Sunday, January 9, 2022

Metaverse Book Tours for a Southwestern Book Award Finalist

Very cool to see that our book was a finalist for the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards 

Thanks to Tolsun Books for figuring out how to combine Jia Oak Baker's photographs and my poems in convenient paperback form exactly how we envisioned but better.

 

Since all of my celebrations are virtual, here are a few more of those "Poetic Distancing Reading Series" video sessions that I did instead of whatever book tour I was planning before the pandemic.

I almost had to give up on this one in the canal because every take kept getting ruined by screeching jets from the nearby airbase. Another example of the Military Industrial Complex budget squashing local arts. I will edit together a bunch of these outtakes that feature me cursing at the sky as if those pilots might be able to hear me. 


My poems in this next video address Portlandian hipster-ness, 90s album covers, fleeting punk fashion statements, and my longtime appreciation of Chris Cornell. The shadows reminded me of a classic Soundgarden video, so I wore one of those shirts that former Phoenix skater (and longtime friend of Chris Cornell) Kevin Staab put out for his 90 skate company, since Chris often wore those, as seen in their video for Fell On Black Days:

Maybe a few other times.

 




Sunday, November 28, 2021

Thankful for this Book Review from Sundress and some Rodney Mullen clips


Speaking of thanks, Jia and I were also extremely grateful for this amazing review of Gravity & Spectacle from Shannon Wolf at the Sundress Blog:

"There is something both cheeky and somber about Baker and Orion’s united perspective. 

 Orion’s poems are as close to punk rock as we can get in 2021." 


You can read the full review at https://sundressblog.com/2021/02/08/sundress-reads-gravity-spectacle-by-shawnte-orion-and-jia-oak-baker/

Wolf mentions that a few of the poems reference legendary skateboarder Rodney Mullen, so here is some of that backstory: The central art piece in all of Jia's photographs was made by artist JJ Horner. Since JJ co-founded the skate company Pyramid Country. We wanted to make sure to pay some homage to those roots, through our photos and poems. So we made a few trips to the skatepark next to Cowtown Skateboards 

Since Rodney Mullen is brilliant on a skateboard and in conversation, I tried to cut-up some fragments of language and phrases from his interviews and biography "The Mutt: How to Skateboard and Not Kill Yourself" and shape them into new out-of-context found poems... the same way skateboarders use his techniques as building blocks for new tricks.

Here's one of my favorite interviews, so you can see that Mullen is poetic both on and off his board and also how his descriptions of the skate community can also be easily applied to the writing community.




Sunday, September 12, 2021

Stinkweeds Record Store and the Academy Of American Poets

Excited to say that our book is now available at Stinkweeds Record Store if you're ever in Downtown Phoenix. This is especially cool because back in high school, I used to drive out to Kimber Lanning's original shops in Mesa and Tempe to buy import bootleg CDs. I've also seen in-store performances by folks like Jello Biafra and Lou Barlow's Folk Implosion over the years.
Since Jia's photos and my poems were heavily influenced by some of our beloved Phoenix bands, we're proud to have this book available in that same iconic record store for less than it would cost from Amaz*n (
in keeping with Kimber's local indie-first ethos localfirstaz.com).



In more literary news, Gravity & Spectacle got a great shout out from the Academy Of American Poets (what!?!) in an issue American Poets Magazine! It was almost surreal for Jia and I to see ourselves listed on the back cover with writers like Joy Harjo, Forrest Gander, Natalie Diaz, Adrian Matejka, and other heroes.
 

Inside the magazine, there was a wonderful write-up by Phoenix Poet Laureate Rosemarie Dombrowski along with one of my sample poems from the book:


 

 

 

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Up The Staircase Review of Gravity & Spectacle

Having our book out during the pandemic was strange, since we couldn't encounter people at readings or lit festivals. It made you wonder if it was really "out there" in the world. So we truly appreciated seeing a few book reviews pop up every once in awhile. The first one came from Up The Staircase Quarterly by the brilliant Alina Stefanescu:

"There is the newness, the cultural backdrops, the poem that critiques the clickbaited brain, ... and all the ways in which being hip is plotted against being the credible fuck-up, the heartbreak of Chris Cornell's death, the muffled critique of the new place that appears, namely, the chic Portland."

 Read the full review at https://www.upthestaircase.org/gravity--spectacle.html

 


Monday, July 12, 2021

Pretty Much The Opposite Of A Book Tour

Since the new book Gravity & Spectacle came out right at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, I wasn't able to do any readings and that was disappointing. I tried a few Zoom readings and subjected people to my cluttered backroom, confusing timezone, and spotty wi-fi connection. It wasn't the best way to introduce anyone to our brand new book, but we did what we could.

Then I noticed a call for submissions of video readings for a virtual literary conference. I liked the idea of recording a session without the limitations of wi-fi, so I went out into the desert and read a few poems to an audience of Saguaros. Unfortunately, I said the wrong conference name in my intro, so it was rightfully rejected for the virtual event.

So I decided to just do my own "Poetic Distancing Reading Series" in various five minute sessions on youtube like these:

The above video was the desert session that I filmed at the White Tank Mountain Regional Park.

This next one took place in front of The Rebel Lounge which has a long history as an important Phoenix music venue for up and coming local bands and national touring bands who haven't yet moved up to theaters (including bands like Nirvana, The Ramones, Soundgarden, Guns N Roses, Pearl Jam, etc back when it was know as The Mason Jar). Needless to say, Jia and I were stoked to have our book announced on their infamous billboard.



I will post more background notes on the other session in upcoming entries, but if you want to skip ahead and see all 8 of these youtube readings, here is the link to that playlist like the laziest book tour:

https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLOwfS472EoHDAM9cOxb-D8DgbFKZk4qet





Sunday, May 24, 2020

Behind The Blurb part 3 of 3 Matt Hart

Our final blurb for Gravity & Spectacle was from the first person we asked: Matt Hart



Like Rosemarie's blurb, this was also too big to fit on the back of our book cover, so here is the full unedited version:


Who’s weirder than all of us? And why does it always feel like our “alienation is being filmed before a live studio audience”? If you’ve ever asked those questions, or if you’ve ever had a cactus for a head with eyes all over it, blinking wildly in the sun—or, if you’ve ever wondered why you can’t stop going to punk rock shows, even though everyone else thinks you’re too old for punk rock shows, so you stand in the back feeling odd or invisible or both of them at once—well, the photographs and poems in Gravity and Spectacle are a biography, a field guide, a hymnal, and battle plan of, and for, the rest of your life. Yeah, you might just be that strange. I know I am, and as a result this book is somehow a great comfort to me, even as it complicates and celebrates my bewilderment. It reminds me just how bizarre (in the best ways) being alive right NOW really is—a reminder to attend to it with ferocity and joy, but most importantly with imagination and empathy by any means necessary. 
~ Matt Hart, author of Everything Breaking/for Good and editor-in-chief of Forklift, Ohio: A Journal of Poetry, Cooking, & Light Industrial Safety


We first met Matt Hart when he came to town on a Southwest tour with another memorable poet named Jeff Sirkin in 2016. I hosted a poetry reading for them at an art gallery in Phoenix and we were able to hang out before and after the event for food, drinks and stories. Jia and I were only 1 year into this project, but we showed him some of our early photographs and he didn't laugh or scoff. In fact, he encouraged us, which was extremely important at that stage of development.

Matt is a powerhouse writer. His two recent books are no fluke or exception, so check out Everything Breaking/For Good from YesYes Books and The Obliterations from Ledge Mule Press.


As the editor-in-chief for Forklift, Ohio: A Journal of Poetry, Cooking, & Light Industrial Safety, he published some of the most impressive and innovative issues in indie-lit. Which is why we had to have him on our Punk Rock Presses panel at the AWP conference in Portland.



Matt has also played and toured with various bands over the years. Here's a song from his current band Nevernew that's worth heavy rotation:

 

But most importantly, Matt is the best Mentor / Hero / Friend that you could hope to find.
   






Copies of Gravity & Spectacle can be ordered from Tolsun Books, Small Press Distribution, and even Amazon.

Or if you'd like to get a signed copy from me, just send $20 (free shipping)
through PayPal https://www.paypal.me/ShawnteOrion
or Venmo https://venmo.com/ShawnteOrion

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Behind The Blurb part 2 of 3 Sean Bonnette



This book is full of ghosts, reflections, refractions, and memories of a distant Phoenix, one that’s burned down and regenerated many times since. I loved it.
Sean Bonnette, songwriter, singer, and guitarist of AJJ

For our next blurb, Jia and I needed to ask Sean Bonnette. 
There are only a few bands I've seen live more than twenty times and AJJ is one of them. Sean is a brilliant writer and I love how his lyrics deftly switch gears from quirky to heartfelt to sardonic etc. Even a twenty-second song like "The Michael Jordan Of Drunk Driving" is packed with sneaky poetics. And of course, the JJ Horner mask that is the centerpiece of our whole book came from their "Coffin Dance" video so his band is inextricable from the downtown Phoenix art scene memories that shaped many of the poems and photographs in Gravity & Spectacle.


Before AJJ evolved into a full band and started playing sold out shows all across the country and even over in Europe and Australia, the original core duo of Sean and bassist Ben Gallaty both used to work at The Willow House, which was the Phx coffeeshop where I first started doing poetry readings. Back then they were still called Andrew Jackson Jihad as an acoustic folk-punk two-piece band. I loved the synergy between Ben and Sean, the provocative lyrics and the way they were brave enough to play anywhere for anybody.


One time I even ended up on the same lineup with them at a bar on Van Buren called the Casa Blanca Lounge. That's a long story but we had a mutual friend who was getting out of prison so his girlfriend put together a welcome back show with some of his favorite acts and I got to read a set of poems between the bands.


For crazy timing: I was nervous to reach out to Sean but I finally sent him a message about our project early one morning before work. He quickly replied that he was interested and would like to see it. Then a few hours later, all my friends started posting links to news of the upcoming AJJ album (Good Luck Everybody which is out now). So coincidentally, I asked Sean about a blurb on the SAME DAY they happened to release their brand new single...and it was called "A Poem" !!! I went and listened to it and cracked up when I heard the opening lines. Listen to it here:

  

Copies of Gravity & Spectacle can be ordered from Tolsun Books, Small Press Distribution, and even Amazon.

Or if you'd like to get a signed copy from me, just send $20 (free shipping)
through PayPal https://www.paypal.me/ShawnteOrion
or Venmo https://venmo.com/ShawnteOrion

https://batteredhive.blogspot.com/p/connect.html