Monday, December 28, 2009

Endings

This year went quickly.

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Going to see THE ROAD again in a crappy little theater in Hermitage. Saw it in NYC a few weeks ago. Loved it, but I want to see the cut of the film how it was supposed to be. I hope that happens.

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Need to get my movie list in order, and my favorite records of 2009.

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Have a ton of books I want to read. Novels too. Not just poetry. School doesn't start again until January 25th. I don't think I ever had a break that long in PA and VA.

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This is one of the paintings I'd love to have for the cover of Ghost Lights. I hope Lois Dodd lets me have it and doesn't want a ton of money. Since I love it so much, I'm sure it'll be unable to grace the cover.

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Five blurbs in for Ghost Lights. Still waiting for a few more. Need to have the galleys. I'm thrilled that people are saying such nice things.

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Haven't written a decent poem in a long time. It's been the longest stretch since I started writing. Haven't sent out a lot of work recently either. Though I do have the last handful of poems from the new manuscript out at a good amount of journals still, and some of them have had them for a while. Maybe the rejections are coming along slowly. Maybe someone will actually want something.

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I need to begin a third manuscript, but I'm not rushing it. I don't think the second one's going to change all that much. Maybe I'm crazy, but it's weird and I like it, and it represents a significant part of the changes of the last few years.

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I do have high hopes for production this spring semester. Hopefully I don't let myself down.

Monday, December 7, 2009

NYC

Jess and I are off to New York City this weekend. She wants to see a show. And the tree. And Times Square.

Now that we got an insane deal from a friend of a friend on a hotel right by The Meadowlands, I really want to snag some tickets to the Giants / Eagles game this Sunday night. For Sunday Night Football. Which would be awesome. It'll be the first and officially last time we have a shot to do so before the new stadium. That would kind of make my year complete, even though it's pretty much been complete already (see previous post).

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After watching the Denver Nuggets dominate in the playoffs last year, I've become a new follower of the team. I don't think I can officially call myself a fan, but they're fun to watch, and I'll always catch a game now if it's on TV.

When I was at my aunt's for Thanksgiving, everyone had gone to bed, and I was watching the Knicks / Nuggets game, and one of the announcers said something about J.R. Smith that I thought was extremely apt for what I want to do with whatever material ends up becoming some semblance of a start for my third manuscript.

He said, "J.R. Smith's dangerous because he has infinite range and no conscience." I thought that was beautiful, especially since it was said about a basketball player. However, if you see some of the insane shots Smith puts up, and sometimes makes (more often than you'd think), then you know what I'm talking about.

But think about it.

If, as writers, we don't believe we have infinite range, than we never push ourselves to go beyond what we're capable of. Insert name after name after name of poets who keep writing the same book after the same book after the same book (or, for those who don't have a book out, the same poem after the same poem after the same poem). And having no conscience is the part that I've been fairly lucky to have, even though it's gotten me into trouble in some cases (and it still might if certain people see Ghost Lights, since there are poems in there that certain people may not want to read, for a number of reasons). Just another reason to put your balls to the wall, especially since so many writers keep doing the same things, sacrificing heart for music, sacrificing balls for artifice.

I hope I never succumb to that.

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Got the third blurb for Ghost Lights, with still a handful to go.

I think I'll have a good mix once all is said and done. And I'm grateful for the time everyone's taken to write something about the book.

If everyone's saying the same thing on the back cover, then what's the point of reading more than one? Or any of them, for that matter?

And yes, I don't need you to tell me that people mostly don't read the blurbs anyway, because I know that. But thankfully folks have been, in my opinion, writing representative statements that hopefully will make someone at least open it to see if they're interested. And if they're not, I'm glad they at least wanted to see if they were.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

28

The end of the semester, as those of you know who are in school or teach at the college level, is upon us, and the insanity, though past the start, is still in full swing. Hence the lack of updates.

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I turned 28 today.

I had a pretty amazing year.

My first book got accepted for publication by Dream Horse Press.

I got married to an amazing woman, and though I'm biased, our wedding was also amazing.

I got into four out of eight schools for my PhD before finally choosing Binghamton University and moving to Vestal, New York with Jess.

And I "finished" a second manuscript, which is now officially at a total of nine contests and open reading periods.

I'm not quite sure how all of that happened, but it did, and I'm extremely thankful.

That said, the last the thing I want to do is slow down.

My new goal is to have the second manuscript accepted for publication by the time I turn 30 in exactly two years. It's lofty, I know, but I really feel that it's in a much better position than Ghost Lights was at that point, and even if it's deemed not so, I'm going to keep sending it out.

Though I didn't get a ton of poems written during this semester, which I expected, I'm hoping to come back fiercely next semester.

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I keep thinking about the page length for single collections of poetry. Ghost Lights, in a .doc file, is exactly 51 pages of actual poetry. At one point, I probably had it up to 60, but I kept cutting, and that's one thing I made a point to do, especially with published poems.

That's how the new manuscript is, too. I think it's exactly 50 pages of poetry. I like it like this.

I probably always will.

Longer collections seem to bum me out. I always keep finding poems in collections that I would've cut. Maybe I'm too hard on those books and my own manuscripts? Not sure.

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Spent last weekend in Goshen, New York, at my Aunt Janet's for Thanksgiving. Saw a lot of relatives, drank well and ate well. Can't ask for anything more.

The weekend before Jess and I went to Baltimore. She had a suturing class she decided to take part in for her job, and since I literally hadn't been anywhere since Ithaca in three months, it was good to get out of Vestal for a bit. Had a blast. Met new people. One of the best weekends I've ever had.

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Speaking of getting away, here's an interesting blog post by Susan Rich: Artist Residencies - What You Should Know.

Residencies and colonies have always been funny things to me. I've never applied to one because I've never had the desire or need to go to one, but this seems like a good start for those who are interested.

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Hopefully Ghost Lights will be out sometime around May 2010. Once I get the galleys, which should be soon, I'm going to spend day and night looking, changing, questioning, finalizing.

I already have some folks who said they're interesting in reviewing it, and I'm in the process of setting up some readings for next year. There's still a lot I need to learn about all this promotion stuff. Thankfully I have a lot of writers I can talk to.

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There's probably more I want to write, but I can't remember anything else. Except that The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans was a great movie. Hilarious, dark, fun, and insane.

Kind of pissed The Road didn't get a wide release. Hopefully in a few weeks though. The Lovely Bones better be wide, because I'm psyched to see that too, but I'm not holding my breath.

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Oh, and it looks like the new issue of Handsome is out and shipping in December.

Look at that cover. Wow.

There's a poem in there issue from Ghost Lights, and it looks like I'm in good company, which is no surprise to me.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sick

I've been a little under the weather earlier in the semester, but I'm hoping what I have is the 24-hour bug, which I got about 4 years ago. Knotted stomach. Fluids exiting my body rapidly. Trying to drink ginger ale and Gatorade. Figured I'd try and do something to take my mind off it, since I don't seem to feel any better.

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See The Box.

See Ballast.

See Low and Behold. (when you can, since I got surreptitious DVD copy).

I have a feeling my explanations won't make any sense, but I saw them all within seven days.

And they're all easily in my Top 100 Favorite Movies of all time list. So good all around in so many ways.

That will come closer to the end of the year...

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Wrote two poems the other day, both within about an hour, and that's what happened so many times with the poems in Ghost Lights.

I feel like I'm someone who sometimes writes to get shit out of my head. The horrible shit that no one wants to hear about or read about it. Therapeutic? No, because none of it (well almost none of it) has nothing to do with me.

But sometimes you have to do that to move on. I've had people say, "So what? A tragedy happened." Well, yeah, I understand that, but obviously it didn't affect you to the point where you constantly think about it and dream about it, and sometimes the amalgam of two or three. For that I commend you. But I can't do that. And I feel like it has to hit paper before I can get it out of my head. I can't see myself ever getting away from this for as long as I last in this poetry world, if I end up lasting at all. But that's fine. I do what I can.

That said, I have an idea for another one that I'm struggling with. I'm going to try to get a new batch ready for the end of November, so we'll see if we can make it happen. With the next few weekends booked, along with all the grading and end-of-the-semester paper writing, I don't see it happening, but at least it's a goal.

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I had some other things I wanted to get on this post, but I forget what they are.

I need more fluids. And maybe some Saltines.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Fantasy

The new issue of Waccamaw is up.

Not a huge fan of the design, but I love the content, and though I had to pull poems before they really had time to consider them, I'll be sending work during the next reading period.

Take a look.

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Was wondering about the now-defunct and now dead-linked Red Morning Press the other day.

The site's been down for a while now. You can't even order books from the website anymore, which sucks. I don't know what happened to them. I'm not sure if anyone does. But it seems that they suddenly, and unfortunately, vanished.

I mention this because I was also thinking about Jason Bredle's second book, Pain Fantasy, the other day. I'm pretty sure it's still in a box in the closet, which I need to get out of the closet, but I also wanted to see if you could still get new copies on Amazon.

Turns out the cheapest copies available are those that Jason is selling currently, signed, for $12 each.

I say this, first off, because you should get the book if you haven't already, because most likely this will be your last chance. It seemed like RMP was headed for good things, and though I don't know what happened, secondly, I wonder about taking a chance with a press that's only been around for a few years, these days.

I'm sure there are stories like this with other presses that you know and I don't. But this is one that no one seems to be talking about, mainly because I'm not sure if many even knew the press before it was gone...

Though I'm thrilled to technically soon be sharing a press with Jason (his chapbook The Book of Evil will be coming out from Dream Horse Press in 2010), and though he's well on his way to his third book being published (I've seen that it's already been a finalist a few times for contests), it's sad to know that both the author of the book and the press have suffered, and that the book, at this point, is pretty much out of print.

I didn't intend to write a long post about this, and I won't, but it's certainly something to think about, especially if you're anxious to get any of your manuscripts out into the world as books. There are always factors in the publishing business beyond one's control, but with more presses in the world these days, especially those publishing poetry (or so it seems), though being cautious to the point of paralysis is not good, being cautious is certainly good.

Anyway, seriously, above all, get Pain Fantasy while you still can. It's awesome. It's a handsomely designed book, too.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

November

I have two poems from the new manuscript up at Anti- if you're interested.

Thanks to Steve and the editors.

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I can't believe there's essentially a month and change left of the first semester.

Probably heading to Philly next weekend with Jess to visit one of her friends. I've only been to the airport there, so it'll be a good chance to explore. Minus the fact that I don't like the Eagles, I hear it's a cool city, so I'm going to try to amass of list of places I need to check out.

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Received the second blurb for Ghost Lights last week. It feels like everything's coming to fruition.

I hope to have the rest by Thanksgiving. Hopefully the galleys should be in my possession soon.

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Huge game for The Giants today, especially after the two previous losses.

Winner is either tied for first place or owns it by themselves. Just depends on the outcome and team.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Day

It occurred to me a few days ago that I still didn't have a physical copy of my second manuscript in a binder.

So Immediately printed one out, took out the old version of Ghost Lights that was in there, hole-punched it and stuck it in.

The first flip through I immediately noticed some small things that needed to be fixed. This is after looking at it way too many times on the computer. Since I've done so much work on it, however, I'm glad it took me this long to get a physical copy, as I would've had to replace many single pages after changes to the poems.

But alas, I have a physical copy. There's something about throwing that sucker in my bag and carrying it around all day that makes me like it more. Now it feels real I suppose.

And I sent it off about thirty minutes ago to four more places. It's now at a total of seven.

By December 31st it'll be at about five more.

I hope folks like it.

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The time has arrived. Who's going to join me in creating their arduously constructed 100 Favorite Movies List?

Those who need not apply:
  • If you have Citizen Kane as your #1 movie (and though this is a personal rule, you probably shouldn't make one if it's on your list at all. But hey, that's just me.)
  • If you're including too many movies with attached names like Truffaut, Malle, Bergman, De Sica, Antonioni, etc. without having seen the movies, because people do that. And let's face it: like me, you probably want to see more classics than you've seen thus far. Don't be that guy.
  • If you don't have a passion for movies. This probably goes without saying. Too bad.
  • If you don't have the time to spend, because it takes a while, though it's certainly something you should be proud of when you're done.
Remember, this is your Favorite Movies List. If for some reason you could watch Gigli 1000 more times after the 100 you've already seen it, then you shouldn't be shy about putting it on there. Though you should probably make fun of yourself for such a thing.

For those who've already done one, the rule is that you can't go back to your old list. You have to make a new one.

So far two of my best friends from high school (who know their shit, most of the time) and my oldest brother (who also certainly knows his shit) are participating. Any other bloggers want to participate? If so, post your list to your blog by 2010...

You can find my old list in a previous blog post if you feel the need to try and make fun of or applaud mine. Go ahead, I say.

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You should get the new Lymbyc System record, Shutter Release. It comes out Tuesday.

Instrumental, complex, and beautiful stuff. Their songs on the former EP with This Will Destroy You are incredible, and those ideas have finally been expanded to a full length. Check them out if you haven't.

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I almost forgot. If you're sending out a book to contests and open reading periods, Kelli Russell Agodon has been ruminating about any and every topic you can think of as related to such an endeavor. A lot of good information, so if you're new to the whole ordeal and want to get a sense of it from someone who's willing to share a lot of insider information, if you will, then don't hesitate to start combing through her blog.

Though I've shared bits and pieces of my experience, Kelli's much more thorough and insightful, so read away if you're interested.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

North

A few weeks ago, after a ton of headaches with our ex-landlord, Jess and I decided to send a complaint to the Virginia Fair Housing Office.

If something came of it, cool. If not, well, we're unjustifiably out $200, but the world goes on, and we tried.

However, a nice woman from the aforementioned Fair Housing Office called today and said that though they can't do anything about it, the issue resides with Consumer Affairs, and she forwarded all of the materials to them.

Glad to know something at least got done from the initial step. We'll see what happens from here.

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Had six contests and open reading periods originally for October, but I decided to wise up, for a few reasons, and get that down to four, which I think is a good number.

I've done some good work on it in the past month I think. I've been looking closely at a lot of things I was never really cognizant of before, and I think it's helped. I also don't understand the complete hatred of gerunds in poetry. I've heard it all before... but when a gerund needs to be there, it needs to be there. Simple as that.

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I found some pretty awesome paintings that feel like they could be a cover for Ghost Lights, but I'm not getting my hopes up, since I have no idea about the workings of obtaining cover art. But it's still fun to start looking around and having paintings, colors, and fonts in my head.

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Luke has given me a shout out before for getting a good number of poems accepted in a relatively short amount of time, and he certainly deserves the same right now.

I'm sure you'll be seeing his book around soon enough. All signs point to it.

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Speaking of which, I got two good rejections ("These made it to the last round, but we decided against them") in the last week or so for the last three unpublished poems in the second manuscript. Usually that means, at least in my experience, that sooner or later they'll get picked up by someone else.

Rejections, though many would disagree, can sometimes be a great thing.

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The new Doveman record, The Conformist, is one that will most likely be spinning for a while. It's a record that one can immediately attribute to other bands and artists as far as influences, but it has its own great thing going on. Check out Footloose too if you haven't, especially if you're a fan of the original soundtrack.

Also been enjoying the new Tegan and Sara disc, Sainthood. They're damn good at writing short pop songs that stick in your head, but there's more to each one upon each subsequent listen.

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I don't understand the hype around Paranormal Activity.

Has anyone seen The Gate? Yes, with Stephen Dorff. From 1987. 22 years later, that movie still freaks the shit out of me.

I guess Paranormal Activity pisses me off mainly because it's one of those "Let's take aspects from 25 different movies and try to claim it as our original film," and the comparisons are obvious if you've seen enough horror movies.

Once you understand the gimmick, and how it's clearly going to escalate each time the camera sits there and fast forwards until the, you guessed it, paranormal activity, it just becomes tedious to sit through. Though I applaud trying to make their relationship have a seemingly deeper element to it as related to all that's happening around them, it's another obvious plot point that you can see through from the very beginning.

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As far as hyped movies go, I thought Up was pretty incredible. I was actually kind of blown away. I love when hype's warranted.

How the hell they came up with that script is beyond me. I still think there had to have been illegal drugs involved. Either way, Pixar continues to kick ass.

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We had a brief stint of snow a week or two ago, but nothing since then. The leaves are falling as we speak, and I actually have the window open near me as I write this.

I'm enjoying the fresh air now, because I have a feeling this weather's going to change soon. And quickly.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Drill

Jess has been at work for twelve hours now.

Two days ago she had to drill into some guy's brain. Late last week she had to operate on a woman's husband, and when the doctor was telling her what was going on in the waiting room, she was screaming hysterically.

Though I'm proud of what I'm doing and all I've accomplished, I'm starting to have more respect every single day for people who work in the medical field. The true people in the medical field I'm starting to think are destined to do that work. I don't think there are many fields that can claim those words.

It makes talking about poetry seem, well, not that important. But alas, I do it anyway.

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I brought in two poems from the new manuscript into workshop last time, one which is published, and one which is going to be published in the next issue of a journal.

Before you say or think anything, keep in mind I understand that turning in a "finished" poem into workshop makes everyone a critic.

However, my goal was to hopefully prove something, and after a few weeks of thinking about it, I did.

I've mentioned before that many of the poems in this new manuscript have been seen by no one thus far except myself and the editors who (somehow) decided to publish them. That's certainly not dangerous, but it should make you realize that you need to show your poems to others, especially others who may know what you're going for. Or not.

At any rate, these two particular poems also lead off the manuscript. I've changed them up, and I think they're much better. And a lot of the specific advice for those poems I've been able to use as I've been revising other poems.

So each day I'm happier, it seems, to work on this manuscript, with hopefully a much keener eye.

A handful of contests I'm sending it to in a week or so.

I decided that if I end up sending to about 15-20 by the end of 2009 and I don't get even a pull on the poetic line, then I'm going to get restructuring and writing again.

The first time I sent out Ghost Lights over two years ago, when it was, quite honestly, a pretty horrendous "book," it was a finalist. I think this one's better, so we'll see if I have any clue in the least.

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I started reading for Harpur Palate today. Considering I'd only met three PhD poets in the program officially before then, I figured it was time to meet others and get involved with our graduate journal, something I really didn't do at VCU.

Already, after just two hours of reading today, I want to make a How To Not Make An Ass Out Of Yourself When You Submit Poems To Journals list...

Here are a few things I'd mention to folks, in no particular order:
  1. When you clearly haven't read over your cover letter, and there are a bunch of repetitions and misspelled words, you're not going to get someone excited to read the poems.
  2. When you name the journals you've been in (of course that's fine, and I think editors like to see that), 6-8's a decent number, and some may even say more than enough. But seriously, 19? 19! I kid you not. I wondered if I should write down her name and call her out on my blog, but I decided not to. Not cool probably.
  3. No one cares about "anthologies" you've edited (or "interned" for).
  4. No one cares about residencies you've been to (especially if you have to name way too many of them and still don't have a book to your name).
  5. Under no circumstances should you include a long blurb from an "established" author about your work as the bookend of the cover letter. You shouldn't do this even if you have four books out. Seriously, I was absolutely blown away by this, and never thought I'd see anything like this. Ever.
  6. The more your build yourself up, almost always unnecessarily and inexcusably, you're giving readers and editors more of a reason to immediately shut down your work. If readers and editors don't like your work, most of the time it doesn't matter who you are or what you've done: you'll be rejected.
  7. If your work's good enough, it'll find a home. Read more journals. Send out more. Take advantage of the journals who accept submissions electronically. Etc, etc, etc.
I've been sending out for a while, and as someone who hopes to be an official editor of a small magazine someday, this is what I adhere to, and this is what I'm looking for on a cover letter:
  • The date
  • Name and contact information on every sheet
  • Titles and number of poems
  • A handful of the journals who have published you
  • Books you have out or books that are forthcoming
  • Briefly: what you're up to now
That's it. And then you don't waste ink either.

Considering this has already been a learning experience, I'm looking forward to getting more involved, and I'm also looking forward to meeting and hanging out with more of my fellow classmates.

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Finally, if you read this blog, you may also read my First Book Interviews blog.

I've been thinking about this during the past few weeks, and I decided to ask some questions here and see what people think.

I've had some poets with great books recently get a hold of me and ask for an interview, and the books are, of course, piling up at this point, especially when you add in the ones I've received in the last year or so.

Considering the semester is not getting any easier with time constraints, here's my question to potential readers: Would you be opposed to seeing more "stock" questions in the full interviews if that meant they were posted more on a regular basis?

As much as I wish I had the time to sit down and read through these first books, while giving them the attention that every single one deserves, I have a lot of reading I need to do while I try and keep my funding here and whatnot, which is at least slightly more important. The books will be read, but I feel like the more time I spend trying to gather questions and hone questions to each particular book, the less interviews that are posted. And I'd rather have more for people to read. That's what I continued Kate's project in the first place.

Not to mention that four poets, who have all the interview questions, still haven't given me their interviews, and they've had plenty of time to get them back to me. That frustrates me at least a bit, because I did spend that time reading their books and getting questions ready for them for nothing at this point, when I could have four additional interviews posted right now from four other poets.

I think the point of First Book Interviews is to ask about the first books. The site isn't dedicated to Third Book Interviews, after all.

I guess I'm wondering if you trust me to trust the poets to answer even the questions which go out to everyone with care and attention and not clipped and one-sentence answers. I'll still read through the books, and there will be questions tailored to each book, but I just won't have as much time, and I really do want to keep them going and start getting them posted again on a regular basis.

Please please please let me know your thoughts if you'd be willing to share them on any of the points above.

Thanks in advance.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Check Signal Cable

I was going to wait until tomorrow to write what will most likely be lost to you in my own incomprehensibility, But Seth Abramson's words, as related to the MFA and beyond, always make me want to put my own experience and thoughts on the table. And most of my words are a springboard from what he says, mostly, I would imagine, completely off course from his initial statements.

This was from a link on a recent Facebook post of his: Thinking of getting your MFA?

You have to pay for it, but if you're interested, $4.99 probably won't break the bank. It might also be in the new Poets & Writers, though.

There's also this link, which gives you the "top 50" programs. And there's an extended link too, which names, I think, every "other" MFA program.

I guess what I'm most interested in is a comment made by someone on his Facebook thread: "Read the article 'Confessions of a TA' and had a visceral reaction, realizing that since I have zero interest in teaching, I can't spend half my time in a traditional MFA program doing something I don't like and don't plan to use (even for funding)." Now from what I gather, this is not someone in their 20s, 30s, or 40s (this person said something about their age that would make me think this). Maybe 40s, but maybe older, so that's the first thing, since this person alluded to the fact that they're not your average 20-something wanting to explore the MFA option.

But I feel like there are many others who are 20-somethings and are saying the exact same thing. Maybe the Rhet Comp class I'm taking right now—which I have to take before I can teach composition, even though I've taught nearly 25 sections of composition classes in the last five years—is making me realize that it's also an issue with the Rhet Comp programs regarding TA positions, wages, "low pay," etc. Meaning that since TAs usually teach composition to earn their stipend, this is why there are so many essays regarding TAs these days, and all those issues like wages and "low pay."

Wait a minute, people, I'm not complaining here. I'm really not. Because I understand something: this is how it works at most places if you want to get your MFA or PhD and want the TA gig. Would I rather get free tuition and get paid X-grand a year for just taking classes so I can write all the time, get out in three or four years, and try to get a job and support my family and all of that? Why yes, wouldn't we all in some Utopian society that doesn't exist?

Maybe it was good I went into VCU when I was 22—I was more naive (if you can believe it) than I am now, and I kind of had no clue what was going on. They could've told me I had to teach four sections of composition comprised of thirty students each for my stipend, and I would've said, "Seems a little much, but OK!" And yet for what I had to do at VCU, which was two English 101 sections of 25 students each, it still doesn't even seem that bad right now, and it wasn't then either.

This is what happens when I write these "posts": I don't really go anywhere.

But I guess I would ask you, as a fabricated and wraithlike future MFAer, is all the money in the world going to help you write better poems? Is it going to help you learn about becoming a better writer? Is it going to help you develop indispensable relationships—if you're lucky—with friends in your program who will become your go-to readers, the ones who can take your awful fifteenth draft and make it into something worthy because they, somehow, seem to know your work better than you after a while?

I come back to asking, "Where was all this stuff when I was applying?"

I say that because I'm beyond exponentially ecstatic that this information on MFA calculations, rankings, etc., wasn't available then.

I'm not sure about the rankings or calculations or legitimacy of programs anymore (not that I ever was to begin with), but I think, like many now, that I would've been bogged down with so many questions at that point of the application process, so many questions that would've led me to try something else, and I wouldn't be sitting here in Vestal, New York, of all places, a few months into a PhD program, with an amazing woman who somehow decided to say yes when I asked her to marry me, and a first book of poetry coming out next year.

Sometimes it pays to suck it up, live on what you can, and be passionate about something. Sometimes it might be better to leave those other questions for later.

But doesn't it always come down to passion? Or, better yet, shouldn't it?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Rush

I keep forgetting that it was probably halfway through my second year, but really at the start of my third year, when I actually wrote a decent poem (or draft, maybe) at VCU, something I felt good about reading at workshop, something I felt good about writing.

That really hasn't happened yet in the Binghamton workshop setting. No matter how the poems are received, I really don't like what I'm writing at all.

That said, we're not even halfway through the first semester. I need to chill out, and I think that's one of the problems.

I was inspired by this recent post from Oliver, who always seems to write wise blog posts. I guess I put myself in a weird position right now, because I feel like if what I'm writing isn't furthering this second manuscript, or going onto a third project, then there's no point in writing it. Clearly I shouldn't be thinking like that, but if you know what it's like to put much time into big projects, then you know how hard it is to break away from that mode. And that's what I've spent the last three years of my poetic life doing (though you also have to include all the PhD applications I suppose).

Or not necessarily that certain mode, as much as feeling like I need to move on, and since I don't have a new project, and all these workshop poems seem to be rehashing former, better poems, or they're this nebulous mess of words that I would never want anyone to see. If I don't like the poem, I don't care who does. And if I really like a poem that I write, I usually don't care who doesn't, because that's always another step in the hopeful ladder-climb of building something better. That sounded horribly clich├ęd. Oh well.

I guess what I'm telling myself is that I don't need to rush right now, and hopefully for good reason. I have to write poems for workshop, and so they're getting written. Even poems I don't like hopefully and eventually get me writing poems that I do like. And though I feel like all my energy right now (aside from course work of course) is best spent in trying to get this second book out into the world, there's no harm in letting the new project, whatever it may be, come to fruition as it presents itself, instead of trying to force something that just isn't there right now.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Mesh

An interview with Brian Teare, one of my favorite young poets. Still need to get Sight Map. Maybe this post gives me an excuse to order a few books I've been wanting for a while.

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I found seven more journals I'd love to be in, somehow, that I haven't sent to already. Those are journals, however, that accept submissions online or through email.

I'm saving the cash right now for the second manuscript. And there are five more contests and open reading periods where that will be by the end of October.

Three poems from the manuscript have yet to be published in its current state, and I think it'll be nice this time around to have a small batch of three, since I usually have the number of poems make them into four or five. Like Ghost Lights, I really didn't expect to have all the poems published this time around either, and even though my new manuscript will undoubtedly change, because that's the way things go, it's always a good feeling to know that editors are liking your words.

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New Tunes Worth Spinning:

Richmond Fontaine - We Used to Think the Freeway Sounded like a River
Qwel & Maker - So Be It
Lisa Germano - Magic Neighbor
Nick Cave and Warren Ellis - White Lunar
Califone - All My Friends Are Funeral Singers
Built to Spill - There Is No Enemy

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Weekend-intensive workshop this weekend with Maria Gillan. Second of the semester.

I was going to go with Jess to a wedding (her freshman roommate from college), but there are only three workshops a semester, and I can't miss one. (Sorry, Celeste!)

Since I've been doing a ton of work with my second manuscript over the last year or so, it's been tough for me to get out of the, for lack of a better term, complacency I've been in while writing these poems. Stylistically. Thematically. Structurally. Everything.

What I'm saying is that I need to move on, or the same thing's going to happen in workshop, and I don't want to take all this time for granted I have to discover some new things in my writing, not to mention working with a new crop of talented writers. I guess we'll see what happens this weekend...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Marble Game

I'm not going to deal with a lot of corrections here, or going back. This is a post of excitement, vicarious excitement, which usually should be the case anyway.

I found this post from almost a year ago, and if you look at the folks mentioned at the bottom, it should also get you excited. And if it doesn't, well, that's OK too I guess.

Here's the deal.

Blake Butler has signed a book deal with Harper Perennial, and Shane Jones is having his first novel made into a movie. And it's being reprinted by Penguin. Oh yeah, the dude who made things happen: Spike Jonze. Check out the link. Big things around the corner.

It would be easy to cry a river and say, "I work hard. Why not me?" And that's what annoys me about many, many folks writing poetry these days (because I can't take the term "poet" seriously, and probably never will be able to). It would've been easier to get an MBA if you wanted to rack the greenbacks.

This isn't a post bashing poets, because I myself, if you didn't know, am a writer of poetry. And I'm guilty of being frustrated by writing poetry also. See my last post. Or many of them before that. But come on, people.

Let me finish by saying that I'm thrilled for Shane and Blake (if you couldn't tell).

If you've read their blogs, you know that they're indefatigable writers. They don't fuck around. They made these things happen for themselves. And it's completely inspiring. Because people are reading, and people do care about art. We're in this horrendous economy right now, only composition jobs seem to be available for PhDs, and people are getting guns and murdering each other, so it's easy to bitch and moan and want Vinny Chase's life. Or you can work your ass off and get people to read your work. It's not "bragging." It's believing. It's about hope. It's about inspiration. Effusiveness required.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Lift

Jess calls a kind of malaise that sets in during periods of moving and transition, fittingly enough, "Transition Keith." I can get irritable, depressed, and annoyed at stupid things. I'm usually not like that at all.

And it gets worse because I know I'm acting like that and have a hard time combating it. I think it was delayed this time around; it's almost been two months since we got here, and I think it set in at the end of last week.

I also keep forgetting that there's been a bit of a whirlwind the last three months, so the delay makes sense I suppose. I guess I had too much to think about, so much that there was no real rumination.

But the first semester at a new place is always tough. And considering I remember how awful my first few months at VCU were, that alone is able to take me away from the funk a bit, because things have been much better than that here.

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The Giants are 4-0 for the second year in a row, but the injury bug seems to be biting again. Here's to being healthy and the streak continuing.

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I'm looking to work on a new project as far poems go, but right now I'm not sure what it's going to be. Sometimes when I'm not writing I feel, probably unnecessarily, guilty. It's silly, but it happens.

There was a period after I felt Ghost Lights was completed where I pretty much knew it was either going to get published in a handful of years or I'd burn it and forget about it. I knew that because I wasn't writing poems that would fit in that particular book, and I felt like I couldn't write poems that would ever fit in that book. Poet maturation? Not sure.

But the same thing has happened now. What I mean is, once you start parodying yourself unnecessarily, or you're writing watered-down versions of better poems that you immediately know are better, that seems like a good sign that it's time to move on to a new project. I'm repeating what I did for Ghost Lights, though I don't think I'll burn this one if it eventually keeps floating in the poetic void. I have more faith this time around.

At least it seems to be my litmus test so far. But there's nothing wrong with relaxing and letting stuff swim around in your head. I feel like forcing words right now will just make me lose a little zealousness, and I don't want to do that. But I say things like that a lot, and then the poems seem to arrive. Maybe I just jinxed myself.

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Thinking about the job market also has me a little crazy. I know I have four years until I really have to think about that, but there's still a lot of pressure. Hopefully good pressure.

There are folks that have many more credentials than I do, and there are barely any 5/5 teaching load non-tenure track composition jobs available that pay less than $40,000 a year. Would I do that if I had to? Of course. I know I'm not going to get something fantastic right out of school, if I get anything right out of school.

And though I do tend to be pessimistic, hopefully things are on the upswing in academia and the economy and the tandem of both working together. Four years, though not a long time really, tends to be pendulous in the ways it can swing in a small amount of time, especially in academia.

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A lot of music. A lot of movies. I'll try to post something coherent about what you should be listening to and watching next time.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Kansas City

Big Blue is 3-0. Things, despite the many injuries, are looking good. I'm confident. Strong corps equals strong core, or it may be the other way around, which should equal more wins.

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New poems from this second manuscript will now be appearing in future issues of Center: A Journal of the Literary Arts, Portland Review, and Phoebe.

There are three poems still in the manuscript that haven't been published, and though I don't know if they'll ever be published, they're currently out to many places right now, so we'll see.

I've asked the question in many First Book Interviews about that before: Was there a need to get all the poems published before your book was accepted for publication? I feel like I'm with many of them: when I have stuff to send out, I send out. If I luck out and get some hits, cool, and if not, I keep writing new poems, work on the ones that may need work, and send out again.

I didn't know I was writing a new manuscript two years ago when my MFA was over, but now I know that I was. I've gotten work accepted this time around much more quickly than the poems taken from Ghost Lights, which makes me feel more confident that there's more of a unified whole here, a poetry book rather than a "book of poems," to reference this awesome piece from the Harriet blog by Joel Brouwer.

And a wise and talented poet said to me recently that you should be able to answer the question, "What is your book about?" if asked. I won't give my personal opinion here, but I will say that it's much easier for me to do it this time around than it was last time around.

Regardless, however, it's currently, like many floating around in the world, still just a manuscript. Hopefully that will change eventually.

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Trick 'R Treat was a pleasant and weird Halloween surprised. I'm not sure I'd watch it again, but it's a fun genre / horror movie, especially for one that I'd never heard of.

Away We Go had the potential to be great, but I found too much stuff forced in the script. It got better as it went on, though. It's still hard to see John Krasinski, not matter how much he tries to wear glasses and a beard, as someone different than Jim Halpert.

Also saw The Last 15, the most recent short film by Antonio Campos, whose Afterschool looks like it could be really, really good. He's both young and ballsy, and we need more filmmakers like that these days. Not to mention poets.

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After about a month and a half, we're finally getting close to that completely settled point in New York. Jess changed her name. We've figured out bank accounts. We're both getting regular paychecks now. We know where all the stores and shortcuts are around the area. We still have to explore more of Binghamton, though, and get off the Pkwy, and we still have to get to Ithaca more often, which I imagine will happen when it gets warm. And of course I've been busy busting my ass with this second manuscript. And making sure I'm keeping busy with my schoolwork and everything I need to do to familiarize myself with the English Department and the like.

Soon enough I hope to play catch-up on the First Book Interviews, so we'll see how that goes. With my own second book and my own family unit now to attend to (since I'm married now of course), I know have to take time for other things that I wouldn't have before.

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I'm sure we'll be turning the heat on soon. Goodbye summer.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Go

Go congratulate Blake Butler, who has some amazing news.

He will soon be winning Guggenheim Fellowships and MacArthur Genius Grants.

He also works harder than any other writer I know.

Great things are on the way...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bring

I have a poem at Linebreak this week. It's the longest poem in the new manuscript (but only one of the few longer ones) and it's one of my favorites I've written at this point in my life.

Also got my contributor copy of Blue Mesa Review. Thanks again to the editors. The issue looks great. You can check out more information regarding the table of contents here.

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Sent out a bunch of submissions on September 15th. Already got three rejections. I'm actually happy that they came back so quickly. Hopefully more journals will make these quick decisions if they don't like the work. I have more respect for their process that way, quite honestly.

There are maybe four or five poems in the new manuscript that haven't been published, and those are the ones out in the world. I've been lucky with submissions over the last two years or so with these poems, so I figured I'd keep everything out there.

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Narrowed contests and open reading periods for the next year to around twenty places.

It's at 59 pages now, which I think is a good number.

I keep working on the poems and structure, of course, and have put a lot of time into it for... well, a long time now. I have more confidence in it now. So now it's time to see what happens, if anything.

The first wave of manuscript submissions is in about a week.

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Started reading Alice Sebold's Lucky yesterday, and I couldn't sleep last night.

The imagery in the first chapter made me physically sick to my stomach. Not the best before-bed reading. Yet she manages to write so simply about all of it, seemingly, as far as her sentences and word choices. But there are a few specific passages that I don't think will ever leave my thoughts.

Another reason why I couldn't sleep, however, is that I decided to look up the locations of her police report on Google Earth. It's frightening to see the bird's eye view of the real locations, and it adds a new depth to the term "imagination," especially when you can click on the blue squares to see actual photos of certain locations.

I'm looking forward to reading the rest, but I don't know how hard it's going to be to get through.

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Switching to something happy, The Giants look good.

Starting 2-0, within the division, is always a good thing. Getting healthy and stopping the run need to be priorities.

I have more confidence this season than I did last year, and not because the record's 2-0.

A lot of the season to go, though, so there's no point in all the speculation.

But how great was it to see Romo look awful in "Jerry World," or whatever they're calling that egregious and nonsensical eyesore these days? Beautiful, I say. Beautiful.

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Though I don't know the specific news, word 'round the campfire is that Bobby C. Rogers' first book of poetry is coming out.

I've mentioned him here before and here before.

He's a poet who blew me away when I saw his work in journals during my first weeks and months at VCU. I'd emailed him how much I liked his work, out of the blue, and he was very gracious when he emailed me back.

I've literally been confused like crazy about his book not being out in the world, so I'm saying an official congratulations right now, and I'll let you know the details when I know them. You need to get this book of poetry.

There's this meditative, usually long-lined, semi-religious without-sounding-didactic tone to much of his work, where pulling stumps from a lawn can turn into a meditation about God, and he's able to do this beautifully and seemingly effortlessly.

His work is something to be admired. I can't wait for the book.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Amidst

My last poem in the current 42opus stretch is posted today. It's my favorite of the bunch.

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Sick for the first time in maybe two years. Headache and congestion. Bit of a sore throat. I think it's the weather change after living in Richmond for five years.

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Though last night was the official start of the season, The Giants are the real start on Sunday for me. Can't wait.

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Nervous about this new manuscript. I keep thinking maybe I shouldn't send it out. But there are always a million reasons to talk yourself out of things. So I'm not going to do that.

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Diet Mountain Dew Ultra Violet kind of tastes like cough syrup. A tasty, caffeine-infused cough syrup.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

New Leaves

I'm currently taking a course on Rhetoric and Composition right now at BU.

The one with the-professor-who-shall-not-be-named I took at VCU five years ago was one of the most horrendous graduate experiences I've ever had. It's in the top three easily (though really there were only three horrendous experiences, which is good four a five-year stretch). Bad things happened. Things were misconstrued. I was pretty miserable. But I was also young and immature. The class did not instruct me how to teach. The class taught me absolutely nothing. That's what I think the whole class was mostly so upset about by the end.

That said, I do thank VCU and the English Department wholeheartedly for giving me the opportunity to teach so many composition courses while I was there. I still have a lot to learn, but I have so many questions just from the experience, that I think I'll get much more out of teaching at BU now.

Just having the experience and time in front of students these days is severely underrated. I know I'm not the best teacher, I admit, but improving on the past, learning new methods, and always asking and trying to answer my questions will be something to keep track of as I go. And all that experience can and does certainly translate from course to course.

In other words, had I come here with little or no teaching experience, I'd feel completely overwhelmed. I'm glad I got that out of the way at VCU as the earlier part of my education.

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See Trouble the Water as soon as you get a chance.

It's one of those documentaries that's just a complete experience, like Capturing the Friedmans, Man on Wire, How to Draw a Bunny, and many more.

Plus you never stop thinking and questioning after it's over. I didn't at least. And that's what a documentary should do (unless it has the unparalleled greatness and originality of American Movie)

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I should have the galleys soon enough for Ghost Lights. Because I'm such a stickler for the look and feel of how things are presented on the page, I really want to get the font and the font size right so it's not weird or disjointed for the readers.

Many of the poems in the book (and almost all of the poems in the second manuscript I'm working on) are not left justified. You can look at Tar-era C.K. Williams and The Widening Spell of the Leaves-era Larry Levis (which also happen to be two of my favorite poetry collections of all time), and you see that there are indentations if the lines spill over into the next, though it's meant to be one line without any kind of enjambment.

I was in Wojahn's office a few years ago, and he showed me an original, square-sized copy of Tar from the 80s. He was making a case for the energy of the lines and (false?) enjambments of the later printings being the ones that do justice to the poems. I agreed. If you look at the Selected and the Collected of C.K. Williams, you'll notice that the run-over lines, because the size of the actual pages are different, are indented in different places. Because the poems are "enjambed" according to the size of the page; the long line has to be broken up at some point...

Same thing with an original copy of The Widening Spell of the Leaves and the Selected Levis. The latter keeps the lines intact, keeping them from spilling over, while the former is indented all over the place with the longer-lined poems.

If I had a whole book of long-lined poems, that wouldn't be a big deal to do; I agree with Wojahn that the energy is a bit different, in a good way, as weird as it may sound, when the lines look like they're enjambed.

But, when considering the poems in Ghost Lights, many of my long-lined poems are not left-justified, so you'd have almost a double sense of enjambment, and then it just looks completely out of whack.

My last poem of the four appearing in 42opus this month is a good example. It will run this Friday the 11th, and I'll probably point to it in another blog post if you're confused at what I'm saying...

It looks fine in the .doc file of my new manuscript, but you can think of the right side of the 42opus page as the end of the page limits for a .doc file. I don't mind how it will appear there, but I would certainly not want it to look that way in a book.

All these questions, and a lot of these I'm constantly interested in, make me think I might want to eventually go into publishing, or have publishing be a part of my life somehow.

Has anyone else questioned these issues with their books? We want to be as pleased with our final products as we hope our readers will be, so I'm making a point to really get involved as much as I can in the process of how it's going to look on the page.

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Speaking of the new manuscript, I decided to grow some balls and send it out at the end of September. Worst case scenario: I spend a little extra cash to see how it does in the world, and it doesn't do anything. No biggie. Otherwise it'll be sitting here, electronically collecting dust.

I have about fifteen contests and open reading periods I'm looking at right now. I'm being more judicious this time. I sent Ghost Lights to places (when it was also About Ravishment) that I had no business sending to.

The contest was for a more experimental press. The contest was getting manuscripts above the level where I was as a writer (though there should always be shown growth from book to book, hopefully, as the years go on). The prize consisted of screeners who also read and rejected my work for a journal. There are probably more...

Case in point for the last one: The Journal. When I was sending out poems for the first book, I always sent to The Journal for some reason. Maybe ten times or so. They always rejected my poems. Not only that, but I always got the same slip, sans ink. Rejections aren't a big deal, and all the poems were eventually published elsewhere, but considering all of that, why in the hell would I sent to The Journal / OSU Award in Poetry?

The answer: I shouldn't have. But I did. I was testing every depth. Now I know better, especially when the odds are almost 100% against you for whatever reason. You have to learn the particulars and the limits, in other words, about how your work is doing and has done in the outside world of editorship.

There are so many contests when you're sending out that it's hard to learn. Most of the time you suck it up and spend your cash. That's how I learned. That's how (mostly) everyone learns.

But I'm trying to be smarter time around. I think I'm doing a decent job of picking better contests and places to send for consideration. Not "better," necessarily, but more fitting, I would say. That's crucial.

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I've always been a fan of Owen. He's always writing the same song, but they're always pleasing to listen to. The production's great on his new record, New Leaves. It's a more mature record. Every song sounds like it could be a single, which reminds me of the newest Phoenix record also. That should be a goal for every collection of any constructed artistic medium in my opinion. Give it a listen when it's officially out soon enough.

Other worth-it spins:

Lucine - A Great Distance
Jim O'Rourke - The Visitor
James Bradshaw - His Last Three Records. SEEK THEM OUT.
The Clientele - Bonfires on the Heath
Imogen Heap - Ellipse
Caspian - Tertia
Polvo - In Prism
Port-Royal - Dying in Time
Sleeping at Last - Storyboards

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Labor

Just spent about three hours tweaking the second manuscript. Well, not an entire three hours, but the majority of it.

Cut some poems. Updated Acknowledgments page. Rearranged some sections and poems within sections. Worked with the title. Thought about it in a different light. Wondered what kind of poems might fit within the pages that are kicking around in my head.

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Also got a list of about forty places I hope to submit to electronically once I have more poems, hopefully by the end of the month.

It's awesome that more and more places, seemingly month-to-month these days, are using emailed submissions or the submissions manager to accept poems for consideration.

I want to save as much money as I can for $20 or $25 contest checks instead of the around $1.50 total single USPS submission...

I have my first workshop next weekend (Maria Gillan does three weekends, Saturday and Sunday, over the semester instead of a once-a-week night: it's supposed to be intense), and I'm hoping I can begin a new project if I can't get any of those poems written to fit into the second manuscript.

Tenative new second manuscript title: What's Left to Burn.

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Had a great time at the Binghamton Mets game with Luke and Chana.

Hopefully next summer we'll be able to hit a bunch more on weekends.

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Went to Tioga Downs yesterday with some friends. I won $25 after hitting four 2s playing video poker.

And though we only were doing $2 bets on the horse races, we ended up winning a few bucks by the end.

It's about twenty minutes down the road, and just like the Mets games closing out soon, the horse races are also done in a week or two (though the slots and other machines are open year-round).

But this way we have some things to do already once May comes next year...

Friday, September 4, 2009

Mets

Headed to our first ever Binghamton Mets game with my cousin Luke and his wife Chana in a few. They're on their way now and should be here soon. I'm looking forward to it, especially since we only went to one Richmond Braves game while we were in RVA.

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Just got three more poems accepted for publication that are in the second manuscript. I have the poems out at many places, and this has all happened very quickly, so it's been a wild five days. Something like this has never happened to me.

That makes nine accepted by four different journals in the last five days.

(As a disclaimer, if you don't want to hear when my poems are published, don't read my blog. (I could give a shit whether you do or not.) If you can't tell, that's one thing I do here. I like when others do it also, for the record, very much. There are so many writers I wish I could follow, who don't have books out, who are never able to let you know where they have work out. If anyone reads this and likes my work, that gives them an opportunity to possibly seek out work or read it online. All the Steve Fellner's of the world can call me whatever they want to for announcing such news. Again, I don't give a shit.)

I'm very happy and thrilled and ecstatic and can't wait to keep working on this manuscript and getting it into shape, so I can maybe actually call it a book instead of a manuscript. I'm still keeping to the Send Out By Year's End goal.

I also got amazing advice from someone who was willing enough to read through it and offer suggestions. That made me doubly thrilled. Ghost Lights was a mess for me during its early stages of construction (and I hope it's not still for you potential readers when it's out), and there were many things I should've seen that I didn't, which others did see.

Almost all the suggestions regarding the second manuscript, however, I have thought about over the last few weeks and months. Experience is a good thing. That makes me think I'm becoming better, at the very least, in figuring out this mess of a process known as putting together a manuscript. Yet there were a few suggestions that were equally helpful that I hadn't thought about.

Time to get to work, cut, edit, write new poems, and get this sucker into contention status.

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Lymelife is worth a viewing.

If anything, watch it for the cinematography and for Kieran Culkin's performance. Rory's pretty good too.

Just from this movie, I feel like he has potential to be an incredible actor if he's given a chance to show his chops in something that isn't an indie.

I have some issues with it overall, but like I said, it's worth a viewing.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Embers

I have four poems in 42opus appearing, one every few days, from now until the 14th of September, I believe. If you're interested, please check them out. They're all currently embedded somewhere in the new manuscript.

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In the last three days, I've had six poems taken from three different journals. It's weird, because I'm suspect of these good-news onslaughts. Maybe because I'm naturally a pessimist? But I'm smiling.

Barn Owl Review was one of the three, but I'll wait until the contracts are here to name the other two. They're both print journals I really like, which is always nice when your words are appearing there.

Needless to say, I am thrilled and grateful, and I can't believe I've had some of the responses I've received when it comes to these poems in the second manuscript, which I'm constantly tweaking and working on and feeling better about as the days go on.

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Looks like the schedule's pretty much locked up for the semester at Binghamton University. It's kind of a mirror, in a way, of my first semester schedule five years ago at VCU, only now I'm a little older and a little wiser and won't be fluttering around like a legless grasshopper. I hope not at least.

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I think Paul Guest was the one who told me that a big move can sometimes foster the energy for getting a ton of stuff written. He probably put it more eloquently, but I think he's right. He's usually right about everything anyway.

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My beautiful wife got a great job about five miles away from our apartment. She'll be working at a Neurosurgical Practice. I'm very proud of her, and I admire the hell out of her for how smart she is, and how she'll be doing amazing things for people. This is going to be a four-year stretch of busting our asses, and I hope we're both ready for it.

I'm confident we are.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Football Season

Listened to the new Volcano Choir twice today, and I don't understand why the track they introduce to the public months before the record comes out is the one that isn't representative of the album as a whole in the least.

Some of the songs are a little over-the-top experimental to me, and the album's a little too dissonant almost from track-to-track.

I thought I'd love it, especially with the Pele and Collections of Colonies of Bees members, and though I like it, I was hoping for much more and got a little too excited initially.

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Inglourious Basterds was good. I need another viewing. QT's most tense movie to date. I'll be floored, like many, if Christoph Waltz doesn't get an Oscar nomination.

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Watched Scott Walker: 30 Century Man yesterday.

It's pretty incredible, and the dude's still an enigma, despite all the interviews. It's for everyone, though, not just music lovers. Fascinating stuff.

I can't wait to give more of his music another shot, since there's much to go through.

The Drift is more intense and horrifying than most Black or Death Metal records. I do know that.

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Got an acceptance from Barn Owl Review today. It'll be the first journal a poem of mine appears in back-to-back. It's also one of the newer journals that you should subscribe to if you're thinking about adding another one to your list. Issue #2 is great, which is the main reason I decided to send again.

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Nervous about The Giants, like every fan is, at this point.

Preseason doesn't tell us a lot. Look at The Lions being 4-0 last year.

And yesterday's game was better, but we'll see come September 13th.

Final roster cuts soon too. Will they keep Moss?

I'm sure that Tyree's going at this point. He was a factor in the SB win, but he can't stay healthy. Someone will pick him up, though.

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First day as a PhD Candidate in English Binghamton University tomorrow officially.

I'm ready for the semester to start and to get back into everything.

Finally.

Monday, August 24, 2009

New Manuscript Contents

I did this previously and I ended up taking it down. That most likely will happen again.

I still don't have a decent title yet. So that's next, along with hopefully ten more poems or so in the next few months or (probably) more, to give me room to cut and shape and move around the overall structure. We'll see how workshop helps this semester too. I have high hopes.

Goal for sending it to contests and open reading periods (including a contents page that'll most likely be very different): May 2010.

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Contents


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Ah, I knew it.

I already changed some stuff, so I decided to take it down.


Maybe soon enough it'll be something tangible.

What I Learned (Which Isn't Much) as I Completed My First Book and am Now Onto the Second (at Least the Construction Stage)

  • You'll be lucky to have a handful of people who truly care about your work while you're writing, revising, putting together a book, etc. If you have more, you're even luckier. And if you do have a handful, try and keep those folks around, stay in touch with them, and try to keep building. A community doesn't always have to be massive.

  • Trusting your own work is one of the most important things people forget. Advice is a tricky thing. But essentially, whether reading the work aloud or publishing it, once you're done with all the construction and draft stages, it's your name and voice and time attached to the work. Along with that trust, pride should make an appearance.

  • "By the end, your poems should be how you want them to look, how you want them to sound, and how you want them to feel." By the end, I said. This is some of the best advice I ever received.
  • Take risks. There's nothing better than remembering a room full of people judging you because you took a huge risk that ultimately failed. Sure, they should've been judging the work, but you're the one reading the poem with the piece of paper in front of you. No, risks aren't always successful, but they're eventually necessary if you want to write something people will remember reading.
  • John Keats is dead. You will not be the next John Keats. As a past professor said, upon a student in a public forum complaining he had no published work and was always getting rejected, "Let the critics sort it out when you're dead," or something to that degree. Spending a year on a poem to show the world how smart you are will only get you a lot of rejection and most likely depression along the way. I've witnessed such a situation.
  • Blogs aren't a bad thing, but don't take them as the new Harold Bloom medium of poetic and literary criticism. I've been introduced to so many new people and writers through blogs. I've traded manuscripts with writers after getting in touch with them through their blogs. I've written poems because of discovering others and their work through blogs, and their work inevitably ended up influencing my own.
  • Though I technically feel a bit odd for saying this, because mine's not even out yet, "The first book is not the be all end all." I plan on being in this for a long time: writing, hopefully teaching, etc. A plan doesn't always translate to inevitability. But how many established contemporary writers talk about how they only love their first book at this point in their lives? I wouldn't be able to name one, and it's usually the opposite. I am proud of my first book, I like it very much right now, and I will try to get it into the hands of as many people as possible who may be interested. But it's too easy to sit on something like that and not move on. So, basically, keep moving on, even if the forward progress doesn't actually feel like there's a destination attached to it.
  • One of the best reasons to publish poems, stories, reviews, etc: Discovering others' work in journals that you may not have discovered elsewhere. Seek these writers out elsewhere. Don't be afraid to try and get in touch with them.
  • There's probably much more I can't think of right now. Maybe I'll go back to this later and add more. Feel free to add your own in the comments section or comment on what I've said above. This is only one man's opinion.

Friday, August 21, 2009

21

The In-Laws are in town. They're out shopping with Jess. Getting hooks and the like so we can hang some of the things we brought from Richmond. We had many of our wedding gifts at Jess's house too so we didn't have to take them to Richmond and then move them, unnecessarily, again.

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Saw World's Greatest Dad the other night. Quite possibly my favorite thing Robin Williams has ever done. Actually, it's hands-down my favorite thing he's ever done.

The movie had something that separates it from so many movies I've seen lately. It could be compared to Todd Solondz's work easily enough, but there's a lot I can't describe that I really liked that goes beyond that. Kind of almost so bizarre it represents a kind of artful reality that's so far out of reality that it immediately steps back in. Which makes no sense.

And it says a lot about worship in our culture. About suicide. About worship. About affectedness. About fathers and sons.

Props to Bobcat Goldthwait. I think he hit the nail on the head with this one. It isn't a perfect movie, but it's one I'll remember for a while. And with so much shit being made lately, that's something to be happy about.

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Really excited about the Art Mission Theater in Binghamton. Moon is currently playing, which I really want to see.

Hopefully it keeps getting good movies, and it's something I hope to frequent.

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Hoping to have all the Binghamton University paperwork done on Monday, before the first Orientation session on Tuesday.

Graduate Students also can start registering on Monday for classes, but hopefully soon enough I'll know who my advisor is so I can figure out what I'm going to take in addition to workshop.

Speaking of which, I can't wait to meet everyone and get this rolling again. Looking forward to being forced to write poems and getting out of my comfort zone that I'm in now.

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The apartment's mostly set up. We got this amazing deal on Amazon for a 50" 1080p Samsung Plasma for $997 with tax and shipping.

Wanted to go for a 46" Samsung LCD, but it would've probably cost us $1200 - $1300 had we bought it from a nearby store.

Now we just need a stand and good HDMI cables, and we're ready to go.

And for those who don't know, I mention this because I've been wanting an HD TV forever. I waited for years because we didn't need one right away. So I'm happy to finally have one coming, that which should be here on Monday.

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Put my in-progress second manuscript in three sections.

Gave it a new title (which is maybe worse than the other one).

Reworked a few poems.

Have a few more ideas kicking around on what else needs to be in the manuscript for now to make it around 48 pages.

Then the reality of it being truly a mess will start to hit me.

But with that I begin to take it more seriously if I want something (hopefully) solid to send out in eight months to a year.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New York

Don't ever use PODS when moving. I say this forcefully, and I say this publicly.

Our stuff was not here when they said it was going to be here. Everyone tried to put the blame on someone else, and no one would take the blame or show any sign of apology, when most of our stuff is in that thing and was supposed to be here today.

Through sheer luck and the fact that it's a small world, we finally got a hold of someone from the Richmond warehouse, who went out of his way to get it on its way.

A long and frustrating story.

It better be here tomorrow.

Stick to a SmartBox or use a damn UHaul. That's us from now on.

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Brighter news is an acceptance came yesterday from Linebreak, and new online journal that I really like. They also took one of the longest poems I've ever written, and I'm humbled that they decided to take a chance on it.

I hope whoever reads it doesn't hate it, because it might take them a while.

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Getting settled in Vestal. Hopefully, as I said, tomorrow we can finally set up shop and I can have a desk and a chair instead of sitting on the floor to do this, which is OK for right now.

Lots of stuff done in the last few days. Appointments. Binghamton University things. Banking. Finding Wal-Mart and other necessities. Most everything's right off the Vestal Pkwy.

Hopefully we'll be exploring Binghamton soon enough.

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The Giants won their first preseason game yesterday. Defense looks great. We'll see about the offense. Can't wait for the first regular season game.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Packing for the Last Time

In five days we'll be in Vestal, New York.

We got a POD instead of doing a UHaul, and the guy just left with it.

I hope nothing's destroyed, but that's the thing about just being married: You usually don't have the best stuff. Therefore, it's not hard to replace something like a lamp.

That said, I'm not looking forward to doing this again (yes, I know: Who is?), most likely in a year. We're married. I'll have at least three years left at Binghamton University after this year, so it may be time to get some equity. We're thinking a condo instead of a house. That would be easy to do in Richmond, but we haven't researched it yet in New York.

It's just so easy these days to become complacent and pay rent, especially when you keep gathering and more and more stuff fills your apartment. So I understand. That's why, in our apartment that we'll be living in together in five days, I still don't feel the need to replace a lot of the stuff we're taking with us.

We have money and gift cards from the wedding, but shouldn't that really be used for necessity? AKA: future nicer furniture for a condo living room instead of the hand-me-downs, and things like that.

Plus we have to get acclimated to much within the next year.

As always, we'll see.

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I'm cleaning out the desk that we got from a friend a few years ago. The thing is massive. We're either going to take a sledgehammer to it or try to get someone to saw it into a bunch of pieces so we can get it in the trashcans. It's way too heavy to deal with and travel with.

I usually keep my rejections and acceptances in a pile, however, and it was interesting to see those places who haven't taken poems but have been encouraging. It's good to make that "Remember to send here in the fall" list.

Also, I decided I'm going to be a little bit more judicious in my journals I submit too. There are places that have rejected me, sans any semblance of ink, for years now, sometimes in the double digit range. Not a big deal, of course, but these are all snail-mailed submissions. A 44-cent stamp and usually around $1 to send the submission is around $1.50. Multiply it by ten over the last four years or so, and that's $15 I could've had in my pocket.

Right: I didn't know that would happen. Sometimes it takes once to send to a place to get an acceptance. Sometimes it takes six. Sometimes it takes sixteen.

But I'd rather spend the money, at this point, on past ink: encouraging editors, the "send again" or even "thanks for trying us" notes. And I found many of those I'd forgotten about. No guarantees, but it'll make me feel better to send to places where I have a more legitimate shot. Hopefully.

There's nothing like workshops and being back around writers and taking classes and whatnot that makes me want to start sending out work again. Maybe that's weird, but it's how it works.

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Got an acceptance from Portland Review the other day, but the two poems they wanted were accepted by two different journals months ago.

I felt bad at first because apparently the email address I was using for them, when I let them know the poems were taken, was an old address. So clearly they didn't get the email.

That said, they took almost nine months to get back to me. It's fine, don't get me wrong, but that's maybe the second-longest acceptance response time I've ever had, so that seems to diminish your chances of publishing someone's poems the longer you wait.

I'll be sending again in the fall, though, and this time they have an online submissions system in the works I believe.

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Also funny was another rejection from Controlled Burn.

They took two days to get back to me, and I noticed that the normal "Dear Writer" response that I've always received from them was not only in bold, but it was in maybe 18-point font. It seemed like it was on purpose. And I laughed more than I was taken aback, as that's the first time I think an editor has seemingly hated my work so much.

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Back to cleaning out the desk. Soon enough I'm going to compiled my What I'll Miss About Richmond / What I Won't Miss in Richmond list.

Should be fun.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

P&W

I decided to go ahead and add myself to the Poets & Writers Directory of Writers.

Anyone with just a handful of poems published can add themselves, technically, so it doesn't seem like a big deal, but it seems like almost every writer I know has a listing these days.

Has anyone ever been contacted through it?

Like everything else in this realm, I don't expect anything from it, but maybe it's good to have one more way to stay in touch with people and have my name out there if, for some reason, someone should want to contact me that can't find any other way.