Sunday, November 24, 2013

Chris Pusateri on The Poetry Show, KRFC 88.9 FM

Yours truly will appear on the Poetry Show with Susie Martinez, broadcast on KRFC 88.9 FM in Fort Collins, this coming Sunday, December 1st, from 6-7pm.  You can listen on an old school set or stream the show live here.  I'll be reading poems by myself and others, as well as fielding questions about all things literary.  It'll either make for good poetry or good comedy, possibly both, so come be my community of ears.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Something on Paper, Vol 1

Something on Paper, Vol 1

The inaugural issue of Something on Paper, Naropa University's new faculty-edited critical journal, is now online.  It features, among other things, my interview with poet and critic Peter Jaeger, as well as Lyn Hejinian's Ginsberg Visiting Fellow lecture; Joan Retallack's Leslie Scalapino lecture; Michelle Naka Pierce's interview with Alice Notley; a roundtable discussion on Violence & Community with Gabrielle Civil, David Buuck, Bhanu Kapil and Melissa Buzzeo; performances from fourthirtythree: Caged!, a two-day event commemorating the life and work of John Cage; essays on pedagogy by Kass Fleisher, Joe Amato and Ryan Clark; book reviews; and cover art from Sue Hammond West.

The journal's website, designed by HR Hegnauer, is here:

Prospective contributors should note that Something on Paper is accepting submissions for its second issue through February 1, 2014.

Pass the word.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


This is what you get when you Google attentive

 Hello darlings,

New products of my troubled imagination are now on view, and because you've been as vigilant as the stranger above (as well as the fact that all of us here at American Saliva are in the Halloween spirit), we've decided to give you both tricks and treats, seeing that we're philosophically opposed to either/or constructions.  So, for being a cooperative and jolly spirit, here's what's behind Door Number One:

      -Tom Fink and I discuss my book Common Time in The Conversant
      -My review of Jane Lewty's Bravura Cool at The Iowa Review.
      -David Clarke chats up my mini-chap Semblance in Sabotage.
      -Three excerpts from When Jazz was the Capital of Alaska in The Brooklyn Rail.

In my professional life, I also co-edit and post bits of whimsy to my library's adult services blog, Books & Beyond. There you can hear me hold forth on a variety of poppy topics, including:

      -Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers and the best bad movies;
      -Ron Howard's racecar thriller Rush;
      -Lauren Slater's Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir and the issue of truth in        literature.

Buen provecho and more to come,


Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Spencer Dew. Here is How it Happens.
ISBN: 978-0-9841025-9-4. $15 (print)
When Spencer Dew writes a novel set in the Midwest, he does not depict the exceedingly earnest, impossibly polite Midwest of a Garrison Keillor radio show.  Instead, he relates a more plausible tale of Midwestern tragedy as told by a group of turpentine-huffing students at a small Ohio college.

 Here is How it Happens begins with the promise implied in the title.  Rather than constructing a narrative where everything is hidden until the author is ready to reveal it, Dew prefers a more forthright approach, one that suggests the book’s ending from the very first page.  We know things will not end well, that the relationships of the characters will not reach fruition, that every desire will be named and promptly frustrated.  Dew possesses the artistry and confidence to tell the reader upfront: you know how this will end, but here is how it happens.

Our protagonist, Martin Wheeler, spends much of his time ignoring phone messages from his Cleveland-based girlfriend and passing the hours with his pal Courtney, whose love life revolves around her oft-absent partner Sloan.  Both of their romantic relationships have calcified into habit: neither loves their partner, but neither seems capable of separating.

As the narrative proceeds, it’s clear that Martin and Courtney are drawn to one another, but we know, almost from the moment they are introduced, that they will never end up together.  Mismatched love is as old as literature itself, and in an American context, it takes on an added degree of poignancy, because America—the home of free will, individualism and seemingly infinite choices—allows Dew’s characters to make every choice but the right one. 

One of the most fascinating aspects of Here is How it Happens is Dew’s treatment of nostalgia, a quality we often associate with those whose best years are behind them.  In Here is How it Happens, Dew suggests that nostalgia infects the young as well.  Whether it’s Martin’s friend Eddie, who spends his time building a precise and detailed diorama of the Kent State shootings, or Courtney’s friend Bear, who buys a seal tranquilizer gun just so he can shoot himself with it, the characters are obsessed with experience and the processing of memories.  However, the reader gets the sense that each new experience is the basis of a future nostalgia, that today’s mundanity is tomorrow’s longing, and that for Martin and his friends, the future exists only as a series of returns, so that what lies ahead simply loops back to an idyllic and reimagined past that never actually existed.

The characters of Here is How it Happens desire experience, but are instantly bored by what they create.  They do not live in the present: their happiness is dependent on making memories that can then be idealized – memories that are, by definition, unattainable.  This brings to mind what the poet William Blake called "gratified desire,” and the frustration of that desire serves as the very life that Martin and his friends build for themselves – in other words, something attained is no longer an object of desire.  And nostalgia, at once sweet and bitter, cannot exist if the world it imagines is ever realized. 

As an Ohio boy myself, I deliberately choose to call this novel a work of tragedy, because ungratified desire is part of the quiet desperation that pervades small towns throughout the Midwest.  Works of tragedy are also rich in humor and Dew’s book is no exception.  With a keen ear for dialogue, yet with all the grit and unflinching clarity of a documentary, Dew’s novel is that rarest of things: fiction that so closely resembles its subject that it actually warrants the disclaimer printed on the flyleaves of so many lesser books: This is a work of fiction.  All resemblances to any person, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.  Dew demonstrates that you cannot know the Midwest without knowing its nostalgia, which is, in a curious sense, its idea of heaven.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Check out my review of Figure to Field: Mark Rothko in the 1940s, which is on view through September 29th at the Denver Art Museum.  As always, comments, accolades and ripostes are welcome.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Spontaneous Acts of Evolution

...will be taking place this Thursday, June 20th @ 7pm at the inimitable Innisfree Bookstore in Boulder, when I will read along with Justin Sirois.  There will be fireworks, figuratively speaking; as in: shit will catch fire.  Be sure to bring yourself and a canteen full of your favorite flame retardant to:

Innisfree Bookstore
1203 13th St, #A
Boulder, CO 80302

Justin Sirois is a writer living in Baltimore, Maryland. His books include So Say the Waiters, Secondary Sound, MLKNG SCKLS, and Falcons on the Floor written with Iraqi refugee Haneen Alshujairy. Justin received individual Maryland State Art Council grants in 2003, 2007, 2010, and 2011 and a Baker "b" grant in 2011.

Chris Pusateri is the author of ten books of poetry, most recently Common Time (Steerage Press, 2012), which was shortlisted for the Colorado Book Award.  His poetry and critical prose appears in many periodicals, including American Book Review, Chicago Review, Fence, Verse and others. A librarian by trade, he lives outside of Denver with his partner, the poet Michelle Naka Pierce.

Friday, April 12, 2013

COMMON TIME named a finalist for the 2013 Colorado Book Award in Poetry

Common Time (Steerage Press, 2012) was recently named a finalist for the 2013 Colorado Book Award in Poetry by Colorado Humanities & Center for the Book, a state agency.  If you don't have a copy to call your own, talk to the good folks at Small Press Distribution or place your order at the Amazon drive-thru speaker and they'll be pleased to send you one for ten bucks.  For the strongly opinionated, free review copies are available by emailing a postal address to: chrisdotpusateri at hotmail.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

SEMBLANCE by Chris Pusateri (Dusie, 2013)

Hello friends,

This chapbook was created for the 2013 AWP Dusie project out of materials that were close at hand.  I have a few extra copies, and you can have one sent to your doorstep, totally gratis, if you send a postal address to chrisdotpusateri at hotmail.  Offer is good while supplies last.

The following is from the book's postscript:

This book is comprised exclusively of lines and fragments taken from the texts of other Dusie authors.

Thanks to the following for their language:

Caroline Crumpacker, Cynthia Atkins, Cara Benson, Maureen Thorson, Michelle Naka Pierce, Mel Nichols, Daniel Gutstein, Pattie McCarthy, Jess Rowan, Danielle Vogel, Elizabeth Treadwell, Carleen Tibbets, Carmen Giménez Smith,, Michael Ruby, Mark Lamoureux, Hugh Behm-Steinberg, Megan Kaminski, Nathaniel Otting, Maria Damon, Jill Stengel, Marthe Reed, Larkin Higgins, Lee Ann Brown, Jennifer Firestone, Sarah Sarai, TA Noonan, Susana Gardner, Sarah Anne Cox and Dana Teen Lomax.

Cover and poem text was handwritten using a fine-point black Sharpie.  Covers are brown paper lunch sack; paper is government-issue 20lb recycled printer paper.

Handwritten, because handwriting, the original font choice, is something of a dying typography.  The language of others because this compels me to be a more attentive and diligent reader of those listed above.