October 03, 2012
"Bits" (Hat-tip to Eduardo C. Corral)
A week ago, I was in New York City doing the NYC thing--a reading at Le Poisson Rouge, a meeting with one of my editors, a stroll through Central Park that included a Bloody Mary at The Boathouse. It was lovely but it also lit a fire under me: I have got to get some things done now. (Before a trip to Mississippi that looms, in all its glory, on the October horizon.) I came home and wrote up a three-month plan, drafted two poems for a sequence in my manuscript, and...have been a ghost online. Price ya pay.
So let me use this time & space to simply note a few things that intrigue me:
-Kyle McCord rocks. He has a killer poem up at Linebreak, one of my favorite online journals, that begins "When a man loves a woman, / he is asked: Soup or salad?" He is also the co-founder and content manager of LitBridge, which is burning up the internets with its advice articles (check out this one by Ash Bowen, "Confessions of a Dirty Careerist") and its smartly curated series of "Interviews with Graduate Programs."
-Thomas Sayers Ellis (not to be confused with the other TSE) has taken on the position of poetry editor for The Baffler. Seems like a good aesthetic match--the most recent TOC lists adventurist stylists such as Rae Armantrout, Joshua Clover, and Matthea Harvey. It's a handsome leftist magazine that has fought its way back to life; I love the idea of substantive poems integrated with smart essays and articles, a la The Believer, The Nation and (sometimes) The New Yorker. Let's see where that fierce mind wanders.
-Poets, once again time to ask yourself: what good things do you have to say about the human condition? I know we traffic in heartbreak, melancholia, scotch, and difficult mothers. But optimism and compassion are not the enemy. In other words: the October 20 deadline approaches for the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prizes. (The "Sargent" in her pen name honors family member & famed painter John Singer Sargent. The family history is quite lovely--take the time to read it.)
-There are some fabulous events coming up at the Writer's Center, and I say that without any bias based on being a Board member. Specifically:
Saturday, October 6: "Nonfiction Storytelling in Science, Engineering and Policy--The Necessity of Narrative." Ignore the boring title. The line-up of guests is stellar, as is the brand of Lee Gutkind and Creative Nonfiction.
Saturday, October 13: "Make Lit Happen: Journeys Through the MFA and Beyond." A daylong program of panels that address the perpetual questions of whether you belong in an MFA program--and what to do after completing one. Featuring voices I trust such as Michael Collier, David Keplinger, and Eugenia Kim.
...And, my four-class Tuesday night workshop on "How It Works: Making Truth Claims in Your Poems." It begins on October 23 and will take place in Bethesda. We'll be working hard to write poems that not only make observations about everyday experience, but strive to articulate the way our world works. Each week will lead off with guided discussion of poets--such as Czeslaw Milosz or Jack Gilbert--who blend passion with philosophical resolve. (Okay, okay, this one I'm biased about.)