Monday, August 31, 2009


Title: 10
Author: Tom Curry
Publisher: Naked Mannekin
Format: 7.5 x 5" Chapbook, 24 Pages
List Price: $8.00

Tom Curry brings his “A” game to writing and expects his readers to do the same. He is often referred to as an academic poet, or even one of the “neo-beats,” but neither of these is accurate. He is the beat philosopher, one of the founding members of the Waiting 4 the Bus Poetry Collective, who has lead the battle to cure the poetry world of the affliction of genre. His poetry carries the bluntness of Ernest Hemingway and the wit of Oscar Wilde, and he will not dumb it down for a world that has had its senses numbed by reality television. His genius is to wield verse to point out that the emperor is both naked and a bit of a dullard. He is not one to suffer fools lightly. Tom Curry’s collection 10 is smart, witty, and sometimes reveals the incredible idiocy and ignorance of the world’s population. 10 is an antiseptic for the scraped knee of our skewed world view.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


I learned to see as a young art student, filling sketch books with endless drawings of empty bottles and soup cans. Apples, oranges, baskets, bicycle wheels, old shoes: the usual variations on the theme of stuff art teachers find laying around. I learned to see the tried and true way all art students learn: by stripping the world naked. Art teachers have their own repertoire of terms for this, but I prefer my own: I call it honesty. I still stand by the statement I made on the first day of figure drawing class, even if the teacher chastised me for having no imagination. Of course that drawing is long gone, but the image stuck with me:

It has evolved into a searching metaphor, one that has come to define my artistic acumen. It embarasses me to repeat the things I used to say as an art student, but the point was simple enough: I have no taste for bending the world to my imagination. In other words, I prefer the naked mannekins.

Monday, August 24, 2009


I have always been a fan of Steve Martin, so I was a little disappointed to discover the deep vein of misogyny revealed in the pages of Shop Girl. I don't claim to be a literary critic, much less a feminist, but I decided that this required a statement. I have often fantasized about throwing books out of windows or dropping them into sewer grates, but this time I decided it was time to indulge in one of my more elaborate fantasies. I clamped my copy of Shop Girl in my guillotine cutter, chopped it into tiny pieces and stuffed the remains into a pickle jar. Every now and then I pull pieces out to see if there is anything worth keeping. So, here is a meager handful of poetry that seemed to deserve a little mercy. I promise every word belongs to Steve Martin. I added nothing:


She maneuvers the
topic elsewhere

go on the room implies
those times
when a man is watching
hoping to
come across as a vixen

moves her eyes away
and stands there
fills in a background of oily

leaves the eerie
floating nude image of
herself in white.

. . .


Little is said
a vixen floating
nude in white
skillfully stands there

enjoys what is given back
and forth
maneuvers the oily
black background

and realizes that nothing
fills those times

when her eyes move away
hoping to come
across the
image of herself elsewhere

exactly when
a man is watching.

. . .


She skillfully
maneuvers the
the eerie
floating image of

her monotony
moves her eyes away
and stands there
hoping to
come across

the oily black
the room implies
dutifully fills in a vixen

enjoys those times
nothing is answered
little is said
files them in her purse.

. . .


She fills in the background
her eyes away from oily black
sentences in her purse

exactly the same
nothing implies a floating nude image of
herself in white and
she realizes

that she enjoys what is given
skillfully moves
the monotony of the room
when a man is watching

stands there
those times hoping to
leave the topic elsewhere
little is said.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Title: Plato’s Basement
Author: Matt Barton
Publisher: Naked Mannekin
Format: 6 x 4” Chapbook, 40 Pages
List Price: $8.00

Plato’s Basement is an amazing poem: angry, urgent and filled with the human need to understand the puzzle of life. Matt Barton drew on his own childhood experiences to come up with the careful choice of words that comprise this epic brooding: a must-have for all serious poetry readers. Barton has written a lot of excellent poetry of late, and this (at least so far) is his crowning touch.

As with all of Matt Barton's work, Plato's Basement aims at something more fundamental than one man's struggle. Through an extremely judicious and painstakingly minimalist use of language, Plato's Basement gets at the internal struggles we all face, the dark spaces within all of us: namely, the inner demons hatched and nurtured by a violent past.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Title: Blood
Author: Kristin LaTour
Publisher: Naked Mannekin
Format: 7.5 x 5" Chapbook, 32 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-60725-953-4
List Price: $8.00

In the distance, something leans like a buttress to keep whatever-it-is from falling over like daddy drunk. I don’t know what whatever-it-is is but I think I should. I think I own it. So, yeah, I should know. Bulldozers cut a swathe wide enough for I-don’t-know-what and sweaty men dig in the heat, tearing up the backdrop of my world and I don’t know why in spite of the fact that, like I said, I think I own it and I think I should know. Scars are inventoried and surgery goes wrong, and friends and enemies and humans and such are killed like so many insects for no apparent reason other than it was planned by who-knows-who. I stand and stare transfixed, waiting for a bulletin of late-breaking news to clue me in before the next commercial break. I don’t think everything will work itself out in the last couple of minutes before the closing credits roll this time. No...the maniac piano speed silent movie music doesn’t sound like it’s anywhere near wrapping up yet. And these people. These people wander around like lost snowflakes, ignoring the cunning rhythms of the bulldozers and sweaty men digging. These people whisper quiet booze talk or scream lustful innuendo or fall silent with pain so intense sound can’t do it justice. They’re all and losers, violator and violated...rushing to bad ends together. And—when all is said and done—I can’t get the taste of all of this out of my brain. It’s like I just rummaged through clammy hearts and mucked about in hidden passions and lost my grip on myself in the process. Too much surgery. Too many funerals. And, still, I want to go back for more. This is what it’s like to have read Kristin LaTour’s BLOOD.


Words, in Kristin LaTour’s new chapbook Blood, are used like a precision instrument in exploratory surgery, like “a needle passed in the flicker of a match flame” to pierce, probe, and investigate. She takes us “to the serrated edge,” conducts “an inventory of scars,” and refuses to offer false assurances. Always one to push limits, she writes with an unsettling blend of passion, compassion, and sardonic wit. Enjoy!

--THEODORE DEPPE, author of Orpheus on the Red Line, Tupelo Press, 2009.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Simply put, Tom Curry is one of my favorite poets. His collection of poetry 10 is one of my earliest collaborations, and it remains one of my favorites. Tom is one of the veteran members of the Waiting 4 The Bus Poetry Collective, and it is my privilege to bring his poetry to broader audiences by producing this slim volume of poetry. 10 is still in its first edition; however, I am pleased to say that it is now in it's second printing.

Tom is an unrepentant iconoclast, continually honing his unique blend of philosophical hair splitting tempered with uncompromising and unapologetic bohemian rancor. His poetry is primarily concerned with the realm of thought, doggedly wrestling with those grand ideas that lie at the center of most things; however, these are not dry philosophical treatises. He approaches thought the way a painter approaches a blank canvas, carefully distilling the rushing tableau of ideas into planes and intersecting lines, form, space and proportion. Like a painter, Tom chooses his vantage point and his palette carefully in order to illuminate the barest sliver of what is possible in order to hint at what might otherwise be overwhelmingly incomprehensible.

There is a stunning
and beauty in the inner workings
of nature that
human eyes have never seen

hydrogen atoms
joining forces with oxygen
in the primordial soup

the Double Helix
unwinding itself in a delicate life-giving dance

parallel lines intersecting at
impossibly distant
horizons in Euclidian planes

the building blocks of logic
and reason
revealed only by the rare insight and
deft hands of those few

exceptional people
generous enough to share them with us

Antoine von Leeuwenhoek grinding
his lenses Gustav Eiffel
playing with tinker toys Louis Bleriot making
gossamer wings
out of canvas and twigs

and then there is Tom Curry
showing us the
simplicity, elegance and beauty
lurking right under our

own noses just beyond the limits
of our own perception
and it is a
beautiful thing to behold.

© 2009 Matthew S. Barton

There is a frantic quality to Tom Curry’s ravings and an unrelenting rage bubbling up from deep recesses of frustration and disgust; however, what is most remarkable about 10 is not the driving sense of urgency steeped into every page. Rather, it is the pervasive sense of understatement: his deft use of Achem's razor. In the end, what is most striking about 10 is not the grand scope of Tom Curry's vision; but rather it is his uncanny reticence, his economy of words and his unsparing need to stick to the point. In spite of everything, a man of very few words.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


12 min.

1 Bulgarian Themed Cafe

1 doz. Poets

1 pkg. Catcher in the Rye

Assemble poets in a poorly lit back room with Bulgarian pop songs playing at the edge of hearing on a television set, preheat oven to 325ยบ. Cut Catcher in the Rye into ½” strips. Each poet takes one strip at random and edits it into a line of poetry. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir vigorously. Format and punctuate to taste.

Here is Salinger's corpse, in more legible form:

She was lousy
with dough
very dixieland and whorehouse

I thought of
her going in a store
and nobody
knowing she was a prostitute
that depressed me

I could see my mother
asking a million
dopy questions
about as kindhearted
as a goddamn wolf

it was pretty late and all
she lived at
the stanford arms
on broadway

I really don’t
understand sex
making up these sex
rules for myself

and then I break them
what’s the matter
whuddaya want
my voice shaking like hell

takin’ the five
you owe me
and I certainly didn’t feel like
getting my brains beat out.

These words aren't mine, so I invite anyone to write their own Salinger corpse from this source material. Here are a few lines I put together. Every word belongs to Salinger; I added nothing:


All of the sudden
this lady
sat down next to me

we went to see
some movie
I know you’re supposed to
feel pretty sexy

when someone pulls
their dress
over their head
but I didn’t

she did it so
sudden and all.

. . .


I thought of
my mother
asking a million questions

about the
stanford arms
very dixieland and whorehouse
that depressed me

making up these
rules for myself and then
I break them
shaking like hell

it was pretty late
and I certainly
didn’t feel like going to
another hotel.

. . .


I was a lousy wolf
my voice shaking like hell
making up these dopy
rules for myself

knowing she was a prostitute
a million kindhearted
I didn’t feel like asking

the thought of
my brains getting beat out

it was pretty late and
she lived at a whorehouse
I really don’t
understand what depressed me.

. . .


She was shaking
like hell
and nobody
thought of asking

what’s the matter
with that
dixieland prostitute

asking a million dopy
and getting my brains beat out
on broadway

I certainly didn’t want
her lousy
whorehouse sex
and you owe me stanford.