Wednesday, December 30, 2009
The park admits the wind,
the petals lift and scatter
like versions of myself I was on the verge
of becoming; and ten years on
and ten blocks down I still can't tell
whether this dispersal resembles
a fist unclenching or waving goodbye.
But the petals scatter faster,
seeking the rose, the cigarette vendor,
and at least I've got by pumping heart
some rules of conduct: refuse to choose
between turning pages and turning heads
though the stubborn dine alone. Get over
"getting over": dark clouds don't fade
but drift with ever deeper colors.
Give up on rooted happiness
(the stolid trees on fire!) and sweet reprieve
(a poor park but my own) will follow.
There is still a chance the empty gazebo
will draw crowds from the greater world.
And meanwhile, meanwhile's far from nothing:
the humming moment, the rustle of cherry trees.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
SPD Bestsellers 2000-2009
Sherman Alexie owns the top spots with a number of Harryette Mullen books in there as well. Also good to see Barbara Jane crack the top 20.
I've been meaning to post this for awhile. It's been difficult to choose 30 albums because I like music and my moods vary. For example, I've got stuff I listen to when I'm in the gym, in the car, when I'm writing, and when I'm grading. And often the choices are so disparate. *edit: after much reflection, there's still a tie at the top, but I'm more careful with the rankings.
1. Neko Case, Middle Cyclone
1. Andrew Bird, Noble Beast
2. Various Artists, Dark was the Night
3. St. Vincent, Actor
4. A.C. Newman, Get Guilty
5. We Were Promised Jetpacks, These Four Walls
6. Micachu and the Shapes, Jewellery
7. Taken By Trees, East of Eden
8. The Low Anthem, Oh My God, Charlie Darwin
9. Lighting Dust, Infinite Light
10. White Denim, Fits
11. Laura Gibson, Beasts of Seasons
12. Jason Lytle, Yours Truly, The Commuter
13. Grizzly Bear, Veckatimest
14. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, It's Blitz!
15. Great Lake Swimmers, Lost Channels
16. The Flaming Lips, Embryonic
17. Tegan & Sara, Sainthood
18. Son Volt, American Central Dust
19. Fanfarlo, Reservoir
20. Telekinesis, Telekinesis!
21. The Dutchess & The Duke, Sunset/Sunrise
22. Woods, Songs of Shame
23. Dirty Projectors, Bitte Orca
24. The Decemberists, The Hazards of Love
25. Thao, Know Better Learn Faster
26. Coconut Records, Davy
27. Choir of Young Believers, This is for the White In Your Eyes
28. Camera Obscura, My Maudlin Career
29. Metric, Fantasies
30. Rain Machine, Rain Machine
OK, so that was quite strange and very unexpected. A couple of things I'd add--Dark Night of the Soul would be one.
Disappointments--BLK JKS. I thought they would put out a fabulous album, but After Robots was overproduced, IMO.
I also wanted to like the Wilco album and the Monsters of Folk album, but I didn't so much.
Edited: Had some time to think it over
Back to your regular broadcast.
Still reading Nicholson Baker's The Anthologist which I'm finding to be funny, heartbreaking, and instructional.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
We'll be in the Atlanta area until the 27th (with a short trip to South Carolina in between).
Among the possible adventures planned:
1) The Aquarium
2) The Zoo
3) A good chicken & waffles joint
I've been busily catching up with my correspondence despite a steady trickle of reference letter writing.
The numbers were slightly different this year--I had fewer students asking for letters, but the few that I did have are applying to more schools.
The average number of schools applied to was eight. I think students are realizing how competitive the application game has become. I'm also having more students applying after a year or two off.
It's raining here. A little bit o' the Northwest here down South.
Kid's finally down for a nap. Whew.
We Were Promised Jetpacks. On my top 20 of 2009--I think I'm titling the list "Albums that Aren't Getting Their Proper Cred"
When I started thinking of my top 20 albums, I saw that I was duplicating a lot of other lists, so I figured, I'd change up my list. It'll be up before the new year.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
The organization's at a crossroads, and we need help.
If you can give us a hand or a good word, we'd greatly appreciate your help.
Here's the link: Kundiman Bright Side.
Monday, December 14, 2009
My grades are turned in. I'm all set to head over to Atlanta for Christmas to visit the in-laws, though I'm not ready for a 6 hour plane ride with a toddler.
We scheduled our flight with the kid's sleep schedule in mind, so such a schedule has us arriving at SEATAC at 4AM (leaving B'ham at 2:00AM). Brutal.
AC Newman. "Prophets." Another one of my top 20 picks for the oughts. I thought his album was quite underrated and was frequently played on my stereo system.
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
I've got roughly 40 portfolios in my back pack. I haven't even pulled them out of my bag since arriving at my office this morning.
As I mentioned in a Tweet, for some reason I decided to pack all the portfolios and take them home. I guess I thought I'd grade them, but I wound up helping Meredith take care of a kid with a cold, and then after they went to bed, I wound up playing video games until I got sleepy. My brain's mush.
I haven't come up with my list of top 20 albums from the 2009 year yet 'cause I haven't had time to sit down and think about such things. Maybe when I get out from under portfolios. Maybe I should stop blogging and just grade the damn things.
I'll be reading for the It's About Time reading series tomorrow evening, 6:00 - 7:45PM with Martha Silano, Lyn Coffin, and Matt Briggs. The location is listed in the link. Come out and see us!
Lightning Dust. I'm adding their album, "Infinite Light" to my list of 20 albums.
Monday, December 07, 2009
It's the end of the academic quarter and I'm beat.
The 8AM class destroyed me, namely because of my roughly 45 minute commute to campus. I was waking up extremely early in order to catch this class, and I was late only once by 5 minutes.
A steady stream of students has been stopping by dropping off their portfolios. Ah, to be done with grading.
I've still got one more item on my once 9-item to do list. It'll get done tonight.
Baby's got a cold, so collectively we've been miserable for the past few nights. Egad.
Son Volt was quite good, though I had to leave the concert before they were finished--such is the life of a parent.
Current spin: See below. I don't want to numb you with Son Volt postings.
Some grainy and dark video of Son Volt performing at the Nightlight Lounge in Bellingham, WA. If you recognize the song, let me know.
Thursday, December 03, 2009
So here I am. Office hours. Nothing to do but blog.
I returned my first page proofs to the press today. It was very interesting to see Requiem in this form for me. A kind of distancing took place as I was reading for a misplaced punctuation here, a typographical error there. The process was mathematical and objective--a matter of making sure page numbers in the TOC matched with page numbers in the document.
What I must say, though, is that I think I did a pretty good job of structuring this book--more so than the previous books. Furious Lullaby was a relatively interior book. The poems were meditative and therefore it was difficult to build the inertia to move the book forward. The aubades that fill the pages of Furious collectively constructed a narrator who was displaced. Unsure.
The big distinction between Furious and Requiem is that while a lot of the poems in Requiem do exist in the interior, they are clearly grounded in a real place with the real and active process of revisiting the past.
Furious is a metaphysical manuscript in the most spiritual sense, attempting to locate the self in the world, and Requiem's metaphysics exist in its attempt to locate the self in the past.
But more importantly, the way I write has changed quite a bit. My lines have gotten longer. The way I think about lines has gotten longer. The way I think has gotten a bit more tangled. Perhaps all of these things have led my work to these odd syntactic/linguistic places.
I'm still interested in clarity, but I'm more interested in clarity as it appears in the new complexities of a sentence.
I have a very tall thermos filled with black coffee next to me and I've been taking hits out of the coffee lid for the past two hours. I don't know what I'm saying, but it sounds big and proper.
Shonen Knife. I wish I saw them here in Bellingham.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
I recently got pounded by deadlines, so I've been doing my best to try to stay afloat. It's the last week of the fall quarter, so there was much grading and much end-work prep. Needless to say, I've neglected the blog. So here I am. Checking in. *wave*
Many of you chose Cover #4, which is the cover that Amy, the designer, and myself have chosen.
I'm in the midst of proofreading my 1st proofs (another deadline). It's interesting to revisit the manuscript in this form. The formatting doesn't make the idea of the book any more real.
To be honest, I haven't had my mind on anything literary for awhile. I've been playing video games to take the edge off.
My Thanksgiving was fine, thank you. My family members from Portland drove up the I-5 corridor and crashed with my parents in their tiny Bellingham abode. Much madness ensued.
There was a houseful of "Tweenagers" and a PS3 with all the accouterments. The funniest game has to be Little Big Planet.
Son Volt. I'm seeing these guys this Saturday with Meredith, in tribute to the end of the quarter.
Monday, November 23, 2009
So here's your chance to play a game. Pick which of these versions will be the actual cover of the book.
The covers are designed by Amy Freels with the University of Akron Press.
The painting is by Andie deRoux, and is entitled "Light II."
Friday, November 20, 2009
There are no fruit baskets in poetry, only fruity poets.
I get a lot of resistance to my assignments in workshops. This is partly because my assignments can range from the bizarre to the elaborate. This is also partly because the students are at the stage where they are trying on their own identities, both as people and as writers, and to follow my very stringent and oftentimes impractical rules would demean their art.
I basically run workshops based off of the exercises I give my students--they don't bring in poems composed outside of this context. For one, a lot of times they dust off crusty poems they had written in the past for workshop and I'm of the opinion that this is the time to practice craft rather than impose craft on an already wrought piece. For two, it's just easier to conduct a workshop with honest feedback if the poem in front of the participants are assignments. ANYWAY, to bring us back on course, I suppose it's an honest, earnest concern, especially from a population who's just beginning a writing path.
Teaching, administrative work, and the arrival of my page proofs have got me in an introspective mood these days. I've been buried under an avalanche of work, so I haven't had the time to converse with you guys about my meanderings.
Anyway, all this stuff got me thinking about my own writing journey, which wasn't a very linear journey. I got my page proofs for Requiem for the Orchard today, and I've been thinking about how different my three collections are and my relationship with all of my books.
To be honest, as much as I love SIU Press and the work that I have done in the past, I'm sick of my first two books. (Allison and Jon, if you're reading this, don't worry-I still read from the books at readings and plan to do so far into the future). Can we say such things? And can I look back and say that any one of those books encapsulated a particular "voice" that I was striving for in my poetry?
Just looking at the first book, there's such a change, both tonally and stylistically--and the shift in tone and style was conscious and wholly intentional. I did not want to write a sequel of the first book, though initially many people suggested that I craft one. But why would I and how could I? I was a different writer when I wrote the first book, I was a different writer when I started the second book. How could I expect to duplicate both the style and the sincerity of the initial production.
So this retrospective while looking at the pages of this newer document, has been quite interesting. At this point, with three books in my catalog, can I say that I've found my voice? And what to tell those students who are looking for their voices? Generally, I tell 'em to read more. Sometimes they do. Often they blow me off. I'm okay with both. Their journeys are their journeys.
I too like pizza.
Other stuff--read last night to support the Western Washington University literary journal, Jeopardy. Quite a turn-out last night and it was good to see many of the students (so of whom were discussed above) at the reading. Good on you.
It's nearing the end of the decade and I've been listening to NPR's 50 most important recordings of the decade debate.
It's quite interesting and I don't agree with a lot of it, but that's why such lists are compelling. They're very careful to signify that they're talking about importance and not necessarily the best recordings.
Imagine me trying to do the same thing with poetry? Do we dare? A lot of things happened in this decade, y'know--9/11, the upsurge of the internet as a viable force, the pressures of new media on the publishing industry, the rise of POD publishing, e-books . . . And of course the poetry books that have arisen from all of the above and then some.
Whew. This might require another blog.
Chad Vangaalen. "City of Electric Light"==a fan video.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Secondly, we've had quite an eventful week at my wooded retreat. The first of two fall storms hit the area, downed trees, and naturally, downed power lines.
Our home had no power Monday evening to Tuesday afternoon, and I graded many of my papers by candlelight. It was oh so poetic.
I've got lots of letters of recommendation to craft. If you're a student and you're reading my blog, know that I won't even begin to start writing these letters until the Thanksgiving Break. Because of early registration, I'm backed up with a bunch of advising responsibilities, but if you asked for a letter of rec., and I agreed to write one for you, rest assured it will get written and sent out on time.
I need to get back to the writing desk. I'm feeling the urge, which is good, but the urge always comes when I have a finite amount of time.
For those of you who expressed an interest in the broadsides, I've got a number of copies of "If, Given."
It snowed last night in the foothills. It's L's second snow. He didn't know quite what to think.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Two broadsides have recently been made of my work.
The broadside for "If, Given," was made by my cousin, Jovencio de la Paz.
The broadside of "Fury" was made by Sara Wochna, a student at Pacific Lutheran University.
Windy day in Western Washington. A number of trees blew down on my neighbors' properties. One tree fell over the main driveway leading out to the highway, but the tree's not on our property, so I can't just hop over and cut it without asking permission. Anyway, I was able to drive into town.
I predict that when I head back home later this afternoon, I'll have some chainsawing to do. Today is a steel toe boots day.
The other stuff has to do with planning readings for the new book. I haven't been as aggressive with this as I should because I've been quite saturated by work and real life stuff. And the real life stuff is big stuff . . . stuff that takes precedent. Some of you know what I'm talking about. Anyway, it's stuff that affects schedules. I figure, though, I can start to book the local engagements, and then maybe plan for some Fall 2010 readings.
Wow. Fall 2010.
Current read: Nicholson Baker's The Anthologist. So far, spirited. The protagonist has all the distractions of most poets that I know, which I find to be funny, endearing, and aggravating. I'm only through to chapter 2, but it's a fast read and I shan't be long.
Taken by Trees. "To Lose Someone." The video is, from what I gather, a fan video.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Kundiman announces Poetry Prize
The Kundiman Poetry Prize for Asian American writers
Kundiman, Inc. is pleased to announce the inauguration of the Kundiman Poetry Prize in partnership with Alice James Books.
The prize is open to emerging and established Asian American poets. The award of $2,000, publication of the winning manuscript, and sponsorship of a reading make this a highly desirable prize.
Submissions are accepted from November 15, 2009 to January 15, 2010. Guidelines for submission are available: Guidelines
Alice James Books is a cooperative poetry press with a mission is to seek out and publish the best contemporary poetry by both established and beginning poets, with particular emphasis on involving poets in the publishing process. For more on Alice James Books, go to http://www.alicejamesbooks.org/.
Kundiman was founded in 2002 to provide opportunities for Asian American poets to perfect their skills through education and performance and to promote Asian American literature as a vital part of American letters. Its programs include a summer poetry retreat, held annually since 2004 and a reading series in New York City.
Kundiman's partnership with Alice James Books for The Kundiman Poetry Prize is made possible through the support of Fordham University. For more information on Kundiman, go to http://www.kundiman.org.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I was driving in what was clearly Washington's fifth congressional district--relatively flat, arid land with few markers to cue me in.
After about three hours of aimless driving, I realized that I was traveling in the wrong direction. Rather than head back in the correct direction, I instead looked for a roadside motel.
From the motel, I remember seeing dust clouds from a car on the road, and I remember calling my family telling them that I would be late.
Then I woke up.
Week 8 of the academic quarter. Rainy. People with colds. Children with colds. Me with a cold.
Poem? Boy, I've got ideas for poems . . . lots and lots of ideas.
For some reason, Lykki Li was in my brain this morning.
Saturday, November 07, 2009
I was standing in a very long line at Golden Apple Comics in Los Angeles, after having picked up The Watchmen, and a plastic ninja sword.
The line was not moving. Off to the side, a woman was operating a seismograph on a cart that is very similar to the carts at my university used to wheel around Audio/Video equipment. I thought about telling her how foolish it was to be operating a seismograph on something that had wheels.
And then I woke up.
Week 8 of the academic quarter out of a total of 11 weeks. It is at this point in the quarter that I actually start loving the quarter system.
Friday, November 06, 2009
I also want to thank the students for being awesome and for the beautiful broadsides. Pictures of the broadsides are forthcoming.
Dear God, I want to go to this: The Pixies!!!
The wee one has a cold. It's his first cold which means he's completely miserable, cranky, and not sleeping. Which means that we his parents are miserable, cranky, and not sleeping.
Still not writing, but that's okay. I had quite the summer. I don't foresee any bursts of creativity in the future. I'm just not moved to go to the writing desk these days because of all the stuff that's out in front of me.
The Duchess and the Duke.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Thank you for the kind notes of concern. The toddler is fine. It wasn't anything vigilance and a bunch of Benedryl couldn't solve. We now know baby is allergic to sesame oil and will be much more selective about what he eats.
Nothing much to say, other than I'm working my tail off . . .
Sunday, November 01, 2009
Horrible night this past Friday. I was cooking up some potstickers in a pan with about a tablespoon of sesame oil to give them some flavor. I served it to my son and about twenty minutes into the meal he started to grow irritable. Meredith noticed a raised spot on his eye and it looked like he had gotten a mosquito bite. Well, that raised bump moved over to the other side of the bridge of his nose. Then his eyelids and face started swelling. He was having an allergic reaction to something and we figured it had to have been the sesame oil, because we had served the potstickers to the boy before, but they had been steamed and not fried in oil on that previous occasion.
So this is the moment when living so far out in the country really sucks. I had to drive around looking for Benedryl. None of the local gas stops had any Benedryl for children, so I had to go nearly into town which is about twelve miles away but takes almost twenty minutes to reach.
When I got back to the house, the hives had radiated all throughout the boy's body. His face was plump and it looked like he was having trouble seeing out his eyes. All along his diaper line, he had beet-red rashes, and he seemed extremely uncomfortable. The poor kid.
We made the executive decision to go into town and stay with my parents. I just felt more comfortable spending the night in a pediatrician's (semi-retired) house.
L's okay. He never swallowed the potstickers. I think he had just gotten a bit of oil on his fingers, touched his eyes, and the rest is history.
The allergic reaction didn't deter him from dressing up for Halloween and visiting the local merchants. By the end of the day, he was a natural--grabbing single pieces of candy and thanking the merchants with a "quack." I dare say he was quite cute.
Changed all the calendars in the house and set the clocks back. I want to say that we'll be gaining an hour of sleep in the de la Paz household, but this I know to be a lie. The toddler is like the birds. He wakes up when he feels compelled to wake up. His usual time has been 6:45AM. I fear that he will now be waking at 5:45AM.
Choir of Young Believers.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
I woke up this morning at 1:40AM after having a very vivid, post-apocalyptic dream. I was carrying my son, piggyback, while a tremendous pair of tidal waves was about to engulf the entire continent, caused by, of all things, a nuclear warhead. Much of the dream was me running through a runway strip of land as the curl of some breakers was about to crash into that small dry spot.
After, I couldn't get back to sleep. I was jacked up on adrenaline. I swear, I am my mother's son. She is the same way. A light sleeper. And like her, once I wake up from sleep, I have a hard time getting back to sleep. I contemplated grading but instead I read the 2009 Best American Short Stories--a story about a boy who was half human and half horse, and his parents who had gotten into an argument about his "deformity." Not exactly a good thing to read after bad dreams about parenting (if it was in fact a dream about parenting).
And the truth is I worry about my future. For the longest time, I worried about my own writing and what will happen to my work. Not so much anymore. Most of my fears are financial and family-related. I suppose it's a sign that I'm growing up, yeah?
Speaking of growing, my little guy, whom I dream about at night, is now saying "no" to things as he shakes his head. This is a development. At first, it was an event. It was something that was "cute." Sometimes it still is cute, but more and more he's asserting his displeasure. A myriad of things seem to displease him.
One thing that displeases me greatly is this accursed 8AM teaching schedule. Thankfully it's a two-day-a-week schedule, but the commute is what kills. I have to be up by 5:45AM if I want to shower, eat, and prepare for my day. I've been counting the number of days left in the quarter. Thankfully that number is getting smaller and smaller: 6.
Today, not so in love with the prose poem. Especially since I have to provide annotations for 20ish pieces.
Keren Ann. For Joseph.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Anyway, we cut down a lot of trees. We had a lot of tree stumps. We hired an excavator to dig up the stumps. Our property looks completely different. I'll give you folks the before and after pictures later, but the excavator has been working on the land for the past few days and it looks like a completely different house. We actually get sunlight shining down on us. That means we can build our vegetable garden and we're quite excited about that, given the price of produce these days.
Now, don't worry . . . we intend to replant over 100 trees (we get them at a cheap rate--a dollar per sapling) in places where we want to build a screen.
Other things--I'm in a teaching groove now. It's week 6 of the quarter which means we're past the halfway mark, and I've got my lesson plans as well as my teaching schedule well in hand. I still hate the 8AM schedule, but I've adjusted.
The prose poem class that I teach as my multigenre class is quite interesting. I've got a number of students who are particularly resistant to assignments which drives me crazy. For the longest time I couldn't figure out why it drove me crazy, but recently, I think I managed to articulate my displeasure with such resistance during class time. I basically said that they as artists should never be afraid to try things even though they may not get the best writing.
There are always students who are resistant to being taught. That's just a given. And I suppose I should endeavor to take such things less personally.
I haven't written a damn thing for quite some time. That's okay. I've been busy with this killer schedule and a little boy who likes to say "Clock" and play with large Legos. A little boy who's also learning to say "no." Ruh roh.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Things I did manage to do--I did manage to drive down to my favorite lunch-time hang-out from my undergrad days: the unfortunately named Soupplantation. Yes, I realize this is an ugly corporate franchise, but I missed having a salad buffet around. ALL YOU CAN EAT ROUGHAGE!
The other wonderful thing was that I knew my way back quickly to the hotel.
So, what changed? Well, my alma mater was almost unrecognizable. Where once there was a single entrance and a single strip of buildings, now the place was a megaplex full of adobe, steel, and glass. It was quite strange to walk down the pathways of what was once a small 5000 student university to what was now double, perhaps triple the student population.
I also realize that I can't stand the heat as much as I did in my undergrad and grad days. 81 degrees killed me. I was so uncomfortable.
As for the reading, there were 9 readers and I was near the end. The reading itself was lovely and each of the readers stuck to their allotted time, including myself (which is always something to be grateful for). My mentors Gail Wronsky and Chuck Rosenthal presided over the affair and beamed like proud parents. I wound up selling very few books but trading many, which I do like to do. And after, many of the alumni readers stayed a bit chatting, gossiping, drinking wine. Alas, I really do wish that I had had more time, or at least that my family had come with me so we could've stayed a bit longer, but the responsibilities of work and of parenting always bring me back.
Oh, and I also listened to a lot of good radio:
White Denim. Heard this on KXLU 88.9, the indie/college radio station of LMU.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
This is going to be weird . . . I haven't been back to LA since 1995. The place has changed. My school has changed. I know there's a whole new section of campus that wasn't there when I attended in the early 90's.
What's more, for most of my time at LMU, I was a Biology major and many of my old biology professors have retired.
Still, I suppose this trip back down to Los Angeles will be like a social anthropology experiment.
I decided to rent a car because I have pretty much the whole day to myself on Thursday. I think I'll go revisit my old haunts . . . maybe take a drive down to Santa Monica. Who knows. Maybe I'll write a new poem.
I'm having lunch here on Thursday: Aunt Kizzy's.
Other things that I may do--there's an old record store along Sepulveda that I used to frequent. I want to see if it's still there. I also want to get some KXLU swag.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
I'm in the midst of finding art for my new book and its proven to be very difficult for this particular book.
Part of the problem with finding cover art for it is the book is pretty "literal." And what I mean by that is it's heavily steeped in long narrative poems. I could very well put up pictures of orchards and apples, but I don't want the cover to be as literal as the poems in the book. We'll see.
But I also don't want to have a cover like Mr. Shames's classic, Virgin Heat.
Oh dear lord.
Yes,I've posted this image before. It's too good to be forgotten. And let it be a lesson to all of you. . .
Sorry I've been adrift. Trying to catch up with paperwork, a sprinting 1 1/2 year-old, and lots of departmental responsibility.
I'm glad I sent out my poems in September because I don't know how I could possibly do it in the middle of this very busy quarter.
Additionally, I'm not liking teaching at 8AM. Oh, it's brutal. Especially commuting with the whole family. We've been leaving our house at 6:40AM. Not fun.
Ugly weather today. Really ugly. No walks in the park today, for sure.
My dog is so old. He's not long for the world, I think. Currently he's lying on the carpet in my parents' house snoring. What this has to do with anything is beyond me. Really, I'm procrastinating before I get my @$$ to they gym.
C'mon, Jake old buddy. Get up and nudge me towards the door.
Got the new Flaming Lips album. Definitely darker than their previous two or three albums. Hard to believe this band has been around for 20 years.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Really, to be honest, I get bored. I get bored of a particular style. I get bored of "doing what I'm doing." So I wind up doing something differently from project to project.
My students are so concerned about sounding like themselves. And that's okay. I was concerned about sounding like myself for such a long time. And then I changed. My interests changed. Stuff happened.
I like to think that the assignments and exercises that I give the students who take my workshop allow them to find their own "voices" on their own terms. Sometimes, though, there's just no telling. I get e-mails from concerned students who ask whether they're "doing the assignment right." This weird desire to "get it right" so often occludes the real progress that should be occurring in a workshop--experimentation, risk, discomfort . . . So often my students look for immediate praise. And sometimes I do praise them. And sometimes I tease them. Sometimes I shrug. Sometimes I scold. Mind you, I'm never mean and I don't intend any meanness. I just believe in being direct, but doing so in a tone that's effective for an individual. I think I'm pretty good at perceiving who can handle what type of response.
You know, if you include when I was an organic chemistry TA during my undergraduate days, I've been teaching at the college level for 16 years. Wow.
My Brightest Diamond. A song for my Sunday chill-out.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
I always find it difficult to run workshops in a prosody course because the students are so intimidated by forms that they wind up spending so much time on the forms themselves during discussions, and so little time on the content. SO this quarter, I'm working to break that pattern by actually spending less time on critiquing the form missteps and focusing more on whether the poem is effective in the form. They're still quiet. It might just be that I've got a quiet batch.
This coming week the prosody students will be workshopping their literary ballads. I'm having them write six quatrains in iambic quatrameter/trimeter. We'll see how it goes.
The prose poem group . . . they're the talkative ones. Again, I think it's subject-related. They're not as intimidated by the prose poem as a form. The last piece they wrote was an imitation of excerpts from Stein's "Lifting Belly." I was really quite impressed by some of the pieces I've read. What I'm hoping is that the syntactical twists and turns in that particular assignment translate into some of their later prose pieces. I find in the prose poem class that often, students get lazy with their sentences. Also, there's a lot of over-narration. So, I'm working to confound them a little. Maybe I should have them write in anapests.
Recently released Nirvana concert footage.
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
I'll be teaching for Raven Chronicles & Jackstraw this Saturday. Details are here: http://www.jackstraw.org/.
Currently catching up on my backlog of DVR recordings. Wow. So many shows.
Since the start of the quarter, my relationship with my own writing has been put on hold. It happens every year and I'm okay with it. I always justify such occurrences with the acknowledgment that I write so much in the summer. But still . . . I left a few projects at stages that I feel are uncomfortably incomplete. I may revisit a thing or two in the coming months, but for now as I mentioned earlier in this post, I'm just getting accustomed to my schedule now. I haven't been blogging as much as I usually do. Oh well.
Sunday, October 04, 2009
We are seeking poems that work within the literary tradition of persona poetry: poems written as dramatic monologues, whose speakers employ masks, or whose character and voice are different from the poet's own.
Please submit up to 5 unpublished poems. We will also consider poems whose rights have reverted back to the author.
All submissions will be accepted electronically. Please send an email to the editors at firstname.lastname@example.org with the poet's name and "Submission for Persona Anthology" as the subject line, with the poems as an attachment.
Submissions will be accepted October 1, 2009 through January 1, 2010.
Saturday, October 03, 2009
Some of the newer work that I had been wrestling with this past August.
It's 11PM and I'm tired and hungry. I spent the better part of two hours catching up on paperwork. I think I'm caught up with most of the non-teaching stuff. The teaching stuff will have to wait till tomorrow and Sunday.
I pretty much spent the whole day taking care of a teething child who wanted to run outside in the rain. Not fun, but I can't blame him. There ain't a whole lot to do over here.
Heard from our lumberjack. Was that last sentence startling for you? Yes, we have a lumberjack we've hired to do some cutting around our property. He's pretty much clear-cut the trees from the front of our house, the sides of our house, and the back of our house. Well, clear-cut is a bit extreme. He's selectively cut the trees that were a danger to our well-being. It's amazing how fast they grow here in the NW. When we first moved into our house three years ago, there was a fir that was about waist high. Now it's three feet taller than me. Stuff that's too close to the house has to go, what with the crazy winds that we get between Fall and Winter.
Anyway, the lumberjack . . . he called. Seems he tore his MCL and will be out for two months. Meanwhile, the clean-up job in his aftermath is quite daunting. We'll definitely have to hire an excavator.
All this boring rural talk amounts to something--I'm clearing land for a vegetable garden and a poetry shed/office. I've had dreams of a little poetry shed, complete with a window or two, electricity, and big enough for an overstuffed easy chair, a few bookshelves, and a desk. The vegetable garden would be neat, too.
The Postmarks. Saccharine is good in small doses.
Friday, October 02, 2009
L. is now 18 months, though he seems like he's going through the terrible two's. He's curious, ambitious, brave, and definitely headstrong. He's also extremely outgoing and he's definitely an animal lover. Because he's super ambulatory now, climbing, running, pulling, pushing, opening, and closing, Meredith, myself, and my parents have had to keep constant vigilance. So there are some things in my life that I've had to let go.
The yard looks like crap.
I'm in the process of filling out my questionnaire and part of the questionnaire includes spots for people to tap for blurbs. I always feel awkward about this part of the process. I know the Mr. Espada has already provided a blurb, but I've got five people I need to contact. I've already gotten a thumb's up from one. And I sent a note to one other, but I'm looking for three more. Any ideas? *sigh*
I haven't written a poem since August. :D
Dead Man's Bones. Ryan Gosling's music project (Yes, the actor). Should be a fun album to own for Halloween.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Part of it might be because the commute with the baby is really tough. Especially dropping him off before work when he's much more aware and feels the separation more vividly than he had in the past when our neighbor babysat for us.
Today he cried a ton when we handed him over to my parents. Ugh. Not fun. Still, I think the rhythms will become seamless soon. I just need to get over this damn cold.
I'm meeting with Cara Jaye Thursday, to pick her brain about possible covers. She mentioned she may be interested in producing one specific to Requiem for the Orchard which would be really cool.
Taken by Trees.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Other things--just got back from Snohomish, WA, where the Artist Trust was having their 1st quarter board meeting. I read a couple of poems and talked about how the GAP grant benefited my career. I was happy to make the trip.
One thing the board members seemed to wonder was how to reach more artists. There are a ton of artists in Washington state, and it seemed like they felt they weren't reaching enough artists.
My deal is I'm pretty independent about researching these sorts of things. I know where to find stuff, and the web's pretty good about helping me find stuff. One thing they wondered was why artists weren't members. My thinking--well, there's a membership fee and so many of the events are in Seattle, not everyone will actually benefit from a membership.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
I had to wake up bloody early this morning. 6AM. It turns out I was right about my travel estimates--it takes me approximately 45 minutes to get from my doorstep to my parents' doorstep in Bellingham (they're babysitting L.). From there, it takes approx. 15 minutes to get to my office. And then my classes are all on the fourth floor across the quad, so by the time I've hit all the crucial points I need to hit prior to my teaching times, class begins.
Yes, minutiae, but I hate being late for things.
My first class was my prose poem/short-short class. I spent the morning confusing students about genre . . . confusing myself, even.
My next class was my prosody/forms of verse class. The two courses couldn't be more different.
I'm doing a big happy publication dance today.
Ra Ra Riot. Love the skateboarding. Makes me feel nostalgic.
I have never skateboarded in my life, but the very act makes me nostalgic for a past I've never had. What does that say about me?
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
First, there's this picture taken of a can of lard in my sister-in-law's house in SF.
Sorry I've been away. Very busy these days, what with the new quarter upon me and my tenure and promotion stuff coming due.
I managed to fill two three-ring-binders full of evaluations and other goodies. And my chair stressed that I "streamline" the file, so it only represents the five years I've been at WWU and not the four years I had been at Utica College. Hell, if I included that stuff, the file would be five binders thick. I remember how evaluation-happy that place was.
I had two teaching evaluations every semester on top of my 4/4 teaching load at Utica College. Yeah . . . five binders would be about right.
I'm back from San Francisco. It was a lovely visit. I got in touch with many fabulous Kundiman poets as well as Barbara Jane, Oscar, Craig, and Javier. And it was also good to see D.A. Powell at the PAWA reading.
Two classes this Fall: ENG 453 (which I teach as a poetic forms course) and ENG 460 (which I'm teaching as a prose poetry course).
I just finished up and printed the syllabi. Wish me luck.
Yo La Tengo.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Come & hear beautiful poetry, libate, and mingle with an all-star line up with Kundiman poets, the first time together on the West Coast! This special collaboration with Achiote Press and Kundiman is a special opportunity to fundraise for Kundiman, a dynamic arts organization dedicated to fostering Asian American poetry. As part of their mission, Kundiman provides a retreat for emerging Asian American poets at the University of Virginia every summer. This reading celebrates the publication of “Here is a Pen:” An Anthology of West Coast Kundiman Poets, a chapbook anthology published by Achiote Press, edited by Ching-In Chen, Margaret Rhee, and Debbie Yee. Chapbooks will be available for purchase. All proceeds go to Kundiman.
We look forward to seeing you!
Where: UC Berkeley at the Barbara T. Christian Room, 554 Barrows Hall
When: Thursday, Sept 17th
Time: 11:30: Chapbook & Book Sale and Light Reception
12 – 2: Reading
Joseph O. Legaspi is the author of Imago (CavanKerry Press), winner of a 2008 Global Filipino Literary Award. Born in the Philippines, he currently resides in Manhattan and works at Columbia University. A graduate of New York University’s Creative Writing Program, recent works appeared in Callaloo, North American Review, Poets & Writers, New York Theater Review, Crab Orchard Review, Gay & Lesbian Review and the anthology Language for a New Century (W.W. Norton). A recipient of a poetry fellowship from the
New York Foundation for the Arts and an Urban Artists grant, he co-founded Kundiman (www.kundiman.org), a non-profit organization serving Asian American poets. Visit him at www.josepholegaspi.com.
Oliver de la Paz is the author of three books of poetry, NAMES ABOVE HOUSES, FURIOUS LULLABY (Southern Illinois University Press), and the forthcoming book REQUIEM FOR THE ORCHARD which was selected by Martin Espada as the winner of the 2009 University of Akron Poetry Prize and will be available in the Spring of 2010. He is a recipient of grants from the Artist Trust of Washington and from the New York Foundation for the Arts. He teaches creative writing at Western Washington University and is the co-chair of the Advisory Board for Kundiman.
Debbie Yee is a trusts and estates attorney, Kundiman fellow, arts enthusiast and crafts explorer. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in 32 Poems, OCHO, Fence and The Best American Poetry 2009. She received her undergraduate and law degrees from UC Berkeley. Debbie blogs irregularly at www.debbieyee.com.
Neil Aitken is the founding editor of Boxcar Poetry Review and the author of The Lost Country of Sight, winner of the 2007 Philip Levine Prize. His poetry has appeared in Crab Orchard Review, The Drunken Boat, Ninth Letter, Sou'wester and many other literary journals. He lives in Los Angeles where he is currently pursuing a PhD in literature and creative writing at the University of Southern California.
Ching-In Chen is the author of The Heart's Traffic and a multi-genre, border-crossing writer. The daughter of Chinese immigrants, she is a Kundiman, Macondo and Lambda Fellow. A community organizer, she has worked in the Asian American communities of San Francisco, Oakland, and Boston. Her work has been recently published in journals such as BorderSenses, Rio Grande Review, Fifth Wednesday Journal, OCHO, Iron Horse Literary Review, Water~Stone Review, Boxcar Poetry Review, Verdad and the anthology Yellow as Turmeric, Fragrant as Cloves. A co-editor of The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Partner Abuse in Activist Communities, forthcoming from South End Press, Ching-In is currently in the process of editing an anthology on gender, militarism and war from the perspective of women and non-gender-conforming people of color. In Riverside, California, Ching-In is a member of the Save Our Chinatown Committee, a grassroots organization focused on the preserving the archaelogical heritage of Riverside Chinatown.
Generous Support from:
UC Berkeley, Asian American Studies Program
UC Berkeley, Asian Pacific Islander Working Group
Donations for Kundiman gratefully accepted.
For more information, please visit:
Achiote Press: www.achiotepress.com.
Questions? Please email: email@example.com
* * *
Please join us for the next reading in the PAWA Arkipelago Reading Series
Where: The Bayanihan Center 1010 Mission Street @ 6th Street, San Francisco
When: Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 2:00 pm
Who: Oliver de la Paz, Joseph O. Legaspi, Mari L'Esperance, and Theresa Calpotura (guitar).
* Both readings are free and open to the public.
* Special book raffle drawing opportunity for those who go to both UC Berkeley and PAWA readings!
* * *
Last minute things before I leave for San Francisco. My tenure review file is due on Wednesday and I fly out on Wednesday, so pretty much everything is due between today and tomorrow for me.
I've somehow managed to compile four and a half years of an academic career at WWU into two very large binders.
If I were to combine all the stuff from my other teaching gigs, I would have easily exceeded four large binders. Especially since I taught a 4/4 teaching load at my previous employer for a total of four years.
I somehow feel that I've left something out. . .
* * *
Headless Heroes. "Just Like Honey" (Jesus & Mary Chain Cover)
Saturday, September 12, 2009
I'm in the denial phase of my soon-ending summer vacation. I'm realizing how much I actually have left to do, both academically and professionally.
You see, it's the year that I go up for tenure and promotion and I need to turn in my binders very soon.
I've been very diligent about making sure my I've crossed my "T's" and dotted my "I's."
Still, there's a lot of work to be done. Curriculum vitae to update. Holes to be punched.
Otherwise not a whole lot going on. I'm getting ready to head to San Francisco for two readings: the Kundiman/Achiote Press reading on Sept. 17th and one for the PAWA Arkipelago Reading Series on Sept. 19th.
Meredith and L. are coming, so I may be a bit frazzled. I'll try to put on my game face. :-|
Taken By Trees. "Lost and Found." If you recognize her voice, she's the female vocals in the very famous Peter Bjorn & John hit, "Young Folks." This is from her first solo album. Her new album . .. glorious. Just can't find any tracks to play for you.
Monday, September 07, 2009
Uh . . . little baby twitch. I'll type slower.
In case you missed it, Joe and Chenelle Milford have archived yesterday's interview here. In that interview, we talk about hacking up ant hills in cubist paintings.
I'm feeling oh-so non-literary these days. I want to watch a lot of sports on cable, work out at the gym, and soak in these last days before school starts up again, but I realize I need to work on my syllabi for the upcoming academic quarter, so naturally my head will be thrust back into thinking about literary works that could provide good models for would-be writers.
Again I'm teaching my ENG 453 course, which is the advanced poetry course and which I always teach as a forms class. I'm also teaching ENG 460 again, which I'm teaching as a prose poem class--our ENG 460 is labeled as a multigenre course and I find teaching prose poems as a blurring between fiction, non-fiction, and poetry is a useful approach.
See . . . all of a sudden I'm thrust back into the literary.
Here's a non-literary moment for you--my current spin:
Coconut Records. Yes, that's Jason Schwartzman.
Sunday, September 06, 2009
Saturday, September 05, 2009
I'm not ashamed to admit that I totally want The Beatles Rock Band game.
I'll be on the air tomorrow at 6:55 PM EST: Joe Milford Poetry Show.
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy.
Friday, September 04, 2009
Currently in the throes of putting together small manuscript packets to send out to journals. What I'm finding is I'm running out of stuff that holds my confidence. I suppose this is natural--a lot of the stuff that has my confidence is either picked up, out, or in limbo somewhere.
So here I am, sitting with a whole lot of work that I feel needs work, or work that feels reliant on other pieces. I'll still send them out, but I need to be careful about how they go out to face the world.
Suffice it to say, I'm less confident about sending out work that isn't already in a pre-conceptualized manuscript form. It's just easier for me to construct packets of poems when I already know the relationship that occurs between poems. These newer pieces are new new. I barely know who they are.
My oddness, when it comes to submissions, also stems from my concept of a poetry book. I read poetry books cover to cover. I'm not a page flipper. I don't go after single poems, I read the whole collection. So I'd like my submissions to also provide some kind of cohesion in terms of concept. When an editor gets my stuff, I want them to think, "Ah, now here's an obsession. Here's an idea." I also compose in this way. I write strings of poems as opposed to single poems.
So here I am with a new season of submissions, and I know I've got lots of poems as individual entities, but they seem strange things to me, in light of the work that I've been doing over the past two years. Here's hoping I get to know them better.
J. Tillman. The drummer of the Fleet Foxes who has a forthcoming album.
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
I don't think I broke any major ground on a project I felt compelled to pursue, though I did feel I continued some projects that I had already started.
Thanks to all of you who sent me little notes via e-mail, the blog, or Facebook. It really does mean a lot and I'm quite excited about this book prize.
It was an unusual occurrence, given this was actually the first time I had actually sent the manuscript out. I can't tell you how many times FURIOUS LULLABY got submitted, considered, and ultimately rejected. I was fully prepared to send the manuscript out for consideration like I did for my previous publications.
Anyway, I feel lucky. Blessed. All of the above. I'll say no more about this except thank you, once again.
I'm getting ready to make another paella--not the spinach one, a four pepper vegetarian paella. Perhaps I'll take more photos.
Mark Kozelek. "If You Want Blood, You Got It." Heh, The Red House Painters do AC/DC. ;-)
Monday, August 31, 2009
Here's the link: Akron Poetry Prize
Thanks to all of you for putting up with my poem-a-day marathons in August. 3/4ths of the poems in the manuscript have arisen from this exercise.
Thank you and goodnight!
All told, I cheated once. By cheating I mean I posted a revision instead of a new product on one day. Otherwise, all the work I posted was written that same day.
I think I got some good parts of a manuscript or two in there. Nothing new, conceptually for me, just pieces that could work as transitions for manuscript projects I have here and there.
Part way through, it got a little hard to keep writing because of THE BIG NEWS that I was doing a poor job of keeping to myself.
Okay, so that's it for this round of poem-a-days. Thanks all for reading.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
We hope to continue this cooperative venture for some time. If you know any Asian American poets, please encourage them to submit their manuscripts.
Mega Millions lottery jackpot=$333 million dollars.
What would YOU do with $333 million dollars? Me . . . I'd set up an endowment for a few literary journals and presses. I'd definitely assist in the endowment of Kundiman.
Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band.
Watched Inglourious Basterds today with my dad. I'm glad Meredith didn't go because I don't think she'd be into the revenge fantasy part of it, or the heavy violence. As ever, this Tarantino film is about film much more than it is about killing Nazis--though this happens and with great frequency. Mind you, I enjoyed myself immensely because I knew it was going to be a "cartoon," but it's not for everyone.
I'm going to try to watch District 9 sometime. Dunno when. Don't tell me anything.
You know how I said there was going to be a big announcement here on Friday? I lied. It'll be on Monday.
Camera Obscura. I can't believe I heard this in an IGA Grocery Store.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Last day at the Camano Island Residency for this week. I'll be back one more time. I'm finding that I can only really sustain short spurts without absolutely going loopy and wanting to scrub floors or something (I am, in fact, currently doing laundry). I'm wired like my mother. I have to be constantly moving--constantly busy. Even when I'm writing poems, as I've said previously, I need to be doing something else while writing poems. That's why I listen to music when I write.
Can you imagine me at a meditative retreat? I'd drive everyone mad.
I'll be looking at a friend's manuscript today as my "book." I've read two books so far. Vijay Sesshadri's THE LONG MEADOW and Sean Singer's DISCOGRAPHY. I'll be reading V. Penelope Pelizzon's NOSTOS before I leave here and then my friend's "book". I've read individual poems from each collection before, but this really was the first time I've sat down and actually read their books from cover to cover. It's interesting to see how each of them have shaped their manuscripts. Vijay has a very long memoir in the middle of THE LONG MEADOW which is interesting, but for me sort of cut the momentum of the book. I loved the poems in the first half of the book, but after the memoir my attention sort of waned. It may be because I picked it up late in the afternoon. I was also surprised by how formal the book was. Lots of perfect rhyming couplets and staggered rhymes throughout the book.
Where Vijay's book was very formal, Sean's book was improvisational. Throughout he's got these wonderful dramatic monologues which remind me of my former teacher Norman Dubie. Lyrically, though, Sean's range seems much more jazzy. Don't get me wrong, Norman's musical, but it's a different kind of music--bluegrass vs. jazz. You know there's a tonal difference just by the simple presence of a banjo. Anyway, Sean has these "Singer" poems scattered here and there throughout the book which serve as an anchor for the structure of the book. I think they're necessary because the disparate monologue voices he has throughout the book could overwhelm a structure, I think.
I don't know much about V. Penelope Pelizzon apart from hearing her read (VERY well) on The Fishouse. And I'm not sure she reads much from NOSTOS on that site. What I do know is that I've had the book on my shelf for some time and had been meaning to get to it but parenting happened.
Papatya sent me a handful of short stories to read and I'm afraid I've only read one, but what a one it was! I thoroughly enjoyed Anthony Doerr's story "The Shell Collector". And I'm talking about the individual story, not the book. Now I'm going to have to track down that book. He's very list-y, which is right up my alley.
Okay, I'm through with being literary--time to goof around a bit. I posted this video on FB because I like it so much, so I'll post it for you here. Current spin:
Donora. "I Think I Like You." The hula-hoopster is Lauren. She's not part of the band.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Dear Empire [these are your beasts].doc
Dear Empire [these are your canyons].doc
Dear Empire [these are your dead].doc
Dear Empire [these are your evenings].doc
Dear Empire [these are your followers].doc
Dear Empire [these are your goods].doc
Dear Empire [these are your holy places].doc
Dear Empire [these are your meadows].doc
Dear Empire [these are your monuments].doc
Dear Empire [these are your nights].doc
Dear Empire [these are your orders].doc
Dear Empire [these are your pastures].doc
Dear Empire [these are your plains].doc
Dear Empire [these are your processions].doc
Dear Empire [these are your questions].doc
Dear Empire [these are your ramparts].doc
Dear Empire [these are your skies].doc
Dear Empire [these are your structures].doc
Dear Empire [these are your subjects].doc
Dear Empire [these are your volcanoes].doc
Dear Empire [these are your winters].doc
Dear Empire [this is your aftermath].doc
Dear Empire [this is your art].doc
Dear Empire [this is your breeze].doc
Dear Empire [this is your city].doc
Dear Empire [this is your contrition].doc
Dear Empire [this is your photo in the absence of flowers].doc
Dear Empire [this is your product].doc
Dear Empire [this is your purview].doc
Dear Empire [this is your rival].doc
Dear Empire [this is your subject].doc
Dear Empire [this is your tremor].doc
Dear Empire [this is your window].doc
Dear Empire [these are your phantoms].doc
Dear Empire [this is your tomb].doc
Dear Empire [this is your photo].doc
I've been organizing a computer file-folder filled with these epistolary poems, plus a few newer things that I've been writing. The number of poems in the folder is 44. Each poem is one page, so that's 44 pages of poems. Too short, I know, but it's a draft of something. I also have in mind distributing the "Nocturne" poems I've been writing throughout this draft collection to see what they look like.
And those poems are here:
Nocturne on Good Friday.doc
Nocturne in Red and Blue.doc
Nocturne with a General at His Study.doc
Nocturne with a Glass of Water.doc
Nocturne with an Errant Horse.doc
Nocturne with a Dictator.doc
The "Camera" poems will more than likely be scattered throughout, and will not remain at the front of the manuscript.
Anyway, that's what I've been doing all morning.