from Revolver and Grapefruit. We expect the first run of LP’s on marble vinyl to sell out rather fast and apologize for the unforeseen but not unexpected delay which has become a near norm in this day and age.

Stephanie Barbé Hammer’s second book on Bamboo Dart Press “City Slicker” is out today

I spoke to Stephanie Barbé Hammer’s on the eve of the publication of her new book City Slicker being issued. We had the following conversation about this astonishing new work of hers that took a lifetime to compose. The batteries in the smoke detector alerted me all histrionic when I said this aloud that there are a number of decades left for Barbé Hammer which is lucky for us as her writing continues to broaden and expand. City Slicker (encounters with the outside) is available at your favorite independent bookstores and record shops as well as the corporate self checkout and digital ghost shops. It is also available direct from Bamboo Dart Press.

Your new book City Slicker (encounters with the outside) is about the external, how it formed you as you grew from a girl to a woman. In one of my favorite pieces in the book of Working a table on a street corner for eugene McCarthy, 1968 (New York City) you flip the script of the book as this one is about the internal. The first death of a friend, political awakening, being at odds with your parents, it is all here, succinctly and circuitously these three topics unwind around each other in the poem.

The majority of the verse in this book is dated. Each piece with a titles and most followed by the year, 1958-2019. The book is sequenced in chronological order and I have two questions about that. Firstly, how much of this book was written in real time and how much is reflection? I would think that the majority of the early poems were written after the fact, but that? Boiling down sixty years of life into sixty pages is quite a feat, especially considering what a rewarding read City Slicker is. How did you go about editing this book together.

The poems seemed to spool out in terms of a specific moment as well as a particular time and location, so when the time came to “collect” them, I played around with ideas — including going backwards in time and juxtaposing city and country poems — but this just seemed to confuse the issue, so I went with traditional linear time. As to what was written in real time and what wasn’t — well, the poems about the past were written as reflection, although some of them (outside at night, discomfort poem, ellen) were written quite a while ago, in response to prompts given by John Brantingham in a free class he gave on how to make a poetry collection. The poems about living in the PNW are all recent — some of them very recent. To be honest, I didn’t worry about this at the time; I just wrote them as they came up for me. Many were written during covid, which was such an internal time, and that isolation enabled me to look back at experiences like college and the year I lived in Geneva and in the East Village and see them with a kind of vividness that I might not have gotten access to otherwise.

When you first turned in the book, I recall asking you why there was an absence of approximately twenty years, in the timeline of the pieces. I laughed when you told me this was because you and Larry were raising your daughter during that time. It is worth noting that none of your work was published until you were into your fifties, that gift serves this book as so much of it was not written with the reader in mind. That quality shines in a book that is a hybrid book of verse/diary/memoir.
I published poetry in my forties as well as some short fiction, but yes, this work all comes from later. I think it takes time for some of us to be able to write about our lives, and I don’t think I could have written this way earlier. Being older really does have its benefits. I’ll share that my spawn is herself a creative writer, so I don’t think it’s my job to write about her (although I have — a little — in my earlier poetry collections). It’s really for her to tell her own story.

Your other writing has incredibly vulnerable and three dimensional characters, many taken from those you have known and reworked around the edges in the abstract. I wonder if sharing this much about yourself in a spare and honest voice was a difficult proposition for you.
You know that issue has only occurred to me recently! I look at some of these poems and think “jeepers, well THAT’s revealing,” but at the time i was just making the work and that came first. The poem about sex in Northampton feels very revealing to me, as does the poem about the window cleaner. But on the other hand, I really like them! So, I’ll have to live with the discomfort that I’ve revealed too much, and the possibility of feeling embarassed. After all, I write about having diarrhea in France! And in the end, lyric poetry is ABOUT the personal. It’s where the “I’ performs its most intimate dance.

For the sake of economy, I seldom pull from the text of BDP writers books in these interviews, but the following lines in one of the last entries in the book For the window cleaner March 22nd 2021 (Whidbey Island) is as great an entry that may exist for someone to understand your writing. It is conversational and natural, but crafted by one who has a great understanding of writing, and is herself, a poet. This is something many of us would like to say as a farewell. It reads matter of fact, but after sitting with it, it reads to me like the work of a gardener, a caretaker. Yes, things are a mess, but messes can be cleaned. Don’t get caught up in the minutia. Everything ends, all work on the internal and external will not end. Not until after the decline, the true end.
That’s so funny. I answered the previous question before seeing this one. Ah, my beloved window cleaner! Yes, as a poet, I myself am kind of like the window cleaner. You do what you can. It’s alot of work, and it doesn’t always come out smudge-free. And there’s always a more successful poet or someone shinier out there. But it’s the job. And sometimes you need to swerve to avoid hitting something. And you pack up your gear and you start again tomorrow, god willing. You’re making me realize that I identify with him to a great extent, and that’s fun to realize.

Excerpt from City Sicker (encounters with the outside):
I suppose that suffering doesn’t build character Sadness doesn’t make you better, kinder, more patient Rather it’s that constant swipe of the squeegie on glass The clean that doesn’t stay, because things are declining

These lines are so interesting to me — I’m not sure where they came from! Things are declining or are they? and so what if they are? I feel a certain sympathy — solidarity, I guess — with the window cleaner because he has to work hard and others don’t. He gets to be pissed off about that, in my view. But it makes just as much sense to turn this whole proposition around. The window cleaner reminds me that being able to be a poet, have the leisure time to write is a great privilege, for which I need to be more grateful. So, in a way the window cleaner is telling me that I’m pretty lucky to not to have be be doing physical labor to make a living. I’m sitting at my desk looking at him. But he’s looking back. I hope the poem does him a little justice in that regard.

Sublime Ben Woods Dispeller short film debuts on The Fader

Ben Woods Sophomore record is out Friday digitally and on CD with the limited edition marble vinyl edition out a few weeks thereafter. The Fader premiere of a short film of Woods and his band live in and outside of the studio performing songs from the new record Dispeller and some background on the film and record is viewable here. The film, directed by Martin Sagadin captures the meditative spirit and stoic beauty of the new record which is available for preorder from Revolver and Grapefruit now.

Secret Stars LP/CD/Digital out today

A year of crate digging for artwork, master tapes, old flyers and notes celebrates an anniversary with the delivery of the earliest recordings by The Secret Stars out today on clear vinyl, reflection built in CD and ether heaving digital platforms. Their first release, a cassette only release on Shrimper in 1995 has been lovingly mastered by Carl Saff from the original tape. I have not worked with someone as talented as Carl since the Golden family (John, JJ & April) whose surname is fitting. Like The Golden’s, Saff has an exquisite ear. I mean, he understands the language of this record and has dialed it in without scaring away the ghosts and the spirit. Both the CD & LP sound phenomenal. The Smashed Plastic pressing on clear vinyl looks and sounds stunning. The locked groove and the easter egg at the end of that locked groove can be revealed now, so pick up that stylus and catch the skree. I suggest adopting a copy from your favorite local record store. If that doesn’t work, get it direct from Revolver or Grapefruit.

Carol D. Marsh’s Border/Between: A Symphony in Essays is out today on Bamboo Dart Press

Carol D. Marsh’s Border/Between: A Symphony in Essays is a stunning work.  I have explained in detail in a link to the trailer for the book why this book moves me to the degree that it does, so no introduction, I feel, is necessary.  In the conversation below that I had with Marsh, her heart and artistry is on display.  Her empathy and kindness that is found herein is real, as true as her fierceness and tough as nails might.    

In your new book, Border/Between: A Symphony in Essays, you take numerous cues from music including the idea of movements, verses, repeating choruses.  Haydn, George Harrison, Quincy Jones and prayer, the rhythm of them, act as skeletal mass that you then dress with each of the four essays in the book.  Songwriters are often asked, what came first, the music or the lyrics, could this be asked of you in your composing of this book?

I wrote “Hush” in 2020, “Song for the Dying” in 2021, and “Requiem for the Fall” in 2018. They were part of a long process in which I explored the ways in which written forms and structures coincide with musical ones, and vice versa. Themes, motifs, rhythms, movements, dynamics/emotions – all these are equally applicable to writing style as to musical. That fascinated me, and so I played with it over the course of those three essays. When I learned, last year, that some publishers do prose chapbooks, it took about three seconds for me to realize I had the makings of a chapbook in these three essays. That was an exciting moment for me. I love it when worlds collide and I get a burst of creative inspiration. So in answer to your question, which came first, I’d say they arrived together out of an already existing fascination that I’d been exploring for some years. (Please note: I don’t mention Quincy Jones anywhere, thought I get the connection you’ve made.)

The structure of each essay, which you have noted as movements, have a different rhythm, both in tone, structure and subject matter.  What brought you to bring these four essays together as one work?

Well, I pretty much answered this in the first question, so I’ll talk about how I wrote the first essay, “Sonata.” Once I decided on a chapbook containing the three essays I’d already written, I needed to write the first essay. I made about eight crappy starts before I realized I had three movements, the classical symphony structure is four movements, and the first movement often serves as introduction and foreshadowing of themes and motifs to come. Though I love to be creative, I also respond to structure, so the idea of putting all the years-long mulling I’d been doing into this chapbook that could mirror the form of a symphony was another exciting moment for me. I call the first movement “Sonata” because the first movement of a classical symphony is, historically, the sonata form: typically three movements, but sometimes four. So there you go – form (movements) within form (sonata) within form (symphony in four movements). I used the first movement of my essay-symphony to function in the traditional way, which is in movements that introduce themes and motifs (themes, but shorter) to be explored in later movements. Addiction, forgiveness, living with the unlivable, finding hope in despair and good in bad, death and dying, individual and mass destruction. Living in the between.

You have written a number of essays about your experiences as well as a book of memoir (Nowhere Else I Want to Be).  In Border/Between: A Symphony in Essays you merge your personal history with history removed from you.  There is such a large want in the world of writing and literature for books to be a specific genre by both readers and publishers.  Did this present hurdles in trying to thumbnail the book or land some it?  Was that even a concern?

An insightful question. There are a couple things I can answer. One is that publishers didn’t seem to understand what I am trying to do in Border/Between. It doesn’t necessarily fit into expectations of a prose chapbook. After a while, I decided to look for a publisher who knew writing AND music and musical form. It took some months, but one day I found Bamboo Press. It seemed such a perfect fit that I ignored the fact the website has no Submissions page and emailed Mark a query. He responded in two days, I sent the manuscript, and you and he accepted it in about a week. An object lesson in not giving up. Also, because of the direct and creative tie-ins to music and musical form, I did have a difficult time coming up with a thumb-nail. Do I emphasize the unusual melding of music and word? Do I emphasize narrative arc or themes? I suppose that’s why Bamboo Press is the publisher that picked it up—your understanding was organic and didn’t need any explanation from me.

The most successful experimental film or music or writing, in my mind, does not announce that it is experimenting.  It draws your attention in to such a large degree that you are awash in the work, you are not thinking of dissecting or prodding it because the senses are boiling over with no time for that.  It is only after repeated reads that I see the seams, the labor, the layered mirroring that went into your book as the essays are so engrossing.

I love it that you say the seams and the layers are revealed as you re-read! I didn’t want to make them obvious, I wanted what I call the slow reveal. You know, you read and suddenly you think, oh! I’m starting to get it! There’s delight in that, and I think it’s one of the reasons one of the reviews says the chapbook leaves the reader “hopeful, even inspired,” though it’s about pretty dark topics. Though I’d written three of the essays before, and though they echoed and complemented one another already, I did go back to each of them and tighten up some of the language, word-smith the concepts I wanted to come through. What was interesting to me was that there were, in the end, very few changes to make. The three essays I’d written in earlier years already had most of what I needed for this work to cohere. I think that has to do with the number of years this idea—to write in a way that evokes and follows musical form—was hanging around in my subconscious mind.

In the movement Hush Crystal is pulled from your history, Miriam’s House, a DC residence for homeless women living with AIDS that you founded, directed and lived at.  In Song for the Dying you recount your brother Bill’s life and death.  Both of these are harrowing pieces, and both hinge on different interpretations of a song.  In the case of Hush it is the old spiritual which the piece is titled after that most will recognize from Quincy Jones’ score to Roots.  In Song for The Dying, Bill sends you links to a cover of George Harrison’s “The Art of Dying”.  These are songs of hope in the future, regeneration.  In both essays I was hearing these songs in a new light, as I do when an artist reinterprets a song that has been the soundtrack to my life, allowing me to hear it anew.  It is a stunning way to memorialize these two figures that you loved.  The soundtrack was before me as I read these two essays and did in fact act as a salve, an embrace.

The tune of Hush was actually in my ears as Crystal died. But her death and her story are so harrowing that it took some years for me to allow myself to remember that night and the music in my heart. I was a bit afraid to lift that story out of my memoir (Nowhere Else I Want to Be) as I worried it would be too harsh, too judgmental out of context. Or maybe it was that I was still feeling harsh and judgmental about her life and death. As I was first trying to write the essay a few years ago, I became agitated. So I picked up my singing bowl and listened for a while. What I write about feeling the untethering of judgement and opinion is exactly what happened, and what freed me to write the essay. Song for the Dying, on the other hand, was an essay I knew I would write as soon as Bill’s fiancé told me he’d listened to it just before he died. That so overwhelmed me in its symbolism and irony and as an intuitive act that between all that and my grief, I couldn’t begin the essay for more than two years. Even when I felt ready to start on the first draft, it was gut-wrenching to hear the song, to think of my brother in that hospital bed, to know that he—who loved music so much—turned to that particular song when at his most vulnerable … To this day, I can only listen to The Art of Dying when I’m feeling otherwise strong. (NOTE: Bill never sent me the link to The Art of Dying. I learned from his fiancé that it was the last song he listened to, according to his playlist, before he died.)