Hello. My name is Jonathan Penton. I have some pictures of myself, here, at this web site. But I have had this web site a very long time, and my face keeps changing! Here are some newer pictures of me:
Eileen R. Tabios called Backstories "interesting, musical, and wise." Others have called it "inaccessible," "overly cerebral," and "shocking." Go download it FREE!
I am the Editor-in-Chief of Unlikely Stories Mark V, formerly Unlikely Stories: Episode IV, formerly Unlikely 2.0, formerly Unlikely Stories, at www.UnlikelyStories.org. Unlikely Stories Mark V is a magazine of literature, art, and thought with rolling publication dates and submissions.
I run Unlikely Books, which publishes occasional books and chapbooks, including the works of the late Michelle Greenblatt. Please buy some books there! Please do not send your manuscripts to me unless I know you, though. Unlikely Books does not have the resources for open submissions. Unlikely Stories Mark V always accepts submissions from strangers.
I like to organize and participate in live poetry events. Sometimes, you can find such events recorded at my YouTube channel.
Before that, I served as Webmaster for Big Bridge Issues 8 through 12, and as Assistant Editor for Big Bridge Issues 11 and 12, then as Assistant Editor for Big Bridge Issue 16, their 15th Anniversary Issue.
I have also edited other things and been published in other places. Right now I am working on a libretto, which is a job I decided to do when I realized that poets have too much cultural cachet.
Besides Backstories, I wrote five books of poetry of varying length: Standards of Sadiddy (Lit Fest Press, 2016), Prosthetic Gods (Winged City Chapbooks, 2008), Blood and Salsa (self-published, 2006), Painting Rust (self-published, 2006), and Last Chap (Vergin' Press, 2004). All of these are physical and will therefore win back your love.
My 2016 book of poems was Standards of Sadiddy! Those are three words I know how to pronounce! It was published by Lit Fest Press and is available through Amazon. Here are some nice things people have said about it:"A delightful read—as if Charles Olson's projective poetry were expressed in the graceful calligraphy of Chinese ideograms."
—Yuriy Tarnawsky, author of The Placebo Effect Trilogy and Modus Tollens"Jonathan Penton's Standards of Sadiddy tells it like it is of lessons learned. My body claims i'm filled with tiny answers. The poetry is written with a gentleness that grabs onto your being, the ying and yang. Darling, we have learned/of the wars within us/without us/we know that victory is something none can justly claim. Perfection is doomed in relationships, even though it is wanted, but it is fantasies my mind will reject. Penton's book will leave you reminiscing your own inner madness."
—Gloria Mindock, Poet Laureate of Somerville, Massachusetts"'This book is safer than my satin cords,' Jonathan Penton tells readers of Standards of Sadiddy, a gritty collection that considers imagination, popular culture, and identity. And, yes, 'hypnofetishporn.' From 'Fabio-streaked ceilings' to 'the darkly plain,' these poems wildly traverse realms literary and erotic, public and domestic. Jonathan Penton's book is a love letter to the weird and lonely and restless, every 'lover flailing on the horizon.'"
—Carolyn Hembree, author of Rigging a Chevy into a Time Machine and Other Ways to Escape a Plague and Skinny
Prosthetic Gods was published in 2008 by Winged City Chapbooks, which, at the time, was an imprint of New Sins Press. Rane Arroyo, the publisher of New Sins Press, passed in 2010, and Winged City is different now (they were very good about attending to their inherited business with me). I eventually re-issued the book, which is available through Amazon. Or you can download it completely free! Here are some nice things people have said about Prosthetic Gods:"In Prosthetic Gods, Jonathan Penton establishes himself as one of the emerging voices of what might be described as 'the post-solutions generation.' Penton’s take-no-prisoners approach and whiplash lines tear away the facades of America’s culture heroes, not even sparing Beat icon Allen Ginsberg, until the reader stares at Ground Zero. Then, Penton offers a tempered hope based on what emerges from bare soil, instead of the promises of yet another icon based on artifice."
—Vernon Frazer, author of IMPROVISATIONS and Sing Me One Song of Evolution"Penton sits in the Hotel Wentley—sonnets of despair for the new millennium. Like it or not, we're born into the body. Penton—'your mouth in a group of strangers'—'back-alley moralists'—'there are no former poets'— unrepentantly turns the keys of passion inward: post-romantic, post-modern, bridging the gaps between the occidental & the oriental rebuttal, a young romantic master presents his soliloquy."
—Louise Landes Levi, author of Guru Punk and Banana Baby"In Prosthetic Gods, Jonathan Penton writes in the American grain of William Carlos Williams. Following Allen Ginsberg's rant against the injustices of our culture Penton portrays a bleak portrait of a post 9/11 America. Penton's contemporary Southwest setting is a place where all too often violence and hatred is more real than salvation; yet Penton's humorous poetic voice and pitch-perfect vernacular style shine through in each of these poems. In this collection Penton proves the true power of those prosthetic gods Freud's modernism promised."
—Ezra Cappell, Director of the Inter-American Jewish Studies Program at the University of Texas at El Paso"These stark, and in moments brilliantly understated poems, introduce us to beings who would put to rest any question of the unattained in human relationship; a failure whose optimism waits beyond the poetic lens that depicts not only the individuals it contains, but the ambiguous presence of a g-d/G-d whose ruins, in Human form, are only prosthetically concealed."
—Leigh Herrick, author and composer of Just War
Blood and Salsa and Painting Rust are out of print, but you can download them both for free! You can also buy it, as of this writing, "signed and inscribed by the author" from Amazon for $50, from a bookstore. How did my inscription end up in a bookstore? Why did the person sell it? I must have touched them with my penis. Here are some nice things people have said about those books:"So real. So multi-layered. So intelligent."
—Chellis Glendinning, author of My Name is Chellis and I'm in Recovery from Western Civilization"what i find online is kind of depressing in its vapid facelessness... yr work was doubly appreciated for being WORK W/ SUBSTANCE AND DEPTH."
—John Sweet, author of Human Cathedrals"I love your lean and muscular poetry...You use humor as a weapon, an act of violence. Suffused with it, your poetry is, therefore, a sublime yet gory manifestation of pained aggression."
—Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited"This is the voice of a rebel without a pose, of a pilgrim without a mecca. Again, as with Last Chap, you seem to have laid yourself bare in a way that perhaps no-one has ever been laid before...The honesty is sometimes almost gruesome, yet always saved from gruesomeness by the exactitude of expression."
—A. R. Lamb, author of Secession"Loved the humor, rhythm and relationship angst where the more one runs, the tighter the reins pull."
—Linda A. Lavid, author of Thirst and Paloma"this is what i remember looking back through the pages rusty but regarding your career your books are wor5thless classic kafka's diaries sometimes cheer me up it is perhaps the writers life then in a bar or a party some man my age is crying dance me with your stillness indeed..:)"
—Brad M. Elliot
I don't know how you would get a copy of Last Chap! The publisher, Belinda Subraman, is one of the world's most wonderful people, but it was a chapbook from 2004. It was on Anne Lombardo Ardolino's web site, but she passed. I've been doing this entirely too long, and by "this" I mean writing poetry chapbooks, and working on this page, and living. That's why I'm writing a libretto! Great idea, Jonathan! That ought to fix everything, dickbag.