Thursday, June 30, 2016

Project to work on

This Independence Day I will do something different. I will actually embrace the pains and pleasures of what will be a project.

Take a camera, a notebook. A recorder.

meditations on coniunctio oppositorum

Part immersion writing, part memoir, and part appropriated material, I want to face the holiday, not-holiday.

"This is the first I have heard about it," a parent says.

The history of the Collins Park parade. My history. Dale's missing thumb. My sister's comments.

"Honor mom and Aunt Hazel," she says.

My escape to Saint Louis last year. The rush to the animal doctor the year before.

Tom's bagpipes. My sister's bicycle.

My ex showing up. Cousins who hate me showing up.

Dog Rescue Relief Station.

"Neighborhood parades bring out the best of Topeka each year on Independence Day, and Friday was no exception.
The weather was nearly perfect for the Fourth of July, with sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 70s by mid-morning Friday.
Children on bicycles and tricycles with red, white and blue streamers could be found in virtually every Fourth of July Parade, along with marching bands thrown together just for the day, antique cars with their old horns honking and, yes, politicians and their supporters passing out fliers — it is an election year, after all.
Several Fourth of July parades have long-standing traditions in Topeka. Included are those in the Potwin, College Hill and Collins Park neighborhoods."
Watching Independence Day.
“I don’t think you could find anything like this in California,” the elder Casteen said. “It makes you appreciate America and it makes you appreciate your freedom.”
Nationalism, Trump says.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

After Words, About Fast-Food Sonnets

After Words

First, a big thanks to Brian Daldorph and Coal City Press. Brian, you always commented on how you loved the poems I sent you, and I appreciate your words, your presence, and your enthusiasm. Really, you are a big reason for why I continued working on these poems, hoping to get a book-length collection.

I have other people to thank, too, like the editors who published some of the poems in their literary journals: Kevin Rabas, Amy Fleury, Mickey Cesar, Katie Longofono, Mary Stone, and Matt Porubsky.

Also a big thanks to Aldrick Scott for the cover art.

I started on these poems back in 2002, finished in 2015, about a time of my life from 1986 through 1993. It was years in the making on both counts.

Eric Schlosser comments in his 2001 book Fast Food Nation, "Instead of relying upon a small, stable, well-paid, and well-trained workforce, the fast food industry seeks out part-time, unskilled workers who are willing to accept low pay. Teenagers have been the perfect candidates for these jobs, not only because they are less expensive to hire than adults, but also because their youthful inexperience makes them easier to control."

When I asked on Facebook how many poets ever worked fast food, the response was astonishing. I found out that Jon Tribble has a manuscript, too, about his experience working for KFC. I also learned Mark Nowak did during the entire Reagan presidency (1980-1988) at Wendy's in Buffalo. Also, Amy King worked at McDonald’s for years. I did, too.

I certainly wanted these poems to speak to my formative years, to the epiphanies and heartbreaks of feeling trapped in a job. I do not want to make this collection political, but can’t help but think of the work we still need to do. Food, Inc., A Place at the Table, Super Size Me, and all of the documentaries in both film and book form trying to point out the truth in a time of the need for overhauling all systems. Please also check out Chew On This: Everything You Don't Want to Know About Fast Food. The film Fast Food Nation is the fictional account of what is found in Eric Schlosser’s book and worth viewing, too.

Workers’ rights, the food industry, and big business: Will it take a reshifting of the hierarchy of power into a shared power? Can it be something healthy, local-based, self-sustaining, job-creating, and on the side of everyone’s best interests?

Things I Wasn't Told About My First Book

Now don't get me wrong. My publisher put together a wonderful packet of getting my book through the process of being ready for print, places to send copies for reviews, and such. It was a fine-tuned process, something I admire after being an editor for a small press in Kansas. I thought, "Why didn't I think of that?"

Really, as someone who gets published, the only responsibility of the small press is to publish you.

I was lucky. The editor put together the layout of the cover and inside for me. I know with the press I work for we are all volunteering, so we ask the author to provide the files at her or his own expense.

I've heard of a small press who asked my friend to provide for the layout and pay for the setup, too.

I can safely say Finishing Line Press not only charges a reading fee, but asks for presales, too. This is not uncommon.

Linda Rodriguez has a wonderful blog about what novelists should expect:

If you are like me, writing poetry, chances are a small press will be publishing you. You should really check out Small Press Distribution:

Here comes the nitty-gritty of the game.

Look at this page, the New Poetry:

Click on the first book and look at the publication date. What?! How can they have copies in, but the Publication Date is months ahead?

This is part of the trick. Ask your editor for a Publication Date months in the future, while actually publishing your book ASAP. You can explain this as the reason.

Another reason: Many reading groups, like The Rumpus, want books in hand before being published, too.

This also includes book reviews. An editor told me, just like blurbs, she is not sure if book reviews really sell books. However, do not underestimate the power of a book review in a leading online book review source. Chances are, they, too, will want a book review before the book is published.

Poems About Films

Pre-film watching lists

  • Memories about watching the film
  • What the film meant to you then
  • Why you choose the film to write about now
  • Any remembered plot elements and scenes

Watching the film

  • Note any objects and what they mean
  • Write out of loose trance, stream of unconsciousness
  • Continue writing
  • Don't worry about "making sense," as you will 

After the film

  • Write down any other plot elements or scenes
  • Write themes of the film as a way to approach the poetic nature of "what" you are writing
  • Write as a character of the film


  • Try putting everything in I: For Krull, "I was a disappearing fortress, rematerializing somewhere else." Speaks to my childhood at that time.
  • Assemble sentences into a prose poem. Add connecting sentences via figurative language.
  • Place everything double spaced and go Emily Dickinson on the work, circling intriguing phrases while omitting anything else. This also might work only using the "Watching the film" writing, too.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Bleeding Kansas

As a project, it will be important for me to establish the text first. To get it down, printed, on index cards--then match to the images.

First, text.
Second, print and card.
Third, image collecting.
Fourth, assembling.

How will I code my own Brownback messages?

Hermes Trismegistus!

Healing for Kansas via.

The three: Kansas then, Kansas now, and Hermes Trismegistus.

Images and text, too.

The three: old documents and texts, newspaper articles and quotes from public officials, and the Hermetic Corpus!

interweaving, appropriating, and assembling

I assemble and borrow, as the past and future are at stake.

Leslie S ideas--

as well as Hermes T!

Saturday, June 25, 2016


Amazing article by SIOBHÁN SCARRY

Friday, June 24, 2016


M   Y DI
M      IC
 OB       I
 O Y   ICK
MO  Y    IC
MOIC stands for “multiple on invested capital.”

New Ahab

We are still uncovering things from the depths of Moby Dick.

I wonder if I will do an omission.

It will be a big commitment, maybe during a time of busy-ness?

Along the lines of my John Brown project

John Brown meets Moby Dick

Monday, June 20, 2016

from My Graphic Novel

I am neither super
nor hero. I hope
you fall in life, the teacher
says in gym when I fall
from the bars
after five minutes without
a chin-up. In comic books,
the weak boy swallows
a super-strength serum. For cover,
he holds up his indestructible shield.
I hold up my comic book.

Here is a behind-the-scenes description about my motivation with the poem:

I use Captain America and Steve Rogers as the representation for how I was as a twelve year old. I wasn't strong or athletic, and the event with the gym teacher did happen. He said it, and I was shamed and humiliated in front of the class. 

Having the poem is a means of healing for me, to think of how the comic book store was a retreat and a safe place. Reading comics was a protection, a "super-strength serum," to help me know I wasn't alone. This comes back to Steve Rogers, that all children (and many adults) can relate to being vulnerable and exposed. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Leslie S

Defoe / references to comic books, pages 10,  16, etc.

Dahlia's iris : secret autobiography and fiction / references to sci-fi movies

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Poetry and Psychotherapy

While I have two people in my Writing Poetic Memoir class with Psychology backgrounds, one faculty and one student, I am reminded on how the textbook I am using, the approach I have, and my own writing shows the deep connection between poetic memoir and psychotherapy--including the self.

The two poets I am focusing my reading on, Leslie Scalapino and Maggie Nelson, are true examples of how pschotheraputic poetics truly transforms. The sentence changes the person writing the sentence.

If there is anything about a sentence is that it is never a prison, but a measure to move into another measure of movement.

The fragmented sentence is the anti-Patriarchal response to order, as well as the representation of the fragmented past, as every history is placed down.

When Sondra moved in I became fascinated with how psychology works. I read through books, listened to her discuss, and this all helped shape my understanding for understanding. She would say, "Just remember: you are not a therapist." That is true. My poems are models, though, for understanding, exploration, without any answer.

That is why poems do not have answers. They need to remain sites for resistance, for survival.