Monday, November 23, 2009

Cover #4

4, originally uploaded by odelapaz.

Cover #3

5, originally uploaded by odelapaz.

Cover #2

2, originally uploaded by odelapaz.

Cover Art with 4 options: Cover #1

1, originally uploaded by odelapaz.

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

Moving Onward

My students are quite concerned with "voice" these days. They want to write poems that are uniquely their own, poems that are immediately recognizable as John Q's, Sally G's, or Ruben T's. Often, their quest for a voice confronts their willingness to participate in the various exercises I have them attempt in my classes. I think the issue for them is they prefer the term "voice" to "point of view." "Voice" is more poetic--song-like. They want to be opera singers. To be on stage. They want fruit baskets delivered to their doors.

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.


Current spin:

Chad Vangaalen. "City of Electric Light"==a fan video.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


First off, lovely poem by Jennifer Chang.


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.


Current spin:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Broadsides, Winds, and other Stuff

IMG_2293, originally uploaded by odelapaz.

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.


Current spin:

Taken by Trees. "To Lose Someone." The video is, from what I gather, a fan video.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Kundiman Prize

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

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




Current spin:


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

More Weird Dreams

Na estrada, originally uploaded by Felipe Schlickmann.

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.


Current spin:

For some reason, Lykki Li was in my brain this morning.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Weird Dream

So, suddenly I'm remembering my dreams. In the past, I could never recall them, but lately I've been remembering a number of them. Last night, I had a wild one:

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.


The Heavy.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Quick Bits

Great reading at PLU last night. Thanks to Rick for inviting me to read with Jason Koo.

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.


Current Spin:

The Duchess and the Duke.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Upcoming Reading and other stuff

I'll be heading down south to Tacoma to read at Pacific Lutheran University with the poet Jason Koo.


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 . . .


Current Spin:

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Sesame Oil, Duckies, and Calendars

IMG_2266, originally uploaded by odelapaz.

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.


Current Spin:

Choir of Young Believers.