Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
The dark green trees behind her on the Wesleyan campus sharpen her outline. She is dressed in pale colors, pearls at her neck and ears. She’s tall, athletic, vigorous. Her skin glows. She holds out her hand.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
-via the Wall Street Journal
Thursday, November 11, 2010
With the votes tallied, the spin began: a procession of confident assertions about what “the American people”—meaning, in practical terms, the slice of the scaled-down midterm electorate that went one way in 2008 and the other in 2010—were “trying to say.” According to Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, “The message of Tuesday’s election was that the American people want both political parties to work together.” Mitch McConnell, the Republicans’ leader in the Senate, seemed to embrace the togetherness angle, but with fateful caveats. “The American people want us to put aside the left-wing wish list and work together,” he said. But, echoing his pre-election remark that “the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term President,” he also said, “If our primary legislative goals are to repeal and replace the health-spending bill, to end the bailouts, cut spending, and shrink the size and scope of government, the only way to do all these things is to put someone in the White House who won’t veto any of these things.”
-a piece by Hendrik Hertzberg for The New Yorker
What hip hop could be.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
There is the room. There is the fire in the grate,
sap fizzling out loose tentacles of steam
along the fluent borders of the burning,
its light diffusing as it grades away
to darkness an unwavering presumption
not of my somehow being here again,
but of my never having left. The way
each thing so certain of itself as mine
as I arranged it still assumes my seeing
with an ordinary absentmindedness,
the way the carpet's crushed pile signifies
the pressure of my heel, the dented pillow--
the posture and exact weight of a pleasure
that isn't pain subsiding but the body's
still undisproved belief that this is only
another evening after a long day,
a squandering on myself of instances
I have no end of. Even the calm implies
only the minor havoc of what might soon
disperse it: isn't there dinner to prepare?
couldn't the phone ring at any moment?
Where is my daughter? What is it I've forgotten?
Whose version of myself is this? Whose room
but yours, my dreaming brother? I see you now.
For you I bring my hand down through the fire.
It is for your sake that the flames rise through it.
What is it you are reaching out to hold,
to cling to, but your waking? Time to wake.
Time to embrace this, now your dreaming's over.
This is the nature now of all I am.
(The Dead Alive and Busy, University of Chicago Press, 2000)
The Lower East Side and Williamsburg in New York, Capitol Hill in Seattle, Silver Lake in L.A., the Inner Mission in San Francisco: This is where the contemporary hipster first flourished. Over the years, there developed such a thing as a hipster style and range of art and finally, by extension, something like a characteristic attitude and Weltanschauung. Fundamentally, however, the hipster continues to be defined by the same tension faced by those early colonizers of Wicker Park. The hipster is that person, overlapping with the intentional dropout or the unintentionally declassed individual—the neo-bohemian, the vegan or bicyclist or skatepunk, the would-be blue-collar or postracial twentysomething, the starving artist or graduate student—who in fact aligns himself both with rebel subculture and with the dominant class, and thus opens up a poisonous conduit between the two.
New York Magazine, via Terry L. Kennedy
In the past year, I graduated from college, got a desk job, and bought an iPhone: the three vertices of the Bermuda Triangle into which my ability to think in the ways that matter most to me has disappeared. My mental landscape is now so altered that its very appearance must be different than it was at this time last year. I imagine my brain as a newly wretched terrain, littered with gaping chasms (What’s my social security number, again?), expansive lacunae (For the thousandth time, the difference between “synecdoche” and “metonymy,” please?), and recently formed fissures (How the fuck do you spell “Gyllenhaal?”). This is your brain on technology.
via Phil Bost
If you've got time, existential anxiety, and a smart phone, you should read the essay above (or if you just want to read a review of the new Shteyngart novel).
"I was there, and I damn-near broke my eye-sockets."--Shaquille O'Neal
Monday, November 1, 2010
Lots of 'no thank-you's' recently, from Barn Owl Review and Kenyon Review. Was pleased to get a kind note (and notes) from the folks over at Beloit Poetry Journal and West Branch. It's exciting to have these new poems flying over the interwebs into the world, even if they're met with rejections. I'm confident they'll find the right homes eventually, but am (for maybe the first time) in no real hurry. I'm continuing to tweak the poems, mostly pruning them, but don't want to let a few rejections (from kickass journals, too) let me lose faith in the poems. I do my best not to send anything out unless I'd be confident enough to read it in front of a room full of teachers past and present. It's a pretty solid imaginary litmus test. A slow game, this po-biz, and there ain't nothin' wrong with grinding it out.
Reading in Salt Lake City in December to celebrate Best New Poets 2010 (in stock on November 4th!). Utah, anyone?
The 100 Best Signs at the Rally to Restore Sanity And/Or Fear
Time then to unload our wagons and marvel
How many items have come through intact,
Though an heirloom bowl has a hairline crack
Running rim to rim. However lonely we feel
As the wind ruffles the tall grass, we'll agree
The spot should begin to feel like home
After a little labor, a little time.
("Pioneers by Carl Dennis, via Verse Daily)
Wish I had cable so I could see Conan come back. But I like my digital converter box, I like my rabbit ears.
(via Knife City Creamery)
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Received these way cool postcards the other day from UVA Press. It's a great way to let folks know about the release of Best New Poets--in theory, but here's my question: to whom do I send them (question sponsored by Lisa Fay Coutley)? I mean, apart from my Dad I'm sort of at a loss. I don't send many postcards. As a matter of fact, I've only ever sent one--a father's day card to my Dad while I was on a 3-week camping trip in Alaska. Well, I wrote it then, but I sent it nearly a year later when I found it bookmarking the back pages of TC Boyle's "Drop City."
I need to listen to more Traveling Wilburys. I need to eat less macaroni and cheese that comes in a box.
Have posted some new readings to the sidebar.
They've given us the specific date of the Hollins 50th Anniversary Reading I'll be participating in at AWP (with fellow alums Madison Smartt Bell, Jill McCorkle, David Huddle, Jeanne Larsen, and Jenny Boully; holy F that's one hell of a parenthetical): Friday afternoon in the Maryland Room of the Marriott. Is that good? Have I told you how excited I am about this? (very) Who's your favorite Hollins writer? For real, tell me. (Annie Dillard? Kiran Desai? Erin McKee?)
I've also posted two other East Coast readings in March, both of which are surreal seeming. The first will be at my alma mater, Elon University, on March 10. This is surreal for all the obvious readings: someone is offering to fly me across the country to read my poems. This someone is the person who first taught me poetry, someone other folks might call a mentor. My Dad lives in town and will get to hear me read from the book. Lots of old/new friends in the area. Can't wait.
The other is at the Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville, Virginia, where I'll be reading at the University of Virginia Bookstore with Jeff Baker and Eleanor Tipton to celebrate Best New Poets 2010. And here's the kicker: Claudia Emerson is going to introduce us. How's that for ridiculous? She's in my starting five if I'm making an all-star team of American folks writing poetry today (along with Alan Shapiro, d.a. powell, Louise Gluck, and James Galvin--is that a boring list? who's your top-five?)
Killer first line of the moment:
Listen. Do you hear ghosts? Connect them to the sound of a canoe
from Mukoma Wa Ngugi's "Recipe: How to Become An Immigrant and an Exile"
(Satellite Convulsions: Poems from Tin House, Tin House Books, 2008)
Friday, October 15, 2010
Boone, proud Redbone Coonhound from the Blue Ridge of North Carolina, surveys his new
Things are changing here in the 206, and not just in the expected, look-at-those-different-colored-leaves kind of way. I have moved into a new house. The cave shall be forgotten, to be replaced with above-ground memories, lush and green in their ripe sentimentality (I think that's a mixed metaphor, but it's a blog-post, so there you have it). There are books (mine) for which cover art has been chosen. There are spring readings for said book taking shape across the Mid-Atlantic, as well as hopefully a few readings in the Northwest for Best New Poets 2010 and the book's launch (January 15th, 2011!). I feel abundantly lucky for these things.
Let's hold on to this place, for now.
Read these gorgeous paragraphs from the Colum McCann novel I'm currently reading:
"Corrigan told me once that Christ was quite easy to understand. He went where He was supposed to go. He stayed where He was needed. He took little or nothing along, a pair of sandals, a bit of a shirt, a few odds and ends to stave off the loneliness. He never rejected the world. If He had rejected it, He would have been rejecting mystery. And if He rejected mystery, He would have been rejecting faith.
What Corrigan wanted was a fully believable God, one you could find in the grime of everyday. The comfort he got from the hard, cold truth--the filth, the war, the poverty--was that life could be capable of small beauties. He wasn't interested in the glorious tales of the afterlife or the notions of a honey-soaked heaven. To him that was a dressing room for hell. Rather he consoled himself with the fact that, in the real world, when he looked closely into the darkness he might find the presence of a light, damaged and bruised, but a little light all the same. He wanted, quite simply, for the world to be a better place, and he was in the habit of hoping for it. Out of that came some sort of triumph that went beyond theological proof, a cause for optimism against all the evidence.
'Someday the meek might actually want it,' he said."
--from Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin
(Random House, 2009)
Killer first line of the moment:
All that I see must in my sight become
from William Jay Smith's "Prelude"
(Words by the Water, The
This band, with this line-up, was the best. I followed them around upstate
Saturday, October 2, 2010
These are the first days of fall. The wind
at evening smells of roads still to be traveled,
while the sound of leaves flowing across the lawns
is like an unsettled feeling in the blood,
the desire to get in a car and just keep driving.
A man and a dog descend their front steps.
The dog says, Let's go downtown and get crazy drunk.
Let's tip over all the trash cans we can find.
This is how dogs deal with the prospect of change.
But in his sense of the season, the man is struck
by the oppressiveness of his past, how his memories
which were shifting and fluid have grown more solid
until it seems he can see remembered faces
caught up among the dark places in the trees.
The dog says, Let's pick up some girls and just
rip off their clothes. Let's dig holes everywhere.
Above his house, the man notices wisps of cloud
crossing the face of the moon. Like in a movie,
he says to himself, a movie about a person
leaving on a journey. He looks down the street
to the hills outside of town and finds the cut
where the road heads north. He thinks of driving
on that road and the dusty smell of the car
heater, which hasn't been used since last winter.
The dog says, Let's go down to the diner and sniff
people's legs. Let's stuff ourselves on burgers.
In the man's mind, the road is empty and dark.
Pine trees press down to the edge of the shoulder,
where the eyes of animals, fixed in his headlights,
shine like small cautions against the night.
Sometimes a passing truck makes his whole car shake.
The dog says, Let's go to sleep. Let's lie down
by the fire and put our tails over our noses.
But the man wants to drive all night, crossing
one state line after another, and never stop
until the sun creeps into his rearview mirror.
Then he'll pull over and rest awhile before
starting again, and at dusk he'll crest a hill
and there, filling a valley, will be the lights
of a city entirely new to him.
But the dog says, Let's just go back inside.
Let's not do anything tonight. So they
walk back up the sidewalk to the front steps.
How is it possible to want so many things
and still want nothing. The man wants to sleep
and wants to hit his head again and again
against a wall. Why is it all so difficult?
But the dog says, Let's go make a sandwich.
Let's make the tallest sandwich anyone's ever seen.
And that's what they do and that's where the man's
wife finds him, staring into the refrigerator
as if into the place where the answers are kept--
the ones telling why you get up in the morning
and how it is possible to sleep at night,
answers to what comes next and how to like it.
(from Velocities: New and Selected Poems 1966-1992, Viking Penguin, 1994)