Saturday, August 29, 2009

Thinking in Poems

I watched The Way of the Gun at 6 this morning. Why was I up that early on a Saturday, you ask? Well because Boone was--we're still struggling with the crate thing. But I forgot how much I enjoyed that movie. As far as action flicks go, it's up there. Truth be told, Boone and I fell asleep together on the couch soon after the movie started, but I did get to see that great opening scene (Sarah Silverman!). I really love when the Carrot Top guy says "man dance."


I've been lucky lately to trade some poems with great people. It's been nice to put that hat back on, after spending much of the Summer (aside from Sewanee) not thinking too much about poems and how they work. But many thanks to good pal Will for his lighted comments on some of my newer poems and for indulging me by listening to what I have to say regarding his work. Thanks, too, to Keith for agreeing to looking at my manuscript and sharing his newest with me. I've also got Lisa Fay and my online writing group. And the list of generous souls goes on.

All of this as a long-winded way of saying: Thank God for generous, intelligent people, folks who care about poetry. It's often such a slog to get the work out there, to find someone who cares enough about the work to read it, let alone to try and say something worthwhile about it. I'm thankful for the many happy accidents that crossed my path with all you good-for-nothing poets.


September 1st is right around the corner: where are you sending your first batch of Fall submissions?


Have you read this poem? It pains me that I've taken so long to discover Alan Shapiro's work...


Killer opening line of the now:

"The pilfered nest rests easily on the palm,"

from Cathryn Hankla's "Not Having Read The Poetics of Space"
(Last Exposures, LSU Press, 2001)


I have a house phone for the first time since I lived with my parents. I feel so...domestic.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Good Song, Witty Banter

New Places, New Faces

Firstly, most importantly, most life changingly, meet Boone:

Half-Redbone Coonhound, half Lab (we think), Boone came from a shelter and a litter of 11 pups. He loves: his Babar blanket, his bear, endeavoring to trip unsuspecting walkers by darting through their legs, and, pooping. He does not love: sleeping in his crate, learning to sit, ponies. More to come on this front as we go. Needless to say, he's awesome and I'm excited to have a new member of the family. I've been poking around Robert Morgan's biography of Daniel Boone, aptly titled "Boone" to make sure I've chosen the right name. Instinct tells me I have. Sorry for the false leads with the previous name poll, but none of them seemed to fit...


I've moved into the house in Mouth of Wilson. It's gorgeous here. See pictures below. But it's nice to finally be out of boxes, out of my car. Lots to do as I prep to teach five (count em') classes this Fall. Trying to write, failing. Trying to make up for not submitting all Summer, succeeding. Got a nice rejection note from the new poetry editor of the New Republic, Rachel Wetzsteon. Lots of poems in the mail to lots of places that are likely out of my league. Cross your fingers, I'll cross my toes.


The Little League World Series are heating up. Me, I'm rooting for the kids from Georgia. Just so long as California doesn't win, what with their Goliath that stole my name.


I have to drive 20 minutes and cross a state line to get to a grocery store.


More poetry stuff later. Otherways, it's good to be back on the interwebs. For now, some views from my backyard:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

After the Meteor Shower

Watched the Perseids last night from the Guide Deck at NARR. My liver was having Sewanee flashbacks and we didn't see many meteors. But we did see a few spectacular ones with bright, persistent trails (a term I just learned this morning). I will miss West Virginia nights, people bouncing from cabin to cabin, living in a place where it's possible for 8 raft guides to find themselves drinking bourbon, stretched out across the deck watching the sky for moving light.


Reading Wendell Berry's Selected Poems. This excerpt, from his sequence "Window Poems," struck me as relevant, artful, and true:

Rising, the river
is wild. There is no end
to what one may imagine
whose lands and buildings
lie in its reach. To one
who has felt his little boat
taken this way and that
in the braided currents
it is beyond speech.
"What's the river doing?"
"Coming up."


I may be the only person who finds this funny, because I recognize some of the places/people. But yeah, if you've got some free time...


Sent out some poems yesterday, likely to places I have no business submitting to, but I'm trying to get back in that frame of mind. I'll try for a few more today.


Tonight's my last night in the tent, at NARR. Heading to DC on Friday Night to join some friends for a Phish show on Saturday. Not a huge Phish phan, but I've been told the concerts themselves are an experience, between the lights, the party, and the people. So here we go. Then on Sunday/Monday it's moving-in. Lots to do, little time to think. Let's rock.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Things Written While Playing with a Rubberband Ball

I missed this at the time, but kick-ass harmonica player (poet, too) and friend Stephen Kampa had a killer poem up on verse daily the other day. Stephen showed me a new way to appreciate Robert Penn Warren while we were at Sewanee. Try imagining every Penn Warren poem you love vocalized through the voice of Shrek. It will blow your mind.


Have a lead on some puppies (Golden Retriever/Husky mix). Still trying to make sure I get the right puppy for my situation. Not sure if I'm ready for husky, though if they're more Golden Retriever-y, I may be interested. Potential names (feel free to weigh in, blogosphere, to make suggestions): Elroy, Jasper, Elvis, Banjo, Rocket, Roger, Saint (the last name suggestion comes courtesy of the aforementioned Kampa). As you might guess from the names, it's going to be a boy dog...


Read Alan Shapiro's Tantalus in Love the other night. I couldn't help but read it in one go. Such a gorgeous and honest book. I wish I had more intelligent things to say, but I don't. Read, appreciate, discuss.


Does everyone remember this video? I remember watching it when it came out and being supremely confused. Why I'm thinking about this today? No one knows...

Friday, August 7, 2009

Dispatches from Nearly 2,000 Feet

Here in Hico, WV (Elevation: 1,818 ft.) thinking about moving to Mouth of Wilson, Virginia (Elevation: 3,400 ft.) in just about a week. Excited to be moving up in the world, or at least in the mountains. Things I will miss about living in a tent: the sound of rain on the tarp, writing poems longhand by the light of my headlamp, wildlife. Things I will not miss about living in my tent: the dampness (book covers curl, t-shirts absorb, sleeping bags dampen), the very ferocious looking spider living between my tent and my rain fly, the limited and equally depressing bathroom options.


Save Pete the Moose!


On one of the things I will miss: out in my tent, I've been writing more routinely than usual. Here's what last night turned up, a very early draft, to disappear shortly...



Killer opening line of the moment:

"Days pass and years vanish, and we sleep-"

from Alan Shapiro's "Invocation"
(Tantalus in Love, Mariner Books, 2005)


T-minus 13 days until Puppy.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

On Why I'm Not a Businessman

Since it's out there, I might as well throw a penny in the fountain. The whole Seth Abramson thing: I'd like to drop a big, steaming pile of I don't care on this. Would I have considered using such a consulting service when I was applying to grad school? Absolutely not. Do I think others should? Absolutely not. Do I care if some people do choose to use this service? Absolutely not. As far as larger comments on the nature of the MFA go, I think anyone who has done any amount of reserach on the degree knows what they are and are not good for (are not good for: guaranteeing jobs, "turning you into a writer"; are good for: conversation starters at parties, time to read and write, meeting agreeable and not-so-agreeable folks, coasters).


I don't think I've ever said it on here, but I really dig reading lit mag reviews. Especially now that I'm removed from the treasure trove of back issues we had in the Hollins grad lounge. There, I could page through pretty much any journal I wanted to get my hands on, though it may have been outdated, at least it was something. Now I'm left to peruse websites for research, read the litmag reviews, and (*gasp*) subscribe to journals. The above link has reviews of 2 lit mags that I had poems in (BPJ and NYQ). It's interesting to read these. I can't help but think: I know you read my poem, so why didn't you say anything about it? Do you think it was a mistake it was in there? Was it just so bland that it didn't bear mentioning? Simply my egomaniac-neurosis on the loose...


A tangentially related question: how do people feel about sending work to places where you've already published in the past? I haven't done this yet, but with a new submission season almost upon us, I've been thinking about sending some work to places I've enjoyed showing up in. Are there any rules I don't know about in this respect? A certain amount of time one should wait from last appearance to re-submission? Educate me, blogosphere.


Killer opening-line of the moment:

"The woman who taught me to curse first gave me She-Ra dolls."

--from "In Praise of Lies" by James Allen Hall
(Now You're the Enemy, University of Arkansas Press, 2008)


Anna Sutton reads poems!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Things of Varying Degrees of Thingitude

Results for Best New Poets 2009 have been announced. Congrats to Sewanee pal, Adam, and to online writing group friend Sally! I had such a great experience with BNP last year, so I'm excited to see what this year's edition will hold. Write on, writers.


Really digging the first of my Sewanee books, July 7th by Jill McCorkle. A death scene from early in the book, a convenience store is being robbed and they wrapped cellophane around the cashier's head:

"He is gasping, face down, the specks on the tile floor jumping and leaping toward his face. He doesn't have the strength to move his wrists. How many nights has he stared at these specks of color in the tiles? He would trace the specks into patterns and shapes just like Maggie always did with clouds. There's a rabbit pattern beneath the stool, a sea gull in front of the Slurpee machine. Now he sees black spots mingling with the specks, the plastic creases over his eyes. The gurgling is getting further and further away. He thinks of Maggie, spooning with Maggie in that warm bed, he thinks swinging, justa swinging, the gurgling gurgle of the Slurpee machine, gurgle, the sea gull in the tile, that damp cool sea gull, gurgle, just like little Barbara all those years ago, gurgle, swinging, gurgle, justa swinging."

-from Jill McCorkle's July 7th
(Algonquin Books, 1992)

Gorgeous stuff. I keep reading.


Have you heard me recite Fred Chappell? How about Claudia Emerson reciting Emily Dickinson? David Roderick doing his best Robert Hayden? Check out Frank's new website!


Killer first line of the moment:

"Window. Window"

from Wendell Berry's "The Window Poems"
(Selected Poems of Wendell Berry, Counterpoint, 1998)


Trying to prepare myself to send out work to journals again. I haven't really sent out any poems since April/May. I'm reenergized about some of these older (and newer) poems after sitting down with them again. I want to find them homes, good homes. So I'm getting started on my list compiling, deciding what journals are realistic, might be good places, etc. Hard to believe we're only a month away from September....