Some lay flowers on the side of the highway
To note the death of the ones they loved
While other flowers spend their whole lives out on the highway
Standing for nothing, it's just where they're from
- “Help Me Sing” by State Champion
ABOUT THE BOOK
WHAT IS WHO is the second full-length collection of poems by Biscuits Calhoun (a.k.a. Tyler Gobble), following his debut MORE WRECK MORE WRECK (Coconut Books, 2014.) It was his MFA thesis at the Michener Center For Writers, exploring questions & answers about polyvocality, dissociation, & autobiography.
It was first available in a five-chapbook, handmade, & limited edition of 75, each section with custom cover by James Hapke. Those are gone, but you can surely read it below in PDF form.
REFERENCES & SUCH
One time Robert Hass repeated the opening of "THIRTY-FIRST CENTURY FANGS" back to me, but it was shorter & better, so now the poem starts that way.
"WHAT IS NEBULOSITY" borrows snippets of stories from my wife Diana, my friend Zach, & my cousin-in-law Kaitlin.
"POEM WITH REAL BLOOD ON IT" begins with a contemporary-personal echo of Gertrude Stein.
"HERE LIE OUR DEAD, OR SOMETHING TO THAT EFFECT" & "ORIGINAL CONFIGURATION" are both after Mary Ruefle.
"FORMS OF GRIEF" steals the phrase "griefcase" from Taisia Kitaiskaia.
"[I am the turnstile. That is different than letting]" is after Robert Bly.
"A MURDER OF PONDS" is after Nicanor Parra.
"EXPLOSIVE BREAD" is for my Badgerdog students.
"TO WHATEVER HOUSE GOD THIS MAY CONCERN" is after Jack Spicer.
"GOB LIFE" is after Lyn Hejinian.
"DEATH CRY OF THE OBVIOUS" is after Kathleen Winter.
"BONE IN THE THROAT" is a reference to a former student named Kevin's response to the question "what is poetry?"
"TO HAPPEN ONE DAY" is after Natalie Eilbert.
"SO ARE WE DONE" is after Paul Asta.
"WHATEVER YOU TOUCH" is after Tomaž Šalamun.
Major thanks to the editors of the following journals where some of these poems first appeared, often in alternate versions &/or cloaked in different titles, often for a limited time, if at all, & some published as Tyler Gobble: Twelfth House, Gertrude, Birds Piled Loosely, apt, jubilat, Sporklet, RHINO Poetry, Sixth Finch, tenderness, yea, Powder Keg, New South, The Collagist, The Equalizer, Ovenbird Poetry, Fields, TL;DR, Bridge, Great American Lit Mag, & The Volta / Evening Will Come
These poems wouldn’t exist / I wouldn’t exist without the love, support, & good example of the greatest bunch of rowdy & smart & inspiring friends a hick like me could ask for, including (but not limited to):
Mycole Thistle & Lizzy; Ricky Stamton; Jason Arnold, Stefaney Pape & the kiddos; Clark Moser; James Hapke; Zoie Hancock; Liz Klein; Lynn Cowles; Paige & Geoff Jensen; Elizabeth Doss & Ryan Martin; Jay Byrd; Paz Pardo & Enrique Lozano; Josh Denslow; Kailee Cooper; Paige Tautz; Dean Young; Todd McKinney; Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez; Sarah Janczak; Bruce Jordan Guard; Mark van Gelder; Johnna Henry & Charlie Martin; Teri Tan & Billy Burkert; & Nancy Lili Gonzalez.
The good classmates & faculty at Ball State University, the Michener Center for Writers & the University of Texas-Austin; the good neighbors at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary; the Austin theater pals, the Westmont Crew; & disc golfers everywhere.
The motivating folks & friends at Down Home Ranch, Badgerdog & St. George’s School.
The good people in my many families, including Jeff & Tamie Gobble; Lindy Pearring; Annie & Russell Bush; Darrin Eaton; & Fred Tyner, as well as the loving memories of Jimmy Gobble; Ted Tyner; JoAnn Tyner; Jimmy Gobble; & Ricky Gobble.
& of course, my two most-trusted lights in this stupid life: Diana Lynn Small & Ginny Bug.
WHAT IS WHO is the hand that plucks the chord, that cups around the broken egg, that squeezes the last drop from a melon. Be not deceived by the words on the page – this is not a book, it is an instrument, a set of fingers, a tool, pliers, it is a mallet that hammers out the painful and joyous tune of existence and identity in each of us. Be warned.
– Enrique Lozano, playwright
READ IT MAYBE
The limited edition run of 75 has sold out, but you can read all the poems now below in PDF form.
Section 1 - MORE LIQUID THAN YOU MIGHT IMAGINE
Section 2 - MEMORY IS A NUISANCE
Section 3 - IMPOSTER SYNDROME
Section 4 - TWO MORE TRICKS
Section 5 - LEARNING TO PRANCE
I hated childhood
I hate adulthood
And I love being alive
- “Provenance” by Mary Ruefle