Monday, March 30, 2009

Tour Interview Questions

On "bringing your unique styles together" ... in one word, describe YOUR unique style.


How would you describe your poetry?

The anonymous author of Beowulf and Saul Williams tossed in a bag with a brick and some poorly mimeographed lit rags from the '60s. Who shall emerge victorious?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Spring Cleaning

Some Things Stick With Me

Dad sits across from me.
His bruised hands shaking.
He says, You fall apart when you get old.

I don’t have to try anymore
to make my voice
sound just like his.

Before the tremors
his fingers manipulated pocketknives
and chewing gum wrappers
and drywall tape and mud.

But he has performed this
operation so many times,
his hands are as deft as a surgeon’s.

We are in a restaurant booth waiting for ribs.
He prepares a syringe and then the insulin.
Rolls the bottle between his hands to warm it.
Plunges the needle into his stomach.
So quick and practiced
I was the only one who saw.

It is bearable because he remains
calm as it happens,
and then we laugh at his frailty.

It’s out of our minds
as plates of meat arrive.

Even though we are falling apart.
It is happening to us all the time.

editor's note: this is a new edit as of 1 April 09.


I've been in a bit of a writing slump ever since I finished the chapbook manuscript (still sending it out; no bites yet). So I've turned to old, neglected pieces and have been editing and revising up a storm. It feels good. Bringing completion. Tying up loose ends. That kind of thing. This piece is still "in process" but it's in better shape now than before.

I'm reading tonight in Evansville. Fortunately, there are three other Dogwoods to prop me up. I'll likely be on auto-pilot.

Digging beneath where something happened

I broke up with Mari this week, and it hurts. I feel like a failure. Even though I think it was inevitable. Or some major move was. Either we move to the same city (read: I move to Michigan) or we split. The long-distance thing was not really working. Neither of us was happy or satisfied with it. And her resentment toward me because I stayed in B-ton when she moved had become palpable. It would only have gotten worse, especially once the weather turned to spring/summer. I was only slightly more willing than she to make a long-distance arrangement work. Honestly, though, I think we're both too caught up in living our individual lives -- she at the beginning of a great career -- and doing what we really enjoy to make the kind of sacrifice required to stay together as a couple. Fuck.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Found While Making Corrections

"[B]elief in global nomadism is a delusion, since to be able to go anywhere is to be located nowhere."
--Edward S. Casey, Getting Back into Place

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Any kids here?

From Eddie Murphy: Delerious

This reminds me of staying up late playing D&D with my best friend Mike Liggett, around 1983 or so. We'd listen to this album on cassette over and over. We had to keep the volume way down so no one upstairs would hear.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Dynamic of the Team Piece

So I'm about to embark upon a spoken word tour of Indiana, and for the occasion I've been working on what we in the biz call a team piece. Basically, a poem or text written specifically for performance by more than one voice. I have never had much luck with this "form." I tend to work solo. But I love good team pieces, and Jewsef has written a few in the past that he and I have gotten good at throwing down. We have even co-opted Taylor Mali's "How to Write a Political Poem" and, if I may say so myself, do it a damn fine piece of justice.

I've written a fair amount of scripts, so writing for different voices is not a big deal. That's dialogue, though. A team piece should not be just a poem that 4 people take part in reading. I has to REQUIRE the voices that sing it. (Note, though, that I DO NOT like team pieces where 3 people sing behind one dude performing the poem. I just think that's hinkey.) So I've been working at making 4 voices necessary, and I think I've got it. Kind of a retooling (and shortening) of the long-ass (15 minutes) poem + sound effects I did at the Ceilidh in '98. A piece I have been wanting to return to and revise for some time.

The real fun part of the team piece, obviously, is the collaborative aspect. Because it's NOT a script, some might think that "This Poem Is Carved In Stone" and must therefore be read as written by its poet. Scripts usually have a little bit more leeway, once the actors start getting into character. But I think inviting the other voices to help shape the poem's content and presentation is integral to its success. Joe wrote a really good team piece once about two soldiers shooting at each other. On paper, it rocked. But once we started working it out aloud, problems and necessary tweaks became apparent. Plus the obvious back-and-forth of voices as bullets had not been fully realized. Implied but not defined. So, as I recall, during endless laps around the retaining pond at Aho, when we both still worked there, we hammered that fucker out till it was golden. Not a complete revision of the poem but recasting and reassigning certain lines, so that our two voices fit naturally into one poem.

The four of us 'dogs are meeting this weekend to start going over our set lists and honing the team pieces we've been working on. I'm eager to see how things shake down, and I'm really interested to see how this new piece comes together with all 4 voices behind it.

Random Observation #6,793

Aren't emo haircuts just inverted mullets?

(And sometimes not all that inverted?)