Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Monday, July 9, 2012

"Performance Text"

Requited Journal just published one of my pieces. They've labeled  it "Performance Text," which I kinda like, actually. Ironically enough, my vision for this piece was for it to be a sort of poem/play hybrid, Anne Carson-like thing. After dozens of rejections under the "Poetry" category, I submitted it to Requited as "Drama" just for the hell of it, and BOOM! They took it. You can find it here.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

2 More Pubs

Two more of my poems just popped up in The Prompt Literary Magazine. You can find them here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Three more pubs

Spork Press has been gracious enough to publish three of my poems. Very excited. You can find them here.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

3 More Pubs

The Squawk Back has published 3 of my pieces, "He lends her his comb" (short fiction), "You're an Odd Duck," and "And the Place Was" (Poetry). You can find them here, here, and. . .here.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Eulogist

My poem, "The Eulogist," has just been published by the Eunoia Review. You can find it here.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Detail, Attention

DIAGRAM 12.1 is finally out, and you can find my personal essay "Detail, Attention" in it. I'm especially proud of this piece. You can find it here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

It's Always Been the Same, Same Old Story

Looks like The Northville Review finally finished their web redesign, and they were gracious enough to post my micro-fiction piece, "It's Always Been the Same, Same Old Story," on the front page. You can find it here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Writing Across Genre: How Poetry Improves the Prose Writer, Part One

“Always be a poet, even in prose”  ~ Charles Baudelaire

The first thing anyone should tell an incoming M.F.A. student is: “Take as many workshops outside of your discipline as possible--poetry workshops, especially!”

The easiest way for me to draw a distinction between writing prose and writing poetry is to draw the line right where both find their beginnings: the voice. Ask any prose writer about voice, and they should tell you the same thing: “voice is everything.” To write prose is to stand on an empty platform with a microphone in your hand. To write poetry is to sit on a bench on that very same platform, only this time, you’re sitting in front of a grand piano. The differences are found in the mechanisms delivering the voice.

While voice indeed does exist in poetry, its place of residence is a tad bit sketchy. Take the person standing on stage with the microphone in hand: you can clearly identify the voice’s translation point. Aside from the microphone, whose sole purpose is to serve as a medium and amplifier, there really isn’t anything in place to mask the mechanism from its audience. The performer speaks (or sings), the sounds travel into the microphone and out through an auditorium’s surround sound system, into the audience. It really doesn’t matter how creative you choose to be with the equipment in place (auto-tune, the position of the speakers, hiding the microphone, producing a voice from off-stage, etc.), the audience knows that the microphone  is translating those sounds.

With poetry, it isn’t quite that simple. In fact, I’d argue that it can be confusing for the writer just as it can be for the audience. There’s a disembodied quality to poetry that, while it can be manufactured in prose, comes naturally:
                                               “To see the Summer Sky
                                                 Is Poetry, though never in a Book it lie -
                                                 True Poems flee.”
                                                          ~Emily Dickinson

When a piano player plays, multiple voices/translators are also at play. Is the voice being translated from inside the player? from their hands? from the keys? Is the voice being translated  from somewhere else inside the machine? Is the voice being translated by the notes?

Poems have a multitude of secret compartments that sit collecting sounds, silences, rhythms, patterns, and movements that are waiting to be recalled. In short, writing and studying poetry and poetics teaches the writer to think multi-dimensionally when it comes to word choice, where the lines are drawn between poetry and prose; where the microphones (prose words) and grand pianos (poetic words) lie waiting to be accessed. The great thing for those who exclusively write prose is that both genres are fluent in the same language; the difference simply coming down to word choice.

I am not claiming that taking a poetry workshop will teach you to be more adept at using a thesaurus, though that’s not really a terrible thing either. What I am claiming is that a poetry workshop will expose you a different type of instrument for writing that can be added to your performance. Instead of just a lonely microphone, why not add a grand piano? And maybe, just maybe, you can continue on collecting more instruments. Only then, can you play everything.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Why the publishing industry and I are Frenemies.

Not long ago I asked a few writer friends of mine to indulge me in a bit of a thought experiment: I challenged them to find the worst book in all of existence. I then asked them to take advantage of their background and training (their literary expertise) by convincing some of their friends to read the book they've found. I instructed them specifically to sell the book as "the greatest single piece of that particular genre". For example: if, say, you were to find one of those extra cheesy, barfy romance novels--with Fabio's likeness on the cover--sitting alone on a shelf at one of those independent gas stations that nobody ever patrons at, you have to try to get as many people to read it by telling them it's the single greatest piece ever written in the genre. That, in fact, that particular novel has drastically changed that trajectory of that genre, if not, the world as we know it.

Bro, what are you doing?

The point I'm trying to make is that if you get enough people "in the know" to back something, you'll get more than enough people "out of the know" to read this type of filth. It's pretty much the literary version of the 1-percent versus the 99-percent.

Literature in this country has become a niche sport, like soccer. While it is wildly popular throughout the entire world, when faced with the likes of American television, film, video games, technology, dating, friends, a sex life. . .it trails quite a bit. And much like soccer, if you put crap in front of the American public, they won't watch (see MLS), unless it's OVERHYPED CRAP (See David Beckham as well as a slew of other "Designated Players" that MLS has signed over the years). But, here's where it gets really interesting (I'll be using both David Beckham and Haruki Murakami as primary examples): 

Beckham is sexy. Beckham is cool. Beckham is an Armani model. Beckham is English, therefore, he's someone exotic (I guess). More importantly, Beckham is sexy. Now, I've always come to the defense of America's soccer pallet. I'm always yelling at people: "Don't ever make the mistake of underestimating the soccer intellect of an American soccer fan!" And most soccer enthusiasts agree with me. But, here's the rub: when MLS brought David Beckham over to the New World, they were not thinking about those pockets of American soccer enthusiast. They were thinking about those masses who typecast soccer as being "boring," and "slow," and even "gay."

And Beckham did help convert some of those people. . .at least, in the beginning, anyway. Unfortunately, reality soon hit. As serviceable as Beckham still was (maybe a little more than serviceable), he was no Messi, or Ronaldo, or Xavi, or Rooney, and MLS still wasn't even close to being what the leagues in England, Spain, Germany, Italy, France have been for a while now. Beckham was not elite. The MLS is not elite. But, Beckham was a pop star and America loves pop stars.

As sad as it is to say, Haruki Murakami (specifically, his novel 1Q84) falls into this category as well. For those who know Murakami well, Murakami has written much better work than this particular pop culture failure. Murakami is a talented novelist, and deserves the focus and attention that he gets. Much like Beckham, his body of work is impressive. Unfortunately, as was the case with 1Q84, his work fell victim to the hype machine that is the publishing industry. And yes, I do get it: their job is to sell books, not preserve whatever "culture" we may still think we have. But, could you at least have picked a better work than 1Q84? Could the MLS have brought over someone who was actually breathtaking to watch? Yet, people still sat and watched Beckham throughout his uneventful tenure the same way people waded through almost a thousand pages of uneventful writing. Why? Because all of those people "in the know" told you to read it, that's why.

And the worst part about it is that I keep finding these year-end lists with that damn 1Q84 close to the very top, if not squatting right across the very top of most of them. It's pathetic. The novel IS NOT GOOD...period. I'm sorry, Haruki. You've got talent. You've written great work before. You just whiffed a little on this one, my dude. 

But, it's not really about David Beckham or Haruki Murakami is it? What pains me is that I know that the American literary pallet is as refined as any other country. Problem is, people are just fucking lazy and would rather have someone else tell them what to read, even if it is some trashy romance novel.