Sunday, May 31, 2009


I should probably be going to bed right now, but we have a lot to do tomorrow since I've been in Pennsylvania for about the last ten days, so I'm going to get everything down "on paper" right now I guess.

One thing I've been known to do from time to time is walk home from long distances, due to many different sets of circumstances. After paths got crossed at a bar last weekend, and I couldn't find the key to my friend's apartment, I did it again, and it was a pretty bizarre experience. I walked close to three miles in flip-flops, but I guess it was so late everyone was home, since it was pretty long after last call. I only saw maybe three cars the whole walk.

I think since there's so much Greenville in Ghost Lights (even though much of that won't be evident to folks who actually buy the book who are from Greenville), it was interesting to see it under the moonlight, and I saw things I never paid attention to before. Nothing crazy. Mostly small things. That's how it works.


While I was in Pennsylvania the massively beautiful new double issue of Sonora Review arrived in my mailbox in the form of two plastic-wrapped contributor copies.

And good God did they probably scratch their eyes out while making this thing. There's so much I don't even know how or where to start. Plus there's all the David Foster Wallace tribute material and an uncollected short story.

Tons of good contributors. I'm excited to see what's happening within once I have the time.

My poem's called, "Alternate Featurette, Little Monsters," about one of the best movies you may laugh at me for loving, but it's become one of my legitimate favorites over the last few years. I could talk about it for hours probably. I just need to find the person as nuts as I am who shares the affinity for it.

Thanks to Jamison and Zach and everyone else involved. All of you outdid yourselves... even if my name was spelled Montesanto instead of Montesano. :)


Over the last few weeks I've gotten encouraging rejections from AGNI, Quarterly West, and Shenandoah, three journals I still would love to get into and hope to eventually.

I've said it before, but often people take the whole, "Damn, I was so close, screw them," approach instead of realizing that usually after so many close-but-no-cigar rejections, that's going to mean they're strong enough for an editor to really like one, or two, or three.

Usually, folks, that's the case. But you can't send to five journals and expect that.

Still, that makes me happy, and hopefully it means that some of them will get snagged soon enough. And if not, well, I'll be sending them out again in the fall, ya'll.


And speaking of acceptances and publication, I was struck by something Luke said maybe a few weeks ago, about wanting to have more of a presence online, or not having enough work online, or something like that.

And when I look at the poems in Ghost Lights, folks can only view five of the poems in the book:

"Elegy for What Survives Inside the Body" in 42opus
"Two Halves: Elegy for One Summer's Dawn" in 42opus
"The Dog Has Since Come Home" in Diode
"Elegy Ending with the Voice of Edward Van Dyk" in Diode
"Meditation at Pymatuning Lake" in storySouth

(And some of the forms and titles have of course changed a bit too)

It's not a big deal or anything, but I think that's another small thing online journals can do: get your work to a wider audience.

I say that because already four online journals have published or will publish tentative poems from manuscript number two, giving more people a chance to say, "This guy blows," or "If these were in a book I may buy it." That's if this thing ever becomes a book, of course, but I've bought books based on a poem or poems by an author in both online and print journals. The more work readily available, though, the better possibility that someone may become interested.

Anyway, thumbs up for online journals. The good ones. With great editors and smart designs, and above all, great work you want to read.


Even though I'm fairly certain he rejected my Facebook friend request, you have to visit Sean Kirby's website. If you don't know by now, I'm obsessed with cinematography, and I probably would've pursued that if I found out I wasn't any good at poetry, though I'm still not positive of that either.

The second to last poem in Ghost Lights, probably the longest in the book, is dedicated to one of my favorite documentaries, Zoo. This is a movie that needs to be seen in an IMAX, and it has some of the most astounding and jaw-dropping lense work you'll ever see in a film. He even somehow gets more amazing than Police Beat.

Look at the montages. I didn't realize Cthulhu was out on DVD yet, which I'm pursuing as we speak. But tell me you look at these and don't immediately want to put all of Sean Kirby's photographed films on your Netflix queue, or in your shopping cart...


Has anyone seen Eden Lake? I still think it's one of the most disturbing movies I've ever seen. I feel like I should watch it again, but I was so taken aback the first time I saw it, I'm not sure if I can do it.

, though an entirely different animal, is the only other film that's affected me that much.


And though I can't attest to the actual tomatoes growing yet, since we only have a baby green one sprouting, our plant from the Topsy Turvy is growing like I've never seen a tomato plant grow before.

Though the website shows clearly what you wouldn't get, our plant last year, in a regular pot, wasn't even half the size of this one so far by the time summer was over.

Also, the Debbie Meyer Green Bags are worth getting. Again, they don't keep stuff for more than a few days extra, but that's all most people really need to finish extra fruits and vegetables.

And finally, believe it, Mighty Mendit actually works too. I had holes in my jeans, and the stuff actually bonded. After washes, it's holding.

I'm finishing up the post with this because I always got sucked into infomercials as a kid. My mom was nice enough to buy a lot of it for me, and much, if not all of it, was bunk. I used a food dehydrator once, but maybe that was due to laziness. I think we may have made some banana chips. The Super Slicer couldn't even cut a damn tomato. And I got this automatic coin roller at some point, and that sucker broke after a few weeks.

The above three, though, I've been impressed by. And we got everything for $10 a piece at Target. Anyone else using anything worth noting, infomercial-wise?


Clearly I need to go to bed.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Thanks to Steve at Anti- for accepting two new poems. Tentatively the count of published poems for the new book is at 21 with these, so it's nice to know editors are liking the work. Now I just have to work on actually getting a full draft of it together, which will probably be tough in the next few months. Once school starts I'll get back into the swing of things.


I'm at home for another week or so, unwinding before wedding and moving to New York comes to the point where it can't be avoided anymore.


Sometime next week I'll be getting back to the First Book Interviews, as far as sending them out to poets (whose books I've had for way too long...) and I hope you'll accept my apologies for the delay and the formerly dormant weeks.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

El Rejectionâ

Got a nice rejection from Shenandoah today, via a handwritten note from R.T. Smith.

I've sent to Shenandoah since the very beginning, and I've never gotten a handwritten note like this before from them until today, so that was welcoming. It seems like a very tough journal to crack.

Usually I like these notes not to necessarily hope to get into the journal next time, but to hope that someone else takes a poem or two, if not more, who also currently has them for consideration.


Leaving for Pennsylvania tomorrow for a week or so.

Jess and I have to do some marriage license thing at the courthouse on Friday morning, and then we're meeting with the Father who's marrying us in the afternoon.

Then I'll be kicking it at the homestead, with family and friends, before the real insanity of summer starts.


Yesterday was the official "Two Months Until We Get Married" mark...



Riceboy Sleeps - Riceboy Sleeps
Salem - Astronaut
White Rabbits - It's Frightening
Wilco - Wilco (The Album)
Isis - Wavering Radiant
Port-Royal - Magnitogorsk
Passion Pit - Manners
National Skyline - Bliss & Death
The Silent Years - Let Go

Monday, May 18, 2009

Postcards and Audio Letters

I'm not sure how I've never talked about this, though I suppose I was only around 18 or so when it came out.

But Damien Jurado's Postcards and Audio Letters was one of those things I heard that really helped me become fascinated with listening to people talking, those people not knowing you can hear them. I suppose voyeurism is the proper term, though that word gets muddled with other more salacious definitions.

There's a reason, many reasons, why The Conversation is one of the best movies ever made. It's probably, along with Apocalypse Now, why Coppola only made a few good movies, though he's still really trying. Or so we think?

For those who don't know, this is a compilation of found cassettes, mostly from thrift stores, which, supposedly, Damien gathered over the years. He doesn't write anything or sing. It's people talking, and it's put to CD.

But it's utterly fascinating and bizarre and inspiring.

I think my main thing is the fact that these are cassettes. What we all had to use back in the day for answering machines. Now it's all voice mail. People traded tapes in the mail.

On the first track, you can hear Angel in the background as Robert records what is obviously the other side of the tape. And you can hear Angel on the other side, very beautifully and slightly. It's all apparently from 1972. All you can do is piece together what has happened.

You could think about it like Miriam and Judah in Crimes and Misdemeanors. But again, this is real, and utterly fascinating.

The Christmas thing is bizarre. From the early 1980s. And not as interesting, but still worth a listen.

The Dawn, Phil thing is also pretty fascinating. I wish we had more. But again, we feel like we're getting something real, from a nerdy dude trying to see what's going on with a girl, for whatever reason, he's been chasing.

And the last track totally seems like it's made up, but there's no way it can be.

And then we wonder how people let these things go. Accidentally? Moving? Thrown in a box and then the box disappears?

I guess these days it's so easy to take a photo on a cell phone and put it on the Internet. I don't they they sell VHS tapes anymore. Or cassette tapes. It's all CDs and DVDs.

These are people who didn't have cell phones...

Friday, May 15, 2009


The new Diode issue is up. I have three poems in it, tentatively from my new manuscript.

But, as always, I'm with very talented folks. Jason Bredle. Karyna McGlynn. Michelle Bitting. Neil Aitken. Just to name a few. Thank you again to Patty and Jeff.


Also, the new issue of Blackbird is up. Check it out too.


Finally, a trailer for The Road is up. What bothers me initially is it looks like there's going to be tons of CGI, which could prove disastrous. I hope it's only establishing shots. Can't wait to see the no-longer-used turnpike shots from the Breezewood area, and also what they filmed at Conneaut Lake Park, if it's even recognizable.

But overall it looks like it could go either way. A lot of the creepy people in the book look like they're still that way in the movie, so we'll see.

I'll try to see it in the theater first if it doesn't leak before October, but I can't make any promises.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Had a great time in Savannah, on Tybee Island, for Eric and Jenn's wedding.

There were family members there I haven't seen in a while, and there were pretty much no hitches. Overall it was a blast, but it went way too quickly, as good things often do.

Two brothers down. One to go.

Our official two-months-away mark is in six days.


This interview with David Wojahn from Gulf Coast has sparked some folks to comment, as Wojahn's words, rightfully, always do.

John Gallaher commented on it and got a whole mess of reply comments. It's interesting for me to see how many people love to fire back at Wojahn's words. I think the man's brilliant and would have preferred to learn from no other poet during my MFA years. Despite the fact that I busted my ass on Ghost Lights for the last few years, Wojahn had much to do with that as my former teacher. There's a reason so many younger poets who learned from him have books coming out maybe earlier than they should, me being one of them, and much of that has to do with his ability to make students—no matter what "school" they're writing from—work hard at perfecting where they want and need to go, not where he wants and needs to go.

That's a major difference from many other poet professors out there. Trust me on this.

But as far as the skittery poem and confessionalism and facile and trivial writing and younger poets wanting to stay away from confessionalism go, I think I'll save all my comments for the essays I'll be writing over the next four years at Binghamton, though I'm not sure these ideas will ever be within an essay.


I already got my TA assignment next year for Binghamton. As much as I'd be comfortable just being thrown into a composition course, I'll be TAing for a British Literature class, which meets on Monday and Wednesday afternoon.

I never had labs or anything like that in undergrad or for my MFA, but I guess I'm meeting with the students on Friday afternoon also to go over everything.

That said, it'll probably be nice to not be thrown into a composition course after trying to get used to a new place, new rules, a new school, etc.

I remember getting my TA assignment from VCU, however, about five days before classes began my first year, so it's nice to already know what's around the corner.


It's official: I sent my last batch of submissions out for the summer on April 28th. I have a ton of work out to a ton of places, all sent between February and April.

I hope that the rejections don't get lost since folks are slower over the summer at responding and we're moving soon.

Oh well.

And if there are anymore acceptances, I hope the editors use email.


Speaking of publications, on a weird note I just got a rejection from Front Porch. The thing is: they accepted poems a few months ago that are now published.

And then I checked the online submissions system, and sure enough, it says that they're declined.

A burp in the system, but one I thought was pretty funny, especially since this is the first time I've gotten accepted, published, and then rejected—all from the same batch. I don't think it happens often. Maybe I should buy some scratch-off tickets.


Watched a VHS screener of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh last night, and I have to say that it was pretty bad (though I do want to watch the proper DVD again to see Pittsburgh in its proper 2:35 nasty glory).

I'm all for the director / screenwriter taking liberties from the book. Look at how amazing The Shining is (and no, not the one with Steven Weber).

But Thurber just tried to do way too much with the characters, and much of it was flat all over the place. I agree with some of the reviews also about Peter Sarsgaard being typecast these days. He seems to be playing the same character in every movie.

Anyway, stick to the book instead, though the visuals are worth checking out. Then again, I'm more obsessed with cinematography mostly anyway, especially in bad movies.


I have a fear this summer's going to go faster than usual and it's going to completely pass me by.

I'm going to make sure that doesn't happen.

I have a lot of reading to do. Interviews to conduct. My own writing to attend to. My second manuscript to hopefully get close to finishing. Did I just say that? My aspirations are high. Why would anyone want theirs to be low? Plus, I said close to finishing...

I'm doing as much legwork as I can before our wedding, mostly for all things Binghamton (since the wedding's pretty much taken care of by now as far as dates and coordination and all of that).

Here's to productivity.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Jersey City

From C. Dale's blog:

"Yes, one of the new Giants is a poet.

“It’s weird,” this yet-unnamed player said of his hobby. “When I get bored I think about things, I think about life, and I write it down. I love rhyming.”

Whether it's awful or somehow actually decent, I'm excited to know who it is. And someone who says "poetry" instead of "lyrics" also makes me happy.

This is going to be another amazing season or one that just completely shits the bed uncontrollably, so I hope, of course, it's the former.

I can't wait for the season to start...

Monday, May 4, 2009

Raleigh Durham

I believe what was probably my 5th or 6th All About Beer Festival is now over. It was definitely one of the best. And quite possible my last. And now because I gained too much weight after eating a lot of shitty food and drinking too much, I have to get on the horn and shed the pounds.


Has anyone ever been to a Loco Pops? There are only four locations, all in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, and it's a mind blowing place. Gourmet Popsicles. I had a Cherry Hibiscus yesterday. I saw Blueberry Thyme. Lavender Pear. There are sugar-based and cream-based. And they're amazing. I don't understand how it's done or how they're so good.

If you're in those areas, make sure you hit one of them up and grab yourself about fifteen. You won't regret it.


A lot to get done this week. Leaving on Thursday for my Savannah. Celebrating Thursday night. Friday night will be more low-key. And of course celebrating Saturday night post-wedding.


I'm also going on temporary hiatus from the first book interviews until I can get about ten sets of questions or so to poets. Again, this week is going to be busy, though next week I should be able to take some time, sit down, read, enjoy, get questions together, and get them sent to poets who have been owed questions for a long, long time. Maybe even more than ten sets of questions. I'll update when I'm back in full swing.


I need to write new poems.

Friday, May 1, 2009


This whole Craig Arnold situation has me thinking about how much community matters. Especially with poets.

I don't like that word poet.

But I think if you try to write poetry, if it hits a nerve while reading, writing, or reading and writing or any combination of all of them, then community should matter.

Especially at this point.

There will be a lot on this in the future from others.

I hope Craig Arnold is alive and well somewhere and holding on and this whole thing is some fluke. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.


The Bull Celtics game tonight was amazing.

3 OT. A lot of insanity. I'm usually not an NBA follower, but all of my high school friends, or at least most of them, were basketball players, and continue to be, however seriously or recreationally.

And despite how much money a lot of these guys get paid (for example, seeing that Joakim Noah made $2,295,480 in 2009)... See, then I just copied and pasted $2,295,480 and felt maybe that I shouldn't say "despite" anything, so I won't.

All professional athletes get paid too much money for the most part.

But goddamn that was a good game.

And you may see me in Binghamton next year with my Hakeem Nicks jersey on...


After listening to the Snow Angels soundtrack too many times, I finally emailed Lusine, aka Jeff McIlwain, to see if there's going to be another collaboration with David Wingo, AKA another full length record.

He told me something along lines that something is in the works.

For that I am happy. But it's still not much.


Something about Johann Johannson's "Forlandia," meaning the first track on the record, makes it opposite-ends-of-the-spectrum ultimately sad and anthematic.


I had a poem just accepted for publication that involves both my first girlfriend and my future wife.


I just don't understand violence. I can't comprehend most of it. If not all of it. And therefore I am obsessed with it.


My oldest brother is getting married on May 9th. Jess and I are leaving on Thursday, May 8th, to go down to Savannah.

I'm pretty happy about the whole situation, needless to say.

I saved $10 by finding a coupon via Google for the hotel where we're staying the Thursday we're going down. (I always say "up" instead of down, when usually it's down.)

The first time I drove down to Savannah I got a ticket.

The second time I almost got a ticket. I got stopped, but the cop let me go.

The first time I can't remember what I was listening to.

The second time I was listening to Voivoid.

I will not be listening to Voivoid anymore in the car. Anywhere.


Sometimes you can see a whole world after waiting on customers for eight hours.


I don't know what it is about Beautiful Girls, but I've been obsessed with it lately.

I think it was one of the original jaded late 20-something movies to come out of Hollywood before all the awful ones did.


I just heard what I thought was a gunshot, multiple gunshots, and it's some jackass lighting fireworks, because I heard the raining shimmer from whatever the end of it's called...

But seriously: after 1 AM on a Thursday (now Friday)?

(Jess just woke up, because she has to get up early in the morning, and even though I don't have to get up as early but still fairly early, and when I told her it was fireworks, said, "Who would do that? It sounded like gunshots...")