Wednesday, December 30, 2009

RIP Rachel Wetzsteon (1967-2009)

Sakura Park

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

An Ocean, an ocean

IMG_2401, originally uploaded by odelapaz.

Through the glass, a quickster. A trick. Scale upon scale the little fish spiking up with the bubbles. Then the easy dark of the theater and eyes, wide-lidded in awe.

Manta, manta

IMG_2398, originally uploaded by odelapaz.

We love your mouth and your latitude. The way you flip your wings up, razor-slight like wind through the hair of a tiny wrist.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Books of the Decade and 30 albums for 2009

Here's SPD's list:

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.


Current spin:

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Zee Avi: No Christmas for Me

Friday, December 18, 2009

Here in Atlanta

. . . well, I'm technically not in Atlanta, but rather a suburb of sorts. So, if you're in Atlanta and want to hang out, give me a shout!

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.


Current Spin:

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

'Tis the Season to Give: Kundiman

Since 2002 I've been an active member of Kundiman, both as staff, and as substitute faculty. Now I'm the co-chair of the advisory board and what's clear is if we are to continue, we need money. Non-profits are hurting all around, and what's more if you're an up-and-coming arts organization, you're really hurting.

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

Book Update Quickie

The U of Akron has the book's webpages up: Here.


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.


Current Spin:

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

The End of the Quarter Extravaganza

I am blogging right now because I am a procrastinator.


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!


Current Spin:

Lightning Dust. I'm adding their album, "Infinite Light" to my list of 20 albums.

Monday, December 07, 2009

'ware the keyboard

IMG_2307, originally uploaded by odelapaz.

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.

Son Volt, "When the Wheels Don't Move."

The second video I recorded that evening.

Son Volt at the Nightlight Lounge in Bellingham, WA

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

Phoenix - 1901 - A Take Away Show


Near the End

Today is the last scheduled day of classes. I looked at the faces of the students in my classes on Tuesday and made the executive decision to hold extended office hours in lieu of a class on Thursday. They didn't seem grateful, just relieved. I suppose at this point in the academic year I shouldn't look for gratitude, especially after what I put those students through. ;-)

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.


Current Spin:

Shonen Knife. I wish I saw them here in Bellingham.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


Yes, completely insane.


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.


Current Spin:

Son Volt. I'm seeing these guys this Saturday with Meredith, in tribute to the end of the quarter.