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.