Friday, December 31, 2004

My New Year's Resolution

for the third year in a row is to quit smoking. This, again, should be relatively easy because I am not and never have been a smoker.

Also, to cuss more.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Mother-in-Law and Father-in-Law are in town and we unwrapped gifts. I got a Memoir of the Hawk by Tate, signed. I already own a paperback copy and have lovingly mutilated over the past year or two, but this is quite the gem. Apparently they sent it to his UMass address with a favor letter and an SASE. I had this fantasy that he'd have some idea of who I was and mention as such in the front pages, but no such luck--just a "to Zach". I'm telling myself they didn't mention my name in the letter. They also got me the collection of Tate essays edited by Octopus fav Brian Henry. I've read this in part from the library, but it'll be nice to own, and to complete. My in-laws are obviously a good group of folks to mention your favorite poets in front of, just so you know in case you find yourself there, talking in front of them.

I also scored a subscription to Ugly Duckling Presse (yes!), two nice upstanding citizen shirts (which I never seem to buy for myself), and my cherry mash.

Yesterday I got Matthew Thorburn's Subject to Change in the mail. I might review it for issue #5. Thanks Matt. If anybody else has a hankering for doing it, let me know.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

T and I, and the cephalopod

As Matt just mentioned in my comments, and Tony a few times in his unusually loud grave, this current issue of Octopus is the last T and I will edit together, though a majority of the poets already chosen for issue #5 have been picked by the both of us. The split is more like a Destiny's Child thing than Fleetwood Mac. The foundation is already there and it will not crumble. We were English major buds in school together outside Branson, MO, before either of us were reading anything great and long before either of us began publishing anything. I remember his first was the Black Bear Review, which I think is now defunct--I think his acceptance was via email. We hit the roof. We started self-publishing little chapbooks with borrowed materials from our campus computer lab/writing center job, reading from our latest collection at the campus Symposium. Oh man. Anyway, I guess I'm trying to say we'll be weaving throughout each other's lives, professional and socially, for the duration.

I'm smart enough to know that his presence on the marquee, and his talent on the stage, is a huge reason why all eight tentacles are now, I think, healthy and strong and the ink is fresh. It will now be able to move further from its current den, and it will evolve. The last thing we want is for you to come over to the site knowing exactly what to expect. The split will work out for Octopus, and T wanted to do it I think mainly with that in mind. Our tastes were beginning to take very different shapes. As an editor, I've really learned what I value in a poem, what moves me, what inspires me, and ultimately, what I want in my magazine. After these first four issues, T and I began to realize we had developed different tastes and we feared that if we'd continue we'd create this boring general overview of contemporary poetry where each of us get turd in the pants excited about our own half of the issue instead of indulging in one driven editorial focus. Plus he has other things that need attending: weddings and PhDs being among them. And look for him to pop up in another editorial role soon. I'm sure of it.

As for the moving and the evolving, issue 5 will be of a similar killer vein. For each issue after that I'm planning on inviting a contributing editor to help out with the selection. Another thing I think that could destroy the Octopus is if I had no outside input and it gets its identity from only my own tastes. This could alienate quite a few readers. By signing on a different contributing editor for each issue, the aesthetics will change and be fresh each time. Each issue will be different from its predecessor. One of the issues might contain only 8 poets, each of them with a small small chapbook of poems. One of the issues might be heavy on the critical squid side. One of the issues will never be a theme issue--this I promise you. There'll be the inevitable TT reunion issue. And if all goes well, I'm thinking of putting together a print issue for #8. Would you buy it? It'd be bitchin'.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Christmas Island

I took my little boat to Christmas Island, loaded it up pretty good then paddled slowly away into the little Christmas sunset.

Here's what I put in the boat, more or less:

Egger's How We Are Hungry - thanks MD
Tate's Return to the City of White Donkeys (2)(I'm planning on exchanging the other for some Ashbery or waiting for the Simic to come out) - thanks MD and AS
Some Atari games: Ms. Pac Man, Galaga, Dig-Dug, Pole Position, and Xevious - thanks AS
Taxi Driver
Sling Blade
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
The Graduate - all thanks AS
Old School - thanks BK
Some rad boot-like shoes that look killer with a good pair of jeans - thanks AS
Two Willie Nelson albums - thanks AT
Cast-Iron Fondue pot - thanks KS
Boxer shorts - thanks KS
Issues 4-8 of Lit - thanks GM
$ - thanks B and PL

The in-laws (T and CP) are arriving in town on Tuesday. It sounds like we may be going snow shoeing among other things. I still have to work every overnight that they are here so I'm not exactly sure when and if I'll be sleeping.

I'm planning on cleaning house tomorrow. Something thorough and full-assed. And planning on getting to the 9th stage in Ms. Pac-Man. The stage where the ghosts blink for a half second and they're twice as fast as the hero--that single celled bow-haired bombshell, I love you.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Octopus #4

Lift your head up, son, Octopus #4 is here.

It has 32 poets so get crackin’. Poets like Sarah Manguso, Dale Smith, Aase Berg, Donald Revell, GC Waldrep, Barbara Guest, Brian Henry, Gabriel Gudding, Kevin A. Gonzalez, Seth Parker, Nick Twemlow, Pasha Malla, Kirsten Kaschock, Anthony Robinson, Johannes Goransson, Aaron Kunin, Matthew Shindell, Allan Peterson, Brandon Downing, Cyrus Console, Andrea Baker, Hope J. Smith, Clayton Eshleman, Kevin Fitzgerald, Emily Rosko, Michael Ives, Eugene Ostashevsky, Dan Kaplan, Thibault Raoult, Daniel Borzutsky, and Standard Schaefer.

It has reviews, interviews, essays and another recovery project by the Octopus editors. Here are the details:

4 Reviews: Marcus Slease on Jon Thompson’s Book of the Floating World; Craig Morgan Teicher on Srikanth Reddy’s Facts for Visitors, Kevin Fitzgerald on David Miller’s Waters of Marah, and Zachary Schomburg on Charlie Foos’ Bending Spoons.

2 Interviews: Poems-for-All’s Richard Hansen and Flashpoint’s Bradford Haas

3 Essays: John Lowther on Jack Spicer; Jeff Encke on Linda Bierds; and Henry Gould from HG Poetics.

The Recovery Project recovers Suzanne Gardinier and Paul Mann.

Pace yourself.

Enjoy it.

Spread the word, if the word is good.

You like Octopus.

We do this for you.


Zachary Schomburg and Tony Tost, co-editors
Denny Schmickle, design

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

My Monday Night/Tuesday Morn, in pictures

Tonight is one of my two nights off. I got a little antsy, so I took some pics. Wanna see em? Here ya go.

I'm wearing my most recently purchased post-modernly worn t-shirt. I went to Wal-Mart tonight (forgive me) to buy Napoleon Dynamite. It was 2 am and should've been shelved at midnight for it is a Tuesday release, but I had to make the little old blue vested lady go to the back and open a box. She said she liked my shirt and I thanked her. I told her I wear it cuz it's so damn true. I'm 27. I suppose that info is helpful to the joke. It makes it funny, kind of. Posted by Hello

That's the wall above the couch. On the top left shelf is an old old editon of Bukowski's Mockingbird Wish Me Luck, Joe Wenderoth's Letters to Wendy's given to me by Tost as a wedding gift 42 months ago, and an old Leaves of Grass given to me by one of my College of the Ozarks professors Dr. Bradford Crain, from bottom to top. My mom gave us that clock. Posted by Hello

Watched a boob on the toob Posted by Hello

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Holiday Wish List: Addendum B

i. Forklift, Ohio magnet and/or No Tell Motel sticker. T-shirts would also be acceptable.
ii. How We Are Hungry by Dave Eggers
iii. 2005 baseball cards, a complete set of Topps, you know, for my future children.

Note: My parents (mom) and I agreed to not exchange presents. I was comfortable with the arrangement, but she caved. I knew she would. We got a big ole UPS package in the mail a day or two ago. She's claiming they are "I miss you" presents. despite the fact they were all individually wrapped in shiny christmas tree paper. Merry IMissYou I guess. Here's what we scored:

1. Trivial Pursuit 90's edition
2. Ski socks
3. Tasting the Wine Country: Recipes from Romantic Inns and Resorts - Music by the Mike Marshall Quintet
4. Homemade goodies including my favorite, chocolate/cherry mash bars. You know the ones?
5. A blanket with tassles that were constructed by my mom and my sister.
6. About 20 individual packets of apple cider drink mix
7. A Bathroom Trivia book.

I give you some samples of bathroom trivia. Print these out and take them with you next time you crap. Wash your hands. Then leave your answers here.

Should you land any of the following jobs, what exactly would you be doing?

1. Scarpologist
2. Whirly Girl
3. Clack
4. Brontologist
5. Funambulist
6. Piscatologist
7. Erymologist
8. Pugilist
9. Perfusionist
10. Enologist

Or for us lit buffs, what was the first novel written on the typewriter?


Friday, December 17, 2004

Spaceship Tumblers

All poems. All audio. All the time. It's Spaceship Tumblers. Don't fight it. Crank it. Crank it all the way up.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The Newest and Most Petitest

The sixteenth issue of La Petite Zine just came out today. Some of my favs are representin': Heidi Lynn Staples, Anthony Tognazzi, Matthew Thorburn, Daniel Borzutzky, Kirsten Kaschock, Michael Schiavo. I'm in there with two little numbers from Man Suit if you're interested. I haven't had a chance to read any of this yet, but I'll be anxious to dig in later tonight.

I have some Octopus issues (get it?) to deal with. Sorry about hinting at an issue this weekend. Tech probs. Fun. Sometimes I honestly think a print mag would be easier to put out. This issue will be worth it though (I repeat this in my head).

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Yesterday's Two Mail Items:

1. Jen Tynes' Found in Nature - Horseless Press. I asked for it in the original Holiday Wish List (11/29) and Tynes answered the call. Ask and you shall receive. I first got turned on to what she was doing a few months back from her poems submitted during the Octopus August reading period. Then I found some stuff in 4.4 of the Diagram, I think. The book is great by the way. I read it through in one sitting. Each little prose poem works as part of the whole really. It is heartbreaking. It is strangely broken and strangely sad. I loved it. And it is beautifully hand-made--and mine is signed! 18 of 50. Get yours.

JT is not the only one to respond so kindly to my innocently tossed-about wishes. Gina Myers (New School student, reader for Lit, listener of superior music, and exceptionally talented poet) stumbled upon Wish List Addendum A (12/11) and is going to send along one or so issues of Lit. I have been meaning to subscribe to Lit for a long while, so this will certainly satisfy that particular overdue want. Lit, along with several others like Fence, Canary, Verse, Denver Quarterly, No, and Jacket, to name a very quick handful, really seem to have their finger on the pulse. So maybe, thanks to Gina, I'll be a little more informed. And I'll be sure to get a subscription for my future issues too.

2. My Jan/Feb issue of Poets and Writers. I haven't really sat down to give it much attention yet, but I have flipped through it while in my lavatory reading room. I always start at the contest deadlines, and the "calls for" section in the back. Then after seeing the same print mags ask for the same poems, and no one I know too well win some prize I forgot to enter, I turn to Kevin Larimer's LitMagNet section to see to whom KL is passing out shout-outs. And thanks to No Tell Motel, I got one alongside Laura Carter and Kirsten Kaschock. That's always fun. Well, it is.

Monday, December 13, 2004

The 2 Reasons I'm Sore

1. A and I went skiing yesterday in Big Sky, MT, about an hour from our place. It was our first ski of the season and my body was not adequately prepared. I neglected to take enough time for stretching--the mountains could not wait that long. Areas most affected: thighs, calves, knees.

Sidenote A: Most of our equipment purchased for this season is secondhand. Between the two of us, we spent about $200 for 2 pairs of each of the following: skis, boots, goggles, and poles. We used all of it for the first time with some reservation yesterday, but it all worked beautifully.

Sidenote B: We thought we spotted Michael Keaton on the chair lift ahead of us. We skied as fast as we could to pass him. Stopped. Waited for him to pass us so we could get a good look. Wasn't him (I live for telling anti-climatic stories!).

2. Saturday night I was supposed go on a ride-along as part of my dispatcher training. Instead, the sargent guy asked me to play the bad guy in one of those massive padded suits for cop training scenarios. I got the living tar beat from me! It was super-cool. I got to tongue lash these training uniformed cops. I called em pigs. I used naughty language. I got to try to take them down. Roles I played: owner of house at loud party, drunk bar-fight guy, lost-will-to-live guy wielding knife (rubber), looking for driver's license but uncovering gun guy, and hiding anywhere in a building guy (I chose dark women's bathroom on the second floor--they had to clear the building and find me). In three of the scenarios I was a little unruly and got handled roughly. Elbowed in the back of the padded head. Kneed in the padded back. Kicked in the padded nuts. And fake peppersprayed.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Holiday Wish List: Addendum A

ii. Lit

i. GC Waldrep's Goldbeater's Skin
ii. Matthea Harvey's Sad Little Breathing Machine

i. Tony Tost American Poet poster (currently a broken link)

Note: This is an addendum. The items on this list should not receive priority over the items on the original list (scroll down) and will therefore not be ranked. At best these items are of parallel priority, though still highly desired (and will likely be purchased post-holidays if not received).

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Look at My Table

Like the rest of us, as far as I can tell, I've been tinkering with ("molesting" might be more apporpriate [no, no, "molesting" is never appropriate]) my manuscript. It's an addiction. Here's what is sitting at 6 book (mostly first-book) contests.

The Man Suit

1. Deleted Scenes

#77 2
#108 3
#120 4


The Center of Worthwhile Things 6
Experiment in Invisibility 7
Late Shift at the Clambake Afterlife 8
The Bear Mutilation 9
What I Found in the Forest 10
Congressman Chainsaws for Arms 11
Bear and Camper 12
I’m Not Carlos 13

3. Telephones 14


Underneathe Pathetique 22
Cold and Unattached 23
If Great Lakes 24
Lepellier Experiment 25
Soukatsu Jibun 26
Sea of Japan 27
The Things that Surround Us 28
The Lung and Haircut 29
Islands in the Black Night 30
A Band of Owls Moved Into Town 31
Low-Life Pilgrims 32

5. [Opera Singer] 33


Last President of a Dark Country 42
Letter to the Late Baron 43
What Everyone Started Wearing 44
The Sandwich Board 45
Experiment in Geography 46
Policy for Whales 47
Maybe Columbus Day 48
I’ve Since Folded This Poem Into a Perfect Airplane 49
What I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You 50
Letter to Scientists 51
Telephones II 52
Telephones III 53
Last President’s Address 54
The String Quartet 55
David Ignatow Poem 57

33 of these 39 poems are already in, or are forthcoming in publications. I've been worrying lately if this fact is a negative mark to contest judges. Perhaps there is a desire among judges to pull someone from the dark corner that few other editors or contest judges have been able to find.

And these poems have been slowly released to each of these mags over the past 3 years or so. The new poems that I have been working on are going to be unreleased for the time being I think. They are far from becoming a manuscript at this point, but I think the next manuscript may be a little more effective if I stew everything in the same pot for a longer period of time, let all the ingredients soak into one another, and then serve everyone at the same time so they can discuss as they eat. Mmm this thing here is delicious. Yes, I am eating this other thing from the same pot as you are eating yours, and it too is delicious. The whole pot must be outstanding. This is quite the cook. I don't know. Thoughts?

I also wanted to display my Man Suit contents because as an editor of Octopus, as I select individual poem(s )that are submitted, I often wonder how they(it) fit into the whole manuscript. Where are they located? Are they connected to other poems? Is it the lead poem of a section, or of the whole thing? The closing poem? I think about these things. If you are an editor of a mag I made it into, and you think these things too, here you go. Here you go, man.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

B was kind enough to take this snap of A and I. We were at the downtown Bozeman's Christmas stroll last weekend. We did some shopping, street-eating, and frolicked. There was one store with Santa's sexy lady-helpers sitting motionless in the front windows. "Stand-still models" I call 'em. I hate stand-still models. They creep me out. I want to look at them, and stare at what they're modeling (that's the whole point right?) but I feel shamed. I was sorry for them. I bet they were sad inside.  Posted by Hello

Here's St. Nick just after lighting a giant christmas tree which was hanging above him between buildings. He threw up some sort of magical Christmas confetti dust and it just lit up--though I'm guessing that some city worker with a power switch was behind it all. I was waiting for the Holiday Armadillo to pop out and magically light a giant menorah, but apparently Bozeman's city council is 0% jewish. Also of note: I took this in black and white because I was feeling "old-timey". Posted by Hello

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

#4 proofs

Finally (finally), after sitting on technical problems and having a lot of good life get in the way, for all three of us, Tony, Denny, & I, I'll be sending out Octopus #4 proofs today. It'll feel good to let this thing out of its dark and watery den. It's a heavy one. Look for it this weekend (please don't let me eat my words).

Monday, December 06, 2004

1. Aaron McCollough has put up some killer songs of his on his blog. Very impressive. I listened to them all while mopping my tiny little apartment kitchen floor. I mopped slowly, deliberately, cautiously to make sure I fit in all the tracks. It wasn't quite enough to fill the time so I also cleaned out the fridge a little. These songs remind me of Radar Bros. Maybe a little Track Star. Maybe a little AM/FM. Here are my three favorite, in order: 1. Fire's On the Phone 2. Song for Puckheads 3. Try My Flashlight

2. I made Cuban Black Bean soup for Al and I tonight--some butter 7 grain bread on the side and washed it down with a couple bottles of Blue Moon Belgian Wheat with a slice of orange squeezed in.

3. I think I might start writing a lot of small poems. Maybe 25-40 of them. They will all be individually titled and independent from each other, but connected in style, rhythm, and perhaps a few plot/character revisitations. They will all be packaged as one poem with many small moveable parts not recommended for tykes under 3. I've written 8 so far. Out of context they're a bit dependent, but a taste anyway:

Coming Clean

I am not a pediatrician.
I am the maker of giant-
sized bird cages. This is my work,
the one you’ve been
living your whole life in.

4. I'm trying to set up a reading for myself and Anthony Robinson, and possibly one or two others, in Vancouver during AWP. I'm having no luck so far. I don't really know where to start. Please let me (us) know if you can help.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

The new MAR

My first night on the bat shift went well. It started off in a frenzy and then this town really dies between 4-6am--makes dispatchin' easy. We're allowed to bring reading material for those slow times. I brought my new 25th anniversary edition of Mid-American Review. It's a real who's who (360-some pages). I'm halfway through, skipping over the short stories over course, as I always do on my first read--you do it too. Poems in this issue I love so far, and whose poets I know nothing about yet, are David Shumate and Alison Turner. And I've been a fan of Cate Marvin now since last spring (Octopus #1 recruitment) and she continues to impress.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Zen Grocery

After watching GBV's final televised rock-out I decided I wanted to do some grocery shopping at the local 24-7. Late night grocery store shopping could be, outside of any natural environment, the most zen experience I think I can experience. It is so quiet and peaceful and empty. It's as if it is my own private grocery store, shiny and brilliant. I took some pics. They're below.

I begin my 11-7am's tomorrow night and I am training me-body to do its livin' at night. It feels good. It's strange, but somehow sexy. I am the nocturnal cowboy and you can refer to me as such. My bronco is the night.

Frozen Posted by Hello

Canned goods Posted by Hello

Meats Posted by Hello

Dairy Posted by Hello

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Guided By Voices Tonight

GBV will be rocking the Conan O'Brien show tonight. It's one of GBV's last shows. I'd get that mutha on video cassette. If you have young children, or are thinking of soon making some, they are going to ask you (when they're of rock'n'roll-appropriate age) about GBV. You better have some visual aid for this lesson to go along with your audio. Don't let the next generation down.

Also, Bob Pollard is auctioning off some of his GBV stuff here. Again, think of the kids.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The Hurtling

Got John Witte's The Hurtling (Orchises Press) in the mail today. John is the editor of the Northwest Review which took two of my very early poems. I submitted the same poems a number of times and he really worked with them. It takes me back to when those acceptance letters gave me a high for the whole month, made me want to call my mom to tell her my good news. Now I just tell her about my acceptances via blog. When The Man Suit (my first manuscript) gets picked up, boy--thats worth an immediate call.

Anyway, John Witte. The Hurtling looks promising. I've read the first section thus far and have gotten into it. It's the first I've read of him. It takes some adjustment, and I'm adjusting. I'll probably review this for Octopus #5. This reminds me: Octopus is open to review (and recovery project) suggestions anytime, any place (well, at Send me your books to review. Or send me your reviews of books. Or send me your suggestions of reviews you might want to do. Or send me a tin of peanut butter cookies.

 Posted by Hello

Monday, November 29, 2004

Holiday Wish List #1

This will be the first of a few wish lists I'll be composing during the following few weeks--partly as a reference for loved ones (or for the occasional blog-reading stranger [email me for an address]), but mostly to satisfy my deep itch for cataloging. And also, I like to rank things, so these are ranked.

1. Ugly Duckling Presse
2. NO
3. The Hat (323 Degraw #2, Brooklyn NY 11231)
4. Crowd

1. Charles Simic - Aunt Lettuce, I Want to Peek Under Your Skirt
2. James Tate - Return to the City of White Donkeys
3. Ben Lerner - The Lichtenberg Figures
4. John Ashbery - Where Shall I Wander
5. Joyelle McSweeney - The Commandrine and Other Poems
6. Andrea Baker - Like Wind Loves a Window
7. Jen Tynes - Found in Nature
8. Linh Dinh - All Around What Empties Out

1. Stanley Kubrick collection
2. Napoleon Dynamite
3. The Graduate
4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
5. Tron

1. These shoes
2. Or maybe these
3. Gift certificate to the Gap (keepin' it real)

Please, stay tuned for addendums. And please, based on these particular wishes, provide suggestions of other things I might like to wish for.

Also of Note: I've arranged with my family not to do too much giving this year, with a handful of exceptions of course. I did however pick up one of those things off the angel tree at work. I'll be buying "books--novels (large print if possible)--adventure, sports" for a Gene H. at the rest home.

The Split Levels

I have no musical talent whatsoever, but I oft aspire to be on stage. If I had a band it would most likely be a twee pop boy-girl vocals outfit. I'd be on the skins with a headset mic, and the girl singer would be up front in an a-frame, bjork style. We'd be The Split Levels, and our big hit would be "Makeout en la Foyer".

I think my poems are ripe for those kinds of bands: awkward, understated. If you have musical talent and one of these bands, let me know, I'll hook you up.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Kate Greenstreet's Shelf

So many thank-yous to distribute for showing me your bookshelves. A very healthy response--I only wish I could see them in person, peruse the other shelves, pick up a few things, and drop a few misplaced names.

Another very talented young poet who showed me her shelf is Kate Greenstreet. T and I fell in love with one of Kate's poems during our August reading period and just had to have it. Look for it after this next slowly baking issue.

Kate sent me her shelf via email for she has no blog. There was no inventory attached but this is what I make of it: the leftmost pile: Fanny Howe's Wedding Dress, a CD Wright, and Bert Jansche's Dazzling Stranger. Middle pile: Canary #3 sitting up top which means she wants it handy, Paul Celan, and a big fat Keats. Rightmost: Kafka, John Wiener's Selected, a NO (not as handy as the Canary but should be), and George Oppen holding all the weight.

Also: the Lovely Arc is on Laura Carter's blog crush list (see wed. the 24th). This is the Arc and I's first crush list I think. We're embarrassed, but appreciative.

 Posted by Hello

Saturday, November 27, 2004

We found a little "crick", or is it a brook? It was babbling, so possibly the latter.  Posted by Hello

Al found a perfect Al-sized indention in which to rest.  Posted by Hello

Me. Posted by Hello

Looking east. The sun behind the hazy clouds. Posted by Hello
Went for a walk with A and B in the Bridger Mountains north of town this morning. It felt good to get some oxygen in the lungs and remind myself how beautiful this area really is. I should do this more often--I have no idea why I don't. Maybe I will. Anyway, there was more snow than we had bargained for, but we trudged on. I put in some pics above.

Dispatcher news: The last two nights I've slowly started to answer calls. I'm fielding mostly non-emergency excitement but have often come across some moderate level concerns. Fires, assaults, sexual crimes, threats, loud parties, and pot. It's a real rush answering the phone because any of a variety of very scary monsters could lurk behind it. I begin night shift (11pm-7am) next Friday. I'm anxious to see how my new life as a bat is going to turn out.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

thanksgiving day post

Karaoke'd last night again with Brian and Allison, and a handful of other karaoke characters: hispanic cowboy, toothless guy, wandering cowboy crooner, man pam, teddy bear sweater lady, big glasses geriatric back toucher guy, bandana boy, and nose exhaler smoker lady. I knocked em dead with The Band's Up on Cripple Creek and then paid homage to The Graduate with a stirring rendition of Mrs. Robinson, Thanksgiving style.

Thanks to Tony and Tony and Shanna for playing along and showing me their shelves. These shelves are beautiful but I'm not satisfied with just the three. I have seen just enough for me to crave more. Who else has a shelf to show off? And if you show it off, let me know so I can gawk.

I hope you are with your loved ones today. Allison and I will be missing our families completely this year (it looks like it for both holidays) but we'll be with good Montana friends today watching football, a few Thanksgiving episodes on our Friends dvd (Allison's idea), and playing some cards or something. I made pumpkin pie cheesecake.

Have a killer thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

My Top Shelf

When I visit a home for the first time, I'm usually most interested in their bookshelves. They are my flames and I am their moth. So here's mine. Maybe I can encourage a few fellow bloggers to show me their top shelves.

Top left horizontal row (top to bottom): the new McSweeney's (a gracious gift from my mother-in-law who likes to buy me poetry books and I like to accept them), a few anon press publications, a Skein (handmade, very rad, edited by Seth Parker[I'm in the next one and very excited]), a 6x6 with the rubberband spine, a free lunch, and a Mid-American Review.

Top right horizontal row (top to bottom: the new Field, Canary #2 (#3 is on my couch right now), Skanky Possum, Zukofsky, Ted Greenwald, and a graphic arts book from the 70s that I like to cut stuff out of and paste on things.

Vertical row (left to right, just like we read): some old Greg Kuzmas, 4 or 5 print mags I'm in from 2 or 3 years ago, the beats, Jonah Winter's Amnesia, some Stephen Dobyns, 4 James Tates, Prigov and Foos from the Ugly Duckling Presse (I did a review of the Foos in Octopus #4), the big black one in the center is Charles Simic's Voice at 3 am, and then 3 more Simic's, Michael Heffernan, another Skanky Possum, an older McSweeneys, Tony Tost's Invisible Bride (this one's signed and is precious to me--I have another that is beat up), David Berman's Actual Air, Matthew Rohrer's Green Light (here's my review of it), Komunyakaa, 2 Ron Overton's from Hanging Loose, Geoffrey Dyer's Dirty Halo of Everything from Krupskaya, Lyn Hejinian's My Life in the Nineties by Shark, Fanny Howe's Tis of Thee and Lohren Green's Poetical Dictionary from Atelos, a couple Lawrence Raab, K. Silem Mohammed's Deer Head Nation from Tougher Disguises, Jalal Toufic's Distracted from Tuumba, Bukowski (more on the lower shelves), a couple Hayden Carruths, a couple Albert Goldbarths, and then 4 Russell Edsons including his novel (I bet you didn't know about that) The Song of Percival Peacock.

Now you know what books not to get me for Kwanzaa. I'll make a list of what I do want, after Thanksgiving.

Now let me see your shelves.

 Posted by Hello

Monday, November 22, 2004

Octopush-cart Prizes

I'm sending Tony and I's selections to the Pushcart people today. It was difficult, to say the least, to pick only six when every poem in the damn magazine is there because one or the both of us fell madly in love with it. So, here are the six we came up with collectively, and unmentioned are the 50 or so runners-up.

1. Ronald Johnson - Blocks to be Arranged in a Pyramid (Issue #3)

2. Matt Henriksen - Alien Bugs Prints Its Way to Freedom (Issue #3)

3. Julie Larios - The Architect Isozaki Designs a House for Lewis Carroll (Issue #3)

4. Aaron Kunin - chapters from The Mandarin (Issue #4)

5. Emily Rosko - Less Art, More Monkeys (Issue #4)

6. Thibault Raoult - Dispatch (Issue #4)

I wussed out and decided not to link the issue #4 stuff. I'm going to keep that monster under the bedsheet for a just a bit longer. I assure you though, he is a large and beautiful creature.

And speaking of Tony T: He's under the bright lights in NYC tonight. If you're in NYC, you'd be a fool not to go. You'll be able to tell your friends you saw him when he was young, and still handsome.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Back from my ride along with officer Dan, the protein man. A good testerone rush for me. Lots of machismo, speeding up around the mountainous corners to catch the I drink lotsa beer trucks. We tried our damndest to find someone who was breaking the law, but the beat was pretty dead. Officer Dan let me search the back end of a Silverado topper with my heavy skull-cracking flashlight though, but all I found was some dirty laundry (the literal kind). I was nervous as hell, but acted tough. Dispatchin is more for me than coppin. I can wear sweatpants and snack on animal crackers and drink hot tangerine tea all night.

Back to being a poet: Pushcart announcements tomorrow, if you're lucky.

cracking skulls

This evening, as part of my dispatcher training, I'm going on a ride-along. Apparently, the officer I've been assigned to eats nothing but protein bars and drinks nothing but protein shakes, and has a device on the front of his Ford 350 that obliterates deer when hit in order to save damage to the front end of his unecessarily large vehicle. Sounds like we'll have a lot to talk about.

Regardless, I'm excited. I've never done anything like this before. I've watched COPS, but. Watch out Gallatin County, Montana, this sensitive poet type is ready to crack some skulls.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

One of the very coolest independent poetry magazines, I think, is Fence. I learned yesterday that Fence took one of my poems, which in turn makes me very cool. I got that letter in the mail with my handwriting on it on my way to work--my stomach dropped. I held it up to the sun to see what size of paper it contained--do you do this?

Anyway, I am having an encouraging run of luck. I am very happy. I like to write poems.

Friday, November 19, 2004

my 2 cents about Tate

Some very interesting things being said by Josh Corey about James Tate. And by Jonathan Mayhew. Tate's been one of my favs since I started reading poetry in undergrad. He was the one who actually turned me onto the whole idea of reading and writing poetry. As Corey mentions, Tate's poems are the poems to give to people who don't think they like poetry. They are incredibly easy to read, and fun. They are like candy. And to further the metaphor, we can't eat candy for dinner every night, but it shouldn't make us a less sophisticated eater if we enjoy a handful of skittles before bed. Tate is the poet who inspired me to write--"hey, I can do this". And after 5 years, I'm realizing what he does, even though it may look it, is not at all easy.

Another metaphor I find fitting: Tate is like a slight of hand magician doing the same tricks over and over again. We know it's not real magic, and we may even know how he does it, but we watch every time. It's addicting. And there's nothing wrong with reveling in it.

You should buy Tate's new book Return to the City of White Donkeys. Do it. It's just like all the others, and it kicks ass (Mr. Tate, will you send poems to Octopus?).

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Sorry for getting a tad emotional on you last night. I was in the moment and decided to bring it. So it was brought. And thank you to good friend Will for the sentiment-it's reciprocal.

Anyway, yesterday and today are my days off. This is my weekend, so to speak, and here's what's been going on:

Yesterday morning I went to a new county employee orientation. They talked about health insurance, sexual harassment, retirement, and so on. I didn't really pay much attention--most of it blew right past me. But they did give me a really cool keychain that has a thermometer on it.

Rented Super-Size Me and watched it with Allison. She was sick and didn't go to work. Thumbs up-Wesley Willis rocking the sound track. Won't McEat for a McMonth.

Went to Albertsons and bought 3/4lb pastrami, brick cheeses (medium cheddar and muenster), wheat bread, string cheese, gala apples, sour cream and cheddar lays, a variety pack of teas (in order to know which one and luck and will subsequently invest in), lots of different diet soda (sprite mostly) for they were only 2.38 a 12 pack, beer, peanuts, good-for-you frozen dinners, 2 ply tp, and cucumber melon bathsoap. I forgot to get hamburger.

Went to Cactus Records in downtown Bozeman again with an agenda. Bought 2 records: 1. Futureheads - Sire Records. Really really good post-punk. The Clash, The Strokes and The Cars have had a baby together. Track #5, "Meantime", is killer. I can't get it loud enough in my car. 2. Hayden - Badman Records. I have all the Hayden records, so I figure that I've come this far. Very good. Comfort music. Goes next to my Red House Painters, my Iron and Wine, my Bonnie Prince Billy, my Pernice Brothers, and my Mendoza Line.

I missed Wednesday night chess club for the 5th week in a row.

The hot tea of the week: cranberry apple zinger. A 6 out 10 teabags rating.

Meals: 1. Old Chicago last night with friend Brian (owns a Wesley Willis original painting). Stuffed Chicago 7. Newcastle Brown Ale on tap. 2. Pastrami, cheddar, mayo on Wheat sandwich. Cheddar/Sourcream potato chips. Diet Root Beer. I ate this while watching the new Family Feud. I could have beaten the Martinez family by myself. Things you see too much of on TV: and the Martinez clan chooses "sports" before "sex". Please.

Still to do:

1. Jump on the band and the wagon, get with Tony, and choose Octopus Pushcart nominations. Must do this soon because Tony leaves for NYC to read with Joyelle McSweeney. They will read at the Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church at 8pm on Monday the 22nd. It will be T's first time to the city. I'm excited for him. Go out and see them for God's sake.

2. Make hotel reservations for the AWP.

3. Find an abandoned hi-tech and free-of-charge copier to make copies of manuscript so I can send it out for previously mentioned contests.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The Toast

My dad is a swim coach and teacher in Council Bluffs, Iowa, which is just across the river from Omaha. He has lived there now, and has done his thing, for roughly 45 years. In this time he has really been able to plant some roots and touch a lot of people. A lot. Last weekend, about 200 people threw him a roast. They got up and talked about him, talked about his family, his good deeds, and poked some fun at him. 200 people found him important enough to go out of their way and contribute to his toasting/roasting. I wasn't able to go: new job, no plane fare--and for that I feel like a real turd. They mentioned me several times, and his relationship with me (and my 15 year old sister, Kelsey), showed a few old-timey photos, etc. I haven't talked to him yet--another thing that I feel pretty bad about--but my mom mentioned that he missed me that night.

Pops, if I could touch a quarter of the people you have touched so far in your life, and if I could be a quarter of the man you are and have been, than I am doing something right. I'm sorry I missed your roast, but I'm at the very front of the line when it comes to the people that love you.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The 4 Rings it Must Enter

Giving the tired first manuscript a neck and shoulder rub down before work tonight. It has to go back out there and fight Clay's, among numerous others. Here are the 4 rings in which it must enter before the end of the month:

1. The Poulin, Jr New Poets
2. The New Issues
3. The Bea Hawley
4. The Walt Whitman

Go get em. You're the man-uscript. You're the man-uscript.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Just back from dispatch. Midnight. It is dark, but not stormy. I've recently discovered the world of hot tea--I even went to Albertson's to pick up a 16oz thermal mug. My very first hot tea was two days ago (hot tea and karaoke in one week!). It was straight up Lipton. I've already begun to experiment with the sexy middle-eastern hindu type teas. Tonight was honey vanilla chai with one half and half. This excites me. And, needless to say, my body is not used to this level of caffeine and I will not be able to sleep tonight. So I've been tinkering around with the image of my blog. Adjusted a few knobs and gears. I went with a yellow and orange border to celebrate the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. I'm not necessarily a big fan of the holiday, or at least the impetus behind it, but I do like to eat and gather. And I have no problems with the colors that represent it. So there's that for your enjoyment. I've just decided that I will also be adjusting the colors to correspond with other holidays and national events.

I also changed my profile photo. I took my own picture when I got home tonight. I was jealous of A-Rob's and Tost's. I too wanted a black and white, self-taken, cool ass photo. And I must say that here I'm looking fairly cool ass. Jealous?

I'm quickly learning that Didi Menendez is cool. And that she must mistakingly think I'm actually cool, and not just frontin'. She made a portrait of me and some others here. To my knowledge, this may be my first portrait--other than the doodle of myself I used to make in Shakespeare class. When called out on my mini self portraits by Dr. (dang, who was our shakespeare teacher?), I quickly put a crown on it and claimed them to be King Lear.

I'm going to go write a poem now. Stay up until it is all out. It is going to be about a factory that only exists at night. I think it is in a forest. I'm not sure what it makes yet. I'll let you know.

My new job

Dispatcher job is like no other. I'm just in the observing stage right now, and I've watched my trainer, Tanya, deal with intense domestic issues, life and death issues, blood from the head, angry man outside the door issues, and then get a chuckle out of a couple guys mooning some mormons, or crazy paranoid frequent caller lady call in about someone stealing all of the spandex pants from her trailer home. They only come out at night. Its a bit like playing a video game overnight: putting out fires one at a time--the clock is ticking. We should get scores.

It's an ideal job for snacking on animal crackers and drinking hot tea. We can wear sweat pants too. I'm excited to go back tonight.

My sleep cycle will allow me to stay up all night on my days off. I like to write poems late at night, so this will be fun. Can't write (can't drink either) when the sun is up.

Friday, November 12, 2004

5 things

There are five things I want to tell you:

1. I start my new job as a dispatcher today. I'll work from 3 to 11pm this first month (and after that I'm likely to get the overnight shift). I'm told that this first week I'll sit in a comfortable chair and observe the others. That's 40 paid hours of sitting and watching. This is a good job. I am a bit anxious, but they really seem to be big on easing the newbies in slowly.

2. I'm getting a haircut today at Cost Cutters by a very nice woman named Lonnie. I want to look sharp for my first day, and Lonnie has an eye for sharp.

3. I'm missing the Winter Wheat festival at Bowling Green in Ohio this year, for obvious reasons. I've been the past 3 years as both a participant and presenter. It's a good time and I have met so many good people/writers. I'm bummed out because Dara Wier, one of my favorite poets, is going to be there.

4. The very talented Heidi Lynn Staples took some of my poems for her magazine Parakeet. This will now be the fifth magazine named after a bird that I've be published in (Kestrel, Peregrine, The Canary, and Ducky). I'm having a string of good luck--let's hope it carries into the manuscript department. Lots of killer competition out there.

5. The new sixth issue of Pettycoat Relaxer has one of my poems in it, and some really rad stuff from Michael Schiavo, Clayton Couch, Eileen Tabios, and Jess Mynes. Apparently, PR is the new disco of poetry.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

My first time

Yesterday was my very last day as an employee of the gift store at the airport, and my very first night of karaoke. I even got a free beer out of the whole deal when I told the KJ it was my first time. She bought me a beer with the words "I Lost My Virginity with Sunshine Karaoke Entertainment" etched into it and I got to keep the glass. I lost it (my karaoke virginity) to the Chilipeppers "Under the Bridge". I wanted to go with something I knew well at first. I was a wee bit nervous. We were some of the very few without cowboy hats. And I sported a shirt that read "I'll never let you go-Prom '94". I thought its creepy aging sad man vibe would be somehow appropriate for Karaoke until I found everyone else was wearing Carhart and taking the stage very seriously. Thankfully, the 8 Pabst Blue Ribbons helped take off some of the edge. Anyway, I set em up with Under the Bridge, then later brought down the house with the Cars' "Best Friend's Girl".
Despite the fact that 90% of the selections were either some Garth Brooks tune or Devil Went Down to Georgia, my selections did fairly well. I figured something John Denver could get those beer glasses raised, but I just don't have the range. Brian brought it home with Neil Diamond's "Forever in Blue Jeans". Brian and Amy can really sing. Here are some pics.

6'3" Brian two-stepping with 5'0" (4'11")Julie. (That lady in the pink to the left, Pam, had her ass grabbed by short hispanic cowboy all night. She consented each and every time.) Posted by Hello

This guy in the purple was trying to hit on Allison all night. She tried multiple times to drop him. It might have been my fault: I told him that she badly wanted to dance with him. Posted by Hello

Amy singing Madonna's "La Isla Bonita", or is it called "Spanish Lullaby"? Posted by Hello

Allison ignoring me and my camera. Pink Pamela is in the background. Posted by Hello

Me karaoke-ing for the very first time.  Posted by Hello

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Adam Clay's post reminded me to get into gear and make some reservations for AWP in Vancouver next late March/early April. Ahh, Vancouver in the springtime. I've never been, but I hear nothing but great things. And since this year is my year to live in Montana, I'll be able to make the trek by Suzuki through lands I've never seen before--hot dog, I'm getting excited! I've also made very papery thin plans to pick up one B-Shimmy of Missoula and one A-Rob of Eugene (he would have to meet me in Portland) along the way. Anybody else need a ride? Who's going? What are you doing there?

Adam and Matt from Typo, Jake Adam York from StorySouth, and I are doing a little thing on editing independent electronic journals at the conference. That's all I feel comfortable with offering at this moment in time.

Note to self: break into jar under bed full of canadian pennies and pay for conference registration, and hotel room.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Denny sent us the new splash and index pages for Octopus #4. It is the raddest, the fattest, it is the Mayor McCheese if you please, and I know you do (why am I talking like a radio dj circa 1954?). Anyhoo, D is a mad genius, in my opinion. It is very difficult for me not to give you the key to the very lightweight door that hides this web art, but I will resist. Must have patience.

Apparently, my week at the No Tell paid dividends. The Page claims my Telephones II poem was worth a second look. Reb assures me that The Page is big in Australia and New Zealand. I'm pretending that to mean that I'm really big in those places...sigh (me drifting off into a fantasy where I'm surfing, wearing sunglasses, while a beached mob of Aussie reporters waits impatiently to ask me questions about my vacation's itenerary).

I got the new issue of Field a couple of days ago. I've been reading it at the airport where I work. My effort at work is quickly dwindling. I have 3 days left there. There is a girl I work with who baby talks. I learned that if I stop responding to her, she stops talking altogether.

Back to Field: there's nothing too hot in there. I really liked Beckian Fritz Goldberg's poems. She won this year's Field Poetry Prize. I still do enjoy Field, but I'm thinking about not renewing my subscription. I might relocate those funds to a year's worth of Ugly Duckling Presse. They'll send me books and 6x6. And they have the very cool Eastern European Poetry Series. They are in my top ten of presses, even if Matvei Yankelevich won't return my phone calls.

This is my shiny-faced family back on the homestead in Iowa. The picture was taken this summer when Allison and I, and Allison's parents, Trish and Chaz, were making the near cross-continental trek from Akron, OH, to Bozeman, MT. From the right: niece Carly, sister Kelsey, me, mother Nancy, nephew Max, sister Jen, sister Sam, and on all fours at the bottom of your screen for some unknown reason is wife Allison.

Kelsey and Sam were in Iowa's state high school swimming championships this weekend. They didn't do as well as they hoped. But they are sophomores and they will be obsessively preparing for the next 12 months to strike back with unabashed swimming fury.

 Posted by Hello

Friday, November 05, 2004

Crawling out of the doldrums

Beginning to crawl out of my doldrums thanks to Jeff Bahr's posting of M. Moore's "17 Reasons Not To Slit Your Wrists". It's a suggested read if you're hurt, confused and feel that the walls with sharp little spikes on them are closing in rapidly all around you. What MM says here gives us some permission to lift our chins a little.

Also with the help of the new issue of Tarpaulin Sky. It's a great distraction and has some killer stuff by one of my favorites, Jonah Winter. I have both of his books, Maine from Slope Editions and Amnesia from the Field prize, and both are top-shelf, though if they found themselves in an oil wrestling duel, I'd have to give the advantage to Maine. The stuff he let us put in Octopus is amazing too.

TS is also rocking some other favs: Kirsten Kaschock, Paul McCormick, and Emily Rosko.

By the way, this year's Slope winner is Andrea Baker. I can not wait for that to drop.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

My inner old-glory

My inner old-glory will be at half-mast for a while. I'm trying my hardest to snap out of my four more years blues--trying to deal with the fact that I live and do business in a red state. I might be most sickened by how poorly the marriage constitutional amendment faired. I was hoping for something close--in ANY of them. I guess, after all this time, we're still not comfortable with everybody having the same rights.

I had to watch everyone celebrate and high five yesterday where I work after Kerry conceded. One of the celebraters in particular was a single and poor mother of two. How is Bush HER champion? Name ONE possible way he speaks to HER! I didn't ask her. I didn't want to hear her say something about how important it is to her, and to her two no-health-insurance kids that we cut some corporations a break and that we bomb the bejeezus out of everybody left in Fallujah.

Anyway, I quit my job there yesterday. I really did.

Monday, November 01, 2004

My week at the No Tell

I'll be hiding out all this week at the No Tell Motel adjusting the tin foil on my tv's antenna to get the best reception of the countdown to the recount. I'll be watching the political hulabaloo while eating Funyuns on my double. It vibrates real nice so bring a roll of quarters.
I'm often curious about where other poets send their stuff, and in what volume, and in what ratio (print:online), etc. So I'm going to show you mine, in hopes I get a peek at someone else's.

Where my poems are currently being considered - how many poems I sent - and for how long they've been there:

1. Fence - 4 - 6 months, 23 days
2. Jubilat - 4 - 6 months, 11 days
3. Parakeet - 9 (4 simultaneous with Spork) - 6 days
4. Unpleasant Event Schedule - 1 - 6 days
5. Pip-lit - 3 - 6 days
6. Spork - 4 (simulaneous with Parakeet) - 6 days
7. Cutbank - 6 - 5 days

Book Contests:

1. Transcontinental Prize (Pavement Saw Press) - 3 months, 9 days
2. Open reading period (Futurepoem Books) - 1 month, 18 days
3. Honickman First Book (American Poetry Review) - 1 month, 16 days

Just a few days ago, Carl Annarummo from Pettycoat Relaxer took one of my poems. Pettycoat is a very rad online magazine. The last issue was its strongest I think, and I am anxious to see what's next.

The new Diagram was launched yesterday with Octopus alums, Nathan Parker (also slated for #5) and Jeff Morgan. The stuff by Fritz Ward is in the lead so far for most killer poem in my early stages of reading the issue. What Leah Nielsen is doing is pretty interesting. Gives me a bit of a headache, but I keep going back to it.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

This is my wife, Allison (on the right), and our friend Amy at last night's Halloween get together. They went together as white trash. We're poor. I went in my orange t-shirt with a jack'o'lantern face on it. Its easy, comfortable, and it gets me in the door. My favorite costume last night might have been the girl that went as a weather map. She was a bit awkward negotiating the chips and dip table. I'm still not exactly sure whose house we were at.  Posted by Hello

Friday, October 29, 2004

a game of art/publication/domestic responsibility

To go a bit further, and bouncing off of what Reb and A-Rob (is that cool if I call you that in public?)have commented on, I'm not sure where I would draw the line in making changes to a poem in order for the editor to take it. I've only been asked to make changes three times (Northwest Review, Ducky, and now the Canary) and each time the changes made sense to me. What if they didn't? What if I disagreed with them? I imagine I'd do the right thing and protect my art. Art beats publication (like in a paper/rock/scissors-esque game of art/publication/domestic responsibility). I'm guessing no one will argue with me on that. But what if the changes don't kill the poem, in your view of it--maybe only clip a wing? Publishing excites me tremendously, and being a poet in a box, I'm always uncertain if one of my poems is any good, so maybe the editor's view is better than mine. Nah.

And Octopus #4 is on its way boys and girls. Hold on to your incredible hulk underoos. We've sent most everything to Denny Schmickle, our designer. He's in school dealing with mid-terms and whatnot so things are a little a slow. Drop him a line of encouragement if you would. He's cool. Anyway, we're looking to have proofpages ready in the next couple of weeks and then the issue shortly after that. Its a killer issue. It really is. 32 (octopus x 4) badass poets again and enough critical squid to drive you mad. They'll be a few issues after that which will deviate from the norm a bit--keep things fresh. And then #8 (ages from now) will attempt to be a print issue. Anyone want to donate a couple thousand dollars to the cause?

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Poet in a Box

I had a brief conversation with Nick Twemlow, one of the amazing editors at The Canary. A few days ago they took one of my poems, "[Opera Singer]", for issue #4. It is a dark little ditty told in 9 sections about a man whose thoughts and feelings are inexplicably rigged to a gramophone that plays [opera singer]. {Opera Singer] is his inner soundtrack so to speak, played outward. Its like probably the best poem I've ever written, gawwwd (have you seen Napoleon Dynomite yet? Fabulous). Anyhoo, Nick had some edits, some deletions, for me to consider as an editor, in the traditional sense, should. It made me realize, not for the first time, but deeply this time that I am a poet in a box. I've been out of my creative writing MA program at Nebraska for 4 or so years now and I haven't bounced as much as a phrase off any other poet since. Everything I write gets evaluated and revised in my head only. I'm not saying that workshops are needed to make great poetry, but I do think they help frame a perspective that any given reader of my poetry may have. The only writers who read my poetry are the editors of the magazines I send them to, and the only feedback I get from them can fit into three categories: 1. Great stuff, we'll take it. 2. Oooh, so close, try again. 3. Sorry but this didn't fit our needs at this time. Its easy for me to gauge the quality of my work on my own but it hardly matches up with the poems that have been taken and have not been taken. Maybe my poems are more unique to me (and perhaps the books I read) and to my own universe I've created in my head out of poetry. This is a good thing right?. But I was ripe for Nick's edits. They made so much sense and made the poem so much better, something that would have never happened without an outside reader. I've been so entrenched in the way it was that I needed a different perspective to get it to where it could be. So, I'm torn between whether being in a box is a positive or a negative thing. Should I go back to school (because I am)? Are there any other poets in a box out there?

Nick's suggestions also made me realize that I don't do much editing as an editor of Octopus. I more like a selector and arranger. Tony and I have only suggested changes, in order to publish, to two or three poems in the four issues we've done together. The only one I can remember off hand was Marcus Slease's Introduction to Logic in #2. I look for something that blows me away in the form it is currently in, and take it as is. There have been a few things I wish ended differently, or this or that, but there is so much great stuff in our mailbox that is so easy to discard the ones that aren't perfect.

Anyway, on a completely different note: congratulations to the BoSox. Wow! These playoffs somehow managed to easily top last year's (minus Marlins v Yankees). I puffy heart baseball. I'm going to pine for you this winter. And especially a big congratulations and thank you to the 2 BoSox, Mueller and Schilling, that helped put my fantasy team, My Dogs are Barking, in second place this year. Sorry Henriksen, Tost, McCollough, Murphy, and down the line, etc. etc.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

My Visit to Cactus Records

I had the day off yesterday and I roped off a chunk of time in the middle of the day to go visit Bozeman's best music store, Cactus Records. I listened to cds for 2 hours, studying, ranking my selections, making cuts. These are the 3 cds that made it:

1. Green Day - American Idiot (Reprise Records)

I've always rocked Green Day, when they were cool, when they weren't, when they were, then when they weren't again. This album is political, offensive, thoughtful. It has two of the longest punk songs I've ever listened to (nearing 10 minutes) and they keep up their energy throughout. A tiring listen. It makes Big Punk important again, even if the TRL crowd is voting for it.

2. The Good Life - Album of the Year (Saddle Creek)

Saddle Creek is most likely my favorite record label, ranking somewhere just ahead of Merge (check out their new American Music Club). I try to support all Omaha music exports, being from Omaha myself. Bright Eyes, Cursive/Good Life, Now It's Overhead, Rilo Kiley, Lullaby for the Working Class, Young Hasslehoffs, Simon Joyner, and Son, Ambulance.

3. Bright Eyes/Neva Dinova Split EP (Crank)

My intro to Neva Dinova. Wow. A bit Coldplay-ish, countryfied.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Here I am with my Ohio absentee voter ballot. I'm voting today. Allison and I, and the two cats Malkmus and Salinger, very very recently moved to MT and we (excluding M and S) are still eligible to vote in OH, the state with perhaps the biggest swing. I am very excited, which you probably can't tell from this picture. You also probably can't tell that the items I'm holding up are indeed Ohio absentee voter ballots. They are a bit washed out. I assure you they are what I claim. They are like golden tickets. Behold their power. Also look at my brown shirt. It is a Cleveland Browns t-shirt. I felt it appopriate.

The big sexy issues I'll be punching out today:

Kerry v Bush. Winner: Kerry. It came down to a vote for Kerry and a vote for Hillary in 08 (Nader). But Nader isn't on the ballot in Ohio, at least not on mine, and the next four years are just way too important to sacrifice for HC. Its about those Supreme Court Justices. If Bush gets to pick, say goodbye to progress.

U.S. Senator: Fingerhut v Voinovich. Winner: Fingerhut. His name is Fingerhut, and he's a democrat.

Ohio Senator: Zurz v Fowler. Winner: Zurz.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment: Here's how the amendment reads: Only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this state and its political subdivisions. This state and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage.

Shall it be adopted? Winner: Hell no. This one is sad to me. I'm nearly in tears, no joke, punching it out. Its sad that I even have to vote on this. Does history teach us nothing? Why does equality always have to be such a struggle? What are Ohioans afraid of? Posted by Hello

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Poems-for-All interview

Tony and I recently completed our interview with Richard Hansen for the upcoming issue #4 of Octopus. He is the brains behind Poems-for-All, a press of sorts that puts out tiny little booklets for the public's (mostly Sacramento) free reading pleasure. He'll send you free tiny booklets of great poetry if you ask him nicely, and send him postage.

Issue #4 has lots of goodies. Its another big one, and its taking a while to get everything in order. The gears are grinding. We're trying our damndest to keep pace with Typo.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Johnny Damon Man Crush

My friend, Brian, recently sent me via official-looking envelope an autographed picture of Johnny Damon (obviously forged). It read "Dear Zach, Thanks for your support! Let's make out" and then was signed Johnny Damon #18.

I am quickly becoming aware of my man-crush on Johnny Damon. Its not the hair. Its not the pre-upright human sloping forehead. Its that beautiful, hot and sexy grand slam of his. And anything less than a .300 BA and 8 RBIs in the series against the Cards, he's off my crush list, freeing up a spot for the desperately-seeking-a-crush Anthony Robinson.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Acceptance Emails; Reading Periods.

I've had the pleasure, yesterday and this morning, to send out acceptance emails to poets who submitted poems during our August reading period. Outside of launching, and getting that admired solicitee to acknowledge or even submit to Octopus, this practice of sending out acceptance emails is one of my favorite things about being an editor. And the persistent waves of young hot groupies.

Out of about 90 submissions during August, we took 16 or so. I have no idea how those numbers jive with other magazines, particularly online. But I'd be curious.

The reading period thing for us is a new concept. We just added this info onto our last issue. I like it. Before, we'd get a lot of sub-par work, even from poets we dug. Poets felt free to try us with their b-game first, then maybe step it up. There was no penalty for endless amounts of attempts, which welcomed the mediocre poems. With the reading period, we consistently got A-game material. Everyone had one shot at Octopus, for the whole year, and this was it. It became a little event, at least in our little world.

Monday, October 18, 2004

My Lovely Blog Title

I have the day off today so I'm getting myself a blog. Everyone else has one, and my desperate longing for attention has gotten the best of me. The blog's title, The Lovely Arc, is most deliberately a nod to Tate--one of my most revered poets no doubt and perhaps the one that most influences my own poetry. On the top of the pile of books next to my bed is Tate's Memoir of the Hawk. I took the title of this blog from the title of his poem, "The Lovely Arc of a Meteor in the Night Sky." Its last line reads, "And nothing's revealed because it was never known." A line that resonates, echoes, swims around in the ocean and never gets tired.

Here are some other blog titles (in order of my approval) that I took out a few times, bought a few drinks for, but never called back:

1. Overworked and Haunted
2. Watching an Owl Slowly Wink
3. Hank
4. Haunting the Ghosts Back
5. Returning to the their Warm Caves
6. Young Man with a Ham
7. My Private Tasmania
8. Red-Faced from the Orchestra Pit
9. Black Invisible Telephone
10. Letters to your Mom