Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Top 10 Records of 2010

In Order:

1) Owen Pallett - Heartland
2) Hammock - Chasing After Shadows... Living wth the Ghosts / Longest Year EP / North West East South EP
3) Sun Airway - Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier
4) Ra Ra Riot - The Orchard
5) The National - High Violet
6) Vampire Weekend - Contra
7) Delorean - Subiza
8) Emeralds - Does It Look Like I'm Here?
9) Local Natives - Gorilla Manor
10) Near the Parenthesis - Music for the Forest Concourse

Friday, December 24, 2010


There's another review of Ghost Lights in the new Ragazine -- you can read it here.

Thanks again to Kayleigh.

I know reviews are sometimes the hardest things to coordinate after a book comes out (at least in my experience), so I'm always thankful when someone takes the time to say some words about it.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


There are some recently published poems online, from the new manuscript, that you're free to take a look at if you'd like.

One poem in The Collagist.

And two poems in the new Pebble Lake Review -- here and here.


I was pleased to hear that my new manuscript was a semi-finalist for the Brittingham / Pollak Prizes.

But I was more pleased to find out that it's a semi-finalist in another contest that's still going on.

I know that out of thirty manuscripts the odds are pretty low that the judge will select it, but so far, after sending it out for about a year, I've already had a lot more response than I did when I sent out Ghost Lights for the first year.

Also, this is the second contest where I've heard about my manuscript not after the fact.

And as always, it'll go out to a few more contests in a week or so, and the list grows through winter and spring.


My third semester is done.

Though it feels like I just got here in a way.


I have a lot of books I'm looking forward to reading, and more first book interviews will be conducted.


A best-of music list for the year is also on the horizon.


Travel safely over the next few weeks, everyone.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life trailer is now up. The real thing. No bootleg.

Like many others have said already, I'm in agreement: this is my most anticipated film of all time.

There are others I had anticipated for months, all within the last 29 years, but nothing comes close to this.

And in my personal life, my academic life, my thoughts related to poetry and film, I keep thinking and asking myself, "Is there any poet who can come close to the beauty and genius of Terrence Malick?"

The only logical answer I think there is: Larry Levis.

Though we'll never be able to read anything beyond Elegy, if Malick continues, it's one of those kicked around thoughts, divinely related to art, that makes me legitimately say, "Life is worth living."

Monday, December 13, 2010


Thanks to Andrew at for featuring some poems from Ghost Lights this week.

It's a great site with a bunch of good stuff in the archives, so if you haven't seen it, definitely take a look.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


A few things here before I end up waiting another month to post something...


Thanks to Nick Ripatrazone for his review of Ghost Lights at The Quarterly Conversation. This is the first official review of Ghost Lights (with more on the way), and his words mean a lot.


And thanks to Brian Brodeur for including me in his great series How A Poem Happens. I answer questions specifically related to "Ghost Lights."


Currently, I'm waiting on about ten poets to get back to me as far as First Book Interviews go (meaning the interviews were sent via email within the last six months).

At this point, I don't know if any of them will get back to me, but we'll see. Some poets respond in a week. Some a few months. Some never (which is odd to me, but alas).

Mostly this is my fault, I imagine, for getting so behind in the last year.

That said, there are at least ten more books I'm planning on reading over Christmas break, and I plan on playing catch up completely over those days. Then we'll be back on the regular schedule again soon enough.


I've had five more poems accepted from the new manuscript in the last couple of months, so that's been great. Some of them should be appearing this month.

I think there are five unpublished poems left from the new manuscript now. They're all off in the world right now. And no, it's not vastly important that every poem gets published, but since these are some of my favorites in the entire thing (it seems to always happen that those are the ones that take the longest...), and I don't have any other new ones to send out at the moment, there you have it.

I didn't necessarily overhaul the manuscript, but I did take out some older and weaker poems to add some new ones. I think I probably ended up cutting seven or eight pages and adding four or five. I think the trade-off was a good one.

Now I feel better about it as it goes to more contests and open reading periods. Fingers crossed.


The semester is done in a few days.

Next semester will hopefully officially be my last semester of coursework in my Graduate School career.

Then it's all to field exams and the dissertation (which I hope will be a third manuscript).


A lot of other stuff I'm forgetting.

Looks like there's a decent crop of films at Sundance this year.

There's also a bootleg trailer floating around for Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life. It looks, not surprisingly, like it should be a gorgeous film. It's coming out in May.

With all those First Book Interviews I'll be reading for, I'm sure I'll be watching a ton of movies too. It usually happens that way.

And the snow keeps falling...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

First Book Interview #33 - Gary L. McDowell

While you're enjoying turkey, why not enjoy this interview with Gary L. McDowell?

#33 - Gary L. McDowell

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I've obviously not been doing a lot of blogging lately. So, while I'm up not doing work I'm supposed to be doing...


The second manuscript has officially been sent out for the fall. Trying to send to a lot of places this year (or, rather, fall 2010 to fall 2011, if needed).

When I first sent it out a year ago, it was short, uneven, not really a manuscript.

I probably should've waited until now to begin sending it out, but I've had a year to work on it and get it into shape. A lot of time has been spent on it. It's better. I hope it's officially ready now, but time will tell.


Had a few poems picked up over the last month or so from said manuscript.

Have five unpublished currently from the manuscript that are still out in the world, but mostly I've begun to send out some new ones. Finally.


Speaking of which, I've had a productive last few months. I have twenty new drafts I'm working on, about half of which have been sent out.

Not thinking of a direction so much as trying to write new work that I like. Had a burst after the reading tour. And had a burst last weekend in Florida, where I wrote eight drafts. I think five have potential.


Facebook's flooded now, if you're friends with certain folks, with MFA-related information. People "fighting" with each other. "Essays" being written and published in good journals about MFA programs.

I think everything's really gotten out of hand. I made a comment today, and I've probably said it before, that if those "books" and "essays" were around when I was applying in the fall of 2003, I'm not sure I would've wanted to do it. Confusion. Paralysis. Unrealistic goals set. Eye on the "prize." Too much pressure to succeed. Win awards. Study under certain professors.

Beyond college, the MFA should be a formative time, not one to worry about how much money they'll pay you, how much you'll teach (though if you hope to actually go into academia, which many don't choose, and that's fine, teaching should be something you make a point to do a lot), how many books you can write before you leave with your validating piece of paper in your hand.

Maybe I'm nuts, but I wish everyone luck who has to deal with all of this right now. I know I wouldn't want to. Hopefully, whoever you are out there, you won't be affected by those things that you need to ignore, and you'll survive, grow as a writer, and figure out what you want to do when you're done with those very few years in the entire span of your life.


Really liked Enter the Void. Have a lot to say about it, but I only saw it once. More viewings will come with the Blu-ray in the future.


Buy Paper Anniversary by Bobby C. Rogers.

Along with Elyse Fenton's Clamor and Gary L. McDowell's American Amen, those are my favorite first collections of poetry this year.

My hope is that they'll all want to do first book interviews...


Not a lot of first collections have blown me away lately.

Those above aren't the only three I've really enjoyed thus far (there have actually been many just within the last six months), but it seems like this trend is growing.

I don't like it.

But I guess we can't be blown away all the time. Truth dazzling gradually and all that...


Can't stop listening to Hammock. Have mentioned them too much. One of the best bands to write to, and their music never gets old to me.


Reading in NYC at the Bowery this Sunday, October 10th.

With Amy Holman, Diane Kirsten Martin, and Kyle McCord.

Hopefully you can make it if you're in the area.


A lot of good first book interviews on the way...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My First Book Interview

In the past, I've heard the question, "Now that your book's out, when are you going to do your own first book interview?"

Well, the time has come.

It's now live on HTMLGIANT.

Thanks again to Blake. Hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010


Binghamton starts classes today, but my first day is tomorrow.

I didn't write much the first year, which I expected, but I'm hoping this year will change that.


I found out near the end of the reading tour that my new manuscript, currently titled Sirens and Wildfire, was a finalist for the Akron Poetry Prize and a semi-finalist for the Cleveland State Open Competition.

Like it was when I first started sending out what finally became Ghost Lights, it's just fuel for the fire. Late nights reading poems, thinking about order, feeling out if any should be cut or if new ones should be added. All of that will continue to happen with the new manuscript, and it becomes both fun and maddening at the same time.

I have a list of contests and open reading periods for 2010 and 2011, so it's back to getting it out again soon enough.


And somehow, since the tour, miraculously, I've been writing a lot of new poems. Since I wasn't able to send out a lot last year, I'm hoping I can have a good September to add more poems to the ones I've already written.

My goal, then, is to send out as many that I feel are ready for a big push at the beginning of October.

Maybe there's even the kernel of a third manuscript in there somewhere...?


Speaking of submissions, it's interesting to hear all the hullabaloo about New England Review and Ploughshares charging writers to submit their work now.

My take on it personally is this...

I haven't submitted to NER for one simple reason: currently I don't, and have never, sent to places who don't accept simultaneous submissions. If I wrote as much as Bob Hicok and had his reputation, I'd have enough poems to wait on a response before sending those poems to other journals. The simple fact is, however, that I don't write enough. So I respect the policy for non-simultaneous submissions. I know many others that don't feel this way, but I do.

I've sent to Ploughshares many times in the past, with form rejections following every single time, and with chances already slim to get in (because of the notoriety of the journal, the amount of submissions they get, and the guest editor usually soliciting a lot), I'd rather submit work to other journals at this point. But Ploughshares will be in my sights for the future.

If many journals follow with charging for submissions, which I hope they won't, I'll either go back to sending via snail mail or not sending to them at all.

With so many journals out there, I just don't think this is a huge concern for me. I know where folks are coming from as far as being annoyed, but alas, if I get the itch to send to some of these places, I'll just send via snail mail, or I'll look at other journals who don't charge.

Simple as that.


Bring on PhD year number two...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Now that I look back on my previous post about the tour, I realize that I probably left a lot out. But mainly that would consist of important things only to me, most of which would be fairly boring to others.

Like driving through Brooklyn and saying, "That looks exactly like the street of family in The Squid and the Whale," which is one of my favorite movies, and then realizing that though the streets all kind of look the same in that sense, one of them may have been their exact street.

Or the guy at one of the toll booths giving me 17 one-dollar bills instead of fives and tens, prompting me to tell my friend who I was talking to on the phone, "Apparently I was mistaken for Pacman Jones, because I'm gonna make shit rain."

Or the Full House trivia session at Manuel's Tavern in Atlanta with Blake Butler, who lost. I'm not sure Blake would want me to include him in this section of the post, and I'm going out on a limb by including myself, but I can answer many questions about Full House. And you probably don't want to challenge me, regardless of how embarrassing it is to say such a thing.

So there you go. Things like that. The post would've been longer and more drawn out, and I wanted to get to the heart of things. Hopefully you found it worth your time.

Also, I need to say thanks again to my beautiful and understanding wife, who let me go on the trip in the first place. Without her, I probably wouldn't even have a book out, so she does deserve more credit than I can give her.


School's starting in less than three weeks. I'm excited to get back to it, get teaching again, read novels, write non-fiction, work on manuscripts.

Two more semesters of coursework to go.


I was planning on going to New York City if need be to go see Enter the Void. I think it's going to be one of the best of the decade.

It's been eight years since Irreversible. That's way too long.

That said, I found out that it'll be part of On Demand IFC in Theaters, which is amazing. If I were closer to NYC, I'd go, but being able to get the HD version, though it won't be as good as the theater, will make me happy enough.


If it wasn't enough that Enter the Void is premiering in theaters on September 24th, I also pre-ordered, as should you: The Thin Red Line Criterion Blu-ray and Bobby C. Rogers' Paper Anniversary.

Add to that list Gary L. McDowell's American Amen.

September's going to be a good month for good art.


I love the new Ra Ra Riot record, The Orchard.

They're doing amazing things. They're a bunch of young and extremely talented kids. The strings are gorgeous. The melodies can't stay out of my head. And the production's top notch.

And finally bands are starting to realize that records in the 30-minute range are the way to go.

If only poets could get a clue about this...

What's that? Actually, no, I don't want to read your 110-page book if it's not a Selected or Collected. Sorry.


The NFL season will soon be underway. Can't wait to see how the season plays out for the Giants. Many have them collapsing, with Coughlin getting let go after a losing season.

But I'm optimistic.

I can't wait for Sundays... bring it.


And finally, a big congrats to Luke Johnson, whose first collection, After the Ark, will be coming out in in spring 2011 from NYQ Books.

Luke and I traded manuscripts a few months back, and I told him I gave him two years until it was contracted. I pride myself on usually being right about good collections I've read when it comes to publication and the like, but I have to say, he demolished my window into a thousand pieces.

It's a strong, strong collection, and one you should certainly pick up once it hits the shelves and the streets.

Monday, August 9, 2010

So You Want To Know What It's Like To Go On A 17-Day Book Tour Across The Country?

So the post finally starts.

I'm not sure how many days, by the time you read this, I will have actually spent constructing and writing this, but after I thought about it, I figured I would keep it to the basics, the answers to questions that Kyle and myself would've wanted answers to, maybe, before we started this whole thing.

I suppose I can just go ahead and start, and we'll see what happens.



I did not win a prize for Ghost Lights.

I didn't care about winning a prize. The book was done. I just wanted to be, at the very least, with a press I believed in, and a press that believed in my book.

That happened.

But I've said all this before...

That said, this also relates to not receiving any money to buy books, not on my own dime, for the tour.

I got 20 free copies (which went out pretty quickly to reviewers and other friends who had sent me their books) and had to buy the rest myself.

Also, because Dream Horse Press is a non-profit press solely run by Bear (and I'm still not sure how he's able to have the energy to live his own life while dealing with the many projects with which he's involved, so again, thank you publicly to Bear for all he's done for his authors and the press), we didn't get any compensation from the press.

Again, that was fine, but you have to realize, then, how you're going to pretty much solely survive on book sales.

We (Kyle and I) booked the venues. We did most of the promotion. We did our best to have a place to stay that wouldn't cost us any money (more on that later).

Therefore, any money "made" by selling books, which was of course not a large amount, pretty much went toward gas every night. And gas prices, right now, even in the Midwest, are not cheap.

So, overall, I probably lost, even after selling over 100 books, about $300 to $400 for gas and other expenses.

But considering all of that, I think it's pretty good. Really good, actually.

Again: unless you win a prize, in addition to publication, of $1000 or more, you should probably plan on doing the same (unless you want to live on saltines and never go out to cool bars, in states and cities you've never been to, for a beer, which I will always take full advantage of until the day I die).

And yes, $300 to $400, for what you hopefully get to experience, if you're raising an eyebrow, is afterthought chump change...



We took my car. A 2004 Pontiac Grand Am.

It has somewhere near 65,000 miles when we started.

We put on anywhere from 4,500 to 4,750 miles on it by the time we were done.

I got an oil change, a new air filter, and filled the washer fluid. I didn't even check my tires or put air in them.

Thankfully, we had no problems with the car, and it was perfect for us the whole time.

We hardly ran into any traffic or bad weather too, so that was obviously something I was thrilled about.



My wife likes to make fun of me about this. About 6 months ago or so she bought a Garmin nuvi, and admittedly, I made fun of her.

Keep in mind: I'm awful when it comes to directions. I have no idea where I am in when it comes to spacial location. No idea.

Why did I make fun of her? I'm not sure. But without the GPS, I don't say we would've been screwed. It just would've been much tougher to actually find some of these places.

At one point, in Missouri, it was taking us across an absent road, but since we were on the road for over 200 miles, it got us back on track soon.

And in Gary, Indiana, which was one of the most movie-set-like and horrifically destroyed and crumbling places I've ever seen in real life, it was taking us a direction that didn't exist anymore. An absent exit ramp. But we just followed I-90, I think, to get to Chicago, and we were fine.

It's probably a given now, but Thank God for the GPS, and Thank God we had one with us. It was the true savior of the trip.



Do as much as you can through Facebook, email, poetry calendars, etc. Use everything that you have at your disposal, even if it seems like you're stuffing the information down folks' throats.

This also has to do with traveling across the country during the summer. I wasn't aware that most folks aren't around, at least to the degree that we were told this throughout our time on the road.

And we averaged, which I'm still insanely happy and surprised about, way more people at each venue than we ever thought would show up.



Maybe this is surprising to hear, though I don't think it is. I like to think, like my situation (for which I'm grateful), that friends and family will usually show up. Especially family, so make sure you let any family know who will be in or close to an area where you're reading.

Often, family are the only people who will buy books. Mostly because they're proud of you, and they actually care that you're doing something pretty cool, even if they have no clue what your work is about.

Without our families, at least for most of us, we wouldn't have gotten this far.

Bloodlines can be a pretty amazing thing.



Reminders are a great thing. They're good to get out a day or two before. In addition to a week before. And maybe two weeks before.

There were many folks who said they were coming to a reading and didn't. I understand that.

Some had lame excuses. Some had legitimate excuses. Some just didn't explain why.

Again: I get it.

Which means: be happy that folks came to see you at all, even if your feelings may have been hurt by a person or two; after all, you'll get over it when you have to get up early and drive for another seven hours to another state. Meaning: you'll forget all about it pretty quickly.



This was a tough one from the very beginning. I like to think I was optimistic.

After talking to some friends who are poets and who have done many more readings than I have in the past, I decided that 130 books would be a good number to bring with me.

As I said previously, Kyle and I were very lucky, at least I think, and each sold over 100 books. That's about an average of 6 books a night, and we were hoping to sell 5 a night.



Kyle had a small guitar amp he wanted to take with us. I'm glad he did.

Many venues either had some type of sound system (lectern and / or music stand, microphone, mic stand, amp) or didn't need one. But there were a few where the amp really helped, especially if it's a place where there's extraneous noise (like folks chatting in the background at a bar).

My car isn't huge, but it can carry a lot, and we put the amp, microphone, and mic stand in the back. With the sleeping bag, air mattress, luggage, etc. we had more than enough room.

Bringing it was worth it.


MONEY (1) (How Much to Accept for Books)

One of my professors at Binghamton, Joe Weil, told me a few months before the tour, "The one thing you don't want to do, as much as possible, is compete against each other." Sounds pretty simple, or at least simple enough to write off.

It's not.

We realized a day or two in that we should sell each book for $15 (the retail of each of our books is $17.95), if someone wanted just one copy of my book or Kyle's.

The other way was both books for $25. Keep in mind that's only making us a profit of $3.50 a book (if we're buying them for $9 a piece). Multiply that by 10, and that's pretty much a tank of gas, or, say, a trip from Atlanta to Brooklyn.

By the end of the trip, though, when we realized we had already lost money, and we were actually selling more than we thought, and we were exhausted, we decided that getting the books into others' hands was most important.

Therefore, for the last 3 or 4 days, we decided to get a little ridiculous and sell the books for $10 a piece.

Though that wasn't good from a profit standpoint, it was good for the real reason why we went on the tour in the first place: to get books out there, and for people to come out and hear us read.


MONEY (2) (Storing / Credit Cards?)

Ah, the cash box. I was making fun of Kyle because at one point he wanted to get a cash box so we could store the money.

Maybe I didn't think we'd sell any books, or I didn't realize at the time that it was a great idea, but like many times on the trip, he was right.

We each kept $30 in 5-dollar bills and 1-dollar bills total in there so we'd have change. At some point, someone only had a 100-dollar bill, and luckily we were able to make change.

So basically: get your money organized. It's easy enough to overlook or forget about.

Oh, and you'll get people that ask if you have a credit card machine. No joke.

We did take many checks, though, so make sure you do that.


MONEY (4) (Desposits)

What do I mean by this? Well, the last thing you need is to somehow get robbed with over $500 in your Sentry Safe Cash Box.

This was another thing I wanted to have settled before we left. My bank isn't all over the place, apparently.

Kyle's, Bank of America, is all over the place.

So he was able to deposit the money we made (minus the total $60 we left in the box for change) every few days.


MONEY / VENUES (3) (Let's Talk About the Dreaded C-word: Consignment)

I decided I wouldn't mention the bookstores that were a pain in the ass for us. There's no reason to burn bridges, and there were probably situational aspects to a few of them (or, to put it more simply, the folks that we dealt with for months prior to some of the readers were not there at the time of our arrival.)

Ah, but your response surely is, "Well, their employees knew what was going on, right?"

Answer: nope.

We learned the hard way. Ask ahead of time about consignment, if they talk about it. Make sure you have contracts and numbers worked out. Make sure if those folks who set it up for you and you spoke with know what's going on if they're not going to be there.

Consignment doesn't work for unknown poets. That's what I realized. It may work for big presses and big names, but it won't work for you if you're unknown and reading in cities you've never been to.

So my advice: stay away from consignment, or beat it like a dead horse so you know exactly what's going to happen from the time you get there until you're done reading.



This one's pretty easy, to a certain extent.

Someone asked me once, "Well, what hotel are you staying at?" I couldn't help but laugh at first, and then I realized I had to explain the money situation.

We lucked out, overall, however, by staying with either folks we read with or friends and / or family in each city. Neither one of us are allergic to animals, and that helped, since it seems like everyone and their mother at least has a cat these days.

I brought an air mattress and a sleeping bag. Everywhere there was a couch, Kyle slept on it. I blew up the air mattress, then, usually on the floor, and used the sleeping bag as an extra cushion.



We saw Cyrus in Iowa City and Inception in Cambridge.

I got my first parking ticket ever. In any city. In Cambridge. But with the damn parking meters there and the movies being so long, there was no way around it.

I didn't take any beer back with me, mainly because there was no way to keep it cool.

But there was no way I was going to to the many cool bars and brewpubs we went to without getting a beer or two. Yes, it can add up, but you have to have some fun, while also keeping funds in check.

Otherwise, it can get out of control pretty quickly.



I didn't meet Kyle until we left on Wednesday, July 14th, from Vestal, New York, to head to Woodbridge, New Jersey.

This ended up being a great thing, mostly because I think we had to be tolerant of each other.

That last part makes it sound like we're both horrible people, which I don't think we are. But if you're with, say, a good friend, you can feel comfortable being in a pissy mood, yelling at each other, flipping out over stupid things.

Kyle, God bless him, is a very tolerant person. And, thankfully, to a certain degree, so am I.

So we got along very well.

We spent 17 days together. In a row. We were apart for that time very little. And it worked out. We got lucky. I say that a lot, and have said that a lot: that we lucked out. And we did.



Would I do this again?

Not on your life.

Was it one of the best things I've ever done?


I've had people constantly tell me that the best way to promote your work is to go out and read. They're right. I think I'm a better reader of my work. I'm definitely, at the very least, a more confident reader.

I also met, which may be pretty obvious, like a lot of what I've said, many cool people along the way.

So let me say thanks to all the folks who came out to see us:

Everyone who I'm friends with on Facebook and have exchanged emails with and only first met this July.

All of our family members and friends. Some folks' generosity was more than we had hoped for when we started this, and that means a lot.

Everyone who bought a book.

All the states whose roads and highways and interstates we drove on.

Everyone who let us sleep in their living room, or had a bed for us, and let us use their shower.

It would take me too long to single everyone out, and I'd be inevitably forgetting people too.

So thank you. Thank you. Thank you.


I'm probably forgetting a lot. I probably didn't explain many things like I should.

It's tough when you're reflecting on a whirlwind 17 days where you have few times where you're able to relax.

Hope this is at least mildly interesting to some folks. Should you embark on a future journey like this, feel free to get a hold of me if you want to ask for elaboration or further information.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

First Book Interview #26 - Paul Hostovsky

Sorry I'm a day or two late on this.

First Book Interview #26 - Paul Hostovsky

As I believe I said before the tour, I hope to do one interview every two weeks. That will mostly depend on how quickly poets get back to me with their interviews, but as the weeks go on, I hope to be able to reach that goal.


I'm hoping to write a long blog post about the tour, but I'm not sure what I'm going to talk about yet.

It may be a "What I Learned About Going On Tour For 17 Days..." with much ellipses and information after that. I figure there's no point in writing an excruciatingly long "tour journal" type of post, where I'm recounting boring things that only matter to me.

However, and Kyle can probably back me up on this, there were many times when I said, "I want people to know about this," meaning what to expect, or what at least our experience was, with certain aspects of the tour. Those, I think, that other poets would probably want to know about.

Either way, I'll figure something out soon and get it written, edited, and posted as soon as I can.


I guess I should say also, probably not surprisingly, that it was an incredible experience overall.

I figure I should clarify that since I didn't say it above.

More soon.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


I'm in a computer lab right now in Richmond, Indiana.

The tour has been going well. We still haven't even been to a bookstore, but the crowds, so far, have been great. We've had more folks at each venue than we had anticipated. I hope that continues.

I'm planning on writing a monster, all-encompassing blog post when I get back about the whole trip. Already met some great people along the way, and I'm sure there will be more as it continues.

Come out and see us if you can!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


We're off to Woodbridge, New Jersey today to start the 17-day tour.

A lot of driving. A lot of reading.

We'd love it if you're in one of the areas and can make it to a venue.

Here are the links to the venues, along with the dates and times.

Email us with any questions.

Hopefully I'll do a little blogging... if not soon, then eventually.

Monday, July 12, 2010

First Book Interview #25 - Steven D. Schroeder

First Book Interview #25 - Steven D. Schroeder

I'll try to get a new post written before Kyle and I are on the road Wednesday, but I'm not sure what's left to say about the tour.

Oh, new First Book Interviews will start again August 1st, when we return.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The July Heat

Miraculously, the First Book Interviews are back.

First Book Interview #24 - Clay Matthews

I apologize to those folks who have missed it and for my very long hiatus.

If I have your book for an interview (and didn't lose it in the Virginia to New York move), chances are you'll be receiving questions soon. And if you don't, be sure to drop me a line.

I've gotten many questions to many poets in the last few days.

My hope is to try and post one more interview before Kyle and I take off in a week. After that, if possible, I'll be posting one new interview every two weeks. This is to give myself a manageable time frame, while also allowing the poets plenty of time to get their answers to me.

And if you've gotten a hold of me in the past about wanting to do an interview, shoot me another email and remind me.


One week to go until we start the tour.

I'm not sure if I'll be blogging from the road or not. I doubt many people care about how flat Iowa is. Or what the layout looks like in a bookstore.

That said, I'll try to keep notes, contacts, addresses, ideas, etc. somewhere. Maybe in a normal journal or notebook. Maybe through emails. Maybe through blogging.

I'm anxious to get on the road and see what all this is like.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Verse Daily - "Ghost Lights"

Thanks to the folks at Verse Daily for featuring "Ghost Lights" today, which is actually one of my favorite poems from Ghost Lights.

Four years ago they featured my third poem ever accepted for publication, which didn't make the cut in Ghost Lights, so it's nice to make another appearance.


Less than two weeks to go until we take off for the tour.

Thanks to everyone who plans on attending, who has blogged about it, and who has spread the word however they can.

It means more than you know to both of us that people will be coming out to hear us read our work.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Two Weeks and Change

In about two weeks Kyle and I will be off to New Jersey for the first stop on our 17-day tour.

Things are coming along smoothly at this point. Everything's confirmed, as you can see below. We know where we're staying now in almost every city. I find that folks are usually pretty generous in their housing of a few poor poets. I know I would do the same for others, so it's nice to see that happening for us.

A few other odds and ends to go (like figuring out how many books to bring with us), and then it's time to start making a list of everything we'll need. I'm still debating on whether or not I should get a netbook to try and blog and check email and everything. But that's just another thing that can get lost, damaged, or stolen. I'm sure I'll be able to check things enough, if not everyday. And I can always just take a regular notebook and pen, of course.


I finally turned the comments off for this blog. I clearly haven't been updating it very much lately, and even though I could just ignore the spammers, which is all I've been getting recently, it's easier just to turn them off.

If anyone needs or wants to get a hold of me, my email address, as always, is at the top right of the blog.


I received my contributor copies of Hollins Critic the other day. Looks good.

Thanks again to the editors.

I also haven't been paid for poetry in a long, long time, so that's always welcoming.


I still haven't been writing much, but I'm not pressing the issue. I have some ideas, and I'm sure, at the very least, that a jaunt across the U.S. will jump-start some ideas come August.

But I'm still tinkering with the new manuscript, which is currently at about 10 places right now.

That's about it until September, and if nothing happens with it by then, I'll be sending it to more places come 2011 than I did last year.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dream Horse Press 2010 First Book Tour

The dates, times, and venues are now confirmed for the First Book Tour that Kyle McCord and myself will be headlining this July.

I will be reading from my first book, Ghost Lights, and Kyle will be reading from his first book, Galley of the Beloved in Torment. Both books were published by Dream Horse Press on May 15h, 2010.

In addition, guest readers in different cities will include: A.K. Beck, Aaron Reed, Christine Kanownik, Ezekiel Black, Gabe Durham, Gary L. McDowell, Kristina Marie Darling, Matthew Guenette, Megan Turner, Travis Poling, and Sarah Boyer. As well as musical guest: Seedlings.

The tour schedule is posted below. If you live in or around one of these cities, we'd love to see you at a reading.

We also started a Facebook group for the tour that you can find through my profile or Kyle's.

Feel free to contact me at or Kyle at for any questions about directions or times.


Dream Horse Press 2010 First Book Tour Schedule:

Wednesday, July 14th - Woodbridge, NJ
Baron Arts Center 7:30

Thursday, July 15th - Pittsburgh, PA
Cyberpunk Apocalypse 7:00

Friday, July 16th - Toledo, OH
Ground Level Coffee 7:00

Saturday, July 17th - Kalamazoo, MI
Old Dog Tavern 5:00

Sunday, July 18th - Richmond, IN
Clear Creek Co-op 6:15

Monday, July 19th - Chicago, IL
Gallery Café 6:00

Tuesday, July 20th - Madison, WI
Avol’s Books 7:00

Wednesday, July 21st - Iowa City, IA
Public Space One 8:00

Thursday, July 22nd - Des Moines, IA
Des Moines Social Club 6:30

Friday, July 23rd - St. Louis, MO
Left Bank Books (Euclid and McPherson location) 7:00

Saturday, July 24th - Nashville, TN
Nashville Public Library - Special Collections Center 3:00

Sunday, July 25th - Atlanta, GA
Beep Beep Gallery 8:00

Monday, July 26th - Athens, GA
Gainesville State College (Gainesville Campus)
Ballroom A 8:30

Wednesday, July 28th - Richmond, VA
Chop Suey Books 6:00

Thursday, July 29th - New York (Brooklyn), NY
Unnameable Books 7:00

Friday, July 30th - Hadley, MA
Grey Matter Books 7:00

Saturday, July 31st - Boston (Cambridge), MA
Lorem Ipsum Books 5:00

Friday, June 4, 2010


Again, thanks to those folks who ordered copies of Ghost Lights from me or somewhere else. The initial response has been much better than I anticipated, considering you constantly see and hear writers saying, "Don't expect more than a handful of people to buy your book." Or at least I've seen that enough to have expected it.

I have a handful of copies left right now from those I received a little over a week ago, and I probably won't be getting more until July, so if you're still interested in getting a signed copy, you can use the button on the top right of the blog to order through PayPal.

Oh, and for a shot in the dark, if anyone's interested in reviewing Ghost Lights, please shoot me an email and let me know, as I most likely wouldn't hesitate to get it into the hands of someone who would be willing to review it.


Though a few dates from the July "tour" have changed (I believe we'll be reading in Pittsburgh instead of Buffalo, for example), things are coming together more and more every day.

I'm excited to get in the car with some clothes and a box of books and a GPS and just go. I think I not only need something like this in my life right now (and thankfully I have a beautiful and understanding wife who doesn't mind that I'll be gone for over two weeks), but it's most likely the last time I'll ever have a chance to do something like this (though I do hope to have more readings in my future, of course).

My goal's to sell some books, see some (OK, many) places in the U.S. I haven't seen, meet some new people, and hopefully get some ideas for new poems. I really can't ask for anything more.


In the past few weeks I also received the new Nimrod and Center issues, which have within the pages a few poems from my new manuscript, in addition to some poems by friends, which is always great to see.

Thanks again to the editors for including me.


I also just sent the new manuscript out to a couple last places until the fall. As I've said before, I'm not sure what else to do with it at this point, so it'll be good for me to take a manuscript hiatus over the summer, see if anything happens, and do my best to try and move onto some new poems. And perhaps even some kind of a new project.


I have to also mention the new Hammock record, "Chasing After Shadows... Living with the Ghosts."

Not only is it one of the best records of the year, but there's also a 4-track Outtakes disc available, and a more ambient guitar-oriented 4-track disc called "North West East South."

With everything together, it ends up being one of the best non-official double albums I've had the pleasure of listening to in a long, long time.

I ended up ordering this package deal from their website because I couldn't resist the amazing hardbound book of gorgeous photos, and also Marc's studio I believe recently flooded (since they're from Nashville). It was worth it.

Listen to all that you can. These guys are nothing but inspiring, and I don't know how they consistently write and release such gorgeous music, but they do.


There's also a Deepdiscount summer sale on for anyone interested.

Though Amazon usually has great prices, especially on Blu-ray discs, a lot of the Deepdiscount deals, especially for Criterion Blu-ray discs, are much better (around $25 or lower, including free shipping).

I'm trying to limit myself to $100, as there are way too many I've been wanting to get for the last few months but have held out on. But now's the time to suck it up and get it done.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Thanks so much to everyone who pre-ordered a copy of Ghost Lights. I appreciate all the support, and I was extremely surprised by and am thankful for so much interest. I should have copies this week, so if you ordered one, as soon as I have them it will be in the mail. I'll also email you to let you know that it has shipped.

Also, the book was officially released on May 15th. You can find it on the Dream Horse Press website, and on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads, with more places coming soon...

And though the pre-order price is no longer available, if you want to order a signed copy from me, I'm still offering them for over 15% off the cover price, with free shipping, via PayPal with the button on the top right of the blog.

Kyle and I are almost done with all of the July tour date confirmations, and as soon as we have those, I'll be posting the 17 days worth here to let folks know, and we would of course love to see you at one of the venues if you can make it. More on that later...

Friday, May 7, 2010

Ghost Lights Pre-Order


Though you will soon be able to order Ghost Lights from Dream Horse Press and other online outlets, should you be interested in purchasing a copy from me, I have a button at the top of the blog where you can do just that via PayPal.

Your order will get you over 20% off the cover price and free first class shipping.

I will have copies no later than May 31st, and as soon as I have them (which I hope will be around the 25th), they will be shipped to you that day. You'll also receive an email from me when it's shipped.

Please email me if you have any questions. Thanks.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


The Thin Red Line is officially slated for a Criterion Blu-ray release. Right now it looks like mid-August will be the tentative date.

I really can't verbalize how happy this makes me. If I didn't have a Blu-ray player now, this would've been the disc to take me over the edge.

Don't forget also that The Tree of Life is in post-production...


I'm trying to figure out the PayPal thing so I can get it going on here and possibly a future website (since it seems to be a good idea and I should have at least a little time over the summer to do it). Once I know when I'll have the books and when folks who order can expect them, I'll have all the information here. Hopefully sooner than later.

I know there may be only a handful of folks who want a copy of Ghost Lights who read this, but I want to give folks an opportunity to get it cheaper than retail with free shipping.

Any minuscule amount of money I "make" from selling books will go into buying more books. Really I just don't want to lose money on the deal, and I want to get this into as many hands as possible, especially when Kyle and I are off on our cross-country reading jaunt in July.

Isn't that what you're supposed to do with your first book?

Saturday, May 1, 2010


Yesterday I received the book proof of Ghost Lights. I was hoping all the hard work over the last four months or so with the proofs would pay off.

And it certainly has.

Yes, it's my book and it'd be tough to not be biased, but if there were some things I didn't like about it, I would certainly say them.

The cover design turned out better than I'd anticipated. The painting's gorgeous, the cover's bright, the font stands out, the blurbs are easy to read and go great with the gray background. The font choices and sizes were perfect for the inside.

I really couldn't be happier with it.

I'm going to do a last run through everything, line-by-line, over the next day or two, and tomorrow I'll confirm that it's good to go, and then hopefully everything should be ready for the May 15th release date.

I hope people out there like it.


I also recently received my contributor copies of Barn Owl Review #3.

Thanks again to Mary and Jay for all their hard work on the issue. It looks great all around.

There are many new poems by many poets who already like, and I've gotten to discover a few more names that I'll now be looking out for in the future.

Monday, April 26, 2010


I was pleased that the turnaround with Waccamaw was so quick. My poem from the new manuscript appears here. And you can view the entire issue here. Thanks again to Dan and the rest of the editors.


It looks like the release date for Ghost Lights (and the other two Orphic Prize finalists and winner from a year ago) will be May 15th.

Since the cover design's pretty much done, I suppose I'm finally allowed to post it below. I'm thrilled with everything about it (especially Felicia van Bork's beautiful painting). I also couldn't be happier about the generous blurbs from some of my favorite writers. I feel grateful and that I really lucked out. I also think the blurbs are very representative of the words inside the book, which always a plus.

In addition to all the online outlets where you can get copies (hopefully along with some bookstores, though I'm not sure which and where yet), I'll most likely be selling them, signed or not, through a new blog page, or this blog. Once I have everything set up, I'll let people know.

And finally, I'm setting up a 17-day tour for this July with Kyle McCord, who was the Orphic Prize winner last year for his great book, Galley of the Beloved in Torment. Lots of dates and venues to be confirmed still, but once we have everything locked up, I'll be posting the days and venues for anyone who's in those areas and wants to come out and hear us read. We're both looking forward to it, since this something neither of us have ever done.


My new manuscript is now around ten pages longer than Ghost Lights is / was (meaning the .doc file, and not page numbers in the actual book).

I'm starting to feel really good about it, and I'm not sure what else I can do with it at this point.

I can still write poems that could fit, but I think the best poems, and the most representational poems, considering the themes, are in there. And even though most of them have been published, I've revised almost every single one since it's either been published in print or online.

This is something I didn't do with Ghost Lights as much (mostly because I had worked the poems to death, mostly for my MFA thesis, before I sent them out as submissions), and I think I'm getting better at editing my own work.

But like Ghost Lights, time will tell. I'm aware of how this goes now. It could take me another year, and it could take me another ten years. But I'm still planning on doing what I can to try and get this new manuscript published before I get my PhD, and then move onto a new project, however the ideas arise that start to compromise it.


My first year at Binghamton University will be over in ten days.

With how fast this first year went, it really makes me aware that I need to do a lot more than I did this year as far as writing and reading. Because of everything that happened in the last year (marriage, book, starting the PhD, moving a few states away, learning the new teaching system at a new school, along with taking classes, etc.), I didn't get to read and write (outside of classes, that is) as much as I would've liked.

But I did work on my new manuscript like crazy, so the sacrifice I hope will have worked out in the end.

Now to find a job for the summer, plan the rest of the reading tour, and hopefully have at least a handful of new poems by the end.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


My sister-in-law is, at this moment, in labor. Waiting by the phone to see if there's any news. Pretty exciting week, as this is the first niece or nephew on my side of the family.


Found out my new manuscript was a semifinalist in the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition.

Not only was this a draft that I sent in late October (which I think has gotten a lot stronger since then in the last five months or so), but the fact that it got that far with, most likely, so many great poets with much stronger books, makes me think that now it truly does have some legs. And even if I'm wrong, I'm doing what I did with Ghost Lights: sending it out like mad.

I also have to mention that Brian Barker (First Book Interview located here...) was one of the winners. If you haven't read his first book, The Animal Gospels, you should. But his book that won, The Black Ocean, I think is going to really turn some heads next year when it's released. His new stuff's been beyond amazing, so keep an eye out.


Also sent out some snail mail submissions to journals for the first time since last summer.

Though there are only seven or so poems that haven't been published from the new manuscript, a few of them are my favorites in the manuscript, and the rejections, from submissions sent through the online submissions manager, have been rolling in steadily for months.

I feel like that's how it always works: those we often don't have the most faith in are many times the first poems to get published. It's (always) bizarre how all of this works.


I'm in the process of putting together a book tour for July with a friend. Not sure if I've mentioned that or not yet...

We have the dates pretty much set, and the places, but not the dates and the places. This may be the last time I can ever do something like this, and I'll be visiting some states I've never seen before, so it should be a great experience overall.

I'll be updating the information here and on Facebook once we have the majority of everything together and finalized.


Saw the Bigger Than Life Blu-ray the other day. How has no one mentioned this movie to me in 28 years? I need to see more Ray films (aside from Rebel... which everyone's seen) and get back on my Douglas Sirk, 50s films, and Cinemascope kick.

A marathon may have to happen soon.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


The school year at Binghamton University is officially over in a month. I'm sure the next three years will fly also.


Had an amazing spring break in Savannah with my brother and sister-in-law. Minus the pollen and the bugs, Savannah is one of my favorite cities. You really never run out of great things to do and see, and it literally has something for everyone.


Got my contributor copies of Cave Wall the other day. The journal is slim, handsome, and full of good stuff.

I have two poems from the new manuscript within the pages. Thanks to Rhett for including me.


Though we're still working on proofs for Ghost Lights, (mainly because I'm an editor's worst nightmare, as very few of my poems in the book, which I've probably mentioned before, are left justified) we're almost completely done at this point, and since the painting for the cover has been obtained, I can now show you what it's going to be. Again, thanks to Felicia for letting me use it. I love it, and I think it works perfectly with the book.

Bear is working on a cover design now. The back cover and blurbs are pretty much set, but we're trying to make sure everything on the front meshes well with the images, as far as the font and color scheme.

Needless to say, I'm thrilled with how everything's coming together.


The new manuscript also seems to be coming together, now that I'm working closely with Joe Weil on it.

I've written a new poem (with at least a few more to follow), continue to edit many of the poems, and have shifted many of the poems around in different sections (which works a lot better than it did before).

I hope it's close to becoming a legitimate contender by the end of summer or before.


The Days of Heaven (yes, the image at the top of my blog is from the film) Blu-ray is now officially one of the most gorgeous things I've ever seen in my entire life.

Monday, March 22, 2010



From a .pdf via OSU: The poet Ai died unexpectedly from an illness on March 20, 2010.

Very, very sad news. This awful trend of amazing poets passing away continues. It's starting to frighten me. It's all happening too fast.

Before I made my decision about four schools last year, I was between Binghamton University and Oklahoma State University. A lot of it came down to my own confidence in being able to write anywhere, or at least that's what I told myself. Oklahoma State would've meant that Jess and I needed to take a plane to get home each time we wanted to get back to Pennsylvania. Also, we have no friends or family in that area. And we had just gotten married a few weeks ago.

However, though were offering me a pretty amazing package (which surprised me to no end), beyond anything I was thrilled for just the opportunity to work with Ai and Lisa Lewis, who I think are two of the most underrated contemporary poets.

Lisa, with two books coming out hopefully within the next 8 months or so, is on her way to continuing a brilliant career.

I have a feeling Ai will start to have the same following Larry Levis had after he passed away.

Though many people knew and loved his work at the time of his death, it was the vigor of the younger poets who discovered his work and were fanatic about it, along with the many colleagues and students that knew and worked with or under Larry. But I imagine Ai's name and work will live on exponentially, in the same fashion, as more and more young poets discover the importance of her work, a body that influenced me early on as a writer and will always continue to influence me.

A new and posthumous collection will be out this year. Though that will be her last, we should all be grateful that so much work will continue to be out there for us to teach and read and pass on and discover.


Though this has been a weird week, I did get my first poetry acceptance in the last four months or so, which was a breath of encouraging fresh air.

Waccamaw will be publishing a poem from the new manuscript in late April. Thanks a lot to the editors.

This was also the only poem I believed in during my first semester at Binghamton, one of the only poems in workshop I wrote that I decided to keep. It was also the very last one in workshop that I wrote.

Since then, though, I've written others that I like, and I have a lot of ideas that I hope will continue to turn into poems, poems that I think are only making the second manuscript stronger and more cohesive.


I'm also working with Joe Weil this semester on my second manuscript, and I think it's going really well so far.

He's already had some great insights, and since he knows what I want to accomplish with the book and my writing, he's steering me in the best direction I can go.

Last week he told me that I probably need about six or seven more poems, and one has already been written that I really like. Then it's down to more editing within the poems and the organization of the poems and sections.

Needless to say, I'm looking forward to what this manuscript's going to become in a couple months.


The last day of classes is May 7th.

I'm flying to Savannah for a week to visit my brother and sister in law in four days. I'll be there for a week.

Soon enough summer's going to be here.

The next three years, I'm sure, will go faster than the first. Which means I really need to start thinking about a third manuscript: themes, ideas, new structures, something different, something that I'm excited about.


Jess and I are starting to look for a house or town home. Our lease is up in August for our current apartment, so we'll probably start seriously looking around May.

It helps to have friends who have houses in different areas. There's so much to deal with when looking for a house. Many questions to answer and ask. Especially when we don't anticipate staying here for our whole lives.


Watched the Blu-ray Revanche the other day.

Amazing, amazing film.

Reminded me of Haneke and Wenders mostly, but it's one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. The cinematography's also phenomenal. I'll certainly be looking for more films shot by Martin Gschlacht.

I won't say a lot about it. Just see it.


It looks like almost everything for Ghost Lights has been taken care of on my end, minus the last proof or two (since I always seem to find small grammatical and surface mistakes that are my fault).

The artwork is all but finalized.

The painter has given me the go-ahead. I've passed on the information to Bear. But before I divulge the information, I want to make sure everything's completely finalized. I love the painting, though. The colors are great (especially since I'm hoping for a black cover and back cover, though I'm not sure what color the of the writing will be), and thematically I think it really works with the poems. I'm very lucky to be able to have something I love this much for the cover.

The blurbs are good to go too. Just have to get the OK from Bear for those used on the back cover.

And I got my brief-but-important Acknowledgments page finished, that which actually thanks people and not the journals who published the poems (which was done a while ago).

The tentative release date was May, but I have a feeling it's going to be more like June, or possibly July, which is fine with me. When I know for sure, others will know.

If you're planning on reading it, I hope you like it when it's in your hands.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Finally got finished applying for an NEA fellowship.

Yes, I know how hilariously slim my chances are, but I figure with a book coming out (and enough published poems for eligibility), I might as well get used to applying for as many fellowships as I can: national, regional, state-wide, etc.

Plus, it was mostly for practice at this point (to get used to the annoying process of filling out the forms), so I can try to do it every two years from now and not take over six or seven hours to get it submitted.


I think I have the blurbs for Ghost Lights finally in the bag.

I have an idea of what I want the back cover to look like too, so I'll have to see what Bear thinks.

I feel like I picked a good mix of blurbs: those I feel would give the hypothetical back-cover-glancer a good idea of what's inside the pages, which is most important to me.


Though the cover art's still up in the air, I'm trying to not let it drag on for too long.

If we can't find something I'm completely in love with, I have a pretty good idea of something I'd really be extremely thrilled to have for the cover if nothing else works out.

I've also talked to the artist, and they've agreed to let me use it if I decide to go with it, which is awesome.


I've been asking friends for better suggestions about the title of my new manuscript. I still don't feel as strongly as I would like to about it.

It's on its second title now, and I think I just got a suggestion for the working third title I'm becoming more excited about.

I'm going to live with it for a bit and see what develops.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Just watched Afterschool. After seeing The Last 15, I was expecting a lot from it. Though it didn't deliver as much as I'd hoped, I enjoyed it. Antonio Campos has balls, he's young, and he's doing his best to tackle important issues artfully and, dare I say, a bit recklessly, which I love.

You can say that for a lot of directors, I'm sure, but keep your eye on this guy.


Also saw Chungking Express (finally for the first time). Now I know why people have been talking about it for all these years. A beautiful, original, and thought-provoking film that I'll be seeing again in the future for sure.


Got my contributor copies of Phoebe yesterday in the mail. Looks great. A wild mix of styles too. Thanks again to Moriah and the rest of the editors. They did a nice job.

And there's a bonus poster in the inside pages of another piece of art from the artist who did the cover. I've never seen that before, and I love it. Maybe this will be a new bonus for contributors and subscribers if journals have enough money to do it. It's a great idea.


The plane ticket has been purchased for my week in Savannah with my brother and sister-in-law.

I love Savannah and wish we were closer to it.

They're most likely moving back somewhere north in the summer, so this may be my last time to go.

Needless to say, I'm excited.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I finally sent out a new batch of poems yesterday to a bunch of journals.

I haven't done that in a long time. It felt good. Even if nothing pans out.

Somehow I still feel good about getting rejections, which forces me to write new stuff that the journals who rejected the poems may actually like next time around.


The fourth proof of Ghost Lights found its way to me a few days ago. It's really starting to make me smile now. It looks great, and it's getting to those final stages. Clean text, a good design, a good font.

We're trying to figure out cover art and color schemes for the cover and back cover soon. I have a few paintings I'm looking at. The one I wanted we couldn't get. So it's more looking.

I have a handful of blurbs now too, with, I think, one more to go.

Things are coming together. I'm getting excited. I hope folks like the words.


Josiah Bancroft, a friend and talented poet, is blogging. I have a feeling you'll want to frequent it.


Added a few pages and poems to the new manuscript, and took out some pages and poems. I feel better about it each time this happens. This makes sense, I think.


I looked at a poem yesterday in the new manuscript. A new poem that I've sent out a bit over the last month or two, though scattered, and after previously reading who-knows-how-many times, I found a mistake at the end of the very first line.


I think I read the manuscript too much on the computer. May have to suck it up and print it out again. I'm usually great at finding that stuff, but sometimes your brain just keeps scanning the error as correct.


My niece is going to be born in April. I will soon be Uncle Keith. Which is awesome.

She already has a ton of Giants gear, but Jess and I will certainly be getting her more.


Seriously can't stop listening to the Amman/Josh EP Places. Get it.

Monday, February 15, 2010


Had some great conversations with friends and poets this weekend. So thanks to Gary, Luke, and Nick (who doesn't have a blog).

Gary is blogging again too, which is certainly a good thing.

Luke and I talked for a long time about our manuscripts that we currently have out in the world. Got a lot of great ideas for changes (many which I immediately recognized as changes that should be made right away, and were) that I'm going to keep working with. I honestly didn't have a lot to say about Luke's, because his manuscript's really, really strong.

I'll be pretty thrilled when he gets good news about it, and I have a feeling it's not too far off.


Wrote my first new poem in literally three months. I'm happy with the first draft. It's an idea that's also been in my head for three months, but I didn't know how to attack it. Thankfully, I finally figured it out. I hope.

Also revised one from three months ago that had an ending that completely fell apart and was no good. The revision's better, but we'll see.

Once they're ready to go, it'll give me an excuse to send some more poems out from the manuscript. It's been a while, so it'll be nice to get the rejections flowing again in my in-box and snail mail box.

I also chopped the longest poem out from the manuscript. It was a poem in Ghost Lights that I cut before I sent the final version to Bear, and I really wanted to make it fit here, but I'm not sure it does. That said, I'm now a bit torn because people keep telling me they think it's one of the strongest in the manuscript. I figure I have to go with my gut on this and keep it out, but things can change if need be.


Reading Half of a Yellow Sun for one of my classes.

Like it a lot so far.

Makes me want to go back and read Things Fall Apart again, which I'll have to do soon.


Pretty excited for the new Jonsi record, which comes out in about two months. Nico Muhly's gorgeous arrangements are obviously all over this thing, so I imagine it'll be closely following how much I like Owen Pallett's Heartland.

Also, the new Amman/Josh E.P. Places is pretty phenomenal.

Reminds me of Hammock, Eluvium, a bit of Stars of the Lid, and some of the ambient keyboard stuff Dan Burton was doing on the Early Day Miners records (mostly the first two) and some of his production with Unwed Sailor.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


I'm not sure I've talked about this before, but if I have, and you actually read this blog, and you've seen this before, well, then that's too bad.

But I wanted to get some feedback from some poets who've dealt with these issues before.

Most poetry book contests (and open reading periods) say that they want usually 48-80 pages. Sometimes 48-64. Sometimes 50-70. Sometimes 50-80. But usually it's within the 48-80 range.

Some specify that they want 48 pages of actual poetry. Some don't specify.

I suppose we can assume that if the minimum is 48 pages, however, and your last poem is on 48, with your first poem after the front matter starting somewhere around page 5 or 6, that you're going to have, quite possibly, about 40 pages of poetry, which in some camps is chapbook length.

Let's start by talking .doc files. I've seen many over the last few months. I've traded with many talented and willing poets. We've given comments back and forth. I've seen manuscripts change a lot over months where we're busy and don't end up getting to talk about them until, well, months later. And all of it has been helpful. Sometimes it's more helpful than anything else.

The final Ghost Lights .doc file, as far as poetry goes, starts on page 5 and ends on page 59, with two section breaks and three sections. So that equals, I think, 52 total pages of poetry, which is just above the minimum of 48 for contest (and open reading period) length.

I always wondered when I was sending it out, "So is this way too short if I'm right above the minimum?" I'm starting to think now, however, that that's the length you want to shoot for, or if anything, it's the length I'm going to try and shoot for as far as future manuscripts go. I guess that equals about 50-60 pages of actual poetry.

I say this because right now, the third proof for Ghost Lights, including all front and back matter, is 80 pages. Though there certainly are exceptions, I'm pretty adamant about the fact that a single collection of poetry should not be around 100 pages. But I'd love to hear a different side to this.

However, that just seems way too damn long to me, like The Thin Red Line or Paris, Texas equivalent of a collection, and I'm not sure a collection that long really needs be that long. After all, let's face it, there are few poets writing who are the poetic equivalent to Terrence Malick or Wim Wenders.

Does it not eventually have to do with being resourceful, cutting things you might love that don't fit, leaving someone with wanting more instead of possibly trudging through the last 20 pages, or wondering, "Why is this so long?" or "I'm not sure this section even needed to be here."

I guess I'd rather cut too much than too little, in the end, and keep writing toward a better collection.

It seems that with every post I get fewer and fewer comments, which is fine, but I'd love to know what some folks think about this. Am I nuts? Am I thinking about it too much? Am I restricting myself too much when I try to put a collection together by thinking about all these factors?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

100 Favorite Movies List in 28 Years of Living

Thanks to my friends Aaron and Wes for getting my ass in gear in finally compiling the last few weeks worth of work into a coherent list.

I wish more people would follow our lead.

Disclaimer: Comments are welcome, but none will be from me, as I could write for hours upon hours about why I love these movies so much. Though this has already taken a lot of time over the last few weeks, I now have to dedicate energy to other things.

100) Little Monsters (1989)

99) Ding-A-Ling-Less (2001)

98) Scott Walker: 30 Century Man (2006)

97) Birth (2004)

96) All the Real Girls (2003)

95) How to Draw a Bunny (2002)

94) The Prestige (2006)

93) Trees Lounge (1996)

92) Yi yi (2000)

91) Paper Moon (1973)

90) Fitzcarraldo (1982)

89) The Game (1997)

88) Deliverance (1972)

87) The Bridge (2006)

86) Julien Donkey Boy (1999)

85) Dawn of the Dead (1978)

84) Dazed and Confused (1993)

83) Lone Star (1996)

82) Kicking and Screaming (1995)

81) Dancer in the Dark (2000)

80) Capturing the Friedmans (2003)

79) Keane (2004)

78) Come Early Morning (2006)

77) The Straight Story (1999)

76) Stone Reader (2002)

75) Lilya-4-Ever (2002)

74) Before Sunrise (1995)

73) Shoot the Piano Player (1960)

72) Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997)

71) Beautiful Girls (1996)

70) A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

69) Naked (1993)

68) Breaking the Waves (1996)

67) Bottle Rocket (1996)

66) Swingers (1996)

65) Before Sunset (2004)

64) Time of the Wolf (2003)

63) Jules and Jim (1962)

62) The Dark Knight (2008)

61) About Schmidt (2002)

60) The New World (2005)

59) The Messenger (2009)

58) Rushmore (1998)

57) Sin Nombre (2009)

56) Apocalypse Now (1979)

55) Repo Man (1984)

54) Stand By Me (1986)

53) Werckmeister Harmonies (2000)

52) Annie Hall (1977)

51) Schindler’s List (1993)

50) Casino (1995)

49) Mystery Train (1989)

48) Gummo (1997)

47) Cache (2005)

46) Irreversible (2002)

45) Menace II Society (1993)

44) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

43) Scarecrow (1973)

42) Half Nelson (2006)

41) 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

40) Reservoir Dogs (1992)

39) The Shining (1980)

38) Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972)

37) Hoop Dreams (1994)

36) Suspiria (1977)

35) The Pianist (2002)

34) Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)

33) Primer (2004)

32) Full Metal Jacket (1987)

31) The Conversation (1974)

30) Zoo (2007)

29) Ballast (2008)

28) Manhattan (1979)

27) Badlands (1973)

26) The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976)

25) Short Cuts (1993)

24) Elephant (2003)

23) Wings of Desire (1987)

22) The Squid and the Whale (2005)

21) Election (1999)

20) Police Beat (2005)

19) Love Liza (2002)

18) Boogie Nights (1997)

17) Do the Right Thing (1989)

16) Pulp Fiction (1994)

15) Se7en (1995)

14) The Dream Catcher (1999)

13) The Ice Storm (1997)

12) Sideways (2004)

11) Fargo (1996)

10) Children of Men (2006)

9) Snow Angels (2007)

8) Low and Behold (2007)

7) Magnolia (1999)

6) The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

5) American Movie (1999)

4) George Washington (2000)

3) The Thin Red Line (1998)

2) Paris, Texas (1984)

1) Days of Heaven (1978)