Album Review: Jonathan Livingston, UNTITLED

by Tommy Jacobi

There is a definite mystique to Jonathan Livingston’s second record. It’s nameless, it’s self-released. Its cover is a cartoon of the Red Sea parting and has nothing written on it. Sonically, it is full of voice cracks, guitar buzzes, neck creaks, and closing doors—the sounds of one microphone set up in a bedroom—and the songs themselves consist of only a voice and a guitar. This frame probably sounds familiar: one man alone in a room with some acoustic instrument, singing raw into a cheap microphone, seemingly unembarrassed by imperfection, yet somehow surrounded with personal mystery. In early blues, it was Robert Johnson, Charley Patton, Skip James. Then, after Bob Dylan, there was Nick Drake, John Fahey, Daniel Johnston, and Houston’s own Jandek. In recent years, there’s been Will Oldham, Jeff Mangum, Phil Elverum, and Elliot Smith. To different extents, they have been called reclusive, insane, disturbed, unstable, solipsistic, grandiose, dangerous, mythic, and brilliant. Their strangeness, isolation, and singularity are powerful commodities. Documentaries and biographies have abounded. For so many listeners, the myth is more enjoyable than the music itself.

Luckily, Jonathan Livingston makes music, not myths, and he makes it out of the angry, egocentric dirt that this tradition of the “reclusive man” has stamped into the ground. He treats loneliness, alienation, hopes, dreams, and death with a dark joy, a blunted grace, a painstakingly simple beauty that sways in hard passions between lullaby and chant. What’s more, he deals with love, belief, prophecy, confusion, pain, doubt, Adventist doctrine, and Christian faith with a clarity and depth that I’ve learned to never expect from “Christian music”.

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Interview: Poet David Kirby

by Taylor Gorman

David Kirby is a poet, critic, and professor of English at Florida State University. He has published over 20 books, won four Pushcart Prizes, received grants from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and is in rank with the funniest of American poets. His collections include Sarah Bernhardt’s Leg, Saving the Young Men of Vienna, Big-Leg Music, The Ha-Ha, and The House on Boulevard St. He is a Delta-published LSU alum and will be reading Friday, April 23, 6:30 PM at the Old President’s House, with Taylor Gorman.

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Delta Journal is hosting its biannual Delta Art Party on LSU’s campus in the beautiful and newly renovated Shaver Theater in the Music and Dramatic Arts Building.  The art party is a preview of this year’s Delta Journal with original poetry and prose adapted for performance by the authors. Collaborating with videographers, musicians and artists, the authors have refashioned their work as a one-night-only event celebrating the cohesion of the arts.  The event is accompanied by a reception and silent art auction. All proceeds go to support Delta Journal.

Where | Shaver Theater, Music and Dramatic Arts LSU, Dalrymple Drive, Baton Rouge, LA here:

What | The poetry and prose of Delta Journal adapted for performance.

When | March 31, 2010  6 pm

How | Free and open to the public

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Literary Events in Baton Rouge March 16th – 21st

Four regular readings in Baton Rouge this week—something for every humor!

For the choleric, Readers and Writers offers a larger scale of reading with an excellent array of professional writers recognized internationally. The Underpass offer indulgence for all the sanguine appetites: innovative local poets and prosers, amazing food, and an excellent bar. The melancholic will find comfort (and caffeine) at the Highland Coffees Reading Series, and may they emerge better for it. The River is the only place for the phlegmatic and the nocturnal.

In addition, Perks Coffee and Tea hosts a St. Patrick’s Day Irish Writers’ Celebration & Reading for all the acknowledged hiberniophiles (the supine, ha) out there. All these readings are free and open to the public, but do yourself and the kind people who host you a favor and

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Interview: Stephen Blades

by Chelsea Lewis

Mountain Ring
1 1/4” x 1” x 3/16”

Stephen Blades, sculpture senior, LSU, is a craftsman and metal-worker concerned about the decline of hand-made, personalized “every day” objects. Pulling from fantasy culture and historical imagery, Stephen creates jewelry and objects that are beautiful and humorous, hard yet delicately detailed.

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Review: Heather Christle, THE DIFFICULT FARM

by Tommy Jacobi


Heather Christle, The Difficult Farm, Octopus Books, 2009.

ISBN: 978-0980193831

A little over a week ago, the second edition of Heather Christle’s The Difficult Farm came out, from Octopus Books, with a revised bunny and some dropped poems. I want to mark the occasion by remembering my old, outdated copy of the book, released September 2009, and how Christle’s poetry started acting like a part of my nervous system.

I’ll be as objective as possible. Here’s what my copy of The Difficult Farm looked about a week ago: bright, bee-yellow cover with a sketch of a one-eared rabbit; “THE DIFFICULT FARM” above Christle’s name written in a shaky, watery font; two blurbs on the back from James Tate and Dara Wier; and about 77 pages of book with a few little gaps from dog-ears. Certainly, it looks like it’s as “joyfully imaginative” and “surreal” as the SPD website has said, and as “fun” as Blake Butler and Chris Hosea have said. Slowly, I’ve made my marks. I drew a fat pen line between “DIFFICULT” and “FARM,” put a small, dense spot in the bunny’s leg. The corners are rough and upturned. I underlined parts of the back, like Dara Wier writing “urgent” and “careful” and “a little scary, very scary, and awfully generous to us all,” circled James Tate’s “This is serious.” Inside, I can’t even count the number of brackets, stars, and “holy shits” I’ve penned in, writing mantras, creeds, and a few knock-off theses on poetry in general. Yet for all this digging, I still feel like I’m not taking Christle’s poems—marvelous, immense, beautiful, literally wonderful—seriously enough. It’s like trying to hold a farm in the hand, easier to imagine as a cartoon than as the actual dirt, blood, and crops it is. The Difficult Farm offers us all the full, raw communication that we’d never expect from an animated bunny, and all the honesty and giving we don’t expect from poetry.

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Review: Graham Foust, A MOUTH IN CALIFORNIA

by Michael Glaviano

Graham Foust, A Mouth in California. Flood Editions, 2009.

ISBN 978-0-9819520-1-7

My first awareness of Graham Foust was, appropriately, brief and in quotation marks— a friend whose blog I read thought this sound bite worth saving: “I sample to keep my poem company.” It’s a good quote, one that piqued my interest, and I read the interview from which it was excerpted in its entirety. The interviewer’s first question addressed the fact that Foust’s newer poems are significantly longer than his older ones. In the interview Foust mentioned the 30 page poem he had just finished. He sounded like a man who, having had his way with the short lyric, was off to chase something else: “When I began to write poems, my goal was to pare things down to the fewest possible words, because, well, that’s one useful way of thinking about what constitutes a poem. …  Now I’m feeling more like I can get carried away, not in the hallucinatory sense, but like I can go long distances or many rounds with a particular idea or emotion or a particular set of ideas/emotions.” At the time, I could, like, so feel him on this.

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Interview: Stacy Kranitz

By Chelsea Lewis


Stacy Kranitz is a photography graduate student at LSU. Her work is diverse, ranging from landscapes to portraiture covering themes of violence and the ‘gray’ area of life. Kranitz’s photography has been featured in several publications including ESPN magazine, the New York Times magazine, and Spin.

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Highland Coffees Reading Series | Thursday, March 4th | 7 pm

Blake Stephens, Julia Terese, Brad Gruezke, and Darrell O’Neill read at the Highland Coffees Reading Series, where caffeine and poetry are both heavily drank.

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Ava Haymon | Baton Rouge Art Gallery | Sunday, February 28th | 4 pm

Baton Rouge’s unofficial poet laureate Ava Haymon reads from her latest (and third!) collection of poems this Sunday at the Baton Rouge Art Gallery.

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