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