Thursday, May 28, 2009

Continuing with the Reading List

The List (of possible Summer reading) So Far

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Almanac of the Dead--currently reading.
After Dark
Stranger Things Happen
Home for Girls Raised by Wolves
Best American Short Stories of 2005
Coming Through Slaughter
Winners Have Yet To Be Announced
Unending Rooms
Anything else? Poetics, perhaps? Remember, 32 books. . .


I'm trying to refinance my house. It seems that banks want a whole bunch of information before such a thing happens. In our case, I need to come up with a "Road Agreement" between all the residents of my little wooded road. There are four other families that live on our dirt road and much of our communication has been informal, over beers and bbq. But seems like the hard times in the banking industry call for bigger hurdles. The insurance agency who was asked to "insure" the loan wants a road agreement filed with the county, so I have to gather all my neighbors, get them to sign a document in front of a notary, yadda, yadda.

What's funny is out where I live, our notary is in the liquor store behind the town's only gas station. How's that for charming?


I've got a talented bunch of writers who are graduating. Sad to see 'em go.


A lot of universities are culling their journal holdings. WWU is no exception . . . That's going to hurt a LOT of journals.


Thinking about my manuscript again. It'll be a week or so before I can act on some of my impulses, so I'm storing them here for future reference:

1) Cut all the Syllogism poems and place in Dumbstruck Luck
2) Distribute 8 sections of the long poem throughout ms.
3) Insert Self Portrait as the Burning Plains of Eastern Oregon
4) Cut Eschatology poems.


Current Spin:

Old school, I know. I'm feeling nostalgic. I miss my youth today.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Summer Reading List

I'm compiling a summer reading list.

The list will be multi-genre. I want your recommendations.

There's very little on the list so far:

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Almanac of the Dead--currently reading.

I need ideas on poetry collections. It's not that I'm unfamiliar with poetry, mind you, it's that I just don't know where to begin! There's so much I've already read. I want to be surprised, you see . . .

Anyway, I'm not particular, though if you've got solid short-story collections you can recommend, that'd be great too.

My ambitious goal is to finish 32 books this summer. Why 32? I have no idea.


Other things--I sold my car and my father's truck for money. We're cutting back on a number of other things as well.

Meredith, ultimately, was offered one class in the English dept. for Winter quarter, but unfortunately, that won't replace the seven classes she's used to teaching year to year.

I'm going to look into doing some low-res teaching . . . at least for part of the year to make ends meet.

Current Spin:

Echo & the Bunnymen.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Good News About Melissa. Still Concern for Her Companions.

Roxas has been reunited with her family. The fate of her two companions — Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc – is unknown.


Thank goodness. It's still unclear what condition Melissa's in, but I'm glad she's back with her family. Keep the pressure up for Juanito and John Edward.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

DeVotchKa at the Nightlight

Be patient w/ the video. I've got the wrong type of video equipment for this kind of thing:

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Some Wishes

Found out that Meredith probably won't have any work coming in from the English department either. This is mostly due to the fact that she had found out that she had been replaced after the various departments already had their 2009-2010 academic schedules in place. The only thing we can hope for now is that someone who teaches linguistics suddenly gets a grant and plans on taking some leave, or if some other non-tenure-track faculty member winds up carrying to large of a load.

I'm still pissed, but we'll manage.

Thank you all for your words of sympathy, encouragement, and support.


I and my creative writing colleagues will be meeting with lots of students to talk about MFA/PhD programs this afternoon. So much to tell them.

I've got handouts at the ready.

I've been blessed with a sudden burst of productivity these past two years. Summer brings me back to the writing desk more regularly, and I have a number of projects I'll be hunkering down to deal with.

First of all, I've come to some realizations about my manuscript, tentatively titled In Defense of Small Towns. I'm going to make some big cuts this summer. Additionally, the cuts I make will, more than likely, make it into another manuscript I've been working on. The tentative title of that second manuscript is Dumbstruck Luck.

And then there's this business of the "Dear Empire" poems. I don't think I can sustain a whole manuscript like that. I need to think about relationships in that manuscript . . . how I want to produce a narrative--a whole that's greater than the sum of its parts, so to speak.

Finally, I've shelved a project about Filipino migrant workers for a time, because . . . well, because I fell ill, had a child, and couldn't do the research. I might be ready to return to that project.

Anyway, the past two summers had me writing exclusively in August. I'm going to try to maintain productivity from June to September. We'll see what happens.


Current Spin:

The Pixies. Yes, old school.

Monday, May 18, 2009

On Narrative Difficulty

Internet's incredibly slow this morning (as many of you know, because we live in the country, we have to use Satellite broadband). It's partly cloudy, so that could account for some of my difficulty on the web today.

I'm currently taking a respite from my grading. I had students write some persona poems and they did so with much difficulty. I suspect it's quite difficult for some newer writers to move beyond the ego. Either that, or they've spent much of their time in college discovering self-hood that to be asked to move out of self-hood stretches them in uncomfortable ways.

I don't remember a time when I struggled with writing outside of myself--mostly because when I was a younger writer, I wanted to get away from myself--who I was then.


Currently discussing with some grad students the problem of incorporating characters into a long poem or a manuscript. I'll tell you what I told them--

When you introduce a character in a manuscript, the character(s) often inadvertently become the pivot-point for a manuscript. All poems that surround them then seem to, in some way, service the character. If the surrounding poems don't, then it's up to the writer to determine whether or not they want those surrounding poems to service the narrative of the character or whether they want to take the manuscript in a different direction.

It is, however, relatively easy to move through a collection's narrative once you have a character established. A couple of my grads are finding that they can't stop writing from character. That, unfortunately, is also a side-effect of writing poems with characters in them. It's easy to get attached to the conventions of such writing. Berryman couldn't stop. Neither can (could) Bell.


And in other narratives, this is re-hash for most of you, but it's collected here on the NewPages blog: The Future of University Presses and Journals (A Manifesto).


Finally, I saw the renewal of an old narrative that I watched with great joy in my childhood. The Star Trek film, was joyous, epic, and just what I needed as a respite from the troubled times my family's having. Sometimes I too want to open the door to a parallel universe.

Loved the updated McCoy and Spock. Wasn't too keen on Simon Pegg's Scotty, or the fresh take on Checkov. I had a hard time seeing Checkov in the fresh-faced actor who played him in the film. But otherwise, I really enjoyed the film.


And other things I'm enjoying:

Friday, May 15, 2009

Straight Dish

So many of you were wondering what the bad news in the de la Paz household entails.

It's bad.

Meredith was laid off and then replaced at a time when Western Washington University's President called for campus-wide hiring freezes.

We went to the union to see what our options are and basically because Meredith is a non-tenure-track faculty member she did not have sufficient union protection.

I do want to thank all of you who've e-mailed me via back channel. We're working on our financial situation and we should be okay. We'll just need to cut back a lot.

I go up for tenure and promotion next year, so that may provide a bit of a bonus in salary depending on the situation between the union and the administration.

Additionally, some part-time work is cooking up here and there in the English and Linguistics department for Meredith.

We'll be okay.

I must say, though, that I'm composing this note using a great amount of restraint. . .

Thursday, May 14, 2009

In Oliver's workshop sessions today:

I told students to write down the contents of the garbage containers for their characters.

I muddled over the differences between "Squawk" and "Squeak"

I said ". . . freaking Mary Oliver."

I pulled an assignment out of my ass entitled "Diptych: The Knife in the Actor's Hand/The Ghost in the Wings."


Sunny, finally. The window guys are replacing our old aluminum windows for vinyl ones. Should help us save some money in the winter from lowered heating costs.

I don't know how far along they are. I'll find out soon.


In an effort to save money, Meredith and I are consciously trying to eat out less. Right now, though, I'm craving sushi.

It's been hard deciding what's going to go. We'll definitely get the most basic satellite TV subscription. That's for sure. But what else will we cut? I'm thinking about losing the land line, since I do tend to use my cell phone a lot more these days.

We were talking about also losing the internet, but I do need it for work. Decisions, decisions.


Current Spin:

Sandy Denny & Fairport Convention. "Who Knows Where the Time Goes."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

DJ School

DJ Qbert has created an online DJ School.

I want to learn how to juggle.


Wilco is streaming their new album on their website. Listen here.


One more thesis defense to attend this week and then I'll be done.

It's funny what a table of contents can do to a manuscript collection. I know I've said it before, but it's extraordinary what such a gesture can do for the writer.


I'm still pissed.


Haven't had an opportunity to see the Star Trek movie yet. Soon. Soon.


Tonight, I'm presenting awards for the Sue Boyton Poetry contest, co-sponsored by the Whatcom Community Fund.


Current Spin:

Silversun Pickups.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


So much to tell you. There's just so much that I want to say, but there are reasons why I cannot tell you the exact nature of our dilemma.

Thank you all for your support. I can probably tell you more about our plight after a few meetings important parties.

Cross your fingers.


Not all news is bad, though. I've got something to announce in June.


Also, we're in week 7 of the final academic quarter of the 2008/2009 year. What a crazy year, eh?

I for one am both excited for and dreading summer.


It's amazing what constructing a table of contents can do for a collection of poems . ..


Current Spin:

Bat for Lashes. "Daniel."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day Meredith!

IMG_0872, originally uploaded by odelapaz.

Downturned but Sunnyside Up

IMG_0835, originally uploaded by odelapaz.

Went to see the Skagit Tulip Festival with my family, which was a much needed respite after the bad news our family received on Friday.

I'd love to share the news with you, but we're in the process of going through procedures. Suffice it to say we as a family will have to make some drastic decisions about our lifestyle.

Still, on this day there were tulips and kites and a kid who laughed and talked baby language to horses without malice or irony.

Today, there was bright joy.

Friday, May 08, 2009

From the Family and Friends of Craig Arnold


Our dear friends and family,
Though Craig himself has not been recovered, the amazing expert trackers of 1SRG have been able to make themselves and us certain of what has become of Craig. His trail indicates that after sustaining a leg injury, Craig fell from a very high and very dangerous cliff and there is virtually no possibility that Craig could have survived that fall. Chris will pursue what he can about getting specialists to go down into the place we know Craig is so we can bring him home, but it is very, very dangerous and we are not yet completely certain what that will require. The only relief in this news is that we do know exactly what befell Craig, and we can be fairly certain that it was very quick, and that he did not wait or wonder or suffer.

I cannot express again the profound gratitude I feel to everyone who has loved and honored Craig with their goodwill, their immense efforts and energy, and their overwhelming generosity. I believe that where he is, Craig knows.

There will be further occasion to celebrate Craig, and when I know more I will post it.

For my part, I love Craig beyond the telling of it and will always love him as immeasurably, as enduringly, as steadfastly and as unconditionally as I do now and have done these past six years. In leaving our family Craig, in a manner absolutely characteristic of his own vast generosity and capacity to inspire, brought us all closer together than we perhaps have ever been. I feel his presence, loving and understanding and funny and deeply feeling, at all times. I hope you do, too.

With love,


Saddened by this beyond words.


Thursday, May 07, 2009

Latte and a Rice Krispy Treat

Yes, that's what I'm snacking on in my office after a day filled with talking to students about poems.

My throat is parched and a latte, perhaps, isn't the best solution.

I find that 15 minutes of a conference is often more valuable to students than an hour and fifteen minutes of lecture. Besides, I do like chatting with my students as individuals. They're quite interesting people who've got a lot of things on their minds and in their lives.

In my capacity as the Creative Writing adviser for Western Washington University's English department, I'm finding that I do like the position a lot because I can literally sit students down and talk to them about what brought them to the major, which is supposedly a love for the language.

I do find people who use the major as a place to hide. Of course, there are plenty of those and they make themselves known through their work. But I also find students who are sincerely in love with the language, have stories they want to tell, and have stories that need to be told.


My students in the long poem class are in the middle of their projects now. Wow. All I can say. They've got some really fascinating poems--tangled, but fascinating.


The sun is out and I suppose it'll stick around through the weekend. The family will probably go to the Tulip Festival this weekend. Good idea, eh?


Current Spin:

DeVotchKa. "How It Ends."

YAY! Going to see them on the 22nd!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Ninja Grandparents, Arts in the de la Paz family, and other things

My parents are ninjas.

They drove all the way from Bellingham to my house. I wasn't expecting them. They have grand-baby fever.

Retirement seems boring . . .


My cousin Jovencio has a new website:

Yes, he's an artist.

My other cousin (from a different uncle), Sarah, is musically inclined. She's a trained violinist.

Looks like there's an artistic gene in my family.


My parents brought Hum Bao.

They're good ninjas.


Current Spin:

Bowerbirds. "In Our Talons."

Monday, May 04, 2009

Hot diggity

So glad to be out of April.


May's looking to be a crazy month with lots of graduate students defending during the first two full weeks. I've got two students defending this week and two next week. All of 'em have put together some really incredible and publishable work.


Saw X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The title, of course, suggests that there will be other origin stories.

What can I say . . . it was exactly what I thought it was. I had a big bucket of popcorn and I shared it with my younger cousins. I turned my brain off and watched big explosions and martial arts.

I wanted a bit more of Deadpool, and the geek in me was cringing a little bit at how they sort of mangled his story.

I also wanted more of Gambit . . . but otherwise, I enjoyed myself.


Now, looking forward to this:

Star Trek! Check out Leonard Nimoy!


Current Spin:

Passion Pit. "The Reeling."

Sunday, May 03, 2009

My very blurry, damp, video of The Shins

Of course, there's lots of background noise, and a shaky hand-camera, etc. The conditions were downright crap. I cut a moment early in the video where James Mercer also complains a little bit about the weather.

What this definitely signifies to me is that I should think about investing in a digital video camera. ;-) *cough*

RIP Al Robles

Al Robles was such an important social force in the Bay Area as well as in Fil-Am letters.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

The Start of May

It's Free Comic Book Day!


Going to see The Shins tonight with Meredith. Pray for no rain.


I'm so glad National Poetry Month is over. I'm burned out. Don't get me wrong. I love what I do and I love writing and reading poetry,


My folks are going nuts over this fight tonight: Pacquiao vs. Hatton.


Current Spin:

The Shins.

I'm trying to gear up for the concert.