Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I Want to Care About It All

A hard frost the last three nights. Rain in the mornings and the coonhound won't leave the porch. We're settling-in here. There's snow in the mountains and soon we'll be skiing. It's time for running in sweatpants, reading near the space heater, and getting dark early. Thanksgiving is a week away.

Let's say that again: Thanksgiving is a week away.


Killer first line of the moment:

How I hope never to attend that party again.

from "Tercets for Naiads" by Ben Doyle
(Radio, Radio, LSU Press, 2001)


There is a shooting in Norway. A troubled but popular singer dies. The U.S. economy implodes. Unemployment rises. Economies in other countries collapse. The earth cracks open on an island and then in another country and another country and another country. Floods wash away an entire town. A dictator is overthrown and another and another and another. A terrorist is assassinated. A dictator goes into hiding. He is found. He is killed. Everywhere, the earth is dry and when it rains, it is never enough. Children are starving. Their parents are starving. Women and their bodies and their right to make choices about their bodies are increasingly under attack. A starlet who never had a chance continues to spiral out of control. Real housewives act messy all over the place. A celebrity who is famous for being famous for making a sex tape gets married on television. Less than three months later, she divorces her made for television husband. An innovator dies and his life is bared for examination. A teenage girl’s sex tape goes viral and worse yet, people watch. Politicians start their campaigns and race each other to the bottom. The world moves at such a bewildering pace these days. Everything demands our attention. There is hardly time to breathe. Or think. Or feel.

I want to care about all of it, the atrocious and the admirable and the awesome and the absurd. I don’t want to feel numb.

-gorgeous and well-wrought essay by Roxane Gay over at The Rumpus




-via Slate


Friday, November 11, 2011

Everything Must Go

In a purging state of mind. I'm thinking maybe it's safe to have less than 3 copies of the same literary journal (mostly contributor copies of the past few years) languishing on the shelf. These are great issues and they need great readers, so I offer to send them to whoever's interested (just shoot me an email and let me know which ones you want--try to limit it to 2/person) in the hope you might enjoy them and purchase a subscription (or better yet, a gift subscription!). Support these excellent and hard-working folks. I've got:

Birmingham Poetry Review 37 (featuring work by Richard Bausch, Claudia Emerson, Rebecca Morgan Frank, William Logan, Caki Wilkinson, and others)

Georgetown Review 11.1 (featuring work by Seth Abramson, Honoree Fanonne Jeffers, Ravi Shankar, and others)

Passages North 32.1 (featuring work by Traci Brimhall, Frank Giampietro, Bob Hicock, Sandy Longhorn, Matthew Nienow, Matthew Thorburn, dawn lonsinger, and others (!))

Hollins Critic XLVII.4 (featuring discussions on the work of Howard Frank Mosher by James Robert Saunders, Elaine Feinstein by Kelly Cherry, and Maxine Kumin by David Slavitt)

RATTLE 32 (featuring work by Laura Eve Engel, Colette Inez, Molly Peacock, David Wagoner, Tony Barnstone, Patricia Smith, and others)

Third Coast 29 (featuring work by Quan Berry, Jehanne Dubrow, Gray Jacobik, Tomaz Salamun, and others)

Tar River Poetry 49.1 (featuring work by Ross White, Gary Fincke, Michael McFee, Brittany Cavallaro, Michelle Boisseau, and others)

Beloit Poetry Journal 59.4 (featuring work by Peter Munro, Simon Perchik, Avery Slater, and others)

Poet Lore 103.3 (featuring work by Nin Andrews, Michael Boccardo, George David Clark, Alex Dimitrov, Jane Shore, Katrina Vandenberg, and others)

Roanoke Review 33 (featuring work by Caitlin Horrocks, Carrie Shipers, Wiley Cash, and others)

New York Quarterly 65 (featuring work by Dorianne Laux, Mark Bibbins, Donald Lev, Matthew Zapruder, Bruce Weigl, David Shapiro, and others)

First come, first serve. Thanks for stopping by.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Students in Anonymity

I ate the best cheeseburger of my life this weekend at this place. Here's a picture of it.

Small epiphanies.


Which brings me to God Bless America, a collection that should be seen as part of a body of work intent on eviscerating and then forgiving our pitiful culture of excess, this social milieu in which we—our bodies bent to their “awful purposes”—run amok with the faintest grasp on reality and even less on our own motivations. We spout platitudes on the one hand, like Billy in the title story, about this “land built by opportunists,” and face painful truths on the other, as Sophie does in “Not Until You Say Yes”: “Nothing was ever done, it was always suffering some improvement. Were human beings really such factories of discontent?” Yes, we are, and Almond is a writer who is as painfully aware of the ludicrousness of our predicament as he is a believer in the possibility of our salvation.

-Ru Freeman reviews Steve Almond over at The Rumpus
(I want to read this book!)


-via NYT

Not sure what to make of this--I think you have to blame the poets/instructors for not being more aware of the situation...oh, words.


So that’s how and why, this spring, I found myself staring down a teetering stack of people’s poetic accomplishments (and hopes, and dreams), pages binder-clipped neatly together, manuscripts numbered so that each submission would remain anonymous. I learned a few things really quickly: most people front-load their manuscripts (aka, put their strongest 5-10 poems up front); many people are partial to really awful fonts (like Calibri or Arial or Gill Sans); generally, good manuscripts are not going undiscovered (as I later learned many of the manuscripts I chose had been pulled from the contest, as they had already won other contests and were slated to be published); and most importantly, I could only read about 20 manuscripts a day without slowly losing my will to live. This was not because the manuscripts were poorly written—quite the opposite was true: there were very few truly terrible manuscripts. I was sure I would be able to eliminate many right away, but that just wasn’t the case; most were at least serviceable, if not totally fine, and nearly all included at least a few compelling poems. And I had to choose between them.

-great essay by Erika Meitner on her experience as a contest screener


-interesting article on Elizabeth Bishop's feminism over at Granta


Great article on barefoot/minimalist running from New York Times Magazine. I've been using my Merrell Trail Gloves since last April and have never felt better about running...


New favorite band-of-the-moment.