Friday, April 27, 2007

Bird Watch

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Saw one of these guys at the feeder this morning. He's huge! About 8 inches tall, and his red breast is very prominent and bright on a dim, wet morning.

I've also been seeing a lot of downy woodpeckers lately, including one peck-peck-pecking in a tree near work yesterday, and one at the feeder at home last night.

With the leaves off the trees last winter, I noticed there is a large cardinal nest in the thicket between my house and the House of the Pomeranian. That's where all the LOUD CHIRPING is coming from in the morning (the cardinal nest, not the Pomeranian; he has more of a shriek).

I've seen a ton of bluejays on the walk to work.

A couple of days ago, two Canadian geese flew north over the Press, honking loudly.

That is all.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Blast from the Past

One good thing about Myspace: seems like EVERYone is getting on.

I was doing some name searches (like ya do) and found ... my best friend from JUNIOR high school! He moved away freshman/sophomore year and we pretty quickly lost touch, but man, we shared some great, formative years. Played D&D together, skulked around town at night, raised a ruckus in class, cruised chicks, shoplifted. Wow, a flood of memories.

It's funny: just looking at us, we've become pretty much who we always thought we would. I'm the literary-type writer guy; he's playing lead guitar in a band. Awesome.

This is good nostalgia. The painless kind.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I've been reading his last book of poems.

by Jack Gilbert

I can't remember her name.
It's not as though I've been in bed
with that many women.
The truth is I can't even remember
her face. I kind of know how strong
her thighs were, and her beauty.
But what I won't forget
is the way she tore open
the barbecued chicken with her hands,
and wiped the grease on her breasts.

from Refusing Heaven (c) 2005

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Ze Update, She Is, how you say, Oeuvre Deux, no?

Finished my first week of teaching the graphic design class for Continuing Studies. I feel pretty good about it, but I also feel like I'm rushing through a mountain of material. It's only a 2-hour class, twice a week for two weeks, so no, there really isn't a lot of time, to cover anything. We could spend the entire class just working on a hands-on project and still not cover all the basics.

The best I can do lecture-wise, really, is go over some concepts and terms and show them some before-and-after designs. That takes up less than 30 minutes or so. I can show them a few specifics, but design and type composition is all about problem-solving. I think you have to learn that by doing not listening and watching me do it. By the time I'm teaching them, the class has already taken courses in InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator. Ostensibly I'm showing them design and layout not how to use the programs. But their skill levels are wide ranging. Some people know InDesign (which we are using almost exclusively) very well -- and even have shown me a couple of things, like how to use hanging punctuation. Others are obviously still a little baffled by the interface. But overall I'm happy with how things are progressing. Monday's class is on color; Wed is file prep for printers; then I'm out.

The Bloom Magazine article about poets/poetry in Bloomington is out, just in time for National Poetry Month! Yes, gaze upon my haunting visage in all my full-color glossy glory. (I haven't actually seen the issue yet so I'm not sure just how glorious the article itself is ... but I know it's out there. My roommate's GF made a collage of my write-up for me! How sweet is that. Hell, I may just skip the article and rely on the collage.)

Speaking of National Poetry Month, I have been endeavoring to write a poem a day (minimum) this month, like I did last year in April and November. This is a great excercise and I'm getting some pretty good stuff. I'm also surprising myself with my ability (and inclination) to do everything else I'm doing and find time to write. I almost bailed on this project because of, uh, certain pro bono obligations, but I'm glad I persevered. A couple of days I got behind, in which case I added that quota to the following day (but I can never "get ahead," meaning if I were to write 6 poems in one 24-hour period I would still owe at least one poem the next day). So at one point I was down 4 poems -- which, in case you're wondering, is quite a hole to get out of. But I've gotten into a good rhythm now: a poem over cereal/coffee before work and another during lunch. I'm able to write in the evening sometimes too, which is new for me. I've been a morning person for a long time now, building steam and working to a peak around mid-afternoon and then winding down throught the rest of the day. I tend not to do any writing after, say, 8p although I can still edit like a motherfucker. Different muscle group there, I guess.

Also, I'm starting to put together another poetry manuscript. I've been thinking on it ever since I put together The Great American Scapegoat. I may submit it to some chapbook contests. (I don't think I want to do another book-length collection for a while. Too much filler.) Or I may just self-pub again, but entirely DIY this time.

There was a time when I was eager to collaborate with a visual artist on a book project. I think I'd like to revisit that notion, but this time? An artist with whom I'm not so personally involved. Or who is not crazy. Crazy does not equal creative! Sorry. Let's just make a book together and let that be our relationship, m'K?

Let's see: I'm moving in with Marz Barz and I are moving in together in August. Did I mention that already? I'm pretty stoked about that.

I have received rejection notices for everything I've sent out so far this year. Humph.

I'm concerned that NATF is going to want me on staff at the audio theatre workshop this year as, like, stage manager or something instead of sound effects director. I have conflicting feelings about this; namely, do I want to go if I don't get to do my thing?

I'm going mushroom hunting on Saturday.

Also, I'm reading in Greenwood sometime that day.

I just spilled coffee on myself.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

On Notice


Despite yourself, I think you still check in here now and again, so I want to say publicly that I'm not yet giving up on your crazy ass. A year is not nearly long enough to make me forget why I was (and still consider myself to be) friends with you. I'm exceedingly patient ... no matter what else you think of me, you know this ... and I intend to wait a good bit longer ... either for your return to socialability ... or for my memory to fail.

Take care of yourself. We'll meet again.


Friday, April 06, 2007

Cut It Out

Dear Recipients of Pro Bono Work from Your Humble Narrator:

Okay, I'll admit it: I've bitten off more than I can chew. I love saying yes almost as much as I love saying maybe, and so I find myself at the end of March and into National Poetry Month (w00t, as the kids are fond of saying nowadays) feeling stressed, overcommitted, chronically underrelaxed, and, as if that weren't enough, disappointed with myself. In short, I'm a walking ticking frag grenade of nerves and blown expectations, and TIME IS RUNNING OUT, ASSHOLES!!!

Uh, heh, ahem. I mean: I've felt this way before, and I know know that it's time for me to cut some projects loose. Seriously. No offense. "It's not you -- it's me." And it's true. There is a fine line between "serving my community" and working 4-6 hours a day (after an 8-9 hour work day) + as many hours on weekends, 12 weeks out of the year for just ONE project ... and I often find I have to justify my work to people who don't seem to grok that "10 years," "professional," and "experience," mean that I do indeed know what I'm doing. Really! And that kind of deadline-oriented work just isn't right for me, not when the production schedule perpetually runs up against something else in my life that is equally if not more important. I'm just asking for ulcers -- and life's short enough as it is.

Also, lately I am able to squeeze in an average of AT MOST an hour or two a week to writing/editing/submitting my own work, and that just isn't going to stand. My mental health lately is such that I'm feeling less present, meaning I'm in a constant state of preparation for the next project, thinking about where I "ought to be" and what i "ought to be doing." I'm multitasking instead of paying attention to the here and now. I missed most of two beautiful weeks in the B-tangle, instead cooped up and staring at a screen, moving type around.


What's wrong with me? Clearly not my work ethic. I just have too much on my plate. And frankly, I'm pretty full. So no, no more. No wafer-thin mint. I'm just going to have to say no a little more often here, and it's going to SHOCK AND AWE people to hear me say it as calmly and congenially as I said yes in the beginning.

But hey, it's Sorry Charlie Day. Plenty of people around with whom you can commiserate, right, pro-bono-work recipients o' mine?

Thanks for understanding.
Really, it's for the best.

The Management

Monday, April 02, 2007


So I'm reading some of my poems into a mic at WFIU today. It is being recorded for broadcast ... I'll post when I know when, but it's for Jenny Kander's Sunday morning (11:45) poetry program.

Usually when I do this sort of thing, I just gather some new stuff (or under-read pieces) and go and it's a mish-mash, which is fine. Reading for later broadcast (or any sort of recording) is a somewhat-less performance-oriented setting -- a mic as opposed to real-live human ears, so I get an opportnity to read ... uh, calmer material. More cerebral. More minimalist, if that makes sense. I like it, letting some silence hang in between the words, which is harder to do at a live reading unless people are sitting close. I've been to some larger readings (200+ in the audience) where the poet "just" read (as opposed to performed) and if I hadn't been sitting in the front I might as well have been listening to a recording. There's just no sense of intimacy.

I saw Louise Gluck read on campus last week and she was great. Lots of power in an understated reading. She read entirely from Averno, which is good but not my favorite of her books (that'd be The Wild Iris). Nearly everything was long, multi-part, and somewhat elegaic. I dug it and I also liked her comments re: the poet laureateship (i.e., she was not a good pick for the position, and by the end of her tenure everyone involved knew it!).

I think that is the style I want to try to return to. Less razamatazz, more lit chops. The razz is great and serves a purpose, and I don't want to turn my stuff stuffy and "important." But I think I want to get back to writing and then reading poems well, as opposed to writing poems to be read aloud in front of an audience.

Besides, I'm to imagine y'all are just sitting there in yer underwear anyway, right?

Anyway, for today's session, I actually put together a mini-reading, and because it's what I have been writing lately, it turns out to be a li'l meditation on death and memory, maybe a little lost love in there for good measure. I've gotten good (thanks, Joe) at putting a setlist together, and this 4-1/2-minute jaunt actually holds together pretty well.