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

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

tell it, sister

kristy bowen: ..it's sorta nice to write something and not be obsessed with where to send it, the poem as currency, the entire book as currency for what? career? respect? acclaim? The stakes of poetry are so laughably low and so very important at the same time it makes my head spin.


victoria chang on craig morgan teicher.
do you have a martin ramírez art book that you no longer want? i will buy it from you.
kevin young is the next editor of the best american poetry poetry series. i can't wait to read his selections.
in about a month i will be in nyc. i can't wait. i just hope another blizzard doesn't strike while i'm there.
love song with ruin: paul guest.
it's going to rain tomorrow!
i can't wait to visit poets house while i'm in nyc. it looks amazing.
do you know of any good dim sum places in chinatown? do tell!
goodness: awp dc is coming up fast. it's going to be fun. i just know it. i can't wait to see a lot of you again, to meet a lot of you for the first time. the only downside? i will be on a tight budget. for real. but i can't wait to buy c. dale young's new book and luke johnson's first book.
"silence, torn in half."

Untitled (Galleon on Water): Gouache, colored pencil, and pencil on pieced paper: Martin Ramirez: 1960-63

Monday, December 27, 2010

post xmas bits

i've been a bad blogger!
got a smurf snuggie-like thing for xmas! i'm taking it with me to macdowell.
interview: emma trelles.
found out i was a finalist for a year-long residency. so close! onto the next application.
rigoberto gonzález: small press highlights
i'm disappointed NO ONE has invited me to participate in an off-site reading at awp. i got poems. and i got a mouth. come on, people!

Friday, December 17, 2010


is this thing on?
i've been busy this week. no time to blog. sorry.
working on a new poem.
it rained yesterday. man, i love rainy days in southern arizona. rain makes me hopeful.
We asked some of the major American poets--winners of the biggest national awards, huge presences all, who they thought was the single most important contemporary poet, and what they thought was her/his influence on their own work and on the work of other contemporary poets.
who knew h. l. hix was such a hottie? yum.
i will be blogging and posting pics from the macdowell colony. i know a lot of you love that. heck, i love it when other writers blog while in residence at a colony. but i won't name names or post pics of other artists; i will respect their privacy. but i will let you see what's inside my picnic basket. ha.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Call for Contributions: Collection in Memory of Rane Arroyo

Submissions of any genre are invited for an edited collection in memory of poet and playwright Rane Arroyo (1954-2010). His 11 books of poetry, collection of short stories, and numerous plays and performances blazed new trails in Puerto Rican / American literature in their blending of so-called “high” and “low” cultures, their frank reflections on homosexuality, ethnicity, and social class, and their experimentation and self-reflexivity. Rane won numerous accolades during his lifetime and was respected and loved by many, particularly those students and authors whom he influenced and inspired.

Rane was unafraid to push and blur boundaries, and this collection seeks to honor him and his courage by doing the same. To that end, I welcome any sort of contribution in any genre and from any perspective that you feel appropriate to the occasion and to the memory of Rane Arroyo. This may include, but is certainly not limited to, “traditional” (or not-so-traditional) literary criticism, poems or other creative works, personal essays, reflections on teaching Rane’s work, and more.

Essays of literary criticism should be approximately 6,000-8,000 words in length, including end notes and a list of works cited that follows the norms of the Modern Language Association. Other submissions may be in any format. Please feel free to include images, especially if you own them and can grant copyright permission. Images of Rane are certainly welcomed, as are any other images that might be pertinent to your submission.

Interest in submitting should be expressed via email to Betsy A. Sandlin, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Sewanee: The University of the South, 735 University Avenue, Sewanee, TN 37383, (replace (at) with @ in sending e-mail) no later than March 31, 2011. Please indicate what you plan to submit and, if appropriate, a title and brief abstract. Final submissions will be due no later than May 31, 2011.

Cave Canem 2011 Retreat

When: June 19-26
Where: University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, Pennsylvania
Faculty: Toi Derricotte, Cornelius Eady, Terrance Hayes, Carl Phillips, Claudia Rankine and Natasha Trethewey
Guest Poet: Amiri Baraka
Application Period: December 1, 2010 — January 15, 2011

Full guidelines here.

Monday, December 06, 2010


i'm a chicano poet. thank you very much.
have i started shopping for xmas? hell no.
here are more macdowell colony pics. go ahead. click on the link. you know you want to.
hi, gc waldrep!
don't forget to feed my fish.
i might be giving a reading in texas next year. i'm a lone star. giddy up.
call me crazy, but i love xmas music. don't you? at work that's all they play. a lot of my co-workers are already sick of the tunes, but not me. there's one christmas song that always makes me a bit weepy. but i'm not going to tell you which one. you might use that song against me.
i like egg salad.

Thursday, December 02, 2010


What did winning the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize and, as a result, having your first book published mean to you? What effect did it have on your writing career?

Emma Trelles:
Winning this prize has been an honor, and it immediately impacted my writing career, which to me is more of a way of living than a profession. I've been introduced to a wide community of Latino writers that I had not met or, in some instances, even known about, poets such as Brenda Cárdenas, John Murillo, Paul Martinez Pompa, and Silvia Curbelo, who selected my manuscript Tropicalia for the prize and whose aversion to po-business I find sort of punk rock and inspiring. I feel as if I've joined this vast array of art makers, all of us unified by some facet of Latino/Hispanic culture—perhaps language or music, perhaps the politics of displacement or gender. We are our own distinct voices, but the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize draws us into an unexpected harmony. Although I lived in Miami for a big portion of my life, and I'm of Cuban descent, I've never felt all that Latino, so my arrival to this sphere of writers is filled with a sense of discovery.

A part of her answer is disheartening. Her admission that she didn't even "know about" some Latino poets makes me sad. Hell, it pisses me off. A poet is a reader first. How can she claim to be a poet and not know what her contemporaries are writing? And yet, she's soon going to asking Latino poets to buy her book, to get to know her work. And I will. Because I support Latino/a poets. Because Latina/o poetry thrills me as a reader and provides me with fuel to keep the creative fires burning.

But I see this again and again in our community. So many young Latino/a poets don't read books published by other Latina/os.

Here's some some advice: Read. Read. Read. Read. Read. Read. Read. Read. Read. Read. Read. Read. Read. Read. Read. Read. Read. Read. Read. Read.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

december bits

congrats to kevin gonzalez!
kevin, you need a new author pic. like today. the pic you're using doesn't do justice to your ultra-feathered hair. let's see all of it. give us the farrah shot!
there's a lot of handsome men at this starbucks. men in suits. men in hard hats. men in tight jeans.
love the cover of this upcoming book.
there's a bee in my bonnet.
i sent off to five first book contests this fall. the joy of waiting begins!
a big thank you to the editors of beloit poetry journal for two things. one: for taking "variation on a theme by josé montoya," a code-switching poem that i wrote for bilingual readers, for chicanos, for citizens of the border. two: for carefully reading the poem and offering insightful comments and suggestions.
does anyone have the address for josé montoya? i want to send him a copy of the journal when my homage to "el louie" is published.
i need to buy a new scarf. oh oh.
i've been having trouble placing my newer poems. poems with a lot of spanish in them. but i expected that. i'll keep sending them out.
¡si, se puede!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

poems that i love


I watched them once, at dusk, on television, run,
in our motel room half-way through
Nebraska, quick, glittering, past beauty, past
the importance of beauty,
not even hungry, not even endangered, driving deeper and deeper
into less. They leapt up falls, ladders,
and rock, tearing and leaping, a gold river
and a blue river traveling
in opposite directions.
They would not stop, resolution of will
and helplessness, as the eye
is helpless
when the image forms itself, upside-down, backward,
driving up into
the mind, and the world
unfastens itself
from the deep oceans of the given. . . . Justice, aspen
leaves, mother attempting
suicide, the white night-flying moth
the ants dismantled bit by bit and carried in
right through the crack
in my wall. . . . How helpless
the still pool is,
awaiting the gold blade
of their hurry. Once, indoors, a child,
I watched, at noon, through slatted wooden blinds,
a man and woman, naked, eyes closed,
climb onto each other,
on the terrace floor,
and ride—two gold currents
wrapping round and round each other, fastening,
unfastening. I hardly knew
what I saw. Whatever shadow there was in that world
it was the one each cast
onto the other,
the thin black seam
they seemed to be trying to work away
between them. I held my breath.
As far as I could tell, the work they did
with sweat and light
was good. I'd say
they traveled far in opposite
directions. What is the light
at the end of the day, deep, reddish-gold, bathing the walls,
the corridors, light that is no longer light, no longer clarifies,
illuminates, antique, freed from the body of
the air that carries it. What is it
for the space of time
where it is useless, merely
beautiful? When they were done, they made a distance
one from the other
and slept, outstretched,
on the warm tile
of the terrace floor,
smiling, faces pressed against the stone.

Jorie Graham

Attention Latina/o Poets: Apply, Apply, Apply

Applications are now being accepted for the 2nd Annual CantoMundo Master Poetry Workshop, the only national, poetry-centered workshop/retreat specifically for Latina/o poets.

All applications must be received by December 17, 2010.

Complete guidelines here.

call for submissions: Arroyo

Arroyo began with an investigation. Several ambitious students sought to find a magazine that truly captured the spirit and unique voice that was prevalent in Bay Area writers. What they discovered, however, was a void. Bigger presses seemed to ignore the dynamics of California culture, while smaller presses had predicated themselves on niches. With the opportunity presenting itself, those same students built the school’s first literary magazine from the ground up, eventually releasing the premiere issue in Spring of 2009.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


hi, phyllis!
i bought my plane ticket to nyc. will be spending four days in the ciy in late janurary. then i head off to dc for awp, then off to new hampshire to spend 8 weeks at the macdowell colony. eight weeks. goodness. that's a lot of time. i'm so grateful.
"...memory believes before knowing remembers. believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders."
who said that?
you must forgive me: this blog has lately become macdowell colony central. i'm not bragging about my upcoming residency. i'm just beyond happy to be going back. i've spent the last year working as a cashier. yeah, that iowa mfa is really paying off! ha. anyways: i'm not complaining about my job. really. i could get a gig teaching 4 sections of composition a semester, but i decided long ago to put my writing first. i've spent years (repeat: YEARS) working on my first collection. granted: i've been lucky enough to get some amazing residencies and fellowships, but often i've had to get a so-so job in order to fully concentrate on my poems. once again: i'm not complaining. i know i made the right choice.
border songs.
border songs.
border singing.
This was my desk a year ago, when I spent a month at the MacDowell Colony...

Monday, November 22, 2010

quick bits

i need to buy a plane ticket to nyc tonight. i'm going to spend a few days in the city before heading off to dc for awp.
oh central park! oh bookstores! oh walking through the village! oh handsome dark-haired men!
(insert your own bit here)
sentences are not my friends.
comma this!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

bits for bits

Our poems are effigies.
MacDowell Colony vblog: Elena Passarello shows us what's inside her picnic basket. Goodness, that sounds dirty. Sorry, Elena!
Another American trait is our compulsion to separate ourselves as different (more avant garde, for example) from one another, this, and the need to name and label other poets.
MacDowell Colony vblog: Elena Passarello shows us her tombstone. Those first few seconds crack me up!
Mormonism. Homosexuality. Resolution.

Attention: Latin@ Poets: Apply! Apply! Apply!

Deadline: December 17, 2010.

Inspired by the culturally-rooted visions of Cave Canem and Kundiman, CantoMundo seeks to create a space where Latina/o poets can:

1. nurture and enhance their poetics;
2. lecture and learn about aspects of Latina/o poetics currently not being discussed by the mainstream poetry publishers and critics; and
3. network with peer poets to enrich and further disseminate Latina/o poetry.

Guidelines here.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


here's some good news that's old news to my facebook friends: i'm going back to the macdowell colony this winter/ spring.

*insert wild happiness here*

i can't tell you how much i need this. i need to leave arizona. like now. ha. it's my home, but i don't belong here.

goodbye, saguaros. hello, snow.

i've been spending a lot of time online looking up macdowell blog posts and pics. yeah, yeah: i've been there before. in fact, it was my first colony. but i still get a rush reading about the experiences of others.

i love these pics. i don't remember chickens at macdowell. i'm going to name one after a certain blogger. then demand to eat that chicken all by myself!

*insert wild happiness here*

but this will be the best part of my upcoming residency: i will sit down at my desk and work on new poems. i will not revise old poems. i will not tweak my first manuscript.

i'm ready to move on.

i have to move on.

my second project, a book-length sequence, is crying out for attention. lines and images are coming to me fast and furious. i already have a new notebook full of stuff.

at macdowell, i will enlarge the music in my poems, i will write a leaner, more muscular line.

i will break my old writing habits.

i will explore new (to me) poetic tools.

i will surprise myself.

i will become a better poet.

Thursday, November 04, 2010


november already? goodness.
molotov: cynthia cruz
i need a haircut so bad. how bad? i no longer use a pillow. my poofy hair has become my pillow.
a review of rj gibson's scavenge.
working on a new poem.
pagliacci: tomás q. morín

Dagoberto Gilb on Ai

Gossip was that she was nothing but trouble. That she did not cooperate with anyone or any group.

hottie of the week: marco rubio (hate the politics, love the face)

Monday, November 01, 2010

you got two books out? you want a job?

The Department of English and the Rutgers Newark MFA Program at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey in Newark, invite applications from distinguished Poets and from distinguished Fiction writers for an (MFA) Assistant, Associate, or Professor position (dependent upon qualifications) to begin July 1, 2011. MFA or Ph.D required. Candidates should have a strong national reputation as a novelist and/or short story writer, at least two well–received books and substantial publication record, and extensive teaching experience. Additional expertise in areas such as nonfiction or memoir preferred. We seek an excellent, committed teacher who has made and will continue to make important contributions to contemporary literature, and who shows interest in our diverse, uniquely structured program & extensive community outreach (see www.mfa.newark.rutgers.edu.) Duties include teaching fiction or poetry workshops & graduate or undergraduate lit courses, directing graduate theses, & advising graduate students in fiction, poetry and related topics. Candidates should send letter of application, writing sample (published books with SASE acceptable), C.V., and three letters of recommendation to: Jayne Anne Phillips, Co-Chair, Search Committee, Rutgers Newark MFA Program, c/o English Dept. 501 Hill Hall, Rutgers Newark University, 360 Dr. MLK. Jr. Blvd, Newark, NJ, 07102. Review of applications will begin Nov. 15, 2010. Women & minorities are encouraged to apply. EOE/AA

Sunday, October 31, 2010

manuscript blues (bits)

yesterday, i sent off my ms to a contest. i'm sending it off again tomorrow. and a few more times in mid-november.
david welch: you are my favorite hipster of the corn. thank you once again.
today i found an interview with carl phillips via c. dale young's blog. in the interview mr. phillips talks about his upcoming yale judging duties, unbiased readings, what he expects in a collection. but the last paragraph of the interview really caught my eye:

...I believe the biggest problem with the majority of manuscripts that are sent out is that the writers themselves know they have not yet put together a manuscript of work that they entirely believe in. They have often been convinced by many of their teachers that they should put the best work up front, hide the lesser work in the middle, then close with a bang. But why submit a manuscript where you feel any of the work is lesser? I recently spoke with a poet who was pleased to have read a book in which five of the poems were wonderful. That isn’t enough, for me. I want everything to be wonderful. There are many who would say I’m expecting too much. But lower expectations are, to my mind, the reason why there are so many unsatisfying books of poems in the world.

poet after poet, teachers and peers, have told me to put the good poems upfront, to put the so-so poems in the middle, and close with more good poems. i've always thought this was crazy and stupid advice: i don't want so-so or weak poems in my ms. that's one reason it took me so long to put a ms together. i kept tossing out the weaker poems, the poems that didnt' fit. which meant that i had to write new poems. and i'm a slow writer, people. slow, slow, slow.
the ms i sent out is pretty slim: 51 pages, and i've organized it like this:

1st section: 23 pages
2nd section: 9 pages
3rd section: 19 pages

the middle section is my code-switching poem, my best (I think) and most "difficult" poem. a poem full of spanish slang, of references to mexican history and narco culture, a poem that steals language from robert hayden and border corridos. i did not place my lesser work in the middle. gosh, that sounds so grandiose! but i believe it.
i still can't believe i sent out my ms. i got real nervous when i handed it over to the clerk at the post office. i almost yanked it out of the clerk's hands. but instead, i closed my eyes until i heard the package drop into a bin. yes, i'm that pathetic.
are you reading sandy longhorn's blog? i am really enjoying her posts.
godspeed, my little poems.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Joanne, I can't wait to read your first book

MAY 25

Women have always inserted objects into orifices.
Swan feathers are offered to pacify the sea.
I once refused a gift of a toy.
The original rosary 165 rolled rose petals.
Think of the hands doing such affectionate work.
My birth on May 25 makes me a twin:
one of me immobile on the mattress,
the other never leaves the mountain.
Women have always inserted objects into orifices:
oiled snakes and molted stones;
sphinx moths and cygnet eggs.
After the execution of Christ
Mary Jacobe and Mary Salome
were exiled to the sea –
banished in a small boat without food, water, or sails.
Black Sara, queen of the gypsies
swam out and rescued them.
Now every May 25 the statues of Sara and the two Marys
are taken out of sealed boxes
from the crypt of Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
and carried out on a boat to bless the sea.
Women have always inserted objects into orifices:
the tongue of a panther, the fist of a fox.
The juice of wild poppies drunk as anesthetic.
There are days when I can’t get out of bed.
Languor and legs weaving anamnesis and appetite.
Days when I can’t get wet, afraid of water.
So much is decided by the timbre of the sky,
by the particles afloat in my blood.
Somniloquy and the distillation of rose water.
The tongue extends itself to lilt on one’s own nipple.
Blessed by the visitation of pigeons on the lintel.
My hands tying together white sheets to make a ladder.
My hands unraveling the twine of a torn kite to the sky.

Joanne Dominique Dwyer

zone 3

from the review review:

The practice of publishing so many editors raises some serious ethical questions. How can unknown writers' unsolicited manuscripts compete with those of other editors? The latter might be good friends of the Zone 3 staff, or even people who promise to return the publishing favor sometime in the future. Thus we have to wonder--Is Zone 3 really open to discovering new talent, as their website claims? Or is the journal simply a forum for editor cronyism?

Timothy Bradford on Elisa Gabbert

Reader beware. Even with such emotional and human gestures, The French Exit is no catchy-hooks-got-you-on-the-first-listen sort of book. It intrigues and hides and even frustrates the first time through, enough so that you find yourself wanting another listen, and then another, and as the full complexity of what is happening unfolds, quantum like, you realize you’re holding a dazzling book that richly rewards those willing to sound and puzzle it out.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

po-biz chat

I posted this:

michael luis medrano: to think about the last decade of Chicano Literature is really a question about how I came into writing and why I’ve continued on this path. I can say the last ten years has brought many fine writers who could’ve had publishing careers if they would have stuck with learning the craft.

huh? michael, you are telling me if we chicano/a poets “learned” our craft then the publishing houses would beg to publish our work? you got to be kidding. often it’s not a question of craft. it’s about timing, good luck, and connections. look at you, craftmaster, your second ms is still looking for a publisher.

Barbara Jane Reyes responded:

So, I actually agree to some extent with Medrano, not specific to Chicano literature, but to writers of color. Once, a writer I know told me, upon publication of my second book, that I’d broken that “first book curse.” How many perfectly good poets, this writer asked me, have we just never heard from again after their first book. Why is that? What’s happened there? Sometimes writers gradually fall out of the rigor or discipline needed to see a book manuscript to completion. Sometimes it’s just real life that takes writers away from writing.

Now, as for Eduardo’s response back to Medrano, yes I agree it’s about timing, connections, and maybe even “luck,” if “luck,” means being at the right place at the right time with the kind of work that specific editors are looking for, though really, there are so many indie publishing houses representing so many different aesthetic preferences. So rather than luck, I believe in strategy. Mostly, I believe it’s about time well-spent on craft, especially when craft gives rise to good work, solid, interesting, brave, and unique book manuscript projects that we authors can confidently carry through to completion.

But this is I want to say about connections; yes, it is about connections when the connections are made based upon the merits of the previous work we have done and continue to do, rather than simply who you know, or who you brown nose because you believe you can get something from them. In my mind, that’s something for nothing. Thomas Sayer Ellis wrote, “Let the work Network.” I am with this, and I don’t think I am being naive, to continue to believe that good work is rewarded.

And here is the comment I left on her blog:

Barbara, I don’t disagree with what you wrote. In fact, I really like “strategy” instead of “luck.” Though you can’t deny that a lot of times it’s a matter of being in the right place at the right time. That’s luck.

Maybe I’m misreading Medrano’s response, but I am objecting to the idea that well-crafted poems, a good collection, will bring publishers running to the poet. Not going to happen. Well, not often. I’ve heard of publishers seeking out a ms based on the work they’ve read in journals. In these cases, the work is doing the networking.

But to tell emerging Chicano/a poets that well-crafted, interesting, brave work will be lead to publication, to a career, is misleading and dangerous. Poets of color need to learn the po-biz ropes. I can’t tell you how often I come across a young Chicano/a poet with no clue about the po-biz. They don’t how and where to submit. They don’t know about fellowships and residencies. They don’t know how to seek out others like them. They need to learn to nativagate the po-biz world with grace, kindness and dignity.

And I must confess: I have failed to show kindess and grace in this instance. The last sentence in my reply is snarky, and mean-hearted. For that, I apologize to Michael Luis Medrano.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


hi, diana park!
This one-week residency includes lodging and continental breakfast on Orcas Island in Washington State.
i need to stop stressing over my f**king ms. i'm this close to a nervous breakdown. a poet recently told me to "cool thy nerves." ha. i'm trying! i'm trying!
are you sending out your ms this fall?
ray rojas: i always ask these to all authors/poets: What did this last decade bring to Chicano(a) Literature?

michael luis medrano: to think about the last decade of Chicano Literature is really a question about how I came into writing and why I've continued on this path. I can say the last ten years has brought many fine writers who could've had publishing careers if they would have stuck with learning the craft.

huh? michael, you are telling me if we chicano/a poets "learned" our craft then the publishing houses would beg to publish our work? you got to be kidding. often it's not a question of craft. it's about timing, good luck, and connections. look at you, craftmaster, your second ms is still looking for a publisher.
good lord, am i really that bitter and small?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

hottie of the week: brandon flowers

manuscript update

i sent my manuscript to a few people. i am, like usual, consumed by self-doubt: it took a lot of mental strength to click the "send" button.

some folks are just going to read it; some will offer feedback. i asked those people to read the ms through the lens of these three questions/ concerns:

1. are some of these poems overworked? i think some of them suffer from my always-editing-disease. i'm thinking about the last seven lines of 'to alexei..." and the last couplet of "saint anthony's church" and the third section of "temple in a teapot..."

2. does this ms need a glossary?

3. does this ms feel like a weaving of two different manuscripts? i've tossed out so many older poems, and inserted newer poems. i think i've changed somewhat as a poet in the last five years. the older poems owe a debt to robert hayden, donald justice, gary soto, derek walcott, rita dove, david st. john. the newer poems owe a debt to c.d. wright, henri cole, bei dao, jean valentine, octavio paz. is the voice consistent? do the imagistic and thematic obsessions unit the older and newer poems?

maybe i'm asking the wrong questions.


the madness continues.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

manuscript update

total pages: 51
number of sections: 0

i've tossed out the section breaks! the table of contents looks odd, but it feels right: an unbroken column of titles. no gaps between the titles. just a column of nouns, adjectives, and verbs, etc.

i am nervous about the change. it's drastic. i've spent years working on an order, and that work always included section breaks. i never once thought about getting rid of the section breaks.

until now.

section breaks weren't working for my manuscript; they were segregating my poems: surreal poems here, border poems there, family poems here. yes, yes, i know that's my fault. i couldn't find a way to cluster the themes/ motifs/ obsessions in my poems into sections that enhanced the reading of the collection. i failed.

once i took out the section breaks something happened: all the walls disappeared: i placed a border poem next a surreal poem and i saw for the first time (!!) the links between the poems. i saw how one poem lead the reader to the next. this happpened again and again.

but in a sense i still have section breaks. i'm using jarring juxtapositions as breaks in my manuscript. by placing a fragment poem right after a family lyric, i'm hoping to rupture the flow, to disrupt the reader's expectations.

i think it's working.

ha. famous last words.

Wendy S. Walters on Thomas Sayers Ellis

In "The Judges of Craft," Ellis cites his own rejection letters from literary journals: One editor dismissed a poem for being "too strident" in its assessment of racism; another felt its way of "addressing . . . the politics of the writing scene" wasn't novel enough.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Summer Kitchen Series: E-Talk

Daniel Nathan Terry

Ed Madden

Ron Mohring is making and publishing some beautiful chapbooks through Seven Kitchens Press. I met him in the fall of 2008 when I was living in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. He's a humble and big-hearted poet. One afternoon he came over so I could help him assemble some chapbooks. He does all the stitching and folding by hand! He showed me how to properly fold the stock paper, but I don't think I impressed him with my work ethic: I talked too much while we worked on the chapbooks. Sorry, Ron!

This summer Seven Kitchens Press launched a limited-edition chapbook series focusing on LGBT authors. Daniel Nathan Terry and Ed Madden both had chapbooks published in the series. I asked them to talk about their chapbooks. Here is their conversation:

Susan Meyers told me that I would love your work, when she saw that we were both in Ron Mohring's Summer Kitchen chapbook series --and she was right.  Honestly, as I read your book, I was moved over and over, but also I felt such an affinity for your book --such a connection to the imagery and themes and tone.  So I'm delighted to have made your acquaintance (even if only virtually) and to have this conversation.
As am I, Ed. It seems I’ve been circling your work for the last few years. Susan Myers also suggested that I read your work, after I gave a reading from Capturing the Dead in Charleston, but I think that was nearly a year before our books crossed paths at Seven Kitchens. It has also just occurred to me that a professor of mine at UNCW recommended that I read your book Signals shortly after its release, but the MFA reading list left little time for extras. It wasn’t until I read the other four chapbooks in the Summer Kitchens series that I encountered your poetry for the first time.
I was stunned by your book. I read the opening poem, “Dust,” at least three times before I could move on. What shook me about “Dust,” and indeed the rest of the book, was I felt I was reliving some of the most fragile and intimate moments of my own life. I wondered later, when my fiancé, Ben, was reading Nest, if he would connect as deeply to your words, even though he and I (unlike you and I) have such different backgrounds. The wonderful thing is that he did. It is one thing for a gay poet from rural South Carolina to identify so closely with the work of another gay poet from the rural South, but quite another for an Neo-Expressionist Painter from Milwaukee to feel that you’ve captured his experience as well.
I could go on for pages praising the precision of your language, the quiet beauty of your images, the breath and tone of the poems, but it was this immediate, powerful, and personal connection to the poems that first moved me and compelled me to recommend your work to others—but that’s what you do with good poetry.

I was stunned by your work too.  The poems for David, who died of AIDS, were so compelling and heartbreaking, but it was the final poem that gave me chills.  I read bits of the book to my partner to Bert as we were driving recently -- the title poem "Waxwings," "Nighthawks," the wonderfully thick opening poem "Scarecrow," and the last poem "After the Storm."  That final poem is such a stunning poem -- and such a stunning love poem.  You're driving along, you see cemetery flowers scattered across the road, and your partner asks who picks them up.  At first you want to answer him literally, but you realize that's totally inadequate and absolutely not what your partner is asking.  So you want to be the person who can do something--put them all back.  "For you I want to be the man who knows which garish bouquet goes where."  And then, "for you, I want to be the kind of man who sees this sad morning as the evidence of a blossoming."  This poem keeps leaping forward in such beautiful ways: "as if the dead woke during the storm, threw back the covers, and danced in flowers and thunder until the sun came up."  That is beautiful.  I wish I could have written it.  I love that at first the speaker wants to be the kind of person who can do something to fix it, who knows who to fix it, but then realizes he really wants to be the kind of person who sees things differently.  Poetry is not about the doing, but about the seeing--seeing differently.  And still, all the way through, it's a love poem: "For you, I want to be the man...."  Stunning.

Ron Mohring used interesting prints in all of our chapbooks, but I love that he used a mourning fabric for yours.  So perfect, especially given this poem.

How did you first learn about Ron and his press?
I knew about Ron's Seven Kitchens Press through the annual Robin Becker Chapbook Prize, which I had entered.  Is that how you came to the series?  He emailed me about the summer series, and I was delighted he wanted to include Nest.  (By the way, did you read R.J. Gibson's winning chapbook, Scavenge?  Beautiful!)
Yeah, that’s how I encountered Ron Mohring and Seven Kitchens. It was a strange thing. I’d never entered an LBTG poetry contest before I entered the Robin Becker Chapbook Prize—somehow I never felt representative of the community. I suppose I thought of myself as too rural, too nature-oriented. I was surprised and thrilled to learn that my book was not only a finalist, but that Ron wanted to include it in the Summer Kitchen Series.
I am beholden to Ron. Not only did he do a beautiful job with the series, crafting each book so beautifully, he also introduced me to poems and poets that have enriched my life. And that’s good editing, good book making. And Ron excels at that, don’t you think?
(And yes, Scavenge, is a gorgeous book.)
Ron's books are beautiful.  It's interesting you said you didn't think you could be "representative of the community" because your work is maybe too rural or too nature-oriented.  I feel the same way sometimes, and I've often wondered why.  I remember, several years ago, an editor at a press telling me my manuscript was Southern and gay, and that it needed to be predominantly one or the other.  I wonder why we tend to think of the pastoral--nature poetry-- as nostalgic and regional.  I'd like to think that nature poetry can be deeply engaged with the social and the political, not just in contemporary environmental concerns, but as a way to interrogate who we are and how we fit or don't fit.  Like your poem about the anhinga --God, that's a strange Southern bird!-- where this central natural image functions in so many ways as a comment on the relationship between these two men, one stuck in his rural heterosexual life, the other desperate for flight.
I loved the birds in Waxwings, by the way:  cedar waxwings and anhingas (do you call them water turkeys?) and crows and ibis.  And the nighthawks --what a stunning little poem of lust!  I love nature poetry that is so attentive to the specificity and complexity of the natural world.
I also love the way so many of your poems move-- the leaps, the juxtapositions.  The title poem and the way it moves from observation of the natural world (and the seeming fitness and unity of it) to a little gay boy's fantasy of what his life might be like (it's almost like a number from Glee!), and that final line, that desperate desire for "a story / he can share."
Silence seems central to this book -- our inability to say what we want or need to say.  I sometimes tell my students to write a poem that uses an image from the natural world to say the thing that they can't or won't or shouldn't say, but there's something more disturbing and powerful to me about the silences in your book.  
Wow—I haven’t heard anyone call an anhinga a “water turkey” in years, but yes, the locals did call them that or “snake-bird.” I always found the latter so fitting, and sometimes I used that name. But once I found its proper name in a book, I always called it “anhinga.” I loved the sound of it--like a word of power, like a primitive spell. Names are so important—like in your title poem. You use the proper name of “shrike” rather than the colloquial “butcher-bird.” So important. The colloquial name, as wonderful as it is, overstates and would have, I believe, undermined this powerful and delicate poem. Whereas the sound of “shrike” suits the tone and tension of the poem, predicts but holds back the poem’s chilling ending.  
It is interesting how often we both speak through birds, especially when what must be said is, perhaps, beyond direct, human speech. In the haunting and mysterious poem, “Morning darkness,” I love how you begin with the anonymous singing bird that “has only one small song, which he sings // tirelessly.” You then move to the speaker—to his fear for the budding flowers that may be taken by an early frost, to his memory of childhood desires and unnamed emotions banged between chalk erasers, to his wonder and sympathy for the dead and what mattered to them in life. Near the end, we feel this cycle of desire and loss, this relentless vanishing of our lives, of our experiences, reaching out for the speaker as “Wisteria / embraces the back fence, the oak, fills / the yard with a syrupy scent.” This short poem seems to be a series of observations that are, at least to my mind, questions without answers which eventually lead the reader to ask the inevitable, dreaded question of human existence: Why? Your poem answers in the last lines “in the dark, / a bird repeats its small simple song, / repeats its small, dogged, insistent song.” I think this answer is brilliant and is the only answer possible to our lives—though it isn’t a direct answer, because life isn’t a direct question.
I suppose, for me, these asked and unasked questions are what haunt me the most about Nest. Perhaps these questions are akin to the silences you mentioned in my poems.
I must also mention how much I admire your ability to move between, to mix, what is often regarded as ugly (by some) with what is beautiful. I’m thinking of the images in “Dust” and “Viscous.” How lonely, terrifying, erotic, human and ultimately beautiful is your use of semen in those poems? You don’t have to answer that one. But I am fascinated by your ability to transform things, or to simply reveal what is intrinsically beautiful in things that are often thought of as common or crude—say, in the habits of a shrike, the contents of a barn, or the drying semen on the skin of the belly after sex, just to name a few moments in Nest.

Glad I don't have to answer that one!  I actually censored "Dust" once when I read it before--changed "cum" to "sorrow"--"rub your cum/sorrow into the dust."  Not sure what that says about me or the poem.  There's something almost too personal about those poems.  Again, I think there are some uncanny affinities in our work.  For me, "Dust" does what "Waxwings" does-- explores a young gay man's silences through images of the natural world in which he finds himself.  We're both writing about kids desperate to find a way out and to find a way to talk about who they are.  In some ways, I think we're still those kids.  Aren't we?

And for me, the silences in your book are so powerful.  Those dreams "cluttered / with impossible, / beautiful reunions."  Or the field that is "blank as an unwritten page."  The impossible, the unwritten, the unshared, the unspoken.

I can't wait to read more work from you.

And I’ll be rereading you until your next book comes out. It’s been wonderful getting to know you and your poetry, Ed.


Daniel Nathan Terry, a former landscaper and horticulturist, is the author of two books of poetry: Capturing the Dead (NFSPS Press 2008), which was awarded The 2007 Stevens Poetry Prize, and a chapbook, Waxwings (Seven Kitchens Press 2010). His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Poet Lore, The Spoon River Poetry Review, Big Muddy and The MacGuffin. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from UNC-Wilmington.

Born and raised in rural Arkansas, Ed Madden is an associate professor of English and gender studies at the University of South Carolina. His poems have appeared in Borderlands, Los Angeles Review, Poetry Ireland, Southern Humanities Review, and other journals, as well as in Best New Poets 2007 and the Notre Dame anthology The Book of Irish American Poetry from the Eighteenth Century to the Present. His first book of poetry, Signals (USC Press 2008) won the 2007 South Carolina Book Prize. A second collection, Prodigal: Variations, is forthcoming from Lethe Press in 2011. His chapbook Nest was published earlier this year by Seven Kitchens Press.

apply! apply!

Colgate University invites applications for the Olive B. O’Connor Fellowship in Creative Writing.

Writers of poetry, fiction or nonfiction who have recently completed an MFA, MA, or PhD in creative writing, and who need a year to complete their first book, are encouraged to apply. The selected writer will spend the academic year (late August 2011 to early May 2012) at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York. The fellow will teach one creative writing course each semester and will give a public reading from the work in progress. The fellowship carries a stipend of $35,500 plus travel expenses; health and life insurance are provided.

Applications should arrive by January 15, 2011. There's no application fee. Complete info here.

Monday, October 04, 2010


the latest installment of boxcar poetry review is up and running!

tomas q. morin interviews robin ekiss

traci brimhall & gary mcdowell talk about book sections & aubades.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

saturday night bits

the stars complete the melody...
i'm at a starbucks. and it's saturday night.
raise your hand if you think i don't have a life.
i'm working on a glossary for one of my poems. my facebook buddies know what i'm talking about.
Welcome to the inaugural issue of Lavender Review. The theme of this issue is anything related to Sapphic: By Lesbians. About Lesbians. About Sappho. In Sapphics.
it's raining! where? outside! i'm funny!
waitlist again. keeping my fingers crossed.
okay, you can all lower your hands. i know, i know: i have no life.

Friday, October 01, 2010

cantomundo 2011 guidelines

CantoMundo 2011 will convene July 7-10, 2011, in Austin, Texas.

Master Poets Judith Ortíz Cofer and Benjamín Saenz will each teach a three-hour craft workshop.

These workshops will center on a particular element of poetic craft that is of interest to the instructor. All participating poets will attend both workshops. CantoMundo 2011 also will include a reading and book-signing that will be open to the public.

Please apply and please spread the word!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

devil's lake

have you read devil's lake? it's wicked! ha, ha, ha, ha.

ok, seriously: it's a fine online journal.

they've only published one issue, but it's a wonderful issue. i'm fond of this poem, and this poem, and this poem.

and the mini-interviews are full of stunning sentences: I think war is an erasure of personal experience. It is an erasure of the importance of the individual. I meant there to be a kind of terrible irony in that line. War does make the individual unimportant. It is a reduction of individual life to an absurdity.

and guess what? the devil is accepting submissions!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

good stuff

have you read the review review?

it's pretty cool.

it features reviews of lit magazines and interviews with editors.

and tips!

i like tops. oops! i mean: i like tips. yes, that's what i like. tips! tips! tips!

Monday, September 27, 2010


the yurt master lives!
october is almost here. i have an application to finish before the week is over. which means i have to revamp my CV, and to finish a project abstract. yikes.
i think norman dubie would write an amazing yurt master poem.
love: cold war by janelle monáe.
i hate revamping my CV.
the snow, the snow, the snow: i miss winter.
i've written two new drafts this week. not bad. well, not bad for me. i'm a slow writer so two new drafts is something special in my little world.
my right ear hurts a bit.
love: helicopter by deerhunter.
kiss me, i'm an illegal alien!


More work here.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

American Amen

"...maybe Gary L. McDowell didn’t set out to write a big fat hymn to the human condition. But he did. The brilliant American Amen wrestles, body and spirit, with our belligerent world."
- Amy Newman

order a copy here

Sunday, September 19, 2010

manuscript blues

i printed out my manuscript last night. five sections. around 50 pages. good lord, that number really depresses me. i've spent the last 6 years of my life working on this collection and all i have is 50 pages! granted, i've written about 30 more pages of work, but i don't want those poems in my first collecton. why? those poems now bore me or they don't belong in the manuscript. and i have been ruthless, dead reader. i have exiled poems that have been published in good places like the nation or quarterly west.

okay, eduardo, calm down. inhale. think of cats and rainbows. think of flowers and oranges. inhale deeply...

don't you love freshly printed manuscript pages? i do! the pages are so crisp and white. i love the smell of the ink. the way the font (new times roman) seems to leap from the white of the page. i love the slight heft of the manuscript. oh i love freshly printed manuscipt pages!

okay, now the really bad news:

i could only see the gaps in the order as i flipped through the manuscript. there should be a short lyric here. there should be a funny moment here.

but i'm not going to let those nagging doubts get me this time. we all have those doubts, right? i'm going to work through those doubts. i'm going to remind myself: a collection is made up of valleys and peaks.

dear reader, i promise this to you: i'm going to submit! i will send the manuscript out this fall. i have to let these poems go. i'm sure they will find a home. well, let's hope they find a home!

i will post pics next month: of me slipping maunscripts into large envelopes, of me sending off those large envelopes.

you will be my witness, dear reader.

look at this!

Larry Levis Documentary Trailer from Virginia Commonwealth University

Click here.

Question: Isn't that Charles Wright narrating the beginning??

Thursday, September 16, 2010

first book interview: jehanne dubrow

I know too many people who feel frozen as long as the first book is unable to find a home. As a result, they stop writing new poems. Then, once the first book finally finds a publisher, many of these poets have so lost the habit of writing that they have no idea what’s next. I know one poet who has been revising a first collection for 15+ years. This poet can’t move on to something new, because the first book remains a looming and oppressive presence.

early morning bits

it's 6:00 am and i'm blogging from a starbucks.
The Baltic Writing Residency
benjamin alire saenz has a blog!
okay: just got a rejection from field magazine in my inbox. good morning! ha. this is the third time these two poems have been rejected by a journal. my poor babies.
the world is full of apples.
i just checked my account over at field's online submission manager. in bold red font next to my name it says: DECLINED. that's harsh.
i don't work today. thank goodness. i need to revise and to read.
my head is starting to ache. it might be all the caffeine in this big cup of coffe that i'm drinking.
i haven't had a poem accepted in over 8 months! tough times. i am waiting to hear from one more journal.
somedays you feel like a rock star. some days you feel like a rock.

hottie of the week: mark sanchez

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Some nights I sleep with my dress on. My teeth
are small and even. I don't get headaches.
Since 1971 or before, I have hunted a bench
where I could eat my pimento cheese in peace.
If this were Tennessee and across that river, Arkansas,
I'd meet you in West Memphis tonight. We could
have a big time. Danger, shoulder soft.
Do not lie or lean on me. I'm still trying to find a job
for which a simple machine isn't better suited.
I've seen people die of money. Look at Admiral Benbow. I wish
like certain fishes, we came equipped with light organs.
Which reminds me of a little known fact:
if we were going the speed of light, this dome
would be shrinking while we were gaining weight.
Isn't the road crooked and steep.
In this humidity, I make repairs by night. I'm not one
among millions who saw Monroe's face
in the moon. I go blank looking at that face.
If I could afford it I'd live in hotels. I won awards
in spelling and the Australian crawl. Long long ago.
Grandmother married a man named Ivan. The men called him
Eve. Stranger, to tell the truth, in dog years I am up there.

c.d. wright

Porochista Khakpour: NY Times Op-Ed

A deep dark admission: lately — and by lately I mean this era I worked so hard for, when a liberal person of color, a man who resembles my own father, would be our president — I’ve found myself thinking secretly, were certain things better in the George W. Bush era? Was it easier to be Middle Eastern then?

Small Press Spotlight: Barbara Jane Reyes

I do think of Diwata as a feminist text and feminist project; in the most basic terms, each female figure is the native woman telling her own story, speaking her way out of dispossession, rather than succumbing others’ objectified versions of her

Johannes Göransson on MFA Rankings

I also disagree with Seth in his statement that “community” of peers is more important than faculty. Absolutely untrue. But a very Iowa Ideology way of putting it. You obviously learn very different things from peers and faculty. Iowa’s rhetoric has always been: this is just two years of funding for you to write an interact with other writers, the teachers don’t really do anything. But of course they do! This rhetoric – which Seth seems to have totally absorbed – is a way of dealing with the problem a lot of people have with the idea of teaching art: according to romantic ideals (which are on full display at U of Iowa), art cannot be taught, it must be just achieved based on “Talent” etc. To deal with the contradiction, Iowa always pumps out that rhetoric. But it’s of course false, students absorb a lot of rhetoric and aesthetics from their teachers (witness Abramson’s rhetoric). The problem with Iowa is not that they don’t teach, it’s that they pretend they are not teaching while teaching!

dig the title. dig the cover image.

Read some poems HERE.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Call for Submissions: ReBound Chapbook Series

The ReBound Series expands the mission of Seven Kitchens Press to bring new and/or underappreciated writers to a broader audience by reprinting out-of-print chapbooks in select new editions.

More info here.

Greatest Hits Vol. #1

holy mother of blurbs! i was skimming through my blog archives and i found some posts that made me cringe. i've said some crazy things, dear reader. don't believe me? here's a sample:

Someone keeps arriving at my blog by Googling "Ted Mathys." Is it you, Ted? I know we all Google ourselves but this is getting ridiculous. Stop it, Ted. You know what happens when you self-Google too much. Though I wouldn't say no to your hairy palms...

This year at AWP I will:

point at poets
refuse to make eye contact with people manning the tables of obscure journals
lick Tony Tost's belt buckle
pout in a bar
walk up to Bob Hicok and ask, "Aren't you SpongeBob?"
shout out brown-nosing is evil!
ask Nick Carbo for a hug
reveal that I'm carrying Christian Wiman's baby
not buy books out of pity for the author
ignore Sabrina Orah Mark
proclaim the death of poetry
pass myself off as Virgil Suárez
slip rejection slips into the pockets of editors
growl at Cole Swenson
kiss a fool
praise Reb Livingston's unibrow
walk up to Ben Lerner and ask, "Are you gay?"
pass myself off as "Latino"

I'm having a baby! Anthony Robinson got me pregnant. Or was it Jordan Davis? Adam Clay? Josh Corey? Liam Rector? James Galvin? Robert Bly? Oh boy. This calls for a DNA test.

Yesterday, I went to a reading celebrating the latest issue of Ninth Letter. Wine and stinky cheese were up for grabs afterwards. The graduate students freaking tore up the wine and cheese! I had to stand back from the cheese table because I feared one of them would bite off my fingers.

I don't like it when people say my poems are beautiful. Beautiful is easy. Any fool can write a beautiful poem

It's so easy to make young children laugh. I had my nephews and niece rolling on the floor each time I said, "I pooed a little pony!"

I'm currently reading the spring/ summer 2008 issue of Hayden's Ferry Review. And it doesn't suck. In fact, I like the art and the poems in the issue. Color me surprised.

I made a snow angel this morning. I threw myself onto the snow and did that wing-like motion a few times and presto: a chunky snow angel was born!

I'm seriously in love with James Allen Hall. Funny as fuck, sweet as fuck. I want to give birth to his baby. But he's also a bottom. Too bad, James. Maybe artificial insemination? And oh yeah, his book sold out at AWP. I bought two copies.

don't you love it when some bloggers claim they don't do colonies because they have no need for them? ha. we all know the real reason they have no need for them: they know they can't get in.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

NEA Supported Residencies at the VCCA

Fellowships for Artists of Limited Economic Means
Fellowships for Artists of Minority Ethnic Heritage

Deadline: Deadline is September 15, 2010.

More info here.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Peter Balakian

Watching the Towers Go Down

bird ave bits

do you remember this song? i loved it back in the day!
paula bohince: I think it is one narrative suggesting a larger one.
brenda cárdenas: There is definitely an aesthetic, artistic stance behind my code switching
javier o. huerta: ...I went to see Lorna Dee Cervantes read in the Heller Multicultural Lounge at UC Berkeley. She explained how she grew up in San Francisco on a street called Bird. It was actually an avenue so the street sign read “Bird Ave.” She thought it interesting, she said, that the street sign was bilingual.
i don't add spanish to my poems to "spice" up the poem, or to bewilder non-spanish speakers. i only keep the spanish words/ phrases that come to me during the writing/ revision stages. the spanish is the next step in the narrative, in the music, etc. i don't italicize the spanish or "explain" it. if the reader doesn't read spanish, i am willing to lose the reader for a few words or a line or two. i trust the rest of the poem will catch the reader.
richard rodriguez: The suburban grid belies America's disorder. Grandma's knockoff Louis Vuitton handbag is so full of meds it sounds like a snake rattle. Grandma shares a secret addiction with her drug-addled dude of a grandson, whose dad prowls the Home Depot parking lot in his Japanese pickup, looking to hire a couple of Mexicans to clear out some dry scrub.
gertrude stein says: a rose is a rose is a rose.
josé montoya says: arroz is arroz is arroz.
Report from the Temple of Confessions in Old Chicano English
some might say i am interested in bewildering non-spanish speakers. not true. i'm interested in privileging spanish speakers. big difference, no?
oh yeah! here's another jam from back in the day!

Monday, September 06, 2010

hey jotos! don't forget about this

Recognizing the critical need for Queer Chicano men to document their stories, break bread with one another and create artifacts for generations to come, this fall Kórima Press will be releasing its first anthology: joto (ho-toh) v.

Embodying a complex and ever-evolving identity, Queer Chicanos hold stories that emanate from the intersections that permeate, constitute and surround our bodies. This anthology seeks to live as a codex of such stories.

Kórima Press seeks poetry submissions from Queer Chicano men writing from and about the spaces of (un)documented desires, racialized nation-states, contested and reclaimed tongues, and overcrowded kitchen tables. Imagined as an amalgamation of Polaroid snapshots, all poetry written from, about, resisting and/or reacting to Queer Chicanismo are welcome. Submissions of any language and combination thereof are accepted.

Deadline: September 30, 2010

Full guidelines HERE

Saturday, September 04, 2010


from McSweeneys

This memorial award is intended to aid a young woman writer of 32 years or younger who both embodies Amanda's personal strengths—warmth, generosity, a passion for community—and who needs some time to finish a book in progress. The book in progress needn't be thematically or stylistically close to Amanda's work, but we would be lying if we said we weren't looking to support another writer of Amanda's outrageous lyricism and heart.

full guidelines here

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Sunday, August 29, 2010

bits and bits and more bits

ouch indeed: "The Madonnas of Echo Park" is a huge step backward for Chicano literature. It appears to have been written without knowledge of a long and proud literary tradition that has moved beyond easy representations of La Raza as "illegal aliens," hustlers, gangsters and suffering mothers.
i know it's months away, but i can't wait for awp dc. i can't wait to say hi to many of you. i can't wait to run away from many of you.
hola, g.c. waldrep!
i can help other poets come up with titles for their manuscripts, but i can't help myself: I've been trying for a year to retitle my manuscript but so far...nothing, nada, double nothing. i still have the same title. sigh.
congrats, tomás q. morin!
i will be visiting nyc this upcoming winter! yes. yes. yes.
the branch will break. sometimes.
i want to kiss some of my poems. i want to kick some of my poems in the balls. is that normal?
are you cute? i think you are cute.
brian teare: torn text

Friday, August 27, 2010

YouTube: Seth Abramson: MFA Application/ Program Advice

On MFA Funding (Part I)
On Applying to MFA Programs (Part I)
On Workshopping (Part I)
On Faculty (Part I)

Seth must've been a Physical Education Teacher in a past life. Check out all those sporty t-shirts/ hoodies!

friday bits

peter campion: over greenland
here's the table of contents for the norton anthology of latino literature.
starting in september the new england review will be accepting electronic submissions.
thank you, robert vasquez. your kind words mean a lot to me.
On one of her trips back to the Mississippi Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Natasha Trethewey noticed a sign in front of a Baptist church emblazoned with this command: "Believe the report of the Lord. Face the things that confront you
i just ate an an eclair. now i feel sick.
small press spotlight: aaron michael morales.
i am willing to pay for it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

here's a headline you don't see everyday!

Award-winning poet buys Cobble Hill condo for $1.15M


i am being left behind. most of my classmates have at least one book out. most of them are teaching. and me? cue the rolling tumbleweeds!
i am placing all my eggs in one basket: my first book. this scares the sh*t out of me.
asleep at the wheel. the story of my life.
revision, revision.
talent isn't enough. not these days. talent is not enough. talent is not enough.
i have a new motto.
flashforward a year: my first book is out. and then....
the eggs in the basket are already starting to crack.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

turning a manuscript into a first book: alberto rios

1. Finding the Book
2. Organization Strategies
3. Write an Abstract
4. Finish the Book
5. Length
6. Titles
7. Epigraphs
8. Appearance and Format
9. A Book Ready to Go

one of my favorite poems


If I were called in
To construct a religion
I should make use of water.

Going to church
Would entail a fording
To dry, different clothes;

My litany would employ
Images of sousing,
A furious devout drench,

And I should raise in the east
A glass of water
Where any-angled light
Would congregate endlessly.

Philip Larkin

hottie of the week: john mayer

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

your vote matters!

help luke johnson pick an author photo!

i voted for pic #2!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


telephone: a new translation journal.
have i told you how hot it is in southern arizona these days? it hurts to walk outside.
The author should withhold some information—to protect his or her own privacy and, just as importantly, to respect the reader’s ability to fill in the blanks. Other than that, no, there are no borders. But the writing must be good. And the goal should be art for art’s sake, not shock for shock’s sake.
is it too late for me to have a quinceañera? i like high-heeled shoes.
Eight out of every 100 Chicano students will graduate from a college with a Bachelors degree, compared to 26 out of every 100 white students, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
i'm working on a quinceañera poem. a porcelain doll makes an appearance. cue the horror movie music!
i can't get enough of david trinidad these days. i so envy his poems.
kevin a. gonzález is coming to my quinceañera. don't be jealous, haters.
karla kelsey reviews christian hawkey.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

one of my favorite poems

Psalm and Lament

In memory of my mother (1897-1974)
Hialeah, Florida

The clocks are sorry, the clocks are very sad.
One stops, one goes on striking the wrong hours.

And the grass burns terribly in the sun,
The grass turns yellow secretly at the roots.

Now suddenly the yard chairs look empty, the sky looks empty,
The sky looks vast and empty.

Out on Red Road the traffic continues; everything continues.
Nor does memory sleep; it goes on.

Out spring the butterflies of recollection,
And I think that for the first time I understand

The beautiful ordinary light of this patio
And even perhaps the dark rich earth of a heart.

(The bedclothes, they say, had been pulled down.
I will not describe it. I do not want to describe it.

No, but the sheets were drenched and twisted.
They were the very handkerchiefs of grief.)

Let summer come now with its schoolboy trumpets and fountains.
But the years are gone, the years are finally over.

And there is only
This long desolation of flower-bordered sidewalks

That runs to the corner, turns, and goes on,
That disappears and goes on

Into the black oblivion of a neighborhood and a world
Without billboards or yesterdays.

Sometimes a sad moon comes and waters the roof tiles.
But the years are gone. There are no more years.

Donald Justice