Monday, December 24, 2007

A Wee Holiday Poem on Verse Daily

Thanks to Stephanie for pointing out that I've got a poem on today's Verse Daily page.

My folks are in town for the holidays, so I've been a bit busy (hence why I was in such a rush to finish the bathroom).

So, I'm off for awhile. Happy Holidays everyone!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Be level

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
and level-headed. The sink furthest back in the picture took two tries and several hours. It was a major pain to assemble. The closer sink . . . a breeze.

My head's stuck

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
That's the P-trap and waste pipe for the sink, if you're curious. The little pink bits of tape's the teflon tape. It didn't work. Had some minor leakage so I had to redo.

Plumbing ROCKS!

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.

Master Plumber, O. de la Paz

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.

The Built-in

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Used to be a wall of sheet rock. Now it's shelving.

Bathroom Reno#2: Dueling Pedestals

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.

Grout Haze

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Bits of gray grout can be seen along some of the ridges of the slate.

Bathroom Reno #1

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
A toilet! Trim! Huzzah!

Installed this puppy tonight around 10:00PM. No problems at all. No leaks. It was a cinch to level.

Yay me.

Tomorrow, pedestal sinks (yes, I have to install two, so sinks plural).

Friday, December 14, 2007

No wonder why I'm so tired.

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.

Insert Toilet Here

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.


Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
I also installed these shelving units. Before, that corner was just a solid piece of sheet rock. I'll pretty them up by adding some trim to the base and to the middle shelves. It'll look better, I promise.

Once there was a box light

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
and now there's none. Ever sheet rock a ceiling? It sucks.

Wacky Slate

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
So . . . I've been quite busy these past few days. Not only do we have a new puppy, but we also have house projects that are "a go" because the quarter's winding down. Oh yeah, there's that bit about having a job, too. Writing poetry? What's that?

Friday, December 07, 2007

Thursday, December 06, 2007

For the Kundiman Postcard Participants

Dear Empire:

December 5th.

It is yesterday. It is still yesterday. The machines are at our gate. To see the cogs click against the wheel tracks—I liken it to watching a man being devoured by two tigers.

We’ve mounted the turrets atop our chimney. That is why sulfur rules the flue and there is no heat.

There are also no more revelers in procession, having been unnerved by the continual knock against our buttresses. The candles are running out.

Dear, our hydrangeas have been ruined by snow. The mirrors in the hallway shake with each crash, making my image ghostly.

Forgive my jeremiad. The smoke from the howitzers is a lovely outburst. Of that we can agree.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Notes from the Orchestra

Meredith and I attended the Iron and Wine concert last night. It's the first concert I've been to since moving to the Pacific Northwest. It's a shame, too, because great bands come through here (and from here) all the time. Anyway, Sam Beam and friends were remarkable. Great 8-piece band with many members juggling multiple instruments. At times they'd play a song right into the next without skipping a beat.

Some of their more famous, slower-paced signature songs, they played quickly and vice versa for the faster paced songs. It was really interesting to experience the change as someone who's followed all their (his) albums.


New puppy's got me really really tired. Really tired.


Wrapping stuff up. Last class this Friday. Hallelujah.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

To choose . . .

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Orange puppet or torn piece of fabric. Hmmmmm

Watch it, Missy.

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
So, today's Meredith's birthday and last night this puppy followed her home. Her name's Missy. She'd been howling bloody murder for the better part of two hours. This had been a persistent problem ever since our neighbor had rescued her from the Humane Society. Basically, the owner of Missy is/was never home and left her in the charge of his nephew when he was at work . . . and he is/was always at work and the nephew left her outside at all hours. It's quite cold now and she's a 9 month puppy. Not a good thing. When Meredith walked Jake, Missy followed her home. So we called the owner and the owner asked if we could take her. Well . . . it is Meredith's birthday after all. So here we are. A two dog family now.


Jake: growl

Missy: Play! Play! Play!

Jake: growl

Missy: Play! Play! Play!

Oliver: groan groan groan

Meredith; giggle giggle giggle

The weather outside is . . .

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
. . . quite frightful. This shot's taken from inside the house. It's been snowing all morning. And it's a light dusting. It's heavy heavy stuff.

Right now, we've got about eight inches. Which, to someone who's lived in central New York, doesn't seem like a lot. I must say folks in central New York know how to handle the snow. Out here in the Pacific NW, it's the end of the world.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Readings, Musings, and Snow

I'll be reading at the Elliot Bay Book Company on December 8th at 7:30PM with Nancy Pagh.

Come hear us! Come chat with us! Get some holiday shopping finished!

The bookstore's in Seattle at 101 South Main Street.


It's snowing again. Overnight, 'bout 2 inches. More soon. I may not be getting out today.


Last week of the quarter, which is good. Gives me time to get back into the writing saddle again.


Speaking of which, I'm once again involved in a daily writing group. Because of the holidays, we agreed that it can't be sustained for a full month, so we've truncated the event to eighteen days. Group members for the event are many of the same folks as the August poem-a-day event, minus Sandra B. *sniff* Erika Meitner's agreed to lead us this time. I'm not sure if I'll be posting poems on the blog. I haven't decided yet.


I have not done ANY holiday shopping yet. :-O

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The quarter's drawing to a close . . .

. . . at last. It was a busy one (still is). I tackled a mountain of reading and grading this past Thanksgiving break. Certainly, that's what breaks are for in academia.


All the while, I've been pressed into renovation service. The bathroom's got some new drywall installed, a repaired floor that's covered in cement board (for tile later), and some new cabinetry, all installed by yours truly. Pictures soon. It just doesn't look good right now and . . . well, frankly, I'm too tired to take pictures.


Slowly, I'm running out of copies of my own book. Must order more.


It snowed. 'bout 3 inches yesterday. It's starting to melt, but there's enough on the ground to make the roads tricky.


Tonight, chicken korma. :D

Friday, November 23, 2007

Post Turkey

Had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with our friends Caryn and Dylan. First time I've ever had sauteed leeks for Thanksgiving and they were delicious . . . especially when taken with a little bite of turkey. For dessert, our hosts had prepared four pies. Quite a feat for two busy people.

Meanwhile a state and a half away, my parents were hosting my aunts and uncles from my father's side. I'm guessing they had dim sum. Yes. Dim sum. Every year for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, my mother makes a batch of dim sum: pot stickers, sticky buns, you name it. There was usually the obligatory turkey, but the hit is almost always the "non-traditional" Thanksgiving fare.


Now that I have satellite broadband, I also have iTunes again. I've been bad.


My Xbox 360 has died. It got struck down by the red ring of death. I was playing my basketball game and then the dang thing froze, mid-jump shot. I am a sad panda.

What's a boy to do? Read? Write poetry? Pffffft.


Perhaps the death of the fun machine comes at a perfect time. This is the last big push before the end of the quarter and I've got stacks of poems to "grade." *sigh*


What do I want for Christmas? What do YOU want for Christmas?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Monday, November 19, 2007

Have you been . . .

. . . Knock[ed]out yet? I have.

Met Jeremy Halinen this past Wednesday. Wonderful poet and editor. We drove down to hear Matthea Harvey read at Open Books. Check out the journal. It's fabulous!


Matthea and the folks who went down to hear Matthea with me were wonderful. We MUST do it again! Right?


End of the quarter and I'm getting swamped with work. Thanksgiving break = catch-up time.


I'm dying to see this.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I've been an infrequent blogger

. . . mostly 'cause there's not much to say these days. I'm busy. Truly truly busy. On top of teaching, I've been advising my tushy off. Students are trying to decide what to take for next quarter and I have to "guide" them. Mostly, I've been telling 'em directly what to do and they're grateful. You know . . . sometimes, you just need to be told what to do.


Speaking of which, we're remodelling a 2nd bathroom. Yes, Cornshake, the bathroom you had been using is now gutted. I had to tear a hole in the subfloor because apparently the wood beneath the toilet had rotted away. Joy.


Still, there's some respite from my hectic schedule. I get to go hear Matthea Harvey read in Seattle tomorrow. I also got my tickets to the Iron & Wine concert in December. I'm a happy panda.


If I don't blog for a bit, you'll know why.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Just when I thought . . .

. . . it was safe to relax, life got very busy again. Students are registering for classes and as the advisor they have to come to me for "advice," so it's been a deluge.

And it's really raining. Winds knocked out the power just enough so that my clock was flashing this morning. (Maybe I need to go back to a wind-up?) Luckily I'm a very light sleeper. Managed to wake up before the alarm was scheduled to go off. I frequently wake up before my alarm clock. Today was one of those days when I'm happy for that genetic trait. Thanks mom.


Many crazy things are happening these days. I must get approval before I can post about them. It's good news--I just have to run it by the appropriate channels.


Got my tickets for my flight to NY at the end of January. I've got two winter flights this coming year. I was driving around Ai (yes, that Ai) in my car and she had been complaining about how much the reading circuit wiped her out. I was a grad student then, so I was thinking silently to myself that it was such a luxury to be getting paid to do readings and how much work could it possibly be? Oh boy. It's work. It's good work, of course. Quite enjoyable to be travelling and often getting paid to do what you love . . . but it's work.


Jake has gotten into some awful stuff. I don't want to know what.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Pointer in Sheep's Clothing

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Sometimes these people make me do things I don't want to do. But, that's the price you have to pay when you can't let yourself out of the house to go to the bathroom.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Happy Halloween!

Back to the world of Broadband

So I caved. Yesterday, the people came to our house and installed a satellite dish, thus granting us broadband access. Yes, for nearly two years I've been using dial-up at home. It's been painful after having gotten used to cable internet speeds. Alas, our house is so far out in the country we can't have DSL or Cable internet. Satellite was the only option and it was a pricey one. The dish itself is $400, then they have to install the thing which is another $300 (and believe me, installing one doesn't look easy). And then there's the monthly cost of the subscription . . .. On top of all that, it's not as fast as cable or DSL.

But it's broadband and Meredith and I are back to our wireless ways. The network is up and running.


We won't be getting trick-or-treaters this year. We're just too remote. That doesn't stop us from buying candy, though. You can tell a lot about a person by what type of candy they give out to trick-or-treaters. I liked giving out the mini Snickers pieces or even Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. The peanut butter cups mean I'm a generous and kind soul. Hard candy people . . . tsk tsk tsk.


Recovering from a tough last week. Loved the visit from Cornshake, though. Too bad she couldn't stay longer and see more of the sights. All told, I made four trips down to Seattle which, from my house, is roughly 120 miles, one way. I'm looking forward to staying put.


One sport ends and another begins.

The World Series outcome was as I expected, though I would've preferred it to go on a couple of games longer. I thought for sure Colorado could steal at least one win at home.

I'm quite excited about the new NBA season. Should be interesting--I want the trio of KG, Allen, and Pierce to do well in Bean Town.


Really sleepy. I made the decision to, instead of going to the gym, grab a Pizza Hut pizza. Good decision before a meeting, don't you think? Now I need a big time nap.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I get shouted out . . .

. . . here on the Poetry Foundation website. Thank you, Rigoberto!


So it happened. The most embarassing thing ever at a reading. This Tuesday at the Hugo House, Crab Creek Review held its journal launch reading (lovely, by the way).

I'm up there, reading my poem and then an eardrum shattering beep erupted. And then another. And then another. Meanwhile, I'm trying to slog through this last poem while the beeping continues. I see someone get up out of the corner of my eye, and leave the room. I finish. I sit down. That someone who left the room comes back with my bag. MY BAG. My freaking cell phone rang in the middle of my own reading. . .

. . .

And then, the next reader came up to read. So, I'm leaning back in my chair while the other poet's reading. And then something else happened. No, not the phone.

Coins start falling out of my pocket and rolling on the hardwood floor. You know the loud coin that rolls and rolls and never stops? Those were my coins.

Nightmare. Big big nightmare.

So, if you're reading this, Jenifer, thank you for grabbing my bag and diffusing the situation. And thank you to the woman who stopped some of my coins from continuing to roll. And thank you Crab Creek Review . . . I promise to be less disruptive next time. And thank you, Hugo House, for having such shiny floors and such echoey reading spaces.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Upcoming Readings

At the Richard Hugo House: "Roots and Writers"

Crab Creek Review presents an evening of poetry and prose.

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007, 7:00 PM

And at Open Books: A Poem Emporium

Thursday, October 25, 2007 at 07:30 PM

Furious Lullaby, Oliver de la Paz's second volume ($15.95 Southern Illinois) is richly sensual yet etched by a sharp reckoning with loss. The collection includes a number of versions of the aubade, a poem that greets the dawn but can also serve as a wistful acknowledgement of the parting of lovers at daybreak. The new day brings both a beginning and an end -- "We are gathered back into the things of this world / and turn away from the sore-red sun, moved / to deny who we will be when we are awakened." Mysterious and resonant, the poems pulse with light and shadow, revealing not so much a narrative but an intensity of feeling, a questing of the mind, a longing in the body -- "Uncertain where the glare is from, I stare / and stare."

Aimee Nezhukumatathil's second collection, At the Drive-In Volcano ($16.95 Tupelo), can be as vivid as a lava flow and as cool and keen-edged as obsidian, sometimes in the same poem. The varied world is a presence in her work, certainly the Philippines and India, the lands of her parents, but also Austria, New Orleans, St. Lucia, a bus station in the Midwest. Perhaps most vivid is the landscape of love, with its smooth and rocky terrain. "I will curl around you like / a pilot shrimp and you will wonder / where all this sand is coming from." Direct in tone and sentiment, her work is laced with humor -- "The honeymoon is over / and we find a dead lizard / in our luggage," and pragmatically hopeful -- "Even in this darkness / there is so much light."

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The "Rest" Gene. The "Guilt" Gene.

I'm fighting off a cold.

My students gave me this cold. Of that, I'm certain. So I've been taking it easy, which is really hard for me. I don't like resting. I prefer waking up than going to sleep. I prefer moving rather than staying still. This is probably why going to a writing colony would be bad for me. I'd do everyone's laundry, cook all their meals, and chop their firewood . . . I don't have the "Rest" Gene. In fact, I'm very much like mother in this regard. She wakes up at 3AM (she goes to bed at 9PM), and does laundry, walks on her treadmill, and does any other household chore that needs doing. I'm the same way (though I don't get up at 3AM and I don't go to bed until 11ish). I like my mornings. I like go-go-going as soon as I wake up. And when I'm hit with a cold, the world ends.

I'm feeling guilty about resting, so I'm confessing to you, dear reader.

I am a self-proclaimed gym rat. I love going to the gym. I go five days a week. I have a very particular routine. And even when I know I'm supposed to take a rest day from the gym, I find some way to exercise, whether it's running the dog, doing some housework, or some other activity. This past week has been extremely hard for my psyche. My brain tells me that this coming week is going to be tough . . . my sister in-law visiting, two readings, teaching, an advisory commitee meeting, Aimee visiting, and a speaking engagement on campus for which I have not prepared. And none of this includes my usual grading and academic advising . . ..

So, take a week off from the gym, Oliver. Right? Well, my "Guilt" Gene is taking over. Most Catholics (lapsed or faithful) have this gene. Perhaps it's also a Filipino gene. Right now, I've got the tail-end of the sniffles and I'm thinking about lifting weights . . . I'm also thinking about how disappointed I'll be if I don't lift my normal weight with my normal reps. It's a seriously bad gene to have "turned on."


Happy Birthday, Mom.


Book trades are wonderful things. I traded Rebecca Seiferle a copy of my new book for Wild Tongue. Lovely book. And it's really big, so again, the guilt gene switched on and I immediately felt that to even the exchange I should've sent her two copies of my book.

I'm ill.


Tis the rainy season. I re-seeded my lawn and I'm seeing little tiny bits of stubble poking out from the ground. This makes me extremely happy. Before, the lawn was mostly clover, dog poop, and moss. Now, it's clover, moss, dog poop, and grass.


Mere n' I had our anniversary celebration a week ago, though our anniversary's actually much earlier in October. In honor of our marital bliss, we bought a new front-loading washer and dryer set. I'm so in love with them. I watched most of the very first load go round and round in the washer.


Okay, I'm going to the gym . . . that's it.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Lee gets

. . . shouted out on Harriet.

Good things, Lee. Good things.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Thank you all, for your advice. I did read some newer poems which, I think, the audience liked.

It was good to see my students and my colleagues at the reading last night. I was REALLY nervous before the reading and I felt a little unprepared.

I noticed some things which bothered me:

I don't know my own book. Yes, I wrote it and I lived with it for many years, but I don't know it. It's still a strange thing to me, and I'm sure that'll all change with more readings.

I felt that I read too fast and consequently, I fumbled my words in places.

I also felt that tonally, I need more variety. It's a really dark book. I mean, it's dark . . . especially when you look at it compared to NAMES ABOVE HOUSES. So . . . I'm trying to think of ways to add tonal variety. I don't want to force something into the "set list" that certainly doesn't belong, though.


I have time to tweak my performance. Next reading's on the 23rd at The Hugo House: Roots and Writers and another with Aimee Nezhukumatathil at Open Books.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Set List

So as I mentioned earlier, the very first reading from Furious Lullaby will be tonight. I'm contending with a weird issue at the moment. . .

If one is promoting a new book, is it bad to read new stuff not in the book?

And if it's not a good time, when is a good time to "move on" so to speak?

Anyway, books are often anachronisms, and I wonder if a more accurate display of time as it pertains to a writing life would be to read from a range of projects (yes, I'm trying to justify reading new work).


Suddenly obsessed with football. The Seahawks are faring miserably and have, perhaps, exceeded their shelf-life as a viable contender. It's sad, too, because my favorite workhorse player, Mack Strong, had a spinal cord injury (I heard he broke his neck) last week and had to retire.

Such a violent sport.


Meredith and I purchased a new front loading washer and dryer set this weekend to celebrate our second anniversary. It only gets better from here. ;-) XOXO

Friday, October 12, 2007


Someone will be delivering a frozen manicotti to my office. I'm very excited for this. It is a good beacon for these dark Fall days.


I've been getting rejection notes. This is to be expected. So far, three.


The first reading from my book takes place on Monday at 7:00PM at Village Books in Bellingham. I'm kind of weirded out by the whole thing.

I haven't even scanned through the poems in the book yet. I'm not sure what I'm going to read. Any suggestions? I'm guessing my not looking at the book apart from gazing at the cover is a normal thing, yes?


I finished playing Halo 3's single player campaign. I am cool.

Sunday, September 30, 2007


It is raining and the color of the sky's keeping the dog asleep in his basket. It is also cold. Yes, it is most certainly fall in the Pacific Northwest. It's been in the low 60's/high 50's for the past week with more of the same to come next week. I just hope that it's clear on the day of our party this coming Saturday.


Many books arrived at my doorstep last week:

Some Values of Landscape and Weather, The Outernationale, The Room Where I Was Born,, My Soviet Union, Fragment of the Head of a Queen,"Some Nights No Cars At All, Crush, and Random Symmetries.

I felt I needed more poetry volumes in my life . . . especially since I've been reading a lot of prose lately (not that that's a bad thing.) Reactions so far--why the hell haven't I been reading Peter Gizzi? Crush is aptly titled. And I really dig the prose poems in Random Symmetries. I need to sit down and read a volume straight through, but right now I'm taking sips of all the collections and I'm enjoying myself.

Speaking of which . . . better go back to reading.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Been busy

. . . but I thought I'd drop by.


School's in full tilt. Amazing how quickly the days have been going by. I'm quite popular on the committee front these days. Somehow, I open my mouth and I get put on a committee.


Car's in the shop today. Was driving and all of a sudden, every single light on the dashboard was illuminated. Since I know very little about cars, this freaked me out.

Now watch. The bill's going to be around $500 or so . . .


Been talking to my students about the types of research we do as writers. It's funny, but if you say the "R" word, everyone cringes. Me? I love research. Sometimes I love it more than writing.


New Fall season of TV shows. I wanted to see Bionic Woman, believe it or not. I liked the modern twist on the sappy seventies show. I know Cornshake saw it.

I also saw the season opener of Heroes. Now, I didn't watch the whole season last year, so I was totally lost. I guess that's okay.

Friday, September 21, 2007

It Most Certainly is Fall

It's gotten cold. The evenings have been dipping into the 40's. We started a fire in the fireplace last night to keep us warm, but we ended up having to turn on the thermostat. I've been wandering around wearing layers of clothes.

I must say, from a wardrobe perspective, Fall's my favorite season. You're covered, but you're not immobilized AND you can wear accessories like scarves. I love scarves.


With Fall comes the new school year. The buses have started up and I see kids lining the streets waiting for them. One kid's always wearing baggy basketball shorts and short sleeve shirts. Now, I know he can afford more clothes because I've seen him at my gym with his family who's more appropriately dressed for a wider range of circumstances. I guess it'shis "Comfort" phase. But it's not that comfortable wearing shorts and a t-shirt when it starts raining. I mean, seriously, he wears the same outfit in horrendous weather conditions. It's one thing to like a favorite pair of jeans and wear them more than once a week, but seriously . . .


Fall soundtracks from the past:

Jesus Jones "Right Here Right Now"
The Sundays "Here's Where the Story Ends"
Depeche Mode "Strange Love"
Big Audio Dynamite "The Globe"
New Order "Leave Me Alone"
Siouxsie and the Banshees "Peekaboo"
Echo and the Bunnymen "Lips Like Sugar"
O.M.D. "Walking on Air"
Sugar "The Act We Act"
Psychedelic Furs "All That Money Wants"


Current Fall soundtrack:

LCD Soundsystem "Daft Punk is Playing at My House"
Feist "Mushaboom"
Midlake "Young Bride"
Tom Waits "Dog Door"
Beth Orton "She Cries Your Name"
The Roots "Dynamite!"
Death Cab for Cutie "The New Year"
Bobby Bland "Two Steps From The Blues"
Neko Case "Maybe Sparrow"
Ryan Adams "Magnolia Mountain"

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Things I'm Embarassed to Admit I Like

1. Pork Rinds
2. Justin Timberlake--not well enough to own the album, I just like hearing his stuff on VH1
3. Funnyons
4. World of Warcraft
5. Football
6. Video Games in general
7. Administrative work
8. Ninja Warrior
9. Vacuuming
10. Shopping for Office Supplies


Just some random thoughts as I sit by myself in my office. I could be working, but this is more fun.


School starts next week. Eek!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Need to learn how to do that . . .

I've been toying with my website for the past two hours. Ugh. Broken links, left and right. It's basically been the same for the past three years. I need to learn html . . .

Hoa Ngo, the site designer and creator's helping me.

This is why I'm a poet.


Quiet again during advising. I guess writers don't need advice.


Woke up. Rain. Now, bright and sunny. As they say around here, if you don't like the weather in the Pacific Northwest, wait five minutes.


I've finished my syllabi . . . on to the lessons. But . . . Facebook is calling.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Mug shot

Mug shot
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Scene: Halls of the Humanities Building on the campus of Western Washington University
Time: Yesterday. Approximately 11:00 AM

Bruce Beasley: Hey Oliver, I got your postcard. Looks great! (pause) Will the book be out this week?

Me: Thanks Bruce. I don't know. I haven't even gotten my contributor's copies, though I know the books are in a warehouse somewhere.


Scene: My bedroom. The phone rings.
Time: Yesterday. Approximately 5:00PM.

Me: Hello?

Bruce: Hey Oliver, it's Bruce.

Me: Hey Bruce. What's going on?

Bruce: I have your book.

Me: What?!

Bruce: Yeah, I have your book. Seems like Village Books has a whole box of 'em.

Me: What?!


So, today I hopped in my car and drove down to Village Books and bought a copy. Yeah, I know I'll be getting copies in the mail soon, but I still had my doubts about whether the book was real or not.

And there it was . . . about ten of 'em stacked up, covers facing out.

Such a weird feeling. I'm not quite elated. Relieved, really.

I had a bunch of errands to run after picking up the book and at every stop, I think I was turning pages.


Yep. FURIOUS LULLABY exists and it's out.




Just crazy.


The telephone's stopped ringing. The e-mails requesting course overrides have ceased. The foot traffic to my door has receded.

Ah, the life of an academic advisor.

Funny thing about students who want to become creative writing majors . . . they come into the office and I know. I just know--sort of like the Harry Potter Sorting Hat.


Tumultuous football season so far. All the teams I pull for are 1-1 or 0-2. It's early, I know, but . . .


SIU's ordering books for me. Got that bit straightened out. My guess . . . they knew I was giving a reading at Village Books and wanted to get the books there ASAP. All told, I'm fine with all of it. I'm just happy I don't have to write any more of THOSE poems for awhile.


I have a large plastic container in my office filled with Jelly Belly jelly beans. I want one now.

Friday, September 14, 2007

PR Campaign!

PR Campaign!
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
So, here's the thing about these postcards . . . you get one and there's a 25% discount on the direct order. Still sure you don't want one, Justin?


Facebook = time filler during lonely office hours. I've been busy turning people into zombies, though Nick Carbo is still the master zombie.


My lovely bride brought me a turkey sandwich for lunch. I'll go enjoy it now.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Creative Writing Advisor extraordinaire

So advising has begun and I've been tapped as the guru. Beware.

Mostly, I just tap a few keys on a keyboard and tell students what classes to take so they can graduate. It's not so bad. I actually enjoy the job--it satisfies my organizational itch.

Discovered a really good handbook for students. It's by Tom Kealey. I like the tone and I like the simplicity of the organization. He lists a few programs--mostly the ones picked by the US News way back in the mid 90's, but he's fair about it, acknowledging the limitations of the guide. It's a decent tool to supplement the more statistical AWP guide.


Also, been sending out postcards for my book. Want one?


Finally, school's just around the corner and I've been working on a syllabus for a multi-genre class topics class. Have you ever taught one? How did you conduct your workshop if you have? In the past, I segregated the semester according to genre (poetry first, then fiction, then playwriting). But I'm not sure such a format would work for this particular class. Any ideas for workshop alternatives?


By the way . . . we've remodeled ANOTHER room. Actually, this one was mostly Meredith. I just scrapped the popcorn ceiling and rolled paint on the walls. She did all the decorating and refurbishing of furniture.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Helmet. Go.

I'm glad the NFL season has started. That is all.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Fall Submissions

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
So, I'm getting off my butt and sending poems out. It's been some time since I sent such a large quantity of work out into the world.

Here's a little snapshot of my submissions tracker spreadsheet if you're curious. A few of us were talking over e-mail about the do's and don'ts of submitting work--namely we talked about simultaneous submissions.

A while back, I never simsubbed. I was too scared to. Now . . . I do simsub, but ONLY to the journals who say it's okay. What's more, I keep very anal notes about where I'm sending things.

If you look at the picture, you'll see I've got color-coded bars.

Black means a poem's been taken, so it's out (note that there are very few black bars).

Gray and white tones signify batches of poems sent to journals that do not accept simultaneous submissions.

The flourescent colored bars indicate batches of poems that are being simultaneously submitted. So, if I'm sending a batch of five poems to three different journals, all the journals and poems will be highlighted in turquoise. I generally try to keep the number of sim-subbed batches down to 2-3 journals per batch. It's too hard to track anything greater.

Yes, it's cumbersome and tedious, but I know far too many editors who get pissed about folks pulling their poems at the last minute and I don't like pissing people off, namely people who take the time to read my work.


The other thing I noticed--more and more journals are accepting online submissions. Ploughshares, The Kenyon Review, and The Virginia Quarterly Review are taking submissions online.

If you're sending your stuff via that route, have two sets of copies for your batches: the individual poems, and a batch of your poems saved to one document. Sometimes the uploading software only allows one file at a time, so you'll need to consolidate your pieces.


I'm feeling good. I'm feeling like I've gotten some things accomplished. We'll see what happens when the rejections start rolling in! All told, I sent poems to lots of journals. Quite a feat for me.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
It's a strange thing when you know someone for a long time and they write a deeply personal book. I mean, I've known Joseph for . . . seventeen years. Sheesh! Has it really been that long?

We met at Loyola Marymount, our undergraduate alma mater. He was an English major and I was still a Biology major (I'd later decide to declare a double major). He was always the artist and writer, from what I remember in our classes together. My very first poetry workshop was a 500 level class . . . a grad class . . . and Joseph was there, supportive as ever. He wrote an amazing Icarus poem and I remember how awestruck (and jealous) I was. When he went on to NYU, he was giving me advice when I was applying to MFA programs. He's basically been like my brother for many years.

Now I'm realizing how little I knew Joseph--how honest and naked he has rendered himself with the publication of his first book, Imago. The book is seeringly violent, beautiful, and melancholy. I was quite surprised by the tone of it, knowing Joseph as the man who's always laughing, teasing, and smiling.

Anyway, pick up this book. You must.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

August poem-a-day


The poem writing extravaganza is over. Thanks to all those poets who joined in. Having peers really helped the process along, especially on the tough days.

I'll be sending out some of these drafts during the fall. Hopefully they'll find homes. I'll definitely fiddle with them before that, though.

To you blog readers, thanks for your patience and for reading along.


Today, cookout.

New Book Inspiration!

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
How about, the "Practical poet's guide to homeownership"?

Roof repair's one of the many things they don't teach you in MFA programs. Maybe I need to teach classes.

Homeowner's Blues

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Yes, that's me on top of the garage roof. The seam between the plastic panels and the flashing had gaps that needed to be filled with silicon sealer. So . . . there you go.

Really, though, I didn't want to be inside writing poems. Not on a gorgeous day.


Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Rick shrugged off my advances . . .


Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Despite her ailing right arm, JHG was in her full glory. Later, she would twist rebar into pretzels.


Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Rick read from a third manuscript collection. Quite amazing.

After, he played the bongo drums and shook some maracas.


Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
The lovely and talented Jeannine Hall Gailey and the lovely and talented Rick Barot, both at tthe SoulFood Bookstore.


Yes, it's ridiculous to catch a cold in the middle of a summer heat wave. And yes, I caught a cold sometime during the past week. It started Sunday in my throat, then migrated down to my chest over the past few days.

The cold did, however, provide me with a good excuse to sit at home and do nothing but read Harry Potter books. I basically read books 6 and 7 straight through during these past few days. Quite satisfying, I must say. Yes,J.K. Rowling isn't the most gifted writer, but she knows how to move a plot along. It was especially interesting to see how far she must've planned in order to pull off the series. Also, the movies are so engrained in my brain that I was visualizing scenes with the actors as I was reading. Crazy bit.

Anyway, I'm glad I took the time to pour through the books.


SIU Press somehow managed to get advanced copies of Furious Lullaby. Big grin. I thought it would've taken them a bit longer, but they're ahead of schedule.


It's time to start planning my school year in earnest. Two classes coming up this fall: my usual intro to poetry and an advanced multi-genre workshop. For the advanced workshop, I'm looking at fiction, non-fiction, and poetry collections that are steeped heavily in research or are strongly associated with a historical time period. Should be interesting as a seminar, but tricky as a workshop . . .


Quick thought on the poem-a-day thing I've been doing all this August--as I was telling Sue in the comments section of the post, I've been composing by ear lately, and the couplet's the best way for me to "hear" the language. I can't "hear" what I'm doing if I wrote in tercets, quatrains, or any longer stanzaic pattern.

This is a new development for me and I think it's pretty closely related to my attempts at purging the prose poem form from my head. I'll think on this more and perhaps come up with something more eloquent, but until then, I'll probably continue composing in couplets.


Throwing a party here on Saturday. You're alll invited. BYOB.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

SoulFood Books Reading

Edit: Thanks Jeannine, for hosting this wonderful event! Rick's new stuff is incredible. The crowd was lovely. I even had a heckler.

My next reading'll be on October 15th at Village Books. Details to come.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Postcard Poem from Soham Patel

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Blow man, blow. Good Job!

Man blows good job (?)

Good blow job . . . man.

Monday, July 30, 2007

white peacock

white peacock
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
This image is for Cornshake.


I've been having trouble sleeping lately. The past few nights I've lain in bed, glanced at the clock, and saw it was 2:40ish. Why that particular time, I have no idea. After waking, I've had a hell of a time getting back to sleep. Maybe it's my brain telling me to start writing poems.


Speaking of poems and poetry, my summer class is finishing up this week. Great bunch of students . . . but I'll be glad to be done with teaching. I don't feel like I've had a sufficient summer. I finished up in mid-June, then went from teaching to the Kundiman retreat, and then as soon as I got back from the retreat, I was back in the classroom. So far this summer . . . one poem. Sandra's running a poem/draft a day marathon that I'm participating in for August. Hopefully it'll light a fire in my belly.

I'm cancelling HBO. It's the same crap over and over. We got it in May to finish up the Sopranos. Now that it's over, I don't want to get sucked into any more of their shows. Don't talk to me about how good Rome is getting. I don't want to hear about the stellar writing in Big Love or Entourage. I need to limit my media intake which is already quite high.

Spent all of Saturday chain-sawing. Now I can't bend my left pinky finger without having it lock into place. Bizarre. I'm getting old.

The lovely James Hoch will be reading at Village Books on Wednesday. Go see him!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Warm spell coming

Swimming Cat
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Now would be a good time to visit Silver Lake. The temperature's rising and at last we're getting the summer weather we had been waiting for. Last week was miserable. It rained for seven days straight. I'm looking forward to summer sun. The cat's optional.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
You think you want to cuddle, but really, that's just the Dark Side controlling your mind. . .

Monday, July 23, 2007

Oliver Simpson

Oliver Simpson
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Yet another Simpsonized version of me. You can tell I'm conducting office hours . . .


I'm tremendously bored.

I finished all my grading. I then dipped into some poetry collections but wasn't in the mood. I think it's the rainy weather we've been having.

I did, however, manage to squeeze in a poem. It's not a great poem, but it's something.

I've also been listening to the new Ryan Adams CD. He's, at times, infuriating. Wonderful hooks in the songs . . . at times great writing . . . other times, flatter than a 2D cartoon's ass.

Also listening to Feist's Open Season. Still sort of shaky on the album. It's a collab/remix album, so there's some really messed up stuff on the disc. I do like the Postal Service version of Mushaboom. Outside of that, I need to listen closely.

Here's hoping that some of this'll kick me into some kind of writing mood. I dunno, I'm feeling weird as we exit July.

I am, however, getting quite good at this.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Me as a Simpson.

Me as a Simpson.
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Hours of fun playing here.

Sekou Sundiata Dies at 58

Sekou Sundiata, a poet and performance artist whose work explored slavery, subjugation and the tension between personal and national identity, especially as they inform the black experience in America, died on Wednesday in Valhalla, N.Y. He was 58 and lived in Brooklyn.

The cause was heart failure, said his producer, Ann Rosenthal. At his death, Mr. Sundiata was a professor in the writing program of Eugene Lang College of New School University.

Mr. Sundiata’s art, which defied easy classification, ranged from poems performed in the style of an oral epic to musical, dance and dramatic works infused with jazz, blues, funk and Afro-Caribbean rhythms. In general, as he once said in a television interview, it entailed “the whole idea of text and noise, cadences and pauses.”

His work was performed widely throughout the United States and abroad, staged by distinguished organizations like the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Spoleto Festival U.S.A. Among Mr. Sundiata’s most recent works was “the 51st (dream) state,” an interlaced tapestry of poetry, music, dance and videotaped interviews that explores what it means to be an American in the wake of 9/11.

His other works include “Udu,” a staged oratorio about slavery in present-day Mauritania, with music by Craig Harris; “blessing the boats,” a one-man show, autobiographically inspired, about Mr. Sundiata’s experiences of heroin addiction, a debilitating car crash and a kidney transplant; and “The Circle Unbroken Is a Hard Bop,” a collaboration with Mr. Harris about black Americans coming of age in the 1960s.

Writing in The New York Times in 1993, D .J. R. Bruckner reviewed a production of “The Circle Unbroken” at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe:

“This is a remarkably smooth work, its complex stories and ideas bound together by the vivid, memorable poetry of Mr. Sundiata. And in one tornadic scene, the poet lets the audience hear all at once the range of his vocabulary and voice: Mr. Sundiata becomes a young, crazed homeless man on the street, and in eight minutes pours out a torrent of grief, humor and shrewd insight that leaves one simply astonished.”

Mr. Sundiata was born Robert Franklin Feaster in Harlem on Aug. 22, 1948; he adopted the African name Sekou Sundiata in the late 1960s. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English from City College of New York in 1972 and a master’s degree in creative writing from the City University of New York in 1979.

He is survived by his wife, Maurine Knighton, known as Kazi; a daughter, Myisha Gomez of Manhattan; a stepdaughter, Aida Riddle of Brooklyn; his mother, Virginia Myrtle Singleton Feaster of Kingstree, S.C.; two brothers, William Feaster of Belleville, N.J., and Ronald Feaster of Manhattan; and one grandchild.

Mr. Sundiata, who performed with the folk rock artist Ani DiFranco as part of her Rhythm and News tour in 2001, released several CDs of music and poetry, including “The Blue Oneness of Dreams” (Mouth Almighty/Mercury Records) and “longstoryshort” (Righteous Babe Records). His work was also featured on television, on the HBO series “Def Poetry” and the PBS series “The Language of Life.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Negative Capability and Teaching

My students think they have all the answers. If they don't have the answers, they think they can look them up online and get those answers with 100% accuracy. Their poems have all the answers, too:

1. The couple gets together or they don't.
2. A young person dies and eventually the family moves on.
3. The man in the poem ultimately realizes that he is to blame for all his own misery .

Ah, the speed of our culture! How easy to get to a resolution . . . how readily available our answers, yes?

Well, today I won't be preaching from the pulpit in the Church of Closure. Today, Keats is my pal. . .

I've been reading poems written by my students and many of them veer towards the slamming door. Today we'll be working towards mystery-making. Let's be baffled, unsure, and uncertain today.


In other news, there is no other news. I'm humming . . . listening for the next poem to smack me up-side the head.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Postcard for Jen, image side

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
(from the book Magnum published by Phaidon Press.

Postcard for Jen, writing side

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.

Summer Teaching So Far

My assessment of summer teaching so far . . . it's tough, but in a different way. Spiritually . . . psychologically . . . I'm in a "me me" space, but I'm finding it hard to get into that space when I've got poems and lectures to read and prep. Usually at this time in the summer I'm reading books rather voraciously. I'm finding it harder to get into the rhythm of sustained reading. The one good thing about the quarter system, though, is that I still have two months of summer vacation ahead of me (we don't start the normal academic calendar year until late Sept.).

There's a misconception about summer sessions among students. Many perceive that the shortened quarter will be more lax. This, however, is extremely false. Think of it this way . . . you're compressing 11 weeks of education into 6 weeks. It's far from lax. I remember when I took summer classes as an undergrad. It nearly killed me.

Anyway, I'm already looking forward to my second vacation in August.


Needless to say, my writing has been slowed, though I've been engaged in a postcard poem project with other Kundiman folk. That's been pretty productive . . . it's a kind of writing. I've gotten some gems which I'll post later.


A colleague of mine in the English dept. has slipped a book into my mailbox. Is he trying to tell me something???


During the second weekend of August, Mere n' I will be here.


Jake's cut is closing up.


Last August I attempted a poem a day, similar to the Napowrimo event that took place all over blogland. I think I'll try it again this year. About six of the poems from that assignment have gotten published, so it was reasonably productive. Should be fun.


Lest I forget, Mere and I are on to the next project: landscaping. More to come.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


So, I saw the new Harry Potter film this afternoon. I'll not be a spoiler. I will say that I enjoyed myself immensly in the cool cool movie theater.

Ralph Fiennes scares me.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Currently on repeat . . .

I know it's oldish, but it makes me happy during these warm summer days:

Postcards From Italy

Monday, July 09, 2007

For Cornshake

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Here's a shot of the finished bedroom. All told, it took us a week to renovate the bedroom. Tasks performed are listed below:

The paint color is called "Light Raffia" by Valspar/American Traditions.

1. Scraped off popcorn ceiling.
2. Cut and installed 4x8 sheets of drywall.
3. Cut out holes for outlet boxes.
4. Sealed drywall joints with joint compound and tape.
5. Sanded off joint compound excess.
6. Sprayed new wall with "splatter" texture.
7. Taped off door frames.
8. Painted (primer and 2 coats)

Lucky Postcard

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Some lucky Kundiman fellow is getting this postcard . . . it hurt to send it out. I wanted to keep it for myself.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Work continues

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
We've scraped the popcorn off of the ceiling, so you can now see the seams in the drywall.

This photo was taken after I texture-sprayed the white wall with a splatter texture to match the other walls.

Jake is taking in the sights . . . from the only angle he can at the moment.

Lick-prevention collar

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Poor Jake. He was out for a tryst and either ran through a barbed wire fence or got into a fight with a dog, cutting his rear right leg.

So we've snapped this restraint collar around his neck. You can tell by his expression that he's thrilled to be receiving our care.

"It's like . . . you can hear the ocean!"

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
I learn a lot from The Dog Whisperer, so it's all true.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Painted Master's Bedroom

Painted Master's Bedroom
Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
The wall to the right (the one with the panels) is now covered up by wallboard.

Master Bedroom

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
Here's our master bedroom. I wasn't kidding 'bout the drywall installation. I woke up incredibly early, thinking I needed to finish my task ASAP.

Before, we had some nasty nasty wood panels.

I woke up at 6:30AM this morning

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
. . . and said, "I know . . . I think I'll drywall."

Jake sez

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.
"Mister, watch where you point that thing."

Thursday, June 28, 2007