Years ago, Stephen Malkmus sang: “Can you treat it like an oil well / When it’s underground, out of sight?” I think of these lines now in relation to the writers I have the pleasure to present here. The texts by these two poets and two fiction writers operate explicitly within underground or experimental aesthetics, attuned to their place within a rich tradition of countercultural expression.

I have chosen these writers because their work inspires me. But I also like the idea of having their texts share the same digital space. I’m hoping the juxtaposition of poetry and fiction will be as enjoyable to the reader as it is for me. I am also very conscious of creating a possibility for interaction between American and Venezuelan experimental writers.

The two poets have provided sequences of texts that can be read as single works, with each poem being the equivalent of a chapter or episode. I have translated the two short stories included here from the Spanish originals. In the short stories, the reader will find imagery and situations that can only be fully appreciated through the lens of poetry.

Carlos Ávila’s short story “The Antichrist” is a rewritten (radically edited) version of a text included in his first book. The young narrator manages to keep his wits during an extreme situation, thanks partly to an invocation of the anarchic spirit of the Sex Pistols. Ávila’s direct, plain prose sustains beautifully evoked images that startle us.

Micah Ballard’s sequence “Let Us Wake Rifles” opens with an invocation of poetic ancestry, so as to lead us through a gallery of visions imbued with elegance and charm. Ballard’s language is a classical slang, as though the phantoms he conjures were at ease and thinking out loud. (“I learned to mix the languages / & do it in code”)

Dayana Fraile’s short story masterfully narrates an encounter between two generations late one evening at a bus stop in Caracas. Her prose is attuned to the minor details that can bring people together, how friendship can spring from misunderstanding. The story is also a fascinating glimpse at the way subcultures evolve as their participants age. The reader will note a vulnerability that her characters might not be ready to acknowledge until they meet.

Sunnylyn Thibodeaux offers a sequence called “As Water Sounds,” which comments on our contemporary landscape of permanent crises. But the poet doesn’t merely lament or critique this unfortunate situation. Rather, she assumes an approach to language that reveals a complete faith in the magic of poetry (that is, song) to heal and reconstruct. “The Silent Spaces of Utopia Parkway,” indeed.

Guillermo Parra (Cambridge, MA, 1970) lives in Durham, NC, where he writes the blog Venepoetics. He has published two books of poetry, Caracas Notebook (Cy Gist Press, 2006) and Phantasmal Repeats (Petrichord Books, 2009). His poems, essays and translations have appeared in 6×6, Fascicle and Papel Literario, among others. He is currently translating the complete works of Venezuelan poet José Antonio Ramos Sucre (1890-1930).


September 25, 2010

Let Us Wake Rifles




Those who pass through us

cannot be touched

I raise my hand & allow another

Read the rest of this entry »


September 25, 2010

Vignette for A Fading Story

First her back, with long black hair, perfectly combed and shining. Her body one of those old Seven-Up bottles, on a single plane, lacking depth and perspective, which is to say, extremely skinny. Angled and, notwithstanding, delicate shoulders with huge, dark freckles in random shapes. Read the rest of this entry »


September 25, 2010

As Water Sounds

As Water SoundsM



The Silent Spaces Of Utopia Parkway

I am stuck on valiance & images

that may find another life

those of cautious advances & withdrawals

trembling at infinity

Read the rest of this entry »


September 25, 2010

The Antichrist

Rewritten version of the short story “Cuando fui punk”, included in the book Desde el caleidoscopio de Dios.

for Frank Gavidia, friend of a friend

Don’t ask me how, but I found a chunk of pure, uncut coke. A piece of chalk. It was more or less the size of my index finger. They gave it to me all bundled up in saran wrap and I put it in my pants pocket as though it were my keys. Read the rest of this entry »

September 20, 2010

Conrad Wilde is located at 439 N. 6th Ave. #171 Tucson Az.

Life-long Press will be producing a limited number of handmade chapbooks featuring writing by each of the authors!

The writers, their writing, and voices will be posted here throughout the month. Scroll down to see whats up.

click to hear: Valyntina Grenier reading HERE


Pilgrim, Beloved, come fish friend
here by this wall of sand

You and I, Beloved,
formless form, house of roses

Garden, Soul, bring to this sea
your troubles

You, come to know

Valyntina Grenier is a poet and visual artist. She is editor-in-chief of Life-long Press and Valyntina’s visual art can be viewed at She has poetry and art at She blogs at

KAREN BRENNAN reading Buddha

September 5, 2010

Kclick to hear: Karen Brennan reading BUDDHA

Buddha from LITTLE DARK

There was a man came up to my bed in a green shadow. The shadow enfolded him so that a glimpse presented only a cufflink, but I was very young. What dizzying portals do memory behold myself waving a stick in the air in order to examine the lost bright trails. Like anyone my age, spied creatures in dust avenues beckoned me under the stairs. Also a Buddha with caves on the landing. So laughing I thought at me. My little being I can still feel it.

Karen Brennan is the author of five books, most recently a poetry collection, The Real Enough World (Wesleyan University Press, 2006) and stories, The Garden in Which I Walk (FC2, 2004). Her memoir Being With Rachel was published by WW Norton in 2002 and nominated for a Pulitzer Prize by the publisher. A recipient of a National Endowment of the Arts fellowship and an AWP award, her fiction, poetry and nonfiction have appeared in anthologies from Norton, University of Georgia Press, Graywolf, Michigan, Longman and Penguin, among others. She is a Professor of English at the University of Utah where she teaches in the graduate creative writing program and has served as faculty at the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers since 1992.

JANE MILLER reading Ecstasy

September 2, 2010

click to hear: Jane Miller reading ECSTASY


As the ancients detail it

ecstasy passes

over us in a mist of particles

it lives bare

dies unburied

I finally understand it is raining

it is beautiful

a couple of hawks in a tree

& not the tree entire

MIDNIGHTS, poetry and prose poems by Jane Miller, is Saturnalia Press artist/poet Collaboration Series, #4, 2008, with visual art contributed by Beverly Pepper and an introduction by C.D. Wright. Miller’s other recent work is the book-length sequence, A Palace of Pearls (Copper Canyon Press, 2005), which received the 2006 Audre Lorde Prize in Poetry.

She is a recipient of a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Award for Poetry, as well as a Guggenheim Fellowship and two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships. A resident of Tucson, she is Professor of English in the Creative Writing Program at The University of Arizona, having served as the program’s director 1999-2003.

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