Patrick James Dunagan

Patrick James Dunagan has lived and worked in San Francisco on and off for the last decade or so. Recent writings have appeared (or are expected) in: Big Bell, Box of Books: Vol II, Forklift, Fulcrum, Galatea Resurrects, Jacket, ON, Pax Americana, poem, home: An Anthology of Ars Poetica, and Vanitas. Recent chapbooks include From Chansonniers (Blue Press, 2008), Spirit Guest & Others (Lew Gallery Editions, 2009), Easy Eden w/ Micah Ballard (PUSH, 2009) and her friends down at the french cafe had no english words for me (PUSH, forthcoming 2010). In lieu of public transit or owning a vehicle he prefers walks and an occasional bourbon or two, therefore he rarely traverses beyond the city limits.

What is (or has been) your favorite editing project and why?

Sometime in the late summer / early fall days of 2007 I decided a start-up poetry zine was just what I needed to perk up my habitual writing and reading. However I didn’t want to be forced to contact the folks I was interested in hearing from and then await replies. I wished to quickly gather new material and assemble everything in an order working of its own accord. Writing the poems on my own became the surest course to meeting my needs.

Like any conscientious editor I wasn’t about to just take any material that came my way and of course the pile of submissions was only bound to continue to grow. I put a mandatory cap of one or two weekends or so devoted to getting all submissions typed up and about another week to be spent selecting and ordering the contents.

The title I naturally gravitated towards came immediately: NUTS. And as it never hurts to have a theme of sorts strung throughout the issue, which hopefully gives the editor some leg up in the ordering process, I decided collaborative works would be particularly favored in the writing and selecting stages.

Fairly early in the process I also lucked upon coming into possession of a previously unknown abstract line drawing sketch by Brooklyn-based artist Will Yackulic. Unfortunately, the exact location of the piece currently is unknown, although I have one or two bookshelves in mind of where it may lie. & there were surprises along the way, a “special section” of from Cesaire translations as well as a conversation between Cedar Sigo and John Ashbery:

               JA: In a later, or earlier, world I might have been a philosopher.

               CS: I’ve read interviews where you deny that.

               JA: Really… deny away, my boy, deny away… that’s a rule to live by.

               CS: Let’s go get some cheeseburgers. What do you think?

               JA: All right, but later… do you know if it’s organic meat? I’ll be in the Hamptons
                        until the late Fall, but if sooner, feel welcome to fax.

In the end, NUTS never was produced. The poems were all written, selected and ordered, but production as well as proper nouns never gained a firm foothold. I did share these poems with two friends in an impromptu rooftop afternoon poetry reading, and a couple may have been slipped into one or two readings I have given during intervening years, it should also be stated that some of these works have perished as well or remain as yet unwritten due to circumstance, however for the most part they have otherwise remained safely tucked away, usually without even the knowledge of their existence known to the authors: John Ashbery, Dodie Bellamy, Bill Berkson, Anselm Berrigan, Edmund Berrigan, Sara Bilandzija, Jeff Karl Butler, Tom Clark, John Coletti, Brent Cunningham, Patrick James Dunagan, Alfred Durand, Laura Elrick, Christina Fisher, Kenneth Goldsmith, Matt Hart, Owen Hill, Cralan Kelder, Kevin Killian, Lrsn, M.C. Litton, Chris Martin, Jackie Motzer, Ryan Newton, Hoa Nguyen, Jeni Olin, Kevin Opstedal, Julien Poirier, Michael Price, Robert L. Rope, Sasha, Cedar Sigo, Will Skinker, Chris Stroffolino, Sunnylyn Thibodeaux, Rodrigo Toscano, Ilana Umansky, Melissa Weinstein, Will Yackulic, Stephanie Young (among others).

For Joan Brown

Artists of California
Arrogant and young, destitute in work searching
To have something to say
Painting your way out the same situation for years
You guys mock each other what fluffy puppies
The struggle is not to age your age
Just maintain number as symbol or sign
Age you refuse represent or embody simple
Isn’t it art to walk away
Don’t speak out against struggles you don’t get
The job isn’t to make it but to make things make it
And that job is years in coming
If then you find me riding in a Cadillac
Understand it ain’t mine at all but possibly
And then typically so unlikely the driver may very well be
Slipping between sedimentary levels for sentiment
Give such grapple to hold the night through
A cartwheel to drive the draydel
Big cats on furry lounges to tempt us
Harmony in the background just like that
Lettme hearya now!

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