Sunday, December 21, 2008


As a gesture of goodwill, I offer a conciliatory photo of the dog.


Seeing MILK tonight at the Grandin. Can't wait.


Headed to North Carolina and my Dad's house tomorrow morning. From there I go to Shelley's house and her sister's wedding in South Carolina. This means two weeks away from home. Today I cleaned the house, put the mail on hold, turned down the heat, etc. Here's hoping to coming home to a mailbox full of good news.


So I broke down and bought an Ellis Paul CD. I'm so weak-willed. On first listen, I have to say it's worth it. Though that argument does little to convince my bank account I made a poor decision.


Sending off my app for the Olive B. O'Connor Fellowship at Colgate tomorrow morning. Also sending my entry into the "Discovery"/Boston Review Poetry Contest. Both very cool opportunities for emerging writers--both things with ridiculously low chances of winning. But that's why we play the game.


Happy Christmas and Merry New Year's everyone!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


So I found out today that storySouth is changing editors. Right now they've got a "best of" up on the site, featuring poems, stories, and essays published by the magazine in the past seven years. It's really a feast. Definitely check it out, but set aside some time because you're going to want to read it all.


Former (as of about three weeks ago, it seems) poetry editor of storySouth, Dan Albergotti has started a very cool new online journal based at Coastal Carolina University called Waccamaw. So far they've published some great stuff, including poetry by big-shots Natasha Trethewey, Jack Gilbert, and Linda Gregg, also some lesser-known amazing poets like Kevin Boyle, Rhett Trull and Brian Turner. Check it out.


To keep with the over-arching theme of this post. Drew Perry, a teacher of mine at Elon, will be taking over as the fiction editor at storySouth. This is very cool. I borrowed virtually everything I do as a teacher from Drew--whether or not this is a compliment remains to be seen, I get to see my student evaluations after grades are in--but I know this ensures the continuing vitality of storySouth as one of the best online outlets for literature.


Pandora pick of the week: Ellis Paul
Reading (still): "About Grace" by Anthony Doerr--cannot stress enough how much I'm enjoying this book. Every single sentence does work. The language, the scenes, are so incredibly alive.


RSVPed to a Christmas party at the President's house for "faculty, staff, and retirees." Fellow teaching fellow and poet Will Schutt and I plan on attending in our holiday best. Should be interesting.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


So this will be brief and whiney. I'm getting sick of these rejection slips. I know I've been lucky to get the acceptances I have in only a year of sending out. But I've hit about a 5 month drought, ever since the BNP news. And I thought dropping that in my cover letter might get my poems a closer read...but I guess everyone has something eye-catching, and probably more interesting poems (the more important thing, obviously). But all this just to say...I'm ready for the ether to spit back something positive. It's gotten to the point where I've been looking at my records and comparing them to the duotrope response times. I'm aware the writing life is one of rejection, let's just say I could use a spell.

Still listening to Jeffrey Foucault....really haunting voice, really great songs. Perfect for windy, cold days.


Been making progress on my puzzle. Today I'm reading Hollins Critic submissions. This close to the end of our submission season there isn't much space left in the magazine (we don't like to accept something we can't print by the next submission season) so there are some really great poems that probably won't make it. I use this information to comfort myself with the aforementioned complaining...


Carolina won last night. The UNC soccer team plays Maryland today for the National title, trying to be the first school ever to win the title in both men's and women's in the same year (the women beat Notre Dame on Dec. 7th to win their 14th national championship in soccer). Go Heels!

Saturday, December 13, 2008


So very close to Christmas Break. For those of you playing at home, that means a month and a half free from teaching and student-ing. I cannot stress enough how glorious this will be. I bought a puzzle that I plan on spreading across my coffee table (replacing the student workshop packets that usually occupy that space). Get ready folks, it's almost sweatpants season.


Currently reading:
"Salvation Blues" by Rodney Jones
"Man Suit" by Zachary Schomburg
"About Grace" by Anthony Doerr

Listening to:
"Stripping Cane" by Jeffrey Foucault


I'm thinking of this upcoming break as a chance to write lots of new poems. That said, I'm currently trying to plow through drafts of what were "new poems" at the beginning of the semester. I'm pretty comfortable with most of these (at least comfortable enough to send them out in packets last week), but there's one that I've been struggling with. Theoretically, it's the title poem of my thesis (After the Ark ), and it very well may be the longest poem in there. At least it's long for me (translation, 2 pages of fragmented couplets). But there's a very interesting conversation going on over on Oliver de la Paz's blog regarding long poems and how they can serve as "anchors" in a collection. So with that conversation in mind, I've been trying to push this poem as far as it can go, doing what Richard Dillard calls "writing past endings." That may be my problem, I keep arriving at lines and having to resist the impulse to put a period on things. Then I can't help but feel as though the poem is stalling on "restart."


I bought my dad an ice cream maker for christmas. My brother, a beard trimmer. I am very happy with my choice of gifts. Hopefully they are, too.


Friendly rejection from Appalachian Heritage today. "We really liked these. Please send more." is really beginning to lose its charm.


Shelley taught me how to make calzones yesterday.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

UNC-Michigan State

Big game tonight. They're playing in Detroit, where the final four will be played. These boys should get used to shooting on those rims...


Finished up my Stadler app. It's going in the mail tomorrow morning. As uncertain about this one as I am all the others.


Shelley graduates at a Doctor of Physical Therapy on Sunday! This means I'm heading to North Carolina tomorrow afternoon and will be spending the weekend there. First time her parents (consverative catholics) meet my dad (liberal protestant)...should be interesting. I'm going to try and keep the conversation centered on sports. But this means, no blogging this weekend.


Listening to: Mick Boogie & Talib Kweli "MCEO Mixtape"
Reading: the story "Winners on the Pass Line" by Dagoberto Gilb (if you haven't read this story, you should)


GO HEELS. That is all.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

More Consistent

I've decided to blog on a daily basis. Watch the sentence devolve before your very eyes. (What does that phrase mean? I'm going to start applying it to other parts of the anatomy. I'll freeze my very nuts off, my very mind will be blank, and my very palms will be sweaty.)


Saw the Guy Ritchie movie "Revolver" the other night. The tagline on imdb is: "Your mind will not accept a game this big." Well, they're right. It didn't. It won't, ever. This movie sucked, and I'm talking like Spiderman 3 sucked. Not the kind of sucking where you're bored, but the kind where you're mad.


In another week and a half I can read books that I want to read instead of books that I have to read. This makes me so happy. On the top of my list: James Galvin's "Fencing the Sky"; Mark Doty's New and Selected (that just one the National Book Award); and I'm going to re-read Jack Gilbert's "The Great Fires." Also, I'm determined at least one book of civil war history. Any recommendations?


The first sentence of my statement of plans for the Stegner fellowship:

"I discovered poetry after writing and recording many albums worth of bad rap music."

Clearly, I thought that one through.


Purdue plays Dook tonight as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, While I should root for the Conference, I think the ACC has it pretty much locked up, so: Go Boilermakers!


And now, a photo of a small man holding a big fish, taken by me in Moose River, Alaska

Monday, December 1, 2008


Hard to believe it's already December. It was cold and rainy this morning and I told my class that we may get a real winter. Now it's 55 and sunny out and I'm reloading my shuffle to go for a run. Virginia winters are magical. At least compared to Ithaca winters.


The December round of fellowship apps are in the mail (Stegner, Provincetown, Exeter, and Stadler Center at Bucknell). It's funny how these things work. You look at the apps and spend all this time scrutinizing and hoping and fantasizing about how amazing actually getting one would be, but then you remember the competition. I don't even think I have the best chance in my program at getting one of these. I also realized that no matter how "successful" one is in terms of publishing and the like, we'll never stop applying for things, whether it's fellowships, grants, residencies, writing conferences, or even those sneaky applications disguised by that word "submission."


Lots of poems in the mail. Some friendly rejections. Still waiting for the first nibble of the new semester.


I've realized I don't know how to go grocery shopping. I just keep buying the same ingredients to the only two things I know how to make (Parmesan Crusted Pork-Chops and Coconut Shrimp) and Pasta. So I eat one fancy meal every week along with five nights of pasta and red sauce (Alfredo if I'm feeling crazy). It's really sad.


Listening to: Ben Folds "Rockin' the Suburbs"
Reading: Brendan Galvin's "Whirl is King" (reviewing it for the Critic)


Best New Poets 2008 is very much out, and very much selling copies. Did a reading with 6 of the other poets in the book at the Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, VA. It was amazing to see the diversity of the voices in the collection. Really incredible to be included in the same pages as these folks. Talk about humbling.


UNC plays Michigan State on Wednesday. Are you ready?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Where I'm At

Okay. So it seems the blog has devolved into simple updates. I'm cool with that, for now, as the end of the semester looms on the calendar, and the end of the MFA looms still larger.

Election: Obama! It's a beautiful thing to have a writer in the White House. Am I the only one who is anxious to see what sort of puppy the Obama's get? I think it says a lot about a President--some of my earliest notions of a President are shaped by the black-and-white photos of FDR with his scottie Fala. I know there are many more consequential decisions--like overturning Prop 8 and getting us back on track economically--but still I wonder.

Thesis: For now, I have a title: After the Ark, and a skeleton of sections. I do worry about filling things out with poems I really like, rather than simply poems I tolerate. But this takes a backseat right now to...

Fellowship Applications: The final list of where I'm going to apply is set, including: the George Bennett Fellowship at Exeter Academy, the Fine Arts Work Center at Provincetown, the Milton Center Fellowship in Seattle, the Olive B. O'Connor fellowship at Colgate, the Stadler Fellowship at Bucknell, the Stegner at Stanford, and the Poetry Fellowships at the University of Wisconsin. Yes, the odds of actually getting one of these are very slim. Yes, I'm planning on not getting accepted anywere. Yes, it almost feels like throwing away money. No, I'm not done picking which poems I'm going to send, but I do have recommendation letters (I've been giving them copies of BNP 2008 as thank you gifts, it makes me feel very awkward).

Wedding Planning: At this point both Shelley and I are so bogged down in other places (She's finishing her last residency, will be a doctor of physical therapy in two weeks!!) that it's easy to let this stuff slip. But fortunately we got most of the big things (band, venue, photographer, minister, etc.) out of the way early. The next round of things probably involves invitations and figuring out just what, if anything, I'll be wearing that evening.

Rejection junction: Since we last spoke I've developed a much more prestigious stack, including nice notes from Shenandoah, Cream City Review, and Crab Orchard Review. But this is the longest streak of all-rejection I've had since I started sending out last year about this time. I guess it's to be expected as I'm trying out more reputable and thus, lower-odds, places. I'm trying to stick by my policy of always having something in the mail, if only to preserve my optimism.

The Shell Collector by Anthony Doerr. Amazing. I mentioned to someone how much I enjoyed Rick Bass' first collection of stories, The Watch, and he told me that he thought I'd enjoy Doerr. It really is an incredible book. These are stories in the most traditional sense of the word. It's really refreshing in a world of flash fiction (nothing against it when it's done well, but more often than not I simply read these as emaciated scenes or wannabe Russell Edson's) to find meaty stories to knock me over.

One Body by Margaret Gibson. I read this collection before introducing her at Hollins, and it really won me over immediately. First off, the poetry is stunning, dwelling in realms I'm quite familiar with (mourning the loss of a parent through the always insufficient institutions of the churches we've been shuttled into), she's a Hollins grad (her, Annie Dillard, and Lee Smith, were all students at the same time), and LSU simply makes beautiful books. But now I'm rushing because the dog is barking. I really do have more intelligent things to say...I promise.

That's all for now. College basketball season will save us all....

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Election Day

I'm fairly sure no one reads this...but I thought I'd put it out in as many places as possible.


I'm not teaching on Tuesday, but if I were, I'd cancel my class. This is too important.

PS--I'm sitting on what might be some great news in regards to post-mfa, but can't quite say anything about it until it becomes a bit more real. Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Fall Update

Above is a picture of the George Washington National Forest taken this past weekend on our backpacking trip. It was an amazing two days of hiking, covering just over twenty miles. That's the good news, the bad news is this was one of my only free weekends this semester and rather than find some productive writing time, I took off into the woods. I maintain it was worth it.
I've discovered that teaching drastically affects writing time. I'm not sure what I expected, but since the semester started (6 weeks ago), I've only written five poems. Count'em. Between preparing fellowship applications, reading student poem packets, and sending out submissions, I just haven't found the time I need. It certainly makes me glad I was so productive this summer, but it does make me worry. My naive and optimistic hopes extend in every direction: it will be easier to teach the class in the spring since I'll already have done it once and I'll have more free-time, I'll travel less and be home more, revisions won't take as long as I think they will, my thesis will attain some semblance of an arc before it's all said and done, etc. etc. etc.

But enough with the whining. On the submission front, I've gone through with my overly-ambitious fall cycle, and have heard back with nothing but rejection. I was encouraged by some friendly notes, evidently a poem made the final round at The Southeast Review, I was a finalist in the River Styx contest, and received kind notes from Tar River Poetry and Columbia Poetry Review. Beyond that, it's been thin-envelopes stuffed with blank rejection slips. But I suppose that's the way the game goes. At least some poems are still in the wind that I can hope the best for.

In other news: My poem "Laundromat" will appear in the Autumn/Winter 2008 issue of Poet Lore, due out in mid-October (translation: soon or now). Also, Best New Poets 2008 has been proofed and sent off to printers, expected to be released in early November. Pre-order your copy now!

It's about time for the sidewalks get crunchy.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Recognizing my Dog's Mortality

Laddie's had a rough summer. First we had two tumors (one malignant, one benign) removed in June at Virginia Tech. Then, all was well for about two months. Laddie stayed with my dad while I went to exotic locales (Boston, Ithaca, South Carolina, etc.). This was good, I got all of the affection from Laddie when I visited with none of the responsibility. I spent the summer as a deadbeat-dad to my dog. Though inevitably I missed the rascal, couldn't wait to get him back in the house. And I did after the first week of August. All was well. We got yelled off the newly sodded soccer field at Hollins, at which point Laddie went renegade and crapped all over that freshly manicured turf (take that random guy standing near the bulldozer!). We barked at strangers. We ate red meat. Men and dogs doing men and dog things.

Then came this weekend. On Friday morning, I noticed that the Laddie's eyelid wasn't going away (maybe you can see it in the picture, if you're looking for all the gory details, left eye), and I scheduled an appt at the Vet's office for Monday morning (as soon as they could...I knew it wasn't an emergency). So I fret and I coddle and I pet him behind the ears. Then Saturday arrives. After a joyous day of pooping and throwing up all over...I decide it's time to go to the Vet...but the regular vet is closed so we go to the emergency vetrinary clinic only to wait four hours to be seen. Laddie went renegade on the vet's office, too. Anyway, two nights in the vet's office and an-untold-amount-of-would-be-food-money later, Laddie is worn out and on a chicken and rice diet. For the first time today I was considering euthanasia (key word: considering, I'm still miles away from accepting). But 13 years is a pretty good run for a dog, I'd say. 

As a cheery sidenote. Here's a picture of my new bookcase, though it's not really new, it actually has a very rich history. It was given by my mother to Cathy Hankla in the late 70s, when my mother was the chaplain at Hollins and Cathy was a grad student, and then passed on from Cathy, now Hollins MFA program director, to me (it was hot-pink when I received it, dragged it onto the balcony to paint it black):

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Syllabizing and Wedding Bands

So this has been a productive week for me. Unfortunately, it's not new poems (one might be finished, but it could hardly be called new as it's been in the tinkering stage for quite some time now); but, we have finally picked a wedding band. As in music, not as in leaves a tan-line on your finger. Rubberband, yes it's a cheesy name, but they actually funk out enough to satisfy me. Also, their bass player is Ben Folds brother. Shelley made me promise her that that's not the reason I picked them, and it's not, but I certainly am going to enjoy telling people that.

Also, the syllabus for the fall is done, or as done as it's going to be. I'm looking forward to the class, though I worry that I'm not giving them enough diversity, in terms of aesthetic. I really had to resist the urge to simply teach my favorite writers. But for poetry, we're reading: Elizabeth Bishop, Mark Doty, A.R. Ammons, Mary Oliver, Charles Simic, C.K. Williams, James Dickey, Adrienne Rich, Robert Lowell, Sharon Olds, James Wright, Mark Strand, Louise Gluck, Robert Penn Warren, and Frank O'Hara. It's tough with only six weeks for each genre, but there were a few on this list that I simply couldn't let myself leave out (specifically Bishop, Ammons, and Wright), but hopefully the students enjoy it. For fiction it was a little bit easier, as certain stories lend themselves to certain lessons, but there are a great number of stories I'm in love with that I can't wait to teach: "A Temporary Matter" by Jhumpa Lahiri, "How Far She Went" by Mary Hood, and "The Hermit's Story" by Rick Bass. These are just a few of my favorites, along with some others I feel obligated to teach: "Things They Carried" simply because it's gorgeous, "Girl" because Jamaica Kincaid is reading at Hollins this year, and "Silver Water" because I think the class will fall in love with it and hopefully seek out more Amy Bloom.

Well Fall Submission season is almost upon us, and I think I've got my list of where I'll be sending my first round. This list is much more ambitious than last year, and I can only imagine will result in across-the-board rejections, but a 23 year-old-boy can dream. For your viewing pleasure: Iowa Review, Barrow Street, AGNI, Virginia Quarterly Review, Colorado Review, Shenandoah, Gettysburg Review, Tin House, Meridian, West Branch, Alaska Quarterly Review, and Tar River Poetry. All magazines I've had the chance to get my hands on, all magazines I'd lose a fingernail to get in. Here's hoping the last two weeks of summer are productive.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Stephen Dunn's "Summer Nocturne"

This one has been on my mind as of late. A great poem for anyone in a long-distance relationship.


Let us love this distance, since those
who do not love each other are
not seperaated. --Simone Weil

Night without you, and the dog barking at the silence,
no doubt at what's in the silence,
a deer perhaps pruning the rhododendron
or that racoon with its brilliant fingers
testing the garbage can lid by the shed.

Night I've chosen a book to help me think
about the long that's in longing, "the space across
which desire reaches." Night that finally needs music
to quiet the dog and whatever enormous animal
night itself is, appetite without limit.

Since I seem to want to be hurt a little,
it's Stan Getz and "It Never Entered My Mind,"
and to back him up Johnnie Walker Black
coming down now from the cabinet to sing
of its twelve lonely years in the dark.

Night of small revelations, night of odd comfort.
Starting to love this distance.
Starting to feel how present you are in it.

--Stephen Dunn, from "Everything Else in the World" (W.W. Norton & Co., 2006)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Return of the Dog

I have a thinly-veiled obsession with my pooch. He comes home this Friday from his summer at my dad's house where he's been while I've been traipsing up and down the East Coast. Needless to say, I'm very excited.

August Already

Middle-schoolers don't like Tim O'Brien, I do. This was a discovery I made over the past two weeks while I was teaching at the Young Writers' Camp at Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania. They do, however, like poems that rhyme and stories with dogs. Rick Bass was a hit, as was Jack London; they liked the E.B. White, Elizabeth Bishop, and William Meredith poems I brought, but my oh my, they did not like the Things they Carried. I know what you're thinking...really, Luke--You brought in a gruesome story about Vietnam and taught it to sixth graders? Not quite, I picked just about the most tame passage I could find, but the sentences were incredible, the pacing, but they would just not get on board. Anyway, it's not a huge deal, I was simply a bit crestfallen as I love his prose, and was sad to see the students didn't.

I read this passage from Rilke's Letters on the last day: "A work of art is good if it has sprung from necessity. In this nature of its origin lies the judgement of it: there is no other. Therefore, my dear sir, I know no advice for you save this: go into yourself and test the deeps in which your life takes rise; at its source you will find the answer to the question whether you must create. Accept it, just as it sounds, without inquiring into it. Perhaps it will turn out that you are called to be an artist. Then take that destiny upon yourself and bear it, its burden and its greatness, without ever asking what recompense might come from outside. For the creator must be a world for himself and find everything in himself and in Nature to whom he has attached himself."

In other news, I'm still riding the Best New Poets wave, though I arrived home to six rejections (count 'em: Yale Review, Gargoyle, Poetry East, Michigan Quarterly Review, FIELD, and Southern Humanities Review) which effectively took my head out of the sky, despite kind notes from the editors at MQR and Gargoyle. Anyway, I told my friend and former professor (and poet) Kevin Boyle about the good news, and he informally invited me back to read at Elon during the spring, more news there once things become more official. It would be a tremendous honor to read at my alma mater.

Three new poems up at the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature today. If you don't know the journal, keep an eye on it, they publish some great poems and each one is accompanied by a "Southern Legitimacy Statement" which trumps a Contributor's Note by a Mile.

And it's starting to smell like Soccer Practice outside...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Best New Poets

Okay, I'm not gonna lie. I'm making this post halfway through my third celebratory Bud Light in a can. And I'm alone. As sad as all of that is, earlier this evening I was thrilled to receive an email from Jeb Livingood letting me know Mark Strand selected one of my poems to appear in the 2008 edition of Best New Poets. You can see the list of the winners here. All self-promotion aside, I'm bloody pumped.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Crumbs from the Table

I spent the last week of June on scholarship at the Solstice Summer Writers' Conference in Boston. While there I had the chance to workshop with Cleopatra Mathis and Stephen Dunn. Below I've collected some of the things I jotted down throughout the week.

"The progress from stanza to stanza must be essential, if the poem could progress in any other order then perhaps the content of the stanza itself should be rethought. The poem must constantly move forward"--C. Mathis

"A line requires a tension within itself, at least two pieces of language interacting in a novel way." --C.M.

"Anything included arbitrarily immediately becomes suspicious."--C.M.

"Writers see the same things as everyone else, they simply see them differently."-Barbara Hurd

"The task of the writer is to familiarize what's strange, to de-familiarize the familiar."-B. Hurd

"Write what you're most afraid of."--Hayden Carruth

"Find in your poem your highest standard, and live up to it with every line before and after."--Stephen Dunn

"A good symbol is something that both conceals and reveals at the same time."--Stephen Dunn

"The facts of what actually happened don't matter, but what import they have to the psyche does."--C. Mathis

"For the poet who writes autobiographically, the burden is to get beyond the experience."--Stephen Dunn

"When beginning a poem, the poet must be at war with what passes for true, the language and rhetoric that is easily accessible."--Stephen Dunn

Friday, June 6, 2008

Doc Watson is Dead

Don't despair, everyone's favorite blind banjoist is still living and breathing. Though, my chapbook loosely based on Doc Watson songs has been put to earth. It just wasn't working, though I got few poems out of it, the limitations were a bit overwhelming. It also didn't leave much room for creative exploration when I had an idea for a whole collection (albeit a mini-one) before the majority of the poems were composed. So I'm back to thesis-ing, and currently am wrestling with a sonnet that may or may not want to be a sonnet, entitled "The Heart, Like a Bocce Ball."

Dog update: We're hoping for a Sunday morning discharge. Apparently the other night he tore out a few of his staples, and is now wearing a cone around his head. The good news is the tumor on his neck was benign, the bad news is the tumor on his abdomen was not. So we're sort of waiting to see what happens next. Regardless, I'm thrilled to be getting my dog back.

In reading news, I've been plowing through the Scribner's fiction book, and loving a great many of the stories I find. "The Caretaker" by Anthony Doerr is incredible, as is "The Ceiling" by Kevin Brockmeier. And here I was worried about teaching the fiction portion of my class in the fall, but now am having a much easier go through the stories than I am through the poems. Though, I must admit, reading most of the poetry in the vintage book is simply rehashing the canonical American poets. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but the fiction book just feels infinitely fresher.

It's hot as hell outside. With half-marathon training in full swing and a seven mile run slated for tomorrow morning, I'm ready to head north.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

An E.B. White Poem

Of Charlotte's Web fame, and a former member of the Sage Chapel choir (the church where my father preached at Cornell), a lovely little poem.


This is what youth must figure out:
Girls, love, and living.
The having, the not having,
The spending and giving,
And the melancholy time of not knowing.

This is what age must learn about:
The ABC of dying.
The going, yet not going,
The loving and leaving,
And the unbearable knowing and knowing.

Al Green is Back

If you haven't heard it yet. Please, please, please go check out Al Green's new album "Lay It Down." It was produced by Ahmir Thompson, who you might know better as ?uestlove from the Roots. It's the old lovesick Reverend, with features from familiar voices like Corrine Bailey-Rae as well as the new generation of soul singers: Anthony Hamilton and John Legend. Regardless, it's an instant candlelight classic for me.

Now back to the shameless self-promotion, a poem of mine will be up in the new issue of storySouth, set to debut either tomorrow or sometime soon after. It's an oldie, from my junior year in undergrad, though looking back on it I can't find too much to hate (which is quite an anomaly for my old poems). Either way, I'm a huge fan of the magazine. They've featured so many of my former and current professors (from Kevin Boyle and Drew Perry to Cathy Hankla and Thorpe Moeckel), so I'm honored just to be included. Also, I've got three poems up at GHOTI magazine, a great web-zine edited by some past Hollins MFA-ers.

So I've started a new project, something which I'm excited about and gives me an outlet for these summer months, a chapbook entitled "Doc Watson's Greatest Hits." I've taken the titles of some 30 Doc Watson songs and simply seen what poems result. It's an interesting experiment, starting with a title before having written the poem. Contrary to what I expected, it's been liberating as it simultaneously dictates a starting point and allows me to toy with the expectations created by a title. It's also nice to take a break from the bigger project, the thesis, which is so centered in the first person narrative and personal experience that sometimes it's a bit daunting to immerse myself in for too long.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

As you can see, all of this news of sickness has done little to sour Laddie's good mood.

Take 2

Looking back on this blog after a year of its existence, I realized that pretty much everything that had been written here was useless, uninteresting, or self-involved. Generally some horrifying combination of all three. So I deleted virtually all of the posts I've made up to this point, and I'm trying again; although I'm not sure what exactly it is that I'm endeavoring to accomplish.

This is my first summer in the Blue Ridge, and I'm ready to enjoy it. Unfortunately it seems as though I won't be spending much time here. In a few weeks I'll be putting on my grown-up boots and heading to the Solstice Writers' Conference at Pine Manor College (just outside of Boston) where I'll get the chance to study with Stephen Dunn. They've been generous enough to give me a scholarship to attend, if only my car survives the trip. After that it's down to Pennsylvania and Mercersburg Academy where I'll be leading a Nonfiction workshop at a Young Writers' Camp. Having never attended a conference or a 'camp' before, I'm not sure what to expect from either. Though I'm hoping to collect some poems along the way. It's a bit frustrating, with all the syllabus making for next fall, planning for this summer, and dog anxiety (Laddie has a tumor on his abdomen that is being removed next week), I haven't gotten much writing done. Probably because I've been wasting time doing things like reevaluating the literary merit of my blog and watching college softball games on ESPN. Nonetheless, I have nothing to do for the next three days except commiserate with my desk, so hopefully it will be a fruitful weekend.

And again with the self-involvement. Though I understand that no one reads this, I feel compelled to write something that someone else may actually care about. Maybe I'll try again tomorrow. Until then...