Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Back to Richmond tomorrow from Pennsylvania. Getting ready for some visitors for New Years. I thought that was a week away, but it's Wednesday. Yikes. Major chill and movie-watching time will be had post.


My Mom has spent much time in the last years and months creating these amazing photo albums from the day I was born until I graduated college.

I don't really know how any gift could be better or more thoughtful than that.

She had to figure out all the years and months the pictures were taken, in addition to all the time and effort constructing them. And it was a very long process, as you can imagine. They're really something. It'll be amazing to have such fantastic thing to hopefully show my kids. Thanks, Mom. You're the best.


A few movie updates:

Towelhead - Alan Ball is overrated. His direction's also pretty bad. Too much of a Happiness ripoff and not enough originality. Took the lasciviousness and raunchiness way too far. Aaron Eckardt and Summer Bishil were the only bright spots.

The Wrestler - I've been hearing things like, "If Mickey Rourke didn't play the lead, then you wouldn't have a movie." Or, "This movie was written for Mickey Rourke." Well, yes, obviously. Since when is the pleasure of watching actors act such a horrible thing? The story's fairly straightforward, but Rourke should win an Oscar. And not only is Marisa Tomei ridiculously hot, but she's believable as the stripper. One of my favorites of the year, and I can't wait to watch it again. I never thought watching someone walk through the back of a grocery store would be so engaging. There's an energy to this movie that's palpable for me, and the dirty Jersey landscapes sometimes are amazing to pause and stare at.

Frozen River - A hit at Sundance, and I can see why. I'm not sure how excited I am to watch this again, but I felt like I was actually seeing something new-ish at least, something with blood pumping through it. A lot to admire, and very pretty to look at, even though to many the landscapes are probably bleak.


Picked up some books when I was visiting Jess in Pittsburgh at Half Priced Books, and one of them was Quan Barry's Controvertibles.

Does anyone else think that she's writing amazing poetry? Poetry that's putting many poets to shame? Am I the only one? So many poets are being talked about, but I never hear anything about Quan Barry.

The long lines and historical mash-ups in the book remind me of a balance between David Wojahn and Larry Levis. That's watered down. There's so much to take in every line.

Some of her titles knock me on my ass too. Even if the poems were bad. And Jesus are they not.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas everyone. I'm in western Pennsylvania in my hometown, waiting for my brothers to get here while they're doing family things with their other family and soon-to-be other family. So I figured I'd catch up on some blogging instead of getting fatter by sitting downstairs and eating, which will probably come later anyway.


Two new First Book Interviews are up, just in time for the Holidays.

#11 - Brian Brodeur

#12 - Mark Wunderlich

I have many more to get out once 2009 starts, and it's looking to be an amazing year for interviews, as many fantastic poets have books coming out.


All of my Ph.D applications went our last Thursday, so now, officially, the waiting game begins.

Hopefully soon I'll have email confirmation (once I send my emails) from all the Graduate Coordinators that my materials have arrived successfully to the respective English Departments.

I've been consumed with it the last few months—as those who have applied and / or are attending a school now know—so it'll be nice to get back to teaching, reading, interviewing, and my own writing in 2009. Hopefully it'll be a great one for everybody.


RIP Harold Pinter.


To no one's surprise I imagine, I've consumed a lot of movies lately. Gotta love Oscar season. Here are some mini-reviews that probably don't tell you anything about the movies:

Seven Pounds - A complete waste of time. Too long. Contrived. Trite. And boring. Moral: Don't text while driving. It's something that probably many of your fellow students, teachers, have written about in argumentative essays.

Milk - Posted about it previously. Maybe my favorite movie of the year aside from The Dark Knight.

Choke - Another disappointment. I'm not sure Clark Gregg was the right director for this. I didn't read the book, but after seeing the movie, I don't really want to. I just didn't think a lot of it connected. Sam Rockwell makes it pretty tolerable, though, as he has some great lines.

Slumdog Millionaire
- Not as amazing as the critics are saying, but fairly enjoyable. The narrative technique's pretty easy to spot from the first scene and caters more to folks who like gimmicky devices in movies. But the non-actors and flashback scenes of the kids save it. Reminded me of The Kite Runner in that respect. Don't go in expected to be blown away, but it's worth checking out.

Gran Torino - The more I think about this movie, the more it kind of bothers me. Another one I can't say I didn't enjoy, but also one I don't think I'd see again. Clint has some funny lines, and it seems like this will be his last acting roll. But a lot of it seems less believable to me as I keep thinking about it, though I'm pretty sure it was supposed to be in the realm of believability. Unlike Slumdog Millionaire, a lot of the non-actors seemed a bit flat. Some of the scenes were way too forced, and the cymbal-crash ending was a little too contrived for me. Dirty Harry in the suburbs some are calling it.

Wendy and Lucy - Though Old Joy didn't impress me much, maybe because I had high hopes going in, Kelly Reichardt impressed me a lot with this movie, as did the acting of Michelle Williams, who plays a very different role from something like The Station Agent. There have been rightful comparisons to De Sica and Antonioni, but it was a movie I felt was comparable to many others, so much so that because of this is became it's own work of art. I thought it was so-so when I finished it, but it's worked its way into my skull so much now that I keep wanting to watch it again. Probably will be one of my favorites by the end of the year.

Baghead - The Duplass brothers are maybe a little too indie for a variety of reasons, but I have to say I liked this by the end. Again, I'm not sure I can watch it again, but there's a charm to this movie that you have to see. Some of the acting wasn't very good. And it could've been better. But a fairly different kind of movie, even though many viewers may wonder if it's a comedy version of The Strangers. But it's not.

In Search of a Midnight Kiss - More like an updated Manhattan (which is one of my favorite movies on the planet) than anything else, but the black and white is perfect for every scene. A good screenplay and an avoidance of falling into forced indie cliches. I'm looking forward to seeing this again.

Timecrimes - Apparently Cronenberg's already doing a remake in 2009, about two years after the original. Kind of weird if you ask me. Though I honestly said while I was watching it, "This reminds me of Cronenberg." Interesting overall, but too gimmicky with too many plot holes, and more for sci-fi nerds if you ask me.

Blindness - I was angered by the end of this at how good it could've been. I think Julianne Moore's amazing in everything she's in, and I like Mark Ruffalo a lot too. It's of course based on another book I haven't read, but unlike Choke, I need to read the book now. The cinematography bugged me the most. Too much sci-fi brightness instead of natural light, which would've made the movement a lot more compelling.


The Giants
have clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs. To win the Super Bowl two times in a row is unlikely, but we'll see what kind of run we can make at the end. The playoffs should be awesome this year, and I'm already getting ready for a few weeks down the road.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Though I didn't go to the theater to see it—along with many others who are seeing it the way that I saw it, even though that may make no sense—Milk is an amazing film.

Everything about it is enthralling. The scope. The acting. The music. The cinematography. And of course: the story.

You knew with such skilled hands in every cinematic department it wasn't going to be a bad film, but I don't think I fully expected, or was ready for, what I got in the end.

I'll be shocked as hell if it doesn't get at least a few Oscar nominations, as it's deserving of almost every category. Seriously. Every category.

See it. Go to the theater. Do what you have to do.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

New First Book Interviews and More

It's finally Ladies Night with the First Book Interviews:

#9 - Susan Settlemyre Williams

#10 - Suzanne Frischkorn

More in a couple weeks...


I'm now super disappointed I'm not going to AWP. I was asked to read with the folks below, but since I won't be there, I unfortunately won't be reading. Should be great. Make sure you're there if you're going to AWP.

Here's the post from Steve Schroeder's blog:

AWP Offsite Reading

Anti- and diode are happy to announce the co-sponsoring of an offsite reading at the 2009 AWP Conference in Chicago. The reading will be Friday, February 13th at 7 PM in Curtiss Hall on the 10th floor of the Fine Arts Building at 410 S. Michigan Avenue (just a couple blocks from the conference hotel).

Readers include:

Jake Adam York
Joshua Ware
G. C. Waldrep
Steven D. Schroeder
Lee Ann Roripaugh
Ada Limon
Patrick Lawler
Bob Hicok
Paul Guest
Matthew Guenette
Brent Goodman
Noah Falck
Adam Clay
Mary Biddinger

Food and wine of some kind will be provided. Much gratitude to Patty Paine for doing most of the heavy lifting to organize this event, to the Fine Arts Building for providing space, and to the readers.


Huge congratulations to Nicky Beer, whose first book, The Diminishing House, will be published by Carnegie Mellon University Press in early 2010.

I've been a fan of Nicky's work for a while now, and anticipated great things happening for her.

Now she has a Ruth Lilly fellowship and a first book on the way.

Sometimes I do actually know what I'm talking about...


I've been on a documentary kick lately, and I plan to keep devouring them.

I don't feel like writing much about each one, but all of these are more than worth seeing: The Gits, Man on Wire, and American Teen.


Applications are almost done. I can't believe it.

Also I can't believe that applying to 8 schools will end up costing around $1000 when all is said and done.

Hopefully it'll all be worth it in the end.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Thanks to Redivider for taking a new-ish poem. I was in an issue a few years ago, and I was sold on the quality of their published work right away, so I'm honored again that they chose some more work on my end to be included.

I usually write in very long lines, which is something for whatever reason I haven't been able to escape from lately, but this is a more mannered, short-lined poem, I think, and I'll probably try to do some more experimenting with the shorter lines as new poems pop into my head.


Congratulations to all the NEA Fellowship winners this year. A lot of familiar names, some bloggers, and much talent among the group.


Just got an email that Gulf Coast has finally updated their website. It's had submission information and everything, but as far as contents and things go, it's been a long time.

That said, the new site's very sexy and user-friendly, and clearly they were putting a lot of time into in the last how many months, which is a good reason to not update the site of course.


I can't believe I'm almost done with these Ph.D applications. Every day now more and more is coming together, and in a couple weeks or less, envelopes will be stuffed, and everything will be mailed out.

Then the waiting game...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


I turn 27 today.

It may be weird or seemingly narcissistic or nonsensical or egotistical, but I find all I keep saying to myself is, "I have 3 years to get my first book into the world." Yes, my goal, like many of the folks under 30 who have a first manuscript floating around, is the age of 30.

But considering the state of the world, I'm lucky to have lived this long thus far. And now that I'm hopefully onto the second manuscript, or at least the seeds of it, there are many other things I should probably be worrying about or at the very least concerned with at this point in my life.


Speaking of first books, I received Sean Nevin's Oblivio Gate in the mail today.

He's doing a first book interview in the future, and I'm very glad he agreed. He won the 2007 Crab Orchard First Book Award, for which I was also a finalist the first time I ever sent out my "book."

Learning of Sean Nevin as the winner, I immediately started Googling his name and checking out his work, and from what I could find, I was pretty blown away. And I'm flattered and flabbergasted my book, as it was then, was thought to be good enough to be in his company.

Not only that, but there's a reason (probably many, actually) why my book wasn't picked. It wasn't ready. It had a different title. Many different poems. I think the idea and structure's guts and circuits haven't changed much, but it was in a very early and rough stage.

Maybe I'll be saying the same thing in a year or two, but I don't think so. I hope not at least.

Without entering the contest, I'm not sure I would've known about his book. I think it will be getting its due in the future. I've started reading through it already, and it's making me want to sit down and write: always a sign that I need to trust that instinct. And not all first books bring that kind of magic through first reads.

Anyway, be sure to check it out.

SIU Press not only does beautiful books, but they're consistent with quality also. I think they'll be an important press as long as people are still reading contemporary poetry.


Regarding this post a week ago, it looks like the faux pas has been fixed.

There's no reason to mention the journal, since it was of course an honest mistake, but the interesting thing is the next day I received an email from the Web Editor of another journal, who saw my post and contact the aforementioned journal about their security issues.

It looks like the problem has been fixed, thankfully, as I said. I was more worried about another email address getting out there and spammed more than anything else.

I did, however, take it upon myself to put the link in and grab all the other submissions that I could get that got through to Google. Many of the poets have books out and / or have been published in pretty prominent journals. It's funny how you never know who's sending work, and you never know what you're up against, since so many journals publish from the transom or slush pile and take around 2%-5% of the work submitted that isn't solicited.