Tuesday, August 13, 2013


My second new chapbook of 2013, MY FORMER POLITICS, is just out today from H-NGM-N Books. I'm so excited about this and have been posting lines all day on Twitter and Facebook in spare moments, sometimes baby-on-lap. Here's a few:

---a feeling that is monstrous---and wonderful---
---all the intelligence required to feel---and to keep feeling---bewildered---
---like hearing it’s on the way---when it’s already here---
---forgetting what I was saying---I always forget what---and I always am saying---
---there’s this place I live---blindly---
---it looks easy---traveling via various equations---venting off the vapors---that protect---the economy---
---flowers seeding---the sound of a sound---hair on the back of a baby 
---so you know to go the way---impasse---provides---

This chapbook took shape out of poems with holes in them, some of which were published in journals like The Modern Review and Sorry 4 Snake. A longer interview about my process will appear on H-NGM-N's tumblr feed.

Please click the image for a link to the book!

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Babycarrier Book Tour

Farrah, Roman and I are hitting the road in the south! We just survived our first flight with the baby and are now in New Orleans LA where we will be attending a wedding celebration this weekend and then embarking on a mini poetry reading tour for Farrah's WOLF AND PILOT and my new Bloof Books chapbook THIS IS WHAT IT IS LIKE TO BE LOVED BY ME. Here are all the details on dates and places we will appear with strollers, snugglies, bottles and other accoutrements:

4/16 in Hattiesburg MS at University of Southern Mississippi, 118
College Dr. #5037, 5:30pm

4/18 in Baton Rouge LA at Underpass Reading Series at Chelsea's Cafe,
2857 Perkins Rd, 8pm

4/19 in New Orleans LA at The Diane Tapes Reading Series at Maple
Street Bookshop, 3141 Ponce de Leon, 6pm

4/25 in Conway AR at La Lucha Space, 2035 Prince St at Donaghey Ave., 7pm? (tbd)

4/26-27 in Fayetteville AR at the Ozark Small-Press Poetry Festival
for Cannibal, Nightbird Books 205 West Dickson Street, 7-10pm both

Also, I have been posting totally new poems every day this April on the Bloof Books blog - check it out here!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Recently I was asked by Steven Karl (Thanks, Steven!!) to take part in a round robin interview chain - here is my contribution ---

What is the working title of the chapbook?

This Is What It Is Like To Be Loved By Me

Where did the idea come from for the chapbook?

I started working on the pieces that became this chapbook while I was traveling, thinking about love and how it is like reading or like looking, like trying to describe something objectively in exquisite detail, over time, while the describer is in motion and in flux. I had in mind projects like Monet’s haystacks seen in many kinds of light and On Kawara’s paintings of every day’s date for many decades each in the format of the country he found himself in and Stephen Ratcliffe’s every-morning practice of writing the same sized poem about the same landscape: observation as weather. I found myself thinking in particular about describing a loved object and how this becomes a sort of projection onto a mirror, as Roland Barthes theorizes in his very mysterious and beautiful book A Lover’s Discourse. Nursing a distance, looking very closely, but also looking at something imaginary at the same time.

I found my way to the line “This Is What It Is Like To Be Loved By Me.” With these ideas embedded in it, the phrase seemed vertiginous, oscillating back and forth between the position of the lover and the object of love, projection into a paradox. This complicated effect of suggestion and identification is I think often a key part of reading, and certainly almost always writing: hearing someone else’s voice in one’s head, being infected by feelings. It probes narcissism but in a funny, raw-nervy way. And maybe a creepy way too – I held on to the image of watching someone sleep—a kind of strange and special intimate thing to know about someone that they can’t know about themselves.

Under the heading “This Is What It Is Like To Be Loved By Me" I started writing, adopting a diaristic/daybook mode which meant that the poem could become a story of a relationship over time, dilating and contracting and deepening. I mean the open-ended relationship of poems and their speakers and their readers but also a very particular relationship, as I incorporated little jokes between my wife Farrah and I: our road-trip games, our joshing turns of phrase. We got married between the time I started writing and finished editing this poem so I couldn’t help making the poem romantically not only a courtship itself but also the record of one. But it isn’t so much a poem about falling in love as about being in love.

Many pieces for this series formed while I was traveling; sections take place by the pool in the Hotel Oceania in Santa Monica, in my parents’ cabin in Northern California where I stayed for a few days by myself in January 2011 writing, going for walks and reading R. Crumb’s illustrated Genesis, and (in fantasy at least) riding the Trans-Siberian Railway which I hope to do actually someday. Somehow Winnie the Pooh and Leo Tolstoy came into the poem. Rimbaud’s line “Je est un autre” – I is an other – kept occurring to me. I have been working at the same time on poems involving the Norwegian folk hero Peer Gynt so somehow with his looky-loo first name like a burglar he jimmied his way into this poem too.

What genre does your book fall under?

This series of pieces started out as see-what-happens prose in which the opening phrase was sometimes a prompt and sometimes a way of complicating or interrupting or redirecting the flow of an impulse or an idea. As I was editing and looking for ways to bring more air into the prose I came across a great piece by Brenda Hillman in Lana Turner #2 adapting a hybrid form called ‘haibun’- mixing haiku and prose. I think the idea traditionally in Japanese literature is to use to the prose in a travel diary-memoirish way to situate the haiku pieces so these little gems of observation and contemplation are presented in a fabric of time instead if floating in space as they usually do. Haibun’s cut lines can aerate the prose while prose blocks impart to the cut lines a jazzy sense of contingency and visibility like a viscous colored liquid imbued with bubbles. I love how the form foregrounds travel and motion and the sense of a work as its own commentary, writing in dialogue with its process of creation, a journal of an adventure. Thus it comprises not only viable haiku-sized poems with a prose midrash of elaboration but a single long hybrid work in which it is possible for more unexpected things to happen. Hillman’s contemporary adaptation of haibun was extremely inspiring to me. (Here’s a link to her poem, and while I’m googling I just came across another example here. And incidentally today I happened to spot that EOAGH just published a haibun by Steve Benson, using the haiku as part-hinge, part-springboard to leap into a void…) These American haibun show me how the form could work against essay and normal prose poetry writing like engine-braking with a gear shift in a car, dramatically changing the pace by using the text’s own momentum against itself.  Similarly, just by rolling forward quickly enough and forcing the stick shift into gear, it’s possible to get a car to start.  

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Here is a partial list of dramatis personae for This Is What It Is Like To Be Loved By Me:

A bicycle. The City of Philadelphia. The City of New York. A salt flat in Utah. A volcano. The Berkshires. Fog. Peer Gynt. Gertrude Stein. Arthur Rimbaud. Leo Tolstoy. The mathematician Georg Cantor. Snow monkeys. Sea lions. Anarchists. King Arthur. Calypso. Ulysses.  Gulliver. Winnie-the-Pooh. A bearwolf. Me. Farrah.

This film is a fiction autobiopic so everybody can portray themselves – or versions of themselves (think Arlo Guthrie as Arlo Guthrie in “Alice’s Restaurant,” John Malkovich as John Malkovich in “Being John Malkovich,” Eminem in “8 Mile,” Howard Stern in “Private Parts,” Los Angeles in Thom Andersen’s “Los Angeles Plays Itself”). But like these movies there is a script – this is not documentary or improvisation. It doesn’t matter whether the actors are good or convincing actors; in some ways it works better if the self-impersonations are vague and stylized and somehow unconvincing. The screenplay, like what it is like to be loved in the poem, is by me.

The chapbook includes these lines: “The actors portraying us tell us how we look each morning. They study our trash to fill us with hope.”

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

This is this is what it is like to be loved by me.
(These words are what it is like to be loved by me.)

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I started writing pieces for this series on an October 7 – I know because that’s what it says on the first page of the poem, in the poem. I think it was 10/7/10. I had gone to Los Angeles for my friend’s bachelor party in Big Bear and afterwards I stayed near the ocean, writing and getting ready for a road trip of readings that would take Farrah and me from Venice Beach to Austin, Texas where the same friend was getting married. One day I took a break from writing for an afternoon and rented a Segway and rode along the Santa Monica boardwalk feeling ridiculous. Mostly it was rainy, which was very weird since I thought it never rains in LA. When Farrah arrived the day before our reading at Beyond Baroque the weather cleared so we took out bicycles and rode north on the boardwalk to the edge of Pacific Palisades and Malibu. On our way back we tried to head in from the coast and had to ford our way through a huge puddle of rainwater in a tunnel under the Pacific Coast Highway.

I continued working on the prose blocks that became This Is What It Is Like To Be Loved By Me for the next year and a half, during which my cat died, I went on a Tolstoy reading marathon, grew out my beard and then shaved it, got married, and conceived a child with Farrah. The manuscript was finally finished during the spring and summer of 2012.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My wife Farrah. My friends and their weddings. The opening line from Dante’s Inferno about the “selva oscura” – dark forest – in which he finds himself midway through life.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

This chapbook has sex-style sex in it. It also includes secret instructions for getting into a house in Sudbury, Massachusetts and the true story of how I met my wife in the Kensington Stables in Brooklyn taking horseback-riding lessons, years before we exchanged even a word. I've also included the rules for a very fun road trip game we call “zip zip,” which involves scoring points when you spot horses. When you pass a graveyard, you shout out "bury your horses!" and the other person loses all their points. It is ruthless and morbid. When we drove across the country Farrah and I tried adding bonus points for silos during the long trek across Iowa but that made it too easy and I don’t recommend it.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Shanna Compton of Bloof Books has been extraordinarily generous in making an amazing edition of this chapbook as part of an incredible lineup of chaps from phenomenal poets. As one of only a couple men published on this great press I feel particularly honored. I’m speechless and beside myself with excitement.

Tag, you're it.

As future interviewees, I am tagging Ian Dreiblatt, Paige Taggart, Keith Newton, Justin Marks, and my fellow 2013 Bloof chap-pers (though I think many have already been tagged and even done the interview): Hailey Higdon, Becca Klaver, Pattie McCarthy, Jennifer Tamayo, Kirsten Kaschock.