Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I Can See You

So I got my eyes checked today. The optometrist asked, "What prompted you to come in?" To which I could only say that it had been four years since I'd had an eye exam and I was thinking about getting new glasses. He seemed satisfied, but I wondered why ask that way. What was he driving at?

The next in my errands today was a stop at Great Clips for a hair trim--I never say haircut anymore because people assume a guy with long hair will one day come to his senses and get a crew cut, to which I say, "I'm just waiting for the balding." In the waiting room at Great Clips was a copy of Garden and Gun. I realized one of the contributing editors is one of my mentors, Clyde Edgerton. But what was it doing in Great Clips? Was it only a matter of alliteration?

Coincidences? I think not. By the way, my sight is just fine, by which I mean I can't see a damn thing without my glasses. That's right, I see what's going on here.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

This Just In: Grades

That's right, the grades...they are in. And I am free. Free, I say.

This Just In Postscript: Heather has just informed me that this post, "sucks." More news as it develops.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Printers Hate Menstrual Blood and There Will Be Literary Thrillers

I am sad. Which I will probably blog about when I'm not quite so sad.

In the mean time, Ben Tanzer's blog has made me angry. He reproduces a letter from Eric Spitznagel about the Monkeybicycle Dirty Comedy issue. Turns out its release has been delayed because all the printers they tried were offended by the content. Specifically offended by a cartoon that contained menstrual blood (because no one is offended by reading anymore because no one reads). Is this those wacky free-speech-hating foreigners upset at cartoon representations of Muhammad? No, it's god-fearing printers of America, practicing censorship. To quote Spitznagel: "I think we've learned something today, my friends. We've learned that the printing industry is afraid of menstruation." God bless America.

What has made me happy is reading Derek Nikitas's discussion of literary thrillers on Murderati, which tackles the literary vs. genre debate. What has also made me happy is David Jack Bell's hypothetical writers draft.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Me on This Zine Will Change Your Life

I know, I know this is getting out of hand. I apology for the rash of self-promotion: Monkeybicycle, The Potomac, and now This Zine Will Change Your Life. I'm even getting tired of myself.

So don't go to This Zine Will Change Your Life for my story "An Introduction to My Open Mike Poetry Set." But rather go there because it has been paired with a picture and a song (can you say paired if there's a total of three things?). The picture is a brilliantly punkish photo by Adam Lawrence. The song is "Hello Fuji Boy" by Oh Astro. It contains samples from Hot Chip. Lionel Richie, and Fujiya & Miyagi. That's right. You have to see it and hear it for yourself, so click, don't type your way to This Zine Will Change Your Life. I mean, really, your life--I wasn't going to say anything but since this came up--could use a change.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Reporting Live: Rob Boisvert Book Release Party

Okay, I'm not there live, but earlier tonight I was at the Hidell Brooks Gallery for Rob Boisvert's release party for his book of short stories Long Dead Lover. You may know Rob from his day job as an anchor for News 14 (now you see where that inane reporting comment comes in--see that's funny because...). Rob, crazy guy that he is, took my Fiction Writing class, and I was stunned by his work--he has not only a dazzling style but also moving stories--a rare combination in any literary circles. So run out and buy Long Dead Lover through any means necessary, by which I mean use money, the physical or digital kind will be fine.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Me on The Potomac

So my short story "Trash" is in the Quictions section of the new issue of The Potomac that went live today. You should visit that fine journal of politics and poetry just for the picture of Hilary or the guy being attacked by a snake. I'm not sure which is more disturbing and also not sure which is politics and which poetry.

Monkeybicycle last week and The Potomac this one. I am doubly blessed.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Stop --inging Already!

Melody emailed me a wonderful rant on titles relying on an -ing. I found this rant endlessly amusing, and she's graciously allowed me to share her obsession with you. Forgetting Sarah Marshall kicked it off and made her realize she's sick to death of these "verb/name titles." I remember Fred Leebron tell my former friend who then told me that you should never title a story with an -ing verb. At the time having just written one called "Cat Killing," I thought he was being insane. But now I can't stand them either. I don't remember Leebron's rationale, but I wish I did. What is it with these -ing titles that disgusts us so? Melody, by the way, would be especially disappointed with me for "Cat Killing" because she proposed "KILLING anything as a title should be banned for life!" To exorcise this demon, she began a list of offenders, which I find startlingly comprehensive. She also invites you to add your own.

Her list:

Losing Isaiah

Losing Gemma (tv)

Losing Hope (2001)

Losing Lois Lane

Losing Aaliyah (doc)

Losing Grace

Losing Toby (animation-short)

Losing Ahmad (doc)

Losing Alice (in production)

Losing Jerry

Losing Juggles (short -Canada)

Losing Julia (short)

Losing Lois (short doc)

Losing Chase (tv)

Chasing Amy

Chasing Liberty

Chasing Holden

Chasing Papi

Chasing Cain

Chasing Buddha (doc)

Chasing Andy

Chasing Chekhov

Chasing Dora (doc)

Chasing Leonard (short)

Chasing Tchaikovsky

Judging Amy (tv)

Kissing Jessica Stein

Kissing Katie Holmes (short)

Kissing Miranda (tv)

Kissing Buba (UK short)

Kissing Jake (short)

Kissing Kate (short)

Kissing Paul Newman (short)

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Forgetting Betty (short)

Forgetting Aphrodite (short)

Being Julia

Being Claudine

Being Cyrus

Being John Malkovich

Being Eve (tv series)

Being Mick (doc -tv)

Being Dorothy

Being Ron Jeremy

Being Doctor Who (interview-

Being Dom Joly (UK tv)

Killing Zoe

Killing Emmett Young

Killing Joe (short film)

Killing Mr. Griffin (tv movie)

Killing Cupid

Killing Pablo (in production, starring Christian Bale and Javier Bardem)

Killing Ariel

Killing Heinz (animated short)

Killing Hitler (tv)

Killing Priscilla (tv doc)

Killing Cinderella

Killing Kevin

Killing Killian

Killing Zelda Sparks

Killing Christian (2003)

Killing Christian (2005)

Killing Horace (1914 -starring Fatty Arbuckle -short film)

Killing Jackie (short)

Killing Mary Jane

Killing Rasputin

Battling Butler

Battling Marshal

Battling Bosko (animation - 1932)

Battling Bates (1923)

Battling Brewster (1924)

Battling Buddy (1924)

Battling Bunyon (1925)

Battling Burke (1928)

Battling Jane (1918)

Battling Mason (1924)

Battling Romeo (1925)

Battling Torchy (1922 short)

Battling Siki

Wrestling Ernest Hemingway

Driving Miss Daisy

Finding Forrester

Finding christa (doc)

Finding Preet

Finding Nemo (animated)

Finding Buck McHenry

Finding Kate

Finding Kelly

Finding Amanda

Finding Rin Tin Tin (doc)

Capturing the Friedmans (doc)

Teaching Mrs. Tingle

Boxing Helena

Running against Dick

Seeing Iris

Saving Private Ryan

Saving Silverman

Saving Grace (tv)

Saving Grace (1997 UK)

Saving Grace (1998)

Saving Grace (2008 -post production)

Saving Jessica lynch (tv)

Saving Sarah Cain

Saving Shiloh

Saving Angelo

Saving Milly (tv)

Saving Emily (tv)

Saving Jackie

Saving Luna

Saving Private Tootsie

Saving Sophie

Saving Jason (tv)

Saving Mabel's Dad (1913)

Saving Raffles (1917 UK)

Saving Sam

Saving Sheba

Saving Sister Aimee

Saving Sister Susie

Serving Sarah

Helping Grandma (1931)

Helping John (1912)

Helping Henry (tv series)

Helping McAdoo (1918 animation)

Helping Mother

Loving Jezebel

Hunting Chris Ryan (tv mini-series)

Sleeping Betty

Catching Kringle

Then I have a few that are verb/place:

Losing manhattan

Saving CBGB

Leaving Las Vegas

Losing Lusk (short doc)

Chasing Montana

Friday, April 18, 2008

Me on Monkeybicycle

So today or yesterday by now what with the midnight, not only did I have a poem in my pocket, but my short story "Revelation" went up on Monkeybicycle. It was a wonderful day.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I Am Just Happy to See You

But I also have a poem in my pocket, courtesy of the kind folks at literary magazine Ninth Letter, who sent me a tiny envelope to celebrate today: Poem in Your Pocket Day. And obeying the instructions, I did not open it until April 17th. It was like Christmas morning. And like the best gifts, it seems as if the giver knew me because I received a prose poem. Here it is:

by Sara Pennington

You watch your mother through the barn's KNOT HOLE.

She sharpens anything that she can use for killing, polishes and cleans her own dead daddy's Confederate gun, his knife folded quietly in the homespun pocket of her skirt. The pitchfork gleams like a fox's hungry chops, the scythe fleer its grimace, the sickle its overwrought smirk. Between weapons, her fingers turn to kippers, writhing, those pale-bodied worms eaten up with death. And now, you know why she keeps moving: she must. To rest would be to give thought to the maggots, to the fine-haired fungus, to the earwigs and earthworms; idleness serves only the graveyard's nibbling legions. She will not feed her anger like slop to the swine. Vengeance is mine, saith the widow, for each stillness, each silence is a dark-mouthed

KEYHOLE through which grief slithers like a honey-voiced snake.

Ninth Letter vol. 4, no. 1
Happy Poem in Your Pocket Day, everyone!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I Respond to Heather Responding to NatPoMo

That's right, Heather gave a thoughtful and impassioned response to my criticisms of National Poetry Month. To which I will now respond. Here it is:

Monday, April 14, 2008

HEATHER responds to NatPoMo

We have a very special guest blogger: Heather of banana fame...and my lovely girlfriend. She will be responding to my NatPoMo bits and showing everyone that I am silly and frivolous. Please welcome Heather:

It has recently come to my attention that my boyfriend is spreading dissent about National Poetry Month through this blog. *sigh* Where to begin? I suppose where Craig does in his NatPoMo post. (I really do hate that.) Some argue that National Poetry Month spoon feeds watered down words to the masses. I would say that’s inaccurate. Some really great stuff is getting put out there in honor of the month. Check out the Poetry Everywhere project where animated versions of accomplished poems new and old are being broadcast on PBS and public transit systems. True, it’s not T. S. Eliot, but the featured poems are sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and hopefully make people think.

And what’s wrong with poetry having a general appeal? Throughout my public education experience, April was pretty much the only time my teachers could take a break from state-mandated test-prep curriculum to talk about poetry. And because I grew up in the buckle of the Bible Belt, it was really “safe” poetry. The first poetry books I bought and discussed with other writers were by Maggie Vaughn, the poet laureate of Tennessee. Her poems have rhyme and meter. They’re about country music and growing up agrarian. Her target audience is retired ladies’ book clubs. But I loved them. I even memorized some of them. Maggie Vaughn taught me to appreciate poetry, tuned my ear to it, and, in truth, showed me what not to do with rhyme and meter. My point of this trip down memory lane is to say that we all have to start somewhere. Some of us have to begin with poetry that has the comforting sing-song of nursery rhymes and narratives we know before we have the confidence and desire to dip our toes into the deeper waters of academic poets. The trick is fostering that desire in readers which is what National Poetry Month aspires to do. But props to those people like Charles Bernstein and Jim Behrle who comprehended the metaphysical ramifications of Ezra Pound’s Cantos on the first read.

And speaking of Jim Behrle, the comic strip frame Craig has featured really pisses me off. Why on earth would a poet discourage people from writing poetry however good or bad it may be? Regular people writing poetry is what makes it culturally relevant. No one gives a shit about a bunch of academic elitists telling them what’s good and what’s not and aren’t they stupid not to see it. Based on hearing the same kind of diatribes during the supposed question and answer sessions at AWP, I can only guess that some poets express frustration with their own work and bitterness toward publishers by tearing down others.

About the question of what restricting it to a month does for poetry, well, I wish poetry was celebrated year-round, especially if my poetry’s in on it, but like most things in America, it’s all about the benjamins. Believe it or not, poets don’t make a lot of money, and it’s primarily poets spending money on poetry. Therefore, my theory is it’s a better use of funding for poetry-loving organizations to band together and really get the word out there for one solid month than to bleed marketing dollars to preach to the choir for twelve. Hopefully, folks will get hooked on the good word that one month and demand more the rest of the year. I hope it with all my heart.


Stay tuned for my response.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

NatPoMo Update

That cutting edge literary magazine Ninth Letter sent me a surprise today. It's for "Poem in Your Pocket Day," which is April 17th, 2008. It's part of NatPoMo. The poem for my poet is sealed in this portable tiny envelop and warns me "DO NOT OPEN UNTIL APRIL 17 PIYP DAY." What can be inside? I hope it's money. I like money. But I suspect it's a poem. What is the poem in my pocket? Find out on April 17th! Live! (Is a blog live?)

P.S. Please resist any jokes that day that begin: is that a poem in your pocket or....

Something Wicked

It has been a Musical week. Watched Sweeney Todd on DVD and tonight went to the opening of Wicked. I know what you're thinking: I seem so manly--what with my writing poetry and hating sports and eschewing condiments. But real men can enjoy musical theater, too. At least the kind with barbers slitting throats and Time Dragons hovering over stages. I can't believe how ubiquitous the Wizard of Oz has become. It is American mythology. Any rumors that I got choked up at "Defying Gravity" are myths as well.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Other People’s Writerly Advice Tip #3

Today's advice comes to us not from my former professor, but from that stoically spooky guy on The Twilight Zone, Rod Serling.

I would have to disagree with his contention that ideas are easy because I had to steal this one from Don Pizarro.

Your Etiquette Advice from Some Old Books I Found

Today's etiquette advice comes from American Etiquette and Rules of Politeness 1884 (Rand, McNally & Co.):

DO NOT CONTRADICT It is extremely impolite to directly contradict any one. If the matter is of no importance, let it pass; otherwise, say, "I beg your pardon, but I think you are mistaken or misinformed," or any other similar phrase, which will break the weight of direct contradiction.

This has been your etiquette advice from some old books I found.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

In Praise of Anti-National Poetry Month

So it's NatPoMo! Heather hates it when I call it that. But she also hates it when I talk about PoBiz (that distinctly academic animal where poets swap influence for prizes and positions). Naturally her frustration only encourages me to sing my praises to NatPoMo louder.

Listening to Weekend America, though, keyed me into those who do not enjoy our god-given poetry month. These critics, chief among them Charles Bernstein, say that NatPoMo is a sham that does a disservice to the poetry it ignores because it says to the public most poetry is difficult though there is some good, "easy-listening" poetry out there that wont hurt your head too much, a kind of Flintstone's vitamin poetry. This approach hurts challenging poetry but also the poetry it promotes because it sells it as facile and safe. It also smacks of condescension to give poetry a month as if without it the art form would disappear from irrelevance (Note: there is no National Film Month). Consider for example that the other celebration months we honor like Black History Month or Women's History Month have their critics who say why relegate the achievements of African Americans and women to only one month a year? Why consign the celebration of poetry to one month?

Also with the recent dangers of poetry exposed, can we in good conscience continue to push this art on people? Personally, it's worth it just so I can say: have a happy NatPoMo, everyone!

(pictured: A cartoon called "Stone Cold Poetry Bitches" by Jim Behrle.)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April Is the Cruelest Month

So after thinking all day about and almost missing it, I've finally come up with my April Fool's joke.

Here it is.

Hilarious, right?