Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Big News

Friends, I've been okay-ed to let out my recent good news. Sorry for the unnecessary mystery lately, but here we go:

I'm thrilled to announce that NYQ Books, the book imprint of New York Quarterly magazine, will publish my first book, a collection of poems entitled After the Ark.

It's looking like a Spring 2011 release, which is perfect for me as I'm not in any huge hurry to get it out there, I just want a book I can be proud of, one that folks can get their hands on if they're interested in reading it. One in which the poems look like poems should look. It's still surreal. I'm still dumb with excitement, disbelief, and gratitude. Not to get all Roberto Beinigni on you guys (where he coins the phrase "a hailstorm of kindness"), but it's been a joy to have this space in which to share my boons and disappointments, whether or not they're literary or personal, it's always been a source of encouragement for me to know that there are so many others (you guys!) out there struggling and succeeding in these same pursuits (literature, life). I started this blog in Fall of '07 as an unpublished entering-MFA-student as a way of proving to my friends that I was, in fact, writing something (anything). Now we're here, a first book on the way and new poems being written. As my folks in North Carolina say: "Well, I'll be."

Thanks-a-million everyone. Much more to come on this front. Stay tuned.


-via New York Times

Interesting and crazy stuff, that there.


Saw these guys at block party. Love this video (dig that Seattle public transport).

Poem #13: Reactionaries


This is Not a Poem

The 30-day poem-a-day challenge has not died, but been revised. I missed 2 days, so I'll just double up at some point later on, so I can still get those 30. As always, thanks for reading.


And it doesn’t matter if you’ve been quite successful, more or less successful, a disaster, a frantic player, a surly underdog. I know a lot of writers. This is what we all say to ourselves, once we’re past the life-or-death
Rocky-esque movie of the first book or so: How do I keep doing this?



via Airin Miller (read that story)


Killer weekend at Capitol Hill Block Party. Only just starting to feel human again...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Poem #12: Alchemy of a Motorcycle Gang


If You've Paid Attention, You Know How to Write a Story

Read," she told me, "James Joyce's Dubliners, and when you finish, read it again, and then keep re-reading it until the covers fall off the book. Then, if you've paid attention, you'll know how to write a story." I do think I managed to get the point even if I did not exactly follow the plan: I read and reread Katherine Anne Porter's stories instead.

--from VQR

The quote I gave is a bit misleading (the essay's not so much about Katherine Anne Porter...), but this is a wonderful piece by Richard Dillard about George Garrett, but he also has some wonderful things to say about the nature of mentorship, how the university is changing, and the practice of writing.


If you watched The Wire, consider yourself devoted to The Wire, think The Wire was the best show ever on television, then read this interview with David Simon, creator. I thought I was watching pretty closely, but this opens up a lot of layers I hadn't seen/acknowledged....



--great poem by Ellen Bass over at Poetry Daily


Going to Capitol Hill Block Party today through Sunday. Stoked to see so much excellent music, including: Atmosphere, Blue Scholars, Dead Weather, Head and the Heart, MGMT, Yeasayer, and lots of others. This will be the most significant challenge the poem-a-day campaign has faced. Going to try and get today's done early...


via Thorpe Moeckel (you should buy his new book-length poem...)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Poem #10: Bouquet Twined to Parkway Milepost Sixty-Four


While Listening to Grace Potter

Not much to say today, except thank you to any and all for their kind comments, e-mails, and facebook commentary about these new poems I've been posting. It's a bit scary having the poems up there when they're so fresh on the page, but it's also a great sort of accountability for me. I'm relatively happy with the efforts and the new directions in which they seem to be heading. Trapped in couplets, yes, but verging on a refocusing of attention, I think: a project, a seed. I think some of this has to do with my recent manuscript news, the knowledge that After the Ark is going to be a book has given me a new ruthlessness with that body of writing, a willingness to cut a good poem if it doesn't quite fit, as well as a feeling of liberation with the new writing. And, I promise, I'll post details on here as soon as I get the go-ahead from editor/publisher. If you really must know immediately, shoot me an email, yo.

About to get going on today's poem...


Killer first line of the moment:

"were lifted over the valley, its steepling dustdevils"

from D.A. Powell's "chronic"
(Chronic, Graywolf Press, 2009)

(I'm just reading this book for the first time, now. Not only are the poems exquisite, but the book itself is gorgeous. Man.)


Oh yeah.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Poem #9: Late Quartets


In Order of Importance

The Head and the Heart's in-studio show at KEXP. Go there and listen (I'd just click on "Full Performance" and let it ride). Man, am I the only one who finds themselves loving these guys?


An example:

The Count of Monte Cristo
by Alexandre Dumas


“De Villefort!” poor young man! “A man.”

Monte Cristo smiled. “Madame de Villefort?”

Monte Cristo smiled. “Poor count! Valentine de Villefort.

Monte Cristo smiled.


You've likely already seen this, but I think it's funny. Really funny:


More Anthony Doerr sentences from his newest book:

"Birds are passing over the house now, a great flock, harrying across the sky like souls. She can hear the beating of their wings."

"His hands are huge and terrible. His beard is white. His teeth are the color of autumn leaves."

"A person can get up and leave her life. The world is that big. You can take a $4,000 inheritance and walk into an airport and before your heartache catches up with you, you can be in the middle of a desert city listening to dogs bark and no one for three thousand miles will know your name.
Nothingness is the permanent thing. Nothingness is the rule. Life is the exception."

He's good.


Excited about the directions my new poems are taking. Excited to keep going.


I'd go see it.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Poem #5: Instructions to the Acolyte


Make You Stomp So Hard the Earth Shakes

Lots of blogging, these days. Things to say:

Loving Anthony Doerr's new book. Sentences from it:

"This wind, Luvo realizes, right now careering around Alma's garden, has come to Cape Town every November that he can remember, and every November Alma can remember, and it will come next November, too, and the next, and on and on, for centuries to come, until everyone they have ever known and everyone they ever will know is gone."

Lots of erasure here, with Doerr...

Not as thrilled with my poem for the day today. Matter of fact, still working on it, will post it later this afternoon....

Attended a great birthday party for Matt Nienow last night. Hanging with poets, they all said that they'd memorized a chunk of their own poems, if not all of them. I couldn't believe it. I could barely recite one from memory (I tried and botched). Is this a common thing? Do you poets have all your poems memorized (just like Jay-Z!!)? Makes me think of this project (see, I do have a Fred Chappell poem memorized...).



Killer first line of the moment:

"When he called me to help him from the tub that he had somehow,"

from Alan Shapiro's "The Bath"
(The Dead Alive and Busy, University of Chicago Press, 2000)



One of the first things I did when I moved to Seattle was attend these guys CD release party. Strange seeming, because I just left the head and heart (ignore me, please) of Appalachia (pronounce it right, Yankee: App-a-latch-a) to discover a bluegrass band from Virginia on the other side of the country. Watch the video. You'll dig it, I bet. Buy the CD, too.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Poem #4: Summer Service


Up Early for the UPS Man

Had to wake up with the working folks today to make sure I don't miss my package. I ordered a pair of shoes from steep and cheap. If you don't know about this website, then I greet you at the beginning of a long and fulfilling journey. Also, I apologize that I've just gotten you hooked.

I'd say, legitimately, that about 30% of my belongings/wardrobe came from that website.


via NYT


Seeing the facebook updates, I find myself intensely jealous of everyone at Sewanee right now. Live it up, folks. You're in one of my favorite places with a group of tremendously talented people.


Running in this thing in Seattle on Saturday. I can't decide if I'm stoked or nervous. Probably a bit of both.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Poem #3: Walking to the Tent, Night 32


Happy Bastille/Boone Day!

Today is Boone's first birthday. Technically, it probably isn't (he was a shelter rescue so there's no way to be sure), but he was 6 weeks old when I got him and we're roughly six weeks before that date, thus: Happy Birthday Boone! He's been handling the adjustment from wide open Blue Ridge to basement studio amazingly well. He wins the dog park, every time. Good boy.

Long way from there to here. It's the same loveseat in both pictures, you know, for scale.


"The critical difference between prose and poetry is that prose is kind of like water and will become the shape of any vessel you pour it into to. Poetry is like a piece of sculpture and can easily break," Collins says.

Billy Collins, on poetry for e-books....


Probably a bit late on this one, but I thought this essay by James Allen Hall was pretty damn striking:


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Poem #2: Psalm for Third Base



Like many poets at the start of their writing lives I was so caught up in received ideas of beauty. I couldn't imagine that the tobacco fields and power plant and boys driving by in their trucks and throwing their sodas and God knows what else at me could be worked into something beautiful. And so for a very long time I wrote well-meaning and profoundly flat poems.


Read at the Hugo House open mic reading yesterday. Could hardly believe how many people were there (lots). It's within walking distance of my apartment. It's great to discover such an encouraging and necessary place so close to where I live. Score one for Seattle.


A wonderful interview between Henry Taylor and Peter Makuck. Worth the read, if you've got time.


Another new poem goes up today. 2 for 2!


I wished I cared about anything as much as these guys care about Spanish futbol.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Poem #1: Food City


Basement Dispatch

Found this over at Avoiding the Muse:

I love Anthony Doerr's work. His stories are rich and expansive. His novel is simply gorgeous. I am very excited to read this book. Pre-order.


Doerr lines I love:

"What use are memories when memories can do little more than fade?"

"He began to dream of snow: ice glazing a parking meter; slush in the treads of Sandy's boots. There was the feeling of turning up blinds and seeing the whiteness of everything--snow on fence posts, snow limning branches--a banquet of light. He thought of his mother, and the way the mountains looked from the rooftop of his childhood: shimmering, insubstantial as ghosts."

"To see again--to discern a tree or face or cloud with an acceptable level of clarity--was the smallest kind of revival, a tiny breakthrough, but enough to start happiness in his heart--the joy of recognizing things, an improvement in his relationship with the world."

Can't find my copy of The Shell Collector, his wonderful collection of stories, though I fear I've foisted it upon so many people that maybe I didn't get it back from a borrower...


On the prompting of Deb Ager over at 32 Poems, I've taken up the call to write a poem a day for the next 30...usually I don't make it very far with these sorts of things, but I'm going to give it a go. I'll post the efforts here until the next day, when they'll come down...


This is sort of buried, but, a press has offered to publish my first book. I am floored and figuring things out. But, yeah, I felt I should say that as it's been a topic here for so long...details to come, but it's looking like After the Ark will likely be published in Spring/Summer of 2011.


Listened to this album again this morning and was reminded how amazing it is; this song, especially. If you haven't before, make sure to watch Zevon's last appearance on Letterman...

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Hey! You! Happy 4th of July!

Strangely (or perhaps, not so), I've got a new poem showing up on RATTLE today. Also has an audio of me reading the poem, which is, I think, eerie. Read and/or listen if you feel so compelled.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Seattling Down

Here I am, Northwest, in my basement studio in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. There's a nearly year-old Redbone Coonhound sleeping on the bed in his new city-dog harness. Lots of big life-and-career type things seem to be happening all at once (I want my MTV!). I'm not sure if I can even talk about it. I still don't have a job. I owe lots of people emails. I ate two Seattle dogs last night, which is a hot dog with onions and cream cheese on it. I talked with the street vendors for at least 10 minutes about regional hot dog differences. I think I really like it here.

Wanna read a brand new poem before it disappears? Sure ya do. To *plish* shortly...



I stole the title for this post from Cori Winrock. I made fun, then promptly, stole it. Read the poem at that link. It's good.


Killer first line of the moment:

"Here where it is always Bethlehem,"

from Joe Weil's "Christmas, 1977"
(The Plumber's Apprentice, NYQ Books, 2009)


There's more I want to say about it, I'm just not sure what.


via Huffington Post

I think "To Kill a Mockingbird" might be the first book I ever loved. Strange to see negativity towards a book that, at least to me, is an iconic childhood novel, especially if you have a connection to the American South...


Two guilty-pleasure websites:

Both emblematic of larger problems? Probably. Still funny? Definitely.