Monday, June 29, 2009


I'm glad I didn't hear about Hung too early, because I would've been way too excited for it. I've only known about for a month or so now, and forgot it was on so I had to watch it, which was fine with me, on On Demand.

Here are the great things about it:

1) Alexander Payne, even though for only one episode, directed. I think his genius has gone unnoticed for a long time, minus Sideways, and though this won't turn many people onto his movies who don't know about them already, this is Alexander Payne through and through.

2) I don't know who the cinematographer is, because IMDB won't list it for some reason, but all you need to do is take a look at this clip from the pilot. Ray changes his clothes in front of this broken and grafitti'd wall, and suddenly, as he moves to the street, there's the weirdly beautiful and almost-feigned futuristic neon glow of this hotel in the middle of rundown Detroit. Wowness.

3) I've never been to Detroit, but Winston-Salem is one of the reasons George Washington is so good, since it acts as a character just waiting to be filmed. Say the same for Western Pennsylvania and why that was the major choice of filming locations for The Road, especially Pittsburgh. Detroit and school teachers, yes. But the shots in the opening minute or so, with all the broken down buildings, the location scouts probably didn't have to look too hard to find. I could walk around those buildings for hours, both cinematically and in real life. I hope there's a lot more.

4) Thomas Jane, who's been a favorite of mine since Boogie Nights (and you may not know who he is if you're not a huge fan of the movie, but I implore you to watch it again, because some of the best one-liners are written for him), and though tons of people didn't like The Mist, I loved it, and there's no one else who could've played that role in my eyes. He's perfect for Ray in Hung too. He's even great in Killshot, which is a complete waste of time, despite the Rourke and Gordon-Levitt in the other roles.

I can't say much for the writers, because I've never seen The Riches, but that's going to be the biggest question mark as the show moves on.

I do know that there's a ton of potential in this show, so let's hope it continues.

Watch the pilot if you haven't.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


I have to post about how ridiculous the new Caspian song is, "Epochs in DMaj," which is streaming on their MySpace page.

Their new record, Tertia, will be out on August 11th. I have high hopes for it to be in my top three of the year, if it ends up not being number one.

They're inspiring folks. You should be listening.


Oh, and there's a pretty awesome live show here.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

First Book Interview #21 - Rauan Klassnik

It's here. We're back. I'm back. Or it's back.

#21 - Rauan Klassnik

Thanks to those who are actually reading and appreciating.

And sorry for the delay.


Blake Butler's Scorch Atlas is now available for preorder at Amazon. If you buy any book during the rest of the year, let it be this one. And are you kidding me with the design?

I must say too that Blake's words have heavily influenced, I think, many of the words in the current poetry manuscript I'm working on. But his words are a lot better. So read them.

Also check out his blog for contests and reading tours and all other things Lynchian. Not that contests and reading tours are Lynchian.


The new Memorious is up. It's one of my favorite online journals. Rebecca actually accepted a poem of mine a few years ago for an issue, but it was already spoken for, and I did email her to let her know, so chalk that up to an instance of lost email or what have you. That said, I will keep submitting until she takes something again, because the quality seems to get better every issue.

In particular, Adam Day's poems blew me away. How he doesn't have a book out yet is beyond me, and I imagine we'll all be hearing the good news soon if all is right with the world.


I had this dream last night that the world was ending, which happens too often. But it was more vivid than usual this time. First I was walking through a friend's ocean side house, when the waves kept getting bigger and smashing into houses. Then lightning and rain. Then all these people I want to high school with crying hysterically. And more rain. And then a lot of running. I don't remember who was with me. Then a helicopter pilot on a loudspeaker or something from his helicopter. Then four helicopters were flung into the ground, each one exploding, and everyone running. The pilot was trying to warn us that the cars were going to start on their own and come after us, and we didn't know that until they started on their own and came after us. I remember a jeep chasing me, and suggested that if we ran into a secure, bricked building that all they could do was crash into it, since no one was driving. We never made it to the building. I realized when I woke up that no one ever dies in these dreams. I wake up before anything like that happens. Sounds and screams and waves crashing and thunder, but no blood of any kind, and no real witnessed deaths.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Earlier today, as I was talking to my brother about an amazing picture of Eli and Peyton Manning at a (seriously) Better than Ezra show from I think a night or two ago, I was twisting the top of our Topsy Turvy to get the tomatoes some more sunlight.

And bam, the hook, which wasn't strong to begin with, making it my fault for not getting a stronger one, snapped, sending it tumbling three floors to the sidewalk below.

Luckily no one was there, so it didn't hit anyone or anything, but it seriously could've caused some kind of injury, which is a bit weird and frightening.

So we moved it to the back porch and tried to hang it on a hook there. If the hook breaks and it goes tumbling down, it'll go down to the yard and that's it.

But then something happened to the screen door. It got caught, somehow, on the metal of the siding, which clearly I can't describe, almost acting as a kind of suction on the bottom. So I had to use remnants of an old desk chair to first get something wedged between the door and the siding at the top, and then I tried to crowbar the bottom with a metal rod from it, which finally worked.

It's days like these when I really anticipate moving, getting a new start, and getting back to things being new.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Upon reading "River Road" by Herbert Morris, I immediately went to and purchased his first three books, including shipping, for a total of $15.

I remember Wojahn in workshop talking about him once, and though I couldn't really get into What Was Lost, which I do own and am probably too young for it to really make an impact at this point, I need to take another crack at it, and there are other poems from AGNI you can find online by Herbert Morris also.

He was someone who I don't believe gave readings, and someone who didn't have a lot of biographical information floating around, which is both weird and admirable for the current times. He passed away in 2001.

I'm now ready to dive into his earlier work and climb up to What Was Lost.


About a year ago I caved and bought a Bose Sound Dock from Target for my IPod.

A few months ago the thing broke. Maybe it was a power surge, because I didn't drop it or spill anything on it. It still worked, technically, a few months ago, but there was this annoying, bass-like and pounding pulsation that clearly was due to some speaker or other part malfunction within the system.

Then about a month ago the thing collapsed to a low hum when plugged in, and I can't even charge my IPod on it, much less play a song.

I was smart, though, and basically got the 3-year Target warranty free, since it was $29 and I saved 10% with the Red Card, to only be used then and immediately shredded later.

I called a few days ago and got the return FedEx label today, so now I just have to figure out the specifics of all the confusion going on with the instructions. It's this kind of thing that makes me consider technical writing as a field that could really help folks who can actually read not take a ton of extra time to figure out the perplexing logic of some of these seemingly simple sentences.

Hopefully I can figure it out, send the thing back as they request, get a new one, and probably plug the thing into a surge protector, because I think it did indeed get fried from a power surge.


I lied about not sending out work until the fall.

I realized recently how many journals only take submissions from now until most other journals actually start accepting submissions for all their new reading periods, come September usually.

I have a handful of poems as ready as they're going to be, so I'm gearing up to submit.

Maybe something will slip through the cracks...

Friday, June 19, 2009


I really wanted to like Sunshine Cleaning a lot, and though I did enjoy it by the end, as there were a few things to admire, I thought there were too many faults to make it lasting.

Too many loose ends in the script, or aspects they thought the audience wouldn't question (though I'm not sure how they legitimately thought this).

Too many indie movie cliches, and I really really hate that new trend. Just knowing now that there are indie movie cliches, very obvious ones that screenwriters still can't get away from, means bad things ahead I think. Or the same script recycled 874 times within a few years.

I feel like I'd give too much away if I talked about specifics, but Amy Adams I still think is great, and without her the movie probably couldn't have been made.

But if you really want to see an amazing movie (the real PSH Oscar performance) dealing with the tragicomedy tag looming over it, see Love Liza. It'll always be one of my favorites.


Nolan Reimold hits home run #8
. Hell yes. I'm not sure how I feel about slowly becoming an Orioles fan, but it seems like it's happening.


Less than a month to go until our wedding day of July 18th. Then moving to Binghamton. I'm trying to be as relaxed as I can in the next few weeks to get prepared for Stress City.


I started to realize that I have over 900 Facebook friends, which is hilarious. It'd take a while to see how many of them I've actually met or know well (maybe 50-100?), but I have no qualms about seeing that another friend is friends with say, a writer that's been around for a while that I like, or a writer whose work I just saw in a journal that blew me away, and adding them as a "friend."

I feel like I'm the only person at this point not on Twitter, but honestly I don't need additional excuses to waste time, especially with all that's coming up in the next few months, so I'll refrain, at least for now...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Taking a Page from the Book of Paul Guest

Though I will never ever post a poem on my blog (not that there's anything wrong with that of course), this is the so-far contents of manuscript number two. Still building.


The reference to Paul is the fact that he's done this before, though I can't get a link now to one of his first ever blog posts. Oliver de la Paz has too. And probably some others. So why not?


And yes, if this thing ever becomes a legitimate book instead of a small ball of fire, I'll most likely be taking out the beat-you-over-the-head "Nocturne" in the titles...



OK, so I decided to take this down after feeling weird about it for whatever reason... I apologize in advance if you actually wanted to see it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Maybe my eyes have just been a bit more open lately upon perusing some blogs, but it seems like within the last few weeks there's been a lot going on in terms of finger-pointing and discussion, both the good and the bad of it, the worthy and the trivial.

But one thing recently has been interesting is Steve's review of Richard Vargas and the unnecessarily written letter back to him (where Richard also posts in the comments section).

I won't say a lot about this, as you can easily read both yourself, but there's a lot to be learned from this, I think. Upon dealing with the biggest asshole professor I've ever encountered, during the second year of my MFA ("When you're my grader you can call me [insert first name], but if I ever have you for a graduate class it'll always be Dr. [insert last name]."), I had a discussion with one of my friends after I thought the son of a bitch was actually going to punch me in the face, I kid you not, who said, "Well now you know that you never want to be someone who treats another person like that." I'm paraphrasing, because it was probably put more eloquently, but it's true, and something I'll remember.

Anyway, check out the response if you haven't. I could say a lot of things that would probably get me in trouble right now, but I figure I'll have many more years to piss people off, so there's no point in getting an early start here.

Do read the response, though (and the review, if you must, to put it in context), if you haven't already.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Thanks to the 42opus editors for accepting four poems for publication. I've been doing well with my goal to have a more online presence for this working manuscript.

I think all but two poems now have been published, and usually how it goes, the unpublished ones are two of my favorites, and two of the longest.


This week I'm seriously getting back to the first book interviews. I still owe many poets questions. Hopefully I can get around ten or so done this week and off. A few poets still owe me interviews too, so that'll help to get the ball rolling again once I get those.


The Magic should've won last night. Now they're probably screwed. I'm sick of the Lakers.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Must Read After My Death

I need to write about how amazing Must Read After My Death is.

More and more when I see movies I feel like I have to eventually integrate film into my classes when I'm actually a true professor teaching somewhere, probably way down the road.

The film is a pastiche of old Super 8 movies and Dictaphone recordings from a family of six in Connecticut in the 1960s. Morgan Dews apparently somehow found his grandmother's package of all of this (you'll see all of it at the beginning of the film) marked "Must Read After My Death."

It's one of the most sad and beautiful films I've ever seen. Reminiscent, technique-wise, of 51 Birch Street, Tarnation, Capturing the Friedmans, About a Son, and probably some others, the point here isn't originality.

But what makes the film powerful is what's culled together to make it. The images don't necessarily speak for the narrative shred we're listening to, but there are some that won't leave your mind, some that keep playing over different parts of different voices. You can tell this was a labor of love for Morgan Dews, and until close to the end you wonder how he's related to the family at all (you'll see what I mean as you're watching).

And with fifty hours of recordings, winnowing that down to a little over an hour would not be the easiest task. Then we're left to wonder what was left out, and what dictated the choices Dews made in compiling every recording and image.

Another thing is the score, which wouldn't have even needed to be a part of it to make it so powerful. But the score of Paul Damian Hogan the Third somehow combines the guitar washes of Eluvium, the key and tonal glitch of Fennesz, and the warped, warm repetitions of William Basinski. I wouldn't be surprised if someone wanted to put this out as a 70-minute album, with just the voices and the soundtrack. It could easily work that way too.

See it. See it. See it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

And So It Begins Again

Looking back at my list of all the contests and open reading periods I sent to, or was going to send to, in the last two years, I decided to get together a list for the contests and open reading periods I can send to when I decide that my second manuscript is ready for such insanity again.

Basically, that means avoiding all the strictly first book contests.

I was surprised to realize how many contests I sent to that weren't for just first books, even though I thought they were. The folks who said it doesn't get any easier were, of course, completely right.

That said, I've compiled a list of contests and open reading periods poets can submit to beyond first books, and I wondered if folks out there would be willing to help me add to it or take away (because I may be wrong about some of these). I didn't Google to find a similar list, since I wanted to see what I could gather on my own first, though if there's a place with a much more organized and fully compiled list (which I would bet on probably), please do share that also if you would be so kind.

And because links and websites are so transient these days, I've left links off the list...



Alice James Books Beatrice Hawley Award
Anhinga Prize for Poetry
Ashland Poetry Press Richard Snyder Memorial Publication Prize
Barrow Street Book Prize
BkMk Press John Ciardi Prize for Poetry
Cleveland State University Open Competition
Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition
CSU Fresno Philip Levine Prize in Poetry
Dream Horse Press Orphic Prize
Dream Horse Press American Poetry Journal Book Prize
Eastern Washington University Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry
Elixir Press Annual Poetry Contest
Elixir Press Antivenom Poetry Award
FIELD Poetry Prize
Hollis Summer Poetry Prize
Lost Horse Press Idaho Prize for Poetry
Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize
National Poetry Series
New Issues Green Rose Prize
Northeastern University Press Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize
Pleiades Press Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Series Book Competition
Prairie Schooner Book Prize
Red Hen Press Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award
Sarabande Books Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry
Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize
Steel Toe Books
Tampa Review Prize for Poetry
Tupelo Press Dorsett Prize
University of Akron Press Akron Poetry Prize
University of Arkansas Press Poetry Series Miller Williams Poetry Prize
University of Massachusetts Press Juniper Prize
University of North Texas Press Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry
University of Utah Press Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize
University of Wisconsin Press Brittingham / Felix Pollak Prizes
Utah State University Press May Swenson Poetry Award
Waywiser Press Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize


I've since updated the Open Reading Periods with a comprehensive list from Steve's blog.

I'll also copy and paste below what he has posted, but it may be easier to click the link above...

List of presses with reading periods for poetry manuscripts, plus notes:

Open: BlazeVOX Books
Open: Melville House
Open: New Directions
Open: Persea Books
Open: City Lights Books (proposal/sample)
Open: Counterpath Press (query/sample)
Open: Eastern Washington University Press (query/sample)
Open: Apogee Press (query)
Open: Coffee House Press (sample, not "new authors")
Open: High Plains Press (sample, "Poetry of the American West")
Open: Mayapple Press ($10 fee)
Open: Etruscan Press ($20 fee)
January & June: Milkweed Editions
January-June: BkMk Press (sample)
January-July: Ghost Road Press (query/sample) (not currently reading)
January-November: Graywolf Press (query/sample)
January-March: CavanKerry Press
January-? (not first books): BOA Editions
Feb. 1-June 1: Carolina Wren Press
March 1-May 1: Ahsahta Press
April: Octopus Books
April-September: Waywiser Press
May-June: Black Ocean
June: Four Way Books
June: Ausable Press
June & October: Steel Toe Books (you have to buy one of their previous books)
July: Tupelo Press ($35 fee[!!!])
September: Sarabande Books (sample) (not reading 2008)
September-October: University of Pittsburgh Press (not first books)
October: Carnegie Mellon University Press ($10 fee)
October: Tarpaulin Sky Press ($10 for past contributors, $20 for others)
October-November: C&R Press ($10 fee, $15 to received published book)
November-December: WordTech Communications (not reading 2008)

Note that you MUST check the press websites, as these things often change from year to year.

Monday, June 1, 2009


Though I got three rejections in the mail today, my contributor copies of River Styx (which also has a spiffy new website) arrived, and much to my surprise (because I didn't hear about it this at all from their website or upon hearing of my acceptance), there was also a check for $15.

I didn't think I'd ever get into River Styx in the first place, but what blew my mind about it was looking at the last few issues' table of contents. There are always a ton of heavyweight poets, so I'm pretty happy I get to share the pages with such folks.

In this issue: Lance Larsen, Dorianne Laux, Alison Pelegrin, Oliver de la Paz, Carrie Shipers, Albert Gordbarth, David Wagoner, and a lot more.

I have only two more poems from Ghost Lights that need to be published (in Handsome and Lamination Colony) until all of the poems from the book are out there in the world in print or online journals.

It's a strange, strange feeling to say that, trust me...


Though I know the current Redivider is out in the world, I've yet to see my contributor copies. I wonder if they got lost. I did email them again to check, so hopefully they'll be on their way soon, as I'm excited to see the issue.

And I hope Ashley Capps doesn't hate me, because her first book is amazing, and it was the posted link that inspired the poem...


From an awesome New York Times piece / interview with Frederick Seidel:

He led me into his study, a tall, bright, white space with a large window and a broad heavy desk facing it. Books lined shelves that line the walls to the ceiling, tidy rows. Photographs of friends nest everywhere, scenes from a life.

“It’s very much,” Seidel said, “to do with the sense you develop, in the writing of a poem, that at a certain moment it has its separate being from you to which you have your obligations. You’re you; it’s it; and eventually, it really will separate from you and be absolutely not yours anymore — even if you made it. It is, of course. But it isn’t. It’s a thing out there.”

Seidel gestured to the window, to Manhattan, to the lights that shone in the dark. I looked at them and saw, reflected in the glass, hovering over the city, Seidel. I turned back to look at him, the real Seidel.

“So this is where you write?”

“My boy,” he said, “this is where I live.”


I was at Target about an hour ago to grab a gift card for a future wedding shower for friends, and I was struck by a couple probably around my age (or younger) at the end of a stoplight at the Broad Street intersection, begging for money.

The sign said, "Passing Thru. Anything Helps." But they seemed able-bodied and dressed very much Richmond art nerds-esque (go to Ipanema Cafe on a Friday night after 10 and you'll see what I mean), so I was wondering what the hell was going on. Did they run away from home? Did they get into trouble and are running from the law? Are they following Phish and somehow their party left or abandoned them?

I can understand the older homeless men and women and wounded veterans, but I was just confused by this whole thing.

And then, regardless, I felt guilty for not giving them $1 when I had $8 wrapped around my money clip in my pocket...


I think tonight's the last night to submit to the Best New Poets competition, and since this will be the last year I can submit (as Ghost Lights is coming out in spring 2010, when I will no longer be eligible), I'm going to give two newer poems another shot.

One reason I'm hesitant is that Meridian has sent me nothing but form rejection letters, sans ink, in the last four years or so. Which is fine of course. But Meridian readers, I'm pretty sure, are the screeners, so that always decreases my chances a bit.

That said, it's $3.50 for two poems, I like what they're doing with the project, and this is my last chance, so why not submit? Now I just need to figure out what I'm going to send...