David Henry Sterry

Author, book doctor, raker of muck

David Henry Sterry

Tag: poetry

Photo of Todd Colby

Todd Colby on Writing, Poetry, Art and Drunken Boat

We’ve been fans of Todd Colby for a long time. He’s one of the most creative people we know. He’s always making something: art, poetry, mayhem. So when we saw that his new book, Time for History, is out, we picked his fertile brain.

Read this interview on the HuffPost.

Photo of Todd Colby

Todd Colby

The Book Doctors: Why the heck did you decide to become an artist, of all things?

Todd Colby: The alternative is just, well, boring. Why not live in a state that allows me to pay attention to the world a little closer and then celebrate or mourn the delicious and repulsive state we’re all in?

TBD: For as long as I can remember, it seems people have been talking about the demise of art. And yet, we seem to be in a moment right now where poetry is flourishing. Why do you think that is?

TC: When the going gets tough, like right now, people need a lot more than the latest news cycle whopper to inspire themselves, at least the people I like to be around. They need some depth, something that lasts, or makes them laugh or cry or recognize their own lives in a new light. Movies can do that, music certainly, but poetry has that special distillation of language, rhythm, and meaning that is reassuring and makes me more mindful when it’s really working right.

TBD: How has your career as a poet influenced your career as a visual artist?

TC: They’ve always worked hand in hand for me. In fact, I feel little distinction between the two and shift from being a poet to a visual artist with great ease. I mean both arteries of expression come from the same “Todd,” and that goes for my musical excursions with my old band, Drunken Boat. At the same time, different things that I need to express require different modes. It’s really nice to have options. I feel lucky that way. I will say that when I’m painting or making any kind of art, time moves in very odd chunks. Hours will go by and suddenly I’ll realize it’s dark out or that I haven’t peed for a very long time. That sort of concentration in almost any form is just beautiful.

Knitted picture of the word "history" over a landscape

TBD: What was the inspiration for your new book?

TC: I was doing an artist’s residency on Governors Island provided by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council during the winter and spring of 2015. A friend had given me a huge stack of antique linen postcards as a gift. I brought them with me to the island thinking I could do something with them. One day while strolling around Governors Island I thought, “There are no monuments to poets here!” So, I began altering the postcards by writing captions in oil markers over them. I made a lot of postcard monuments to Arthur Rimbaud, Charles Baudelaire, Gertrude Stein, James Schuyler, James Baldwin, Emily Dickinson and many more. I still feel compelled to make them. It is enormously satisfying to rename monuments that celebrate poets and writers I love.

Postcard-like art of various locations

TBD: How would you describe the art you’re doing in this book?

TC: Time for History is an expansion of the themes I explored on Governors Island. There is some political and social commentary that comes through in a few of the pieces that I made after Trump was elected. And oddly, there’s a narrative that emerges as one goes through the book in sequence.

Image of a dog race saying "They would not carry riders so they dressed them up like fools"

TBD: How did you go about getting this particular book published?

TC: My dear old friend and frequent collaborator, the artist Marianne Vitale approached me with the idea of putting a selection of the hundreds of postcards I’ve made into a book. We’ve done collaborative books together over the years, so she knew what I was capable of, believed in me and the project and helped get the whole thing moving along. She introduced me to a book designer she works with, Nicolas Borel. He designs with a very keen eye and understanding of a book as object and then he subverts that expectation and expands the notion of what a book is, and what it can be. He was a joy to work with.

TBD: Who are some of your favorite artists, and why?

TC: I love Joe Brainard and George Schneeman. They both lived in NYC, and had close ties to the Poetry Project (where I also serve on the board of directors) and they both collaborated with a number of poets I respect and admire, like Ted Berrigan, Alice Notley, John Ashbery, Bill Berkson, and so many more. I also love the painters Amy Sillman. Jack Whitten, Louise Fishman, and Sue Williams; all of them are very different from one another, but they are all fierce, agitated, funny, precise, and driven. All of these artists occupy distinct thrones in the palace of my artistic loves.

TBD: Do you think working in a bookstore has influenced you as someone who does art and puts it into a book?

TC: Yes. As the manager and programmer here at 192 Books, I have been able to meet a wide variety of incredibly talented and creative people. People who I’ve admired so greatly over the years come into the store and talk about their art and their lives. Interacting with them, asking them questions, and getting to know them has been a real life changer for me.

TBD: Do you make something every day?

TC: I do. I try to make or write something a few times a day, even while I’m at work.

TBD: We hate to ask you this, but what advice do you have for artists?

TC: Keep doing it. It’s important that whatever you want to do gets done. Don’t fall into line. Don’t do what you think other people want you to do because that is just a giant bummer for you and everyone else.

Todd Colby is the author of six books of poetry, most recently of Splash State (The Song Cave, 2014) and Flushing Meadows (Scary Topiary Press, 2012). He was the editor of the poetry anthology Heights of the Marvelous: A New York Anthology (St. Martin’s Press, 2001) and serves on the board of the Poetry Project. He was the lead singer for the critically acclaimed band Drunken Boat.

Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry are co-founders of The Book Doctors, a company that has helped countless authors get their books published. They are co-authors of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published: How To Write It, Sell It, and Market It… Successfully (Workman, 2015). They are also book editors, and between them they have authored 25 books, and appeared on National Public Radio, the London Times, and the front cover of the Sunday New York Times Book Review.

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Feel the Heat (LA Riot) Poem

It’s raining acid cats and three headed dogs
Long live the rat with the monkey on its back
Rock candy and salt water taffy and daffy
And goofy and dopey and dopey and dopey

Feel the heat fell the heat can you fell it can you fell it

Amerika amerika god shed her tears on me
Shining shoes singing blues
From sea to stinking
See dick run see dick jump see dick bust his hump

In the slick black snotrag sea the oilcan tinman catch me
If you can man she sells seashells and rusty needles

Bythe eyeshore seashore while the dirty old whore takes it in
The backdoor of the hardcore store

Feel the heat fell the heat can you fell it can you fell it

Gotta rambo mojo hunnerd dollar haircut
But hey baby I feel good I‘m a specimine jar
I’m a movie star I’m a nuclear freeze a nuclear sneeze
Do what I please

I throw money away almost every day O say can you see
The hole in my arm I’m a five alarm fire a live wire
Tell me why only the bad die old how come it’s so cold
In the kinder gentler slasher mad world yo girl

And the cock fights the missile sights
The pagan rites
I’m laughing my ass off
While Rome burns

Feel the heat fell the heat can you fell it can you fell it

Is it just me or is it hot in here?

Dolores Has Lost her Clitoris

Dolores Has Lost her Clitoris

words: d h sterry

pictures: peter seward

One Saturday morning DoloresDelorosLost illustration copy

Discovered she’d lost her clitoris.

“Oh no! Oh my! Oh how can this be?”

“How could I lose my clitoris? Seriously?”

 

Her breath got short and her eyes grew wide

She panicked wobbly and shaky inside

She looked in her pockets and behind the door

She looked in each and every drawer

 

She looked in her sofa and under her chair

She even looked under her underwear

She looked in her pots and she looked in her pans

She looked in the cabinet where she keeps all her cans

 

She looked in her closet and under her shoes

She looked in the wet bar with her booze

She looked under her bed and under her pillow

She looked in the nightstand next to her dildo

 

She turned the house upside down

But her clitoris was nowhere to be found

She clenched her fists and fell to her knees

“Help me!” she yelled, “help me please.”

 

She dashed out to see her boyfriend

Sure he’d help make her misery end

“Oh please won’t you help me Boris,”

“I’m afraid I’ve lost my clitoris!”

 

A blank vacant look came over his face

As he stared off into outer space

“Hhm…” said Boris, “to be honest Dolores”,

“I didn’t even know you had a clitoris.”

 

Dolores shook her head and rolled her eyes

She gritted her teeth and let out a sigh

“Boris,’ she said, “I’ve had it with you

Once and for all, we’re through!”

 

“I’m afraid,” said Boris, “I’m a little perplexed.”

“Does that mean you don’t want to have sex?”

“Of course not,” she cried, “I don’t wanna sex.”

“I just broke up with you, you’re my now ex.”

 

“And besides, why would I?” yelled Dolores.

“I just told you I lost my clitoris!”

She got so mad she stomped on the floor

And on her way out she slammed the door

 

Then she went to her parents and rushed inside

“Mother I’ve something I must confide

“I’m going absolutely nuts,” cried Dolores,

“Mom dear, I’ve lost my clitoris.”

 

Her mom looked away and her face got red

She looked like she would rather be dead

“I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about,”

“And I just remembered I have to go out.”

 

Her mom grabbed her coat and ran out the door

Got in her car and went to the store

Dolores dashed off to speak to her father

Who was polishing his balls in the billiard parlor

 

“Dear Father,” cried a distraught Dolores

“Please help me, I’ve lost my clitoris.”

“Clitoris,” he muttered looking up from his balls

“That word’s not familiar, not familiar at all.”

 

“Please tell me, my darling Dolores,”

“What does it mean, this word ‘clitoris’?”

“Aargh!” cried Dolores, “you don’t have a clue!”

Then out of the room like a flash she flew.

 

She sped back home and jumped in her bed

And into her pillow she buried her head

Then Dolores cried and cried and cried

Till it felt like there was nothing left inside

 

Dolores fell into a long black sleep

That was terribly terribly terribly deep

And when she awoke she was no longer vexed

Confused upset peeved or perplexed

 

Dolores stretched and gave a yawn

As the birds sang in the beautiful dawn

When she ran her hands down to her thighs

Dolores got a tremendously surprise

 

Right there in her very own lap

Her clitoris was waking from a long long nap

“Come play with me,” cried her clitoris

“Come play with me dear Dolores.”

 

DelorosFound illusatration“There you are,” she cried ecstatically

“Oh, I’ve missed you so terribly.”

“I vow,” cried Dolores, “that every day”

“You and I will find time to play.”

 

“I’ll never take you for granted again

“From now on you’ll be my very best friend!”

“Oh joy!” cried her clitoris, full of glee

“Now come play with me immediately.”

 

It was a beautiful reunion for Dolores

And her sweet devoted clitoris

Together they found heavenly rapture

And together they lived happily ever after

 

 

 

The Hippopotamus LOL Poem by Ogden Nash

The Cow by Ogden Nash, LOL poem

The Cow by Ogden Nash, LOL poem

Ogden Nash Photo Close

 

 

 

 

 

 

Modern American Male: A Poem

Given Half a Chance, the Modern American Male Will

a) remain unconscious
b) swim to the surface
c) discuss black holes

The Fly by Ogden Nash LOL Poem

The Fly by Ogden Nash

Ode by Arthur O’Shaughnessy, A Beautiful Poem

Ode by Arthur O’Shaughnessy

Hero Slays Monster in Jabberwocky

One of the greatest nonsense poems ever written, by the master Lewis Carroll.

Lewissemi

Hysterical LOL Poem: The Llama, by Ogden Nash, Genius

One of the great poets ever, Ogden Nash, with The Llama dalailamaHipster-llama-l

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rose the Sex Worker, Steven, & His Shit-stained Tighty Whities

Rose, a sarcastic sex worker, gives some money back after Steven, in his shit-stained tighty whities, buys 2 1/2 Masturbation shows, read by writer poet Aimee De Long at Sex Worker Literati.

Alex Kinney, Doctor of Pornolgy, Does WH Auden

THE HIPPOPOTAMUS

Blue Canoe: A Poem

Blue Canoe

Last night I slept at
My friend’s house
He very politely asked me
Do you mind sleeping

With a blue canoe in your room?

I’ve slept with a lot worse
Than that I said
And he laughed
But I was serious

So I got into a strange bed
In this strange house and stared at
Pictures of ballerinas in tutus
Hanging next to Zulus and gurus by the

Blue canoe in my room

I slipped into wild whitewater dreams
Flying rapids madly paddling
Happily cannonballing
Floating in foaming clouds

I came to a waterfall
So much falling water
A mountain of water falling
Off the edge of the earth

I flew in my blue canoe

Down down down down
Falling fast falling free
Until I lightly touched down
In a lovely summery pond

Air warm but not hot
Green trees undulating
Birds singing sweet and easy
I floated in deep peace

In the blue canoe in my room

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