zapruder_3_images_new_11Tomorrow night, March 30th at 7pm! I will be reunited with the Pink Thunder portmanteaus and will get to see the Rational Park Exhibit for the first time. I’m excited.

We’ll all get to hang out, people can listen to the portmanteaus, and then I’ll be playing a bunch of songs from the record. This is presented by some of my favorite organizations:

Make Literary Magazine

Rational Park

Black Ocean

Danny’s Reading Series

And then, on Tuesday April 2, I’m really looking forward to talking about songs and poetry, and playing some songs, in dialogue with Billy Blake and the Vagabonds as part of the venerable Danny’s Reading Series.

And as if that’s not enough, on Wednesday April 3, Kevin and I will be performing at The Mill in Iowa City, as part of the fantastic Mission Creek Festival, which you should fly to Iowa for. We will be supported by Christopher the Conquered.

Midwest, come say hello!


Here’s all the info on the Chicago events from Make Magazine:

In celebration of Michael Zapruder’s Pink Thunder, a New Collection of Songs Featuring Collaborations from 23 Poets.

Performance: March 30, 7pm, Rational Park. FREE.

Gallery Hours to view the portmanteaus: March 22-April 12, M-F (by appointment)

Rational Park is excited to host 22 portmanteaus, each containing a song from the album Pink Thunder—a collection of free-verse pop art-songs, including contributions from 23 poets, three engineers, and a few dozen musicians. What began as a bus tour that brought together hundreds of American poets has been recorded and remixed into a potent collection of poem-songs. Pink Thunder features instrumental contributions from over forty musicians and poems from Noelle Kocot, James Tate (MAKE #10), Bob Hicok, Mary Ruefle (MAKE #9), D.A. Powell, Dara Wier (MAKE #9), Joshua Beckman, Travis Nichols (MAKE #6), Dorothy Laskey (MAKE #8), Matthew Rohrer (MAKE #2), and many more. The album was released on October 16, 2012 via The Kora Records, and the corresponding hardcover book of poems, with CD, it out now from Black Ocean.

  • Saturday, March 30, 7pm, Michael Zapruder and friends perform a full set of Pink Thunder songs among the portmanteaus. This special live performance is free! Refreshments served.

presented by Rational ParkBlack Ocean, Danny’s Reading Series, and MAKE Literary Productions.

For more information about the events, participants, and sponsors,click here.

Rational Park is located at 2557 W. North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647.

Tuesday, April 2, Billy Blake and the Vagabonds + Michael Zapruder in conversation and performance.

Tuesday, April 2, kick off Poetry Month by spending an evening with two poetry/music projects. Members of Billy Blake and the Vagabonds will join San Francisco-based musician Michael Zapruder and friends to perform a few selections from their latest albums, then discuss the process of writing songs around the framework of poems—for Zapruder, from his contemporaries, and for Reid Coker, Kennedy Greenrod, and Saleem Dhamee, the poems of Romantic poet William Blake.

Danny’s Tavern, 1951 W. Dickens Ave, Tuesday, April 2, 7:30 p.m.

Hosted by writer Fred Sasaki and MAKE Poetry Editor and Danny’s Reading Series curator, Joel Craig.

presented by Rational ParkBlack Ocean, Danny’s Reading Series, and MAKE Literary Productions.

For more information about the events, participants, and sponsors,click here.


RP-9Rational Park, the wonderfully-named gallery/art collective in Chicago’s Humbolt Park, is showing the Pink Thunder portmanteaus from March 22 – April 12!

This is the second public exhibition of the portmanteaus, and the first outside of the Bay Area.

The opening party is Thursday, March 22 from 7-10pm.

I will be performing at the gallery at 7pm on Saturday, March 30.

The portmanteaus will be available for viewing/listening by appointment anytime until April 13.

Go to them. They are as friendly as they are strange.



Hey folks,

Celestial Twins?
This is going to be great. GREAT!

A round table discussion about poetry and music from 4-5pm, then concerts from 6:00 to 7:00 and 7:30-9.


I’m very honored to participate in this event, so much so that I flew back from NYC to Oakland  (had to do a thing) and am currently flying back to NYC.

Would love to see some friendly NYC faces there. It’ll be worth it!

20120815-204912.jpgWe’re very excited to be playing Pink Thunder songs at this event. A number of fine, fine poets will be reading, including but not limited to MY BROTHER MATTHEW, who excels in both poetry and racquet sports. Ok, maybe he doesn’t excel in racquet sports, but he’s pretty good. He does excel at poems.


Details from the UPB website:

February 15th / 6 – 8 pm

Music and poetry have long been interwoven forms, but rarely has their connection been as evident as in Michael Zapruder’s new album/book Pink Thunder (Black Ocean), wherein each of the 22 tracks is a free-verse poem, adapted from works by various poets.

In celebration of this work, University Press Books is proud to host Michael for a performance of his new album. The event will also feature Kazim Ali, Indira Allegra, Travis Nichols, Christopher Sindt, Laura Walker, and Matthew Zapruder, all of whom will be reading poems which they consider, in some way, to be songs.

We hope you will be able to join us for this unique and exciting event!

University Press website


(it will be great AND we’d love to see you),


Peaceful TricksMost recent and arcane news first: I just put the finishing touches on Peaceful Tricks, an 8-minute piece for clarinet, violin, cello and piano. It’s going to get a reading next month by a great ensemble!

Also, Pink Thunder had a very happy December/January. Word is getting out, thanks in part to these folks for writing about it:

Seth Abramson’s fantastically enthusiastic review at the Huffington Post,

David Ulin’s also-enthusiastic blog post at the L.A. Times’ Jacket Copy blog,

The Boston Globe’s The Best Poetry Books of 2012, which ranked Pink Thunder first (!) on the list,

Scott Pinkmountain’s visionary Dear People of the Future piece in HTMLGiant, which was originally part of the book’s introduction but which ended up growing so robust and healthy that it became a (wonderful) thing on its own,

Steven Karl’s generous post with pictures of the book and record, and

Poetry Crush, which put Pink Thunder on its Holiday Crush list.

We have a bunch of events coming up in the next two months which I’ll post about in more detail soon. We’ll be in New York, Northampton, Boston, Chicago and Iowa City! For now, you can see the basics on the calendar page.

And one last bit of exciting news: the Pink Thunder in Portmanteaus art show will be traveling to one of the cities mentioned above in March/April! I’m so excited!! More on that soon.


Hey all,

There’s been some confusion about the show on Sunday, so here are the exact details. There will be a closing show for the portmanteaus art installation at The Curiosity Shoppe from 6-8pm, followed immediately by a reading and concert next door at Amnesia from 8-10pm! The readings will start at 8 and the music will start at 9pm sharp!

To wit:

What: Pink Thunder Portmanteaus Art Show Closing Party
When: 6-8 PM
Where: The Curiosity Shoppe
855 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 671-5384

What: Pink Thunder Book+CD/Vinyl Release Show and Reading
When: 8-10 PM
Where: Amnesia
853 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 970-0012

The poets who will read are:

D.A. Powell
Gillian Conoley
Jesse Nathan
Jesus Castillo
Alyssa Valles

And Kevin Seal and I will be playing a bunch of the Pink Thunder songs in duo + volunteers (yes, that means you!) format!

If you see different information out there on the web, it’s wrong y’all!

It’s going to be a great night! Please come.


There’s just one more week to see the Pink Thunder portmanteaus at the Curiosity Shoppe. Can’t believe it, but it’s true. From what I hear they are getting plenty of listening and general curious attention, and that’s fantastic.

The other thing is this:

Please come!


Over the last six years I have been working on turning poems by two dozen fantastic American poets into indie-rock free-verse songs. The record that resulted from this project is called Pink Thunder. Happily and at long last, today is the official release date!

Pink Thunder comes in three flavors:


There’s a hardcover book version, which contains the CD of all the songs, along with with an introduction by Scott Pinkmountain, an artist’s statement by yours truly, and beautiful hand-lettered poems by Arrington de Dionyso. Published by Black Ocean Books. Here’s what it looks like (cover art by Tony Calzaretta):


There’s 12″ vinyl and digital from The Kora Records, and a pink vinyl 7″ from Howells Transmitter and Black Ocean.




And for those of you in the Bay Area, the record is also available in portmanteau form. Portmanteaus combine a found object display with a digital music player. I made them (Mark Allen-Piccolo designed the music-player circuit). The Curiosity Shoppe in San Francisco will be showing the Pink Thunder Portmanteaus from October 18th to November 18th. There an opening party on October 18th from 6-8 pm. Please come!





We are booking shows around the US over the next few months. We’ll be at the Mission Creek Music Festival in Iowa City in April, and in Boston in March to play at AWP. More shows to be announced soon!

In the meantime, the San Francisco release show is November 18, just after the closing party for the portmanteau art show at the Curiosity Shoppe, at Amnesia. That’s an early show, from 7-9pm.


If you want to know more, hear the music, see a video or some pictures:

You can see the video for “Florida” (poem by Travis Nichols) here
You can listen to Florida” here
You can listen to “Civics” (poem by David Berman) here
You can see some more pictures of the portmanteaus here


If you want to buy the book, vinyl or digital:

You can buy the book from Black Ocean here (first 250 orders get the pink vinyl 7″!):
or from Amazon here.
Buy the music from The Kora Records here
or from iTunes here
You can buy the pink vinyl 7″ from Howells Transmitter here.
And you can see (and buy) the portmanteaus from 10/18-11/18 here. Here’s a picture from when I was putting in the installation:





Joshua Beckman
David Berman
Carrie St. George Comer
Gillian Conoley
Bob Hicok
Noelle Kocot
Dorothea Lasky
Brett Fletcher Lauer
Anthony McCann
Valzhyna Mort
Hoa Nguyen
Sierra Nelson
Tyehimba Jess
Travis Nichols
D.A. Powell
Matthew Rohrer
Mary Ruefle
James Tate
Joe Wenderoth
Dara Weir
Matthew Zapruder


Mark Allen-Piccolo
Gene V. Baker
Doug Boyd
Nate Brenner
Ryan Browne
Kyle Bruckmann
Sean Coleman
Tyler Corelitz
Lark Coryell
Eli Crews
Matt Cunitz
Angie Doctor
Shayna Dunkelman
Dale Engle
Jem Fanvu
Evan Francis
Darian Gray
Steve Hogan
Jed Holtzman
Kurt Kotheimer
Michael Kaulkin
Georgiana Krieger
Alan Lin
Chris McGrew
Dave McNair
Ava Mendoza
Lynne Morrow
Melody Parker
John Paddock
Kevin Seal
Michelle Solomon
Beth Vandervennet
Jeff Watts
Jessica Zapruder
Levi Zapruder
Michael Zapruder


On Saturday I spent a few hours playing photographer. I wanted to make a light box to take some photos of the Pink Thunder portmanteaus, so I followed the directions on this blog post at Strobist to make one out of cardboard, tissue paper and posterboard.

It worked out pretty well. The photos still need to be edited, but if you’re curious, click on the photo below to take a look:

Thanks Strobist!

Test Pressings

Test pressings for the four-song Pink Thunder 7″ arrived this week. This is the first music I’ve ever had pressed on vinyl, and I’m excited! These test pressings are black vinyl, but the real things will be pink.

I’m finding that evaluating test pressings is hard. You have to listen to every pressing and make a note of anything iffy that you hear (pops, surface noise, distortion etc). Then you have to compare that part of the music with all the others. If you hear the same flaw on all the pressings, then it might be a flaw in the original cutting. If that’s the case, that side will have to be re-cut. But, if you hear anything that might be a flaw, you have to repeat the process on someone else’s turntable and system just to make sure. It’s kind of like having Kurosawa’s Rashomon playing in my head constantly.

It’s fantastic to see and hold this first actual evidence that Pink Thunder will be available to the world at large soon. I started this project in the Fall of 2006!

Lots more news to come.

Until then, have fun!

Connie ConverseConnie Converse.

Her song Talkin’ Like You (Two Tall Mountains) has a fresh melody on the words “don’t see why they call it lonesome…” It’s chromatic and dissonant, leaping up (to a note referred to as the key’s tritone), then drifting back down by half-steps into more well-worn paths. Very unusual. It has a delicious kind of pungent flavor. Plus the song has the line “…up in the tree there’s sort of a squirrel thing…”


This is kind of like Vashti Bunyan’s story, except instead of being discovered and re-emerging to great acclaim like Vashti Bunyan, Connie Converse is still little-known, and still gone. She packed up her VW bug at the age of fifty, wrote some goodbye notes, and disappeared.

You can listen to the whole recording, and buy it if you are so inclined, here:

Connie Converse – How Sad, How Lonely