Thursday, November 3, 2011

First Book Interview #51 - Steve Kistulentz

Today there's a new interview with Steve Kistulentz.

Check out the interview. Check out his work. Grab a copy of his book.

#51 - Steve Kistulentz

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

First Book Interview #50 - Shane McCrae

We've reached the half century mark with the newest First Book Interview from Shane McCrae.

Mule has gotten quite a good reception out there thus far, and for good reason, so do check out his work and buy his book.

#50 - Shane McCrae

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Few

Wanted to share this new review of Ghost Lights at Southeast Review Online by John Beardsley, whom I also need to thank profusely.

He did a great job with it, and though there haven't been a ton of reviews of the book, I've been thrilled with all of them, and this is definitely no exception.


Also, last week I got my contributor copies of Copper Nickel, and the issue not only looks fantastic as an art object, but there's a ton of newer poets for whom I'll be on the lookout in the future, along with some friends and great poets I've been following for a while.

It's becoming one of my favorite journals in the country, and is surely worth the subscription price.


Picking up The Tree of Life tomorrow.


There was no stand-alone DVD released, as it should be.

Aside from the theater, it now needs to be seen on Blu-ray only.

I can't wait.

Monday, October 3, 2011

First Book Interview #49 - Nicky Beer

One more closer to 50 with a new one from Nicky Beer --

Happy reading.

#49 - Nicky Beer

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


So at this point, I'm not updating this regularly, except for First Book Interviews, and it will most likely stay that way.

Though once in a while I'll to do an update, like this one, in the midst.

Otherwise, I have two years left, if all goes well, until I have my PhD. And the job market waits for no man.

Considering how fast the first two years went, and all the great advice I've gotten from friends, I figure I need to start getting a foothold on what to look for, how to prepare, etc. for all the paperwork and the like that will soon be occurring.

Along with that, teaching, writing, watching amazing films, preparing for and writing comprehensive exams, and trying to be a good husband, I know these two years are going to go by even faster.


In other news worth mentioning, I think: I was thrilled that my second manuscript, Sirens and Wildfire, which has making the rounds for a little less than two years now (picking up some other finalist nods along the way, for which I'm also very thankful), was a finalist for The National Poetry Series.

I was never more shocked by a poetry-related email in my life. I can tell you that.

I wasn't one of the five chosen in the end, but friend and fellow writer (whose first manuscript, Praise Nothing, you should put on your to-buy list when it's inevitably published) Joshua Robbins was also a finalist, and considering we've seen each other's said manuscripts and have talked a lot about them regarding contests, structuring, and much more, I was happy to be in such company.

I'm still hoping to have the manuscript under contract before I'm done at Binghamton in less than two years. That news gave me a little more hope that this thing's now officially ready, and I hope someone eventually believes in it enough to take a shot at getting it into the world.


I have a poem in the new issue of DIAGRAM. As always, it's a varied and wild issue, and one definitely worth your time.

The poem's from a new series I'm working on. I'm hoping to put together a kind of conceptual manuscript (something I'd never thought about doing until maybe a year ago) within the next year (as I have about a third of it written currently).

If it doesn't turn into anything, I'm still loving the process of writing these. And overall, that's really the most important aspect of the project right now.


Two poetry-related making-waves discussions lately (and yes, I'm late on these) are Brett Ortler's post about BlazeVOX and all the hullabaloo about MFA Rankings.

Regarding the latter, I'm on the side of down-with-rankings, but as I've mentioned in the past on this blog: I'm so thrilled that none of this talk existed in 2002-2003, when I was beginning my process of applying to schools.

But it's going to go on no matter what. As for young writers, I just hope they had the great guidance that I did, and they're applying to programs for the right reasons.

For what it's worth, in my opinion this is one of the best posts about it: belonging to Paisley Rekdal.

And for the former, I'm glad that got out into the open. At the very least, it prompted a ton of interesting discussions about publishing, self publishing, what's to gain by getting published, what the publishers gain from publishing you, etc.

Sometimes the arguments can be misleading, but to me, once you're able to slough through everything, a lot of it's worth reading, and then you can make your own decision.


I'm now on Twitter (very late to the party), though I don't update it as often as some, here, if you're interested:

Contradictory, mostly. Boring to most, probably. But alas, there I am.

It's mostly my obsession and frustration with the New York Giants (Dear Lord: Why all the injuries?) coupled with some thoughts about films I'm devouring (and I watch as many as I can between everything else, as many people know). And I'll update there with news sometimes and new First Book Interviews. But mostly I like to keep the poetry-related goings-on within the blog.


Finally, both poetry and film-related, The Tree of Life is released on Blu-ray on October 11th.

Black out the windows. Lock the doors. And crank the speakers.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

First Book Interview #48 - Jeremy Halinen

Here's a new First Book Interview with Jeremy Halinen --

You know you want to read it.

#48 - Jeremy Halinen

Thursday, September 1, 2011

First Book Interview #47 - Justin Evans

A new one with Justin Evans.

Check this and his book out while you're at it...

#47 - Justin Evans

Monday, August 22, 2011


The new issue of Conte is live, and I'm happy to be a part of such a fine line-up.

Thanks again to Adam and Ashley.

Monday, August 15, 2011

First Book Interview #46 - Kyle McCord

For your reading enjoyment, I present the next interview with friend and former DHP Reading Tour partner in crime.

#46 - Kyle McCord

Monday, August 1, 2011

First Book Interviews #44 - Nicholas Ripatrazone, and #45 - Luke Johnson

Sorry for the delays with these...

Had a lot of problems with Luke's, so if you see mistakes, suffice it to say that I'm worried about trying to correct them and having to delete it and start over. Long story. Blogger problems, I think, but they were probably on my end too.

That said, you now have two for your perusal.

#44 - Nicholas Ripatrazone

#45 - Luke Johnson

Many good ones coming around, so stay tuned, folks.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

New Diode

Check out the newest Diode issue here.

And a few poems from my second manuscript here.

I think the journal's becoming one of the best around, online or print, and I know I'm not the only one. So thanks again to Patty and Jeff for including me.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Review + New

There's now a review of Ghost Lights in the new 10th anniversary issue of Blackbird. Thanks so much to Emilia Phillips for taking the time to review it so thoroughly and thoughtfully.

Also, I have a new poem from my second manuscript in the issue, should you be interested in taking a look at it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

First Book Interview #42 - Bobby C. Rogers

I can't really express how thrilled I am that Bobby C. Rogers decided to answer some questions for me.

I've been a fan of his work for years. From the first poem I saw of his in a journal, "Night Air" in an older issue of Meridian six years ago, I was absolutely floored. It continued from there.

So it's no surprise that I hold his first book, Paper Anniversary, in such high regard. There's the spirit of late-life Larry Levis. There are the cinematically poetic flourishes of Terrence Malick. There's beauty in the most menial tasks. There's the southern romanticism of Joe Bolton. I could go on.

It's a beautiful and necessary book of poetry, first book or not.

So here we go...

First Book Interview #42 - Bobby C. Rogers

Monday, May 30, 2011


Just got back last night from a week in Rome, Florence, and Venice with my wife.

We've been talking about it for a couple years.

I'm glad we finally did it. It was worth every penny.

And there are so many cities we still haven't seen in Italy, much less the rest of the world.


Walking's the way to go. This may be obvious, but alas.

I don't know how many miles we walked, but we're starting to realize that you need to travel when you're still young, if you can.

Too many retired people on the plane. Too many that looked miserable, as if they were forced to do it because that's what you're "supposed to do" when you're retired.

I can't see my legs holding up that long. Or my mind, my body, my willingness. My tolerance.

I think we're trying to do South America next. Going to try to look, at the very least, into some travel grants.


Already wrote one poem on the plane (one that I've been returning to, stuttering and stopping with for five years, which is unusual for me), and after the Uffizi in Florence, I have ideas for a few more.

I never tried my hand, really, at true Ekphrastic poems, as far as paintings go.

Sure, I've done a lot of film-related poems, and still am, but I think it's time to try and see what I can do with some of the paintings that I saw.

There were a few that I'm going to have to write about.

But since so many writers deal with Ekphrastic poems these days, I'm going to have to try and make them... not as expected as some we get these days. Whatever that means.

Even though it's tough after how great Steve Gehrke's Michaelangelo's Seizure is. But I suppose I can learn from it.


One of the best things about Rome was seeing The Tree of Life in a back alley art house theater near The Spanish Steps.

Didn't make it to the Keats-Shelley House, but again, the former made up for it.

It didn't seem like anyone was going to show up, but they did. It was packed. The first theater we went to had it dubbed.

This one had it with subtitles.

I could talk about the film for a while, but I still need to see it again, and again, and again after that.

It's one of the most beautiful movies ever filmed, in my opinion, and proves that you don't need lush countries and cities, necessarily, or CGI, but one of the best directors ever to get behind a camera, and one of the best production designers out there in Jack Fisk.

Again: I need to see it again, but that was an experience I'll never forget.

And the fact that it's not playing around Binghamton makes me even happier that I took advantage, though I hope that it'll get here once it goes beyond the limited release.


I listened to the new Bon Iver record over ten times on the trip.

Let's get this straight: I think For Emma, Forever Ago and Blood Bank are overrated.

Very overrated.

So naturally I was curious to hear the new one.

And I felt the same kind of shiver that I get not very often, from the first tracks of records that you hope keep going like that.

I hear Miracle Fortress, Owen, Mark Kozelek, Jim Guthrie, Bruce Hornsby, and a ton of others as far as influences go, but there seems to be a kind of lack of complacency this time around.

There are weird flourishes with instruments and static, the lap steel is expertly placed and used in a nearly perfectly ambient way, the vocals are, of course, layered most of the time, but there's a better sense of melody with all the instruments this time around.

In other words: it seems like he knew he could make a record like he's been making, and people would buy it and could continue to do the same.

But he decided to step it up, and thankfully we still have some indie artists that are doing that these days.

Usually, for me, this doesn't happen. I'm not a fan of someone's music, as hyped as they are, and I still can never come around.

This time, though, I have come around. And for good reason.

The new record's awesome. I imagine I'll be listening to it a lot this summer, even more.


I'm officially halfway done with my PhD.

Field exams, language, and dissertation in the next two years.

Reading for my first field exam right now, which I'm taking in August. And I have rough outlines of what I want to do for the other two, so hopefully more work will go into that this summer.

My goal has been to start working on a third manuscript that will become my dissertation, and I feel like by the end of the summer I'll have 30-35 pages of solid work, so I think I'm on track to reach it.

And what's great is a lot of the weirder poems I've been writing have been well-received by journals, so I'm thrilled that others are liking the work too.

I think a handful of journals are opening up submission periods in a few days, so it may be time to send some more work out.


It's been a busy May, but I also need to get back to sending out First Book Interviews.

There are a bunch of poets I'm excited about contacting, so hopefully you'll see them running every two weeks throughout the summer and through the fall, and as long as poets are willing to answer questions, I'm going to keep it up as long as I can.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Thanks - One Year After the Fact

About a week ago, I wrote a four page single-spaced document about how the last year has been, since Ghost Lights was released on May 15th, 2010.

I couldn't get the font right, or there was something with Blogger. But I realized while I was having all those problems posting it that it was mostly for me anyway. It was interesting to get a bunch of ideas on paper that I had been thinking about, and it didn't seem as pertinent to anyone but me, so I won't end up posting it.

But I will present a kind of abridged version here.

Mostly it was a thank you letter and reflections on some of the things that have happened since the book's release.

The seventeen-day tour I went on with Kyle was amazing in many ways. I learned a lot. I became good friends with Kyle. I got to see, though mostly briefly, many cities and states I'd never been to. I met a ton of people: strangers, those I'd "known" only through Facebook, and other friends and family it was great to see again. To all that put us up for a night, gave us a meal, came to see us read, bought a book, or were nice to us (which was pretty much everyone): it meant more than you know.

The fact that there are over 300 copies of Ghost Lights floating around, from all I at least know about that are out there now, is extremely humbling, and I'm ridiculously grateful that so many people have even bothered to crack it open in the first place. I was going to be happy with 100 copies out there in the world (as it's always tough to not have low expectations, or I've just always been glass half-empty...), and I didn't win some big prize or anything, so the generosity of folks is something for which I've been extremely thankful, and continue to be.

Thanks to Nick, Kayleigh, Kyle, and Emilia for taking the time to review it. Hopefully there will be more reviews out there soon enough, but time will tell.

Thanks to Mary, Christopher, and Gary for teaching Ghost Lights in their classes, also. And thanks again to Christopher for having me back at Allegheny College for an amazing reading in March.

Now that I'm still in the midst of getting my second manuscript out there, it's time to concentrate on that (though I'll promote Ghost Lights as long as I can of course). It's odd, because in a way, this sounds like a closing, and though it's not, like I said, it's time to continue with the second manuscript, and onto the third project, which is a mess but is, I think, starting to turn into something.

So again, thank you to those folks out there who have bought, read, thought about, or even gave Ghost Lights a chance and didn't like it, since I know they're out there too.

Let's hope I have the ability to keep writing poems.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ghost Lights Review in iO

Thanks to Kyle for reviewing Ghost Lights in the inaugural issue of iO.

The whole issue has some great stuff in it, so be sure to give it a read.


Thanks to the editors of Tusculum Review for accepting a poem a while back from my second manuscript. Got my contributor copies in the mail a few days ago.


More soon...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

First Book Interviews - Slightly Early

I'm unable to post Michelle Bitting's interview on April 15th, so it has to come a little early this time.

#39 - Michelle Bitting

And I also, somehow, forgot to post the link to Alexander's:

#38 - Alexander Dickow

Not sure why the spacing's weird when you go to the regular page. I don't know what happened. But if you click on the name of the poet whose interview you'd like to read on the front page or on the right side of the page, the spacing goes back to normal.

Sorry about that.

Monday, March 28, 2011


So thrilled that the Rams took down Kansas and made it to the Final Four.

I didn't fill out a bracket this year (because I never have a shot, and this year would've probably been no different), but after they destroyed Purdue, I, and I imagine many others, said, "The run won't end with a loss to Florida State."

Props to the program. To the university. To the city of Richmond.

It was a long shot for them to make the tournament, so why not take it up a notch?

I'd love to see them actually win this thing.

I hope they do.

Friday, March 25, 2011


The reading at Allegheny College went extraordinarily well.

Endless thanks go to Christopher Bakken for getting everything set up and for inviting me back.

It doesn't seem like I graduated seven years ago, but I suppose time's doing anything but slowing down.

There were over 100 bodies in the seats, and to to be surrounded by such supportive family and friends was fantastic.

I had conferences with three students the next day, and I have high hopes for each one of them. Each student is ready not only to go to an MFA program, but to do good things there. I had no chops when I was their age (and most often I don't know if I have any chops now), and I'm excited to see what they all do in the future.

I suppose I should mention the oddness of watching the tsunami footage at 4 in the morning in a hotel room, though, since that will always be tied to such an amazing night for me.

That said, infinite thanks go to everyone for being there. It was a humbling and amazing experience.


Thanks again to Bear for publishing a poem from my new manuscript that's in the current issue of The National Poetry Review and The American Poetry Journal.

The idea's great, and though I'm sure it's not the first time this has ever happened, I've never seen a journal like this.

Sonora Review did a double issue (flip issue?) a while back like this, but here, you get issues of two different journals in the same space. Flip it over when you get to the end, and you get the Table of Contents in the other.

You should be able to order it here soon.


I was pleased to recently get acceptances from Copper Nickel and Whiskey Island Magazine.

The former took a poem from my second manuscript. It's one of my favorites and is the penultimate poem in the manuscript. Sometimes I wonder if it should be the last, but I think I made the right decision.

Whiskey Island Magazine took two poems that I hope will become part of a third manuscript. A couple weeks ago I sent some poems out to some journals, and this is the first I've heard from. The fact that it's not a rejection is welcomed.

I'm writing a lot of different stuff right now, so who knows what the third manuscript will become. I'm trying to work on a series of poems, unsurprisingly film-related, that I like. It gives me a chance to get risky and lyrical at the same time.

We'll see how they're received, but even if the reception's poor, I'm going to keep writing them. If anything, it keeps me on my toes. And if people hate the poems, that's almost always a good sign at this point. At least in my eyes.


I'm beginning my run at field exams, the first of which will be this summer.

I'm almost two years in, halfway done.

I plan on completing a third manuscript by the time I'm finished with my final degree.

I've said this before, but I'll say it again. Lofty, it is. Possible, I hope.


The VCU Rams are a huge inspiration this year in the NCAA tournament.

I didn't give myself a chance when I got there to do anything. It was a risk.

It paid off. I think.

So I'm thrilled to back a team that shouldn't have made it in the first place... so they say.

I haven't done a lot at this point, I know, but I'm going to keep at it.


Spring's here. Officially.

But in Binghamton, we'll see how official it is in a few weeks.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Last Minute - Reading

This is happening in a little over 48 hours, but on the off chance that you're not my Facebook friend (I made an event for it, and invited mostly people who I know are going to be there anyway), didn't see the event, and / or would possibly be interested and can make it, here's the information for the upcoming reading I'm doing.

Here's the information in the link from Allegheny College.

Poets Keith Montesano and Robert Murphy will read from their works on Thursday, March 10 at 8 p.m. in the Tippie Alumni Center at Allegheny College. The free public presentation is part of the college’s Single Voice Reading Series.

There you have it. I'm looking forward to it. I haven't been back to Allegheny since I graduated in 2004, so it'll be nice, to say the least.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

First Book Interview #36 - Leslie Harrison

Here you go, dear readers...

#36 - Leslie Harrison

And I'm getting really sick of the long lines and colors in the template I have, so I think something simpler and brighter and easier is coming, hopefully sooner than later.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Late to the Party

AWP was a good time.

There's really not too much to review, I suppose, but I should put something down before I forget everything I wanted to say.

We had about eighty or so people in the audience for our panel. Honestly, that was a lot more than I thought would show up.

This was it:

S158. From the Page to the Small Screen: What the Information Age Means for Us . (Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum, Terry Hummer, Maggie Dietz, Mary Flinn, Brian Brodeur, Keith Montesano) As digital technologies such as blogs, online periodicals, hypertext, and phone Apps gain legitimacy, more writing than ever before finds its home online. Some big questions loom: What is lost or gained when we translate our work from the page to the screen? Are these technologies promotional tools or new creative forms? Are we witnessing the death of the page or its evolution? Panelists from Slate, Blackbird, the Favorite Poem Project, AmeriCamera, and the blogosphere will answer these questions.

Thanks again to Andrew for getting everything together, and everyone for making it what it was, even only for an hour.

The main reason I went was the panel.

But I also wanted to meet a lot of people I only "know" through Facebook, and that I did.

I also needed to give Ghost Lights to some blurbers (Paul and Lisa, I still owe you a book).

Wojahn had a signing, but Pittsburgh Press was all out of World Tree. Kind of had me bummed.

It's always amazing to me when I see the complete mix of frighteningly egotistical people that are like sharks to just one drop of blood, and then the people who turn out to be absolutely humble and down to earth. I wish everyone could be in the latter category, but even that realization makes me happier to know, now, so many of them.

Books I picked up:

Le Spleen de Poughkeepsie - Joshua Harmon
Requiem for the Orchard - Oliver de la Paz
Vivisect - Lisa Lewis
Reliquary Fever - Beckian Fritz Goldberg

Was going to buy many more, but I already have a ton to read, as we all probably do.

Plus, since we got a new bookshelf, in the words of Jess: "It really doesn't look like the we did anything. We just moved the books from the original onto the second."

Near the end of AWP, as the book fair was closing down, someone handed me an uncorrected proof of Michael Kimball's Us, which seems right up my alley and I can't wait to read.

Was it you, Michael? Or was it Giancarlo?

Unless I have a reason for going next year in Chicago, I'm probably good for a few years. But maybe things will change.

That said, to all the people I met, drank beers with, shot the shit with, I wanted to say thanks to you. You're all what made AWP for me this year.


The crossroads point has set in with my second manuscript.

At what point do you say, "It's finished" or, "It's done"?

Is it presumptuous to say that?

Isn't there always something that can be done, even if it's realizing in the .doc file that you have two spaces between a word instead of one?

That said, I'm confident at this point. More confident than I've ever been with it.

The book's not for everyone, just like Ghost Lights was not and is not. But I have a lot of faith in it, more than I ever have with Ghost Lights (is that how it should be?) so hopefully that accounts for something.

I just got it out to five more places, with a handful more added to the list in the coming months.


I also feel like I've started, finally, a third project.

It still weirds me out a bit to type that.

I know if I don't move on, I'll be stuck, drafting and shredding, deleting.

But I have an idea and I'm running with it.

Unlike the past two manuscripts, I think I'm going to sit on these poems for a while, amass the good ones, tweak them, keep them in mind.

I'm usually fast to send out poems, but admittedly, I like to think a lot of my drafts don't take months, or sometimes even weeks, for me to be finished with them.

A thought's usually in my head for a while, and then usually I can get what I think is a decent draft down when it starts making itself known that it needs to be in words.

This new thing I'm working on isn't like that, so it's important for me to see how it develops. And slow is the way to go at this point. Or at least contained.

Even if it's just a glimmer at this point, I'm excited to see what happens.

And my last new poem, before the few I wrote in this last week, was written in October.

Too long.

Light the fire.


And also speaking of manuscripts and projects, I have First Book Interviews slated until, at the earliest, May 15th.

Again, I'm getting back to doing one every two weeks. Should I get a flood of them in the next few weeks, maybe I'll do a two-for-one every once in a while, but I want to make sure that the schedule fleshes itself out accordingly.

A lot of good interviews are on the way, so stay tuned.


You should listen to the new Twilight Singers record, Dynamite Steps.

Greg Dulli has been an influence on me for a long time.

I've written a lot of poems to Dulli-related projects, and somehow the dude never slows down.

The new record's fantastic. It deserves your time.


This is a busy semester for me, as it's my last semester of course work.

Soon it'll be time for field exams. And I still have to get the language requirement out of the way.

My main goal for the next two and a half years? Get my second manuscript published and have whatever my third's going to be (hopefully there is one) turn out to be my dissertation.

If I have to set myself up for disappointment, then so be it. But that's what I'm shooting for.

That means I don't know how much blogging I'll be doing, but at the very least, First Book Interviews will still be popping up every couple weeks.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

First Book Interview #35 - Brent Goodman

Brent Goodman graces us this time around with his presence...

#35 - Brent Goodman

And some good news also: There will hopefully be a First Book Interview every two weeks for many months to come, and hopefully even longer.

So stay tuned...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

First Book Interview #34 - Traci Brimhall

Traci Brimhall answers some questions about her fantastic first book, Rookery.

#34 - Traci Brimhall


Friday, January 7, 2011


Thanks again to Neil and everyone else at Boxcar Poetry Review for the quick turnaround with the aforementioned poem in the last blog post.

My poem is here and the rest of the contents can be seen here.

Though I have it in the Notes section at the end of my manuscript, the penultimate stanza references Woody Allen's Interiors, which is something that I've been trying to get into a poem for way too long.

You should see it if you haven't already.

As an aside: the whole Woody Allen collection needs to be on Blu-ray. It's a monster task, I know, but hopefully someone's working on it.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


I was recently interviewed by The Collagist about "Stargazing," which was published in their last issue.

You can read the interview here.


Thanks to Boxcar Poetry Review for recently taking a poem.

This was nice to hear mostly because it's the last poem I've written in the last few months.

And I've been a reader of theirs for a while now.


You need to see Somewhere when you can. Sofia Coppola's slowly becoming one of the better young filmmakers out there.

I imagine Stephen Dorff was chosen specifically or the role, as if she almost wrote the movie around him, imagining not the character, but the actual man playing the parts.

And of course with Harris Savides behind the camera, you could watch it with the sound off and be happy, even if the movie wasn't great.

A lot of people won't like it. Many will write it off as a rip-off of Lost in Translation. And though it wouldn't be surprising if she ripped herself off, and it does drink from the same fountain, I think more's at stake here.

Plus it's hard not to love the clear homages to Paris, Texas and The Brown Bunny. And the feeling that the blood of De Sica, Bertolucci, and Antonioni's been coursing through her veins for a long time.

It's definitely one of my favorites of the year, to say the least, and it's something I can't wait to get once it's finally available.