Wednesday, December 29, 2010

On What's to Come

"I mean that I don't quite trust your motives for writing poetry."

"Motives?" Certainly, it was a worthy question. How many other things could all of them be doing at that moment, other than arguing and moaning and dissecting and growing more passionate about an activity that mattered to virtually no one and would likely never earn them a living? ... What did his motives matter to her? Was not the power of the poems themselves all that mattered?
"Why do you want to write poetry?" he asked. "Why does anyone?"

"Why do we want to fall in love? Why do we want to pray?"

--A scene from Lan Samantha Chang's gorgeous book All is Forgotten, Nothing is Lost (required reading for any poets who have ever been in or around an MFA program, or for anyone vaguely interested in the dilemmas of artistic purpose), in which a distinguished professor is speaking with one of her graduate students.


I spent five years writing and revising After the Ark, which will be released next week by NYQ Books. During that time, I've graduated from two universities, been engaged and un-engaged, lost one good dog and taken on another. I've lived in a tent in West Virginia, a boarding school in the rural Blue Ridge Mountains, and in a basement studio in Seattle. I've moved away from the people I love most and discovered a new home, with new wonderful people. Throughout, these poems haven't been far from the front of my mind (this may explain the 'un-engaged' part). Any day now, I expect a box on the porch. The arrival of this box signals that these poems are finished (right?), or at least abandoned. But, what exactly have I done? Five years moving commas and cutting loose language, reworking images and hoping that through this unending and slightly-rational alchemy I'll have made something worth reading aloud. And at some point I have to ask why. Why did I write it? Why do I care that anyone reads it?

I rarely go to church. Growing up, as the son of two ministers, I attended multiple services just about every week, but much more time was spent not in ceremony, but waiting for my parents to finish whatever it was they were doing in their offices (I never understood why ministers needed offices, though I suppose it's the same reason poets need offices). There were hours when I would wander my parents' churches (my father's Sage Chapel at Cornell University and my mother's United Ministry in Aurora, NY). I knew these places intimately, the choir loft in Aurora and the Tomb of Presidents in Sage, how one candle could bring a flash to the gold-trimmed ceiling mosaics, how the wooden beams looked like something you'd see on the Ark. I'd fallen asleep in the pews, hidden with a puppy in the cloister, and memorized damn-near every piece of stained glass. It was a different place for every hour of the day--the quiet and light never the same, but always present.

I wish I knew why I've kept writing poems. I don't. I do know this: whenever I write a poem, I wonder how it would sound if delivered from one of my parents' pulpits. There needn't be beeswax candles or widows slumped praying in the front pews, but there has to be that feeling of reverence, of being at once elsewhere and at home. I am addicted to the space a poem creates. Poems are sanctuary and mystery, like an empty church to a child, a place in which attentiveness and clarity mix with memory and belief. Poetry, like church, is an act of community, a sharing of blessings and burdens, and maybe that's why I want so badly for people to read the book. Maybe it's vanity. I hope it's not. I worry that this is a tired and overly-grandiose analogy, but it's too late in the year for anxiety (New Year's Resolution: Stop comparing Poetry to Church. Stop using these two words in a context in which they should be capitalized.).

There was a plaque in the back of my father's church, a dedication to E.B. White, member of the Sage Chapel Choir and author of Charlotte's Web. The plaque quotes the end of White's book: "Life in the barn was very good--night and day, winter and summer, spring and fall, dull days and bright days. It was the best place to be, thought Wilbur, this warm delicious cellar, with the garrulous geese, the changing seasons, the heat of the sun, the passage of the swallows, the nearness of rats, the sameness of sheep, the love of spiders, and the glory of everything."

How lucky we are to be here, how lucky to worry and wonder over words. Thanks for stopping by, for indulging this ramble, and for caring, if only peripherally, about language and the way it moves us. Happy new year, everyone.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Quick Links

I've been doing a lot of consuming. Books, movies, music. I'm determined to make January a productive month. It's been too long since the last new poem.


"The poem is ground down from a mumbled joy."--Charles Wright



So these guys just played 3 nights with Dave Matthews, then signed with Sub Pop Records, the same Seattle record label that originally signed Nirvana and Soundgarden, and currently works with folks like the Fleet Foxes, Flight of the Conchords, and The Shins. I hate to say I told you so, but...

They're touring right now, all over (including the East Coast). Go see them.

A Van Session with The Head and The Heart from Dylan Priest on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Things That Matter and Things That Don't

-an open letter from Tony Hoagland, on the very sad news regarding Dean Young's health. Please spread the word, and if you can, give. One of my favorites: Poem Without Forgiveness.


-Zadie Smith reviews The Social Network




In my clearest memory of her, it’s spring, and she is walking towards me, smiling, her lipstick looking neatly cut around her smile. I never ask her why she’s smiling—for all I know, she’s laughing at me as I stand smoking in front of the building where we’ll have class. She’s Annie Dillard, and I am her writing student, a 21-year-old cliché—black clothes, deliberately mussed hair, cigarettes, dark but poppy music on my Walkman. I’m pretty sure she thinks I’m funny. She walks to class because she lives a few blocks from our classroom building in a beautiful house with her husband and her daughter, and each time I pass it on campus, I feel, like a pulse through the air, the idea of her there. Years later, when she no longer lives there, and I am teaching there, I feel the lack of it.

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.


Hip-hop fans: go download this free EP from Seattle's own Macklemore. I haven't blasted a CD like this in quite some time, not since Hi-Tek and Kweli has a disc been so stuck.


Went skiing this past weekend. My first Pacific Northwestern ski experience. Now: way stoked for ski season, for La Nina snowfall, and for continuing to shred that gnar pow.

[scattered flurries] from felt soul media on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Where are you, Dusty Springfield?

It's been too long, my friends. In the midst of Thanksgiving, teaching composition, and working full-time at the pet store, I've lapsed. Many sorries. I trust the world has continued spinning, and that we are all more-or-less surviving.

Hard to believe it's December. Hard to believe I've approved final digital galleys for the book, which is coming out in a month. Hard to believe there will actually be a book.

More po'biz stuff: more kind rejections and revision suggestions on the new (a.k.a. not in the book) poems. Still haven't had a bite on any of them, but am always thankful for the encouraging notes. I need to send out a new wave--though, I lost all of my records when my computer's motherboard fried, so I'm not quite sure where to send them. Good thing the book is coming out, as I lost a lot of those poems when the computer crashed, and lost forever some less recent poems not in the book. But all the new ones were on the flash-drive, so they live on and I'll continue to hammer and prune them (mixed metaphor).

I have a twitter, now. Why would I do this to myself?

So much has happened and the important updates will come organically. Let's just resume with our nonsense.


Industry insiders describe a "feeding frenzy" around the Head and the Heart — bigshot managers and major record labels from New York and L.A. all want a piece and they want it now. The band is in the midst of a make-or-break moment, one that's happened a thousand times before for other bands and will happen a thousand times again, but for these six 20-somethings means the difference between the could-be of this empty dressing room and the definitely-is of Vampire Weekend, one floor below. "Ten minutes to stage time for the Head and the Heart ..." A disembodied voice pipes into the dressing room, gentle but serious.

via Seattle Times

Have seen these guys play maybe 5 or 6 times since moving to Seattle. Every time it gets better. Also residents of this fine, fine Ballard neighborhood. Watch this, if you're not convinced by the article.


Mentor. The American Heritage Dictionary, the OED, and the other OEDOnline Etymology Dictionary—all mention Mentor, the character in the Odyssey who’s a friend of Odysseus and who guides Telemachus in his search for his father. Sometimes Athena disguises herself as Mentor and lends a hand. But all three dictionaries reach further back and suggest that a common noun came before Homer’s naming of a character. If you Google “mentor, etymology” you find either the Indo-European root men,to think; or Sanskrit, mantar, one who thinks; or, my favorite: “an agent noun of mentos, which means intent, purpose, spirit, passion.”

-John Casey writes about mentorship and Peter Taylor, over at Narrative Magazine


There is a certain apathy among college students today. I’ve noticed the trend throughout my four years in college, and its ubiquity just recently struck me. There are plenty of excuses for it. Call it detachment. Call it procrastination. Call it senioritis.

I call it an inflexible system. Education has a fresh cornucopia of tools that have not been utilized to potential. That is a shame, and a failure on the part of the system to adapt.



Thursday, November 11, 2010

It Has a Face

Here we are. Above is the cover art for my first book. It is the work of my incredibly talented friend Patrick Howard, for which I am beyond grateful. I knew Pat's work from his cover art for our mutual friends' Big Something's first album, "Stories from the Middle of Nowhere." They're rock stars. Pat, also, as you can see by his work, is a rock star. I think we all want to be rock stars. How many times can you say "rock star" in one paragraph without sounding ridiculous?

January looms. That verb probably misleads you--I'm not afraid of January. I'm very excited about that first box of books. I've even overcome my suspicion that it's all been an elaborate, malevolent hoax (that last part is fun to say: malevolent hoax). But I've developed a new neurosis: readers. My first fear is that there won't be any. My second is that there will be too many. My third: Sarah Palin. To guard against all of these fears I've done things like created a facebook page for the book, posted information about upcoming readings on the NYQ Books site, and posted another poem from After the Ark on Ink Node.


At work today, I talked with a woman about coyotes. I asked her if she'd read James Galvin's "The Meadow." She hadn't. I told her how it describes coyotes gnawing their paws out of traps. She said she'd look up the book on google.



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

Ordinary Absentmindedness


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.

-Alan Shapiro
(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


I submitted to Blackbird today using their online submission manager (which is open, poets!). I'm not sure why, as it took them over 2 years to respond to my last submission, and they've never responded to the poems I handed off to the editor (at her invitation, as part of a dialogue with then-current Hollins grad students) in Spring of 2009. But then, maybe I do know why: I think they're the best online magazine out there, both in terms of content and presentation (along with, say, Memorious, though I love the content at places like Waccamaw and storySouth). So I'm willing to forgive their slothfulness, if only for the wonderful poetry and fiction they publish.

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

Postcard Acrostic #1

Figured out what to do with the postcards. 1 down, 6 to go.

Nifty Postcards

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

"A Light, Damaged and Bruised"

Boone, proud Redbone Coonhound from the Blue Ridge of North Carolina, surveys his new Seattle, Washington backyard.

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)


Cat people are people, too.

via the New York Times and Alissa Novoselick


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 Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008)


This band, with this line-up, was the best. I followed them around upstate New York during the Summer of 2003. This video comes from shortly before bass player Scott Palmer passed away, before the horns left to join Slightly Stoopid (the name says it all), and before frontman and band founder Kevin Kinsella left the group. I wonder if I'll ever again be devoted to a band in the way I was devoted to them.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

How to Like It

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.

--Stephen Dobyns
(from Velocities: New and Selected Poems 1966-1992, Viking Penguin, 1994)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thanks for Ordering

Thanks for ordering After the Ark and for your interest in poetry. Expect to receive the book in the mail sometime in the next week to ten days. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Raiding the Inarticulate

I'm writing new poems, tinkering with something (I don't know what, exactly). But I've been re-reading Seamus Heaney's wonderful essays. In "Feeling into Words," he talks about technique vs. craft, which I find abundantly interesting:

"I think technique is different from craft. Craft is what you can learn from other verse. Craft is the skill of making. It wins competitions in The Irish Times or the New Statesmen. It can be deployed without reference to the feelings or the self. It knows how to keep up a capable verbal athletic display; it can be content to be vox et praeterea nihil--all voice and nothing else--but not voice as in 'finding a voice'. Learning the craft is learning to turn the windlass as the well of poetry. Usually you begin by dropping the bucket halfway down the shaft and winding up a taking of air. You are miming the real thing until one day the chain draws unexpectedly tight and you have dipped into waters that will continue to entice you back. You'll have broken the skin on the pool of yourself. Your praties will be 'fit for digging'.
At that point it becomes appropriate to speak of technique rather than craft. Technique, as I would define it, involves not only a poet's way with words, his management of metre, rhythm and verbal texture; it involves also a definition of his stance towards life, a definition of his own reality. It involves the discovery of ways to go out of his normal cognitive bounds and raid the inarticulate: a dynamic alertness that mediates between the origins of feeling in memory and experience and the formal ploys that express these in a work of art. Technique entails the watermarking of your essential patterns of perception, voice and thought into the touch and texture of your lines; it is that whole creative effort of the mind's and body's resources to bring the meaning of experience within the jurisdiction of form. Technique is what turns, in Yeats's phrase, 'the bundle of accident and incoherence that sits down to breakfast' into 'an idea, something intended, complete'."

Even if you don't love his poems (though, you should probably know that I love them), I highly recommend this collection of essays to anyone who values the reading and writing of poetry: Finders Keepers: Selected Prose 1971-2001.


This made me laugh:


Po-biz stuff:

Last week, I had a poem accepted to appear in Epoch, which is especially exciting not only because it is a magazine I admire, but also because the journal comes out of Ithaca (where I spent my first 17 years) and Cornell University (where my father spent 20 years working as chaplain). The accepted poem is set in a university-owned orchard from which half-breed coyotes would poach apples.

Was thrilled, too, to see the final galleys for Best New Poets 2010 and the fall issue of 32 Poems, both of which I'm honored to be appearing in and eager to read. Hopefully, there will be some readings for BNP around the Seattle area during November/December. I'll let you know, fa sho.

Submission season is full-swing. I have a few new poems out, but mostly just a ton in the hopper. I need to get my shit together and lick some envelopes. I want to send poems here and here. I want to believe they have a chance of being accepted. I cannot decide if I do or not. I want to send to the Southern Review, too, more than anything. But, I must first wait for a non-simultaneous market to decide on the poems I want to send.

I, I, I. Self-promotion over. Thanks for your indulgence.



Singin' it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

"Thank you much, for the walking stick."

I suspect this post will lack cohesion. Mainly, because that's the way things have been lately. I realized the other day that I live in a cave. Sure, they called it a "basement studio apartment," but mostly it's a cave. I sleep below the ground. There's a yellow light in my cave. It comes from a lamp I was given by my Dad. He and my mother made it out of a ceramic flower-pot they bought in Jerusalem. It's the only light I carried with me across the country. That sentence sounds more melodramatic than it actually is. The cave smells like freedom.

Things seem to be happening far too fast for me to process them. I have a new job at a specialty pet-food store. It's a pretty great gig and has provided the hound-dog with a treasure trove of upper-crust dog stuffs. He's chewing on a deer antler right now. I've seen the error-free (to my and my editor's eyes) fifth galley of my first book sent off to proofers. I've seen a draft of a friend's exceptional cover art for said book. There is an online teaching position on the horizon, which I'm excited about (as I thought I would, I already miss teaching...). Seattle continues to surprise and delight. Strangely, as I prepare to move and am aswirl with new responsibilities and existing obligations, I finally feel at home in my new city.


Killer first line of the moment:

"Each day grows old, no minute ever new."

from R.H.W. Dillard's "Without You"
(Sallies, LSU Press, 2001)

(The above is the text of the entire poem, a one-liner.)





The seminar is taking place on the second floor of the Dampkring's forward-looking modern branch, whose decor tends toward diamond plate and brushed steel, in deliberate disdain, the owner tells me, for the hippy-shit aesthetics, smoke-browned Hendrix posters, and Jamaican tricolor of the last-gen Amsterdam dope joint. Despite the ineradicable skunk's-tail perfume leaching from the Sheetrock, the shop this morning is a pretty faithful imitation of a high school classroom—from the distracted bespectacled lecturer (a representative from a nonprofit drug-counseling agency) futzing with the overhead projector to the two icily pretty cheerleader types giggling in malicious-sounding Dutch while stocking their desktops with schoolgirl tackle (moisturizer, makeup, chocolates, tissue packets) to the rearmost dunce row, where I've been quarantined with my translator, who told me to call him Harry Resin. A merry Canadian in his midthirties who has lived in Amsterdam for the past decade or so, Harry was drafted into translation detail by Dampkring management and is not delighted about it. "I haven't been up this early in years," he says.

--Wells Tower writes in GQ about his experience as an Amsterdam coffee-shop barista