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Vile Lilt TOP 40
by Brandon Brown

You know how in The Prelude, Wordsworth rows a boat out onto a moonlit pond, awed by the susurrations of cattails in the lunar lit breeze and the poem latently suggests this experience was formative to his later development as a poet?

Well, for me it was just like that, only I wore headphones and there was nothing “natural” anywhere in sight.

Like the wavering foliage which inspired William Wordsworth’s autobiographical epic, “America’s Top 40 Countdown” is the catchy Beatrice of Brandon Brown’s new book.  Writing through the Top 40 pop songs on the chart of September 14, 2013, Brown’s poems track the life of a song as it resounds through an organism. This organism bathes, reads, writes, likes, fights, loves, hates, and fucks; the soundtrack never stops.

“This book wakes us up to the immanent present, to a soundscape that miraculously contains Gaga and Drake; Norse mythology and Wordsworth; Oakland and cheerleading; addiction, appropriation, and grammar; all of capitalism’s ferocity as well as love’s many kindnesses. How endless this poetry will make us.”
- Sue Landers

“In 2004 the poet Stacy Doris told me she thought she saw a sure thing in young Brandon Brown, then a student at San Francisco State University but otherwise fresh from Kansas City, and I do mean fresh.  Something in the notation of Top Forty, the most discursive of Brown’s books to date, brings me to its affective, almost silly surface of memory and feeling.  One list takes the poet through a week of hits on constant rotation, and if you’re at all affected by pop or kitsch, Top Forty will make you think and fight from start to finish.  Through this work shimmers the divine, just as it does through Rihanna in her bathwater, just as it does every time Miley Cyrus rebelliously places the accent on the second syllable of “molly.”  I roar for Top Forty, I give it my applause, he makes me wanna roll my windows down, and cruise.”
- Kevin Killian

Brandon Brown is the author of three books of poetry, most recently Flowering Mall (Roof, 2012) and many chapbooks, including Tooth Fairy (2008) and Memoirs of My Nervous Illness (Cy Press, 2006). Since 1998, he has lived in the Bay Area, where he has programmed literary events, edited small press materials under the imprint OMG!, and written about art and culture for Art Practical and Open Space, the blog and magazine of the SFMOMA. He is a co-editor at Krupskaya, organizes with the Bay Area Public School, and lives in Oakland, CA.

136 pages
ISBN: 978-1-931824-57-6
Publication date: October 2014


Order from Small Press Distribution

by Brandon Brown

Brandon Brown’s Flowering Mall transforms Baudelaire to revive what Rob Fitterman calls the "punk spirit that is French Symbolism." Drifting through the Bay Area with his friends and lovers, Brown’s boulevardier discovers the hunger of undead poetry for more scornful representations of our silly human culture, resurrecting Fleur du Mal only to use it to drive a stake through the heart of his cravings. Camille Roy says, "It’s nothing like porn but it does deliver hysteria of recognition at our dear appetites, dashing towards the rotten social body." And dashing that body on the rocks beneath the Golden Gate in a continuing round of consumption and excess. The writing’s like that, too.

Brandon Brown’s exhilarating translation of Baudelaire offers up an uncanny present of chat-room cats and wage slaves, vampire doubles and personal history. This visionary work overflows with the political possibilities and dilemmas of 21st century decadence. In Flowering Mall’s hyperbolic, sensual realm, pleasure is a crucial path to liberation. But, everything we love is suspect. The book critiques its own gorgeous excess (of language, sex, food, pop culture culture, fashion, and art) as tied to a sordid capitalist loop: consumption, surveillance, ever-escalating desire. This book puts everything on the table: the ecstasy, the ugliness, the mess, and the moments of a ‘future perfect’ that blossom in the vexed present. Boredom, friendship, decadence, and disgust might not save us. But then again, they might. With its fantastic honesty, humor, brio and intelligence, Flowering Mall leaves the reader drunk on possibility.
- Lauren Levin

Brandon Brown is the author of The Persians By Aeschylus and The Poems of Gaius Valerius Catullus. He is also the author of several chapbooks, including Memoirs of My Nervous Illness, Wondrous Things I Have Seen and Your Mom’s a Falconress. He is from Kansas City, Missouri and has lived in San Francisco since 1998.

112 pages
ISBN: 978-931824-48-4 
Publication date: November 2012


Order from Small Press Distribution

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