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April 3, 2012

Book Notes - Jordan Stempleman - "No, Not Today"

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, David Peace, Hari Kunzru, Myla Goldberg, and many others.

Jordan Stempleman's poetry collection No, Not Today elegantly mixes the concrete with the existential as these poems explore our thoughts and how we perceive the time periods in which we have them.

The Kansas City Star wrote of the book:

"The scientists who study solidified pasts, the geologists, cheer, and Stempleman shares this enthusiasm. Stempleman's writing is a physical phenomenon, drawing from science as much as the literary tradition."

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In his own words, here is Jordan Stempleman Book Notes music playlist for his poetry collection, No, Not Today:


The sequence of days, and by days I mean poems, are bound to restore or occupy some poem I've yet to write or, maybe, what I mean is, that the last poem passes through all the poems that preceded them, a system of listening to what came before, saying it again, just a little clearer, something to add, something to clarify or purposefully leave shaded to get closer to a particular kind of attention that marks “the now.”

There is music too. And like poetry, I can't ever get close enough to music in all its aliveness, its variation when surrounded by reconfigured days, people around me, then not so much. Poetry is about as central to interplay as I believe music is. They both often intend, so heavily intend and anticipate; expose the attempt to circle intent; invoke a number of emerging thoughts and complex sensations at once, but then what? Well, then the music or the poem enters the world, becomes air-like, heads off, goes roughly invisible until it's either picked up by the ear or the eye or both.

When I come to, I'll be sure to tell you about it.

When it lingers, I too linger with it. But I'll come back from the interior and tell you all about it. I may even dance. I may even write something about the pleasures of incapability, about days that are now called poems.

The first music I ever loved alone, (the music my mother sang to me is quite something else. I think of those songs as that which fused us to one another) was the soundtrack to Footloose. I was in those songs, at first as a seven-year-old with a seven-year-old sense of meaning, imagination, etc., and then, as I got older, I was accompanied with even more music, as someone with just more residue from the world, that's all. My first real kiss happened while Joe Elliott begged someone to “pour some sugar” on him, and then I was asked to do the same thing. This experience is in these poems. I'm sure of it. It's a dynamism that moves differently than a photograph. It is part of a universality that goes on building, describing, saying, gathering and, more often than not, partially disappearing to be filled in with new determinations of meaning.

Music and poems are merely the residue of a continuum of any number of experiences marked by sound and language and expanding reorientations with the world.

I made this mixtape for my book, and my book had this mixtape in it from the beginning, before the rattle of the first poem announced its escape and entry into language. This is the returning of an ever-increasing likeness. I am precisely returning to an ever-growing performance that both collects and resists language, that rearranges the days to find the only subject there is: presentness.


No, Not Today Mix

1—"Field Day For The Sundays": Wire
2—"Sweet Tuesday Morning": Badfinger
3—"Another Day in the Sun": The Moffs
4—"A New Day Begins": Parliaments
5—"Daybreaker": Electric Light Orchestra
6—"Joe Harper Saturday Morning": Van Morrison
7—"Drag Days": Guided By Voices
8—"Soul Monday": Martin Newell
9—"Here Today, Gone Tomorrow": The Ramones
10—"Everyday": William Onyeabor
11—"Any Day Now (My Beautiful Bird)": Chuck Jackson
12—"Monday's Rain": The Bee Gees


Jordan Stempleman and No, Not Today links:

excerpt from the book ("Whose Counting")

Kansas City Star review


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Book Notes playlists (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlists

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
52 Books, 52 Weeks (weekly book reviews)
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from the week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists


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