Wednesday, April 27, 2011

One more summer thing

I want to work on a project involving Sucker Punch--a film so many people hated. An intersection with Proppian fairy tale functions, women's issues, narrative as construction (via Bakhtin). Zack Snyder did something amazing. Yahoo! Movies Critic Reviews are here, showing how film critics expect a movie to be one thing, while it does something original.

Things to work on this summer

It seems like winter is the most productive time for me (see the following Q&A with Kevin Rabas and his research project). However, I hope to do the following this summer. (Note: This seems like the best place to leave a note for myself--one I can't lose.)

Work on Radius to continue to send out to book contests
1976: Collage poem around my family at the time
1984: Collage poem around oppression--personal and public

So here is the e-mail interview:

What tactics that you use seem to get the *best results* when doing creative or research work over the break? (For instance, do you block out chunks of time, go to the library, and use that time ONLY for research/creativity? Do you meet a friend to do work at a coffee shop? Do you go on a research/writing trip, say to NYC? Do you unplug from the internet on TR of Fall Break, Etc.)
Because of my wife and two sons, I first wake up early to get reading and writing done. (I like to write with a stack of books for inspiration.) Also, Carrie and I agree on a block of time when I can head out alone to a coffeehouse to get writing done. I am more of a morning writer, so that works best for me. I carry around index cards for jolts of inspiration, too. We often go to the library in the afternoons during breaks, so I do any research there--switching off with Carrie while watching the kids.

Which is your *most productive break period* (summer break, spring break, fall break)? Speculate on how and why?
Winter break is the best time. I write better--maybe because of the isolation and disconnect because of the cold? I also love wintertime, cold and snow both. I don't like summer. Luckily, Carrie doesn't take the heat well, so it's a good time to stay inside, read, watch movies, etc.

Name and detail and summarize one of your *success stories* when using a break (or part of a break) for research and creativity.
This is linked to my next answer. My MFA thesis took off during the winter break, following a disaster of an attempt of the previous summer.

Name and detail and summarize one of your *failed efforts* (or partially failed efforts) when attempting to use a break (or part of a break) for research and creativity.
I wanted to work on my MFA thesis during the summer. Again, not being a summer person, it went kerplop. A lot of "stuff"--sh**. It was me trying to write. I did a better job when school was in during the fall. Plus, the writing during winter break truly shaped what my thesis would be.

Any other comments or advice?  Just try to write for at least a symbolic amount of time every day, break or no break. Train your brain. [and "writing" can be revising, promoting, sending stuff out, etc.]
Find out what season or time of year you feel the most "alive" in. If I'm right, this will fuel your creativity. Write in the early morning or late at night. Write when you can. Carry index cards. Read when you need inspiration. Revise when you can't write. Send things out in bursts.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Books you should buy

After reading with Poetry + Funk (Kevin Rabas & Tim Volpert), I thought of the time I spent editing Kevin's book Lisa's Flying Electric Piano

We sat on the apartment (the apartment Carrie and I had at Whispering Pines) floor, spreading his MSS out on the carpet. Good times.

Also, you should get Joe Harrington's book: Things Come On: An Amneoir (Wesleyan Poetry Series)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I can't take you out to the prairie as much as I could take you to summer, the sun high over Topeka. "It's hot," you say, constructing, and I know the Tallgrass could be described the same way: tall, grassy, mixes of auburn and gold. I can't take you there, even if there, because "prairie" is past construction. "Am I feeling these feelings, or is this an imagined feeling?" someone asked Margy on my first visit. "This is real," she confirmed, the word that is challenged through my academic life, colliding with life.

How to Write a Sentence and How to Read One by Stanley Fish

There is a school of Fish (sorry about the pun), and people who don't like him. I guess being a critic leaves you on the other side of such matters. However, I'm enjoying his latest book How to Write a Sentence (and How to Read One) with hopes that I can use it for my Comp courses. I like this idea, to start simple, thinking of a sentence as a unit of measure and movement. There was something similar in They Say, I Say, describing a sentence as "holding hands" with the previous and next sentences. Maybe this is too heady, too English, but what is my role of challenging how Freshman see writing? Maybe this kind of book doesn't help with "essay writing," but maybe with memoir or descriptive writing it can. I'll have to keep reading.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Lottery winners

Were you, or anyone you know, born on September 14th?

An elegy

The elegy of a comic book store is a reflection of the loss felt, something connected to childhood and the need to move on. We're all adults here. Why does my mind continue to move inside there? It was a safety. When the safety is removed, the gun could fire.

Comics & Fantasies Topeka, KS

This store opened in the early 80's just as Dungeons & Dragons emerged. Larry was the owner, who later sold it to brothers Chris and Sam. Comic books: back issues and current issues--I bought all of my comics there because they were in mint and they had the "direct sales" logo instead of the UPC bar code. Okay--both groups of owners were cool! I've written a story that takes place there, and a poem is beginning to emerge.

Joseph Harrington Things Come On

Joe's use of what Lyn Hejinian calls "the political truth of grief" is incredible. It took me two tries until I could read the section "Eyes Only," which blends in the Nixon tapes with a taping of Joe's mother's struggle with cancer. I liked the beginning clue: "April 18: Saw Dr. Nickson." Assembling photos as both visual and text. "'Kids will know...even if they don't know all the details, they know something's wrong.'" This book is the real deal.

Joe Harrington will be reading Friday night as part of the Top City Poetry Reading Series.

Here is my interview with him in seveneightfive: scrapbooks without scraps

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Washburn University EN399 Experimental Poetry

This summer: EN399 Experimental Poetry. A lit and creative writing hybrid online. No previous experience needed. We will cover people from The Modernists, Beats, L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, and contemporary hybrids and flarfs.

Think of the Topeka poets

Poets from Topeka make it big out in the poetry world: Kevin Young, Ben Lerner, Ed Skoog, Amy Fleury, Eric McHenry, Gary Jackson, Tom Averill, Cyrus Console, et al. Who is going to make a Top City Anthology--a Topeka Poetry Anthology to get some light on this town?

Gary Jackson returns to Smallville

Mising You, Metropolis = superhero + elegy + ideologicial examination. Gary gave his reading at Washburn yesterday, and it was a treat to have him in Top City again. Lisa was here, too, so the old Washburn gang of 04 was assembled like the Avengers, having a great time. He visited my Freshman + Advanced Comp class in the morning. Reading @ 4. Dinner at Tuptim Thai. His stories about his reading tour were fun--his AWP experience. At the bar with Kevin Young and Ed Skoog--yes, another Topeka poet!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Thank you, Denver Quarterly!

Denver Quarterly, Spring 2011


There is a gym called Maximus in town. He he.

Charles Olson and The Maximus Poems

It's going to be a treat to really dig in to this! I have Polis is This, the DVD documentary, as well as A guide to... by George F. Butterick and CO's Maximus by Don Byrd. I love these books from Mabee Library--how the library still has resources. I'm setting out into Topeka with this kind of approach, peeling layer after layer. Still looking for a theory about looking. I think about my film theory books--maybe something in there. Topeka as a strip of film layed out. The railroad cuts the beginning scene.