Thursday, April 30, 2009

The End of April

First, there's this:

Then there's this:

NPR Aires the Craig Arnold Search.


April came and went so fast. I told my students that this is the end of week 5 of the quarter and they look absolutely beat.

I then preceded to teach them scansion, which only furthered their weariness.


Scan this:

1) Soft and easy is the cradle

2) For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams

3) Double double toil and trouble

4) Higgledy Piggledy


I'm so glad NaPoWriMo is over. I'm gassed, even though much of the stuff was just revisions of things--I did, however, generate a few new solid drafts of things. I'm going to "POOF" the poems as soon as I can get them copied and saved.


Current Spin:

Son Lux. "Stay"

Craig Arnold Missing

(He was just here in Bellingham, visiting us, too!)

This is from an e-mail I recently received:

"I'm writing because a dear friend of mine and an exceptionally talented poet, Craig Arnold, whom some of you know, has gone missing on a small volcanic island in Japan while on a creative exchange fellowship. Craig, an experienced explorer of volcanoes, never returned to his inn after leaving alone to research the island's active volcano for the afternoon. The authorities are on the third day of searching for Craig, and are scouring the small island (of only 160 inhabitants) with dogs and helicopters. If he is not found by the end of the day, the authorities will call off the search.

We need your help to insure that the search will continue. The island and areas surrounding the volcano are small enough that an extended search will surely lead to Craig's discovery.WE NEED PEOPLE TO CONTACT THEIR LOCAL CONGRESSPEOPLE AND SENATORS TO PRESSURE THE JAPANESE STATE DEPARTMENT TO CONTINUE THE SEARCH. WE ALSO NEED HELP SPARKING MEDIA ATTENTION FOR THIS STORY, WHICH WE ALSO HOPE MIGHT INCREASE PRESSURE ON JAPANESE AUTHORITIES TO FIND CRAIG. I have attached a document with background information about Craig, as well as information about the details leading up to his disappearance as well as about the island itself. Please feel free to use this as reference material.

If any of you have ideas or know people who might be able to help, we'd appreciate hearing from you. You can contact Rebecca Lindenberg, Craig's girlfriend, at Please, though, take a minute to contact your senator and congressperson via telephone or even email to explain this problem and insist on their help.

We are so hoping to find Craig today, God-willing not seriously injured. If so, this will not be an issue, but we must ensure that if this isn't resolved today, Craig doesn't end up an unsolved mystery. He is too important to too many people, not to mention to arts and letter generally, for this to happen.

We appreciate your help, good wishes and prayers."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"Discovery" Winners Announced

And they are . . . here: Clicky!

Forgot to mention

. . . this was from yesterday: HFR Blog Post.


Worried today. The Washington State budget was passed and WWU is going to have to make some drastic cuts, many of which will effect the way we teach.

Additionally, since Meredith's not tenure-track, she may lose course lines.


Current Spin:

Ryan Adams. "Sylvia Plath."

Up and At 'Em!

I've got a poem up for the week on


Woke up at 5AM this morning with the "A" refrains for a villanelle in my head. Are they good refrain lines? I don't know, but I had to find out. It may or may not be today's NaPoWriMo piece. Haven't decided.


I got caught up with all my school and office work, thankfully. Of course, since it's the start of the work week for me, I expect more stuff to pile onto my plate.


Lots of long poems in this month's issue of Poetry Magazine. I think I'll bring it in to my class. Ilya Kaminsky has a REALLY long poem in there.


Current Spin:

Martha Wainright.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Lousy Day Yesterday

Sunday started with my mother deciding to drive herself to church. My dad had earlier, gone back to Ontario, OR, to finish up some paperwork, so it was my family staying over with my mother to keep her company over the weekend. Anyway, my mother had been to the church a couple of times and knew, roughly, how to get there.

Here's the thing, though--she's a lousy driver and has lived in a small dinky town where all the roads are straight and it takes only a few minutes to get from point A to point Z.

Anyway, while I was taking care of Lucas, I got a call from my mother. "I got in an accident, big time" is what she said, verbatim. Her voice was low and steady, so I wasn't sure how she was doing. I asked her if she needed me to come down and she did, so I drove down to help her out. Needless to say, when I got there, there were two patrol cars and my mother sort of standing there, a little helpless-looking.

My mother isn't as independent as one would hope. My dad controls the finances, a lot of the paperwork, etc., so my mom doesn't know how to navigate through such things when he's not around. Likewise, my dad can't cook and doesn't necessarily take the best care of himself if my mother weren't around. So there's a couple dynamic at play here. Meredith and I, in contrast, are quite independent.

So, finally, after the citations were issued and the tow-truck hauled the wreckage away, I dealt with all the authorities on behalf of my mother--insurance, auto body, authorities. . . All told, a lousy day. Having your folks move to your town is a blessing and a curse.


Today, though, is shaping up to be a better day. The folks at the auto body shop did a lot to boost my mother's confidence. All in all, my mother was pretty ashamed about the whole accident.


Lots to do today. Grading, prepping, gym. I'm ready for the summer.


Current Spin:

St. Vincent. "Paris is Burning."

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The big push to Summer

Half way through the final academic quarter of the school year. It's been an interesting one, thus far, though I feel like it just started.

I've been quite busy these days. I finished up a grant application for Artist Trust. I've never been great at applying for these kinds of things. We'll see. Plus, I'm a little unsure of my work sample and how I submitted the thing. They wanted fifteen pages of work, but my poems lately have been long, so I formatted the sample so that the poems are all together instead of a poem per page. Hard to explain right now, since I'm multi-tasking. Let's just say I'm not so confident in the package that I put together.

I also have been scrambling to put together an AWP panel for Kundiman. I've got all the preliminary stuff done, now it's just fixing up the language of the proposal.

Finally, I'm judging a local poetry contest, so I've got to read several manuscripts. Whew!

Anyway, I'm trying to keep afloat. My office and particularly my desk are a mess.


Got my contributor's copy of From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great, edited by Camille Dungy, Matt O'Donnell, and Jeffery Thomson. It's a hell of a thing, and it's bundled with a CD. Very cool and supporting readings are coming to a bookstore near you.


Current Spin:

A.C. Newman. "The Palace at 4am"

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Post Concert

IMG00051-20090422-2324, originally uploaded by odelapaz.

It was the first time I had ever been to a concert by myself, and I definitely do prefer going with someone else.

Alas, I could never get that second ticket. Mt. Baker Theater had sold out many weeks ago and the scalpers on Craig's List were selling them for way too much. There was no way that I would shell out extra coin for them.

Outside of that, I thought it was a solid concert. Ra Ra Riot came on to the stage as the opener and they were plagued by a few sound problems. The cellist's microphone wasn't working, but her cello and the violinist's sound was definitely working--in fact, their sound was drowning out the vocalist. All technical problems aside, they were an interesting and entertaining band, playing many of their hits from The Rhumb Line. (The cellist, had a CRAZY electric cello).

As for Death Cab for Cutie,, it's clear they've geared up for their summer tour with some real raucous numbers. Much of the pacing of the concert was fast, with many songs bleeding into other songs. I thought that there would've been a bit more interaction/interplay between the audience and the band, given Bellingham's their hometown, but it seems the pace of the playlist eliminated many of the possibilities for banter.

Really, there seemed to be only one slow number--"I Will Follow You Into the Dark," with Gibbard, solo, playing an acoustic guitar. Otherwise the concert was loud, danceable, and spirited with the echo of the crowd singing along.

What I was disappointed in, as I had mentioned earlier, was that there were relatively few deviations from the set at hand. It seemed that, "by god" they were going to play all these songs. I did miss the banter. The music, though, was tight.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

On This Thing I've Been Writing

So it's been 22 days for this NaPoWriMo project. Like I said in my first post, this was a project I had been thinking about--some of the poems had already been written, but all the poems posted on the blog are new versions. Most are quite different from their previous incarnations.

I did have one hiccup on Day 19, I believe. I got tired of the epistolary pieces, so I did something else, revisiting another sequence/series by constructing a new "Self Portrait" poem.

Anyway, regarding the epistolary project, a few things I've discovered:

1) The setting is, in my mind, a different reality or locale. I don't think it will work as a real place or a real time.

2) It's an allegory. See #1. I can be as broad as I want with poem and still have it adhere to the general tone and movement of a singular work.

3) There's a character that's central to the narrative--The Artist. But the artist is not the speaker. The artist is the subject, in a way, though he/she is not always in the epistolary pieces. I'm still discovering this character and his/her relation to the speaker.

4) The "Redaction" sections are newish--I saw the idea of pentimento in painting as applying to these sections, where there are smallish, minute "edits" to the previous narrative. I haven't figured out how or why these occur in the pieces, or if there is an occassion for the changes.

Some questions about the direction of this thing:

1) Is it a long poem as I had first suggested?

2) While, tonally, it seems consistent, is there enough variation to move a reader forward?

3) Should there be "Setting" pieces interspersed throughout the project's current narrative? In other words, should there be different poems that not only disrupt the "Dear Empire" pieces, but poems that contextualize the very ambiguous epistolary pieces?

4) Who is the speaker? What's at stake for him/her? He/she is the lens of the piece, and indeed, he/she is writing to "Empire."

5) Who is Empire?


IMG_0802, originally uploaded by odelapaz.

Charles Baxter & Sam

IMG_0798, originally uploaded by odelapaz.

Fielding questions from the audience

Sam Ligon

IMG_0795, originally uploaded by odelapaz.

Introducing Charles Baxter

Food Porn

IMG_0789, originally uploaded by odelapaz.

Mizuna's Rack of Lamb over seasoned orzo. Delish.

Sleepy Corner of Downtown Spokane

IMG_0793, originally uploaded by odelapaz.

Kate & Gundar

IMG_0780, originally uploaded by odelapaz.

Also at Mizuna's

More Get Lit! pictures

IMG_0781, originally uploaded by odelapaz.

Me n' Brenda Miller at Mizuna's.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Jane Smiley

IMG_0774, originally uploaded by odelapaz.

Beautiful Bing Crosby Theater

IMG_0762, originally uploaded by odelapaz.


IMG_0763, originally uploaded by odelapaz.

Our fabulous host, Dani Ringwald in a dress that's off-the-chain.

Poetry in the Streets of Spokane!

IMG_0776, originally uploaded by odelapaz.

From L to R, Me, Ken Letko, Martha Silano, and Christopher Howell

Benches in a Fireplace

IMG_0757, originally uploaded by odelapaz.

Exactly. Benches. Fireplace. Bizarre.

A Peak Inside

IMG_0754, originally uploaded by odelapaz.

Swag Bag

IMG_0753, originally uploaded by odelapaz.

Get Lit! was a great time. Each of the authors got one of these handsome bags filled with goodies.


Details are here

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Wandering aimlessly

I at last found a WiFi connection after the connection in my hotel room sputtered out yesterday.

I think there's a bandwidth counter for the hotel's ISP. One particular author has been on the internet 24-7. This author will not be named, but I will tell you that this person's laptop is on a shared network and it's visible on my computer.

There's a temptation to snoop, but I won't.


I teach a workshop on the Prose Poem in . . . oh, now 45 minutes.


Finally found a place w/bandwidth in the lobby. But they're setting up tables as I type this.


There's an unbelievable amount of footage of poets reading. Here's one thing I found:


Current Spin:

Fever Ray. "When I Grow Up."

Kind of creepy, I know.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Coffee Break

Stayed up really late writing the Day 17 poem. Unfortunately I got up early this morning. It's how I'm wired these days.


Speaking this morning at 9:00AM with poets Ken Letko and Martha Silano. Should be fun.


Ran across this video from the La Blogoteque series:

Thursday, April 16, 2009

And then there's this

Happened upon this question just before logging off. Do you still shop at record stores? NME poses this question and an article here.

Me? Absolutely I still shop at record stores, though less so nowadays. If I'm in downtown Bellingham, I almost always have to stop at Everyday Music. It's such a great record store . . . I lose all track of time there.

There's nothing quite like diving through stacks. I feel a similar joy when browsing through book shelves at book stores.

Life, Friends, is not so boring

First, this:

I showed this video to my long poem graduate students (thanks Mary). I found it to be quite interesting after having reread The Dream Songs.

This round, the book seemed much darker . . . sadder, but I was also more overwhelmed by the weight of it than previous readings.

Listen for the cash register. Also, look for Al Alvarez's pipe.


Next, I'm blogging to you from Pendleton, OR. I'm completely filled with a weird nostalgia. The sage desert basin is as picturesque as ever.

Also, it was great to finally meet the great Shaindel Beers. I, of course, butchered her name. For that I apologize.

Anyway, pictures to follow.


Finally, I listened to the new Metric album on the drive down, so they're my current spin (Warning--shaky camera):

Additionally, I spun these guys:

The Knife.

AND, the new collaborative album by this rock goddess:

PJ and John Parish

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Busy Week of Readings and Teaching

Hitting the road bright and early tomorrow.

I'll be driving six hours to get to Oregon and the BMCC Arts and Culture Festival.

I'm scheduled to read on Wednesday, April 15th, from 2:00-2:50 in the Art Gallery on the BMCC Campus in Pendleton, OR.

After, I'll head back north to do several panels, readings, etc. at the Get Lit! Festival in Spokane, WA.

Come see!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Strange Days

Still stunned by the death of Deborah Digges.


Amazon, after all, is the retailer many in BookLand love to hate. While it only represents about 10 percent of the business (Barnes & Noble controls more than 35 percent), Amazon has consumer “mind share,” economies of scale, and some nerve: The online retailer provides enormous discounts to consumers, argues publisher discounts in its own favor, and now, with the Kindle, seems to have a stranglehold on the dissemination of e-books, as well. And there’s something about Amazon that isn’t exactly “nice.” For one thing, executives seem to work on the Beg Forgiveness, Don’t Ask Permission business model; when it launched the Kindle2 earlier this year, executives must have known there’d be an outcry among agents and publishers about “audio rights.” But they launched it anyway—and the minute BookLand squawked, Amazon reneged and offered an audio opt-out clause.

--Sara Nelson's take and why she thinks Amazon has the right to determine what it wants it wants to sell and how.


I'm at least, fortunate to have a ton of used and independent book stores in my vicinity. Buy local or bye bye local.


I still want goats.


Then there are these goats:

The Mountain Goats. "No Children."

Deborah Digges, RIP

AMHERST - Award winning poet and professor Deborah Digges died Friday night of an apparent suicide at the McGuirk Alumni Stadium at the University of Massachusetts.

My Life's Calling

My life's calling, setting fires.
Here in a hearth so huge
I can stand inside and shove
the wood around with my
bare hands while church bells
deal the hours down through
the chimney. No more
woodcutter, creel for the fire
or architect, the five staves
pitched like rifles over stone.
But to be mistro-elemental.
The flute of clay playing
my breath that riles the flames,
the fire risen to such dreaming
sung once from landlords' attics.
Sung once the broken lyres,
seasoned and green.
Even the few things I might save,
my mother's letters,
locks of my children's hair
here handed over like the keys
to a foreclosure, my robes
remanded, and furniture
dragged out into the yard,
my bedsheets hoisted up the pine,
whereby the house sets sail.
And I am standing on a cliff
above the sea, a paper light,
a lantern. No longer mine
to count the wrecks.
Who rode the ships in ringing,
marrying rock the waters
storm to break the door,
looked through the fire, beheld
a clearing there. This is what
you are. What you've come to.

by Deborah Digges

Monday, April 13, 2009

Amazon's Jungle of Stupidity

An update about the fiasco is here.

Freaking BS.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Moving Targets

Someone recently asked me what my "style" of writing was. I have never been able to give the type of answer I feel most people are looking for when I respond.

My usual answer is "It depends on what I'm working on at the moment." My other answer is "It depends on what I'm reading or what's influencing me."

Sitting on my hard drive at home are four manuscripts in various states of completion. The styles of the manuscripts are quite varied. Sometimes, I write in one particular mode to take a break from writing in another particular mode. I've got a bunch of these rhetorical poems that are in couplets which I feel are a direct response to longer, narrative, biographical pieces. The longer biographical pieces are probably a response to the historical sequence I had been working on in the mid 2000's. And then, of course, there's this latest epistolary sequence which started as a series of postcards but has become something larger and beyond the postcards.

I don't know what to tell these people who want to know about my "style" of writing. I guess I'm a firm believer in being a moving target. I've always felt an artist should evolve or change . . . so I try to evolve/change from project to project.


Heading over to Eastern Washington for the Get Lit! Festival. I've got a host of responsibilities/readings. That event should be the last of the academic year for me.


Current Flashback:


I saw them in Boise, Idaho promoting their GREEN album. That was a LONG time ago. Michael Stipe still had long hair and he was wearing black eyeliner. The BSU Pavilion was relatively empty.

Friday, April 10, 2009

I'll be reading tonight:

Village Books. Bellingham, WA. 7:00PM.


Still trying to figure out who's writing the letters in my long poem. Haven't gotten the POV down yet. I'll just keep writing.


Current Spin:

Hope Sandoval and the Warm Intentions. "Suzanne."

Feeling mopey. Which is kinda fun.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Up & At 'Em!

5:06AM here. What the hell am I doing up writing poems?!


Contemplating heading downstairs and running on the treadmill. Would it make too much sound? Currently realizing how hamster-like such a move would be.


I'm annoyed that my iPod can't sync to two computers. I mean, I basically have the same exact music library between my laptop and my desktop. Why does it keep resetting the iPod?!



It's true, I'm hardly ever serious on my blog. I'm having far too much fun. And anyway, I really am a goofball in real life, though not so much in the classroom. All my poems house my pent-up seriousness, I suppose. I mean, I've always been serious in my poems. Humor is such a hard thing to do in poetry. I think I've written one funny poem in my lifetime.

Have you ever written a funny poem?


I've been admiring my neighbor's planter boxes. I need to borrow my other neighbor's Bobcat. Now that the weather's warming up, I'd like to have a mini-garden, or perhaps a few rows of planter boxes. I know my mother would like that. She had a pretty fierce garden at our old place in Ontario.


Current Spin:

Grandaddy. "Summer Here Kids."

I wish. Puffy coats and bearded drummers, still. . .

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

An Interruption

Yes, I'm aware of the fact that I'm working on a long poem. No, I don't consider it cheating for NaPoWriMo.


Speaking of long poems, students are baffled and taken by Berryman's The Dream Songs.

We've been talking about closed form long poems and open form long poems. Berryman's poem being the example of the later.

Whether these epistolary pieces are part of a closed work or a long work has yet to be decided. I do know that I've already written pieces that could serve as interruptions. The "interruption" pieces are not epistolary poems.


More on the budget crisis . . . talk of raising tuition at 4 year institutions. Not much else is known since representatives from the universities are still trying to negotiate with the senate. What's clear is that there's a deep divide along party lines. Guess which party is advocating deep cuts in educational spending?

Ah sunny spring days, where have you been?

Current Spin:

St. Vincent. "These Days."

Hell of a cover. Ah Brooklyn.

An Explanation:

Here. I talk about the opening poem of Furious Lullaby.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Love love love

This crazy band:

Micachu & The Shapes. "Lips"


Also love these sunny Pacific Northwest days. Gorgeous.


And did I mention I like my Tuesday/Thursday teaching schedule?


I now love my new phone. Can't get an iPhone 'cause I live in the county, so this is the only type of "Smart Phone" available to me. Still, love it.

First week of classes

Logistics were ok. I'm was in a crappy classroom (I somehow always get put into this particular classroom), but I managed to transfer.

It makes such a difference--even a small window makes a difference.


Worried about the state budget, particularly about the number of cuts that are projected. The budgets proposed by the Washington State House and Senate last week call for 21% to 25% budget cuts to Western Washington University. If enacted, these will be among the highest cuts in the nation.

If enacted, people will clearly lose jobs and because Meredith is not tenure track, we may be in trouble.


At least there's music:

The Heartless Bastards. "Brazen"

Thursday, April 02, 2009

About the NaPo poems

I'm keeping these up longer because I want to be held accountable to/for something. They will go poof, but for now, the longer they stay on the blog, the more pressure I feel to revise 'em.

--The Management

I've been a dad for a year . . .

IMG_0616, originally uploaded by odelapaz.

And it's been an adjustment, but let me tell you, it's worth it.