Thursday, July 31, 2008

Blake's post

It'll be on Yahoo soon when you sign out of your email.

Here lies Grandma Moses. She died of dysentery.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I don't know how long this guy (or, as Joshua Poteat says, "or girl") has been doing this around Richmond, but there are these small canvases (though as Blackbird says, it's painted plywood) tacked to the poles of street signs, screwed in with bolts, all around the city.

They're really beautiful, and apparently the guy ("or girl") could be arrested for some silly reason. Why have beautiful art around that people can look at? Gotta love smashing creativity.

But it's the kind of stuff I'd love to have all over my apartment. Screw framed paintings.

Yesterday after class I saw what may be a bit of Josh Poteat's work on a pole near the Hibbs building. If I ever get a digital camera I'm going to be driving around one day documenting where they are all over the city.

Here's an image from Blackbird (original link) of perhaps the most stunning I've seen this far. A drawing of Larry Levis with snippets from "Boy in Video Arcade" surrounding him.

If you're in Richmond, keep an eye out. They're pretty incredible.


I got a nice rejection from Knockout the other day that got me thinking. Here's what they said:

"Again, we liked some of the poems here, but these weren't quite right for us. To be more specific, we felt they were too long for us; if you have any shorter work, we'd love to see it. If this is a strange request, apologies."

Now I'm fine with rejections, email or paper. They go into a pile or email folder, and their name goes on the list of where to send to next when I have things ready. That's probably what most people do I imagine.

But it was nice for Knockout (after having already received a few rejections) to let me know that they don't really dig the long poem. It wasn't personal to the point of mentioning even the titles, but I think if more journals were writing responses like this, they may cut down on submissions that they probably wouldn't publish.

Then I realized close to 1/3 of the poems in my manuscript are over a page, most nearing a full two pages, which probably would translate to nearly three pages depending on the size of a book. But thankfully every poem except one (which is still out in the world) has found a home. I write long poems. Maybe in X amount of years I won't, but now I am, and despite journal sizes or anything else, if I believe in the poems, and I like the journal, they'll be sent there.

Someone who I got my MFA with used to say, before I had even started thinking about sending work out, "I figure out how big the journal is size-wise, and then I cater my poems that way on the page when I send them out to each specific journal." That blew my mind. I thought it was crazy, and it was. And if you do that, I think you're crazy.

If your work's good enough, you should send it out. And if journals need to reject you because of the physical size and length of your work, that's all good, but like Knockout, I think that's a great piece of advice for writers to know, especially if they're writing long poems and they send to your journal, which, of course, doesn't like the like poem.


I had a dream last night that a certain press was publishing my book, one I would be very happy with. And it was odd since I did actually send there; I would've thought a dream would produce a ridiculous exchange with Ecco or something.

But of course I'm not holding my breath for anything, as I expect the "Dear Poet" form letter announcing the semi-finalists and finalists. It was still an odd dream. Clearly I'm obsessing over this manuscript way too much.

Monday, July 28, 2008


I had my email over to the right, below my "bio," for about two days, with the @ replaced with [at] etc., and I've already gotten about four spam messages today. I don't think it's coincidental, so I've taken it off. I'm not sure how it's already happened so quickly, but I'd rather folks have a harder time tracking down my email than getting bombarded with spam, unfortunately.

So if you'd like to get a hold of me, try Facebook, or googling. It should be easy. I just don't want a ton of spam.

Not only that, but one of them today said, "Get ready to use your left hand." I thought that was a bit presumptuous, since there are more righties in the world than lefties, and most of us probably aren't ambidextrous.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Close to 20

I have close to 20 poets so far who are going to participate in the First Book Interviews project.

Teaching summer classes end for me on Wednesday, so I'm going to try my best to get the questions ready and off to poets within the next few weeks. My hope was to do one a week, but it looks like it might end up being about three a month. I'd rather have a schedule than just posting them whenever they're completed and formatted. So we'll see what works best as the weeks go on.

If you're seeing this, you have a first book, Kate didn't interview you, and you're interested in the project, please email me at the address located on the right.

The tentative address for the project is here. I'll be messing with the template and such before the first is officially posted, but that's going to be the tentative site. If you have any idea for improvement in any way, or anything else, please let me know.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


About a month or so ago, Jess and I were getting ready to go to dinner. It was a Saturday night, and we were headed to Mamma Zu, which we deem one of the best restaurants in Richmond. If you're ever coming through here, let me know, and I'll direct you.

It was really windy, but we didn't think it was windy enough to blow our pots anywhere (foreshadowing). We got the plastic ones -- maybe not plastic, but whatever they're made from that's akin to plastic -- with the basins on the bottom, and with the soil and the plants, they get fairly heavy. Or so we thought (again foreshadowing).

Well, a few minutes before we left, Jess went out to get them away from the ledges, or the corners of our balcony, and put them on the floor part of it. I'm walking toward the door to the balcony, and Jess says to me, "Uhh, where's our tomato plant?" (conflict?)

I don't have a green thumb -- though technically I can't say that because this is our first time growing plants and herbs -- but I thought we were both doing pretty well. At first I didn't care about them, especially the flowers. You can't eat flowers, after all (realization). Or at least not the ones we bought (true realization, real time).

But I got into it. There were days where it would go from 70 degrees to 90 degrees, where I'd forgot to water the plants and walk out there to find the leaves of the tomato plant practically tear-ridden, shriveled and weary. A ton of vigor and water, and soon enough the plant would perk up again, practically smiling (pathetic fallacy).

Then we found out some of the fruit had developed -- what I found after I googled "brown tomato spots" -- blossom end rot. Plump green tomatoes everywhere, and most of them rotting from the ends of their fruit. I was disconcerted, and annoyed. I thought it was my fault. And it probably was (guilt). So fruit by fruit we chucked most off the porch, though I was determined to save some (hope). This was our first try, after all (excuses). I read you could buy calcium to put in the water to prevent further rot, but already so many had been afflicted (laziness).

It all seemed to be taken care of when the jarring winds pushed our pot off the porch, leading the entire plant to a three-story, albeit hopefully quick, death (guilt).

But Jess, being the caring person she is, not to mention she's a Physician Assistant, was determined to save it (love). We had lost a good chunk of the plant to its snapping off on the brick below, but another part seemed to be intact. So even in the cracked pot, we watered, we broke off dead leaves, we left it at its side without re-potting or re-planting.

We were holding onto a shred of hope. And then I started to get determined to let the little guys hang on.

And today, I'm proud to report, we have a total of two smaller-than-we-had-hoped Roma Tomatoes turning beautifully red on their vines. With, of course, no rot (victory?).


Around twenty poets so far for the First Book Interviews. I'm in the process of trying to get a website going via blog. Meaning a dot com so I can throw the blog on there.

To be a bit more professional.

And to hopefully continue it more than just a year or so. There are too many great and willing and extremely talented poets out there who I know I'm going to want to interview, so I hope to keep this going for a while.

I'm already grateful to be able to talk to so many sooner than later. If you're excited for it, you should be. And if you're not, you suck.


The title of the post comes from the infamous Viking Quest catch phrase of Johnny Drama from Entourage. I don't know the exact date of Season 5, but September's what I hear.

Giants and Redskins September 4th also. (I purposely didn't add a link to the Redskins)

Plus my mom's birthday and my brother's birthday.

We may not repeat, I understand that. Shockey's gone. Strahan's gone.

But Kiwanuka's back. Our draft picks look sharp. Kevin Boss is going to be solid.

I'm excited.

And there will be much about the Giants on this blog come football season.

September's gonna be good I think.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

First Book Interviews a Go / Pineapple Express

The First Book Interviews are a go. I'm going to start a blog and continue Kate's tradition. I'm in the process of contacting poets right now to see if they want to participate. I'm also going to be asking poets with either two or three books (depending on where they are in their careers) to get more of a rounded perspective, to see what's happened in the last few years versus one or two. I'm excited to continue this, especially since there are so many great poets writing out there with books. Inquiring minds want to know about your experience.

Once the interviews start getting gathered and I have enough to keep it updated regularly, all the info will be out. Keep checking here. I hope to get it up and started by mid-August, but if not it'll hopefully be ready for the beginning of the fall semester.


My friend Sean got advance tickets to The Pineapple Express for a week from today, July 30th, at 7:30 P.M. Holy shit I'm psyched.

This will also be my first advance screening ever. I'll be driving, so there will be no smoking before, not that I do that anyway, or have ever done it. Marijuana's illegal, people, come on.


Chorus of the year goes to Ra Ra Riot for their beautifully 80s synth-pop oriented tune, "Too Too Too Fast."


"When I look in your eyes, what am I supposed to do?"

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ra Ra Riot

The new Ra Ra Riot record leaked, and though I always say it and never do it, I hope to actually purchase it, because it's great. The most unfortunate thing that I have to get used to is the production, as the rawness from the EP seems to be absent, and "Each Year" doesn't have the beautiful string flourishes in the end like it used to.

Also, most of the tracks from the EP are on the record, so there aren't as many new cuts as I'd hoped.

Handsome is publishing my poem later in the year (or at the beginning of next year?) of the weird elegy I wrote for John Pike, their drummer who died last summer. I still find it weird that I had to see an article about his death on Pitchfork to find out about the band, which guilted me into writing the initial draft of the poem.

It's a solid record, though. I don't know if I'd quite call them chamber punk, since they don't shy away from melody, but the strings add so much that an extra guitar couldn't.


Season 3 of Entourage is On Demand via Comcast, and I devoured most of the season last night (and have spent much time rewatching On Demand episodes from all the seasons). I can't wait for Season 5. I suck and read some spoilers, and if they're right, it's going to be a pretty wild season.

Thank God it's returning. Can you really leave Medillin to the one-dollar purchase of Harvey, while Drama's banging some Viking Quest obsessed fan on the beach?


Since none of my students came to visit me in my office yesterday, I spent about three hours searching for more contests to send to. I made a good dent, and there are many I was unsure of, since I didn't recognize the names of winners or published books. But the list is growing. I'm ready for the fall and winter, and I started my 2009 list of contests already too.


I already got in touch with some folks about the first book interviews, and it seems like they're down. I hope to talk to some people on their second or third books in addition to those who have only first books. I think it'd be interesting to gain some perspective on how things have changed at least over the last few years. More on this later.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Letters to a Stranger

Bravo, Dark Knight. I can't believe Spiderman 3 (which I haven't seen nor do I want to see) stayed at the top of the weekend box office earned list for so long. $155.34 million certainly overtakes $151.1 million.

Heath Ledger's death probably helped push the numbers, yes, but I, like many, have been a fan of his from way before his death (If you haven't seen Candy, you need to, because the acting's pretty incredible and the film's beautiful and heartbreaking without being too terribly bleak by the end), not to mention flipping when finding out he was going to play The Joker.

And if you haven't gone through some of the IMDB boards to see all the hilarity going on, it's a nice cure for boredom. All the "#1?! WTF? OMG! ROFL MF!" posts and such.


My friend (and incredible poet) Craig Beaven, in an email the other day, mentioned that Graywold's Re/View series re-released Thomas James's Letter to a Stranger. Like Joe Bolton, James apparently shot himself in the head at the age of 27 (though Bolton was 28), and showed remarkable promise for great poetic things to come. Alas, the suicides.

But the book is brilliant.

You can sense the suicide to come from reading the book as a whole, which is even more frightening, but so many dark subjects are handled so beautifully, with bizarrely perfect metaphors and a great sense of rhythm, both in the free verse and traditional forms.

The Re/View series is incredible and with Mark Doty as the editor, will undoubtedly continue to be. Lynda Hull's Collected Poems (a book that you need to own if you don't) was released about two years ago, I think, or maybe a year ago. And James L. White's The Salt Ecstasies is next, or one of the next few. I was lucky enough to get an original, though it seems to be falling apart...

James died shortly before or after the publication, but thankfully because of a few brave people who went to bat for it, it did come out, and again thankfully it's being reissued, and that's another book to get when it comes out.

And here's a shout out for Craig: his great poem "Are You Okay?" from a recent issue of Rattle.


I worked on my manuscript for almost five hours today, and three hours last night. I cut four poems, got it down from 68 to 58 pages, changed the title (from "About Ravishment" to "Ghost Lights," which works better in many ways), and reworked some poems (mostly more surface minutiae like line breaks and punctuation). It's a total -- minus front and back matter -- of around 53 pages now, which seems to me to be the perfect length. And the poems I cut I didn't miss at the end, or even really remember, which is a good sign that the right decisions were made.

I kind of look at the last year as training, all of it before entering the real competition. I did send out to around 30 contests already (I originally thought 40 and mentioned that in a previous post, but thankfully it was only 30, which means there are some good ones I haven't sent my manuscript to yet), but many of the versions were flabby, out of whack, and just a mess, even some that placed in contests. Now, though, I'm ready to compete I think, legitimately.

In an interview with Didi Menendez, for her Men of the Web series, Blake Butler was asked this question, with the answer following. So this is what one critic is saying (read the whole interview here) about my manuscript:

Recommend a poetry book, blog or web site to our audience (not from one of your press) and why.

Keith Montesano's GHOST LIGHTS. This as yet unpublished ms has almost won several contests, and when someone realizes they are going to publish it their whole face is going to fall out. Keith's ms absolutely crushed my skull, it is one of the most bleak and yet most powerful poetry books I have read in years, I could not stop looking at it, I read it in the dark on my glowing laptop and felt like I was being strangled, it is absolutely massive. People need to read this book. Publishers, talk to Keith.

Blake is, of course, way too nice, and though many people probably don't want to feel like they're choking or having their skull crushed while going through the seemingly innocuous process of reading a book of poetry, I suppose that can be a good thing.

There have been a lot of objective, rather than painfully subjective, flashes of realization lately, which is another reason I'm spending an insane amount of time getting this sucker where it needs to be. Like most of the poems in the manuscript, I was writing what I needed to write, writing what I need to get out of my head, and I started to realize I was forming them into a book and not just the ol' MFA thesis. It's not a book until someone wants to publish it, of course, but it's hopefully getting closer.

Either way, thanks to Blake. Hopefully someone else in the publishing world feels like that eventually. And his manuscript of short fiction, SCORCH ATLAS, is the manuscript that really deserves to be published.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Is that... a bazooka?

The Dark Knight lives up to the hype. I'm not going to say much at all here, because you just need to see it, but it was incredible on many levels. It ended and I seriously couldn't believe it was two and a half hours, despite some of the brooding and slowness and darkness. Everything works, and even when it seems slow, there's enough involvement with the audience, which I can't really explain I suppose.

The saddest thing is realizing how uncompromisingly meteoric Heath Ledger would've been as an actor beyond this role. His Joker make's Nicholson's look legitimately like Ronald McDonald. He deserves a posthumous Oscar. Yes, along with many, I also said it.

Best movie of the summer. Best movie of the entire series. I need another viewing already or more, but I'll wait and let it sink in.

See it.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


I started watching The Tracey Fragments and couldn't get through it. It was around 10:26 into it and I stopped. I rarely do this. It reminded me of Tarnation (which I liked though it's been a while since I've seen it) a bit in the sense of the IFilm editing type flick. But do we need to resort to these techniques anymore? Compensation for a weak story, at least seemingly? It reminded me of a lot of a poetry I keep seeing around that I don't like. Granted, I didn't watch the whole thing. But I couldn't sit through another hour of it.


I really want to see Man On Wire, however. I'll be looking for it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


I'll be here or a full four years on August 8th, and I've avoided getting my car towed and getting any semblance of a parking ticket thus far. Today was the closest brush with the law of the yellow cape-wearing scooter-riding parking meter maids. I got to my car, having mere seconds, and a multi-colored piece of paper was exiting the mechanical chute of the remote control hand-held device he was holding. I unlocked my car with the button, he saw the lights, and saw me. We locked eyes. I said, before I even asked a question, "Thanks a lot, man." And he replied, "No problem," and scooted off to plant some more ostentatiously fluorescent green tickets on other cars.

I know so many people who have gotten their cars towed multiple times. And have incurred numerous parking tickets. I'm lucky, but I've also put some effort into it. An extra minute surveying unfamiliar surroundings around an unfamiliar street. Scouting weird signs. New signs. Signs added yesterday. The extra time pays dividends, especially if you don't have a Fan Parking Pass, which I, of course, do not.

Richmond's bad with this. Folks need to have jobs, so I'm not knocking them. I understand it. Through all of it, however, I've dodged the bullet for almost four years. I hope I can make it five.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Dark Knight

I just bought a ticket for the 9:00 A.M. showing on Friday for $8 (a dollar added to the initial $7 for the "convenience charge" -- but don't I still have to wait in line?). I'm probably going to leave at 8:00 since Short Pump is about 15 minutes away.

I'm not a comic book nut and never even really read them growing up, or currently. I also saw Batman Begins about a year after it was released on DVD. But I don't want to wait and see it three weeks after it's released. It looks to awesome to wait. The critics are comparing the movie to a two-hour and thirty minute popcorn Hamlet (more emphasis on Hamlet than the notion of a popcorn flick, of course). Many are calling it depressing. And with a PG-13 rating. So I can't wait. Bring on the darkness, ya'll.

Fortunately turned unfortunately, we have an IMAX theater literally within walking distance from where we live, but some woman got stabbed by a homeless guy there a few months ago. It's on Broad Street. I'm not worried about getting stabbed. But the damn theater ain't playing the movie. Kung Fu Panda? Oh yes, they have it. The Dark Knight? Nope. Only three theaters in Virginia are running it.

It'll be the earliest time I've ever gone to the theater. I imagine it'll still be pretty packed, but hopefully most people will be at work. So I'm trying to take advantage. I'm so put upon...


A phone call from my Physician Assistant (extraordinaire) girlfriend, who has a drug rep dinner tonight -- which lowly non-health care professionals like myself cannot attend -- at Texas de Brazil. Sometimes she steals me leftover food that drug reps bring for lunch:

"Hey, I have to whisper, but I stole you two Panera sandwiches for dinner if you want to wait. I don't know what time I'll be back. Maybe around 8:00. So you might want to eat something before then if you want these."
"OK, I think I can wait. I don't need two, but I can probably eat one for lunch tomorrow."
"Thanks a lot, though."
"OK, bye."

I'm definitely down with free sandwiches. And a girlfriend who does more than she needs to for me.

Literary Journal Blogs Addition

After checking out the new Hayden's Ferry Review blog, I realized that this is a section too many folks don't have on their blogs. Often the blogs can be as entertaining as the work in the journals, though I'm not sure exactly what that means. The HFR blog has gotten off to a great start, especially with a recent post from Beth about the slush pile, mostly in accordance with journals accepting both simultaneous and only snail mail submissions. It's hard for too many writers to understand how long it can take for even a form letter rejection to get back to a writer. I've been very lucky in some cases, but I've also had 9-months-later form rejections. You have to take the good with the bad, the slow with the quick, and keep it rolling.

The Ploughshares blog seems to always start fights, which is pretty hilarious.

And some of them post YouTube videos and the like when nothing's going on.

At any rate, I've added the section, so if you know of some I haven't added -- or if you're a part of one -- let me know, so I can keep the list going.

Monday, July 14, 2008

WTF Nielsen Ratings?

About a month ago we got a card from Nielsen Ratings saying that they were going to call us for a survey. We didn't have to do anything. They were going to call us.

And Jesus H. did they. About 3 times a day. From 8 A.M. to 9 P.M. Our phone is a newer one with the robotic voice announcing the call if you're in the other room, or even if you're in the same room. So instead of "Nielsen Ratings," we always hear "Call ... from... Nielsen Rattings." They seem slithery like rats, always calling. Annoyingly so. So much that I didn't want to answer the phone.

Finally, Jess, who's a sweetheart, picks up the phone, and if something drives her to drink, usually it's me being an asshole. So here's how the conversation goes:

"Hi this is [ ] from Nielsen Ratings..."
"Uh, yeah, we're on the do not call list."
"I'm sorry, but that doesn't apply to us. We're a research company. We're not trying to sell you anything."
"Well, still, you've been calling for weeks at all hours. We didn't ask you to call, and we don't want to participate in anything."

And the usual end to a phone call. I was surprised by Jess being a badass. I'm always surprised when she gets that way. It takes a lot to drive her to it.

So today, a few weeks after the phone call, we get this thing from Nielsen Ratings in the mail.

We open it up, and:

"There is money enclosed with this letter. This is to ask you to please fill out a TV Viewing Diary for just one week. Your name and Diary information will be kept secret. No one will ever try to sell you anything because you returned your TV Diary."

In it there are also five crisp one-dollar bills. I wondered if they were real. But they're in my money-clip.

The thing is: say I watch 20 hours of television week (I don't). Instead of watching for pleasure, I'm technically working for those 20 hours, which means I would've gotten paid a bare-bones twenty-five cents an hour. To write down what stupid television programs I'm watching.

I maybe watch five hours of television a week, and that's pushing it. Movies are, of course, another story. But still, that's a dollar an hour. What kind of chump am I? A crisp twenty or fifty-dollar bill? That may be different. But five ones? Am I in sixth grade?

Has anyone done this? Gotten cash? Done the diary? Is there more money? If not, then this shit ain't worth my time. And they don't even ask. They figure they were being extremely generous for their magnanimously altruistic donation. They tell. They assume.

I just find something very weird about all this. I'm no conspiracy theorist. But what the hell?


I'm always back and forth whether I like David Mamet's movies or not. Glengarry Glen Ross is amazing to me, and I'm one of those folks on the bandwagon. The play's amazing, and the movie's incredible just as well. But I saw a DVD screener rip of Redbelt and, well, there's a reason why DVD screeners are thrown out there. So people don't waste their money on crappy rentals. I kept wanting to really like it, and yes, you're watching a Mametian world when you watch a Mamet film. But there were so many loose ends, seemingly miraculous -- and therefore nonsensical -- and forced plot grafts, and a pretty awful ending. I feel like it would've been better at either two hours and thirty minutes, or thirty minutes. With more TLC and better writing it could have been a contender, maybe. Or at a kind of pace like fighting. Blistering and all-encompassing. But as it is, somewhere in the netherworld middle, it doesn't work. Glad I won't be paying any kind of cash to see this.

I also watched Ils (or "Them") which was the influence for The Strangers, or so they say. Maybe spoilers ahead if you haven't seen either one, so you're warned. I think all in all I liked The Strangers better, but a combination of good elements from oth would have, ideally, made the ultimate flick. The Strangers was kept in check by the claustrophobic environment, using primarily the house as the main set. But only three of the attackers was a bit weird, and you wonder if they'd have been able to cause all the trouble. In Ils, it was a pack of kids in their early teens. Disturbed. Deranged. Whatever the reason. Ils, though, had the crazy tunnel scenes through the sewers, but it took a hell of a long time to get going for a movie that was really only 70 minutes long. I don't know if I'll be watching either again, but the comparison was interesting. They're no Suspiria or Texas Chainsaw Massacre of course.

Speaking of which, I wonder if David Gordon Green will be doing the Suspira remake? I'm not sure if the movie should be remade, even if it is by one of my favorite directors. We shall see.


I started going through some of the discs I actually want to import into my Itunes and I found so many I haven't listened to in a long time. I may every once in a while do a revisit to an older disc that for whatever reason needs to be mentioned. This time it's the self-titled Jawbox record. It's one of my favorite rock records of all time, but even more it has some of the best drumming on it that isn't someone like Dave Weckl, Neil Peart, or Bill Bruford.

But Zachary Barocas is also a monolith in his own right. I'm not just talking about someone like Damon Che either where it gets proggy or seemingly poly-handed and furious. There's always a method to his madness, whether fast or slow, groovy or more D.C. hardcore. There's a judicous use of the higher end toms on this record and lots of groovy polyrhythms that never lose the beat. Plus the production (did J. Robbins do it?) sounds like it's from last year and this record's over 10 years old. I remember first buying it after seeing the "Mirrorful" video on 120 minutes. The song blew my mind. But I didn't get the record. That was after my punk rock phase, so I didn't get complexity yet. I wasn't used to good lyrics or discordant guitar playing.

Hilariously, I just found out that Zach also writes poetry, and has a book out. And yes, he has an interview with Kate Greenstreet. Why do I always discover this weird shit so much later? Either way. Good stuff. Chalk up another connection due to blogging.


I keep seeing guys around Richmond that look like Joe Bolton. the big glasses, kind of scruffy hair, and just that same face. It's really odd. I get from much of the work in "The Last Nostalgia" that his ghost may have lived here. Much of the content in the poems remind me of Richmond. Maybe southern cities are interchangeable, or any cities for that matter, when it comes to the ghost of poets.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Bowtie Cinemas

Apparently there's going to be such an establishment soon in Richmond. The big sign on the outside of the building, very near The Diamond (home of the Richmond Braves) says something about the bringing back of elegance. And on the website there's a little more: "Movieland will feature 17 screens with stadium seating, custom designed wood and leather seating, and an enhanced offering of food and beverages." For a public theater? On Broad? Hmm.

I'm digging the first wave, but are we watching movies in a restaurant? And what are the enhanced food and beverages? Can I not wear my perpetually glued-on Giants t-shirt? [Until they're dethroned I want to hear nothing] Do I need pants? Is a steak the plus-ticket purchase?

Now I love the movies. I love movies. I'm a film lover is what I'm trying to say. This place is a few blocks away. It's beyond the Greyhound station and some bridges populated by the under-dwelling speechless and perpetually drunken and wobbling homeless folks. So we're not going to walk. It's Richmond. And it ain't in The Fan.

But is there anyone out there who knows about Bow Tie Cinemas? If so, let us know what's what. If there's a theater this close, then I'm, of course, in.


Paranoid Park

I finally saw Paranoid Park earlier, and I was pretty happy with it, as Van Sant continues to be an ass kicking director. There's some Larry Clark influence, seemingly at least, ala Kids and Ken Park (which I don't think will ever be officially released, making sense since there's images of a kid ejaculating with a belt around his neck, not to mention the teenage threesome at the end... but it's worth seeing if you can find a copy), and somehow continuing the extremely beautiful tracking and slow-motion shots. Ambient music with grainy skateboard footage somehow is magical in his hands. The acting can probably turn some people off, but I find some of the natural beats and stuttering refreshing after so many Hollywood movies, "indies" or not. I'll buy a copy when it officially comes out. It seems like a good final triumvirate entry along with Elephant and Last Days, even though they're not necessarily a trilogy of course. Looking forward to Milk (especially since Harris Savides is again behind the lens) -- even though I still need to see The Times of Harvey Milk -- when it's released.


A few months ago at Chiocca's, Timmy was playing "The Healing Game" by Van Morrison. I thought it was an older record, but it's from 1997. It's a damn good record though. A lot of horns and more mellow this time too. He ain't the same dude from the old school days, but he's lost less steps than most older musicians. I need to return again to the entire catalogue.


The other day another guy, though in a car this time, stopped to ask me where Monument "Street" was when I was walking home from class. For some reason I freeze when people ask me for directions, because I don't know where I am, ever -- just the direction I'm going right then. So stupidly, and quickly, I said, as he was turning, "Keep on going," like an idiot. And then I realized a second letter that Monument Ave. was of course the opposite direction. Sorry, buddy. My bad.


And to quell the worries of Joshua Poteat... Don't worry, people, I'll never be posting drafts. My published work is bad enough. Though I do have to say, if Paul Guest posts a draft, I always feel like writing a poem. Most other folks though, I'm not interested either.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

WWF Smackdown

And if you edit a journal/press/lit website, make sure the objects you are putting into the world look like something you'd want to see if you hadn't made them.

Agreed, Blake. Agreed.

The Rain in Spain

Thanks again to Jake Adam York and company at Copper Nickel for taking my poem, "Alternate Featurette, The People Under the Stairs." All these AF acceptances happened pretty quickly, so it's nice I won't have to send these out anymore (though my favorite of the batch still hasn't been accepted, and might never be), not to mention that yes, I do have some more faith in them. But I could always get disillusioned sometime in the future again.

And not only am I huge fan of Jake's work, but he's also been an editor who has supported my work from when I first started sending out about three years ago. I really like what Copper Nickel's done in the past, and in just a few years they've turned into something pretty great, so it'll be nice to be a part of another future issue.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Thanks to Jamison, Zach and company at Sonora Review for taking my poem, "Alternate Featurette, Little Monsters."

My excitement is heightened by the fact that I love Sonora Review, Little Monsters is one of my favorite films of all time that no one's ever seen, and this is the second poem of the AF batch in the last few days that's been accepted. I hope it keeps up, because I'm always shifting these poems in my manuscript, taking them out, putting them back in, wondering if they belong in it at all etc. This gives me some faith that they belong there. But maybe they don't. Who knows?


Speaking of movies, The Happening is one of the worst pieces of garbage I've ever seen. I think he played a joke on everyone. Unless he intended it to be a MST3K-like bullshit facade of a movie, I don't understand how there could've been that many bad lines, that much horrendous acting, that many characters that don't have any purpose in being in certain scenes except wasting time and making the movie close to 90 minutes. Some of the forced and unnecessarily direct violence, especially against younger kids, seems like M. Night needs to seek some help. There's more to its horrendous nature than meets the eye. There has to be. But if you're going to see it, download it. Don't waste a spot in your Netflix queue or pay cash in any way to see it.

Also, am I the only one who hasn't given up on Kevin Bacon (who I think turned 50 today)? Is there a reason why he's still making movies? I like Alison Eastwood in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, so I thought she may have a decent shot at directing a melodrama. I like Douglas Sirk at his melodramtic best, so why wouldn't Rails & Ties be at least decent? Well, the acting's pretty much no good across the board -- the kid especially -- the scenes are expected, and it really should've been made into a Lifetime movie. I really need to pay attention to the reviews more. It pretty much blows is what I'm trying to say should you not have been clued in thus far.

And though it was a boot (washed out and pixelated colors, though the sound was great), I checked out Wall*E too, and I liked it a lot. Should it be in the IMDB top 250 films? Of course not. And it's not as good as some of the other Pixar stuff, which I'm certainly a fan of, but it's more of a feast for the senses than the others, maybe even more than Ratatouille. Thomas Newman's score, though, as always, is incredible. I think he's easily the best musician scoring films these days. The score for The Shawshank Redemption (also one of the best movies ever made) is something I still listen to frequently, and so many others tried to copy his style after that. But Wall*E's worth seeing. It's kind of spastic and weird at some points, and reaches too hard to get the kids into it, when it's clearly more of -- though lighter-hearted -- an adult-oriented film, but it's good, and it'll be nice to see it when it's actually released on DVD.


It was cool to see the more no-name (another way to put it?) cast of The Office kick ass tonight on Celebrity Family Fued. And they were playing for a foundation in Scranton. My brother used to live across from Al Roker's brownstone in NYC. He saw him doing dishes a lot. And when his kid was born there were balloons and celebratory baby things on the front porch. I think that was before his surgery.


I was disappointed that Christina won Hell's Kitchen tonight. I understand why I suppose, with Petrozza being 47 and G.R. thinking longterm with the executive chef deal. But I've been for Petrozza from the beginning, so it was kind of a bummer. Then I realized that I was standing up when they were at both doors ready to turn the handles. And I questioned what I was doing with my life. Not really. I loved every minute of it, so screw you.

Monday, July 7, 2008

July's Already Flying

Thanks to Jay, Mary and the rest of the folks at Barn Owl Review for taking my poem, "Alternate Featurette, Keane." I worked on a kind of series of poems, what I call ekphrastic film (ekphracinema?) poems, a few months ago and beyond. I've seen poems about films in the past, and the questions in my mind was always, "If I haven't seen it, will this make sense?" I wasn't really worrying too much about my audience while writing these, though, as I didn't want to enter any kind of paralysis, so I just went for it. And I like how they turned out. And if you haven't seen Lodge Kerrigan's films, you should.

There are still some out there that I like that no one's taken, but I have faith in them, so they'll keep going out. The first issue of BOR had a ton of great contributors and an awesome cover. From the updated list of contributors it looks like I'm going to be in the company of many talented folks, and that's also my first acceptance for a 2009 publication.


Just got my contributor copies of Fourteen Hills in the mail today. The cover's white with a ton of space on it, with a piece from the featured artist Vanessa Hampton overlapping the binding centered left. Lots of good stuff in here, with work by Lance Larsen, Matthew Zapruder, Daniel Coudriet, Onna Solomon, Randall Mann, Derek White, Rebecca Foust, and others. It's always a handsomely designed journal, and this one is no exception, so pick yourself up a copy.


The VA Beach trip was a great time, minus the traffic there and back, what the folks in the know call the "tunnel traffic." But thankfully we were coming from and going back to Richmond, instead of Charlottesville or places beyond. There were also a lot of PA license plates and tons of families within many of the cars. I can imagine all the restless kids in mini-vans. Yikesville. Thanks to Tim and Stenia for hosting us. They have a great place about 12 blocks from the beach. We sat on the beach and watched the fireworks on the 4th, which is something I've never done. We ate hardshell Jimmies at a place by the water called Bubba's, got some beach time in, and drank a lot of beer. I was up till about 5 in the morning every night, mostly playing Wii Bowling. I don't take my vacations lightly. After the weekend before with Corey and Sarah visiting us, and last weekend visiting Tim and Stenia, I'm going to try my best to detox for two weeks, and also not eat out. I may stick to iceberg lettuce and water. I wish I could at least.


Seth Abramson, in his always-meticulous way, breaks down, kind of, some percentages and such with smaller presses, first book contests, open reading periods, etc. on his blog. It's interesting stuff, and everyone should thank him for taking the time. But always with opinions and research, there's going to be some backlash, with some presses responding in his comments field. I understand contents and reading fees, so I have no problem there. I imagine it's hard for even the bigger publishing houses to make money to keep pressing poetry books. I didn't really learn anything I didn't know already, but again, it's interesting to see some of the breakdowns.


About an hour ago when I was walking to school there was this mildly retarded guy walking toward me who stopped to ask me a question: "Do you know where the copy machine is?" I was immediately taken aback, as I thought it was possibly an existential inquiry. The copy machine in the sky? God, known as "the copy machine"? Was he on his way to some warehouse to try and get cloned? Then he said, "I'm sorry, not the copy machine, the copy shop on Main." I thought I knew what he was talking about, so I tried to lead him there. Then, as soon as I turned around and saw him walking, I didn't know where the hell I had led him. I'm horrendous with where I am in space. I hope he got to where he needed to go.


A student just left my office, and I don't think I helped her at all. She closes her eyes and looks away when she's talking. And when I talk to her she just stares at me. I don't know if she has some kind of disability or what, but it's hard for me to help her. It's a situation I've never really been in before, this kind of interaction. At one point I was talking for five straight minutes. Then she said, "OK, thanks," and walked out of my office. I'm not sure what else I can do, and I hate those odd situations where I feel helpless and possibly useless.


All this talk of Kate Greenstreet's first book interviews has gotten me wanting to continue the project. I emailed Kate a few days ago, but haven't heard a response from her. There are so many poets whose books are coming out that I want to buy, not to mention friends, that I'd love to talk to. I just think it's such a beneficial project in so many ways. I suppose if she doesn't want to continue it through her website (I asked her if I could do all the emailing and copy-editing and whatnot and she could just post the finish products), I'm going to start an additional blog with new interviews. The people want to know. And I want to give them that information.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


ken baumann -- actor, writer, editor, photographer -- is taking over the world with this. it's gonna be good. the start's already good. more to come.


watched the college trailer on the apple site, and suddenly kevin covais is in the picture. one of the three main actors. insane. all i have to say is "part time lover."


tentative tunes list for the way down and back:

kings of leon
the silent years
afghan whigs
the hold steady
the national

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


we're headed to VA beach tomorrow to visit tim and stenia for the 4th. i don't mind sitting in the apartment all day with the blinds down watching movies and reading, maybe because i'm insane. but i don't work 60 hours a week like jess, so i'm glad we'll be able to get out for a weekend. neither one of us have been there, so i'm looking forward to it. i'm more of a fan of the bars around the beach rather than the beach, but i'm sure it'll be a good time.


the new maps & atlases ep is pretty great. so far it reminds me of battles, as if they're listened to "mirrored" about 500 times. but they've gone less overtly fret-tapping based and have gone the direction of a kind of, dare i say, polyrhythmic math pop. the songs build, but there's also a lot of melody and surprises, and more prominent vocals contributing to the melodies also. i really like what they're doing, and just from one ep to the next they've evolved a ton. here's hoping for an imminent full length.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

the usual i suppose

so amidst all the movie watching i had to talk about these, first of all. i saw shotgun stories finally after a long wait and no way to get a dvd rip off the internet. it was pretty amazing and lived up to the hype (and look at how gorgeous and 70s the poster is). especially since jeff nichols was around 28 when he completed it. there's tons of amazing arkansas scenery (shot by adam stone, who's done a.d. work with david gordon green), a great score by lucero (with some help from pyramid), and a pretty compelling story. i come from a family of 3 brothers, so i think those of us who do maybe feel more of a bond as such, but even if you're not a part of such a family, you can see the potential for a long career for jeff nichols by watching this film. if you don't know what it's about you can find out for yourself, but it was worth the wait for me. plus there's a music-only track, which i think shows how compelling the scenery is. it takes a good cinematographer, yes, but so many great landscapes could be captures by monkeys behind the lens and come out beautiful. movies with an additional main character as the landscape have always intrigued me, and this adds to the list. jeff nichols is also taking over for david gordon green as the director for goat, the memoir written by brad land. i hope they film it in south carolina. it should be in production now, at least that's what imdb says.

in bruges was a weird little flick too. saw the trailer on apple's site a while back, and it looked intriguing. it ends up being written like tarantino, the coen brothers, and bruce robinson (more withnail and i than how to get ahead in advertising) collaborated (and carter burwell also did the music), while filming the whole thing in a little town in belgium. throughout the whole movie they're also drinking great beer out of glass chalices and oversided wine glasses. tripels and belgian strong pale ales it looked like to me mostly. as the movie gets a bit over-the-top with its comedic racism and prejudice, collin ferrell's character keeps calling them "gay beers," which someone else can read into. there's a ton of twists, a ton of swearing, and a lot of accents thrown at you. it was a pretty wild ride, and i liked it a lot, mainly because i was torn between so many things to think about. am i laughing at this? am i offended? am i supposed to be offended? is this supposed to be funny? though it meshed well instead of being completely off-putting.

back to the documentary side of things. jandek on corwood was fairly mind-blowing, in that i never got into jandek's music. when i was music director at warc at allegheny, though, i'm pretty sure we had a ton of original jandek pressings in our packed little alcove behind the equipment. i could've made a ton of money had i spent more time reading about record collecting. we had so much out of print stuff, not old jazz records as much as radio issued singles, limited pressings, etc. all of it spanning back into the 80s. i can see why people like the music, but i never got into it. i just didn't know about the insane mysteries surrounding this guy, and the whole thing is utterly fascinating and engrossing. salinger-esque was his life (before, apparently, he started playing scant live sets in, i think, 2004 until the present and beyond), though many think the talent factor is a little skewed. anyone into music probably already knows a bit about jandek, but if you are and you don't, this thing's worth seeing. i spent a ton of time looking at the supplements, sans commentary, and did more research on the web after it's over. a whole psychology class could be taught on this guy, his methods, his music, his reclusive nature.

and finally, slasher blew me away. a movie about a guy who's hired to slash prices for car dealerships and get them sold and taken off the lot. thankfully, i had no idea what i was in for by just the quick description that i'd seen from the av club. but it was hilarious and humanistic in an american movie kind of way, and i feel like michael bennett's a composite character of a ton of different characters everyone's met, from movies, other documentaries, real life. it was one of those movies that almost shouldn't have been inspiring, but was by the end. plus it's filmed in memphis, and one of the best lensed movies of all time i think is jim jarmusch's mystery train. it seems like a lot hasn't changed visually since 1989. tons of southern wreckage. abandoned houses. dingy avenues. tons of train tracks. beautiful decay all over the place. people wonder why the south is such an amazing place visually. yeah, it's not greece or italy, i know that, but i have some pride in what nature does to our creation in the u.s. within the last 100 years or so. i always find that stuff fascinating. i'm off track here, but the movie blew me away. so many movies lately i want to buy. there are a ton. and this is one of them. see it if you haven't.


sometimes i think i should've gone into film. with the time i spend watching movies -- and spent watching these movies -- i could've been writing new poems, or at least attempting to write non-horrendous drafts. but then i started thinking that if i could later teach classes in film and poetry, wherever i end up (yeah, pretty easy, i'm sure), that i'd be pretty happy. i wasn't cut out to be a filmmaker, though its fingerprints on my work are more like godzilla's.

but i've used film in my poems in other ways and continue to do so. maybe they're inseparable for me. i think that's the case.

charles bernstein, i think, was the one who said poetry needs to be at least as interesting as television, or something as such. well, i guess for me it has to be as interesting as a great movie or documentary. then again, so many movies are pure poetry too.

endeth here before i go too far into realms of non-understanding to my own understanding.


c. dale young has a post from a few days ago that i really like, where he talks about "god" appearing in his manuscript more than he'd thought, and wondering if it's too much. though now he's come to terms with it, knowing it isn't.

though this is his third book and he's had a lot of experience, it's good, i think, for folks who've spent a lot of time with their manuscripts -- as i have in the past year, more time than i'd like to admit -- to question and requestion that. whether it's thematic, like my elegies that seemingly run wild, or just single words. obsessions need to remain our obsessions. but where is the line drawn?

i think all of this is pretty dangerous when starting to just put together a manuscript, and i'm glad i didn't think it about it much then, as it could easily go toward paralysis and make you want to burn it. but having invested a lot of time in a manuscript, it's always good to question, and to hopefully be able to come to terms with kinds of repitition in a beneficial and positive way without convincing yourself falsely.


for a mere $.75 (that's cents) plus shipping, i got another copy, though this time a hardcover, from, of lynda hull's the only world. it's an ex-library book (screw you phil levine -- this refers to an older post), but it's in fantastic condition. that original book's amazing, as are all the rest of hers. david wojahn and mark doty did a great job with the new-ish collected, but man, having the original is choice, tops, pinnacle -- not to mention how inspiring her work continues to be for myself and many other poets. i mean, 75 cents, people. can you even get taco bell for that much now?


and now it's official congratulations (the link is to a .pdf file) to mathias svalina and allison titus, two former vcu mfa-ers (though allison switched and got her mfa in fiction from vcu, she started in poetry) in poetry whose books will be published by cleveland state university press next year. with so many recognizable names as finalists and semi-finalists, i can see why my manuscript, though it was a much older version (yes, i'm making excuses), wasn't among such esteemed folks.

i think the next few years or so are going to have some presses, contests, and judges scratching their heads about which to choose while getting so many great manuscripts, as more and more contests are filled with finalist and semi-finalists whose work i've seen in journals and have really liked. though that's my taste, i think it's pretty good.


i just heard outside our office / guest room windows, which looks down upon a street intersecting a few bars (even though we don't get the insane noise of living close by vcu), a woman kind of yelling, on a tuesday of all days, "i should be allowed to go! fuck!" now who knows what she was talking about, but you have to love the incessantly nightly, most-likely post-drunken and possibly pre-coital drama meandering down the streets and careening off the buildings. i don't know if it's our brick walls below or what, but we get this insane echo that bounces of every wall. it sounds freakishly like the conversations / altercations are happening right behind us, in the room. then assholes start blasting their bass as loud as it can go and honking. one of these days i'll post joe bolton's "the party," which totally reminds me of being in the fan district in richmond. it's a love / hate relationship, but more often than not, love wins.

blockbuster rant

i was having a pretty good day today. i messed up and didn't put a netflix movie in on saturday. therefore, they couldn't send shotgun stories on monday, so it won't be here tomorrow. i called blockbuster, which happens to be abut 2 blocks from the post office, to see if they had it in. the employee, let's call him "ian," was very nice, and on two separate occasions answered my call, the second being the one where he told me had it and it would be at the front desk. simple, easy, and courteous usually equals a good experience.

so i went to the post office, dropped off the other netflix movies in the mail receptacle, and walked over to blockbuster. "ian" was there, as i saw on his nametag, and there seemed to be no one behind me. after he was done with the customer before me, i told him who i was, and he, very rudely, said, "well, you'll have to wait, she was in front of you." so i see this timid lady with two things of popcorn and a movie, and i said, "i'm sorry, i didn't realize." so i looked to the right and saw a guy there and asked him if he was in front of me. "nope, i just got here."

finally another guy came to the register to the right of "ian," and wanted the next person to come up. so i did. then, "ian," in a pretty obnoxious and not-good-for-business and very unnecessary way to handle the situation, says, "can we get something over there so people stop cutting?" he was referring to a very large customer-sized gap between a cheap dvd rack and the shitty candy they sell. looked like a place for customers to go to me. but i felt like i was in the lunchline in third grade, getting ready for the globs of government issued and processed nasty ass food we all were served for so many years.

now i've been in control more over the years of what comes out of my mouth, so instead of saying, "do you really have to be that much of a dick about it when it's your fault, since i'm not the only customer who's been doing it?" i said "well, if you're referring to me, i didn't see anyone behind me, so i'm sorry," and he said, "it's ok, it's just been happening all day," and i replied, "well, there's a hole there between the dvd rack and the candy, which to me seems like it's a space where customers can go through. you could put something there so they wouldn't. really it's an easily solvable problem." and he mumbled something under his breath, i got my change back from the other guy, and i left.

i always wanted to debunk the myths of the chain stores, movie chain stores that is, always causing horrible experiences, but the few times i've been there stupid shit like this has happened, though mostly we were the awkward witnesses in someone else's debacle. but the whole thing was really unnecessary, and it could've been a lot worse if i started saying stuff i shouldn't and raising my voice, but i'm above that now, i think at least. regardless, though, i have the damn movie, and like today, i really only go, and will continue only to go, to blockbuster for necessities as such.