Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Poems’ Category

One year left. In a scant five days I’ll be back down to Ioway. Am I excited? In some ways. I’m ready for the structure of my teaching and learning, ready for the deadlines of Workshop and for the peculiar atmosphere of Ioway City where all my friends and colleagues are all interested in literature and poetry, all trying to figure things out. I’m not excited about another year away from Regina and Henry. Or another year of driving six hundred miles a week. I feel very fortunate that I never had any accdients last year and I’m hoping that my luck holds out for another year.

I’ve had some great weekends of late. Visited my Grandpa in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and was able to spend some quality time with him and also my brother Alex. We took a sauna, had a nice bonfire, took some good walks, and observed more birds than I can remember in recent years. Just this last weekend we returned to Eau Claire and met my uncles there for a tour of the Leinenkugal’s brewery. Also had a nice dinner with my Mom and Dad.

I’m presently reading Josh Weil’s “The New Valley.” It is such a stupendously beautiful book that I read it with equal parts envy and wonder. His style is akin to a young Cormac McCarthy, with elements of Breece DJ Pancake thrown in for good measure. The blurbs on the jacket of the book are the kinds of compliments that any young writer would kill for. Here’s to hoping that my debut book is even half as well received – if and when it comes out.

Which reminds me… In recent months I’ve become reticent to talk about my upcoming publications either on this blog or through Facebook, but I guess I’m doing a disservice to the very publications that believe in my work by neglecting to mention them. In that spirit: the newest issue of “Ploughshares” features my first published short story entitled “Apples” which is loosely based on someone in my life that many of you who might read the story will recognize. I also have a poem forthcoming in the journal “Alimentum” and another short story appearing on “The Kenyon Review Online.” I’m excited about all of these publications and thankful to their editors and readers.

Read Full Post »

It feels that way – that pretty soon I’ll be back on Highway 35 heading down to Ioway. In truth, I still have a little less than two months here in Minnesota with Regina and Henry, but I am astonished at quickly the time has flown by. And I haven’t been as effective as I might’ve liked when it comes to my novel, blogging, or exercise. But I am trying. Today for example I worked on the novel quite a bit, took several walks with Henry, ran errands, and posted two letters to friends. So I’m not being lazy exactly.

I never wanted this blog to be meaningless, or necessarily disposable. I never wanted to feel that I HAD to write/blog something every day. Because the truth is that I don’t have something meaningful to say every day. Nor does something eventful happen to me every day. I have tried to maintain this blog in the hopes of staying in touch with family and friends. And also in a way as a kind of tool for talking about The Workshop, my writing, my successes and failures. I need to keep doing that I think. This blog doesn’t take up that much of my time.

Rather than write you a novella about my summer, here is a bulleted list of significant happenings:
1. Lacerated the hell out of my right shin. Took about 25-45 stitches. Hard to say exactly how many because the ER docs (really cool guys) didn’t count the stitches they had to sew deep inside my leg to bring the tissue together that was closest to the exposed bone. Right now I have a very ugly 5 inch long U-shaped scar that doesn’t want to heal quickly at all.
2. Reading. So far this summer I’ve read about eight books. In some ways, this has gotten in the way of my own writing. But reading for me is also now about learning, and I need to read in order to push my own craft. In particular, I’d like to promote: Dean Bakopoulos’ new book “My American Unhappiness”, James Alan McPherson’s “Elbow Room”, Thomas McGuane’s “Ninety-Two in the Shade”, and Wells Towers’ “Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned.” Three of the four books are by my teachers/mentors/friends. Go read those books.
3. Henry has a second birthday soon. He is gaining more language with every day and continues to grow and thrive. He is a joy to be around and every day I am cognizant of how fortunate I am to have this summer with him.
4. Writing. In the coming months I’ll likely have two short stories published in major journals and one poem in a journal called “Alimentum”, which is a publication dedicated to food writing. I’m very proud of these publications. I think I’m getting very close to my goals. At this point, I’m praying to find a good agent who cares about my work and is aggressive. If I can find that person, I’m pretty sure that I’m about two to years away from dropping several books. So pray for me, or send good vibrations, or whatever. I need the support.
5. Travel. We’re traveling mostly in the Midwest, but so far we’ve seen the Swans in Ashland, Iowa City, and several times we’ve visited Eau Claire. We just need to visit the Walters family and my Grandpa, and then I’ll be satsified. Mike and Hilary: if you still read this blog, I haven’t forgotten your trips up here. I feel guilty as hell. We’ll get down there and when we do, we’ll have some stellar coffee and a few bottles of wine too.

Okay. Enough for now. Hopefully Regina and I will be in a canoe this weekend. At least for one day.

Read Full Post »

Read Full Post »

The easiest thing I suppose, is for people to talk to me about the driving, and they’re always nice and sympathetic. It must be tough they say. So many miles, so many hours. But there really isn’t any other way for us to make this thing work, so I’ve always just pushed through. Done the driving no matter what. Monday nights, Thursday nights. Three hundred odd miles one way. And the truth is, if there were no other drivers on the highway, I WOULD LOVE IT. I could open the engine up, drive ninety miles an hour. My STEREO blasting. Writing notes for stories or poems. Drinking coffee. Watching the sunset, farmers in their fields, hawks, deer, turkeys. The rivers, always swollen. On Monday afternoon I was lucky enough to see sundogs for several hours on my drive south. Two brilliant vertical rainbows on either side of the sun, bright as the sun. Three suns above endless fields of white. Snow blowing over the fields of corn and great dunes and drifts along the fencelines and treelines.

My Monday drives are upbeat. I’m sorry to leave Regina and Henry behind, but it is the start of another week. Time to get back into my groove. Time to see my friends and students and professors. But Thursday’s drive is more difficult. I’m so excited to return home that I can’t speed time up enough. I can’t drive fast enough. When I reach the southernmost suburbs of the Twin Cities I’m still 30-45 minutes away from Arden Hills. The traffic bottlenecks in downtown Saint Paul and I can’t slingshot my way through. I always call Regina to tell her I’m close. I want to arrive home before Henry falls asleep. This is what being a father is, settling for even those final moments before he goes to sleep. Anything. Any time.

It’s almost two in the morning and I can’t fall asleep. Too much driving. Then exercise. A short story finished and a little poem.

Some advice for Minnesota drivers:

1.) The fast lane is on your left. Do not occupy the fast lane if you are driving slower than I am. And you will know me because I am glaring at you, ten feet off your bumper.
2.) Use your blinkers.
3.) Seventy really means seventy-five.
4.) Use cruise control so that we don’t perform constant two-car vehicular weaves. This is just annoying.

Just finished Samantha Chang’s All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost. Very elegant with a devastating ending.

Read Full Post »

Back Down To Ioway

This weekend was all about getting healthy: getting Henry’s sore bum healed and getting Regina healthy too. Everyone (except me) has been sick, which doesn’t make the going any easier for Regina without me around Monday night through Thursday night. Last Thursday in fact, I cut my class short so I could hit the highway to back with them and VERY early on Friday morning Henry and I drove to the doctor’s office to get his sore butt diagnosed. He is doing much better. Nothing a weekend with both parents around couldn’t fix. Today we took a nice wintry walk, Henry strapped to my back. On one frozen pond near our house we saw about three dozen turkeys.

There hasn’t been much to report of late. I had an essay on parenting printed in The Christian Science Monitor, but so far I can’t find a link to the piece on their website. The fifth issue of PANK was just printed, and that magazine has three of my poems. They did a very fine job formatting my work – a really nice publication. My teaching is going along easily enough. It helps to have some experience, to know the syllabus. I’m blessed to have another nice crop of kids.

I hope to begin blogging again more, sorry for my absence.

Read Full Post »

Come Monday, I’ll be back on the road. Driving south down to Ioway. What a terrific month it has been. I am ready to get back to my studies, my teaching, my writing, my reading, my friends, and my academic routine. But a month at home with Henry has been amazing. I am already excited for the summer when the weather will obviously be more hospitable and we can take long walks, go swimming, etc.

Netflix has certainly disrupted my nightly writing patterns, but after a month of watching at least a movie a day (and sometimes two or three), I’ve gotten back into my groove. I finished (or lengthened) a novella the other night and I’ve been cranking out some poems that I really like. Now I just need to find some homes for these writings.

In any case, Saturday night we’re headed to a dinner party and I’ll be rooting on the Green Bay Packers. Hopefully, Sunday morning won’t be a bad comedown.

PS – Over the break I read “This Is Just Exactly Like You” by Drew Perry, and I’m giving that novel my endorsement here. For me, it was akin to reading a more youthful Richard Russo. I also just finished reading the short story “We Have A Pope!” by Christopher Buckley – excellent.

Read Full Post »

George Washington

The Girl Who Cried Wolf

The New Verse News

I published a poem online today. A piece that I had written almost a year ago when I heard that Sarah Palin had addressed a group of Tea Party members. She had said that America “was ripe for a revolution.” I even blogged about it here. I think you can probably find the post organized in the “America” category (to the right of the screen.)

In any case, I want to say how disgusted I am with politics today. I really am. I find the whole thing astonishingly exhausting. I find both sides repellent. Of course, ideologically I tip the scales much more to the proverbial left, but I am also sympathetic to certain “conservative” values. I understand why conservatives in America were/are disgusted by the current spending packages proposed by Democrats. I get that. I understand why conservatives value family so much, why they feel that perhaps our nation is in decline based on some decay of traditional values. Again, I don’t wholeheartedly agree with their stances, but generally, I can sympathize.

But the tragedy that happened yesterday is beyond my ken. It is repugnant and incomprehensible and ill-informed and treasonous and sickening. And I think the American far-right is stoking people up. Stoking them up to commit these kinds of violence.

Here then is both a link to my poem published on The New Verse News and my original formatting below:


GEORGE WASHINGTON

I tell you now that on the teevee yesterday there was a woman
talking about america being ripe for a revolution and she was
talking to a group of people call themselves the tea party. But
the truth of the matter is that most people don’t have no notion
of revolution. The word, it conjures up in them good feelings
about george washington and samuel adams and paul revere,
but you go ask people in guatemala what revolution looks like.
ask someone in chechnya. It aint just talk. It is people getting
killed. People losing their homes and their land and their farms.
Land mines and bombs and automatic weapons. I shook my
fist at the teevee, because I don’t need america getting torn apart
like that in my lifetime. I can point a finger to a gravestone in
gettysburg and show you my distant kin. America saved the world
seventy years ago, and now we got people saying that things are
so bad we need a revolution. I tell you what it is, plain and simple.
A bunch of goddamn greedy people who don’t want to pay their
taxes. We ain’t talking about a king or an emperor. We talking
about sidewalks and atomic bombs. We talking about highways
and bridges. School-houses and hospitals.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »