For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge is an article by Randy Faucheux in Dig: Baton Rouge Uncovered about a new Lavender Ink anthology and its editor, Vincent Cellucci. Because of the book’s title (and maybe its all-puns-intended content?) Fuck Poems has encountered some resistance to distribution. Cellucci and his publisher are hosting a “wet brunch” off-site AWP reading for the anthology in March, so if you’re in Boston and looking for a meal and some rollicking poetry on the last day of that annual literary slug-fest, check it out. Spoiler alert: I have some pieces in the anthology, and I might even make it to the reading.

What do you think about Kickstarter funding for arts projects? Steel Toe Review just posted a campaign that would allow them to do a high quality anthology they can’t otherwise afford to produce. Most of the campaigns I see going live for musicians, writers and publishers seem to simply front-load the marketing, asking modest contrubutions up front in order to go forward with a publication that their Kickstarter supporters likely would have bought. In essence, people who believe in the project and want to bring it into the world agree to pay in advance–though the rewards for chipping in vary, and in Steel Toe’s case you won’t get a “free” copy of the anthology itself until you hit the $50 contributor point, which seems a lot. Another small press publisher told me it feels like vanity publishing but I think that’s an outdated view, and misses the point of crowd source as an innovative fundraising approach. I’ve supported some of these campaigns but it’s like everything, you could go broke pitching in to a thousand interesting possibilities.

Ten years ago I had a debate with a guy who was really enthused about biofuels as an accessible green alternative. Conversion kits were being sold for a few hundred dollars and running a converted car or truck on recycled biofuel would be free and non-polluting. I pointed out that already at that time on the big island of Hawaii, where biofuel conversion took hold early on and many people had converted deisel engines to run on used cooking oil, every restaurant on the island had already locked in contracts for their used oil. In order to run any more vehicles on biofuels there, it was necessary to purchase non-recycled oils.

The difference between recycling a subtance like corn oil and using new corn oil for fuel is simple. We live on an increasingly globalized, increasingly hungry planet. The NY Times lays out some grim examples of the impact of US biofuel regulations on ordinary farmers in Guatemala, where the prices of staple foods have quadrupled in recent years in direct proportion to US agriculture sales shifting from food uses to more profitable corn-based fuel components.

It reminds me of the modern physics concept of the butterfly effect, but this is actually way simpler. Our choices, especially in the US, ripple widely. Simple seeming solutions, like decreasing carbon footprint by shifting from fossil fuels to biofuels, are not always the right choice. Dig a little deeper and what we see is the American obsession with private vehicles and the concommitant stripping of public funds from public transportation infrastructure. The real history of all this begins with corporate interests and their cozy relationship with government. As they say in the movies, follow the money–and in the words of Alanis Morrisette, we really are all one. Our backyard these days is the whole planet.

Nicholas Carr has an article in the Wall Street Journal, Don’t Burn Your Books, Print Books Are Here to Stay and a nice post in his Rough Type blog about e versus hard copy books, Will Gutenberg Laugh Last? where he offers some complicating insights on the latest Pew study of American readers. On the face of it, this study purports to signal the end of the paper book, but Carr points out that the same study cites 80% of American readers who say they read at least one physical book in the past year, where 30% say they read at least one e book.

Friday was one of those days at the press which rapidly devolved into dog-chases-tail. These moments seem most often to stem from cyber-incompatibilites, crashes, or miscommunications, giving the lie, somewhat, to the concept of “time-saving devices.” Not that I want to give up email or writing on a laptop. A friend who washes the family laundry by hand (all of it) joked with me that if you figure in all the time you have to spend making money to buy, maintain, and fuel an appliance like a washing machine, it saves way more time to do what he does: take a large tub and a plunger (no, not the same one you keep for emergencies), agitate clothes gently in water with some detergent, and rinse. His clothes also last way longer because the machines aren’t sucking off bits of fiber every time they get washed (again, saving money = time for clothing replacement). It seems counterintuitive to say hand washing saves time, a bit like saying that growing corn crops for biofuel is a bad solution when people are going hungry for lack of corn, and lack of land on which to grow life-sustaining crops for their own families. There are break points involved, hardly anything is just black and white with no gray zones. Kind of like needing to spend money in order to make money: the longer view often contradicts what might seem wise or even desirable in the moment.

Speaking of AWP in Boston in less than 2 months, the wompus will there with bells on, showing and selling new books and our backlist in Booth #1111 of the book fair, hosting author signings there, and promoting our first-ever music publication with an off-site event in North Cambridge Wednesday evening, and a bookfair-stage event right near the registration area on Thursday morning. Both events will feature the poems and music of Cornelius Eady’s soon to be released limited edition double-CD/double-chapbook, Book of Hooks. Check back here for some music and lyrics clips soon, and come celebrate with us in Boston.

with love,