Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Year Of No Mistakes - Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz (Write Bloody Publishing)

Today's book of poetry:
The Year Of No Mistakes.  Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz.  Write Bloody Publishing.  Austin, Texas.  2013.


Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz is so damned smart she must glow in the dark.

And she gives us hope.

The Bowery

We danced like ball bearings.
We laughed like ripped newspapers.
We smoked like backwards rain clouds.
We kissed like slammed doors.

We drank like taxi cabs in snowstorms.
We ate like honeybees swarming bears.
We screamed like willow trees in windstorms.
We wrote like a knife to our throat.

We fought like a thousand, tiny paper cuts.
We struggled like teeth against brick.
We fucked like rubber-necked car crashes.
We loved like we invented it.

...

This is the sort of poetry I like best.  Almost every moment is filled with a twist of language that is an instant familiar or a reminder of something you think you should have known.  Aptowicz is clearly from that clan that perfects language for the rest of us.

Dazzling isn't too bright a word.  This poetry is as honest as a child without guile.

The Year Of No Mistakes is hilarious and as engaging as a phone call from an old friend.

Not Doing Something Wrong Isn't The
Same As Dong Something Right

In my defense, my forgotten breasts. In my defense, the hair
no one brushed from my face. In my defense, my hips.

Months earlier, I remember thinking that sex was a ship retreating
on the horizon. I could do nothing but shove my feet in the sand.

I missed all the things loneliness taught me: eyes that follow you
crossing a room, hands that find their home on you. To be noticed, even.

In my defense, his hands. In my defense, his arms. In my defense,
how when we just sat listening to each other breathe, he said, This is enough.

My body was a house I had closed for the winter. It shouldn't have been
that difficult, empty as it was. Still, I stared hard as I snapped off the lights.

My body was a specter that haunted me, appearing when I stripped
in the bathroom, when I crawled into empty beds, when it rained.

My body was abandoned construction, restoration scaffolding
that became permanent. My body's unfinished became its finished.

So in my defense, when he touched me, the lights of my body came on.
In my defense, the windows where thrown open. In my defense, spring.

...

Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz takes things as seriously as a Richard Pryor heart-attack or a Sylvia Plath swoon, and never looses her balance.

Aptowicz's powerful, powerful poems are never bullying or academic.  They are wise beyond her years, whatever the hell her age is.

If you have friends who don't read much poetry, and you want a guarantee to knock their socks off - show them this book.

My Tiny God

likes balance. He has me step in dog shit today
so I might catch an express train next week. He likes
how happy I am to earn it. How suffering to me is
like loading a gift card in karma's outlet mall.

My Tiny God knows I like established paths, following
dotted lines to my destination. My Tiny God thinks
no one learns anything that way, turns off the headlights
when we're still racing down a road.

Still, My Tiny God is the one I pray to on a rainy tarmac,
in the waiting room, on the other end of a static-filled line.
My Tiny God doesn't always take my calls. I don't know
if he listens to my voicemails. Sometimes he goes missing.

I remind myself he doesn't have to watch over me all the time.
He doesn't need to carry his scale everywhere. He is allowed
to get bored. He doesn't have to watch me write for me to know
that he likes it when I've written, to see the paper pile up.

These days, My Tiny God clocks in every morning. Coffee,
our favorite miracle. Work, our favorite song. Faith, our lucky
number. He pours sunlight on my like syrup, fluffs every cloud,
smacks the birds from the trees just so I can watch them scatter.

...

Today's book of poetry needs to develop a scoring system (not), just so books like this could go to the top of it.  The Year Of No Mistakes by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz is electric energy you hold in your hands.

Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
(Please note, this bio was "borrowed" in full from the author)
Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz is the author of six books of poetry (including Dear Future Boyfriend, Hot Teen Slut, Working Class Represent, Oh, Terrible Youth and Everything is Everything) as well as the nonfiction book, Words In Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam, which Billy Collins wrote “leaves no doubt that the slam poetry scene has achieved legitimacy and taken its rightful place on the map of contemporary literature.” On the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) podcast Art Works, host Josephine Reed introduced Cristin as being “something of a legend in NYC’s slam poetry scene. She is lively, thoughtful, and approachable looking to engage the audience with her work and deeply committed to the community that art (in general) and slam poetry (in particular) can create.” Cristin’s most recent awards include the ArtsEdge Writer-In-Residency at the University of Pennsylvania (2010-2011), a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry (2011) and the Amy Clampitt Residency (2013). Her sixth book of poetry, The Year of No Mistakes, was released by Write Bloody Publishing in Fall 2013 and her second nonfiction book, Dr. Mutter’s Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine, was released by Gotham Books (Penguin) in Fall 2014.


For the truly curious, here’s the longer story:

Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz (b. 1978) was born and raised in Philadelphia. In 1996, she graduated from Central High School of Philadelphia, and moved to New York City to attending NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She was a sophomore at NYU when she was first introduced to poetry slams by her classmate, Beau Sia. In 1998, Cristin co-founded the NYC-Urbana Poetry Slam, a weekly reading series dedicated to showcasing the most innovative voices in poetry. NYC-Urbana has captured the National Slam Championship title three times and won the first ever Group Piece Nationals, which celebrates multi-voice poems. The NYC-Urbana Poet Slam is still held weekly at NYC’s famed Bowery Poetry Club.

After college, Cristin worked as an editor for the “Adult” section for online portal About.com (serving as inspiration for her book, Hot Teen Slut), slung coffee as the founding cafe manager for the Bowery Poetry Club and served as a rights manager at the Artists Rights Society.

In July 2010, she was named the 2010-2011 ArtsEdge Writer-in-Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, where she spent the year researching and writing a book on Thomas Dent Mütter, founder of the Philadelphia’s (in)famous Mütter Museum. It was during this residency year that she was also awarded a 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry.

Cristin continues to perform and lecture internationally & nationally, including residencies with or performances at the Sydney Opera House, the Gasworks Art Complex (Melbourne Australia), Joe’s Pub (at NYC’s Public Theatre), the Largo Theatre (Los Angeles) and over 100 universities and colleges, including but not limited to Yale University (CT), Brown University (RI), Columbia University (NY), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MA), Dartmouth College (NH), Boston University (MA), Brandeis University (MA), Amherst College (MA), University of Pennsylvania (PA), University of Chicago (IL), New York University (NY), University of Alabama (AL), University of Arkansas (AR), Minnesota State University (MN), State University of New York (Freedonia) (NY), George Washington University (DC), University of Maryland (MD), Berklee College of Music (MA), Penn State Berks (PA), College of Saint Rose (NY), Columbia College (IL), Hamline University (MN), Eastern Illinois University (IL), Tennessee Tech University (TN), Husson University (ME), Goucher College (MD), Colby-Sawyer College (NH), Slippery Rock University (PA), College of St. Benedict (MN), Universities of California (Santa Cruz and Davis, CA) and Universities of Australia (Melbourne and Sydney, Australia), among others.

Her poetry and non-fiction has been published in various journals, including Rattle, McSweeney’s Internet Tendencies, Pank, La Petite Zine, decomP, Umbrella, The Other Journal, Danse Macabre, Conduit, Barrelhouse and Monkeybicycle, among others…

From February 2013 to August 2013, Cristin was the 2013 poet-in-residence at the Amy Clampitt House, where she finished her sixth book of poetry and sold her second book of nonfiction

Her sixth book of poetry, The Year of No Mistakes, was released by Write Bloody Publishing in Fall 2013 and her second nonfiction book, Dr. Mutter’s Marvels: Thomas Dent Mutter and the Dawn of Modern Medicine, will be released by Gotham Books (Penguin) in Fall 2014.

For more information on forthcoming gigs, recent press and/or her schedule of performances, please see here or write aptowicz@yahoo.com.
BLURBS
"Though this a book full of trouble--there's a lot of un- and underemployment; and though love is found, love is mostly lost--Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz is really a poet of honesty and humour. Through all the transitions and difficulties presented here, affection lingers in and hovers around these poems, particularly an affection for place, for the cities she has moved through and taken into her being. "I meet you here at the intersection of pitbull and/pigeon"--passages like this offset the day-to-day struggle with language that is simultaneously accurate and transformative, giving us both a take on the world as it is and a sense of the better world our minds can make. Whenever I meet this poet, I want to stay."
     Bob Hicock, Poet and two-time National Endowment for the Arts Fellow

"Haunting, lovely and heartbreaking. The Year Of No Mistakes is a revelation. It is Aptowicz's best book yet: a poetic Odyssey that takes the reader along on her journey of personal transformation, leading us from love to loss to new frontiers. This book will feel like home to anyone who has ever faced a dark night, or even a dark year, of the soul. Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz is the poet laureate of your heart."
     Wess Mongo Jolley, Poet & Founder of the Performance Poetry Preservation Project (P4)

Crispin O'Keefe Aptowicz
Cristin O'keefe Aptowicz, author of "Words In Your Face: A Guided Tour Throught Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam", published by Soft Skull Press, performs her Spoken Word Poem "Notes on Rejection" as part of the Junkyard Ghost Revival tour with Anis Mojgani, Buddy Wakefield and Derrick Brown at Brown University, October 2008 
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