slow progress

So, I’m trying to make my time count right now. I’m reading as much as I can. I could read more, probably, but I get restless from sitting overlong. I’ve just finished Engine Empire by Cathy Park Hong, and I loved it. I’m mailing it to a friend so he can love it too.

I read Longenbach’s The Art of the Line, which was good, and just started The Art of Syntax by Ellen Bryant Voigt which is likely also good, but rather drier. Both of them seem better than Dean Young’s Art of Recklessness, which, as the title would suggest, seemed inchoate.

I’m also picking my way through Our Andromeda by Brenda Shaughnessy — but picking mostly because it’s so affecting in places I just can’t handle more than a few poems at a time. So I’m doing the book a disservice, I suspect.

I’m also reading in snatches the collected Mark Strand I picked up at Sewanee. It has selections from Darker in it — one of the first books of poetry I bought with my own money as a teen — along with Galway Kinnell’s Book of Nightmares. Odd pairing, those, and yet somewhat representative of the two strains I often feel run through my work. I was startled at how well I remembered the poems in Darker — I kept nodding, and thinking, “Oh yes, this one” — I must have read the books several times back then. There is also more Strand in my work than I realized, which is a funny thing — I think we both like negation. At least in my case, I like defining through absence.

I’ve also started Finney’s Head off & Split, which seems good. A very solid book I have no quarrel with.

And bits of Transtromer, just to try him, though it’s like reading haiku to me. In fact, I hit some haikus within the book and the whole exercise seemed redundant for him.

And finally, at long last, reading D.A. Powell’s latest as well. Quite good. It’s been a pleasure to watch his work change over these books, though his love for a pun is consistent from book to book, and seems only to deepen as time goes on.

books books!

I just ordered so many books, which feels spendy considering I’m without a job, but reading poetry is actually professionalization, right? Here is what is on its way to me:

Engine Empire by Cathy Park Hong

Poems Seven: new and complete poems, Alan Dugan

The Great Enigma: New Collected Poems, Tomas Transtromer

Useless Landscape, D.A. Powell

The Art of Syntax, Ellen Bryant Voigt

Maybe the Saddest Thing, Marcus Wicker

Head off and Split, Nikki Finney

Predatory, Glen Shaheen

10 Mississippi, Steve Healy

Beautiful and Pointless: A guide to modern poetry, Orr

The Art of the Poetic Line, James Longenbach

Our Andromeda, Brenda Shaughnessy


I bought some of these used because: money.

I return, with a goat

Some small and amusing news:

I answered D.A. Powell’s call for a tweeted poem about goats with this little ditty.  And he’s donating a goat from Heifer International in my name! 😀 If you aren’t familiar with Heifer, do check them out. They are a great organization that seeks to help end world poverty and hunger by helping others become more self-reliant and able to support themselves. One year I used them for all my xmas presents — a move that was less popular with some relatives than others! Still, I think it’s sort of awesome to be able to say to someone “I sent a hive of bees overseas in your name.”

Verse Wisconsin nominated my poem “[Their Height in Heaven comforts not–“] for a Pushcart. It’s amazing to get a nod from someone saying they believe in your work. Thanks, guys.

I’m reading at The Monsters of Poetry on Friday, Dec. 2, 7:30. Details here.

My softcover and signed (it’s signed! why did I not know this?) copy of The Abominable Charles Christopher arrived. I both long and dread rereading it, as there are some parts in there that absolutely bring me to tears.

Through family generosity, we have a replacement Xbox 360 on the way to us (ours still turns on, can download games, but can’t play disks, so no DVDS or games). Not one of the shockingly good Black Friday deals (we missed most) but one of the pretty ok Black Friday deals. Not as much hard drive space, but come with a Kinect. Dancing game, here I come. Also, dragon Age II, which I ordered a while back for a good deal, before I realized our XBox-ah was dead.

I keep putting my hair into this hairstyle.

Thanks to my readers who reached out to me while I was on my Pause, and checked up on me. I was surprised to find out I had readers, was touched by your concern, good wishes, and am not only doing better, but taking some steps to make sure I continue to do so. And Wes and Lori, for you I promise lots of posts in the future. Silly silly posts.

Here’s a song. It’s good. It’s not my fault it was used in a commercial.




oh, it’s official!

Hey, so my poem “Book of Janus” is going to be in Best New Poets 2011! I found out a few days ago but it wasn’t official yet. Now it is! You can read the announcement here. My friends Bri Cavallaro and Nancy Reddy are also going to be in, so I’m in good company! The judge was D.A. Powell, so I was really pleased to have my work selected by him as I’ve been a huge fan of his work for years.

a night of poetry, a great cause

I’m going to be reading with some great poets at Tallahassee’s Fermentation Lounge on Sunday, June 13th at 7pm.  There’s so many poets reading that I don’t even know them all, but I hear there will be a Josephine Yu, a Timothy Welch, a Jay Snodgrass, a Frank Giampietro, and a Meredith McDonough, among others.  The reading is called Poets for Living Waters, and it’s being organized by the indefatigable Sandra Simonds.  Here’s a description of the event from the Facebook Event invite:

This poetry reading and activist event has many purposes. First, it is a response to the oil disaster. Second, it is a celebration of our natural waterways and finally, it is a call to action. Activists from Save Our Shores will be at the event and will provide an opportunity to participate in political action. It is our hope that if both activists and poets can come together we can share our creativity and strength.

You can read more about the overall project at the Poets for Living Waters website.  There’s some great work up there by interesting people.

Since I’m reading, I’m trying to write two new poems for the event that speak to the spill or to our waterways.   (I’m also going to read a poem by D.A. Powell, as his newest book, Chronic, has several environmentally concerned poems in it, and plus, beautiful, beautiful).  So far, my attempts have been not great — I tend to write poems that engage with the personal, not the political.  But that’s why this is such a good challenge for me.