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