Saturday, September 13, 2014

Blog Tour 2014

I want to thank Susan Yount for tagging me in for this round of blog touring. Check out her responses at her blog. And while you’re blog hopping, take a peek at poet and publisher Juliet Cook’s blog.

What I am Working On

At the moment I am working on two manuscripts. My first book of fiction (a hybrid, flash-novella titled The Secret Correspondence of Loon & Fiasco) is going to be released in October by Mayapple Press. In it you’ll find encrypted codes, AI, folk magic, and ruminations on the nature of sex chat, among many other things. It centers on Johnny Sundays who flees California’s Central Valley when he realizes he’s become stuck in time like a sad, urban kwisatz haderach. He makes his way to Chicago where time thankfully starts to clack forward again, only to fall impossibly in love with a chatbot named ALICE. “Meet me on a heathered mountain,” she says one night—and she has him. Meanwhile his estranged wife finds herself suddenly drawn to the island of São Miguel and to the ghost of a girl her powerful sorceress grandmother cursed in her youth. Unsure what awaits her in the Atlantic, she draws towards the unspoken something which cleaves them apart even as they grip towards one another. I hope you will purchase a copy when it finally comes out. Updates to come!

I am also currently shopping around a manuscript titled, It’s Best Not to Interrupt Her Experiments, a series of poems obsessed with the idea of, as you might have guessed from the title, experiments. I am really excited about this one because it is the first collection of lyric poems I have done since my first book in 2009. Since A School for Fishermen, I have been working exclusively with prose poetry and flash fiction. Although Loon & Fiasco seems to be the logical conclusion of that line of reasoning, it actually had a different origin. Loon & Fiasco was originally a more “conventional” novel that simply and flatly refused to fit into that mold. When I was planning Experiment, I knew two things: I didn’t want to write anymore prose poems, and I wanted to come at the idea of the experiment from as many angles as I could think of. There are poems about famous scientists like Maria Mitchell, Lise Meitner, Mary Anning, Rosalind Franklin, and many others, but there are also poems about bridge builders, battle bots champions, bounty hunters, homunculi, and werewolves.

Why My Work Is Different

This is actually a hard question to answer because I don’t ever find myself comparing the differences between my work and the work of people I admire. I am not, however, going to discuss how my work is like the work of people I admire either because that could only be embarrassing and revealing in a way that probably wouldn’t be very flattering. I can say that what I’ve been into for the last five or six years is the poetic possibilities of prose. There is nothing novel there, of course, but it has been a continuous project for me. I have recently started publishing flash nonfiction essays as well. I have only begun to explore that side of things and I find it very exciting. Compression is so powerful. To be honest, though, I can sense that after this work with the flash nonfiction essays, I may go in the total opposite direction and see what a larger canvas may have to offer. I still want to write a novel, I must admit, but at the moment I have exhausted all my characters. They are not interested in playing with me right now.

What I Write About 

Roosters. Jellyfish. Fighting. 80s movies. Class. Science. Portuguese-American stuff. Work. Whimsy. For some reason I don't write much about sex, which I can find no real reason for. The steamiest relationship in my work occurs between a man and a chatbot--and it is nothing like the movie, Her. ALICE is only a text box on a screen.

My Process

Lately I've come to realize that I have a really terrible memory. When I look back through my notebooks--and they go back to 1995--I find myself "discovering" the same ideas over and over again. You would think that would be a disadvantage (and I am sure it is in my real life) but actually it serves me quite well in my writing because I experience the ideas with the same kind of enthusiasm every time they make their way back to the surface, but I don't construct the ideas quite the same way, however. In essence, they are getting developed over long periods of time--I like to imagine it as deep time--until they finally find their way into some piece of writing. 

That's enough about me. Now I would like to pass the baton to Michael Colson.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sarah Carson's Poems in Which You Die

I review Sarah Carson's Poems in Which You Die at Arsenic Lobster.

"As gruesome an image as this is, the important part is that their bodies will be mixed together, splattered on a wall—no one being able to tell where one ends and the other begins, which is yet another grimly funny take on a common sentiment in love songs. This is the poet’s gift—to take these very common sentiments and recharge them with her dark humor and vivid, movie-thriller type situations."

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Simone Muench's Wolf Centos

I Review Simone Muench's Wolf Centos at PANK

"A true believer in the art of the cento, Muench demonstrates that it can go far beyond the limits of pastiche and homage. The cento is the perfect type of poem for this collection, where anxiety of form is a necessary component of the poetics. The cento is always aware of the other face “under,” “in” or “behind,” as it were, and that is the very essence of this collection."

Friday, August 1, 2014

New Poems Over at PANK

Check out three poems from my "It's Best Not to Interrupt Her Experiments" series over at PANK.

"but to be a crash of a structure,
like being known for a lucky hunch,
was like being raked across the face
by an infant
you loved and misread"

Monday, June 30, 2014

Review of Kathleen Rooney's Robinson Alone

Check out my review of Robinson Alone at Iowa Review

"Robinson is finally only himself. Rooney’s Robinson, on the other hand, is an irreducible image, existing in poems that circle back on themselves, in letters he wrote but did not write (the fifteen centos based on Kees’s actual letters Rooney includes in the text), and in homage after homage to the man he is and is not, which Rooney herself admits is a strange aftereffect of those who come to the mystery of Weldon Kees—they can’t help writing about him—and now I, too, am caught in the cycle myself to add to poor Robinson’s misery."

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Great Grant News!!!

I am happy to announce that I am the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Grant.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Review of House on Fire

Review of Susan Yount's new book at Cleaver Magazine.


House on Fire is rugged, self-aware, and raw; it champions those who take blows from all sides and come out swinging wild even when they have little hope of escape—maybe especially when they have little hope of escape. It’s great success is that it holds some portion of anger in reserve—avoiding the too-easy notion of mere acceptance—while still managing to find a way to move forward and make a life worth fighting for.