More reads close to home, audio from Mike Willis, yours truly | Wing & Fly

Susannah Felts’ 2008 novel was a Nashville portrait of the artist on the tail end of high school. More about it here.

Upcoming Tuesday, June 4, at Fat Bottom Brewery over on Main here in East Nashville, after my own appearance there two weeks back with songwriter and friend Mike Willis, my wife and erstwhile T2H collaborator, weather poet and general conscience and voice of reason, Susannah Felts, shares the mic with songwriter Joshua Payne in what marks the 15th installment of the East Side Storytelling series. Susannah’s been hard at work on several things, not least of which is a novel in progress that tells the story of a Nashville-bred folk-rock singer come back (of sorts) to her hometown after the death of her father to find a man of a character decidedly different than the one she thought she knew. Great story — told with considerable depth of character (anyone who’s seen Susannah’s work up close knows what I mean) and outsize good humor. Also, though, expect her to talk a little about a project with which she’s recently made initial strides toward making a reality: Nashville Story Studio. For now, she’s offering a series of workshops built upon years of workshop leading as a prof at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, at Watkins here in Nashville and also independently here since we moved from Birmingham in 2009. Long-term goal is a fully-fledged literary center here in Guitar Town. Interested? I know I am, but I’m partial to the lady’s efforts, to say the least. Check out the upcoming workshop series via the NSS website, and I’ve placed a link on the top nav here at the T2H txt site as well.

Come out and see her at the event Tuesday, Fat Bottom, 900 East Main Street, Nashville, 7 p.m. sharp.

Hear the full audio of the hour-long May 2013 East Side Storytelling event featuring Todd Dills and Nashville-based songwriter Mike Willis via this link.

For my own part, the Kickstarter effort ongoing to raise funds for a big printing of Triumph of the Ape, my shorts collection, proceeds — if you haven’t laid down reservations for a copy, you can do it with a $12 pledge here. At the East Side Storytelling event May 21 I read a slightly cut version of the first story in the book, “The Color of Magic.” The story was originally penned in 2007, prompted by Jonathan Messinger’s erstwhile (second use of that word in this post — I always liked its nostalgic character, unlike other certain vulgarities, like the word mulch) Dollar Store reading series and a growing sense within my bowels and brain that life was taking a turn. Down in Alabama, where Susannah and I had just moved, there was quite a bit of talk about father- and motherhood, about life sustainability and keys to happiness and there was also a trip to visit some friends in Vicksburg with all manner of psychedelic potentials if not realities…. The story, first published in 2009 in Birmingham-based Red Mountain Review, interrogates some of these things. Follow this link to listen to the audio from the event, also featuring the one and only Mike Willis of the Cumberland Collective. About halfway through the set, we read/play alternate versions of a story/song we performed a sort of hands-off collaboration on, “Don’t Tempt the River.”  My portion of the piece originally appeared in this fictional collaboration between myself, C.T. Ballentine and Henry Ronan-Daniell. Enjoy.

A-and oh finally, my S.C. brother sends along this classic Waylon album cover along with a note to this effect: “Man, just grow your hair out a little more and find a leather vest and a big-ass belt buckle, you’ve got yr Halloween costume.” Did Hank really do it this way?

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Michael Fournier, Amelia Garretson-Persans, others at Portland Brew June 6

Michael Fournier we met on tour last fall with our All Hands On anthology, at the Amherst event. You may remember him for his contribution to the 33 1/3 series of books about records — he authored the tome for Double Nickels on the Dime, by the Minutemen, and for 1980s/early 1990s punk culture and history and its place in the American arts pantheon, you’d be hard-pressed to find a writer who gets it more. He’s touring with a new novel, Hidden Wheel (click through the cover image to order at Three Rooms Press’ site, or better yet, pick up a copy at the show!), after the classic Rites of Spring song of the same name, and will be joined in Nashville by local T2H editor Todd Dills and Clarksville, Tenn.-based master-in-waiting Quincy Rhoads and Nashville-based art-book maker and writer Amelia Garretson-Persans (check out the stop-motion animation she completed recently for Nashville’s “By Lightnin” band in the vid below), among others TBA:

@Portland Brew, 1921 Eastland, Nashville
June 6, 6 p.m.

Join us.

Here’s a great description of the new novel from the 33 1/3 series blog:

The novel focuses on the art and punk scenes of the Midwestern city Freedom Springs, where an opportunistic trustfunder named Ben Wilfork starts an all-ages art/show space names Hidden Wheel. Max Caughin, who tags under the name Faze, gets famous quick with a series of paintings on CD covers. His buddy Bernie Reese donates sperm to raise money for a new drum kit so his two-piece noiserock band Stonecipher can record. Bernie’s romantic interest (and former chess prodigy) Rhonda Barrett does dominatrix work by day and paints her life, sixty words at a time, on giant canvases by night. Their fates intertwine in a story reconstructed by William Molyneux, a 24th Century scholar reconstructing the Hidden Wheel scene after a solar flare erases all digital data in his era.

The Band
Dead Trend started as a fictional band in Hidden Wheel, Freedom Springs’ biggest musical export. As I wrote the book, I also wrote Dead Trend songs — short blasts of punk focusing on 1986 topics like Reagan, the Berlin Wall and Chernobyl. Some friends and I put the band together this summer, with me playing drums and doing backing vocals. We have a 7″ coming out soon on Baltimore’s Save vs. Poison Records. In the meantime, our music is available via cassette tape — demo versions of our songs recorded this summer, as well as a live set recorded in Orono, Maine.

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Nerves of Steel returns to Empty Bottle April 11

Spring has sprung and host Harold Ray’s thoughts are returning time and again to “The Ballad of Neal & the Nerve Pills,” a truly haggard tale that he will surely have to tell. House-Band Good Evening just hopes old Harold won’t pass out on the railroad tracks again. Chicago’s most Appalachian literary variety show, SO YOU THINK YOU HAVE NERVES OF STEEL? returns to the Empty Bottle for its April installment!: Wednesday, April 11, doors 8 p.m., show at 9. @Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, Chicago. $3.

Part One of a Complex Curtain-Raiser by Johannes Göransson
Rapped Attacks on Crapitalism by Kris De La Rash
Metier Buffalo Sauce Whipped Up by Patrick Culliton

plus: the Microphone Gymnastics of Russ February and Something Weird That Lasts for a Little Bit and Involves Marc Baez

And our house band, the great Good Evening.

Join us.

And check out Baez’s performance at our October 2011 edition, which follows in the vid — in addition to being a great writer, Baez’s a fantastically funny stand-up. Who knew? More vid at http://youtube.com/the2ndhandutube.

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Over the Top stops in Nashville April 7


Matt Bell (Michigan), Brian Oliu (Tuscaloosa), Tyler Gobble and Christopher Newgent (Indianapolis) are striking out together into the Deep South to get their new books — The Fullness of Everything (Oliu, Gobble, Newgent) and Cataclysm Baby (Bell) — into your hands, or at least to armwrestle you. Get ‘Over the Top’ and diesel-soaked with the lot and THE2NDHAND editor Todd Dills at Portland Brew East on Eastland in Nashville (not the Deep South, as it were) Sat., April 7, early style. Plenty of time to get a workout, then hit the neighborhood establishments for food and refreshment after.

Join us.

Over the Top
Saturday, April 7, 6 p.m.
Portland Brew East
1921 Eastland Ave, Nashville

Order THE2NDHAND’s 10th-anniversary collection, All Hands On, featuring the work of more than 40 contributors.


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Nerves Tuesday, Feb. 7, at Hungry Brain to feature Paul Lask, Amanda Faraone…

Join us for this last of our regular first-Tuesday-of-the-month installments at the Hungry Brain in Chicago. This one brings house band Good Evening and our inveterate redneck crooner of a host, Harold Ray, together with several quite recent THE2NDHAND contributors. Y’all, we couldn’t be no prouder.

So You Think You Have Nerves of Steel?
Feb. 7, 8:30 p.m. @ Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont, Chicago

Featuring, with tales of misery and intrigue, T2Hers all:
The intersection of rock and lit: Paul Lask
Experimentation personified: Amanda Faraone
And the beast himself: Untoward editor Matt Rowan

Click through the text links on their names for recent work from the three. And don’t miss it… (A-and keep an eye out for a late-March blowout at the Brain to thank the kind staff there for the great year-and-a-half-or-so we’ve resided there.)

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Nerves of Steel Feb. 1 at the Empty Bottle

Harold Ray may get his record contract yet. A new month brings a new venue for THE2NDHAND’s So You Think You Have Nerves of Steel? performance series — Chicago’s Empty Bottle is the destination, and here are the details:

*Nerves alumnus Bob Rok brings the ruckus

Also featuring:
*Past T2Her Ling Ma
*Daniel Shapiro + friends
*The irreplaceable Chris Bower

Hosted by the one and only Harold Ray w/ deliciously beautiful house band Good Evening

Here’s a little taste of what’s in store, with vid of Ray’s monologue and Good Evening’s opening number, shot at our October edition at the Hungry Brain. Enjoy.

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THURS. LIVE IN NASHVILLE AT DINO’s; plus: A book that belonged on everybody’s best-of list | Wing & Fly

Join me at the smallest, oldest, dirtiest and yet definitely most kick-ass bar in East Nashville this Thursday for the 3rd edition of the Poetry Sucks reading series. Organized by fellow East Nashvillian Chet Weise, this edition of the series will feature a host of characters from the neighborhood.  I’ll be reading some new stuff (if only I can get through that sermon in the finale) and, more importantly, also featured will be all the fine folks noted on the flyer pictured here. Click through it for more from the artist, Rachel Briggs. Of particular note for connections to T2H is past Pitchfork Battalion teamer John Minichillo, whose novel The Snow Whale from Atticus we saw on some of those indies’ best-of lists for the year just past.

I just finished a novel by a more longtime and frequent T2Her, Floridian (former Flint, Michigander) Paul A. Toth, that I’ve been just floored by, given by the general lack of ink it’s gotten, far as I can tell (though I do see where USA Today of all places named it one of the best indies of 2011). The book, Airplane Novel, is a joyous read, the best of the 9/11 books — experimental in all the good ways (metafictional w/o being goofy, polyphonic via a quixotic omniscience to the narration but with a strong singular narrative consciousness in the end). And, ultimately, its humanity is its most important part.

It’s not an exactly simple task Toth has pulled off, given that the book is told from the point of view of the South Tower of the World Trade Center, a building — and one that, it is acknowledged quite early on by the narrator itself (or “himself,” given that the South Tower prefers to call itself “Cary Grant,” and the North Tower “Gary Cooper”), no longer exists in any physical sense, but of course. But even in death, the tower filters the consciousnesses that made its history, those of the humans — “spider monkeys,” from its perspective — having populated its floors, having operated the Radio Row shops uprooted by the its construction, having created the information that soars through its fiberoptics and still flits in jagged form through its own post-mortem version of consciousness (which Toth expertly re-creates in the end of the book, after the “big event,” the “you know what”…).

I won’t go farther into specifics here, but I’ll say that I think I can definitely recommend it as one of the three or four best books of 2011 (with particular segments of DFW’s The Pale King as well as Mickey Hess’ great Nostalgia Echo — more about that one later, as we’re publishing an excerpt in the next minisheet). In any case, I can’t recommend a book any more highly. Go pick up a copy — available in print and as an eBook (the Kindle edition is available for just $2.99).

Toth also had a fair amount of work in a special section of All Hands On, our 10th anniversary book out in the fall. You can order it here.

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Nerves of Steel 2012: Jan. 3 at Hungry Brain

So You Think You Have Nerves of Steel? Audience and performer both will be proving it yet again in the new year — the third day of it, to be exact. Nerves is THE2NDHAND’s Chicago variety series, well into its second year at the Hungry Brain, in which fiction writers, poets, standups, manifestoers, pamphleteers and others are asked to do something outside the bounds of the norm, whether leaving behind the page and pen or picking it up and doing some live origami or …

Be there: Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont, 8 p.m. on, Jan. 3. Awesome lineup this time round, as always hosted by the charismatic (in more ways than eight) Harold Ray, freshly juiced from a West Virginia Christmas homecoming.

And featuring:
Appalachian death songs by poet Philip Jenks
The suburban angst of Knee Jerk editor Steve Tartaglione
The infamous screeds of past T2H contributor Ling Ma
Bald ambition with Bruce Neal
& Book deck poetry by writer Alexis Buryk

Hip-hop troupe Skech185
Nerves house band Good Evening

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Nerves of Steel returns Dec. 6 w/ Jac Jemc, Natalie Edwards…

After a years’ worth of shows at the Hungry Brain, after the old home week blowout with longtime T2Hers Joe Meno, Marc Baez, Fred Sasaki, C.T. Ballentine and our humble editor (oh a-and Harold Ray, but of course, made his indelible mark on the October night, too), we’re back with a fancy program Tuesday, Dec. 6, at Hungry Brain. Following check out the deets. Follow the links for more about/from the performers.

So You Think You Have Nerves of Steel?

8 p.m. Tuesday, December 6, 2011
@Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont, Chicago, FREE

Blonde Ambition by Jac Jemc (whose first novel is due next year and who published this story in THE2NDHAND a couple years back)
Stand-up w/ a hand-up (your arse) w/ Natalie Edwards
Advice for the Damned from Irby + Ian
Some Kind of Wonderful: Mason Johnson & Daniel Shapiro

MUSIC BY: Harold Ray & the Post-Revolutionary Letdowns, w/ variations on shooting yerself in the face & how it don’t hurt
& HOUSE BAND Good Evening

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All Hands On goes northeast Nov. 17-19

It’s All Hands On touring time yet again, this one to join contributors in Philadelphia, NYC, and Northampton, Mass., for three consecutive nights of readings by contributors to All Hands On: THE2NDHAND After 10, our 10th anniversary anthology, among others. Here are the details:

Philadelphia, Thursday, Nov. 17, 7 p.m. (click flyer image at right for a pdf)
@BrickBat Books
, 709 South 4th Street
(215) 592-1207
w/ THE2NDHAND editor Todd Dills, longtime contributors Peter Richter and (our FAQ editor and Rider University prof) Mickey Hess, as well as Ryan Eckes.

Brooklyn, Friday, Nov. 18, 7 p.m.
@Book Thug Nation
, 100 North 3rd Street
w/ T2H editor Todd Dills, longtime contributors Tobias Carroll, Philip Brunetti and Mickey Hess as well as Gabe Durham and Matt Cahan.

Northampton, Mass., Saturday, Nov. 19, 7:30 p.m.
@MEF Community Room, 60 Masonic St., lower level (next to Woodstar Cafe)
w/ T2H editor Todd Dills, All Hands On contributors Matt Cahan and Ben Stein, Gabe Durham and Ted Powers. Music by Gale Thompson.

(For pdfs of flyers for New York and Northampton events, click here and here, respectively.)

PHILIP BRUNETTI lives and writes in Brooklyn.

Nashville-based MATT CAHAN’s novel “Straight Commission” is excerpted in All Hands On: THE2NDHAND After 10.

TOBIAS CARROLL is an editor of Vol. 1. His fiction has appeared in THE2NDHANDMetazen, Word Riot, 3:AM, Storychord, and elsewhere; he makes his home online at www.thescowl.org.

TODD DILLS is editor of THE2NDHAND and author of the novel Sons of the Rapture (Featherproof, 2006).

GABE DURHAM lives in Northampton, MA. He writes fiction and nonfiction, teaches literature, makes up test questions, and edits Dark Sky Magazine. His first book, a novel called Fun Camp, is forthcoming in 2013 from Mud Luscious Press.

Philadelphia-based RYAN ECKES’ recent Old News chapbook was published by Furniture Press. Find more from him here.

MICKEY HESS is an Associate Professor of English at Rider University, where he teaches arc welding, mig welding, and creative nonfiction. Recent from Hess in T2H. The Novelist and the Rapper forthcoming in 2012. Find him here.

Poet TED POWERS’ recent work has appeared in Strange Machine, Noo Journal, and GlitterPony, among others. He’s also an editor with Dark Sky Magazine.

New Jersey-based writer PETER RICHTER’s poetry and prose have been featured in Monkey Bicycle, THE2NDHAND, decomP and others. He likes wearing flannel, a recent development. He’s a cofounder of the Broadset crew.

BEN STEIN teaches English Language Arts at the Springfield Renaissance School. He lives in Amherst with his wife Julie and their cat. His “Important Things to Remember” short is featured in All Hands On.

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