If interested in having me for a reading, class visit, or conference/festival, please contact me at lorcaloca AT aol DOT com

Friday, February 27, 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

vcca bits

had a nice birthday yesterday. spent the day reading, revising. some fellows surprised me with cake at dinner. i blew out the candles. well, i tried to blow out the candles, but they were trick candles.
this week at no tell motel: adam deutsch.
got some nice b-day gifts: chocolate, a book of poems, and card signed by the other fellows.
L=u=N=G=U=A=G=E: a chapbook by morgan lucas schuldt.
i'm waiting on some books that a friend bought for me at awp.
missed lunch today. went to the grocery store. bought some chicken fingers.
very warm day.
why am i the only latino writer at the vcca? where are the african american poets? the native american poets?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Barbara Jane Reyes

Certainly, as a poet who writes political poetry, and who aspires to write great poetry, I participate in my share of hugely admiring international writers such as Bei Dao, Mahmoud Darwish, Eduardo Galeano, reading their work, buying their books, learning much from them about the world and about literature. And I do believe they are great (or Great).

Let me be clear that it is not at the expense of reading, studying, teaching, supporting, and learning from the political poetry of living, contemporary American poets such as Juan Felipe Herrera, Suheir Hammad, Jack Agüeros, Harryette Mullen, Linda Hogan, Lawson Fusao Inada. I believe they have written great things. By great, I mean this: the poetry that tries its best to understand our place and condition in the world, spiritually, historically, culturally, politically.

birthday poem

johnny horton, in honor of my birthday, wrote a poem for me:

Higgledy Piggledy
Edward Conterreas--
writing his poetry
hearty and hale--

toiling away--not yet
time might allow him to
publish at Yale.

ha. thanks, johnny.


Bellday Books will publish the winning book and award $2,000 and 25 copies of the book to the winning author.


Submission Deadline: Postmarked March 16, 2009

Complete guidelines here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Hottie of the week: Harvey Milk

When he began public life, though, Milk was a preposterous figure — an "avowed homosexual," in the embarrassed language of the time, who was running for office. In the 1970s, many psychiatrists still called homosexuality a mental illness. In one entirely routine case, the Supreme Court refused in 1978 to overturn the prison sentence of a man convicted solely of having sex with another consenting man. A year before, it had let stand the firing of a stellar Tacoma, Wash., teacher who made the mistake of telling the truth when his principal asked if he was homosexual.

One of my favorite poems


Vivian St. John (1981-1974)

There is a train inside this iris:

You think I'm crazy, & like to say boyish
& outrageous things. No, there is

A train inside this iris.

It's a child's finger bearded in black banners.
A single window like a child's nail,

A darkened porthole lit by the white, angular face

Of an old woman, or perhaps the boy beside her in the stuffy,
Hot compartment. Her hair is silver, & sweeps

Back off her forehead, onto her cold and bruised shoulders.

The prairies fail along Chicago. Past the five
Lakes. Into the black woods of her New York; & as I bend

Close above the iris, I see the train

Drive deep into the damp heart of its stem, & the gravel
Of the garden path

Cracks under my feet as I walk this long corridor

Of elms, arched
Like the ceiling of a French railway pier where a boy

With pale curls holding

A fresh iris is waving goodbye to a grandmother, gazing
A long time

Into the flower, as if he were looking some great

Distance, or down an empty garden path & he believes a man
Is walking toward him, working

Dull shears in one hand; & now believe me: The train

Is gone. The old woman is dead, & the boy. The iris curls,
On its stalk, in the shade

Of those elms: Where something like the icy & bitter fragrance

In the wake of a woman who's just swept past you on her way

& you remain

David St. John, from Study for the World's Body: New and Selected Poems

Saturday, February 21, 2009

aaron smith's meme: 20 poetry books that made me fall in love with poetry

What are 20 poetry books (if there are twenty) that made you fall in love with poetry, the books that made you think: I want to do this, I need to do this. What are the books that kept you going? Don’t put down the books that you think you’re “supposed,” to like, but list the core ones, the ones that opened all of this up for you. Here’s my list (in no particular order):

1. Alberto Rios: Whispering to Fool the Wind
2. T. Crunk: Living in the Resurrection
3. Robert Hayden: Collected Poems
4. Jorie Graham: Erosion
5. Robert Hass: Praise
6. Octavio Paz: Collected Poems
7. Rita Dove: Museum
8. Robert Vasquez: At the Rainbow
9. Donald Justice: Departures
10. Lorna Dee Cervantes: Cables of Genocide: Poems on Love and Hunger
11. Gwendolyn Brooks: The Bean Eaters
12. David St. John: Hush
13. Charles Simic: Return to a Place Lit by a Glass of Milk
14. Larry Levis: Winter Stars
15. Gary Soto: Where Sparrows Work Hard
16. Yusef Komunyakaa: Magic City
17. Rita Dove: Grace Notes
18. Sandra Cisneros: Loose Woman
19. Li-Young Lee: Rose
20. Norman Dubie: Selected & New Poems

Friday, February 20, 2009

bits and grits

did you enter the bad poem contest? the deadline is today. i entered two poems: a haiku and a chance operations poem.
diane k. martin showed up yesterday. yeah!
added a few more blogs to my blogroll. did you make the cut?
akron poetry prize. judge: martín espada. submit from may 1 and june 15. am i entering this contest? i wish! i would love to have mr. espada's seal of approval, but a blogger is the series editor, so i won't be sending my mss.
deb shows up today!
When we converse with, argue against, mimic, re-present, and admire other poets in our poems we inevitably grow.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Skulls, Bones, Dead Animals

I went to the television room to watch some MSNBC and BRAVO. And what did I find? Dead animals. Snakes. Turtles. Lizards. Bats. The bones and preserved animal specimens were displayed on top of the media center. All this stuff wasn't here this afternoon. I wonder what's going on?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Publishers Weekly Poetry Micro-Reviews (Scroll Down)

Often breathtaking in its erudition, at other times imbued with a forceful simplicity, tricky in its sensibility yet clearly driven by affection, this third collection from the prolific Waldrep (Disclamor) might be the best book of prose poems to appear in a long while.


...[Michael] Dickman’s book moves with careful intensity as it confidently illuminates buried, contemporary suffering: “My little sister, tied to her trundle bed, crying, forced to eat slices of orange/ she believed were her goldfish.”


Transformations—from the everyday to the wondrous and/ or haunting—are everywhere in [Wayne] Miller’s elegant second book. The poems are at once dreamlike and fervent in their will to cleave to the material world. “Sleep gives the body back its mouth,” writes Miller in one poem

Ron Slate on Victoria Chang

Chang is drawn to the voices of the damaged who speak out of confusion or delirium – but who retain dignity and persist among hurtful memories. In “Jiang Qing,” Mao’s beleaguered wife says, “I used to speak so smoothly in pavilions, even / crows and clouds came down to hear. Now they // blame me for deaths, even for the rain. I think / it’s the rain that kills with its endless dropping.”

SPD's Bad Poem Contest

from Clay Banes:

You may think it’s easy to write a bad poem, but is it really? How bad can you be?

SPD will award the SPD book of your choice (up to $30) for the worst poem in each category. Shipping included.

Please select from one of the categories below and write the worst poem you can. Send to: laura@spdbooks.org. Be sure to indicate the category the poem belongs to, and also include your name, email, and address.

Worst haiku
Worst Language poem
Worst workshop poem
Worst poem mentioning your mother
Worst sonnet
Worst poem intended to lead to sex
Worst poem using the words rainbow, mist, luminous, crystal, and anemone
Worst poem using the word capitalism
Worst Flarf poem (Complexly, this poem needs to be good.)
Worst poem using chance operations
Worst postmodern lyric
Worst New Formalist poem

Also, please tell us if you would rather not have your bad poem published on SPD’s blog.

At least one winner will be selected in each category. Contest ends February 20, 2009. Winners will be announced soon after. Poems will be judged by bad poetry experts on the SPD staff.


What a great idea! I hope you enter. I'm going to enter. I wonder if they'll accept poems I've already published? Ha.

Review: John Olivares Espinoza

By the concluding pages of "The Date Fruit Elegies," the young man has left behind, but not forgotten, the world of his formative years. If anything, there's a hint of nostalgia in the poem "Things I Didn't Know I Loved About Southern California." For this speaker that includes the magical smog, the clashing cultural communities, the "great gray snakes" of the freeways and "the everyday geography of small things."

Saturday, February 14, 2009

music meme

1. Put your music player on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. Write down the song name, no matter how silly it sounds.

Pharaohs -- Tears for Fears

Clean -- Depeche Mode

No Tengo Dinero -- Juan Gabriel

Set Your Heart -- Cyndi Lauper

Float On -- Modest Mouse

Ballerina Out of Control -- The Ocean Blue

Burn That Broken Bed -- Calexico/ Iron & Wine

Break It Down Again -- Tears for Fears

Read My Mind -- The Killers

Shake the Disease -- Depeche Mode

Amor Eterno(live) -- Juan Gabriel

Turning The Gun On Myself -- Teddy Thompson

Rules and Regulations -- Rufus Wainwright

Dig Your Grave -- Modest Mouse

Seymour Stein -- Belle & Sebastian

Policy of Truth -- Depeche Mode

Money Changes Everything -- Cyndi Lauper

Valerie Plame -- The Decemberists

The Magic of a Kind Word -- Belle & Sebastian

Leave in Silence -- Depeche Mode

Fake Plastic Trees -- Radiohead

AWP Update: Matthew Hittinger

Today I may hit some panels (I stopped going to them years ago when I realized most of them false advertise and what promises to be a discussion about a topic just turns into the poets reading their work, as if the work will just speak for itself--come on, stop being lazy guys, write a freaking poetics piece or panel essay and exert a little critical brainpower!).

Cute and bitchy! I like.

AWP Update: Jane Friedman

I have a confession. I am a lousy networker.

Tayari Jones' AWP Chicago pics

Its Patricia Smith!
Miguel Murphy (eyes closed)
The Return of Craig Arnold
BFFs Natasha and Dan (that dan albergotti is sure cute)

here's the whole set

What I Saw at the Revolution by Porochista Khakpour

I remember, for instance, the Ayatollah was not just “a nightmare” to me in the way he was to my parents—he literally appeared to me in horrifying dreams the way Freddy Kreuger cameos in American kids’ sleeplife.

A Review of Dan Albergotti’s The Boatloads

I have a special place in my heart for literature that juxtaposes the sacred and profane, that challenges perhaps the most successful meme ever to spring from the human brain: the belief that God is unwaveringly good.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Thursday, February 12, 2009

AWP Update: Don Share

The first thing one carries is the official AWP tote bag, to be used for carrying things...

updated contest guidelines and prize package for PROJECT VERSE

Complete guidelines HERE

vcca bits

revising and revising a poem.
windy and rainy day. i woke up late. missed both breakfast and lunch.
a lot of fellows leaving. new fellows coming in.
i played ping pong yesterday.
watched top chef in the tv room tonight. sorry to see leah go, but i'm glad fabio make it through. i love his accent.
i love the sound of rain. the smell of rain.
after my residency is over, i'm going back to arizona. i'm going to accept the first job that comes my way. clerk. popcorn maker. traffic cone. i need to pay down my credit cards and i need to save money for a future move.
i'm drafting and revising more and more on my laptop. this bothers me. i used to write all my drafts on a legal pad. why the change? i don't know.
cloud shadow.

Portrait with Scorpion (Open Eyes): Black and White Photograph: Marina Abramovic: 2005

Marina Abramovic (FYI: Some of her work is graphic)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Things I will miss about AWP

I won't be at AWP this year. I'm going to miss these things/ people/ situations:

1. The book fair. The best thing about AWP. All those books and journals. All those editors desperate for attention. All those authors desperate to make a sale.
2. Sycophants!
3. The expensive drinks. The cheap food finds.
4. The sloppy ass kissing by MFA students.
5. The swag.
6. Watching AWP virgins stress out. I'm talking to you, Land Mammal.
7. The terror the surges through my body when someone walks up to me and says, Are you Lorcaloca?
8. The Con Tinta peeps!
9. The dick measuring contests. I won this. She won that. He won what?
10. Watching all the old and ugly male poets hook up with young things.
11. Old teachers.
12. Meeting bloggers for the first time. I'm talking to you, Brent Goodman.
13. [scratch that] I meant to type: The glory. Really.
14. Catching up with all the deadbeats. Those MFA graduates with no awards, no publications, no books. Wait, I have no book. Damn!
15. The terrible dancing.
16. Watching MFA students from piss-small MFA programs talk up Iowa graduates.
17. All the book launches: Ali Stine, Randall Mann.
18. Catching up with old classmates.
19. Kissing drunk poets.
20. Walking past the tables of journals I don't like and sticking out my tongue at the editors. Which journals? Third Coast, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Antioch Review, New Letters...
21. Hanging out with James Allen Hall.
22. Getting ignored by the editors of journals that I love. Which journals? Tin House, American Poetry Review, Crazyhorse, Virginia Quarterly Review...
23. Latino hotties: Jacob Saenz, Paul Martinez Pompa.
24. The endless po-biz talk.
25. You.

2009 Kundiman

Asian American Poets’ Retreat

July 8 - 12, 2009
University of Virginia, Charlottesville

In order to help mentor the next generation of Asian American poets, Kundiman, a non-profit organization dedicated to serving Asian American poets, is sponsoring its 6th annual poetry retreat where nationally renowned Asian American poets will conduct workshops and provide one-on-one mentorship sessions with participants. Kundiman hopes to provide a safe and instructive environment that identifies and addresses the unique challenges faced by emerging Asian American poets.

* Myung Mi Kim (author of Commons, DURA and Under Flag)
* Rick Barot (author of The Darker Fall and Want)
* Staceyann Chin (author of The Other Side of Paradise and pioneering spoken word artist)

To keep the cost of the retreat low, participants are not charged fees for workshops. Room and Board for the retreat is $325.

Application Process
Send five to seven (5-7) paginated, stapled pages of poetry, with your name included on each page. Include a cover letter with your name, address, phone number, e-mail address and a brief paragraph describing what you would like to accomplish at the Kundiman Asian American Poets’ Retreat. Include a SAS postcard if you want an application receipt. Manuscripts will not be returned. No electronic submissions, please.

Mail application to:
245 Eighth Avenue #151
New York, NY 10011
Submissions must be postmarked by March 2, 2009

For more information, log onto the Kundiman website.

Monday, February 09, 2009

a sign at the edge of vcca property

Dogs roam the back road. Some fellows have been bitten. Granted, no fellow has been bitten recently, but the VCCA does mention the danger in the welcome packet. Some fellows tell me not to worry about it. That the dogs now only chase bikes. But look at this sign!

So when I walk the back road, I carry a stick. A pointy stick.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

vcca bits

just had lunch. baked fried chicken. wild and white rice. bean soup.
two poems: Stacey Lynn Brown
the snow is gone. the sun is out. the wind is blowing. i took a hike through the woods yesterday. though some of the path was still muddy so i almost slipped a few times.
one of my poems was just published online. check out La Pelona: Mixed Media: Ester Hernández: 1980 on la fovea. it's an ekphrastic poem that riffs on this piece.
johnny horton, gadfly and poet, went home yesterday. he left a box of Sleepytime Herbal tea in my mail box. the note attached read: eduardo, this tea reminds me of your poems.

Friday, February 06, 2009

OCHO #22: Dear America, Don't Be My Valentine

The latest issue of OCHO is up and running. It's guest-edited by Miguel Murphy.

Featuring poems by:

C. Dale Young
RJ Gibson
Blas Falconer
Brent Goodman
Carol Guess
Scott Hightower
Francisco Aragón
Steve Fellner
Eduardo C. Corral

and many others!

Two things

This poet just had her THIRD book picked up. Yeah!
Project Verse is a free competition set to be a grueling but fun competition for poets. It’s a 10-week competition, and the winner will be announced week 11.

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

It's a pretty light, you know. The way anyone leans
forward. Leans forward just enough. There's a dream
in the rain. A good dream. When I can't sleep I am
angels and idiots. They're running around. They're in a
Shakespeare play. It's the longest night of the year. The
light is light gray. They're dancing around. Declaiming.
One saws the air. One puts his foot on my neck. It's
a pretty light. The light is light gray. I love what he's
saying. I want to show him how to do it. I look and I
can't read the words. The words are tiny. But there are
pictures. Rebus rebus rebus. He's a picture thinking. I
don't have time to learn the words. Place the word home
to the left of home, now be home. Mouthful of death,
layers and layers of light, mouthful of ideas about death,
pop culture is awash in fanged bloodsuckers: are you, did
you, will you, can you. The town shines, he breathed,
he loved air, air felt like glass, he wanted and he wanted.
The city shines, he goes to school, he never sleeps. The
early Christians were accused of both cannibalism and
vampirism. And I'll be all awake. A face, a face in a
window. Days make nights. A plastic bottle floating in
a bush. Nights make days. A plastic bottle floating in a
bush. Firefly. Sky purple clay—my soul a cheap hotel.
When my soul opens there will be a cheap hotel. Say it,
no ideas but in apples, apples and sad pictures. You get
sad just looking at the apple. You're down in the everyone
believes. Down in the everyone believes something.

Joseph Lease

"The past is a curse, a darling"

2 poems by Cynthia Cruz

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Joker and the Academy of American Poets

Movie poster for The Dark Knight.

The 2009 National Poetry Month poster from the Academy of American Poets.

First book interview: James Allen Hall

Two weeks ago, my mother called me. She quoted my poem "The Enemy" back to me. Her vowels were sharp and her voice embittered as she finished. "So, when I say I love you," she said, "you feel like I'm your enemy." I said if she wanted to know how I felt, she'd have to wait for the memoir.

vcca bits

J. Walter Hawkes is also in residence here. He's a talented musician. Plays the trombone, ukulele, piano and too many other instruments to mention! And he also writes music for children's shows like Wonder Pets. How cool is that? My nephew loves that show. Here is Walter singing and playing the ukulele on another children's show: Jack's Big Music Show.
It snowed on Tuesday. Snow still on the ground.
To build a better room.
I no longer want to write beautiful poems. Correction: I no longer want to create beautiful images. I want to dial back the intensity of my images. I want to focus on music. I want my consonants and vowels to sizzle: I want my lines to burn the ears of a reader.
“Your skeleton / standing about, like a wildflower…”
I gave a reading Monday night. I was a bit nervous. Read some new poems.
To build a better stanza.
I won't be at AWP this year. Will miss all my friends.
Lorna Dee Cervantes:

...The best of what I am
is in the gravel behind the train yard
where obsidian chips lodge
in the rocks like beetles.
I burrow and glow

Sunday, February 01, 2009

more horse pics!

aren't they cute? i've seen other fellows feed them apples and carrots. i haven't done that. i'm a bit scared of their teeth. i need all my fingers.


in Ramallah
the ancients play chess in the starry sky
the endgame flickers
a bird locked in a clock
jumps out to tell the time

in Ramallah
the sun climbs over the wall like an old man
and goes through the market
throwing mirror light on
a rusted copper plate

in Ramallah
gods drink water from earthen jars
a bow asks a string for directions
a boy sets out to inherit the ocean
from the edge of the sky

in Ramallah
seeds sown along the high noon
death blossoms outside my window
resisting, the tree takes on a hurricane's
violent original shape

Bei Dao

Hiking Pics


...LOCUSPOINT is devoted to cronyism. I ask editors to publish their friends, their lovers, their friends' lovers, their brothers, their mothers, their enemies, and their frenemies. Editorial objectivity does not exist here—at least, not in the way it does elsewhere. These editors still select the best work: they just select work by people within their community. I think that's important to note.

ha haha ha haha...

I want to tear into Mr. Jensen's note, but I won't this time. Why? Because I respect Sarah Vap (guest editor of the Washington edition) so much as a poet. If she thinks a poem is good, I will read it. Though I'm surprised she included her own work in the issue. Editors should never include their own work in the anthology/ journal being edited.