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.


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.


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.


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.


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

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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)


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.