Based loosely on their own Bay Area literary lives, these two intellectual weirdos talk about the state of poetry and their process of writing. It's spot-on and brilliant, but then it gets weird—really strange weird! It had me nodding in agreement, gritting my teeth at its incantations, and laughing like a goddamn chimp—while in public! —Recommended by Jared, City Lights Books
An Army of Lovers begins with the story of two poets, Demented Panda and Koki, united in their desire to write politically engaged poetry at a time when poetry seems to have lost its ability to effect social change. Their first project is more than a failure, resulting in a spell that unleashes a torrent of raw sewage and surrealistic embodiments of consumerist excess and black site torture techniques. Subsequent chapters feature an experimental composer (Koki?) and a performance artist (Panda?) whose bodies are literally invaded with the ills of capitalism, manifested through leaking blisters and other maladies, as well as a radical remix of a Raymond Carver story, questioning "What We Talk About When We Talk About Poetry."
The novel concludes with Panda and Koki returning to the site of their failed collaboration to conjure up a more utopian vision of "an army of lovers." Fantastical, lyrical, whimsical and wildly experimental, An Army of Lovers is as serious as it is absurd.
Praise for An Army of Lovers:
"An Army of Lovers explores the liminal spaces where cities and individuals come together and stand apart with strange, brainy grace."—Michelle Tea, author of Mermaid in Chelsea Creek
"Two of my favorite poets, each with a unique voice, wangle a 'third mind' as they come together in a novel radically different than any I know. Like the 70s Rosa von Praunheim documentary on the 2nd wave gay rights movement (Army of Lovers or The Revolt of the Perverts), the newly minted Army of Lovers takes a stage crowded with multiple images, intent on creating a moment of revolutionary stillness inside the noise. Authors Spahr and Buuck, who appear in this novel as Bay Area poets 'Koki' and 'Demented Panda,' style it up all the way from magical realism to 'new journalism' and Raymond Carver Cathedralspeak, but it's the weary 'I can't go on. I'll go on' optimism at which wounded veterans of the army of lovers excel. Theirs is a rigorous book, and a book of marvels, with something funny, something painful, stirring on every page."—Kevin Killian, author of Spreadeagle
"Too often in the poetry world, self-awareness means dreary, self-important self-absorption. Thank goodness that is not the case here. This picaresque story about the 'particular lostness' of poetry, the ways poems always win and the lives of self-described 'mediocre' poets is actually pretty hilarious! It's also smart, incisive and politically astute. Now, to the barricades!" —Rebecca Brown, author of American Romances: Essays
Praise for Juliana Spahr's Well Then There Now:
"Spahr's fifth book of imaginative writing (both poems and prose) should be a blockbuster, a lasting disturbance; a work of crisp wit, bizarre conjunctions and ultimately enduring moral authority; it is also the best, and perhaps the most widely accessible, thing that Spahr has done."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
Praise for David Buuck's The Shunt:
"The Shunt's affective agenda is thus the exact opposite of ironic cynicism, which is one of this brilliantly discomforting book's most delightful surprises."—Sianne Ngai, Professor, Stanford University and author of Our Aesthetic Categories
Juliana Spahr is a poet, critic, and editor. She is the recipient of the 2009 Hardison Poetry Prize awarded by the Folger Shakespeare Library to honor a U.S. poet whose art and teaching demonstrate great imagination and daring. Spahr received the National Poetry Series Award for her first collection of poetry, Response. Her most recent book is the novel An Army of Lovers written with David Buuck and published by City Lights. Her many titles include, Well Then There Now, The Transformation, This Connection of Everyone with Lungs, Fuck You-Aloha-I Love You, and Everybody's Autonomy: Connective Reading and Collective Identity. With Jena Osman, Spahr edits the book series Chain Links, and with nineteen other poets she edits the collectively funded Subpress. The editor of numerous critical anthologies, she teaches at Mills College.
David Buuck is a writer and teacher who lives in Oakland, CA. He is the founder of BARGE, the Bay Area Research Group in Enviro-aesthetics, and co-founder and editor of Tripwire, a journal of poetics. From 2003-08 he was associate editor at Artweek, and from 2007-11, the President of the Board of Directors of Small Press Traffic, a literary nonprofit in San Francisco, where he also co-curated the annual Poets Theater festival. The Shunt, a book of poetry about the Bush years, was published in 2009 by Palm Press and was named on several year-end top tens lists at Attention Span. Site Cite City, a collection of cross-genre prose works about the Bay Area, will be published by Futurepoem in 2014. His site-specific, multi-media art project BARGE was featured in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts' "Bay Area Now" biennial in 2008, and he was awarded the first ever Visual and Cultural Criticism Residency at Mission 17 Gallery in San Francisco. He is also an occasional performer, musician, and dancer, having performed in several venues in the US and more recently as part of Abby Crain's LOOK dance and performance company.