Monday, January 27, 2014

Snow-squeak Press

I'm incredibly excited to have my poem and an explanation of that poem on the Poetry Society of America's website today:

I really, really am thrilled.


Today is another school day that's been cancelled due to the cold weather. No snow, no ice, just COLD weather. And I feel bummed because I was going to talk to my students today about Brent Staples' "Black Men & Public Spaces." And now, due to lack of classes, I'm going to have to cut an Alice Walker story from my syllabus. I know all the children and college students of the world of Chicago are gleeful due to school being cancelled, so I feel very far away from the glee. Which makes me feel OLD. But, dang it, I wanted to discuss Alice Walker with my students.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Swamp Thing Press

“The struggle of literature is in fact a struggle to escape from the confines of language"--Italo Calvino

It's Saturday & this is what I know: The snow is in motion. 3 lilies open on the coffee table like beaks of an angry beast. I've turned my coffee into a dirty cloud. How much butter I've melted on toast.


I'm teaching Richard Rodriguez's "Aria" on Tuesday and am looking for good quotes about language to have students begin with some personal writing. And then I was reading MLK Jr and his speech "The Other America" and here is an excerpt:

I’m still convinced that nonviolence is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom and justice. I feel that violence will only create more social problems than they will solve. That in a real sense it is impractical for the Negro to even think of mounting a violent revolution in the United States. So I will continue to condemn riots, and continue to say to my brothers and sisters that this is not the way. And continue to affirm that there is another way.

But at the same time, it is as necessary for me to be as vigorous in condemning the conditions which cause persons to feel that they must engage in riotous activities as it is for me to condemn riots. I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard.

And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity. And so in a real sense our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.


My landlord is taking away the broken dishwasher. It's swampy.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Fight Not The Fact Press

The tyranny of a paragraph the tyranny of a sentence the tyranny of a phrase the tyranny of a word the tyranny of the mind the tyranny of blood & bloodlessness.

O moonfeeder, o mouth of my volcanic please.

Review of Kiely Sweatt's new book. Read the review, read the book:


I just tried to watch the TV show Supernatural. It's unwatchable. It's the janky version of The X Files in which Scully and Mulder are replaced by two sexist brothers who can't act. I also tried to watch Sons of Anarchy on my brother's recommendation. Shame on you, Adam. Why?


Exciting events at the Poetry Foundation this month:

Thursday, January 9, 2014

In Which I Sent My First Text Message To Someone That is Just a List of Grocery Items Press

I didn't know this existed and now I do and life is better: Black Cake Records

I think I need to re-dye my hair. I'm stingy and resist throwing down the money. But now I might need to do this Friday night. In my next life I will be an avant garde hair cutter. Sad, but not surprised, that the phrases "avant hard" and "avant bard" and "avant lard" already exist in the world.

Monday, January 6, 2014

An Animal Under the Leaves Press

Instead of snow-days, in Chicago we get wind-days. Today was my first wind-day off from school. It was supposed to be like -41 with wind but I wouldn't know since I have just been migrating between two couches all day. I am going to saute some kale and carrots with brown rice tonight for dinner. Mmmmm.


I've been working on my new English 101 syllabus. These are the first readings my students will do:

Langston Hughes’ “Salvation” (The Norton Reader, 657)
bell hooks, excerpt from Bone Black
Richard Rodriguez’s “Aria” (The Norton Reader, 297)
Brent Staples’ “Black Men and Public Space” (The Norton Reader, 229)
Alice Walker’s “Beauty: When the Other Dancer Is the Self” (The Norton Reader, 46)

I am excited about this. We'll be talking about inclusion and exclusion and assumptions about community.


Here is a poem by Abraham Smith that I read today (old issue) from Everyday Genius:

Abraham Smith
from: Only Jesus Could Icefish in Summer

the crows are i am home
as in i go to the rib doctor
in taos tell him pull one
i go to the duck decoy doctor
with that no laugh
or deep breath for at
least six weeks rib north of
minneapolis tell her
whittle me a wind wanderer
i go to the glassblower md
boston by way of fayetteville
tell him blow me a dip vessel
bout the size of the pineal and i
go to the big printer makers
before you homogenize the inks
in them big expense cubes i am as in
an animal under the leaves
am the leaves for all the eye
and the leaves ain't worth
thinking about since milton so
mind if i siphon a bag of
your rawest finest so
so home in crow as in yard chicken
eggs for breakfast
them yokes blood orange
they candle the heart
them kids five things
every morning
lamb duck mama to plastic waa waa lion train


My grandma, Spook, turns 91 today. I have to call her now!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Since We Are Born With Shadows We Will Die Press

It's a snow on snow sort of day. Why do coffee shops always have such ugly art for sale? I do not like leaving lipstick stains on coffee cups. I've been reading poems and writing about them all day. Here are two lines I love:

“When faced with a moral or ethical dilemma
always use your imagination”—Sampson Starkweather

“I think that thoughts are just feelings my mind has.”—Jennifer Denrow,

Friday, January 3, 2014

Paul Rudd's Moustache Press

I've been on some kind of hiatus. You probably didn't notice. But last time I threw some words down here I was in Ithaca for the summer. Then, I packed up my apartment in Denver & moved to Chicago. Now, I'm in a different apartment in Chicago. I have a warmer coat and new boots. I have oranger hair. Or, my hair is more orange? What. Ever. I'm trying to figure out how to do my job well while also writing academic papers, while also writing poetry, while also being a human in the world. I am far from figuring it out. But here is a place I will try harder to communicate. Hello, 2014.


Thank you, Spoke Too Soon, for publishing "Practice by Fire & Doubt." You can also listen to me read it, slightly awkwardly, on the website as well: