Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Dog Ate Salmon and I Ate Toast

Why hello there. Endeavoring to write a poem tonight, to post it tomorrow. Let's see what happens.

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Two good folks who I've been fortunate to meet have newly released books. Writers and people I admire. Looking forward to both of these:

"Vestments" is generating national buzz. It earned a starred review and Pick of the Week from Publishers Weekly, the first book to receive that honor in Minneapolis-based Milkweed Edition's 30-plus years of publishing. Patricia Hampl, whose memoirs "The Florist's Daughter" and "A Romantic Education" are also paeans to St. Paul, gave Reimringer's book an enthusiastic jacket blurb.

Well-deserved on both counts.

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My book has a web page and a library of congress number. Holy whoa. There's also a book description and the blurbs at the NYQ Site. The release date probably isn't accurate as we're still working that bit out (it's looking like late December to early January, right now). This is all starting to seem tangible. We've been through about four rounds of galleys on the poems and I'm really thrilled with the way things are looking on the page. New Baskerville is in the house and representin'. We're just listing the magazines that originally published the poems in the acknowledgments, rather than including the titles of the poems they published. I know I always like to look at those, but it's an issue of page space, really. How about a preference, blogosphere? What do we want out of an acknowledgments page? (Too much to include a note to family, friends, and teachers? Who and how to thank? Casual, intimate, formal, or straight-foward?)

Still working on cover art stuff, and still hoping to use something from a friend rather than a photo from stock (though, I have found one I like should we need to go that way), so if you've got artwork and think it might work for a cover--send it on over. I'm lucky and thankful to have lots of talented folks around, so I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with...

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The guy has pipes.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

On Feeling Very Lucky

Some words about the book from poets I admire, for which I feel extremely grateful and undeserving:

“I don't recall being so moved by a body of poems—surely not any time recently. I'm moved in all ways—not just the details, the family, the place, the memories, but how sturdy the language is, how it never thins out against the subject it is expressing, the emotion that moves it. Mary Oliver says the reader needs to know right away if the poet has the oars of the poem firmly in hand. Every single poem here is rowed with strength and purpose.”

—Kathryn Stripling Byer

“In his exceptionally fine d├ębut, After the Ark, Luke Johnson exhibits superb craftsmanship and a precociously profound, sympathetic understanding of human nature. In poems about his parents—ministers—he and we discover a convincing theology of love. The collection pulls us toward the magnificent final and title poem, wherein the book becomes a brilliant revelatory whole. “

—Kelly Cherry

“Luke Johnson is a poet with a keen and open eye—open to human failings, human feelings, and to the hard specifics of the natural world in which and through which we live and love, betray and atone, are abandoned and are found. His language is as clear as his eye, and his poems are for all those who care deeply and remain open to the often painful complexities of that caring.”

—R. H. W. Dillard

“In After the Ark, Luke Johnson carefully ensures the “tautness of the line” between witness, elegy, and survival—the poems documenting finally an arrival at the place “where the flood has become the body.” This beautifully made collection is the welcome work of a poet crossing the threshold of a remarkable career.”

—Claudia Emerson

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

There's a Man in a Gorilla Suit on Broadway

Seattle is hot again. The dog is not as amused as I am: lots of good time for reading and writing. Book reviews, essays, and poems (oh my). I have a book description from my publisher, too, as well as half my blurbs and a couple of incredibly talented friends at work on possible cover art (though, I have found an image I think would work well should we have to resort to something from stock...). Any artists out there interested in entering the cover art sweepstakes should shoot me an email. Unfortunately, I can't offer anything other than a credit line as compensation. Also: undying gratitude and unlimited high fives.

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Is Rufus Wainwright crazy for forgetting about the concerns of his audience? Or is he simply asking more of them?

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TV things I must tell you: I'm upset with Vinnie Chase, annoyed that Kenny is off Top Chef, and addicted to the show Hard Knocks. That is all.

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Interesting essay from the Atlantic on Facebook and friendship, via Liz Gerber


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Make a Decision So I Don't Have to....

So here's the deal: I needed a picture of myself for this whole book thing. There's not going to be a author photo on the back cover so as to facilitate room for blurbs (four of them, holy smokes), but NYQ Books still needs one for their website and for my author page. I figure it can't hurt to replace the photos I've been using for press with something a bit more professional. Enter the talented and lovely Melodie Knight, who agreed to help me, as they say in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, 'get my picture made.' Here are our three favorites. Your task is to choose the winner. Log your vote in the comments, or on facebook. You have 24 hours.

*Took down the pictures because it made me feel like a jerk seeing my face over and over at the top of the blog. Thanks again for voting, all!*

Thanks again to Melodie, whom all you Seattle-ites should go see perform with Campfire OK this Friday at the Hard Rock Cafe in Seattle. Please excuse the vanity of this post. We'll be back to our regular programming in no time...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Monday, August 16, 2010

There is Sap on the Dog's Ear


via NYT

Don't know about you, but I'm fascinated by this stuff. What is all this instant information going to do to our literature, our kids, our brains?

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Very sorry to hear about the passing of Richie Hayward, drummer of Little Feat. One of my earliest memories as a child is of receiving the Little Feat live-disc "Late Night Truck Stop"from my nine-fingered NOLA-loving Uncle Todd. Ever since then, it seems, I've loved the band. One of the greatest rock and roll drummers of all time, for certain.

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An interesting radio interview with Benjamin Percy, even if I'm almost three years late...


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Talk about a powerhouse cover...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Good News A Day Early

We’re pleased to announce the fifty final selections for Best New Poets 2010 as made by Claudia Emerson and the series editor. Here they are, with the poet’s name, poem title, and the poet’s state.

Could not be more thrilled to see this. My poem "Remembering the Old Testament While Walking the Dog", which originally appeared in Third Coast last fall, has been selected by Pulitzer Prize winner Claudia Emerson to appear in Best New Poets 2010. Also stoked to see so many good friends/poets on there (Lisa Fay!) as well as other Hollins folks: Meighan Sharp is a current MFA student and I've been told that Matt Williams is an incoming MFAer. This will be my second time showing up in the series and I'm big-time pumped. Celebrate good times, come on.


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Someone told me they didn't like Van Morrison the other day. I wasn't aware there are people in the world who don't like Van Morrison.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Moral Queries

I have good news that I'm not allowed to tell you until Wednesday. I have other good news that I'm not allowed to tell you until September. I've found it's much less fun having good news when you're not allowed to tell people about it. Does this make me a bad person?

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I'm writing three book reviews right now for an editor who asked for some. Two of these books I like very much, one I do not. Should I still review it or should I ask to sub in a different book (one that I would have good things to say about)?


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Read these great paragraphs:

"He made his life up as he went along. Where was his leg? South Africa, Glasnevin, under the sea. She heard enough stories to bury ten legs. War, an infection, the fairies, a train. He invented himself, and reinvented. He left a trail of Henry Smarts before he finally disappeared. A soldier, a sailor, a butler--the first one-legged butler to serve the Queen. He'd killed sixteen Zulus with the freshly severed limb.
Was he just a liar? No, I don't think so. He was a survivor; his stories kept him going. Stories were the only things the poor owned. A poor man, he gave himself a life. He filled the hole with many lives. He was the son of a Sligo peasant who'd been eaten by his neighbours; they'd started on my father before he got away. He hopped down the boreen, the life gushing out of his stump, hurling rocks back at the hungry neighbours, and kept hopping till he reached Dublin. He was a pedlar, a gambler, a hoor's bully. He sat on a ditch beside my mother and invented himself."

--from Roddy Doyle's "A Star Called Henry"
(Penguin Books, 1999)


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This show knocked my socks off. At 3:45: hello.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Down with August


Having just sent out an early galley to some folks for my own blurbs, this seemed pertinent to me. For whatever it's worth, I didn't send to anyone who was a teacher of mine for an extended period of time. I sent to two folks who I've never studied under (one was on the faculty at my grad school, though I never took a class with him), one writer who I worked with for 2 weeks at a summer conference, and one who I took a semester-long course with at Hollins (she was a writer-in-residence). Surely, I feel as though I have some connection to these people, otherwise I don't know why I'd expect them to do me the favor of reading the manuscript. I did make a conscious effort to send to writers who had not seen the book as a whole, who had not seen more than a handful of poems of mine (two of them had never seen any, unless they sought them out on their own...), and lastly and perhaps most obviously: writers whose work I admire. I wanted them to discover the book in the same way that any other reader would. Thoughts on this, blurbists and blurbees of the blogosphere?

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-Julia Johnson on the recent shake-up at the University of Southern Mississippi, a school I was considering applying to for a Creative Writing PhD (still not certain I'm applying at all...), but now will definitely not be...

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via Slate

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Fifteen is Not the Same as Thirty

As you might have noticed, I haven't posted any new poems recently. That's because I haven't been writing them as I had planned. So, it seems the 30-poems-in-30-days challenge is dead. But, I have 15 poems, 12 of which I think are pretty good. A nice place to start. I can see the seeds of something bigger (let's not call it a project, but a germ of an idea for a project), which is exciting.

Got to see an early galley of my book yesterday. Today, sent it off to potential blurbers to scope out. Let's hope some of them say yes, otherwise, I'll just ask family members to say nice things about me and throw those on the back of the book...

It's looking like I'll be on a panel at AWP , a cross-genre reading with some super august company. More on that soon...stoked about DC already...

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Killer first line of the moment:

"All the preachers claimed it was Satan."

from Rodney Jones' "TV"

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-10 Sentences with John Jodizo. Nifty interview from over at HTMLGIANT. I'm pretty sure this is my new favorite interviewing format...

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Diggin' this song, though you sort of have to suffer through that first Damian Marley verse...