Monday, March 30, 2009

Things Written While Wearing a Baseball Cap

So I'm going to try and steer clear of posts as doleful as the last one, obviously I'm still struggling, but I'll spare you, because nobody wants to read that guy's blog. And let's be honest, not many people want to read this one, either, so I don't want to lose what few folks might drunkenly stumble across this one. It's a recession, people must be frugal with their blog reading. Where else can people turn to read the first lines of poems, to see animals over-indulge on fermented apples, and to witness such flagrant and unabashed self-promotion?


Speaking of me, I'll be reading on Friday at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond as part of the Insights Graduate Student Symposium. It should be a really neat afternoon, I'll be reading with MFA students from UVA, George Mason, and VCU. I'm pretty sure I applied to all of these places when I was scoping out MFAs, so it will be neat to hear what's going on at them. The readings start at 4:15, so be there, or well, don't.


Killer opening line of the moment:

"The time for little words is past;"

from E.B. White's "Soliloquy at Times Square"
(Poems & Sketches of E.B. White, Harper Colophon Books, 1981)


Get to see some great friends this weekend. Hopefully we won't eat too many apples.


Big basketball weekend. Go HEELS! Are you as psyched for One Shining Moment as I am?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Sorry for the lapse in posting. The reason for the silence is that this past weekend Shelley and I ended our engagement and our relationship. So needless to say it's been a rough time. I had a post up here (for about ten minutes) explaining more of the situation, but it felt all too personal, a bit like having an open wound bleeding all over the interwebs. So I took it down. If anything, along with the hurt, this provides a huge dose of prespective: on how lucky we were to be together for as long as we were (almost three years, the majority of it with us living in different places), how much I care and will always care about Shelley, and ultimately how amazing our friends are and have always been. For anyone who's tried to call me in the past few days and has been sent to voicemail: keep trying, I'll get there eventually, I promise. It's just too close right now.


Two poems taken yesterday, one by Poetry East and one by Tar River Poetry. Both magazines I respect a lot and wish I could get more excited for, but again, eventually....


"Herman lay beneath the desk with the cracks running through his chest and his heart tight in the fist of someone invisible and huge: God? Answers seemed to float through the space around him. It was about love. It was about getting handed at conception a gift that sets you apart from everyone and you spend your whole life drifting through the margins of time, not understanding hours like everyone else seems to: glancing at wristwatches, checking timetables--you hardly know what it is people are trying to accomplish when they go through their days: morning, noon, evening, night. Wake up and sleep and wake up. This was about family, how blood supersedes death; it was about trying your hardest, it was about snow."

-from Anthony Doerr's About Grace
(Penguin, 2004)


And a helpful poem, from Claudia Emerson's Pulitzer Prize winner "Late Wife" (LSU Press, 2005):


For a long time there would be the small
resurfacings of things you had forgotten
to throw away, or ceased to see at all.
These returned her, not to you, but to me
the way I had seen a spider unknot itself
on a warm late afternoon to move
again in slow relief--however brief
the hour, embolic, corrective--before fall resumed.


I think I'm going to shave my beard.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Weekend Swelter

The view from Buzzard's Roost (3,000 ft.).


So we got lucky this weekend. It was 75 on Friday and around 80 on Saturday. Shelley was in town for the weekend so we hiked up to Sharp Top just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Couldn't have asked for a better day...


Writers! Do you subscribe to literary magazines? Well, you should, especially if you submit to them, but even if you don't, you should take C. Dale's poll over at Avoiding the Muse.


All this warm weather brought me back to a Carl Dennis poem I dig (cheap plug, he'll be reading at Hollins in April). Even though I don't think we're quite there yet:


Spring, I remembered you all these months.
I spoke of the green yard under the snow
To my slumped visitors.
I sobered the giddy neighbors.
"You may think you're still happy,"
I whispered, "but recall the tea roses,
The lost leaves of the dogwood tree."

But now you have fallen upon us, Spring,
Without warning,
So much greener than I remembered.
Friends that I kept from forgetting
Laugh at me as they run outside
For falling so short in your praise.

--Carl Dennis
from Climbing Down (1976, Braziller Series of Poetry)


Heading to North Carolina this weekend for a number of reasons, but mainly to see these guys play and to run in this thing. It'll be great to see some Elon/UNC-G friends, too. I'm excited as I can be for a weekend where I don't get to see Shelley.


It turns out I'm one of those people:

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Atlantic Monthly

I deleted it the other day because I hadn't heard back from the magazine that it was "official," but now that they've confirmed my enrollment and all that jazz...I found out this week that I'm the third place winner of the Atlantic Monthly Student Writing Competition. The letter said the editors will consider the prize winning manuscripts for publication, which is a pipe dream I'm trying to not allow myself to think about. From an extensive amount of internet stalking, I discovered that last year they only published the winner while two years ago they published the top three. Here's hoping for the latter. But either way, I'm honored to receive the award and thrilled to know someone at the Atlantic took a second-glance at a poem I wrote.

Monday, March 2, 2009


Taken without a flash at about Midnight Sunday

Taken with a flash at about Midnight on Sunday

Monday morning. Pretty sky. Class is cancelled. Not sure if my banjo lesson is going to happen. Maybe I'll try and write a poem. Maybe I'll make an egg sandwich and watch Pineapple Express, who knows?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Snowy March

It snowed last night in Roanoke. Even though there wasn't much accumulation, it was nice to watch. Something felt right walking out the Kroger with my 12 pack of Rolling Rock, watching snow fall through the lamplight. It will be gone by evening, I'm sure (both the beer and the snow).


Had a poem taken yesterday at Brooklyn Review. I'm happy to be showing up there as they publish lots of cool stuff, and heard I'll be in there with one of my classmates from undergrad (She'll be making lots of noise once she sends out for real--an amazing poet), which made me happy. The editor (let's hope she doesn't read this) gave me a number of suggested changes--a lot more than I've ever been given by an editor--most of them were insightful and helpful. I took those, though some (such as suggesting changing line breaks and cutting an entire line, the last line of a section no less) felt to me like they were a bit intrusive and I didn't take. It made me wonder about the difference between editing and work-shopping, what separates them. I always figured if an editor takes a poem, then he/she hopefully likes it the way it is, and wouldn't have you change much, if anything. But I suppose different editors have different styles. Any thoughts blog-world?


Not just a first line today, but the whole damn poem because I love it so much (but note the great first line), the candor, the grief, the plainness of language. I see those 20 book lists, and won't make one for fear of revealing just how lame my tastes are, but this book would certainly be on it:


We think of lifetimes as mostly the exceptional
and sorrows. Marriage we remember as the children,
vacations, and emergencies. The uncommon parts.
But the best is often when nothing is happening.
The way the mother picks up the child almost without
noticing and carries her across Waller Street
while talking with the other woman. What if she
could keep all of that? Our lives happen between
the memorable. I have lost two thousand habitual
breakfasts with Michiko. What I miss most about
her is that commonplace I can no longer remember.

Jack Gilbert's "The Great Fires"