Monday, May 30, 2011

Return

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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More soon...