Monday, January 31, 2005

The 5 Places You Should Go

The online poetry scene is really bumping right now. I can't keep up. These new issues are what have been keeping me up past bedtime:

Typo #5
Gut Cult Winter 05
Born Winter 05
Puppyflowers #7
Slope #21

So good. So free of charge. My eyes hurt.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

I have really been struggling lately with my writing style. I want it changed. I want to move on but I feel trapped in it. I just completed writing a little chapbook of poems that I call Abraham Lincoln and Other Death Scenes, which I think with much bias is pretty stellar, but its style isn't much of a depature from The Man Suit, the manuscript I've been working on since oh say 2001 (after grad school). I like what I write, but it's getting tired. A formula (aaaaahh!) is beginning to develop. It is so very difficult to get my style to move along outside of any sort of writing community. I'm out of school (but going back in the Fall) and Bozeman is dead to poetry. A is a wonderful and eager reader, but she doesn't write herself. So, I don't see anyone else's creative process develop. I read and read, and then tends to be a good silent community for me. I suppose that's pretty similar to most of you non-students.

This past week I've taken a new approach. In order to drop those prosey narrative-driven odd and strangely sad poems from my subconcious that just creep onto the page everytime I sit down to write, I've forced myself to write in an opposite style (whatever opposite might mean). I've been writing very lyrical, rhythmic poems--poems that don't depend on narrative to get the reader through, but on rhythm and whatnot, which is something I don't think I've done since the 7th grade when I was writing about melting snow in the spring, gag. Narrative still creeps its odd little offputting and sad head in but I don't think I'll ever get rid of that, and honestly I don't want to. That's who I am as a poet and I'm not trying to change that identity necessarily. These new poems I've written are the blues, among other things. I've read a few at Spaceship Tumblers if you want to hear--just keep in mind these are my little evolutionary experiments. And I'm working with line breaks and the locations of individual words which is something I haven't done for a while. It's pretty refreshing. Hopefully, after a while of this, my poetry may land somewhere in the middle. Let me know if you have any words of wisdom.

Also, much to Tony's disappointment, I'm selling Octopus t-shirts. Not because I'm trying to make a buck or because I'm trying to promote the site or make it bigger than it is through some sort of unrelated marketing--I could care less about that and I know damn well Octopus is about poetry--but because I wanted one for myself. Thats all. And because it's fun to make a design. I got a sweet tooth for graphic design. Is that so wrong? So if you want something, even though I don't expect you to, buy it here. If you don't, don't. Aren't I a good salesman? How bout this: if I see you wearing one at AWP in a bar like setting, I'll buy you a beer.

Oh and I'll give the $2.50 or so I earn in profits to the children. They are our future.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Going to the Post Office

The following two things are being shipped out by post today:

1. Abraham Lincoln and Other Death Scenes. A chapbook of poems to UDP.
2. The Man Suit. My first manuscript of poems to National Poetry Series. This is already tied up at 7 other contests but I must press on. I must write another check for money I barely have.

Sail gently into that dark night, girls. And don't take no bullshit from nobody.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Day shift dispatchin is still pretty cool. I'm getting pretty good at talking on the radio, using all my 10 codes now without saying to myself "huh huh I just said 10-4 huh huh". I took a call from my former retail boss today. Who's in charge now? Who needs who now?

I have a ride-along schedule for both of the next two days--one with the city PD the other with the fire dept. Gonna crack some skulls and then go put a fire out. Bozeman, MT, is soooo safe now.

Two new Bright Eyes albums come out tomorrow. I'll try to pick up at least I'm Wide Awake It's Morning. I'll probably put off Digital Ash in a Digital Urn until I can save up more pennies and nickles.

Gonna send some books out for Octopus reviewers today or tomorrow. Probably tomorrow.

Sideways is playing down at the old downtown one-screener. Might go tonight.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Abraham Lincoln's Death Scene

I'm pretty sure it's time to wrap up things up for this little chapbook I've been working on. It's always hard to tell for me. One more poem? I'm sure I'll tinker it to death after every rejection I get. Ahh, probably start tinkerin' some more on it tonight. I'm obsessed. I think I'm calling it Abraham Lincoln's Death Scene. That title pretty much sums things up. I'll be sending it out soon, one place at a time. No rush on this really. I'd hope the book manuscript gets picked up first.

First though I need a printer to print the thing off. Mine finally died a slow and painful death. Besides, it was sooo 1998. A and I are going to go get a new one right now. A's got all the research notes for picking out a good one right there in her pocket. She always the prepared one.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

 Posted by Hello

 Posted by Hello

 Posted by Hello
Above: some of Octopus designer Denny Schmickle's concert poster art. There is a show of his art at Baciami in Lincoln. If you're in the area you should check it out. Here's an article in the Daily Nebraskan about it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Snowshoeing just like MLK used to do

A, B, and I went snowshoeing along the Indian Creek in the Gallatin National Forest just south of town to celebrate MLK day. The creek could be heard echoing below all the snow--it was amazing. Here are some pics.

Z taking a break. Pondering things.  Posted by Hello

B vs the mountain. That is about as far up as he got. The mountain won. Posted by Hello

A. Posted by Hello

My right snowshoe. Posted by Hello

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Yesterday's mail brought my first package from the UDP subscription. Very very rad stuff. Gorgeous hand-made books and chapbooks.

1. O New York by Trey Sager
2. placefullness by Karen Weiser
3. The Blue Notebook by Daniil Kharms
4. Novelty Act by Maureen Thorson

Octopus was lucky enough to score some Daniil Kharms translations for issue #5. I've already torn through this one. It's top notch. Oh man.

And I'm really excited about Novelty Act too. I'm not too familiar with Maureen Thorson but I am going to make it a point to be. The 4 or 5 poems that I've read so far are pretty tight. And I was lucky enough to get a signed copy. I got 41 of 50!

Friday, January 14, 2005

Current Status

Sent some poems off today to The Hat and Lit. And I'm putting a few touches onto my manuscript to soon get it out to the National Poetry Series. Here's a look at my current submission status:


Jubilat - 8 months, 28 days
Cutbank - 2 months, 21 days
Pip.Lit - 2 months, 21 days
Spork - 21 days
The Hat - 0 days
Lit - 0 days

First Manuscript--

Pavement Saw Press - 5 months, 26 days
Futurepoem Books - 4 months, 4 days
American Poetry Review - 4 months 2 days
New Issues - 1 month, 25 days
BOA editions - 1 month, 25 days
Walt Whitman - 1 month, 25 days
Alice James Books - 1 month, 25 days

Recent Takes--

Canary - 1 poem
Parakeet - 5 poems
Unpleasant Event Schedule - 1 poem

Recent You Suck's--

CUE - the standard you suck
6X6 - the handwritten this sucks, but send more

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Throw Down in Vancouver

Where will you be on Thursday, March 31 from 10:30 am to 11:45 am? If you're in Vancouver, British Columbia, for the AWP conference you should come see Jake Adam York, Adam Clay, Matt Henriksen, Dan Albergotti, and myself discuss the difficulties of founding and editing journals when there is no shortage of journals and when the electronic journal is, though not new, still not altogether trusted.

I'm a little nervous you won't come and see us. We have a lot, a lot, of competition in that particular time slot. Here's out it breaks down:

1. Imagining the Political: Literature and Civic Engagement
2. Open Mic "Shortie" Fiction Celebration
3. Buy this Book! Promoting Your Fiction and Nonfiction Books
4. Teaching Fiction through Genre Crossing
5. Teaching Reading to Teach Writing
6. Moving Stories
7. Black British Writing in Contemporary Literature
8. Narrating Labour History
9. Beyond Judy Blume: The Challenges and Pleasures of Writing about Teenage Girls
10. Short Fiction Finds a Home: The 35th Anniversary of the Iowa Short Fiction Awards
11. A Celebration of Madeline DeFrees
12. Six Faculty Poets of the Interior Northwest’s MFA Programs: A Reading
13. The Poetics of Bearing Witness
14. Between Argument and Accident: Editing Independent Electronic Journals
15. Jazzing the Muse
16. Where It’s All Too Real: Alaska’s Nonfictional Demand
17. After Survival: Where is CanadianPoetry?
18. Mad Writing
19. The New Nature Writing
20. The Passionate Thread: The Narrative Strategies of Writers Who Focus on Both Poetry
and Prose

This is a pretty healthy crop of discussion choices. 19 competitors! Thankfully, only 11, 12, 13, 14 (that's ours), 17, and 20 focus on poetry. But even my AWP buddy this year, Tony Robinson, I'm guessing will want to attend #12.

After reading the details of each one, and excluding our own discussion, here is how I would rank the ones I'd want to be at:

1. 20
2. 12
3. 2
4. 16
5. 13

#20 is a question I've always been invested in. My poems, despite being somewhat unorthodox, disjointed in their narrative at times, and surprising I hope, tend to fall on the narrative side of things. I've struggled with this a bit, mostly because I've had other poets/editors dismiss me because of this. Somehow, in some circles, narrative in poetry discredits the poem--as if it's too easy or something. I don't know. I get a lot of my ideas from short stories and this discussion, which is headed up by Maxine Kumin, will focus on that fine line between prose writers and poets and what we can learn from each other regarding narrative. So, someone will have to take good notes in that one and then share them with me. Deal?

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


I'm fully adjusted now to my life as a dayshift dispatcher. I'll do dayshift for a month just like I did overnights for a month. A completely different job when the sun is up. Lots of parking complaints. Lots of dog dropping turds in the neighbor's yard. There are still quite a handful of some good intense in-progress assualt/EMS/domestic abuse calls, just fewer. Today I had a good one: the traffic hazard llama at large meandering down the road toward the interstate. No joke. I think it was Tina look for her fewd. Also got to speak on the phone with my favorite lovely local NBC-affiliate newscaster to set up an interview with the Sheriff. Nico Belha. NIco...Belllllllhaaaaa.

A poem has been a swimmin in my head all day, doing the backstroke. It's about the operator of the heart and lung machine. I mustn't say more. You'd like it. Ima gonna write it now.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Thoughts Upon My Recently Arrived Zach Schomburg American Poet Poster

Got my Zach Schomburg American Poet Poster in the mail today from Cafe Press. Didi was the artist/purchaser of the poster -- a public thank you to her. I'm super grateful to Didi for putting the effort into it and all the other posters she's done, but it is somehow strange to have a poster of oneself. I have no issues with modesty or self-loathing like several poets I'm aware of --I think I'm at a healthy balance between that and arrogance -- but to have a poster is funny. Not because I don't think I'm deserving (I know I'm not) but because being a poet is a funny reason for a poster. This kind of got me thinking of how we promote ourselves and where we fit into the pop culture. Posters are for teenagers mostly, or college students. They either have teenyboppers, naked chicks on cars, cars, naked chicks, comic book superheroes, or Jon Belushi in the "college" shirt on them. Icons on posters are reserved a little more for the rock'n'rollers. Who would buy a poet on a poster? People who consider themselves fans of a particular poet would be far less interested in the image of the poet (owning a poster) and associating themselves with that image (putting the poster on their wall) than reading the poet's book. We want the book, the words, not the face. The poet's book on the shelf is like our poster perhaps. "Look at my shelf...look who I'm a fan of" sort of thing. Whereas the teenage Aaron Carter fan is just as interested, if not more interested, in Aaron Carter's image than Aaron Carter's cd. So poet posters won't go far. And of course I'm fully aware that even if they would, I would most likely be the only owner of my poster, unless of course I posed half-nude on the hood of a Ferrari. In that case, Tost would probably buy one, maybe A-Rob.

Now that I'm thinking about it though, I think I want my own Zach Schomburg American Poet trapper keeper. That would be sweet. I want to day dream about that, walking into my first workshop this coming Fall, rippin' out the velcro on that bad boy, maybe casually pulling out my very own book (I'm counting on you for that Pavement Saw, Futurepoem, APR, New Issues, BOA, Walt Whitman or Alice James).

Thanks Didi.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Rhubarb is Susan

Some nifty little daily flash poetry reviews over at the new blog Rhubarb is Susan. The reviews so far seem to focus on individual poems in online mags, but who knows where it'll go from here. You should go there.

Friday, January 07, 2005

NFL playoff predictions

It's much more interesting for me to watch if I feel like I have little sumthin' sumthin' invested. I have no money, so I'll make some public predictions. The VICTOR of each matchup is bolded and all-capped.

Wildcard Round

RAMS at Seahawks
Broncos at COLTS
Vikings at PACKERS

Divisional Playoffs

RAMS at Eagles
Packers at FALCONS
Chargers at STEELERS

Divisional Championships

STEELERS at Patriots


STEELERS over Falcons - 34-13

It is a little unclear at this point which wildcard victor will play which divisional winner, so these predictions are a little shaky. Still fun.

*And staying on the sports tip (I'm a much bigger and more knowledgeable MLB fan than I am an NFL fan), a note to my boys the Chicago Cubs: Throw all of your money at Carlos Beltran. If you let the Houston Asshos sign him, your two-decade peak is behind you, you're finished--you hear me? Finished!

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Getting into Russian Poetry

I think I'm starting to get into Russian poetry, or at least more generally, eastern European poetry. The seed was first planted when I happened upon Balaklava, an online collection of Russian absurdist poems in translation--sadly, it is no longer, or at least I can't find any link into it that isn't broken. That is where I was introduced to poets Alexei Parshchikov and Oleg Grigoriev and from where a relationship began with poet/translators Wayne Chambliss, Brandon Downing and Eugene Ostashevsky (the latter two though were already known: Brandon from The Shirt Weapon, and Eugene from some poems of his in Fence). More recently I've started to drool over the catalogue over at Ugly Duckling Presse (thank you P for buying m a subscription!). Matvei Yankelevich heads up its Eastern European Poetry Series which is brilliant. And upon my asking a few months back, they sent me a copy of Dmitri Prigov's Fifty Drops of Blood translated by Christopher Mattison and Charlie Foos' Bending Spoons. I reviewed the Foos, which I truly enjoyed, for Octopus #4, but chose not to review Moscow's own Prigov because I couldn't quite wrap my little head around it--and still can't. It's heavy stuff, but remarkably easy to read. It's a ways beyond me I think and I don't quite have the words to do it justice. So I chose not bring it down to my level with my own words. Most recently, Matvei has sent me some of his translations of the late Russian poet/playwright Daniil Kharms (1905-1942) which I'm so anxious to show you in Octopus #5. And it looks like there may be a possibility of some Boris Poplavsky.

When I return to PhD school, I'll have to learn two foreign languages as part of the program. One will most certainly be Russian. I know not one word currently, but am fascinated by the sound of it, the way it looks, particularly on propaganda posters, and the way it sits on the opposite page in translated works like Fifty Drops of Blood. I want to be able to read that, maybe even translate an easy little poem. And I think I'll want one of those Bolshevik snow hats to do it in. I'll wear it to class on test days, and I'll do all of my best translating in it--the hat and maybe long underwear.

Monday, January 03, 2005

The Page

The Page seems to like Sarah Manguso and Andrea Baker from Octopus #4. Octopus likes the Page.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Last Couple of Days

Here are some pics from the last few days during our visit from A's parents. And there are some pre-visit gift unwrapping pics tossed in as well.

Z and A at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park. Look at my hand. It looks like cold white hand of death.  Posted by Hello

Me. Posted by Hello

P is pooped. Snowshoeing is tiring. Posted by Hello

All the Pfaffs (my in-laws and A) snowshoeing in the Bridger mountains north of town.  Posted by Hello

C doing the angel trick in the Bridger snow. Posted by Hello

A showing off the new tee she got from her San Fran sis, M, and her hubbie, P. We're all from the cornhusker state. And not everything is flat there. This is now my fav shirt of A's I think. It trumps the shirt I got for her from Luigi's in Akron that says Try Some of our Pie. It's #1.  Posted by Hello

A in her new wintery orange ensemble. That is our cat, Malkmus. Posted by Hello

Opening presents in my new Vote for Pedro shirt. Seriously, vote for him. He'll make your wildest dreams come true.  Posted by Hello