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CAConrad

1966–

Born on January 1, 1966, CAConrad describes himself as "the son of white trash asphyxiation whose childhood included selling cut flowers along the highway for his mother and helping her shoplift."

He is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including While Standing in Line for Death (Wave Books, 2017); ECODEVIANCE: (Soma)tics for the Future Wilderness (Wave Books, 2014); Philip Seymour Hoffman (were you high when you said this?) (Worms Press, 2014); A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon: New (Soma)tics (Wave Books, 2012); The City Real & Imagined (Factory School Press, 2010), with the poet Frank Sherlock; and The Book of Frank (Chax Press, 2009), recipient of the Gil Ott Book Award. He has also authored a book of nonfiction essays, Advanced Elvis Course (Soft Skull Press, 2009).

Poet Eileen Myles writes, "[CAConrad] always argues (from the inside of his poems) for a poetry of radical inclusivity while keeping a very queer shoulder to the wheel. His kind of queerness strikes me as nonpolarizing, not intentionally but because of the fullness of his exposition, a kind of gigantism that seems to me to be most deeply informed by love, and a tenderness for the ravages and tumult of existence."

CAConrad's honors include fellowships from the Banff Art Center, Lannan Foundation, MacDowell Colony, Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, and Ucross Foundation. CAConrad conducts lectures and workshops across the country on (Soma)tics and Ecopoetics. He currently lives in Philadelphia.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

While Standing in Line for Death (Wave Books, 2017)
ECODEVIANCE: (Soma)tics for the Future Wilderness (Wave Books, 2014)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (were you high when you said this?) (Worms Press, 2014)
A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon: New (Soma)tics (Wave Books, 2012)
The City Real & Imagined (Factory School, 2010)
The Book of Frank (Chax Press, 2009)
Deviant Propulsion (Soft Skull Press, 2006)

Nonfiction

Advanced Elvis Course (Soft Skull Press, 2009)

By This Poet

14

Confetti Allegiance: Love Letter to Jim Brodey

Confetti Allegiance

Is there a deceased poet who was alive in your lifetime but you never met, and you wish you had met? A poet you would LOVE to correspond with, but it's too late? Take notes about this missed opportunity. What is your favorite poem by this poet? Write it on unlined paper by hand (no typing). If we were gods we wouldn't need to invent beautiful poems, and that's why our lives are more interesting, and that's why the gods are always meddling in our affairs out of boredom. It's like the fascination the rich have with the poor, as Alice Notley says, "the poor are more interesting than others, almost uniformly." This poem was written by a human poet, and we humans love our poets, if we have any sense. Does something strike flint in you from the process of engaging your body to write this poem you know and love? Notes, notes, take notes.

The poet for me in doing this exercise is Jim Brodey and his poem "Little Light," which he wrote in the bathtub while listening to the music of Eric Dolphy, masturbating in the middle of the poem, "while the soot-tinted noise of too-full streets echoes / and I pick up the quietly diminishing soap & do / myself again." Take your handwritten version of the poem and cut it into tiny confetti. Heat olive oil in a frying pan and toss the confetti poem in. Add garlic, onion, parsnip, whatever you want, pepper it, salt it, serve it over noodles or rice. Eat the delicious poem with a nice glass of red wine, pausing to read it out loud and toast the poet, "MANY APOLOGIES FOR NOT TOASTING YOU WHEN YOU WERE ALIVE!" Take notes while slowly chewing the poem. Chew slowly so your saliva breaks the poem down before it slides into your belly to feed your blood and cells of your body. Gather your notes, write your poem.


                                                Love Letter to Jim Brodey

                                                                        Dear Jim
                                                                        for
                                                                those whose
                                                acid trips were a success
                                                only twice
                                                I've met men who
                                                are high exactly
                                                as they are sober
                                                both became my lovers

                                                both died one like
                                        you died Jim he
                                played music too
                                loud at parties to
                                gather us into a
                                single frequency feel
                                healed for the length
                                of a song

                                                nothing works forever
                                there was something in
                                the air that year Jim
                                and you put it there

                                        a rapt center in
                                           pivot looking
                                                   to face
                                                    love again
                                        learning to
                        accept what's offered
                        without guilt

                                        to be reminded
                                                of nothing
                my favorite day not dragging
                        the dead around

                                                they're looking
                                        for Lorca in the Valley
                                                    of the Fallen

                                        Franco's thugs would understand
                                "developing countries" means
                                getting them ready for 
                                mining diamonds drilling oil
                                teaching them to make a
                                decent cup of coffee for
                                visiting executives

                                                if I'm not going
                                        to live like this
                                        anymore I must will
                                        every cell to
                                                        stand away

                                                the History of Madness
                                        725 pages is too much to
                                        not be normal

                                                scorn is very
                                        motivating

                                                        I'm vegetarian unless
                                                angels are on the
                                                menu mouth watering
                                                deep fried wings
                                                shove greasy bones in
                                                their trumpets

                                        the cost of
                                                scorn is
                                                often unexpected

                                        I see my fascist
                                neighbor from downstairs
                                "Did my boyfriend and
                                I make too much
                                noise last night?"
                                his glare the
                                YES that keeps
                                me smiling

(Soma)tic 21: Touch Yourself for Art

For Penny Arcade

There must be a piece of art near where you live that you enjoy, even LOVE! A piece of art that IF THERE WAS WAR you would steal it and hide it in your little apartment. I'm going to PACK my apartment TO THE ROOF when war comes! This exercise needs 7 days, but not 7 consecutive days as most museums and galleries are not open 7 days a week. At the Philadelphia Museum of Art hands the Mark Rothko "Orange, Red and Yellow, 1961" a painting I would marry and cherish in sickness and in health, have its little Rothko babies, and hang them on the wall with their father. But I'm not allowed to even touch it! The security guards will think you're as weird as they think I am when you come for 7 days to sit and meditate. Never mind that, bribe them with candy, cigarettes or soda, whatever it take to be left in peace. For 7 days I sat with my dearest Rothko.

Bring binoculars because you will get closer to the painting than anyone else in the room! Feel free to fall in love with what you see, you're a poet, you're writing a poem, go ahead and fall in love! Feel free to go to the museum restroom and touch yourself in the stall, and be sure to write on the wall that you were there and what you were doing as everyone enjoys a dedication in the museum. And be certain to leave your number, you never know what other art lover will be reading. Return with your binoculars. There is no museum in the world with rules against the use of binoculars, information you may need for the guards if you run out of cigarettes and candy.

Map your 7 days with physical treats to enhance your experience: mint leaves to suck, chocolate liqueurs, cotton balls between your toes, firm-fitting satin underwear, thing you can rock-out with in secret for the art you love. Take notes, there must be a concentration on notes in your pleasure making. Never mind how horrifying your notes may become, horror and pleasure have an illogical mix when you touch yourself for art. When you gather your 7 days of notes you will see the poem waiting in there. Pull it out like pulling yourself out of a long and energizing dream.


ROTHKO 7

Whether things wither or whether your ability to see them does.
—from "The Coinciding," by Carrie Hunter

DAY 1

      it's
October
I pressed
       this buttercup in April
I DON'T CARE WHAT YOU THINK
                call me it!
  call me sentimental!
                HAVE YOU SEEN THE HEADLINES?
                                spring is a
                                     luxury
I hope
for another to
garden with my
bare hands


DAY 2

awkwardness of being insane
                                arrives
                                  after
                            diagnosis
                           not before
remove description
from the splendor
do not hesitate


DAY 3

                      more of a ghost
than my ghosts
here I am


DAY 4

         tablet on tongue
 stray voltage catching
                 my ankles

ready to marry
the chopped
off head

while elaborate in curse
   it contributes evidence
                         of life


DAY 5

             he kissed me while
                              I sang
                   refrain shoved
               against epiglottis

centuries of a vowel for        
endless refutable corrections               
         puts mouth
               to want


DAY 6

     songs dying bodies sing at
                           involuntary
                         junctures of
                                  living

        EXIT sign
leads us to empty    
     launch pad
walking
maybe
walking
     maybe or riding
the collapsing tower

big hands of
      big clock missing
this is not symbolism
    they were gone


DAY 7

                               I'm not tearing back
                         curtains looking
I know Love is                
on the other             
side of     
town   

burying the leash                                                
with the dog was                                          
nothing but                             
cruel don't ever                       
speak to me again                  
                          help me stop
                          dreaming your
                     destruction

(Soma)tic 1: Anoint Thyself

—for John Coletti & Jess Mynes

Visit the home of a deceased poet you admire and bring some natural thing back with you. I went to Emily Dickinson's house the day after a reading event with my friend Susie Timmons. I scraped dirt from the foot of huge trees in the backyard into a little pot. We then drove into the woods where we found miniature pears, apples, and cherries to eat. I meditated in the arms of an oak tree with the pot of Emily's dirt, waking to the flutter of a red cardinal on a branch a foot or so from my face, staring, showing me his little tongue.

When I returned to Philadelphia I didn't shower for three days, then rubbed Emily's dirt all over my body, kneaded her rich Massachusetts soil deeply into my flesh, then put on my clothes and went out into the world. Every once in a while I stuck my nose inside the neck of my shirt to inhale her delicious, sweet earth covering me. I felt revirginized through the ceremony of my senses. I could feel her power tell me these are the ways to walk and speak and shift each glance into total concentration for maximum usage of our little allotment of time on a planet. LOSE AND WASTE NO MORE TIME POET! Lose and waste no more time she said to me as I took note after note on the world around me for the poem.


your sweaty party dress and my sweaty party dress lasted a few minutes until the tomato was gone someday they will disambiguate you but not while I'm around our species won Emily we won it feels so good to be winning the flame of victory pass it around it never goes out dinosaurs ruled Massachusetts dinosaurs fucking and laying eggs in Amherst Boston Mount Holyoke then you appeared high priestess pulling it out of the goddamned garden with both hands you Emily remembered the first time comprehending a struck match can spread a flame it feels good to win this fair and square protest my assessment all you want but not needing to dream is like not needing to see the world awaken to itself indestructible epiphanies consume the path and just because you're having fun doesn't mean you're not going to die recrimination is the fruit to defy with unexpected appetite I will be your outsider if that's how you need me electric company's stupid threatening letters cannot affect a poet who has faced death