Archive for the ‘Contributor News’ Category

First Books: A Conversation with Mark Leidner

Mark Leidner, along with a number of other THERMOS contributors, recently published his first book of poetry, Beauty Was the Case They Gave Me, with Factory Hollow Press. He was the first poet in THERMOS’s first issue, so we were happy to catch up with him for the conversation below.

TH: How did the center or heart of Beauty Was the Case change as you revised the manuscript?

I tweeted a lot while revising. The character limit and attention span of twitter edged me toward image and aphorism, away from monologue and narrative. Emotionally, the center is still unstable. Whatever personal joy or crisis I’m obsessed with, it see it everywhere in the book.

TH: How do you see your work in what’s happening now in poetry? Are there other first books out there that you feel like yours is friends with?

ML: Chelsey Minnis’ ZirconiaJoseph Massey’s Areas of Fog, and Dorothea Lasky’s Awe were all formative first books for me. I don’t know that my own book is friends with them though…

It’s hard to tell if any book is part of what’s happening “now” or not. In the subjective timeline of my own development, the above three books feel old.

I try to think of literary time as nonlinear. Everything and nothing is happening now, just like all time. As a mental experiment, I tried to treat Beauty like it was my last book instead of my first while I was writing it.

TH: What poems or lines from Beauty feel the most like what you’d like to do next? Why?

ML: “Blackouts,” which began in emulation of Minnis’ Poemland, is a long poem composed in a flow of one-liners. Maybe this is a tenuous connection (the poem isn’t very funny), but I love stand-up comedy and dream of someday performing it, so that poem feels similar in terms of grammatical timing.

There are also 2 long narratives, “Story” and “Memoirs of a Secret Agent,” which began as parodies of noir and action movies. If I ever write an actual thriller that sells for thousands of dollars, in these poems the seed of that dream will be visible.

TH: Counter: What poems or lines from your book feel the “youngest” to you, like they most show your development (though you remain fond of them)? Why? How?

At various times in my head, every poem in the book has pendulum’d  between amazing and terrible, mature and infantile, visionary! and hopelessly glib. In a way, the whole book feels young. Even my favorite pieces in it—I can’t imagine writing anything like them again. They feel like lost parts of me. The voice of someone mad with youth. When I let them go, I grew up a lot.

TH: If your book hadn’t been published by Factory Hollow, what would you have done? Revised the manuscript? Sent it out doggedly in that exact same form? Published it yourself?

When I wasn’t confident in my work, I tried to win contests. I thought if famous strangers judged my poetry to be the best out of an anonymous pile, that would prove its worth. But after losing so many contests, and feeling disappointed by the boring books that beat mine, I gained confidence in my poetry and lost it in the surrounding industry.

The best day happened when I felt confident enough to show my book to those outside the contest game. Through twitter & other online booty-slappin’ I got to know a slew of publishers. If Factory Hollow had not been around, I would’ve asked someone else.

I don’t think another publisher, however, would’ve been as familiar with and attuned to the spirit of my work. After my first conversation with Factory Hollow I had an epiphany that went something like, “Wow… why would you ever want to publish with anyone else?” Which led to a period of pure bliss as I worked with the editor and designer. I never had to compromise a single line, comma, poem, or design consideration. This is lucky and rare, I imagine.


Mark Leidner: work from The Angel in the Dream of Our Hangover

This month, poet and old friend of THERMOS Mark Leidner has published a book of aphorisms, called The Angel in the Dream of Our Hangover. Put out by Sator Press— a self-made pay-what-you-will indie publisher— the book is available right now. Go get it! Here’s a selection of work from inside:

the purpose of love is to gain so much of one person’s trust, that when they are dying you can tell them it will be okay, and they will believe you

the period of time beginning halfway into the previous second, and ending halfway through the next, is what is known as the “fiscal second”

early on in his career, the poet sold his soul; he then spent the rest of his life trying to redeem it; as a result, he was highly motivated, and all of his ambition was sincere

missing someone is like what the wind feels like to itself

history is the first enemy, and in the end, the only companion, of every visionary

love is like a bunch of mountain ranges
that when you look at them flatten to nothing
then leap back into the sky when you look away

the white male wears a mask that faces himself; then calls himself the world

God is a good comedian but he only has 1 joke and it’s 24 hours long

the instability of language has become so predictable that no word in this book will mean in one second what it meant one second ago

the fabric of reality
is in great shape
for its age
but has a lot of extra skin
like an elderly sensei

Daniel Khalastchi Wins First Book Prize

Daniel dressed for fall

Daniel dressed for fall

Hi all! Daniel Khalastchi, who published poems in Thermos‘s very first issue, is going to have his first book published. Daniel won Tupelo Press’s 10th annual First Book Award with his manuscript The Maturation of Man. Congratulations Daniel!

Thermos Grand-Slams on Verse Daily

Hi readers! Today Verse Daily has reprinted a third poem from Thermos No. 2 (our fourth total– grand slam!): the first section of Jen Denrow’s fabulous, disarming, wish-it-would-never-end long poem, “California.” Read the excerpt on Verse Daily‘s site here, or read the whole poem on our main site. Congratulations, Jen!

This seems a good time to mention that we’ll happily sell you issue no. 2 for $7 plus postage. Send us a note at if you’re interested!

“If you had to blow the whistle…

…on a condensed be at on some circumstance of metrics nobility just now, what would you enthral us with?”

Shortly after our interview with Caryl Pagel went up, a re-mix of the piece appeared here.

Grief Poems provides daily mash-up send-ups of the earnest knuckle-cracking of online poetics. The posts “translate” original material, in much the same way a Mad Magazine fold-in translates an image.

The results seem strangely sensible when read at a quick scrolling pace. Parody of blahblahblah like sombreros on rationalists, internet watchdog via lite mischief academe, acne oddness of identity/poems/et al being all eaten code blah. It’s like listening to a fairground’s chatter during a ferris wheel’s descent. You can smell the cotton candy burning inside the belly of each plush prize polar bear.

Fun. Caryl says, smartly: “The horizon lines were both obsessive and surprising to me—a visual indication of breaking that became architecture.”

No, she says, skortly: “Many of those pieces are punctuated before ‘horizon lines,’ and account destined for definite uncanny and frightening occurrences that carry off the palm improper at a N cultivate.”

I suppose these variations are done with a computer; it’s my own “palm improper at a N cultivate” that hopes this translator is working manually, choosing each prepositional pile-up with a converted planisphere or odd operation involving many half-filled glasses of water he/she pours liquid from and into variously then orchestrates the singing of with a lip-wettened finger until the arrangement is just right, and then (to steal Bartone’s great phrase) he just pushes ctrl+PUBLISH.

I also love the small stakes of the project. Poetry chatter being small at its largest, it probably deserves to be brought down to smaller and smaller size. I once made a radio out of a potato.

Janine Oshiro also on Verse Daily

More great news for our Issue #2 contributors: Janine Oshiro’s poem, “Anniversary,” was Wednesday’s poem on Verse Daily.

You make us proud, you make us love poetry!

Check out four more tough, elegant poems from Janine here.

Mia Nussbaum on Verse Daily

Verse Daily has selected “Waking,” one of Mia Nussbaum’s poems from THERMOS #2 as their poem for the day. Congratulations to Mia, who has had one poem previously published at Verse Daily.

Read it here.

While you’re at it, click over and check out THERMOS #2, which posted last night. And in THERMOS #1, you’ll find a previous Verse Daily selection, Nico Alvarado-Greenwood’s “Poem.”