Wednesday, August 31, 2005

What I'm Liking

I'm liking these Noah Eli Gordon poems in the first issue of Fascicle. I envy that ability to speak without utilizing a character as a speaker, just speaking as a voice defined by the things it says, rather than having a character as a crutch.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Stephen Dixon Interview

My Q & A with fiction writer Stephen Dixon (whose excellent new book, Phone Rings, will be released in early October) is in this week's issue of Publishers Weekly. If you happen to be by a newsstand or work for a subscribing publisher, check it out. It's on page 30.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Home Swat Home

It's still hot in NY, but I assure you it was hotter in Dallas. Roughly 100 degrees, no matter what time of day. HOT. But we're back, just got back. It was a wonderful trip--B met the rest of my family, all of whom liked her a very great deal, and all of whom she liked a very great deal. My Grandma, who is 93, is having a rough time, which made the trip a bit hard for everyone, but I'm glad B and I were there to help out, to see her, for her to meet B. We played with my sweet baby and todler cousins, cute as all hell. I'm very grateful for the trip.

Just finished a novel with a too-happy ending. I won't tell you which one. The rest of the book was wonderful, but the author ties it all up too neatly in the end--it doesn't pay to go through a whole heap of suffering with a series of characters only to learn that the moral is something like "everything will turn out fine if you wait a while." Why do novelists feel compelled to do that? That goes out to all you novelists out there.

Also, I'm excited to make my way through fascicle, an impressively full plate of new poems and poetica.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


B and I are off to Dallas today to meet/visit (respectively) my extended family. I think it will be fun--my Aunt, Uncle, Gramma, Cousins, and little baby Cousins are all wonderful, fun, and interested people; I think they will have a good time getting to know B, and she will feel likewise. So, you may not hear from me for a few days (though you may). I hope to go swimming in my Aunt or Cousins' bean-shaped pools.

Bad Poetry News: rejected by Barrow Street, very quickly; poems sent back by Paris Review in their recent mass purging.

Good Poetry News: wrote a little poem about a dragon.

Everyone check out next week's issue of Publishers Weekly--I did a Q & A that's in there.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

I want Malcolm Gladwell's hair

Working on a strange poem, or strange for me, anyway. The title, as it stands, is adapted from a sentence by Susan Sontag, whose essays have come to mean a lot to me lately, primarily for the complete strength and confidence of her mind. She asserts, she formulates, she states; she does not grasp after. Anyway, it's one of those poems where you don't quite know if it's working, if you're trying for some particular effect instead of listening to what the poem needs. I had this idea yesterday that I wanted to try writing really long lines for the first time, so I reoriented Word so that the page is set up the long way. I think the long lines may be my favorite thing about the poem. I have to let it sit, bake, a bit to see if I still like it...

Also, Harvard Review accepted a review I wrote of Thomas Sayers Ellis' book. I'm glad about that--I worked hard on it, and they had (rightly) rejected another review I did. So look out for that in the fall issue.

Brigit Pegeen Kelly, where have you been all my life?

Finally, I've found some poems to read. Had heard good things about Kelly from my friend G, who I think spent some time around her at Breadloaf last year (wasn't she there?). And I've gathered that her newest book, last year's The Orchard, has been causing a bit of a buzz. So I picked it up today on my way home. Gratefully, I'm amazed. She's got some of Plath's self-seriousness, and a kind of bewildered melancholy, revising and reenvisioning in order to put emotions in plain sight, next to the objects and people that call them out of their darkness. I'll have more to say later, but for now, a brief quote:

The bees came out of the junipers, two small swarms
The size of melons; and golden, too, like melons,
They hung next to each other, at the height of a deer's breast,
Above the wet black compost. And because
The light was very bright it was hard to see them,
And harder still to see what hung between them.
A snake hung between them. The bees held up a snake.

("The Dragon")

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Not Much To Report, but I Report Nonetheless

I don't know what to say about poetry tonight. Not really reading any poems this week. Reading a wonderful novel by Elizabeth Strout, who went to my college, Bates in Lewiston, ME. Not too many of us writers from Bates, so we gotta read each other.

Anyhoo, revising some poems, sending them out. If anything comes of it, I'll let you know. Looking for new poems to make me crazy. Maybe it's time to hit ole' Stevens again.

I been busy: working, tryin' to socialize. Mostly reading on the trains. At least I'm not writing about my socks or something.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


So, I must say, we had a pretty frickin' awesome party last night. Dancing till 4am, care of DJ Charming (woody). Not even the heat could bring us down. To all of you who missed it, I hope weeping in your cold, lonely homes was fun.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Dixon Day

Did an interview today with the fiction writer Stephen Dixon for work. I reviewed his last novel, Old Friends a year ago, and am reviewing his forthcoming one. It was my first interview and it went really well. He's a wonderfully nice man whose writing practice is deeply ingrained. He's written 25 books. After I went through my questions--about how he manages to be so prolific, how he feels about being labeled an avant-garde writer, about the new book--we talked for a few minutes about my writing life. He summers in a part of Maine I know, so we had that in common. And he was very encouraging, made me feel good about my writing practice, like a real writer, like writing is all it takes to be one. He said he's never had a period of writers block in his life. Oh if only...but he reminds me to just keep at it, to put words on paper--that's what writing is after all.

I like his fiction very much. It's sad, about the commonplace sufferings of everyday people, about the minutiae. The books are very empathic. He's not as well known as he should be and I hope this new book brings him some much deserved recognition.

Also bought the new Bill Frisell live album today. Not yet sure what I think...maybe he's been more exciting on other records.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Good Po-Biz News, and Goodbye My Beard

So! My good po-biz news is this: the excellent web-mag Typo has accepted one of my poems. I am very proud indeed to have a poem appear in such a kick-ass journal.

In other news, I've shaven off my beard, mostly because it's time for a change. B is very wierded out. She keeps calling me "Stranger." This reminds me of a story I heard about my older cousin, who has had a beard since he was a teenager. Well, one day he said he might shave it off, and his kids said "No! Don't! We won't love you as much!" But I think he did, and everything worked out fine. His kids' love for him grew by the day, is growing even now. Don't worry, B.

Also, check out the new issue of Octopus, which features only new poets--there's some good stuff there, and 8 tentacle-like poems by each.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

friday on thursday

Well, only one more day of teaching night classes until I'm only working full time at my day job. How absolutely wonderful. I like my new job; I don't mind spending my days there--I like being so busy all day. I hate my old job, however, and am eager to be done with it. Monday night is the last one.

Finished reading Andrea Baker's book. Highly recommended. Now I'm reading Kay Ryan, T.C. Boyle, Stephen Dixon, Forest Gander.

No po-biz news to report. I'm writing little poems though, despite all my business.