Emily-Pettit

A million different landscapes with snow.
It’s a study of bees. These are your future ducks.
We get desperate. We start dancing. It is a weird
come apart. No returns of cake. No exchanges
of cake. Run your thumb across your bottom lip.
Run your thumb across your bottom lip again.
I float quietly. I have a nice stand. I don’t know
how to say, I’m just looking. We breathe air.
We keep the same body temperature all day.
We are holding onto things. An unspecified
racket. A small wagon. The biggest warehouse.
It’s ambitious and complicated. It’s a result
that is still unclear and can go either way.
I do not know what I have to make. I make
mistakes and many of them. I’m afraid I make
many mistakes. This has something to do
with the desperation and something to do
with other things too. A web of smoke holding
onto a dark night. Refusing to reflect any light.
Tell me things. I am waiting for you to tell me things.
I want you to tell me things.
I look at the pictures over and over.
To help me remember. We did that
and we did this. He did that. Covered
in leaves. She did that. They did that.
Salt in the water. I did that. Elk by
the side of the road. The elk by the side
of the road alive. You by the side of
the road alive. The calendar is impatient.
Borges explains it in his story with
the character that wants to name
everything. Wants all new numbers.
Wants one word for everything and anything.
I want to be an orange ball of music.
Could you hear me sewing in the dark?
Finishing something.
—  Emily Pettit, “Observing and These Photographs”

Heather Christle is 5’6”. I have known Heather Christle for a long time, maybe about 8 years, but I was a fan of her poetry before I ever met her.  Some of her earliest published poems were in the 6th issue of Octopus Magazine that I edited. And since then, Octopus Books has published her first two books of poems: The Difficult Farm, which is in its third printing now, and The Trees The Trees which won the 2012 Believer Poetry Award. Her third book, What Is Amazing, was published about a year ago by Wesleyan. Heather likes to cover distances in straight continuous lines by running or swimming. A year or two ago, for example, we drove up the west coast together for a poetry tour. Here is a conversation we had with each other while typing it out while on computers in a computer lab classroom at Cal Arts where we kind of accidentally walked in on a class but never left. In order to pay for that reading tour, we had yard sale type items donated to us and we brought them along with us in our rented car to sell on a yard sale type table at our readings. We knew some people wouldn’t want to buy our books for $10, so we sold them things like an old alarm clock, a snow globe, a rubber chicken, etc, and each one of them came with an exclusive collaborative poem by the two of us written about that particular item. We paid for a lot of our gas by doing that. We were trying to save money on that trip. When we were in L.A., we bought spaghetti and spaghetti sauce at the dollar store and ate dinner for $2 (just $1 a piece). It was gross. That same day in L.A., we found Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love album in a thrift store and bought it for $1 as a gift for the apartment we were staying in. When we got back to the apartment, we found that exact album on the record player. I mean, it was actually on the record player ready to go. Of all the albums! We were like whoa whoa how um what the, etc. In the car we collaborated on poems one word at a time. I have one of them memorized. It goes like this: you said darkness/to my boar. We read Mark Leidner’s book out loud to each other. We also played other games like see who can be more boring. In Vermillion, SD, at a poetry reading there a year later, we played a game where found old books at the thrift store and stacked them up to make poems. Here are mine. Here are hers. When I saw Heather in Northampton just a few months ago, she played The Disintegration Loops by William Basinki for me and told me she’s been writing every morning to it. Now I am too, because I like to copy her sometimes. Sometimes cocktail recipes come to Heather in dreams and then she makes them in reality. One such cocktail is called the Violet Russian. Heather’s husband is Christopher DeWeese, who is also a poet. He also has a book on Octopus Books and it is called The Black Forest. Heather’s sister is Michelle Christle who is also a writer. Michele was born in the same Wolfeboro, New Hampshire hospital 14 months after Heather was born, and she even came out of the same exact woman. That woman is Michele and Heather’s mother. She is an artist and is English. Michele and Heather visited England a lot as children. When Heather was 6, her English mother taught her how to write her last name, Christle, by scraping a small rock on a larger one in the Lake District National Park over there. English poetry is still some of Heather’s favorite poetry. Andrew Marvell, coy mistress, stuff like that. Their dad is a merchant mariner—the cheif mate on the APL China. The first word Heather ever said was “woof.” The first book she ever read was Dragon and Sleepy Owl. But now Heather reads a lot of mystery novels. Last time I was at her house I remember seeing a lot of Agatha Christie on her book shelf. Recently she read a mystery novel called The Affair of the Bloodstained Egg Cosy. When Heather was 16, she had a mohawk. A few years after that, she lived in NYC and worked as a personal assistant to two different women who worked in the same building that housed Mademoiselle where Sylvia Plath spent a month, later recounted in The Bell Jar. I like to think of these times as Heather Christle’s Sylvia Plath years. Heather and Christopher have lived the last few years in Northampton, MA, but just this week they have moved to western Ohio for teaching jobs. Heather will be teaching a poetry course at Antioch College in Yellow Springs. Before that, she taught at Sarah Lawrence. Just a month ago, before they moved, Heather and Chris traveled to Italy, which was full of cats. I have visited Heather in three of her homes now, and I hope to visit a fourth in Ohio soon. I am told it is green and has a basketball hoop in the backyard. Heather has a really good community of friends in Northampton that she will miss now that she and Chris are no longer living there. Here are just three of many examples to prove it: Emily Pettit brought lunch to them when they were all packed up and waiting for the movers to arrive, Jess Fjeld packed up her computer and also gave her a trophy, and Rachel Glaser gave them a ride home from the bar. When Heather’s book, The Trees The Trees, came out, Heather read poems from it over the phone to callers all over the world. You can read a lot more about that here. But TODAY, July 3, 2013, Heather is reprising that and will read poems over the telephone for this one day only. Here is the phone number you can call her on: (413) 570-3077. She is doing this to celebrate her 100,000th tumblr follower. She is going to try to read a poem to all of them today. You should be the 100,001th person to follow her tumblr (update: as of my tumblr post here now, you’re too late). Because she is making a big life move to Ohio with her husband this week, and because she is taking poetry telephone calls today, this is why Heather Christle is this week’s The Lovely Arc’s The Person of the Week. 

Follow Heather Christle’s tumblr here. And on her Twitter here.

Buy her new chapbook, Private Party, from Flying Object.

And call her on the telephone today and ask her to read a poem to you.

Please submit your suggestions for next week’s The Lovely Arc’s The Person of the Week to me via email.

vimeo

Dara Wier reading “Not That Lake” with an absolutely lovely video by Bianca Stone, Emily Pettit, Heather Christle, Guy Pettit and Ben Pease.

by Emily Pettit

I put my hand on your hand. Mostly I meant to 
be good. It was the shaking sky and what I wanted 
to see below. It is always shaking where I am. 
What do you know from the shoulder up? 
I know you can only watch the plane 
until you can’t. Prominent cloud features are not far 
from my mind. It’s an attempt to protect 

both of our mind circumferences from being mistaken 
for a shark that stops swimming. And other forms 
of disaster. I apologize. I would do anything 
for a different look from you. Animals in the ocean 
make mistakes too, maybe. And our memories. 
I know memory is remarkable and unpredictable. 
And I am meaning to be better with what I know. 
I know now is not the time to take up flying. 
You say, I’m watching you. And I say, No, I’m watching you.
I am the government on the moon and
I mean to let you forgive me.
You Keep Asking What I Want and I Don't Know What I Want

A million different landscapes with snow.
It’s a study of bees. These are your future ducks.
We get desperate. We start dancing. It is a weird
come apart. No returns of cake. No exchanges
of cake. Run your thumb across your bottom lip.
Run your thumb across your bottom lip again.
I float quietly. I have a nice stand. I don’t know
how to say, I’m just looking. We breathe air.
We keep the same body temperature all day.
We are holding onto things. An unspecified
racket. A small wagon. The biggest warehouse.
It’s ambitious and complicated. It’s a result
that is still unclear and can go either way.
I do not know what I have to make. I make
mistakes and many of them. I’m afraid I make
many mistakes. This has something to do
with the desperation and something to do
with other things too. A web of smoke holding
onto a dark night. Refusing to reflect any light.
Tell me things. I am waiting for you to tell me things.
I want you to tell me things.

— emily pettit

youtube

So beginning on March 13th, Ryan MacDonald and I will be hitting the road for our first reading tour together. Ryan will be promoting his brilliant collection of short stories The Observable Characteristics of Organisms and I’ll be promoting my new collection of poems, Wallop, out soon with Magic Helicopter Press. On the way we’ll be reading with such killers as Emily Pettit and Rachel B. Glaser and Seth Landman and Stella Corso and Christy Crutchfield. The dates/places are in the video. I am a hamburger. Ryan is a dancer. Please give it a watch and come see us some night if we’re in your town.