I've been reading some John Ashbery, lately, and, more recently, Elizabeth Bishop, whose work I find very dichotomous in style. She is somewhat known for her attention to detail and her descriptive, objective writings, but her poetry is rarely about her personal life. Not confessional, by any means, but quite detailed from a distance. I may have found this subject matter boring, at one point, but reading her work (and perhaps trying to write poetry of a similar style) teaches you how hard it really is to give a very detailed but objective viewpoint on something, to get really close to something, without developing too much feeling for it. I'm enjoying her work though, if only because it stands as an example of achieving success in writing without too much self exposure.
My reading material has exclusively gone down the "poetry" fork in the road, as of late, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but just the thought of reading fiction now seems unappealing and even…
My new chapbook, Moon Law, is officially out in the world now, thanks to Wild Age Press, and I'm quite happy with how it turned out. What started out as a few lines in my notebook, over a year ago, is now a whole narrative, printed on postcards with illustrations and housed in a box with a ribbon. The beginning-to-end process is fun to watch, especially with chapbooks that embrace artistry and defy the traditional notion of a bound book, and I'm grateful to have found such an innovative press to nurture my first chapbook. It was also a pleasure to be involved in the production of the book, from the first brainstorming session to the final printing. Kelly Thomas, who runs Wild Age Press, made this whole process a memorable experience for me.
Those looking to purchase Moon Law can do so at Wild Age Press. To those who already got a copy, thank you so very much for the support. I've worked long and hard on my writing pursuits and gotten criticism here and there, over the past…
I had quite a handful of favorite books as a kid, and these are a few of the ones I read and reread. I would like to know yours, also.
The Diary of Anne Frank
There isn't enough I can say about the ways this book shaped a large portion of my life, but it did, so much so that I considered divorcing the husband when he voiced his dislike of the book.There is a maturity and a childishness to Anne Frank that comes across in her words and stories, as well as wit and courage, all of which aided in my decision to start a diary at age ten and to someday be a writer. I don't care who you are, read it. Some things you just need in your life.
The Hobbit - J.R.R Tolkien
Bottom line, Bilbo Baggins was a BAMF. And I was enamored with the ring.For whatever reason, I couldn't get into The Lord of the Rings, but I read The Hobbit a few times before running into it on my school curriculum.
The Tillerman Series - Cynthia Voigt
I know a lot of people who can't read stories unless they can pe…
This is kind of a hasty rant.* Something that used to nag me once in a while and now commands my daily thoughts is the lackadaisical, almost apathetic way we go about choosing what to feed our brains. I probably think into this too much, but it's hard for me to grasp how people can be more choosy over what color frame to put on their cell phone than what information they ingest and possibly commit to permanent memory.The appropriate disclaimer here, I guess, is that I'm more than kind of a snob about this. My existence sometimes involves a struggle between strictly regulating what I see/hear/read and being open to new-to-me material (I believe I usually maintain a healthy 70-30 mix of both). And that's not to say all lowbrow stuff should be off one's radar; if I stumble onto a Keeping Up With The Kardashians marathon, I will, more often than not, watch an episode or two. It's those that limit the contents of their minds to reality television or other material that …
Playing with space when writing poetry appears to require some getting used to, if you come from the physically formless world of fiction writing, as I have. The latter doesn't demand you consider the shape of the piece, the way poetry does, and I'm taking as much advantage as I can of this additional means of word expression. Because you can have your plain fries, that's all well and good. But you can have cheese fries, too, and damn it, I'm going for the cheese fries.
I would think re-imagining the use of the page would be a cliche outside-the-box effort for anybody, really; we're all taught to read from left to right and write in paragraphs and stanzas. The idea that text can hold more power than just the meaning of its words - that the words themselves can visually coalesce into trails and shapes that contribute to the poem's message - is exciting. I've taken traditionally formatted poems that seemed like they were missing something and resuscitated th…
Got some great news, last month, that my poetry chapbook, Moon Law, was chosen as the winner of the Wild Age Press Anything Goes Contest and will be published in limited edition this October. Further details to be announced; for now, you can read a little about Moon Law and myself here.
I'm excited Wild Age Press chose to publish my work. They're just getting started, but I greatly admire their vision and commitment to the artistry of chapbook publishing. Many presses have a uniform design for the chapbooks they put out, and that's great, too; Wild Age's approach is to look at each work individually when determining how best to physically represent it, and as someone who takes an interest in book arts and handmade things, I love the idea of treating a written work not just as text on a page but as art.
Other projects are slowly in the works. I'm in the beginning stages of shopping around Memory These, another chapbook. Also putting together a draft of a chapbook ca…
A version of the first of my moon poems is in the new issue of scissors and spackle, please read it.
Been reading some good chapbooks and other small books in the past few days. Hooray for small presses. I really don't know what my brain cells and other organs would do without all the good work they produce.
Cataclysm Baby by Matt Bell (Mud Luscious Press, 2012)
Become a father and read this book. In that order.
The Wilhelm Scream by Jeremy Behreandt (Plumberries Press, 2011)
Very awesome poems printed on gray cardstock cards wrapped in a piece of vellum. The packaging alone made me read them over and over.
How the Days of Love and Diptheria by Robert Kloss (Nephew/Mud Luscious Press, 2011)
Such a great, intense, language piece.Hoping this is the start of a lot more great work to come from Kloss. Can't wait for his novella, The Alligators of Abraham, later this year.
The Bible by Gregory Sherl
Not published yet, but it should be. The phrase I keep using is "quietly epic"…
Doing NaPoWriMo for the first time. So far, all my poems are about/based on female television characters. I figure I should go with this theme, so if you have any of said characters to recommend...I do need twenty-eight more. There is a lot of room in my head for these things, obviously.
I have a poem called TUNDRA BAR in Thunderclap! Magazine's eighth issue. You can purchase a print copy or download a free PDF here.
I have another two poems, CRACKS IN PAVEMENT and FAITH COUNTER, in the second issue of Emerge Literary Journal, which you can go here to read for free.
I haven't yet read both issues in full, but the stuff I've read so far is great, so check them out even if you don't want to read my little poetic morsels.
Finally hit the finish line on The Hunger Games trilogy, largely wondering why I decided to read it in the first place. As a bookseller, I guess you can easily be compelled to dive into something when you spend a single night selling dozens of copies of…
Reorganizing my books was a great idea, in theory. After a recent move, I decided to separate them by type, in addition to alphabetizing them, and while I kept the categories pretty tame and generic (poetry, plays, graphic novels, short stories, fiction, non fiction), I still ran into conundrums that would likely haunt any bookseller or librarian with a keen eye on a daily basis. Where, for instance, would Vikram Seth's novel-in-verse, The Golden Gate go, poetry or fiction? Nabokov's Pale Fire is half poem, half prose.
There were also numerous categories I wanted to add, breaking down the larger sections. I found myself wanting to separate young adult/teen fiction from adult fiction. I wanted to display short story collections apart from novels-in-stories. Novellas would have their own space, but who's to say whether Fahrenheit 451 would lie there or in fiction? And what of Steinbeck's volume of collected short novel(la)s? And if I owned enough of them, I'd definit…
My series of three poems, And All That Could Have Been, is up at Everyday Other Things, read it, please. Great site with some awesome photo/poetry collaborations.
Haven't been reading much, lately, but what little I have delved into has been fantastic. Started The Flame Alphabet and have really been looking for a good chunk of time to speed through it. Ben Marcus is a language master. His words and sentences are like beef stew; and yeah, chicken soup is good too. But oh man, beef stew.
Daniela Olszewska's Halfsteps + Cloudfang is a good looking little book with amazing poetry and some really badass artwork by Melissa K. Dunkelberger. I don't come across books very often that are enhanced by artwork, but I'm in love with the drawings in this book.
Also read Jamie Kazay's Small Hollering and enjoyed it. Everything from Dancing Girl Press is tasty.
If there's one thing you spend your money on today, or this week, or whatever, buy Gregory Sherl's The Oregon Tr…
I've attempted to write this up sans spoilers, for anyone who hasn't read the book or seen the show and wishes to do so.
I normally read the book before watching the show/movie, but didn't get around to the graphic novel until watching the first two seasons of the show. And unexpectedly, I found the show to be much better. Don't get me wrong, I reached the end of chapter eight in a semi-state of shock over the events that occurred in the book, which quite obviously carries the same intensity you get out of the show. The characters in the former hook you, get you invested in them, then rip them from your mind in horrific ways.
And yet. While I don't discount that achievement the book makes, I couldn't help thinking the melodrama was a bit overkill the whole way through, and that's where the show outshines the book. It sounds a little contradictory; of course there's drama, the whole premise of this story is a breeding ground for drama. The show succeed…
I'm fairly good at multitasking with my day-to-day tasks, but an obstacle I always seem to run into is submitting work while simultaneously churning out new material. It doesn't make any sense; with poetry, especially, I can usually turn each piece around in a timely fashion, so I don't need the endless hours to edit I might need for a novel or other long manuscript. And yet. I have trouble focusing on writing or editing if I'm in submission mode...which I'm more or less always in.
The only solution I've come up with is to take a week (or some period of time) to knock out a chunk of submissions, then go back to writing. Rinse and repeat. But surely, there's a way for me to rewire my brain to do both at once. Today alone, I did laundry and washed dishes and packed things in boxes, all at the same time, so I'm obviously a superhero in some sense.
Oh, and I hit another obstacle when I go to title poems. Or anything I write. I don't know why this happen…
"Thank the poetry gods that Nate Slawson writes with a hard-on."- Peter Markus
You almost don't want to say too much about Slawson's work, for fear it'd take away from what his poems accomplish. As Markus makes clear, this book is not lighthearted. It's hard-hitting love confessions in inventive language, and I was struck by the effortless way Slawson gives so many words new purpose and therefore an atomic kind of energy. The whole book might as well be on fire, really.
I wish you'd say
something when I
key your name into
when I say slow
songs and cherry bombs
like so many teeth
squeezed into the shotgun
of my jaw
These poems are the opposite of flower metaphors and pink love. Read this book.