connor goodwin

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Notes from Ben Marcus at Chicago Humanities Festival

Richard ford 

Ann Beatty 


Militarism bw realism n experimentalism


The Age of Wire and String

Authoritative voice, seductive, gives impression of being true (believability)

Rewriting encyclopedia entries

Imaginatively 'reading' - read first few words write-read the rest 

Words change their (symbolic) meaning over time to become...paradoxical 




Provoked hostility


Make words unstable - wary of being too word-gamey


Stream of consciousness of psychosis says ny times


Make English a foreign language


Slang in a hundred years


Things couldn't just exist, they had to be sourced (harvesting tree -> door). Concern w materiality. 


Taught since age 21


What is the end of the bible 


Make more drama by leaving things out 


Writing back at what ur reading 


Choosing most disagreeable, least interesting genre/form and working in that


Character thinking thru all his responsibilities 

Lydia Davis - documents of thot


Francis Ponge - "we can only write what we've already read" 

Read nonliterary txts


Anxiety is entertaining, relatable, a natural mode of writing, concentrate it to pt of unbearability 


Cognitive surveillance - the kinds of criminals we'd be 


All possible permutations of punctuation for the same txt 


John Hawkes n Robert Coover dinner parties (faculty at Brown) 


An Unexpected Encounter with Tony Fitzpatrick

By miscommunication I ended up at the Poetry Foundation. I didn't realize this until twenty minutes into my visit. I had perused Tony Fitzpatrick's collage-print-drawings of birds, on exhibition until August 31 . Each specimen distinct and yet of its species. I sat down to read/write wondering what was taking the ppl I was supposed to meet so long. More ppl came. None were who I was expecting.


(Bird for the Daughters of Juarez by Tony Fitzpatrick 2011)

Across from me, a man sat down with a small book of poems. Within minutes a woman came up and introduced herself. He sounded gruff when he asked her to repeat her name. They were maybe acquaintances. She spoke of her most brilliant student to date. They talked of Chicago. Both were trying to get out. Both sobered up here. He was from here but began his career in New York. He wrote on politics mostly. She was from New York. She was moving to Guatemala. The man remarked that it was a great destination for bird watching. She excitedly remarked what a coincidence. That she had recently purchased every book there was to own on bird watching in Guatemala. I thought of Jonathan Franzen. She promised to give him a copy. In return he'd give her an etching. She insisted no and he insisted yes. They exchanged contact info. His email was Tony Fitzpatrick something at something dot com. I nose-laughed at the coincidence. 

Go see this exhibition while you can!  You just might see Fitzpatrick himself.  

If you can't make it.  Check out this multimedia presentation: listen to Fitzpatrick read poems for each art-bird.  



Connor Goodwin can't stop.  His work as appeared or is forthcoming in HTMLGIANT, Chronopolis, and Sliced Bread.  He tweets and blogs.  


Printer's Ball

Printer's Ball happened last weekend.  For those of you who don't know, Printer's Ball is annual celebration of literary culture and printmaking.  This was its 10th year and my first year attending.  I had gone to Printer's Row earlier this year and was admittedly a little disappointed.  Not so much by the events going on there, but the crowd.  This crowd seemed more writerly.  I should mention that at Printer’s Row I was shamelessly handing out flyers with some of my work and links to more work.  I designed the flyer the night before when I couldn’t sleep and made 50 copies the morning of.  I got the idea from Michael J Seidlinger, founder of Civil Coping Mechanisms press.  He said something, I believe in his Otherppl podcast, along the lines of why bother paying for a stand when I could just walk around handing out shit.  Smart move.  I'd recommend the same to any small press, magazine, writer, whoever.  

The flier.  I logged everything I ate and drank for nearly 4 months.  This is a less-detailed version I made fit in the corresponding dates of my planner.


I handed these out to middle-aged folk in sandals who gave polite mumbles or said I should eat less PB n J.  Printer's Ball would've been much better for this.  There were workshops on all sorts of technical skills hosted by Spudnik Press Cooperative, readings from the Next Objectivists, free ice cream, DJs, and only a bit of a storm.  When the storm came everyone shuffled inside toward a reading from someone I can't remember the name of and who I couldn't really hear, but the language I picked up on was apocalyptic (crucified, ash, iron, scorched, etc.).  It felt appropriate.  Then the rain cleared up and I left along with most everyone else.  


Connor Goodwin can't stop.  You can follow him @condorgoodwing.  His fiction and poetry has appeared in Chronopolis.  View more of his work at

Summer Reads: Connor Goodwin


Meaty by Samantha Irby

One can’t really talk about Chicago’s literary scene without talking about Samantha Irby.  And for too long I’ve been talking about/telling people they should read Irby without having read her myself.  Meaty is a collection of essays out from Chicago’s own Curbside Splendor.  To get a taste, check out her notorious blog at  She recently posted about the joys of summer: “everyone here is always talking about the goddamned lake like it’s not a freezing cold grey diarrhea soup and i’m baffled by that. it’s too cold to go into ten months out of the year and the other two it’s so full of e.coli you can’t dip a toe in it without puking your fucking guts out.



Crystal Eaters by Shane Jones

This “poetic sci-fi” out from Two Dollar Radio has been getting a lot of attention from just about everyone I follow on Twitter, even the Paris Review.  Our own Fiction Editor, Matt Rowan, listed this on his summer reads as well.  I honestly feel like I’m just missing out. 



Leaving the Sea by Ben Marcus

Can’t remember how I first learned of Ben Marcus, but when I did I went to the library at 9pm and finished his illustrated novella The Father Costume in the stacks of the Regenstein.  I slipped into a strange world, carefully threaded, floating loftily at sea.  I’m excited to see where Marcus will take me with his latest, a collection of short stories out by Knopf. 



Witch Piss by Sam Pink

Sam Pink is awesome.  I’ve already reviewed one of his novels, which you can read here.  Everything I’ve read by him I’ve read at least twice, AND I NEVER REREAD.  His novels are short, gross, hilarious and take place in Chicago.  Witch Piss is his latest, released this year from Lazy Fascist Press.  



Connor Goodwin is twitter's biggest fan.  You can follow him @condorgoodwing.  His work has appeared in Chronopolis.  View more of his work at

Review of "Mira Corpora" by Jeff Jackson

Mira Corpora by Jeff Jackson


Mira Corpora is part bildungsroman, part survivor story.  The protagonist, Jeff Jackson, runs away from home early on and begins a transient lifestyle - from the woods to the streets.  In the face of this seeming absolute liberty, the narrator finds solace in some form of constraint, often physical.  The first chapter (one of the most lyrical parts in the book, and perhaps my favorite chapter overall) recounts a hunt when the narrator was young and pudgy.  He ends up being used as bait, "The siblings shake some rope from the bag and wrap it tightly around the slender trunk.  I mean, they wrap the rope tightly around me… They smear my entire body with runny chunks of dog food and slimy kitchen grease."  As night falls, he is circled by pairs of menacing green eyes and fur matted with blood gleaming in the moonlight…only to have them lick his face.  He enjoys it so much that he returns several nights later, lathers himself in leftovers and waits. 

Jackson is at his best in moments like these, moments in which he paints a haunting or tragic beauty.  I say "haunting" and "tragic" because these images are often somehow associated with death.  Perhaps most beautiful and most haunting is the narrator's attempt at suicide.  After falling into the hands of a manipulative caretaker, Jackson finds himself naked, fatigued, and without short-term memory due to daily yellow pills.[1] He stops taking the pills and begins to plot.  A failed escape leads to another, more desperate, plot.  He gathers rope,[2] ties it to a chandelier and slips a noose around his neck.  It doesn't work.  The chandelier crashes on top of him, but he doesn't give up.  "I focus my sights on the window, stiffen my neck, and propel myself a few feet ahead… The scraping sound of the trailing chandelier fills the entire room.  The frame of the window is almost within reach, but the light keeps growing fainter."  The imagery is absolutely fantastic.  It doesn't draw attention to itself, it doesn't need too.  It is both stellar and haunting and made me tremble. 

In some ways, the plot of   seems to distract from its literary merit.  This is largely due to its compelling nature.  Its incredibly suspenseful throughout, but some aspects are somewhat cliché (secret society of runaways in the woods).  Jackson's artistic moves are subtle and fall into a complex network of interrelated themes, which are teased out in motifs and certain techniques.  It is difficult to imagine how all these elements are structured and related, but floating in the mix are themes of memory, rewriting, gaps, constraint, openness, ritual, and death. 

One of Jackson's most successful techniques is what I will call "zooming out" for lack of a better term.  What I mean by this is the revealing of another layer, or transcending to a new level.  This transcendence also comes as a sharp pivot, often as a single sentence.  Usually this is done by giving something a kind of frame, sometimes literally.  One instance of this technique comes early on in the society of runaways in the woods.  There are always rumors floating around amongst the runaways of the treacherous truckers.  Finally Jackson gives us a glimpse of what this terror might look like:

"They saw off a boy's limbs.  There are faces without eyeballs, slick gray organs tumbling loose from chests, a human head planted on a makeshift spike.  The truckers fuck girls in the ass.  They fuck girls in the nose.  They fuck a boy in his detached arm socket… It's a backyard holocaust.  A bucolic apocalypse… At least that’s the story the painting tells." 

Boom.  Frame.  I laughed at myself first time I read this.  I was wide eyed, mouth covered in horror.  But then, he casually steps back to show us the fiction.  He smugly frames the horror, nicely distancing the reader from its imagined reality. 

The frame works both ways though.  It can distance nightmares, but also paradise.  So it is with a photo of an orange tree Jackson carries around in his back pocket.  "A breeze trickles the undersides of the leaves and the orbs of fruit can be seen glistening on the branches.  They are ripe for the taking.  But the boy has the uneasy sensation that if he reaches out to grab one, his hand will stab straight through the page."  He finds solace in the image, something that vaguely alludes to home, but not quite, still ever so slightly displaced.[3]

On the book’s construction, Jackson revisited his old journals, as told in the book’s author notes.  Mira Corpora is the materialization of Jackson's own struggle to reconcile the continuities, discontinuities, and contradictions of his living/written memory and his unusual youth.  

[1]Perhaps the protagonist’s pill-induced memory gaps are what imbues blankness/openness with an aura of fear and, conversely, why constraint is associated with comfort (however deviant this comfort may appear to us).

[2]Again, rope is used as a means of constraint and induces a distorted sense of comfort.

[3]There was an orange tree in his neighbor’s yard that he'd stare at from his bedroom window.  



Connor Goodwin is twitter's biggest fan.  You can follow him @condorgoodwing.  His work has appeared in Chronopolis.  View more of his work at