Friday, February 25, 2011

The Lay of the Land

What Your Favorite Classic Rock Band Says About You


Oscar host James Franco discusses poetry and Hart Crane over at the Poetry Foundation


Such a cool project.



"But do not hurry the journey at all, better if it lasts for years, so that you are old by the time you reach the island, wealthy with all you have gained along the way, not expecting Ithaca to make you rich. Ithaca gave you the marvelous journey. Without her, you would not have set out. She has nothing left to give you now. And if you find her poor, Ithaca won't have fooled you. Wise as you will have become, so full of experience, you will have understood by then what these Ithacas mean."

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Hearty Sextet

Boone was bit by a geriatric German Shepherd at the dog park. The dog was named "Gator." I got the guy's information, but it's a pretty clean, superficial bite (though, Gator took about a quarter-sized chunk with him), so there's not much than can be done other than keeping it clean and letting it heal. Letting it heal means a cone. A cone. It makes an already sad-looking dog look mighty, mighty sad.


Eduardo wins the Yale Younger! Eduardo wins the Yale Younger! Those of us paying attention are not surprised. Couldn't go to a more deserving poet. I've read a draft of Eduardo's winning manuscript and cannot wait to hold the book in my hands. The poems are damn-excellent. This is good.


Follow the link above. It only takes a second to remind folks with briefcases that we still live in a country that believes in and supports the arts.


via NPR

My friend Melodie Knight, who took my author photo, sings in Campfire OK. She's awesome and they're excellent.


Perhaps this is overly hopeful, but even in the relentless Iowa winter, I am hopeful. Many of my students seem to be responding to the dark edges of literature in a way I have never seen before. One class seems much more talkative than usual, more willing to accept the fact that life, politics, morality—all these things—hover mostly in the gray areas rather than in the black and white. Their insights often trump mine.

"How Reading Junot Diaz Can Help the Heartland" from Wall Street Journal


Huge thanks to Sandy Longhorn for taking this video!

Madison looks bored.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Part Cliffhanger

I have a poem in the newly released issue of Unsplendid. There's also audio of me reading the poem, which I always think is dope. It's a great issue they've put together, with poems by Sherman Alexie, Adam Vines, Stephen Kampa, and others. Vale.


Capitol Hill rapper Macklemore is Seattle's best shot at mainstream pop stardom right now.

via Seattle Times


Killer first line of the moment:

"Who ever knew that light could be so blue—"

from C.Dale Young's "Windows"
(TORN, Four Way Books, 2011)


Those who know The Wire might recognize my “vision” as a loose interpretation of a scene in the last episode of Season Four. These days, this scene with Michael appears almost every time I think about ending poems. It’s part cliffhanger, part resolution, and part realization. We know what happened to Michael before the scene, but don’t know exactly what’s going to happen to him next because unlike some of the other characters on The Wire, his impetus for being in the game has little to do with his own needs. It’s all about the well-being of his brother.

Michael’s situation is connected to the idea of ending poems for many reasons, not the least of which is that a poem’s ending has very little to do with the poet’s needs. Since the universe of a poem continues in absentia, efforts to end poems in a tidy way are mostly futile and contrived. I think it’s because these kinds of efforts adhere to the poet’s wishes, rather than the poem’s.


"Did you ever worry that the Whole Ten Yards was going to be too good?"

Monday, February 7, 2011

Traded for Six and Bought One

AWP has come and gone. It deserves a full update--an amazing weekend, to be sure. That said, exhaustion wins out--so this will be far too short. It was great to encounter po-folks from the blogosphere (Sandy at the bookfair! C. Dale at his signing! Josh working the Grist table! Eduardo in the hotel bar! Professor Plum with a candlestick! Oliver on the plane back to Seattle!). It was great to celebrate Hollins. It was great to see my book into so many folks' hands. It was great to surround myself with wonderful and talented people for three days, but the best to still want to go home at the end. Until next year, blue curtains.


A convention hotel is, to misquote and half-elide a friend of mine, a humorless place. Good Saturday morning to you, then, friends and fans of weather, from the edge of Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC, home of this year's beret-and-cheek-kiss festival of penmanship. A writer's conference. This you want no part of. Witness the six quasivirginal boys downstairs wearing semihispter t-shirts staring at the grad school girl who's come down for breakfast barefoot and wearing a tiny tank top and still tinier shorts. And we know who she is already, is the problem: She's the one who's already been in the program a year by the time you get there, the one everybody falls for, the one who leaves a kind of scorched earth in her wake. Students, teachers, teachers' pets—she's equal opportunity. You know better. Everybody does. Doesn't matter. She knows who you are, too: You're the next one she's trying to shock. As another friend said over an eight-dollar hotel bar beer last night: The less people pay attention, the bigger it gets.

Drew Perry elegantly blogs AWP. There's a sentence I never thought I'd write.


Man, oh man.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ten Below

It is bad enough crying for children
suffering neglect and starvation in our world
without having on a day like this
to see an old cart horse covered with foam,
quivering so hard that when he stops
the wheels still rock slowly in place
like gears in an engine.
A man will do that, shiver where he stands,
frozen with false starts,
just staring,
but with a man you can take his arm,
talk him out of it, lead him away.

What do you do when both hands
and your voice are simply goads?
When the eyes you solace see space,
the wall behind you, the wisp of grass
pushing up through the curb at your feet?
I have thought that all the animals
we kill and maim, if they wanted to
could stare us down, wither us
and turn us to smoke with their glances—
they forbear because they pity us,
like angels, and love of something else
is why they suffer us and submit.

But this is Pine Street, Philadelphia, 1965.
You don't believe
in anything divine being here.
There is an old plug with a worn blanket
thrown on its haunches. There is a wagon
full of junk—pipes and rotted sinks,
the grates from furnaces—and there
is a child walking beside the horse
with sugar, and the mammoth head lowering,
delicately nibbling from those vulnerable
fingers. You can't cut your heart out.
Sometimes, just what is, is enough.

-C.K. Williams

from Collected Poems
(Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, New York, 2006)


If the horses can brave the cold, then so can we. Let's do this, DC.